Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Worry. Be Happy

I would like to share 5 minutes of happiness with you. Click here.

My Morning Walk

I have posted these birds before but I couldn't resist another picture with the bright blue sky as background.

Theme song for this walk: The entire Mamma Mia! Sountrack. (The movie version, not the Broadway or pure ABBA versions - which I am sure are both fine - just not what I happened to be listening to.) Comment on the movie: It is an embarrassingly goofy exterior surrounding a candy and chocolate covered heart of gold. I unexpectedly enjoyed it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Got Tagged. Twice.

Sarah tagged me with this in June and I, um, forgot? Yeah. That's it. Then Tairah tagged me with a very similar post and I "remembered". I am not tagging anyone with this for two reasons. 1: If I have already been tagged twice then I am sure it has made the rounds. 2: It is downright cruel. The point of the tag is to take photos of a list of items without straightening, cleaning or gussying up in any way. Thanks ladies. Welcome to my hell.

The toilet:

The sink:So I am a spoilsport. Sue me.

The laundry room:
The laundry room is currently a couple of baskets under my bed and a trip to the laundromat. The plastic bin is a load waiting to make the trip.

The refrigerator:

The closet:

Like the laundry room, the closet is still a victim of construction.

Favorite shoes:
Jinx w/ Tairah. Her fav shoes are silver also.

Favorite room:
Couldn't decide on this on and it doesn't matter anyway as both of these rooms are favorite because of what I see them becoming in my mind's eye. Top pic is upstairs in the Sister House. It will be the TV room. The bottom pic is the smallest bedroom in the house. It will be my reading/retreat room filled with books and treasures.

Kids (or equivalent?):
Una, Lily & Russell. Quinten is MIA. Probably killing a bird, squirrel, mole or mouse.

And finally, me.
Just as I am. I usually read blogs first thing when I wake up. So. Yeah. Good Morning Merry Sunshine. No smiles. Just a grimace.

The Sister House Gets Its Lights Punched Out

Now, along with the roof, the house has had the windows and doors removed. It won't be long before the siding is also gone. The siding removal will hurt. We haven't been able to find a supplier of unfinished 3" cedar clapboard. The only 3" clapboard we can find comes primed and must be painted. We really wanted duplicate the original siding.

Looking at the house at this stage and knowing that the siding is coming off I can forgive a person for wondering why we even bothered to save the house at all. Reason #1: It is sturdy, strong and square. Even with all the permitting hoops that must be jumped through nowadays, houses just are not built like that anymore. For that reason it is worth saving the skeleton. Reason #2: The lovely wood floors that are natural and not the glossy, pre-finished skating rinks available at home depot. Reason #3: the living room walls and ceiling and the kitchen ceiling are all wood. Beautiful old growth fir. We "wood" (tee hee hee) never be able to afford to do that now. Reason #4: Purely sentimental. I am sure I mentioned this is some earlier post but the reason it is called the Sister House is that it so closely resembles Tom and Kathy's house. I have a flickr set of their house. They have been driving by the Sister House for 30 years. Somewhere along the way it became "The Sister House" and Kathy always dreamed of moving it to her property for sentimental reasons. It wasn't a practical move for her but it was for us.

I hadn't meant to do this with this post but here is a refresher for those of you who don't know the story of how we ended up as owner's of a house sitting in someone else's front yard:

We decided to move to WA after our second visit here. Our first visit was in September 06. The second was in November 06. I returned by myself in March 07 to find a house. Our intention was to buy an existing house on a minimum of 5 acres - we really hoped to get 20 acres. That didn't work out so well. This area is flooded with manufactured homes. We wanted something with a bit more history and character. The few houses I did see that kind of fit the bill were either on very small lots or on large lots but built close to the property line, very near a neighbors house.

I spent almost a week searching and by the last day I was feeling disheartened. I had my bags packed. Tom and I were waiting for Kathy to get home and then it would be time to head to PDX. Kathy burst into the house and into my glum mood with news that, on a whim, she stopped at the house behind the Sister House to ask if the owners would sell it and if we could look at it. The owner's intended to burn it down but had not gotten around to it. Seven years prior the owner got married and moved his new bride into it. She said "oh hell no" and demanded a newer, less gross, house. They built a manufactured home right behind the Sister House and so my future house sat for seven years collecting dust, spiders and bees.

