Phone Photo Friday

Ain’t gonna lie, this week has been a bit rough. Political news is hitting me hard, Anthony Bourdain’s death haunts me, I’m overwhelmed by the to-do list, the wiring scare was scary, and worst of all, the hot tub is on the fritz. I did my best to fix it, even taking out the circulation motor, venturing to the motor fix-it shop alone (it works, not the issue) and then reinstalling the motor, all of which made me very proud but didn’t fix the problem. My dad is coming to help soon, but still. That hot tub is my therapy! On top of it all, this morning the rat trap in the crawl space caught a GIANT ASS RAT (which I did not see and am glad I did not see) (yes we are partnering with exterminators!).

I’m a bit “done” for the week but here we go anyway…

This old fridge is in the shop; it is currently holding eggs from my dad (which came out of HIS old fridge… it’s all very circular…)

This cute old sign, and these old hardworking mowers are also in the garage. I’ve conquered the red one, but haven’t ventured into the riding one yet. Apparently it starts with a screwdriver in the ignition. I am intimidated.

I love these ponies (just over our backyard fence). My friend Sally saved up carrot tops for them. I’m their new favorite person.

The yard is exploding in color and green… so beautiful. I feel so lucky.

My new walking route takes me to the top of the nearby hill, where I can check in on my mountain, Marys Peak. Nothing makes me feel more at home.

Attended a local rally protesting the border detentions… sickening. I can’t take the news anymore today.

That’s it for today… tonight we are going to grill chicken, have peanut sauce & veggies, and sit on the patio with drinks. Tomorrow is my spoon carving class and Sunday is Keith’s birthday “make up day” since we moved on his birthday. Not sure what we’ll do but it will be nice to do something fun! Next weekend.. we paint walls! I’m excited to get that done. Photos to come!


Settling In

Things are starting to normalize.

The kitchen is mostly put away. We may shift things around a bit more but all the essentials are in place.

Most of the essential bathroom things have been put away, although we need to install a medicine cabinet in the master bath and figure out a few minor storage solutions for the time being. But we are able to do the necessaries and can mostly find what we need.

Our offices are functional (mostly) and the living room is also functional, although most things are still in boxes because we will be painting all the living/dining walls within 2 weeks; not worth unpacking decor and other non-essentials quite yet.

The other non-essentials, all art/decor and the garages are still pretty much in total disarray, mostly because we need to paint every room rather sooner than later, so it doesn’t make sense to unpack totally yet. Also, three of the rooms will be shifting responsibilities within the next 6-8 months (hopefully) so things are a bit tentative. My office is currently my office + guest room but will become my office + creative space, and Keith’s art room will become the guest room + sewing/other project room, and the attached garage will become his art studio + utility room as soon as we can get some work done on it. The big garage/barn will be storage, gym, workshop and large-project space. So… lots of work to be done.

But the routines are coming back, and I am cooking again, and we are able to take time to relax and enjoy our new home now and again.

Still, there is a lot of adjusting and fixing that needs to be done. Yesterday we noticed that the lights were flickering rather a lot, so we called the power company. Someone arrived towards the end of the day, only to discover that a connection in the outdoor breaker box was arcing and very dangerous. Thank goodness we called! Super scary. Turns out that the guy who came out is a neighbor, just a few houses down (actually quite a bit down the road because there aren’t many houses out here, but he still counts as a neighbor). He was extremely nice and stayed until 7:30 pm to fix the problem, even running to his own workshop and the hardware store to get tools and do what needed to be done. I will be making some kind of treat this weekend to bring over for sure! Small-town life.

But, we are getting on with things. This weekend I am taking a wooden spoon carving class at the local art center. I am actually very excited about this because I had the opportunity to do this in college but was being treated for a hand injury at the time and couldn’t complete that portion of the class, so I missed out on this project. I’ve always sort of wished that I had been able to do that, so this is my way of finally completing that project. I’m also starting up my ceramics class again in a few weeks, and am looking forward to a woodworking class this fall, plus a mediation training (both for work & life, I’m not sure where it will go but it sounds interesting). I am looking forward to building or installing our chicken coop, our bee hives, and thinking about a duck area as well (just a couple duckies…). And of course, a lot of house projects. Fun, busy times ahead.

