Hard to believe 6 months into life here I’m finally starting to pay attention to the sunsets…and appreciate the vast amount of space (and quiet!) we are blessed with.
When our nextdoor neighbor said that the former owner told her there were at least one if not two cars in the creek on the back of our property, I was confused. We’d found an old burn pile with a tire and some stuff a while back but thought that was it. Boy were our little city-to-country mouse selves in for a surprise. So we got out the long sleeve shirts and gloves and clippers and pulled out a ton of blackberry brambles and…sure enough, Dan noticed a splotch of dark (top photo), and as you got closer, you learn that yes, it’s a car. That tire isn’t just one tossed there, it’s attached the axle, and those are doors to a…Chevy Impala. Fucking slobs was our first response, as we’d found other miscellaneous trash over the past months embedded in natural settings. Then I decided for kicks to reach out to my real estate agent who helped us buy this house and sell our old one, and whaddayaknow, I learned about Detroit Riprap and various Hee-Haw forms of erosion control. Ugh ugh ugh. I think it was a combination of both (considering neither a broken Star Wars X-wing fighter nor a bbq grill cover will exactly hold a stream back), but now worry about what’s leeching into the creek and the soil – not to mention the dangers of hulking pieces of metal sticking out of the mud!
Whoa! We found out from our next door neighbor (whose grandpa used to own our house and built the actual barn on our property) that our house was NOT built in 1947 and in fact is much older!!! She texted me this photo on the left which her aunt said was from the early 1940’s when he bought the house and was remodeling. Twenty-ish years later in 1965, this photo of the house with the now-gone shop and barn in the far background (interestingly, there were also two chimneys back then which are now gone, as our current chimney is on the side of the house). But what was a trip is that she said her grandpa bought this house from someone else who’d had it for years and before that, it had been a different house that had burned down! So we’ve got some serious history going on here which is so, so cool. I’d love to dig deeper and find out the history of this property – when we were in Portland we’d heard stories from our elderly neighbor but never saw photos! Oh and yes, and here’s our house last year when we bought it with the awful skylights and blue roof, and now as it stands this fine January day in 2019. Still a work in progress with our master bedroom project under way as well as preparing for the garden (the living room will come last as that involves furniture purchases), but we’re definitely working to improve it on the inside and out! For those who are new readers or just want to see how much we’ve done these past 6 months, click here for some before & after shots: kitchen, dining room, laundry room, the roof, and the guest bedroom.
Our master bathroom remodel is chugging along, very slowly but surely. I completely gutted the old dark and creepy aquamarine-and-country-oak bathroom, cut out the tub (YAY Sawzall!), Dan took the toilet out and bashed it into pieces (woo hoo! I hate that these can’t just be recycled out here though…), and did the honors of removing the long deceased body of a bird found in the wall where our shower is going to go…ew. Dan has done the mind-numbing work of screwing in all the 3/4″ plywood sheets over the subfloor (being a very old house, the upstairs floor in there is a bit springy so doing this helps a TON, let me tell you – no more seasickness walking in there!), we’re in the midst of covering up the old miniature closet with sheetrock, and now I’m using the area to build our vanity for the bathroom from repurposed 2x4s that came from our prior deconstruction project!
So, our neighbor is a GC who’s going to help us get our plumbing moved around so we can have a nice master bathroom. We learned it’d be a nightmare (involving subfloor replacement plus ceilings and walls needing to be opened and patched downstairs among other things) to extend the entire bathroom into the former “nook” area of the master bedroom and hold a big soaking tub, so after much discussion we decided to do a combination of master bathroom and walk-in closet in that side of the room. Originally we were going to try to make do with a half-ass version of a walk-in closet in the old tiny closet, then I finally got so frustrated at designing something half-ass that I cried to Dan, “I did not move from a 1,500 s.f. house to a 2,200 s.f. house to have a SMALLER closet!” Hahahaha….ain’t that the truth though? So this will allow us to get dressed after taking a shower while still having “toilet privacy” and keeping everything well ventilated after a shower as well. This image is from Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer (free!) and while it didn’t let me customize the length of the shower or show regular shelving or the kind of vanity I’m building, it’s the gist of the idea. Moving the toilet was a big deal, as it had to be moved so you wouldn’t be on the pot while looking at your clothes! So because moving an upstairs toilet to a new area is a fucking nightmare in itself, we’ve decided we are going to get a Nature’s Head composting toilet!!! I wanted them originally for all of the bathrooms but they were cost prohibitive, so I got dual-flush toilets for the guest and main floor bath, but now with the need to move the toilet it’s actually cheaper to buy the composting toilet, because all we need to do is vent it out through the roof which is minimal work, woo hoo! Not exciting to some, but it is for us!
And while the big bedroom project is under way, lots of smaller things are happening as well of the inexpensive-if-not-free kind! I built these shelves for the pantry wall to accommodate even more goodies once canning season gets underway this year, made from repurposed plywood and trim glued to it as a ‘lip’ to keep things from slipping off, as well as zero-VOC painted & repurposed bookshelf brackets we had in the old house. At top right, I built a blackberry/marionberry/boysenberry trellis so they can go crazy, and to the left of them where the cosmos was cut back, we’re going to eventually put a second rain tank so that we can take advantage for gardening from stuff that hits our roof. At center right, I finally painted the hearth dark gray with leftover Annie Sloan zero-VOC paint from the kitchen & dining room, and at bottom right, our grass is being killed in preparation for a future backyard deck/BBQ area. Woo hoo!