Thursday, June 30, 2011

Outdoor Fireplace

The inspection is tomorrow, so we don't actually know for sure that our house plans will go through, but we're pretty confident.  I am, therefore, making plans.

The living quarters is a mobile home that will be temporary (barring a zombie apocalypse, of course, then we'll stay).  We won't want to put money into it, save regular maintenance to keep it happy while we're living there.  But, no new kitchen cabinets, wood floors or tile jobs.  And all of that is fine because it gives me plenty of time to work on landscaping, my favorite.

Justin wants a fire pit to be our second order of business (we need to mow and weed a bit first).  I generally don't take on small projects, so instead of buying a pre-fab fire pit from the Costco, I want to re-create something more like our fireplace from the old house.

 It was old, old and some of the rock from the chimney was broken down by the neighbor kid.  I know.  That particular neighbor kid made me a bit nuts.

I loved that fireplace.  I would make a few changes because it was a little small and was too close to the fence.  I thought I would see what else was out there.

I like how the fire is off the ground.  It would make it easier for more people and roasting sticks to benefit from it's warmth.

Ooo, an outdoor mantle!

This last one is my favorite.  I love the rustic, moss covered stones.  Very natural.  It looks like it was meant to be there.

For now, we want to just put up the fireplace, but eventually, I envision a vine-covered pergola nearby with an outdoor eating area.  I want to build a fireplace hook into the mortar between the rocks.  

Not this elaborate, but something on which we could hang a pot of stew in an emergency.

I'm hoping to use stones from the area around the firebox, then I'll dress the rock in a yogurt mixture that will help the moss grow  more quickly.  I'm so excited about this project.  I'm sure my favorite book, Back to Basics, will teach me how to do it!  It won't go just as planned, of course, but I'll chronicle the building of the thing as I go for you.

First, we need to sign the papers.  Geesh.  So many details!

Monday, June 27, 2011


After we lost the seventh house, my husband and I prayerfully changed our direction.  Instead of trying to find a run-down house, we decided to focus on land.  If we could get a beautiful spot of land with a mobile home within our price range, then what we really have is a beautiful spot of land with gas, electric, water and septic already on the property--not to mention a place to stay until we can build a house.

I found about six plots that met our criteria and we went looking.  One fit the bill perfectly.  The trailer was built in 1971 and is nothing to look at, but it has been owned by the same sweet old lady for forty years.  She didn't want to leave, but the winters have gotten to be too much for her.  This is the first house in our search that is immaculate and doesn't need to be gutted and re-built before we can move in.  And, we can pretty much guarantee that it has never been a meth house.  Next year, when Justin has an actual paying job, we can begin the process of acquiring a few more bedrooms.  As it is, though, we'll have three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms.

And this:  1.4 acres of pine and mountain meadow.

That will work for me!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Completely Embarrassing

My parents cancelled their garbage service a couple of months ago.  The rates were going up again.  Since they live only a couple of miles from the transfer station, they decided to make a dump run once a month and save themselves some money.  This all sounds great, right?  Well, it is great when my former-truck-driver father is in town.  Right now, he is not, which leaves me to take the garbage.

With his humongous trailer.

Our particular transfer station has a massive garage type enclosure in which trucks line up about one foot apart . . . and they all line up


Also, Friday's are apparently the day to take your nicest truck to the dump.  "WHY are these people all driving their NICE trucks to the dump?!" I pleaded with my fifteen year old nephew, who took pity on me and came along.    "Aren't you supposed to take your crappy truck to the dump in case something happens to it?!"  (Something like ME driving a stupid, massive trailer backwards.)

So, now I have to back up this huge trailer into a tight spot between two brand new, very expensive trucks--the kind of trucks that you see parked at the back of the grocery store parking lot so no one will accidentally roll their grocery cart into the shiny paint job.

