Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just Breathe

  Months spent purging, de-cluttering, organizing, packing away persoanl items, fretting, planning, projects. And then three grueling days deep cleaning, more projects, more de-cluttering, more organizing.

  Finally, our city house is on the market... For Sale!!!!!

  We couldn't have done it without the help of our daughter and a friend! Is the work finished? By no means. There are still small painting jobs to complete, tidying of the backyard and patio, and of course the big front yard landscaping project. Not to mention the everyday task of keeping the house tidy and clean, with three indoor pets. But at least the house is up For Sale!

  It feels like a giant step forward. Certainly the last step that will (hopefully soon!) put us on the highway headed toward life on our land, building the Ranch. My heart beasts faster when I think of the point we've reached, what it will mean. Excitement and trepidation.

  Breathe, just breathe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quiet On The Home Front

  But you already guessed that! A little bit of this and and a little bit of that, but nothing much. Not much in the way of our relocation, sad to say. 

  Tom did got a large chunk of the front yard overhaul done over Labor Day weekend. And then our pick up broke down. Poor Tatanka. Something with the transmissions second gear band fork breaking. What significance is this? Well, we are trying to give our house more curb appeal to help selling it. No dump truck (yes, Tatanka has a dump bed. I know, way cool!) means we can't finish the landscape. And, it also means that Tom can't get out to the land to finish staking the driveway, much less actually begin cutting it in. Seems our hopes of possibly moving out this fall or winter won't be realized. Sigh.

  Two bits of exciting news- we became grandparents for the third and fourth times! Another baby girl and our first grandson!!! Having three daughters and three grand daughters, a boy in the family is a pretty big deal.

  Upon our return from Republic in May, literally the closer we got to the city, it began to rain. And it didn't really stop until, oh, somewhere around July 9th. We enjoyed, more like reveled in, about one month of summer. Even the three hot (95 degree) days. Last week the familiar feel of fall rains have once again settled upon us. Egads! I love rain, really I do, but with so much this year I'm not sure I am at all ready for this. On top of that, 'they' are predicting a wet, cold La Nina winter for the entire Pacific Northwest. What I wouldn't give for another 90 degree day. Or a fire in the wood stove.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Road Trip Six - Driveway Layout Begins

  Spring is here... that means it's time for Tom to stake out the driveway up to the South Meadow building site. Aw shucks, another Road Trip is called for.  :)  I was going to stay home with Greer to look after the other pets while Tom took Eoin, but the desire to be in Republic and on the land again was too overwhelming... I could fight it off no more! Plus, we finally found just the right 4-wheel drive diesel pick-up to suit us and our ever-changing/growing/diverse needs, so this would actually be the first trip eastward in our very own, good running vehicle - what a novelty!

(a.k.a. "Tatanka")

Thursday, May 13, 2010 -
  The day dawns sunny and warm. The truck gets loaded, dogs given a dose of Rescue Remedy to calm nerves, crated securely in the covered bed. Four errands later and running late (a pattern for us, really!) and we're on the road.

  At first Eoin was barking a lot, not being too keen on crate life, but he soon settled; only very minor drooling from either dog - the Rescue Remedy truly was a lifesaver! The truck was surprisingly comfy and handled/ran great. We got excellent fuel mileage, too. We are exceedingly pleased with our new addition!

  Eight hours later we pull up to Matt and Ann's house, friends who so generously opened their home to us for our stay. We were all glad to get out and stretch our legs, work out the stiffness. The dogs ran, sniffed the air and munched on juicy green grass! Unload, unwind and visit with good friends. Sleep came sweet and sound.

Friday, May 14th -
  A glorious morning - mountain and valley views, blue sky, puffy white clouds, fresh air, dogs running, roosters crowing! Eggs, toast and coffee, then Tom and Eoin leave for a days work.

  Not five minutes later I realize Tom forgot the gate key. He didn't realize until he reached the gate! Fortunately, our property is only about 15 minutes from Matt and Ann's. When he came back, Eoin decided he wanted to stay with Greer and I. Poor Tommy, deserted by his buddy. Later I think Eoin regretted it as staying at the house wasn't nearly as fun as being with dad on the Ranch!

