And the road goes on forever...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rain, Rain Stay Awhile

This week we got quite a bit accomplished around the homestead with the completion of the porch decking, temporary railing and steps, and the final grade excavation done. The dirt piles are gone!
That left around 22,000 square feet of lawn-less area that needs to be reseeded and after checking with a nursery regarding the possibility of hydro seeding, to the tune of $5000, we decided using a whirligig to hand seed would be a much better option for our pocketbook. So to that end, knowing that we had a big rainstorm coming, we got seed on a portion of the ground yesterday just before the sprinkles started falling. We will be doing it in quadrants to make it easier for me to keep up with watering.
Yes, we’re enjoying a very rainy Memorial Day but at least it’s warm. The grass seed should take off quickly and we needed the rain since it’s been inordinately dry lately. Our Saturday was gorgeous though so we got started on installing our vinyl siding on the back of the house. Taking a break from that in late afternoon, Marc even had enough energy to BBQ beer can chicken and they were beauties!
I got ahead of myself planting some perennials since I am so excited to be getting into gardening; I plan a cottage flower garden area immediately adjacent to the front deck and front of the house and now Marc informs me it’s all going to be in his way when he needs to install the front siding. We are giving consideration to making the front porch an enclosed sun porch which would extend it to three season use. Without gutters yet, it is also all getting supremely flooded out this morning. The soft, excavated dirt makes walking across it virtually impossible so will prevent us from doing any outside work today and for several days. It’s a good thing there are still a ton of inside jobs to be completed; he is finally doing my linen closet shelving! 

Marc won’t have much time this week as he has another upcoming trip west which will effectively kill next weekend as well. Two steps forward; one step back on the treadmill of time.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Old Fashioned: Lilacs and Apple Trees

The above photo shows our apple trees just blooming. Aren’t they old fashioned looking? Can you imagine the hammock that is going to stretch between them soon? When I was a young girl I fantasized about living on a ranch and somehow these two acres encompass as close as I’ve ever come to that feeling. Sometimes I think I should be changing the header of my blog now that we are planning on being stationary and staying put in America’s Heartland. In fact, I am giving thought of whether I should even continue blogging when stationary life may lack sufficient fodder to adequately entertain readers to even bother to tune in. In a routine lifestyle what is “bloggable” anyway? At minimum, I suspect once the house is finished, my entries will become much more sporadic—more as an update for old friends to know that we are still alive and kicking and up to no good. 

I had hopes upon moving here to be out and about taking photographs of this beautiful state much more than providence has provided so far. Our time just seems so limited, especially with Marc never taking even one day off, that unless I care to travel on my own it doesn’t look like it will be happening at least for another year or two. Add four cats that eat twice daily to the equation and my weak bladder and it becomes even more of a travail to travel-ha. 

And to be honest, I’ve been fairly happy in my little portion of the world. There are intangibles here, hard to describe, which draw me in and are keeping me content. Something about the very shape of the world here—rounded or smoothed, soothing, with the nuances of thousands of trees and greens I’m not used to. The west now seems stark, barren and harshly formed in comparison. Dry. Filled with cookie cutter houses. And unending traffic and congestion.
My world has weather and the skies change daily (which I appreciate more as time passes), is bucolic, wholesome, languid, timeless—old fashioned. I think that is the word that best describes it: old fashioned. Marc and I often talk about how nearly everything here reminds us of life 30 years ago: Everyone on their little plot of verdant green, wood piles and clotheslines, old cars and cornfields; quiet country roads, small towns, little traffic, no lines, very old homes and farms and common folk. People interested in their communities, other neighbor’s wellbeing, being helpful, kind and attentive. People smile here and when I step foot in the post office, everyone in there greets me as if I’m not a stranger. I appreciate all the wildlife and birds constantly reminding me daily that we share our lives and the earth with something important besides ourselves. I wake to birdsong and go off to sleep with the sound of crickets and bullfrogs.
Experiencing the full range of seasons imparts a rhythm of nature to the days that has broadened my horizons and makes each totally distinctive and welcomed. It’s taught me to appreciate the good ones and to forgive the nasty ones and to drink it all in with wonder as living in a constantly pleasant climate cannot do. If there is never any change how do you recognize difference? It makes me pay more attention to the differences in our local landscapes wrought by the seasons; the colors, the vistas, the smells. I decided I got tired of complaining about less than perfect weather; does it change anything, especially mood, to do so?
To my utter astonishment quite a few people in Wisconsin that I’ve met have never left the state to travel beyond its borders. Whether from inertia, financial inability or total contentment I can’t discern. But with each passing day I understand how it could be the latter. When one is happy where they are, why go farther? We may just be ready to rest and absorb our little corner of this beautiful world in central Wisconsin and call it home for our final chapters. No one sees it all; that is only an illusion that drives the restless. Some are lucky enough, at the end, to have seen and experienced a few of God’s chosen places and that has to be enough. Even fewer get to live there. I can count several so feel myself very fortunate. This place just stirs our contentment. It’s as simple as that. This place: it wasn’t a choice at first but it is now.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The First Reveal

I highly doubt you’ve been waiting with bated breath but such as it is in its unfinished state, I present our humble abode along with comments of explanation. Believe me: at this point this house needs some ‘splaining!

