Holy moly, seems all I’ve had much time for in blog-land are “week in pictures” posts with all that we are still working on with the house! I promise there will be more words and topics soon 🙂 In the meantime, here’s another BIG glimpse into our world and some of the things commandeering our time this summer…!!
Well let’s start with something tasty! As Dan was able to finally emerge victorious from the crawlspace-insulation-removal-from-hell project, he got to enjoy the fruits of my promise to get him his very own badass BBQ grill/smoker combo in exchange for doing the crawlspace work himself (the contractors all wanted around $3,000 to remove it, no goddamn way was my response…). So with that, he got a slab of brisket from Gulley’s Butcher Shop here in town and made this gorgeous pastrami. For those who’ve not done this before, it’s one hell of a process because first you brine the brisket to make corned beef but rather than putting it in the oven after brining, then you wash off the brine, let it rest, put on the pastrami spice rub, let it rest again, then smoke it for a few hours THEN cook it til the internal temp makes it safe to eat. But damn, this is good stuff. Puts anyone else’s to shame, I tell ya 🙂
The kitchen renovations continue…! The first photo is literally what the electrician found when he opened up a SMALL piece of the drywall behind where the wall oven and its cabinet used to be. Curtain rods, table legs, Coke can, Superman action figure leg, pack of Benson & Hedges, Daily Astorian from 1986, and much more. How the fuck? What the fuck? Some demented time capsule? No wonder we found a mouse skeleton (or two) in one wall. As I told someone, I have to laugh otherwise I’ll get completely paranoid about what else is in our walls. Anyhow, so yours truly took down the drywall on the interior wall that’s going to be removed…only to find all this tongue and groove underneath it. Holy mackerel. So now we’re in the final stages of wall removal, as you’ll see in the last picture where we just have some bits and pieces to take down before the drywall guy comes next weekend. Amen for the Sawzall and plenty of breathing masks! But dang y’all, isn’t it crazy what removing a wall can do? (PS – This project gave me nightmares for 3 nights straight. Even though the structural guy from our GC said it was OK to take out this wall and so did everyone else we talked to, my crazy mind was convinced we were going to fall through the floor into the kitchen as we slept…)
And yep you heard me, husband is now working at the local grocery Co-op! While they were super nice over at the pub, the fact is they never did give him the promised full time hours in their “busy” summer, so with part time work hours and tips it equated to minimum wage pay at best, plus inconsistent end times which required me to basically be “on call” to pick him up (he bikes in and I drive the 15 miles roundtrip to pick him up as there are no street lights for most of the ride home), and healthcare that, well, sucks (sorry but any company that decides they’ll cover children but not spouses can fuck right off in my opinion – it’s a slap in the face to those of us who can’t have children). ANYHOW, Dan is loving working at the co-op. His boss is great, the people are super nice, and because it’s a much smaller team and store than NSM in Portland, he gets exposure to all areas of the store (yay produce and meeting local farmers already!), and nice little things like a boss who is super understanding about his TBI and how it affects his cognitive abilities, a fairly diverse staff with folks of all ages working there, and getting off work at a scheduled time…not to mention of course the rad 20% grocery discount! Proof positive that networking can get you a job…he introduced himself back in 2017, kept going back and keeping in touch, met with the GM several times as we moved here, did a more formal interview for the future, and ultimately as soon as someone gave notice he was offered a position on the spot. Suh-weet!