  But, we took a couple short walks on which I saw some beautiful wildflowers and relished the natural beauty and quiet surrounding us. The area is much more green and lush than last year at the same time. Everything was in full spring bloom. For most of the day I rest and recuperate, enjoying the stillness.

  As for Tom's day at the Ranch: He looked the property over, but most of his time was spent talking with the neighbors; one couple to our NE we hadn't met as of yet.

 Shooting star

Saturday, May 15th -
  Today is an anniversary of sorts - 1 year ago on this date we arrived in Republic for the first time! Didn't know then how our hearts would be captured. It promises to be another lovely spring day. We begin with breakfast at the Pine Grove Junction cafe. With appetites satisfied and caffeine kicking in, straight to our land we go!

  Oh yes, everything is definitely in the flush of new spring growth - beautiful! We drive in as far as we can before old wind-fallen trees block the way. We all get out to walk, spraying ourselves and the dogs with tick repellent. Yes, this is tick country and tick time of year. I use a homemade mix of distilled water, rose geranium and peppermint pure essential oils. Works great!

  While Tom surveys the land and slopes, calculating and figuring in his head for the driveway, I, as usual, have camera in hand shooting pics of flora and fauna. Though I am unashamedly a lover and admirer of creation, identifying and documenting plants helps us know what is growing and where in order to understand soil, light, and moisture, basics of land management. There is also the need to identify the non-native and invasive plants for land protection. Several of the native species we see, we already know, but just as many others we either aren't certain of or have no idea at all. I'll need to do research using these pics once we get back to the city.

  My eyes are especially searching for the color splash of blooms. Just before turning back for the truck, a little flash of pink near the ground catches my eye. Thinking it's a shooting star or similar I approach, but quickly realize it is a single flower, not a cluster like in the photo above. Bending over to examine it, I recognize a familiar shape, that of an old love of mine, the orchid - the upper petals, the spotted throat, long bare stem, single ovate leaf at the base. Yes, I think it's a native orchid! My heart beats faster! I ask Tom to put a stick in the ground to mark the spot so as not to disturb it in the future. I snap several pics in hopes of getting one clear shot, and capture this...

  Isn't she lovely?!! We begin walking back. All of the sudden, two more orchids appear, we'd walked right past them! Another stick put in the ground. A few more steps and a group of four more! I am both surprised and horrified, we all could have trampled them, but somehow managed not to. Whew! Research: it is indeed a native orchid, called the Eastern Fairy Slipper (calypso bulbosa var. americano, rosea). In Washington state it is found in only three counties- Okanogan, Ferry (ours) and Pend Oreille.

  Now, in search of the "hidden spring" that Mrs. Minor's parents always said was in the Draw. A couple weeks ago our neighbor said he found one. We walk to the location. Lo and behold, there's the spring! And hidden it is under a thicket of red osier dogwood, black hawthorn, nettles, and other plants, bubbling out of rock at a pretty nice rate.

The Draw

  Onward! Having a 4-wheel drive vehicle means I am able to visit the north property line for the first time, no hiking required.  :)   Oh my, what gorgeous views!

Looking Southeast

Looking South

Looking West

  We continue our trek on a steep, narrow old pack trail to visit our neighbors to the NE; very nice folks; and the views from their place on the ridge are incredible! After a friendly chat about their solar power, rain water collection, and other systems we are planning to implement also, it's back to Matt and Ann's for a late lunch and to talk over all we'd seen. A restful evening in.

Sunday, May 16th -
  Somewhat of a restless nights sleep for both of us, we awake early with the roosters crowing. Boy, do we ever miss our chickens... the dogs do, too! Tom leaves at 6 a.m. to get in a full days work. I am lulled back to sleep to the sound of rain on the metal roof. A quiet morning in my jammies sipping hot coffee, perusing seed catalogs, and watching the birds flit about at the many feeders; including my first-ever sighting of the glorious Mountain Bluebird!