We’ll start out in the back of the house with the baths. We don’t spend a lot of time in bathrooms so spa-like features and vast roominess is not something we felt like spending money on. The main bath is utilitarian with a shower only and a small vanity. I found the mirror in a consignment store and repainted it white but its unusual character gives the bath what little charm it may possess. You will note the missing tank lid; it was broken upon unpacking and we’ve not had time to get in for a replacement as yet. Also the first glass shower surround Marc special ordered did not fit so we have to reorder a different kind; meanwhile we make do with the apartment shower curtain. The light bar was a Blenker leftover and cabinet hardware has yet to be installed. 

The half bath is pretty much my exclusive domain, tiny though it is. I must however share it with one of the cat litter boxes. I have favorite mementos leftover from living at the coast and decided this would be a good place to use them. I am very enamored of my copper sink and trough faucet however. Here you will find another used mirror but this one is antique! There is another Blenker light fixture that is not going to work as yet given the way the wiring was initially done (for sconces) so right now I just look at a hole in the wall until Marc can make another hole in the wall to correct the wiring. I must say it is sure handy living with an electrician though….
The master bedroom photographs small but is actually quite roomy for us at 12x14 feet. I especially like the corner windows, where we eventually hope to have a window seat. Just yesterday I completed the window furnishings using $2 Goodwill starched and ironed linen napkins folded over a simple rod. Those cover pull down roller shades. All in all, the cheapest, easiest window furnishings I’ve ever done. I’ve got some big ideas for this room for décor but the most ill-fated was my purchase of a lovely Belgium linen vintage looking duvet for more money than I care to divulge. Turns out linen and cat claws don’t mix well; hence the $20 TJ Maxx fuzzy blanket serving as a barrier between my beloved cats and my beloved spread. Turquoise wasn’t supposed to be part of the décor equation. To be continued….when I figure out what to do!
For now we’ll skip the hallway, laundry (subfloor, yawning open closet with no shelving or door, washer with its dryer in backwards until Marc figures out how to redo a vent which is on the wrong side and reworks the gas hookup), and the hobby room which currently holds extra unhung doors meant for the basement, unfinished door casing, and paint supplies and another litter box. 

Now we’re into the heart of the house: the great room. For those of you who do not favor an open plan concept you will hate our house because not only are the living, kitchen and dining area combined, most of the kitchen is also on display for you to see what we own. Yup, nothing matches but everything is either something I love or entirely useful, so it works for me. 

Ah, the kitchen. How to begin? I guess you could say this is the bones of a kitchen for what is planned in the future. Right now we have an entirely useful and practical Sam’s Club $100 stainless steel work island which sits 43” high so makes for a very convenient height for tall guys like Marc. The idea is for Marc to eventually build a custom island. Needing more storage than this provided, I decided to snuggle my narrow baker’s rack right up to the back of the island where it now houses the important stuff like wine, five of our Dutch ovens, the potatoes and onions (in baskets). Completing this core work area is our all-important Boos butcher block, THE one kitchen item we’d never again do without after having owned one. Once Marc can get my large pot rack hanging over the end of the work table between the light and the fridge, most of the cooking pots and pans will hang, thus freeing up that bottom shelf for something else. I had planned old crates there for storage, liking the interplay of old wood and industrial stainless, but may decide instead upon things like mixers, blenders, etc. I’m loving the light fixture above the island; you can note that the matching fixture above the table is as yet not completely hung. Those are another cheap Blenker “steal” but really seemed to match in quite well.
Moving to the end of the kitchen you see our LG 5 burner gas stove which operates perfectly and above it my real French antique hook, where I’ve hung my potholders for now. Later before too long I hope, we’ll have a stove hood and maybe two small stainless shelves to the right of the stove where I will store the oils and salt and pepper. You can see it all better in the following photo
The cabinet to the right of the stove holds spices, to the left is the lazy Susan housing everyday grub like cereal and kitty food. You will note a combination of bin pulls and cabinet handles; we are using a combination of both but Marc got waylaid just part way into that job so it remains uncompleted right now. They are rustic and will be really neat when done though….Wrought or rusty iron is kind of one of my things…. 