On the way to the airport the three of us stopped and went through the house. I knew right off that this was MY house. After walking through I bent over double in the kitchen, short of breath and with a racing heart. We didn't know yet if the owners would sell. The wife was going to call her husband and we didn't have an answer yet. The fierce, possessive feeling I had for the house after just those few moments meant that I was in for a crushing blow should they decide not to sell it to us. The state of limbo did not last long. I was sitting in the airport waiting for a delayed flight when I got the call that the owners would sell.

And that, my friends, is part of the story of how we ended up on this mad cap adventure.

Oh, if you are wondering, Matt had seen the exterior of the house. Tom and Kathy pointed it out to us on our visits. Even so, it was very bold and courageous of him to get on board with such gusto without having seen the inside of the house. That right there is just one more reason why I love you babe.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Message for My Little Brother

Realizing that it is not possible to support you physically anymore, I would like to reaffirm that I am here for you in every other way. I love you. You will make it through this tough patch with flying colors and be a better, stronger man when all is said and done. Hugs and Kisses. Michelle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Now Present: Michelle as a Mountain Goat

I have already posted a bunch about the de-roofing of the house but here is one more pic. In this shot I am pulling nails out of the sheathing. That is Tom in the foreground prying off the fascia board.

You know . . . growing up, when my Dad and I did things together it was usually along the lines of a Daddy/Daughter dance with our church group and there was usually cake and punch. Now that I am getting to know my birth father it seems that "Daddy/Daughter dates" involve getting really dirty and require being tied to safety lines so I don't crack my skull open falling off roofs, and end up with me smelling worse than I thought it was possible for girls to smell. Hmmmm . . .

The Sister House Gets a Haircut

The roof is gone. It took 3 days of dirty work. Part of the job involved taking off the eaves on the gable end. It looks like the house got a buzz cut to me.
Tom sprung an unexpected task on us at the end of the day today. Turns out now is the prime time to paint the rafters so we must choose our trim color. I have been agonizing over this decision. I thought I still had a few months to hem and haw. Here's the thing: I want a special, unusual, perfect, harmonious, magical, miraculous color for the trim on the house. Is that asking too much? I have considered various shade of chartreuse, purple and orange. Since the siding on the house is going to be cedar left to weather naturally we need to pick a color that will look good while the cedar is new and also look good once the cedar greys out. But that is not all. The pole building we are currently living in - while butt ugly - needs to be considered. It is metal with tan sides and generic green roof and trim. I don't love the colors but I don't want the property to look like a hodge podge of random buildings. I guess I could re-side and re-roof it but that is wasteful and economically dumb as dirt. As unimaginative as plain green is, I am now leaning toward it so that the two buildings tie together somewhat. Maybe if I have a black door that will be magical. Shut up. I know that sounds stupid.

Una to the Other Cats: This is Why I am Alpha. I am Fearless Bitches

All four of us (Tom, Kathy, Matt and Me) were working on the roof project today. We were not expecting a visit from the INSPECTOR. Una trotted on up the stairs, past Walker (T & K's black lab) and out through the slats in the roof structure. She then proceeded right up to the ridge pole and walked back and forth rubbing her face on every piece of wood to let the world know that this is HER house. The truth is we really don't know if she knew where she was. She knew we were on the roof and she knew she wanted to be where we were. Her sight is so bad nowadays we don't know if she was aware of her elevation or the dog in the rafters. She was trying to roll around and play snuggly with the roof just as if she was on the carpet in the living space. At 16 she is showing her age - hearing and sight are waning - but she maintains her status as alphacat by switching on her special brand of crazy whenever any of the other cats challenge her position. She has always been and will always be barking mad and I LOVE her for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dirty Job

Somebody call Mike Rowe. This is quite possibly the dirtiest and filthiest we have ever been in our lives. The time has come to remove the roofing from the Sister House. Decades of crumbling asphalt shingles, moss, and cedar shakes beneath it all needed removal.