And let’s just say it was Lighting Installation Week! With such a long to-do list of heavy-duty projects, we took a “break” to get some actual lighting in…considering we had literally only a floor lamp in the living area and task lamp in the kitchen (more on the latter in a sec…). Happy to say that every single one of these lights are LED! The top left and bottom left industrial style lights are from Target.com (buyer beware: if you order online and use PayPal, they tell you AFTER you get your items that PayPal buyers have to take a store credit – something NOT listed in their return policy…they tried to do this when one of our lights never showed up even, and so I got in touch with my bank to dispute this and they finally folded…needless to say we won’t be shopping at Target anymore) with dimmable “warm” LED bulbs from Home Depot. The middle left deco-esque one and bottom right Schoolhouse-esque one are both from Home Depot, and get this – NO BULBS! They are wired LED so you literally never will change a light bulb (so much for all those free LED bulbs that Energy Trust of Oregon sent us!). And finally, our new fan is – the exact same model as the one we had in Portland! I loved that fan so much that I just asked Dan, would it be OK with him if we just bought the same one, but in a mahogany brown instead, and he’s like Hell Yeah! The nice thing? This is also “built in LED” with no bulbs, an upgrade from the version I’d put in my old house 12 years ago. BTW for those who don’t install a lot of lights? Dan said this was the easiest of all of the fixtures he put in our house. Go figure 🙂
And today’s focus? Rainwater Collection! Along with connecting our 65 gallon rain barrel in the front yard to help with watering the roses and lavender and such, we finally got the foundation for our 1,000 gallon rain tank we got in from Plastic Mart (after having a gutter installed on the side of the barn as per the “before” planning photo above) – it’s what we now refer to as The Beast. I read SO many differing opinions about what to do for the base of a large cistern – some said build a concrete base (like I did in Portland for my 300+ gallon cistern), others said do it but add re-bar and make sure it’s at least 6×6′ square and 4-6″ thick (that’s a lotta bags o’ quikrete, y’all…), and several others said to put it on a huge bed of pea gravel. I reached out to a rain tank guy online who said 4″ of pea gravel, and a neighbor locally said the same thing but then also recommended a 5×5′ sheet of metal we should have made to go on top of the pea gravel…and after pricing that out at another $500? We decided to just go with a 6″ layer of pea gravel in a frame of 2×6’s we built from a bit of fencing we didn’t need. We still need to connect it to the downspout and get a hole saw bit to put in the faucet, but dang, isn’t it so cool to see the beast up on its pedestal? That is going to be SO great for the garden!!! The bonus? I wanted to place it there as well because it is also acting as an additional wind break for the hive beyond the plywood one that Dan installed at move-in. Rad!
The girls are happy as can be, to put it mildly. Betty’s bum leg is totally healed, they are scampering all over the place chasing all the crickets and other bugs, and enjoying their much bigger coop/run digs as well. As they love burying their heads in the hill of long-since-rotted horse manure in the back of the small pasture where their coop and our garden lie, it’s a pretty funny sight watching them lose each other inches away in the tall grass of this little hill and then quack madly til they are all reunited. Dan also got the blueberry bushes planted which was a major effort – the ground is so compacted he needed a pitchfork just to break it (I stood on the shovel and nothing happened…crazy!) so that and a whole bunch of compost and bone meal to get the starving ground the love it needed, and the bushes are doing well (can’t imagine what fun it’ll be to dig holes for fruit trees this winter!). And in other parts of the yard, we rely on summer color primarily from the wild and weedy things that are growing. The bottom row of photos here are what I’m finding in the small pasture, from the just-emerging thistle (which I hope the bees will notice) to the random daisies to the completely unknown weedy thing on the right (anyone know what this is? the mason bees seem to dig it…) that’s growing out of Fertilizer Hill…
And finally, saving the best for last, yesterday I rocked the Early Surprise Birthday Gift for my husband, a trip out to Nehalem River Ranch, whose website I’d been scoping out for some time because of their humane, sustainable practices, then was e-chatting up the owner about the possibility of getting a whole pig from them (slaughtered but NOT butchered) so that Dan could get his meat cutting groove on in our very own garage. Yes, he’ll have to build a big-ass table for it, and yes, I’ll need to order us that upright freezer we’d been wanting, but it will be SO worth it. Anyhow, I’d arranged with Jared to give us a tour of the ranch (on 100 acres along the Nehalem River about an hour’s drive from our house down the coast), and it absolutely made my day to see Dan so blissfully in his element, learning about their ranch and practices and then, of course, getting to meet the pigs (and yeah, a whole bunch of cows who made me laugh as much as the piggies) they were raising, see the mamas and their piglets, and for Dan (I stayed behind to photograph) getting to hop the fence and meet Wilbur, the MASSIVE boar who had his own territory to lollygag around and wait for his turn with the ladies. All in all a fantastic day together and the surprise was another epic win 🙂