Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pears, Poplar and Paper

Ann here.  It is entirely my fault that there hasn't been a post in a week. My hubby told me he was waiting for me to do another one before he writes again. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's more of an editing issue in my brain, like, 'do people really want to hear about this, that or the other?' I've decided not to worry about it. Take what you want and leave the rest.  ;-)

A little update on the kitchen ceiling. In an earlier post, we thought we had discovered wood on the ceiling but alas, it is really just two layers of drywall. We saw the seams and thought it was the same planking that is on the walls. Oh well. We'll let you know what we decide to do with it -- patch up the drywall we poked through, or something else.

A wonderful surprise: We have a pear tree, people!
They are tiny and cute right now, but later this summer they will be fantastic! When I told Bonnie that pears are one of my favorite fruits she said, "Me too, Mama, me too!" It was so sweet, my eyes welled up.

Poplar and Paper

We finally finished ripping off the old flooring in the kitchen to reveal the original yellow poplar and I nearly broke my back pulling the nails out of the floor yesterday:

There must have been 300 at least. It felt like 1,000. The nail bar and I are good buddies now.

You may recall there was linoleum, particle board, two more layers of linoleum, and a Congoleum 'rug.' Next to the floor were the 1925 newspapers -- all local with the exception of an occasional one from Indianapolis. I saved quite a few but still ended up with this:

a mountain of old newspaper. I just realized this is still in progress. I've got another one that shows the mountain that I will post later if I remember.

I don't know if I have posted 'before' pics of the kitchen, so without further ado....

After we finish ripping down the remainder of the drywall from the walls, I will post those pics.

Last but not least.....

The other big, huge, stupendous news is that we had a septic expert come out and look at the septic tank. He believes it is ok, and we should go ahead and try it, which we will once we get the bathroom in. Well, we were concerned that the county health department would not let us even try to use it because they have no record of it. Long story short - Kevin went and spoke with the county gentleman, explained the situation and guess what? The guy said, "OK!"  This is the VERY thing that derailed the deal last fall. Thank you God. That's all I can say about that.

I was telling a friend that I'm usually speechless when I think about all of the many, many blessings that keep coming our way with our home. It's not like me to not have anything to say. (I can hear you laughing -- you know who you are.)  I'm speechless because this has been such an emotional journey that has required every bit of faith and every bit of trust that this is where we are supposed to be. Over and over again, I see clearly that it is.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Skills To Build A Home

It's 4:30 AM here in southern Indiana.  I've been up for a little while now and am just starting on my 2nd cup of coffee.  I woke up at 3:13 AM and just knew I was all done sleeping.  Sometimes you just know the moment you open your eyes that it's time to get up and get going.  So, that's what I did.  I got up, got dressed and took a drive over to the house just to be there in the silent stillness.  Ann and I had been over there yesterday afternoon talking about some plans and I wanted to go back and give it some more thought without the kids and the dogs and all of that.  As I walked around re-visiting all that Ann and I had talked about I couldn't help but think about all the people that had walked where I was walking and all the hard work it took for them to give us this house that is now ours. 

In the mid 1850's it was no easy task to build a house but here it is and I am so thankful that they worked so hard and I think of them everytime I pick up a hammer.  But the thing I think I'm most thankful about is that fact that I have the skills necessary to be part of saving this place and making it what it was built to be, a home.

As many of you know my most recent job was being part of a management team for a chemical company in California.  I'd been with the company for several years and part of the leadership team for the last 3 years.  So "swinging a hammer" wasn't exactly part of my daily routine.  Swinging a coffee cup, swinging a phone, swinging a sandwich from Specialty's Deli was very much a part of my day but not a whole lot of work that made my arms hurt.  So when we got here and I had to do one of the first tasks necessary to get water to the house, I was not prepared by any wild stretch of the imagination.  What was the task?  I had to dig a hole.  Yep, dig a hole.  Long story short... I sort of got it dug (through roots, rocks, pieces of brick, old wood etc) but in the end I worked with someone to find a better way... That's a skill I am WAY better at.  Anyway, all of these things I am doing now on a daily basis have taken me back to when I was growing up and reminded me just how much knowledge my Dad shared with me along the way.