Tom and Matt mounting the ascent. The roof pitch is 8:12 so it is a steep bugger.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet I now present to you a fashion don't.

I was not allowed up on the roof until they had cleared down about halfway and the skip sheathing provided more secure footing. I guess my reputation as a klutz preceded me. I did fall through the roof at one point when I stepped on an unstable piece of skip sheathing but I didn't fall far and managed to avoid getting scrapped and bruised. So yay for a secure rope!

As of this writing the roof is about 3/4 cleared off. We completed the west side on Monday and about 1/2 of the east side on Tuesday. I didn't work on the east side so that must be why it is going so slow!! Actually, Matt and Tom report that the roofing on the east side is more disintegrated. It sounds like that would make it easier to remove but it is acting like it is glued to the sheathing and is much trickier to pry off than the west side. Bummer. We had hoped to keep it to a two day job.

The sun sets on a day of hard work. Tom went up and did some final scraping of crap off the edge and we called it quits.

Playing the Ponies

A few weeks ago Drew invited us to the horse races at Emerald Downs. The Market Street Pub was chartering a bus to the races. Matt and I used to go to the races at Del Mar with the RBF crowd in San Diego but that was a good 9 years or so ago. The race trip was this past Sunday. Here are some pics from our day at the races.

The bus riders gathering at the bar before the bus arrived

Drew was concerned (and rightly so) that the sole non-drinker on the bus (me) would get cranky at some point in the day. I am happy to go along for the ride - up to a point. But in situations like these there is a black magic moment where everyone changes and I am left alone in a sea of drunk strangers. I feared being trapped on a bus home with loud obnoxious drunks. So Drew, the man of solutions, had a "sober person's survival kit" waiting for me. He filled a camo backpack full of chocolate, candy, crosswords, a mini-lightbright, 20 questions, silly putty, a coloring book, OK Magazine and a book light in case we were still on the road when it got dark. He also threw in a couple of goodies for Matt: a John Deere sticker and activity book, Chicken in a Biscuit with Easy Cheese, and Wasabi almonds. Those last items came in handy on the way home. Matt passed out "hors d'oeuvers" to all his new friends. The most popular item in the bag turned out to be the little electronic 20 questions. It had us all in stitches on the bus ride up. I lost interest in the races after race 7 and there were 3 more to go so I entertained myself trying to stump the game. I managed to do so with syrup. It guessed peanut butter. Also, Drew, it came in handy later in the night. Matt was snoring like a Sasquatch so I played 20 questions until I was so tired I could fall asleep through the racket. THANK YOU!!!!

The people on the bus go drink and drink.

Pub owner Karla, Drew & Matt

Warm up ring

View from the stands! Mt. Ranier is gorgeous

Matt placing his first bet. We won $63 but bet about $80 so we can't claim to have won anything.

Yay! There we are on the marque

Pretty silver horsey

Poetry in motion

The ninth race was dedicated to the pub.

Horses warming up for the Market Street Pub Purse

6 people from our group got to watch the race from the winner's circle and have their photo taken with the winner.

Here we all are just before the Market Street Pub Purse. I lost $2 on this race.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Filling the Moat

Perimeter drain pipe

Drain Rock

Ground fabric

Matt pushing dirt w/ the rented tractor. We rented this tractor back in January to try and dig through the frost. The same delivery man brought it back this time. He commented that he thought we would be done with the house by now. Whatever dude.

All our hard effort at building green deleted in one fell swoop. A carbon footprint bigger than David Beckham is what we've got going on here. That old CAT just keeps going and going. Even more respectable when you note that our Massey/Ferguson is headed for the shop. Despite all of Matt and Tom's efforts the thing won't start. So kudos to the CAT in all it's belching glory.

Dumping Dirt over the gravel and pipe

Una inspecting the work

Matt after a long day. In a strange way filling in the gap between the earth and the foundation was even more satisfying that getting the trusses up. It felt like the house was sitting precariously and holding us at arms length. It was an ordeal to either walk the slippery plank to the front door or clamber up into the new addition doorways. Now the house looks like it is meant to be here and is inviting us in with open arms.