The space above the kitchen window begged for a new clock and this tin one had metal made to look vintage enough to win my heart. Of course, it sits above the broken kitchen window which has yet to be changed out so remains with its large X written across the top (broken) half. I’ve explained before about our kitchen shelving; we’re using the basic shelving Melamine boards but these will be boxed in to cover the metal supports with a rim of some type of decorative molding, probably painted white. The final effect should appear as floating shelves. I thought I had a ton of shelving but in actuality I guess I owned way more dishes and bowls than I thought because it quickly filled up. The top will remain for decorative items and the coup d’ etat will be to the left of the clock where you see the box in the wall. This is for an electrical plug for our special “To Go” neon sign!!! It will be on a switch for when we want to jazz things up!
Looking frontward you can see our new “used” door; another Blenker cull. Can you see anything wrong with it? Neither could we other than it needing repainting; especially for a $1200 saving. And I love the way it made the front almost all windows. The cats love hanging out here watching the birds.
The living room is in progress with the furniture placement subject to change once it’s all in here. We have an old couch I’m not sure I will be using but if I do it will go beneath the cow head maybe with or without the ottoman/coffee table I made. Meanwhile, my favorite birch bark canoes, the real Pipestone Native American pipe, and 1943 snowshoes are mounted and hung. New furniture has to wait.
Now to the final shots, and the story that goes along with it. Through the gift of a very generous friend many years ago I received a lovely Pendleton blanket. The wool is so finely woven it feels silken rather than scratchy and I had always yearned for a place to hang it. Alas, we were moving into the RV just about the time I got the blanket and one day of trying to use it as a throw and the cat hair that was drawn to it soon had me convinced that I had better put it away. There it languished; inappropriate for a beach retreat and not suitable for RV life. I swore to myself that after 15 years of never being able to enjoy its beauty I would somehow find a way in this house. I may have to build my living room décor around it, but it will have all been worth it to see it hanging in all its vivid magnificence. Don’t you agree?
So, there you have it, a partial reveal of our Western, northwoods lodge, cowboy French country tiny home-ha! There will be more to come of the basement and as we make progress towards completion and I’ve also got some thoughts penned on settling in Wisconsin so don’t miss an episode.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Missing in Action

One of the most frustrating things about this move is the way we’ve combined household items from our distant past and thus strewn about between cargo trailer, sheds, sea containers, shop, RV, and apartment. No one single thing is where I’ve expected it and it thwarts me that some of my favorite—most useful—most treasured items are nowhere to be found! How is this possible? My teapot collection? I have the lids but not the pots. Vintage waffle iron handed down from my mom? Missing. Likewise, old coffee glass canisters with definite antique value given to me by my long dead grandparents.  A very large art picture and pair of vintage architecturally marvelous set of shutters that I was counting on to adorn my walls? Also MIA.

The helper Marc had lined up to assist was unfortunately not available on the Friday that Marc chose to do the move so he and I managed to do it ourselves over the course of the long three day weekend. By that Monday I had returned and completed the final clean so that we had our walk-through with the landlord on Tuesday. We were finally done with apartment living--putting up with hearing noisy neighbors above us; walking through the minefields of dog poo from the lousy owners who refused to pick up after their dogs; and most aggravating, having to use malfunctioning 18 year old appliances that were on their obvious last legs. All in all it wasn’t a bad place to live; just not our own and most definitely not nearly as nice as the home Marc has built us!

So despite my quibbling, I have greatly been enjoying my non-settled abode although its completion has become completely life consuming. I say me because Marc had to leave shortly after our move for a week out west and now after just four days back here he left again Sunday at midnight for another week. He played commercial truck driver last time since the company was short drivers and had a critical wide load that had to be delivered to the Dakotas so Marc, being the only one left with a commercial license, was shanghaied. Battling extreme fatigue, he managed to get some necessary things done to the house but progress is slow. We do now have our new front door installed, but none of the casing, so we still hear the wind whistling. He’s managed to hang more of the lights but not all of them and he finally got the filter to the icemaker in the refrigerator working so we can use it. He has not had a chance to convert my propane dryer to natural gas however, so I wash in the house and dry the loads using our dryer in the RV. Hey—at least I had an extra!

Spring is finally here in WI and the trees have started gently leafing out within this past week and I saw the first daffodils. Local nurseries are back to being stocked so people are out buying up armfuls of beautiful flowering plants and vegetables. Even my lilac bushes have the starts of tiny flowers. It’s actually been drier than normal but the grass has all turned verdant green with winter’s passing so it will be my chore to do the first mowing of the year this week. It would be a good time to start enjoying our front deck if ours was built—ha. Meantime, the view out our front windows is ever engaging and beautiful and it brings a smile to my face to be here finally.

It’s a very busy week for me with some out of town shopping plus Spirit is getting spayed Thursday so I will be her nursemaid for several days making sure she doesn’t get too rambunctious and tear her stitches. In addition to some much needed yard work like weed pulling I’m trying to establish a compost pile. There’s some outdoor yard art to spray paint if the weather cooperates and some upholstery to clean. My list is long and we just got internet again last Friday so there’s been lots of catching up to do in that realm as well. I promise to be back with some photos soon.