I am completely sweating and trying to self-talk myself some encouragement.  I wasn't believing myself, though, so I wasn't encouraged.  I gave a couple of half-hearted tries and could feel everyone's eyes on that idiot girl.  My face was so hot, I was afraid it would melt right off my bones.  I wanted to just give up and drive off, but I would have had to do a three-point turn to get out of there; and we all know that wasn't going to happen.

I jumped out of the truck and ran over to the guy in the reflective jacket.

"My dad made me take his stupid huge trailer to the dump and I CANNOT BACK IT UP!  Can you back it up for me?"  At this point, I was wishing I was blond and buxom.  I was sure it would have made all the difference.  Alas, I am 34 and freckled so I had to deal with regulations.  He couldn't get in my car.

Warren, about 50, who had obviously backed up hundreds of trailers of every length and weight, patiently calmed me down and assured me he would walk me through it.  I got back in the driver's seat and rolled down the window.  At first, he just told me which way to turn my wheel.  Then, he stuck his hand through the open window and did it himself.  I wanted to cry.

So, in front of every truck-owning, tough guy in this city (the dump was busy this morning), Warren steered the truck into place.  I thanked him profusely and he was very kind.  But then, I had to get out of the truck to unload the garbage cans.  It was humiliating enough to be in the vehicle and so inept that I couldn't be trusted to have my hands on the wheel, but to get out was almost more than my pride could handle.  I ducked my head and whispered a repeated, "This sucks, this sucks, this sucks, this sucks," while my nephew and I unloaded and re-tarped the trailer.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Dear Dad,

I love you.

I will never do that again.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For Mom

Who is not here to see this display in her gardens this week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Through the Window

To quote Maria von Trapp, "When God closes a door, somewhere, He opens a window."

We are now exploring on the other side of that window.

We will have been at my parent's place for four weeks tomorrow.  Everyone is ready for the vacation to be over, but it isn't a vacation.  It is some kind of new reality.  We may be here for two weeks or we may be here for the rest of the summer.  One thing is for sure: we need to re-establish a routine and create a more normal life or risk falling apart.

Justin and I had had these same thoughts over the weekend and we both determined to do better.  We had a meeting of the minds yesterday and decided on a few things.  Today we tried it out.  It wasn't perfect, but it was much better.  My ever wise husband balanced my zealous affirmation with reality.  Instead of having a full school schedule, we're just going to make sure we read every day.  Instead of trying to have morning and evening family prayer accompanied by family scripture study and Family Home Evening, we are going to commit to evening prayers and Monday night Family Home Evening.  Instead of a perfect housekeeping routine, we are aiming to complete a few essential chores each day.  Sometimes we can steadily leap forward in our progress and sometimes we have to be happy with small, hesitant steps.

I have a dear friend who also had a still-birth.  She told me it took six months to find normal again.  We're improving.  I'm still fragile and seem to fall apart at unexpected moments, but I am stronger.  I am impatient with myself and project my criticisms of myself onto everyone else.  I imagine that they are thinking me lazy, emotional, rude, thoughtless or the other unjust labels I have given myself.  Another little goal for the week is that I need to be more gentle with myself and more thoughtful of my husband.

So, we will remember that we are on a new journey on this side of the window and will continue forward with our small steps.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Outside Day

It's still cold, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The first 80 degree day of 2011 is in the seven day forecast.  We decided we couldn't wait any longer and had a park day.

There were a few paved trails that had us wandering about the wild parts of the park.  Coming from the high desert, it is so good to be back in the green.

Looking down at the freaky beautiful waterfall.  The rivers are very swollen this spring and putting on spectacular displays.

And the placid pond.

Have a wonderful weekend.  I hope you get to enjoy nature in your neck of the woods.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bring on the Global Warming

I am freezing cold.  I am sitting here in a fluffy, thick robe and I am shivering.  Earlier this evening, I was visiting with my sister in the back yard and I could see my breath.  Where is that promised global warming?