I can't tell you how many times I remember crawling under a house or a car when I was a kid.  I know that it wasn't all that my Dad and I did but looking back it sure seems like we did it a lot.  On the weekends there was always some task that needed to be done.  I'm not sure if stuff really needed to be done or if my Mom just made stuff up to keep my Dad and I out of trouble but however it happened there was work to be done.

Where I grew up there were a lot of people who had small farms and ranches or just had "property."  That meant that there was stuff that always needed attention.  We had a little over an acre and on it was our house and a rental house.  That doubled my chances to learn home improvement skills.  My Dad wasn't one to hire someone to do something.  He would either do it all by himself or, in the case of electrical work, he would get one of his friends who was an electrician to come over and show him how to do it.  That way he could do it himself the next time.  And, whatever he watched... I watched.

Walking around the house this morning I realized just what a blessing it was that my Dad let me be part of all those projects.  When I look at my house now and think about re-wiring it, I do it with confidence and the knowledge that because I was allowed to be part of those projects growing up that I can share that with my family.  The other thing that really struck me this morning was that no amount of formal education will ever give me the skills necessary to benefit others as much as the life skills I learned as a kid.  If our government collapsed tomorrow I have the skills to lead my family and help others survive as a result of things I learned from my Dad.  So this morning, there in the quiet, I thanked God for the amazing house and for having someone teach me everything I need to keep it alive for another 155 years.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Camouflage, Purses and a new Mercury

We don't have any furniture to really sit on.  When we left California we left our couch at the curb (I hope it's gone by now).  So what we have to sit on is one bentwood chair from IKEA and 3 dining room chairs... Oh and Bonnie's high chair and kid size couch.  So really if Ann, Nick and I want to sit down together we either do it at the kitchen table or one of us is in the living room and two in the dining room or one in a chair and two on the floor or... you get the picture.  So the other day Ann said that we needed some place to sit and I had to agree.  After scraping drywall or cutting brush or whatever over at the house it would be nice to have a comfy chair to sit in.

Yesterday Bonnie and I were out and about picking up some things we needed at the hardware store.  There are a couple of hardware stores in  Salem (a few miles up the road) so we decided to check them out.  The first one is Western Auto.  I grew up going to Western Auto with my parents.  For those of you who didn't, it's a store that carries a little bit of everything you might need.  This store had washers and dryers, lawn and garden stuff, housewares, plumbing and electrical, auto parts and furniture.  As we walked in I saw a row of recliners in the middle of the store and Ann's suggestions came back to me.  I knew the prices were probably going to be a bit more than we would pay in Louisville but I thought I'd take a look. Bonnie headed right to the chairs so I figured if she knew we had a problem with our seating situation at home then I'd better give it my full attention.

There were about 10 recliners on display.  The prices weren't as bad as I had thought and I sat in one to give it a quick test drive.  I noticed Bonnie was slapping the seat of one with both hands and saying "look at this one Dada, look at this one."  So I stood up to see the chair she wanted me to come see.  Well, it was a recliner and it was comfortable enough (I sat in it and rocked Bonnie a little as she requested) but I am guessing that no matter how rural our lifestyle and no matter how long my wife lives in the "country" this recliner will not be sitting in our living room.  Nothing I could write would do this justice so here is a picture:

Yep, it's camouflage.  A camouflage rocker recliner.  Not only that but some of the additional features are (maybe I'm embellishing here a little...): a rifle rack on the back, arm rests that open to reveal places for a beer and a place that will hold a whole roll of cans of chew, a hidden pocket in the side for a backup handgun AND ammo (in case you can't get to a rifle), holders for your smokes and matches and two knife slots on the right hand side.  This chair has it ALL!  I didn't ask Ann if I could have it though...   The look on her face when she saw the picture was enough.