  Meanwhile at the Ranch: Tom stakes a 175' section of the driveway, checks vertical elevation up to the area the drive will come out onto the South Meadow, and stakes 10' x 10' corners of the building site. With the elevation figures in hand, he will project the percentage of slope for the driveway. His next trip out will be to finish staking. He examines the native bunchgrass growth and observes that on the west side there is a heavy infestation of the invasive weed, sulphur cinquefoil; it will need to be controlled as it is choking out the bunchgrass.

  Mid-afternoon, Tom comes for me and we drive up to Hamilton Farm in Curlew for a supply of their natural grass-fed beef. it's good to see Nancy doing well; sadly, she recently lost her dear husband Pat to cancer. He was a good 'ol boy and will be missed.

  That evening we share a relaxing last meal with Matt and Ann; then, to bed early.

Monday, May 17th -
  The roosters rouse us early to pack. Who needs an alarm clock with them around! The day of departure always brings feelings of melancholy; the dogs feel it, too. In fact, Eoin did not want to get in the truck. I almost believe he would have stayed there without us! We say our farewell's and hit the road. It's a cool, wet day, matching our low energy and emotions. The dogs don't utter a sound all day; whereas on the trip out Eoin barks every time we even slow down, much more so when we come to a stop. 

  No one is particularly excited to return to the city. At the same time, Tom and I both have a sense that this is our last major road trip east together. The next time will be for keeps.

Blue Sky Morning

Monday, April 5, 2010

What's Up?

  Besides the buttercups, daffodils, and crocus, that is! Spring is upon us, the lilacs will open soon, too. With spring comes the typical seasonal clearing out. For us this year it also involves going through cupboards, drawers, closets, boxes (yup, still have boxes unpacked from the last move) all in an effort to organize, de-clutter, and get ready for listing the house for sale. And the yard sale this weekend. And moving ... soon.

  So, that's what we've been up to, friends. Tom had a brief bout with the flu. I had a viral infection that, as usual for me, took weeks to recover from. But we're good now. Busy finishing up details in every room of the house - baseboards, painting the office and trim, a front yard overhaul soon, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and the everyday matters of life!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bend in the River

    Well, folks, we've come to a rather large change of plans in our journey. Recently, we met with a realtor. As you know, the real estate market isn't exactly the greatest. It's not the best time to sell a house. But, we gotta do what we gotta do!

    Part of the problem is that the market is flooded with bank-owned houses or owners doing a short sale (selling for sometimes even less than what they owe the bank just to avoid foreclosure). It's a terrible state of things for many. We are glad to at least not be in either of those situations. But, we need the equity from our house to bankroll building our new home, barns, buy livestock, etc. You get the picture. The other part of this problem is that due to so many of said houses being sold at low prices, if we want to sell our house, we have to ask for a lower than-we-wanted prices, too. Which, in turn, means a smaller nest egg to start with. Thus, our plan has slightly altered.

    Because the county requires engineer stamped plans in order to build a strawbale house, it increases our costs by 50%. Yes, those fees were literally going to be half the cost of building our entire strawbale home! So, more research and brainstorming was in order. We finally settled upon building a traditionally framed small cabin- 16' x 16' (affectionately called a 'LaMar cabin'). Our architect advised us to insulate it as well as possible; she said she'd probably make the same choice if she were in our boots. The design is still passive solar.

   There are a couple benefits to this change, believe it or not. The cabin will be easier and quicker to build, plus we'll have more flexibility in when we actually move. Plus, in the future if we do build a strawbale, we can use the cabin for guests... or a ranch store... or storage... or office... or...   There it is, the silver lining I always try to look for!

   So, right now what we're busy with, other than our usual routines in life, are getting a few improvements finished on our city house, then list it for sale, while organizing clutter, and reducing the amount of stuff we have for a yard sale. We've also reduced monthly expenses by disconnecting from satellite television and cell phones, going to twice per month garbage collection, and consuming less in general. You read that right, we no longer have cell phones! It's actually quite liberating!

    Know anyone who wants to buy a nice, older, home?   :)