I am reading two books right now. The first is the second Russell & Holmes book which I have been waiting for, literally for months (from the library). I love it and all I want to do is read it. The second is this home-decorating book that I got for $1 at OSUsed (ongoing university-sponsored used-stuff junk sale) that was published in 1992. I got it because I thought it was going to be mostly about cottage decorating, and because it doesn’t have any photographs (my thought was that it wouldn’t be as dated). I don’t know, it was chatty and I liked what I read while standing in line, and I generally like home-making books of just about any kind. It is about decorating a cottage (it says it’s for any home but it’s really about comfy-cottage style), but also about how to bring your own personality into your home, plus a lot about how to organize rooms, which is interesting and timely. It does have some funny bits, mostly about how “men really do care about how their homes look!” (really, 1990s?) and God shows up in some odd places, but I’m enjoying it and it’s the perfect before-Holmes warm-up book when I get into bed at the end of the day. A few pages of charming, sort-of dated decor advice… then off to London circa 1920 with Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Why did I not know about these books before Shea told me about them last year? They’ve been out since the mid-90s!

Our real estate agent came over today for a brief tour of the new house (she had not seen it before, we did For Sale By Owner on the new house and only needed help with occasional paperwork). She liked the new house a lot (hard to tell with agents but I think she genuinely liked it?) and also filled us in on the close call we had with the house we just sold. The first offer we accepted on our house felt really bad for a lot of reasons and it wasn’t going super smoothly, and we just felt like it as a disaster waiting to happen, so when they missed the deadline for the earnest money, we took the opportunity to cancel the agreement. The other agent is known locally to be “a shark” (as many people nicely characterized her) and although we did hear a little of the fuss at the time, after a few days we didn’t hear anything more and moved on with the second offer we accepted. However, apparently behind the scenes, it was a big huge mess and there were threats of litigation, etc. Our agent very kindly did not tell us any of this, knowing that we were on solid legal ground with our cancellation, but apparently she suffered several sleepless nights worrying about whether we’d get notice of any litigation against our house, which would have impeded our being able to purchase THIS house. Anyway, it all ended well, the buyer was able to get a different house that she loves, the reviewing board threw out the “case” since we were entirely within our rights to cancel the contract, and everything closed smoothly and no harm done. But… I did feel much better about the real estate agent fee… she earned it by getting us out of that!

Anyway. Things are going well. I am looking forward to 1 year from now when the house is all painted, unpacked, repaired and we can continue with our updates at a leisurely pace.




A PSA about dishwashing soap

Useful household hint: apparently the kind of dish soap you use can affect the stinkiness (or lack there of) of your sponge.

The last time I bought dish soap, for whatever reason I got Dawn. I usually get some kind of “natural” soap but, I don’t know, the blue was pretty and the duck was cute and I was tired.

It looks so innocent!

Not long after, I began to notice that our sponge smelled terrible. I figured it was too old or we hadn’t rinsed it well enough. So I tossed it and got a new one. This one didn’t last long either…maybe a day or two. I thought maybe it was a bad sponge?

I got out a different sponge and tried again. Same result. I mean, not just sort of “off”, but the kind of sponge-stink that sticks to your hands no matter how carefully you rinse it and dry it and microwave it and bleach it and vinegar it.

I got desperate and turned to the internet. There’s a forum for everything, and sure enough, there was one on stinky sponges. I skimmed it, and amongst the usual suggestions to boil or bleach or microwave to get rid of germs, a few people mentioned the kind of soap one uses can make a difference. Dawn was mentioned a few times by name. “Hmmmm,” thinks I.

I went out and got some nice lavender hippie dish soap. To truly test the theory, I used the same sponge (after I soaked it in vinegar and rinsed well)

Voila: no stink! I am extremely pleased. Sorry, Dawn. You are cute and apparently you have your uses, but not in my house.

Phone Photo Friday

My head is still too full of moving-in logistics for much contemplation. We are taking Sunday offline to rest and recover; hopefully that will help! In the meantime…

Started leash-training Thomas. He’s doing really well! He is confused and totally overwhelmed by the huge yard, but I think he likes it. He’s done after about 15 minutes of wandering, sitting and sniffing.

Needed a hike; my long-time pal Sally came to the rescue. We went to Finley Wildlife Refuge, just a few miles away. So beautiful there right now!

This walk had it all… forest, grasslands, water, animals, mild off-trail adventures. Such a great after-work outing. Girl talk helped too.

Managed to brush up against some nettles… paying for the nature exposure a little. Worth it!

Finally, gratuitous cute cat pictures. That’s all I got; this week was mostly working and sorting stuff… not a lot of extra thinking happening right now!