Purses and a new Mercury.  In case you're wondering if you read that right... you did.  I'm going to take a moment and share a discovery we made at the house relating to purses and a new Mercury.  You may have read in yesterdays post that we unearthed some old newspapers while we were taking up the kitchen floor.  We actually found two different layers of old newspaper with a couple of layers of linoleum in between.  The bottom papers were right up against the original wood floor and were from 1925 and the second layer of papers were from 1954.  We are still looking at them but there were a couple of interesting things that we saw at first glance.  The first was an important fashion announcement (look at the date):

And the second was a "fashion announcement" for the man in 1954:

We thought these two papers (29 years apart) were a pretty interesting archeological study.  There are news stories about the McCarthy hearings and about US Marines landing in Honduras.  There were also a couple of pages of comics.  Once we go through them (and whatever else we find under the floor) we will share the information in future posts.

As for progress, we are very happy about what we are finding in the kitchen  as we remove the drywall and we wonder what other treasures we are going to find as we begin to explore the out buildings.  I'm going to get my hands on a metal detector and give the property (inside, outside, top and bottom) a good going over.  There may be things that were dropped long ago that could be of interest and that might give us more insight into the daily life of the Tash family and about the history of our new home.

Stay tuned...


Monday, June 20, 2011

Surprises All Around

Over the course of the last couple of days we have had a number of small surprises.  One was the kind we were happy about, one was the kind that you would expect living with "nature" all around and the other was more of a regional "jolt." I'll talk a little about each in no particular order.

The other day Ann, the kids and I were over at the house.  For those of you who have looked at the pictures of the house as it stands now, you will know that the kitchen is covered in sheetrock painted this green color that.. well, I don't even really know how to describe it.  It's almost like a color you would expect to see on a vest worn by someone picking up trash along the highway.  Anyway, it's sheetrock, its green and it has to GO!!!  So, we decided to punch a hole in it and see what was behind it.  We chose a couple of spots on different walls and the ceiling.  We knew that there had been a fire and that the back wall had been rebuilt so it was going to be just drywall, that was a given but it was the other walls and the ceiling that gave us our pleasant surprise.

When we got through the drywall on the first hole we found wood planking.  Different people call it different things but it was basically 1x4 or 1x6 (depending on which wall) boards covering the entire wall.  This was PERFECT for what we envisioned for the kitchen.  We are going to keep this entire house (with the only exception being the bathroom) as simple and traditional as possible so this siding was such a welcome sight (see picture).

Each time we removed the drywall we found this.  Then, Ann said she wondered what the ceiling was like and a couple swings of the hammer later and we found a very similar wood there as well.  The only place that didn't have the wood was a portion of the back wall where the fire had been.  But that is actually perfect because we are going to install windows along that wall to look out on the summer kitchen and back yard so it couldn't have worked out better.

We also decided to make a hole in the kitchen floor to see what is there. Right now the floor has a "brick" pattern linoleum over particle board and we wondered what was under there as well.  So we removed a layer of linoleum, a layer of particle board, off-white linoleum, wild-colored linoleum, then some Congoleum flooring and finally some 1925 newspapers (really) and found.... the original yellow poplar floor planking.  Jackpot!!  Thank you God!!!

Ok, so the second little surprise gift was "given" to me while I was out walking around the yard.  Ann had dropped me off at the house because Bonnie was asleep in the car and rather than wake her up, Ann had decided to take a little drive and give Bonnie more time to nap. (Letting Bonnie sleep is ALWAYS a good idea... believe me.)  Out near the back corner of the house we have some wild black raspberry bushes.  The berries are small but DELICIOUS and Bonnie likes to pick and eat them whenever she is at the house so I wanted to see how the crop was doing.  As I stood there looking at them I noticed some movement in the bush.  It was like a breeze was blowing one small portion of the plant.  I stood and watched as a tiny garden snake made it's way up one of the bushes and out into the sunlight (see picture).

At first I didn't want to get my phone out for fear of scaring it away.  But I soon realized that he didn't really care one way or the other about me being there.  He was looking for sunshine and maybe a bug for a snack.  So I took a couple of pictures, called Ann to tell her about it and watched as he eventually made his way through the bush and back down to the ground below.  The last time I saw him, he was disappearing into some dead leaves and stuff at the base of the bushes.  After I showed Bonnie the picture she asked about "our snake" a bunch of times.  It was pretty cute.