My parents have a wood burning fireplace that has been around since before I could walk.  I used to lay in bed in the mornings until I heard Mom building a fire.  Then, I waited until I heard the squeak of the damper being closed--that meant that the fire would be nice and hot.  I would then grab my school clothes and run to the stove to keep from freezing while I dressed.

Funny Story.  In the second grade, I got a long-coveted pink coat.  It was not a hand-me-down and it was not ugly.  I had only been wearing it a few weeks when a warm Autumn afternoon prompted me to take it off.  I left it in our van overnight.  It was a super cold night and the grass was frozen stiff in the morning.  I ran outside, grabbed my coat from the van and ran it to the wood stove.  I put it on the flat top of the stove to warm it up.  (Give me a break, I was only seven!)  I totally scorched one side of that beautiful coat and couldn't wear it anymore.  I had to wear my sister's dumb last-year's coat for the rest of the year.

But anyway, it is right now in the middle of June.  It will officially be Summer soon and I have had a fire going in that beloved stove nearly the entire day.  I've been wearing long sleeves and socks and I didn't pull my hair up because I needed it's warmth on my neck.

I think I'm going to go protest those big factories that stopped producing the greenhouse gasses.  Maybe they'll start puffing the black clouds again.  And I think I'll introduce legislation to get rid of the catalytic converters.  Yesss, I think I'm on to something.

Or maybe I'm delirious from the hypothermia.  Whichever.

Is Seven the New Lucky Number?

I certainly hope seven is the new lucky number because we are on our seventh house offer.  Three offers were withdrawn after severe problems were revealed at the inspection and on the other three, we were outbid.  This does not include the dozen or so houses that we have liked, but who have had a signed offer accepted before we could finish putting our offer together.

Because I am an analytical gal, I've noticed something interesting has happened to my house criteria from the beginning of our searching process until now. When I first began searching, I looked for an older home that was rough, but had heaps of potential.  I noticed and hoped for features like claw foot tubs, wood floors, original kitchen cabinets, and interesting built-ins.

Now, I have it narrowed down to walls and a roof.

We've tried to get a house without a kitchen, a house without a foundation, a house filled with black mold (the bank wouldn't lower the price enough to pay for mitigation!), a house with no (zero, none, zilch) back yard, and a house with such a severe cat pee smell that we could hardly stand inside for more than ten minutes together.  You would think that a bank would be thrilled to get houses with these kinds of problems off their hands--and have cash in their hands instead!  Not so.  My theory, see, is that they want their jobs.  If they can bicker over tiny details and never sell the houses in their inventory, well, job security!

The current bid is on a house with a lemon yellow room, a paint splatter room, a glow-in-the-dark greenish/yellow room (no, really, it glows in the dark!), a purple kitchen with pink counter tops . . . it would be fantastic!

Wish us luck.

P.S.  I have no idea who this darling lady is, but I adore her.  I'm going to have her sweet face, with her hopeful crossed fingers in my mind's eye to give me hope that everything will work out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Not Just Sheds

As I explained yesterday, my parent's yard is rather big.  So big, in fact, that they have a series of sheds in which to store tools and supplies.  They used to be scattered about, but last year my mom got this idea to put them together to form a little village.  Dad hauled the things over and built a fantastic board walk and Mom set to work on turning the sheds into something else.

Here is the Church.  Dad built the steeple and Mom painted the fiberglass light panels to resemble stained glass.  She has a few other things she would like to do to the church, but this is how it looks today . . . darling.

Next is the School House.  Eventually, Mom wants this to be more of a playhouse school (think Laura Ingalls) for the grandchildren, but right now it has a bunch of my crap in there.  I will be moving it out before the grandchildren are grown . . . I hope.

And finally, the Livery Stable.  They have some old wagon and tractor parts as well as a miniature windmill strategically in the garden beside the shed.  My assignment for the week was to make the sign--something that hints Old West, without being to kitschy or blatant.  Mom wanted a false front, kinda like this:

We didn't get it put up yet because I don't know how, but here is the building

and here is its sign.