Little bits of joy & happiness

  1. Saw a beautiful doe and her itty bitty teeny tiny baby fawn today, prancing across the road. I stopped when I passed them to watch for a minute (the joy of the country road) — the little baby was bouncing up and down, legs flying, bonking into its mama, so adorable.
  2. My office is cleared of boxes. The printer still doesn’t work, but f*ck off, printer, I hate you anyway.
  3. We inherited two old, industrial-strength, very powerful awesome mowers. I was tempted to attempt mowing the vast lawn today but I have no idea how to start either of them. I videoed the how-to lesson that the previous owner had given us, but I couldn’t view them for some reason. Cue despair! Finally after several tries, they played for me. WHEW. This house is full of mysteries and I want to try to avoid calling Tom (the previous owner) every single day.
  4. I am feeling better after two solid days of feeling pretty bad stomach-wise. I have no idea why. Maybe the Thai food we had on Saturday? My stomach is so sensitive, I try to be good but it is REALLY difficult especially if we go out. A night of tummy-friendly soup and hot tea seems to have helped.
  5. I feel like I am starting to wrap my brain around the garden/yard space and figure out what needs to be weeded first, what needs consistent watering, what I can probably let go for a few weeks while I get settled. I love this yard and want to continue to help it grow more beautiful. I am dying to really dig into it but don’t have time yet; the boxes continue to taunt me with their unpacked-ness.
  6. The little white horses in the back neighbor’s field are so charming. When I call them over, they come trotting and make the funniest chuckling sounds the entire time, obviously delirious at the thought of a few handfuls of grass.
  7. Several annoying and mysterious house noises have been resolved.
  8. The hummingbirds who are very pleased with the feeders I put out. They are so pretty and make all of us very happy, glinting in the windows as they sip.

That’s it for today!

Edited: Plus we got the ancient and rusty gas grill that we inherited up and running too! Definitely needs a few new parts but probably good enough for tonight’s tri-tip!

Phone Photo Friday (I mean, Sunday)

All the days have been running together. Here’s a recap, told in random photos from the last week or two.

Erin and Madeline came over with this amazing strawberry shortcake. Tallcake.

The view from my desk.

Some incredible leggings from my friend Sally… she had some like these in high school and I adored them. She recently found these and thought I needed them. I do. I need them.

I have started cooking again, so that’s a bonus.

I had two appointments this week (chiropractic and neuromuscular) for my back, which was much appreciated, but by Friday I needed to take the self-care to the next level and got a pedicure after work. Here are my toes, encased in paraffin, at the nearby empty salon where I ended up running into an old classmate. Small town.

I made a bouquet of yard flowers. I can’t wait to be done with boxes!!

The view from the living room is so peaceful.

Having fun making plans for this bathroom … (which is very far down on the priority list but it’s fun to dream)

Country life.

Tomorrow I plan to finish putting my office together; I keep working on it and it keeps not getting completed. I can’t get the printer to connect to my computer after multiple, complex and increasingly frustrating tries, furthering my theory that printers are alien robots sent here to turn the human race completely crazy. Now my goal is to just finally either unpack the final boxes or move them into the garage to deal with later. The bedroom floor is clear of boxes, which feels like a victory. Everything at home is sort of bare-minimum survival setup but that’s ok… all essential bases are covered.

More in depth blogging soon… my brain is still overloaded and I’m still very focused on putting things in order; my Virgo self can’t stand boxes of random stuff everywhere but I’m trying to stay Zen about it.

One final photo; taken just now at sunset.

Home Sweet Home

The long-awaited move is complete! I mean, really long. We’ve been thinking about this house since 2015. Was it worth the wait? Definitely.

We are currently at that stage in the unpacking process where the essentials are mostly unpacked, except for a mysteriously disappeared items. My office wastebasket — doesn’t seem like that could easily disappear, but it has! An entire box of kitchen items — it was a big box! Where could it be? Oh well. As we continue to unpack the seemingly-thousands of boxes of random items like office supplies, candles and cat toys, power cords, remote controls, bathroom towels… (seriously, I thought I was organized when I packed this stuff up), our new home is starting to emerge.