Our final noteworthy event came yesterday morning.  We had the great fortune to be right in the path of a pretty amazing thunder storm.  When it came it came FAST.  One minute there was a light breeze and some sprinkles and the next there was torrential rain, screaming wind and lightening right over our heads.  Having had little exposure to this and based on the devastation we saw on our trip over here (see previous blog post) our minds automatically turned to tornados.  Thankfully the internet stayed up and we were able to watch the storm on doppler radar.  There were tornado warnings for south of Louisville but nothing here.  The most severe part of it lasted about 25 minutes and then it was gone.  While it was a little intense for us, it was cool to watch the power of it and to talk and listen to the kids "oohs and awes" as it was happening.  We drove over to check the big trees at the house, find Bonnie's little pool that we had left out and to make sure "Oscar Kitty" was ok.  Everything was fine.

All in all... a pretty eventful weekend.

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Take care.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cookouts, Meteorology and Bass Pro Shops

Yesterday I BBQ'd at the house for the first time.  I got the grill out (charcoal ONLY... no gas grillin' for me) and fired it up.  I did so with not a small amount of trepidation.  After a full day of clear skies and sunshine (86 degrees and about 70% humidity) the atmospheric mood was starting to change.  The sky started to turn shades of grey and there was a light wind.  For those of you on the west coast you would assume this would mean a drop in temperature and humidity right?  Nope!  Same heat just less bright.  The wind moved the hot and humid around but that's it.  Anyway, I decided to roll the dice and cookout.

Ann was at the apartment working while the kids and I were at the house doing our thing.  Doing "our thing" for Bonnie means running around with Nick and the dogs, poking sticks into every hole in the yard, telling me to "come here daddy, come here" every 5 seconds and just getting the lay of the land.  Doing "our thing" for Nick and the dogs means trying to stay away from Bonnie and that stick (and the garden hose sprayer) as best they can.  Nick had 2 distinct advantages over the dogs though:

  1.  The dogs only have 12 ' of rope and a 24' diameter circle to run in and around (or 75.3982' circumference if you want more math) whereas Nick could run over to Illinois if he needed to.
  2. Nick does not have a compelling desire to be petted by someone.  The dogs would walk up to Bonnie to get some "love", get poked with a stick and have to retreat 12 - 24' away for a couple of minutes until they forgot about the stick and tried it again only to discover the garden sprayer on the hose (our dogs are not very bright just so you know).
My thing was to get the grill going, get the meat cooking, keep a close eye on the weather and to respond to Bonnie's endless demands, questions and never ending attempts to either beat, blind or spray her brother and/or the dogs.  I somehow managed to do it all.  So the meat was searing (hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken and 2 ribeye steaks) and the sky was darkening... (I wish I had some ominous music to play here but you get it).  We managed to get everything cooked, all the stuff cleaned up, the grill cooled down and the dogs loaded in the car just as the first few rain drops fell.  Literally, it worked out that well.  Then came the situation that all my years of study of meteorology (I watched A LOT of weather channel) didn't teach me..  You can drive . 6 miles here and go from little, tiny drops of water hitting your windshield to being completely under water.  By the time we got to the apartment (87 seconds later) there was a wall of water everywhere.  The drops were about the size of my head and I had 2 kids, 2 dogs and various and sundry cooked meats to get out of the car and into the apartment.  Luckily Ann came to the rescue with 2 big golf umbrellas (swim fins, snorkels...) and we were able to pull it off together.  The kids were a little wet, the dogs were a little pungent and, I am happy to say, the meat was delicious!!!  I'm going to make myself a note about this weather thing...

Ok so, If you've ever been to Bass Pro Shops you will understand what I'm going to write about.  If you've never been to Bass Pro Shops and happen to be Roman Catholic, just substitute St. Peter's Basilica for the words Bass Pro Shops and you'll get it.  And if you happen to never have been to Bass Pro Shops and aren't Roman Catholic just think of the biggest, coolest place you've ever been (Yosemite, Disneyland, Hawaii...) and substitute that.