We're going to let the wood weather gray to answer the weathering board walk below.  It is all scrap wood (FREE) and I love the texture of the different board widths.

A fun project.  This little scheme of my folks' making has made me want to do something whimsical.  You?


My parent's have a rather large yard.  Therefore, there is no such thing as a small sprinkler here because they must use the great big ch-ch-ch kind to water all of the gardens.  It warmed up nicely today and the girls found themselves tempted by the water.

It was more than any child could have resisted.  They soon discovered that these types of sprinklers are not nearly as fun to run through than the small ones we use, but they do possess another power:  They can be aimed.

And aimed shots of high-powered spray can be hard to avoid.

Especially when you are standing on a giant rock.

Nobody minded, though.  This is the whole point of a sunny day in June.  Well, that and Popsicles.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

The MotherShip

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feeling Rich--For the Moment

We closed on our house yesterday and it was funded today.  Since we still haven't found a new house, there is no where for that money to go.  We've talked about a few options:

  1. Buy super fancy, brand new cars with all of the bling and frizzle.  
  2. Go to the bank and request all of the money in crisp one dollar bills--then go swimming in it.
  3. Take an amazing vacation every weekend for the next year.
  4. Spend the entire sum on lottery tickets and take our chances.
  5. Pay our share of the National Debt. (Hahahahahahaha!!!)
  6. Some other outrageous, non-thrifty, unwise thing
It seems like SO MUCH MONEY, but it sure doesn't buy much house.

What would you do?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What I'm Learning

There are some things that you can't learn without having lived a little.  There are some things that on one hand I wish I didn't know (because understanding those things means I have had a hard experience), while on the other hand, I am glad to understand.

Today in church, the topic of the lesson was cultivating a positive attitude.  We discussed the many things that can affect our attitude, if we let it (This is not fair, or I don't deserve this, are a couple of thoughts I've had, for instance).  We then discussed ways we might counter those unvirtuous reactions of the carnal man.  The general idea was to train ourselves to see the positive, to count our blessings, and to write in our gratitude journals to come to our more virtuous selves.

Yes, yes.  I agree with all of this and have found it to be true in my life--I've even written about it here in this format.  However, I have learned something new in recent weeks.  I can be an optimistic and grateful person and still feel strong human emotions.  If I mourn or grieve the loss of a thing (in my case it is a baby, but one could just as easily grieve the loss of health, employment, a marriage or other sizable thing), I am not a sinful or ungrateful person.  It is okay to cry, to hurt, and to be knocked off your feet.  I can recognize my blessings--even the blessings surrounding her death--and still be sad.  There is a reason the two words received their own verse.  It needed to stand alone for us to see the magnitude of them.

Jesus wept.

Maybe he felt the sorrow of Lazerus' sisters.  Maybe he grieved the loss of his friend.  Certainly there could have been other reasons that our Savior shed tears.  One thing is certain:  Jesus, who never committed a sin, had a human emotion.  When he went to the tomb, Jesus didn't lecture about looking on the bright side and didn't jump into a jolly rendition of "My Favorite Things."  No, he wept because, though he was the Son of God, he was also born of a woman.

There is a time and a place for the lecture and the jolly song, but there is also a place for tears and sorrow--and I am grateful for that new understanding.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


When I woke up this morning, the sun was up and making the thickly dewed grass sparkle with its light.  It has been nothing but rainy and cold since we lost our Eowyn and my soul yearned for the sun.  Out I went, even though I was still in my nightgown, into the rejuvenating rays.  All of nature was waiting for the sun's appearance as eagerly as was I--I know because I wasn't the only creature out and about first thing in the morning.  The butterflies floated happily from one barely opened blossom to another.  The bees added a general hum to the air as they gathered their treats from the pine trees.  The birds were nearly deafening as they called to each other and cheered the bright, warm morning.  My feet soaked up the refreshing dew and my black hair soaked up the warmth.  I breathed deeply and felt some of the broken parts of me reaching out for repair.  I thanked our Heavenly Father for the love I felt in the world around me and pleaded again for help to heal those broken parts.