There are one million and one projects to do in this house. When Keith and I started talking about our ideal Oregon home, we coined the phrase “hippie sculpture garden” as the overall aesthetic we were going for. This house definitely is Hippie Sculpture Garden but needs to be brought up into the 2000s — it’s not 1967 anymore! Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and there are so many adorable details in this house (including little hearts and love notes they wrote to each other all over the house — seriously adorable), but the bathrooms are in serious need of modernization and the entire house needs new interior paint badly, and we are going to convert the garage into another room, plus a huge list of other projects large and small (thankfully, the kitchen has been updated and only needs a few minor things that can totally wait). But, it will be a labor of love because I LOVE this house. I love it like I loved my little Livermore house, and even more because it’s here in the Willamette Valley, the place I love more than any place in the world. The property is absolutely gorgeous and I look forward to further developing the Oregon native plantings and maybe putting in a bed of roses and a few flower-cutting gardens. If I wanted to go down the full-on hippie route to describe this place, it has really good energy. Like, really warm happy pink-light lovey-dovey energy. It’s filled with positivity. I am home.

There are a few downsides — it’s on a road that has some log-truck traffic and for an hour or so in the morning and early evenings it’s kind of noisy, and it is out in the country (barely) so we are discovering the joys of rodents and ants, and there are all the projects that come with a house built nearly 70 years ago, but the good far outweighs the not-so-great.

However, a peaceful weekend morning in the hot tub with a cup of tea, watching the birds put on an “air show” and gazing at the scenery, puts all that to rest.


The countdown continues… three days until we move! It has been a whirlwind.

Over the weekend we went over to the new house to do a little painting; difficult because the owners have not yet moved (initially we thought we would have a week of empty house to paint and such, but their move dates got changed, so things were less than ideal for all parties.). We still got 2.5 ceilings done, and will do the last “must-paint” ceiling Thursday morning before we move Friday (all the ceilings — and all the rooms — need to be repainted but some of them are in worse shape than others). Painting in a room full of stuff is… not ideal (this photo is of the room — my office-to-be — where we painted one half of the ceiling, then moved all the stuff to the other side of the room to do the other half of the ceiling – the new ceiling is the bright white)

We also got some lessons on house maintenance, gardening tips, and a how-to for the two mowers that we are inheriting (a giant push mower and an ailing riding mower which we will get fixed). There’s a lot of lawn, but it’s all flat and easy to navigate. They kept it pretty tidy because they used a lot of it for golf practice, but we’ll probably keep it a bit longer (less mowing!).

Not pictured: various unexpected hiccups and an epic appliance switcheroo — I wanted my fancy new stove (that we got before we knew we’d be moving) moved to the new house, so we switched ranges. This was a massive, frustrating ordeal because our old house has natural gas and the new house has propane, so there was a whole conversion thing that needed to happen, complete with removal of oven doors, floors, drawers, etc. My dad helped until he had to leave, and then I spent quite a few hours figuring it out myself with the help of YouTube videos. Not pictured: me sprawled on the floor, fiddling with a screwdriver in the back of the oven, switching out parts. I felt very manly and capable when both ranges were finally slid into place and successfully fired up.

Once that was done, I was able to put in a few tomato plants that a friend grew from seed and shared with me. There is a nice gardening area near the house — lots of opportunity for gardening, flowers, etc.

And, amidst all of this, I took a break to help my best friend’s daughter get ready for her first prom. She looked so beautiful… her mom and I cried. So much fun!

This week is packing, packing, and more packing, plus painting, plus signing papers, plus moving. Plus working! Plus some extended family matters. Plus eating all the leftovers and freezer items that we don’t want to move. There have been some questionable dinners lately.

The good news is that we can start moving some things over tomorrow night. We will also paint the living room/dining room ceiling Thursday morning, then bring over more stuff and do whatever we can to finalize moving prep. Friday, the movers come. We have Saturday, Sunday and Monday to finish bringing over anything that didn’t make it in the Big Move, so that’s good, although I will just want to be done with it, since we will need to get the kitchen, master bath, and offices initially set up so we can work next week.

I’m having a little PTSD from our move two years ago (from CA back to Oregon) but that was a MUCH bigger, more complicated move — this is literally just a few miles down the road and we aren’t moving states. I was so exhausted by the time we finally landed in our house last time that it took me a very long time to fully recover. I think I’ll be mostly fine after a week or so this time, I’m tired and a little overwhelmed but not exhausted — plus, filled with joy at this amazing house we get to live in. I am SO EXCITED!

Phone Photo Friday

I forgot last Friday because I was in Spokane watching this wonderful person graduate with her masters’!

The Airbnb we stayed in was billed as “grandmas house” and it lived up to the hype.

The roses we planted a year ago are blooming; I’m sad to leave them but we’ll plant more.

I’m helping a special girl with her first prom outfit. Soooo much fun!