Before our cookout yesterday I took Nick and Bonnie to Bass Pro Shops.  I wanted to check out some fishing stuff and had seen the signs and decided to take a field trip.  We drove down to Clarksville and found the place and parked.  Now, I had been to Bass Pro Shops before when I was long haul trucking but that was several years ago and with age and time you tend to forget little details like how HUGE the place is.  When we walked in it was... a religious experience for me (think St. Peter's).  There were 3 floors of everything you could think of related to the outdoors.  Thousands of fishing poles, millions of pieces of tackle, hundreds of guns, knives and bows were before me for me to enjoy and educate my kids about.  Not to mention there was a creek running through the middle of the place with foot bridges and fish in it (Bonnie LOVED that) and the creek appeared to originate somewhere in the back of the building so we followed it.  At the head of the creek was a small lake that had huge catfish, bass and other fish in it as well as a waterfall that looked like something out of an old Coors commercial (Golden Colorado had nothing on this place).  We began our exploration in the fishing... forest?  Department?  whatever it was.

I don't want to go on and on and make this sound like a commercial for Ugly Sticks (ask someone who fishes... they'll explain) or Rooster Tails (see previous suggestion) but lets just say they had it all.  The same thing goes for guns, knives and every other thing.  We spent nearly two hours looking at stuff including every kind of dead, stuffed animal you can imagine (sorry but they were there).  Bonnie had a ball.  She asked a million questions and loved to look at the fish and the water.  Nick wandered around and explored every department.  He's become quite fond of the Glock 23 (.40 cal) and knows what kind of decoys he wants to use for duck season.  I thought it was a great outing but I didn't know how good until just before going to sleep last night.

I was saying prayers with Bonnie last night and we came to the point in our prayer where we ask God to bless our family, our friends, our loved ones we've lost, storm victims, those in need... and at the very end after listing all those we want God to bless Bonnie paused for a second and then said, very excitedly, "and Bass Pro Shops."

I think that says it all..... Amen.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Insulation and Whatnot

Ann here. Before I talk about insulation, I have to get something off of my chest.....

Have you ever taken a risk, trusted that you made the right decision, but still had that tiny bit of wonderin' in the back of your mind? Yeah, that would be me....until the past few days, that is.

Don't get me wrong, after we got back on track with this house in March, all lights were green, we passed Go and collected our $ get the point. A few times in the past few weeks since we arrived, during the amazement that we actually did make this move from the west coast and enjoying a mere fraction of the stress we used to feel, I had a tiny, niggling thing poking the back of my brain.

I'm happy to report it has left. Or maybe I finally came to grips with the fact that hubby and I made the biggest decision of our life together (other than getting married) and we did it of one mind...and it is good. It feels like we are standing on a rock together, solidly...what an incredible thing. And I am thankful beyond words.

I believe it was a combination of mowing our yard on our new riding mower, using a chainsaw for the first time, standing barefoot in the garden, holding hands with the hubby looking at our home while watching the kids run around the yard with smiles on their faces.

Then yesterday, this sky spoke to me:

and it said, "Peace."

Back to reality...I wrote the following back in March, before we closed on the house. I'm a planner, doing what I love to do...plan.

There are SO many things to think about when bringing an old house back to life, and today insulation is on my mind. We've been doing a lot of research online, trying to figure out the best way to approach the insulation issue, because our old beauty was built in 1853, so it is a HUGE issue!  Come to find out that, interestingly, there has been quite a heated debate about whether to even insulate an old house or not.

The issue stems from understanding how the house was built to begin with because houses of our vintage typically were not insulated in order to allow for the escape of moisture from between the siding and lath&plaster walls.

Before we actually knew the state of the insulation, I could think anything I wanted, and I was leaning toward removing all of the old lath and plaster to add closed cell rigid foam board insulation, as I had been reading that this new technique is an answer to old house breathability issues.

One of the first things I did, with hubby supervising, was poke into the wall to expose the lath and underlying insulation. We knew that at some point insulation had been blown into the exterior walls and we needed to know if it had been wet at any point.

Here is what we found:

completely dry and fluffy insulation. Hubby even stuck his hand in there.

So that completely blows my new insulation plan, which is good! This means we will cut into the plaster for the new electrical, then patch the plaster. Truth be told, we will not do the re-plastering ourselves. We will leave it to a professional, for sure. AND, we will only save the plaster in the living room, master bedroom and office (which will be our daughter's room while she is still little).