The day was a healthy one that included lots of work.  It was the first day this year in which I sweated in the heat of the day under the toil of laboring in the yard.  That, too, always helps to heal.

I find myself coming back to myself more and more while at home, but am still confused about how to be while I am out.  There are billboards with the image of a newborn baby, quiet time by myself to remember my sadness, parents carrying a baby around the store or a song coming from the overhead speakers that trigger my emotions.    My usual muses to get me out of my reverie are not available.  I do not have a home to repair or projects to tackle.  There is a great deal of help here, at my parent's home, with my regular mothering and household duties.  I do not have church responsibilities and, because I am still recovering physically from the delivery of a child, I cannot exercise or work too strenuously.

So, it was good to be outside today.  It was good to see everyone showcasing their hobby . . . and all were out today :  the antique airplane restorers in the sky, the ATVs on the trails, the old cars and motorcycles and convertibles on the streets and the gardeners working their canvas.  There were families on bike rides and dogs catching frisbees in the park.  There were children playing in swollen streams and grandpas eating ice cream cones.

And there was me:  grateful to have work to do, grateful that my dad has a motorcycle, grateful for maple nut ice cream, grateful for my tireless mother (who is very tired, but who keeps going anyway), grateful for my five healthy and with me children . . .

and grateful for the sun . . .

and The Son.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pity Party is Over

I just wanted you all to know that yesterday's pity party is over.  I woke up feeling much better.  My husband and I brain-stormed some other ideas and I have new direction and hope today.

While I was in the midst of my boohoo-ing, I did sit down to watch a girly/crying movie so I could really relish my everything sucks moment.  I told my sister what I was going to do and she asked if I had found our mother's stash of chocolate fudge mint something or other cookies.  I let her know that, no, I hadn't found those, but I did find and eat most of the can of Almond Roca.

Yes, it did help.  Thank you very much.

God does not hate me nor is He picking on me.  He loves me very much and is trying to teach me a few things--things I want to learn so I never have to learn them again, if you know what I mean.  My life is mostly wonderful.  Thank you for letting me feel sorry for myself yesterday.  It helps to have friends who support and understand (and not yell at me for being a boob).

The End.

For now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Load of S#*%!


That is the number of houses on which we have lost the bid or had to relinquish the offer due to serious problems uncovered at the inspection.  Five times I have made up my mind to figure out how to make the best out of a less-than-fantastic situation.  Five times I have begun to make plans--things I could do to make the house work, bring charm and otherwise dish out that always needed TLC.  Five times I've waited on pins and needles, trying not to get my hopes up and failing, sometimes over the course of several days, as I wait for the gal at the desk at the bank to determine the future of my family.  Four times I pulled myself up from my bootstraps and pulled out my good attitude and optimism.

After the fifth loss, I'm bitter and frustrated and emotionally exhausted.

I understand Mrs. Bennet's frequent proclamation of "Oh, my poor nerves!"

I want to put on a frilly robe and sit by a fire tended by someone else and cry into my delicate handkerchief all day.  But I can't; I can't afford one thing on that list.  Well, except the tears.  I produce those in abundance.

Of course, if it was just that we couldn't find a house, I would probably be managing better, but there is more.

The house that we are selling, the one on which we are about to close, was just discovered to have termites.  Termites??  Really?  In a town that is "too cold" to have termites?  Honestly, I should have known.  Not because there was ever any sign of termites (apparently they are under the front porch), but because this week would be the week to have the most unexpected thing occur.  I had no use for that $1200 anyway.

And, to top it off, there are these damn little pregnant women all over the place.

Please excuse me while I go bawl in my old nightgown and blow into a cheap generic Kleenex.

I'm sorry about the swears.  I am currently indulging an impure desire to curse.