Took Thomas to the vet for some blood work; still waiting for final results but so far, he seems fine. Fingers crossed. His new vet clinic is cat-only and I love it; birdwatching views in the exam rooms!

My friend Becky, who grew up in the same tiny town I did and who is older than me by just enough that we missed each other in school (and have never met IRL although we have lots of overlapping friends)… whew, anyway, Becky has a clothing business and makes great garments. I have an apron from her that I use for ceramics, and I just got this dress (denim with real suspenders!) and I want to live in it. It’s basically perfect.

We went on the local art walk last night and saw lots of inspiring things. I can’t wait for ceramics this summer; I took a term off to deal with moving and various travel, but I’m eager to get back to it. I might take a painting class soon as well.

And that’s it for this week! Spending the weekend painting at the new house!

Summer Plans

The move marches on, with all the accompanying frustrating details, stressors, unexpected delays and changes, and anxieties that usually go along with a move. However, we are ignoring that for now and looking beyond the present.

I want to think about the summer. It’s been years since I looked forward to a restful, fun summer: in the Bay Area, summer meant hot, smoggy weather, traffic, frustrations (you want to get away… but you literally cannot because of the traffic), and a general sense that the entire hot weather thing has gone on quite long enough (in Livermore it was warm/hot and summery from mid-March through late October. This always felt SO WRONG).

This will be our third summer back in Oregon. The first summer, we had just moved in July, so it was exciting, but we only had a short time to enjoy it. We were in a tiny little apartment with a deck and spent a lot of time in the local parks, escaping the tiny little apartment. Then, very quickly, it was autumn and we moved into our big house and the rain started.

The second summer, we spent much of it either traveling much more than we had intended (for work and other reasons), prepping for the big eclipse event and a houseful of people (with apocalyptic traffic and shortages predicted, which thankfully did not appear), or unable to be outside because of massive smoke from forest fires. Also, our yard in this big house is not welcoming and we had no desire to spend time out in it.

This coming summer, however, we will be in our new country cozy house with the big huge acre+ yard with almost no neighbors, tons of flowers and trees and plenty of places for a hammock or lounge chair… a fire pit and an outdoor hot tub… two back decks and lots of gardening space. We have purposefully kept the summer relatively unplanned so we have time for ease and rest. I am looking forward to the long northern evenings and warm days with cool breezy evenings that happen in the little town we are moving to. It is closer to the mountain and catches a lovely evening breeze that cools everything off and rushes through the trees. We were over at the new house a few nights ago and the wind was roaring but the back patio is surprisingly protected from the wind: I am tempted to get a comfy cushy old loveseat and ottoman (preferably with a cabbage-rose shabby-chic print) out there to snuggle up with a light blanket and a book on summer evenings.

So… in the spirit of a summer full of rest, ease, meaningful activities and celebrating Oregon’s beautiful, brilliant but short summer, I thought I would make a list of some summer goals and review them monthly to see how I’m doing. Because what says “rest and ease” like a list full of goals to achieve, right? For our purposes, “summer” is June through the end of September.

  1. Get a hammock (and possibly a squishy loveseat for the covered deck). Easy enough.
  2. Read 4 “summer” novels — you know the kind. 4 at a minimum!
  3. Go camping 3 times. I have one scheduled already with my mom in July. I’d like to go at least two more times before the end of September. Camping in the backyard may count in a pinch.
  4. Oregon Country Fair. We might camp out one night for the full Fair experience… that could probably count toward the camping quota also. I’d like to put a little more thought into my outfit this time as well. I’m thinking garden fairy (sure, why not). Need to plan this ASAP if we are going to camp.
  5. Go to the farmer’s market 2x monthly. Fresh fruits and veggies!
  6. Two multi-hour bike rides. I have two specifically in mind.
  7. Visit the Thyme Garden in Alsea.
  8. Go river swimming (locally or road trip to the reservoir or something similar).
  9. Float the Willamette at least once. Possible rafting trip elsewhere too.
  10. Breitenbush at least once (weekday trip maybe)
  11. Backyard fire pit with friends.
  12. Pick blackberries and make a cobbler, pie and jam (late July)
  13. Grow some tomatoes & herbs, and plant fall crops (carrots, kale, beets, lettuce). Plan for a better garden next year.
  14. Ride bikes to Gathering Together for summer brunch at least monthly. This wonderful farm/restaurant is just down the road from our new house.
  15. And finally, plan at least one day (maybe monthly?) where we shut off the phones, stay home and relax all day enjoying the weather and our new house.

There. That’s 15 worthy goals. Starting in June!