I will scan in a floor plan so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about. These rooms are on the main level, which also includes the kitchen, electrical room, laundry room and main bathroom. All of those rooms need so much work that it will really be taking them down to the studs. For instance, in the kitchen, we realized the entire room was drywalled at some point -- most likely to repair fire damage. We don't know exactly when the fire occurred but it is clearly evident in the attic upstairs and inside the back wall of the kitchen.

Stay tuned for the kitchen demo pictures -- that will begin soon!

Cell Phones and New Friends

Sometimes in the course of a regular day I encounter situations that make me think, "Hey, I should blog about that..." but by the time the day ends I've either forgotten or, more often than not, realized that the event wasn't quite as interesting as I had first thought.  But then there are those situations that stick with me until I wake up the next morning.  Here are a couple of things that happened yesterday.. Let me know what you think.

Because we can't live in the house yet, we live in an apartment not too far from our house.  Ours is one of a few apartment "complexes" (4 units) here in town.  The building has two units upstairs and two down.  Also, it happens to be located, according to Verizon, right between two cell towers.  If you drive a few blocks in any direction you get a good cell signal but our building happens to be located in a cellular "black hole."  When we moved here and discovered this I promised Ann that I would somehow overcome this issue and began my investigation on how to honor my promise.  (Note to guys:  have a basic understanding what you have to do to make something happen before you promise your wife a solution.)  Long story short, after many phone calls, some bickering and some threatening I was able to secure a network extender for our cell phones.  This piece of equipment uses your internet connection to boost the signal (for everyone) within a 5000 square foot area and it works well.  Ok, now I need to back up....

One day shortly after arriving here I was going out to get in my pickup.  I was going to Newlon's grocery store to get some butter.  How do I remember that obscure detail you ask?  Well, it's like when you remember everything about what you were doing when President Reagan was shot or when 911 happened.  When I walked downstairs I was right in the middle of a CRAZY!!! obscenity laced rant... No, rant is too mild...  a RAGE by another tenant regarding his poor Verizon cell phone signal.  I want to say here that I consider myself a pretty good "cusser."  I drove truck for many years, worked in a plywood mill and spent time with some... curious individuals in my past not to mention, most recently, having studied under some masters at Univar.  But this guy used the "F" word in ways that I would have never dreamed of... It was poetry... I'm still in awe.  Anyway... bad cell phone signal.  So, I had talked to this guy and the person he was sharing with in the past and I felt comfortable offer the solution I had found so I did.  They both listened and he thanked me, lit a cigarette and started talking about how hot it was.  Now, back to the present...

So yesterday I was walking out to get into Ann's car.  The person who was on the receiving end of the profane poetry I mentioned earlier was outside and walked up to me as I was getting in the car.  I said "good morning" as did the other person.  Then, completely out of the blue this person said, "you did get you one uh them cell phone boosters didn't ya?"  I said yes, and added that I was happy with it.  Then this person said (and I'm not kidding) "I know it does cuz I can make calls while sittin' on my toilet now and I ain't never been able to do that before..."  Sitting here now, I can think of at least 8 things I should have said and/or asked.  This was one of those rare moments where all bets are off and I should have jumped all over it.  But, in the moment all I could come up with was... "that's convenient."  I know, I know... I should have had fun with it but I blew it.  However, I will be on the lookout for other similar situations and won't let you down next time... I promise!!

One of the things that Bonnie likes best about living here is meeting new people.  Many times when we say we are going somewhere she will ask, "to meet new people?"  It is so cute and she truly seems to enjoy it.  She has made a couple of new friends here and we couldn't be happier.  But, yesterday she stretched this new skill to it's limits while shopping in Wal-Mart.  I know, how can this be a bad story if it happened in Wal-Mart right?  Here's what happened:

We had gone down to Clarksville to Sears to pick up a chainsaw (I'm sure that will be a blog subject soon...) but while we were down there I decided to pick up some stuff at the Wal-Mart Super Center.  For those who don't know, a Wal-Mart Super Center has EVERYTHING you might need (sans a chainsaw) for your daily life,  milk, bread, butter... liquid nitrogen wart remover... EVERYTHING!!!  As Bonnie and I were shopping she told me to "go over there Daddy, go over there."  When she says this she says it SO fast that it sounds like one word.  That's how I know I'd better follow directions and go over.. wherever.  So she pointed and I followed her just like she was my GPS.  We arrived at two huge cardboard boxes that contained seedless watermelons.  Oh, side note: lately we've purchased water melons in both California and Indiana that were labeled "Seedless" but once I cut them open they were FULL of black seeds.  Has anyone else had that happen?  I'm trying to figure out what's with this.. Conspiracy???  Maybe.  Anyway, Bonnie pointed to a melon and told me to "pick it up Daddy, pick it up."  I picked it up and was getting ready to put it in the cart but she said NO!!  She pointed to the seat right next to her and said, "put it here Daddy, put it here."  Again, I know the drill so I complied.

It was then that Bonnie looked at me, put her head down on he melon and hugged it while telling me it was her "melon friend" (see picture below)

So this is what rural life has done to Bonnie.  It has made her appreciate her food more and has broadened her social skills to the point where they know NO bounds.  I wasn't sure how to address this with Bonnie and, quite frankly, was starting to re-evaluate my parenting skills.  I thought about searching for a child psychologist nearby and a million other things.  But just as I was about to do the Google search I looked over to my left and there was a lady with two boys in a shopping cart who had just picked up a honeydew and a cantaloup and told her boys... "Play with your friends and let mama do some shopping..."  Whew!!!

I love rural life.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Since Leaving San Jose...

Ok, because you (and you know who you are) said we don't blog enough, here you go... :-)

Ann and I have been talking a lot lately about just how much our life has changed over the past few months.  Not that long ago we were in San Jose and both of us were spending a great deal of time on the hamster wheel.  I don't mean that to imply that all that we did was futile, on the contrary, we had great friends and really good jobs when we were there.  But now that we've stepped away from it we notice the difference.  Some of the things that I notice are big like I don't spend time on the phone talking about work with people each evening.  And some of the things are small like I have completely stopped biting my fingernails.  But we couldn't be happier about our decision to walk away and to pursue another path.

This morning I woke up at 4:15 AM to the sound of distant thunder.  It was an almost constant rumble and it was a sound I hadn't heard for quite some time.  As the morning progressed the storm moved closer until it was almost right on top of us.  What a sight to see the lightening and hear the crack of the thunder almost simultaneously.  Sitting in the "silence" of the living room (no TV or radio) just watching and listening to the storm was a fantastic way to start the day.  Later the rain came... and man did it rain.  There is a building behind our apartment with a metal roof and the sound of the rain on the metal roof was music.  I drove over to the house a bit later and sat on the front porch and watched and listened to the rain come down.  No traffic, no airplanes taking off... just rain and thunder.  What a morning.

It's amazing how we become desensitized to our environment.  When you live in and around a city you just get used to the constant noise.  In addition you forget what its like to be in a place that is truly dark.  I remember going outside in San Jose really early in the morning while it was still "dark" and looking up to see the orange glow of the city at our doorstep but no stars.  One night after we arrived here Bonnie was asleep and Nick was up so Ann and I drove over to the house to see what it was like at night.  We parked in the yard with the truck facing the field next door.  As soon as we shut off the lights you could see the sparks of a million fireflies over the field.  It was like our own private fireworks show.  We just sat, amazed as the light show got closer and closer to where we were parked.  Before long they were all around us and it was spectacular.

Coming here has been so much more than even I imagined it would be.  I knew what rural life was like having grown up in a small town but I couldn't know how meaningful it could be to bring my family home to a small town.  I still love the city and always will.  Louisville seems like it will be an amazing place to explore and it's only a half an hour away.  I do miss the coffee shops and the bookstores and the "energy" of the city but it's been replaced by inner peace and quiet and time to just sit and watch it rain.  I have to admit that I was a little worried about the "shock" of the change but I have to say that I wouldn't change anything we've done and look forward to tomorrow and every other tomorrow to come.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Flowers on the Farm

Let me just start by saying, just in case you haven't been watching the weather in this part of the is HOT! To say we are grateful for A/C would be an understatement.

Anyway, in terms of the house, we got the water on, the electric on, the garden in but we are still in limbo about whether we can use the septic system. There is one there but the problem is that we don't know where the leach lines go. I have a feeling we'll have to connect to the city sewer in the end, which isn't really a big deal (and is my preference) it will just delay us living in the house because we are paying as we go.

Getting a garden in was big progress in my mind. Just standing there watering the watermelon, squash, cucumber, bell pepper and tomatoes is like a soothing balm for any stress I have, not that I can say I really have any at the moment. Kevin told me after we'd been here a few days that he could tell I had stopped gritting my teeth -- something I've done for so long I didn't realize I even did it. For him, he actually has white on his fingernails. For as long as I can remember, he has bit his nails completely down to the quick. These things combined are more confirmation that we made the right decision in coming here.

Yesterday evening, after the heat had died down a little, we went to the house so I could water the garden and Kevin snapped these photos:

These gorgeous lilies (I think) literally all popped open yesterday not just in our yard but everywhere! Even though they have no scent, I love the color! The shed above is one closest to the house that we will be dismantling because it is seriously about to fall down. We will reuse the metal roof and wood in other restoration around the property.  Amongst the various plants here, there is a concord grape vine, according to our wonderful neighbor Mary Bell, who we will introduce to you soon, if she'll let us take her picture.

Well, off to water the garden again, paint the mailbox post and check on our farm cat Oscar.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Am A Tick Magnet...


Ann does all the really nuts and bolts (important) posts on our blog so I have decided to do... life lesson and observational things.  Here are a couple random thoughts in no particular order.

Every single day since we've been here I have had a tick on me, and some days more than one.  So far none of them has "latched on" but that day's a comin' I know it.  Whenever I've talked to one of the locals they just explain that ticks are part of living here (at certain times of the year) and that I just need to give myself a good "once over" whenever I've been out in the brush or the tall grass.  Ok, I get that and it makes sense.  Ticks tend to thrive in that environment and better safe than sorry, right?  Here's the problem:  The day before yesterday I was standing in the POST OFFICE, not the woods, not the tall grass... but the post office and I looked down at my right arm and there was a big, fat, black and red tick.  We're talking HUGE hungry tick.  As I was dispatching the little guy by using my pickup key and wallet as a mortar and pestle the lady behind the counter said, "Huh, I ain't never seen that before."  I asked her to clarify, she said people don't usually get ticks in the post office... I will become famous for this, I'm sure.  Watch for me on Animal Planet or The Farm Channel or something.

Who would have ever thought that buying a mower could be such a labor intensive process?  Ok, we aren't just looking at mowers but at "lawn tractors" so that does complicate things a little.  There are a number of people here who don't really want to talk about politics or religion but if you ask those same people about lawn tractors, you better find some shade and get you a big ole' glass of sweet tea cuz' you're in for some schoolin'.  Troy-Bilt, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Kabota or John Deere everyone has a favorite.  The loyalty that people have to Ford and/or Chevy pales in comparison to this lawn tractor stuff.  It can approach the level of fervor that is usually associated with God or your favorite Nascar driver.  So, we haven't made our final pick but if anyone has a thought, opinion or story... please let us know.

Well, I suppose that's enough from me for now.  It's been nearly 20 minutes since I sat down and I'm about due for a good ole' tick check about now.  I hope everyone is enjoying our blog.  We truly do love it here and feel blessed to be around such nice people and such amazing natural beauty.  Ann will keep you all up to date on the happenings and I will share my "learned observations" as the mood strikes.

Take care.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Pictures Around Home

We are still making our plan for the total house restoration, so we've been doing some exploration of the area and doing some outside chores.

We hung the flag:

Kevin put up a new mailbox that Bonnie decorated:

We had a farmer/neighbor plow our garden plot -- (Ann's dream come true!):
It went from this:

to this!

Had a local beekeeper come get the huge colony out of the summer kitchen:

Honey! Doesn't get any closer to the source than this! Delicious, raw honey!

The beekeeper had to leave a box with the queen in it so that the rest of the colony would leave the summer kitchen and will pick it up today or tomorrow.

We also explored a fork of the Blue River. The kids absolutely loved throwing rocks in the river and getting their feet wet:

and ate at a delicious BBQ joint with the best name:

You can be sure if you come visit, we will treat you to a delicious BBQ meal!