Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Bookshelf Saga: Part 1

When we moved from Tennessee to Washington, we had 33 boxes of books, and by the time we moved into this log house, I had collected just a few more.
(Boxes?  Or books?  I'm not telling!  My husband's reading this!)

That collection has grown even more during the years we've lived here, but they're (mostly) for school, and I like to plan ahead, so...

We want to put in some really cool built-in shelves along these walls on the upstairs landing, but in the meantime, my shelves were cardboard boxes, stacked up on top of each other and reinforced with boards between layers.

The shelves along this adjacent wall were even worse:

and there was no improving them.  In the last configuration the box-shelves were five rows tall instead of the three in this picture, with no wooden bookcase and with less uniformly sized boxes.
And the top two rows were starting to lean forward away from the wall.


To save our children's skulls and their mother's sanity, we bought some "temporary" bookshelves for the larger wall,

and Mike built "rustic" temporary bookshelves for me along the short wall.

But my husband doesn't do things half way.

He built "rustic" temporary bookshelves for me...
...with built-in lighting on each shelf!

The rest of the story (or at least more pictures) is coming soon!

Moving In

We played our cards just right and got my mom to move up to Washington, where she is renting a duplex 15 minutes away from us!
(Those G-R-A-N-D-K-I-D-S cards are amazing things!)

The kids and I worked on cleaning her new place while she finished up the packing at her house in Oregon, and then towards the end of June my cousin drove a moving truck up to Washington with all of her household stuff in it.  (She stayed behind in Oregon for another week to finish up some work and house sale details.)

More of my cousins met us at my mom's new place and we unloaded the truck.
There were five adults and four kids - and when we were done, the duplex looked...
um, not empty.

Then, because my mom knows how much fun I have doing it, she let us rearrange furniture, unpack some stuff, and set up enough things to make the place livable as soon as she walked in the door.
She's been here a few weeks now, and we're still helping her rearrange and get things set up how she wants them.

I'm not sure we'll ever really be done, but it's so much fun, why would we quit?!?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Another Laundry Room Make-Over

After my last laundry room makeover, the laundry room was organized and functional, but of course it never stayed this neat.

And these ugly (albeit functional) brown shelves,

 well, I just couldn't handle looking at them any more.


So one evening, while the kids had cereal for dinner, I painted them white.
(Editor's Note:  The shelves, Aunt Shirley, NOT the kids!  It's safe to eat cereal at my house again!)

A few weeks later, I inherited the crib that my grandpa built in the 40s.
It was the excuse I'd been waiting for...I tore out the cheap cabinets in the laundry room to create a space for the crib, and I only lost two inches of walkway.

(If it's quiet, and I can't find my girls, I look here.  They've been known to curl up in the crib together to read - all three of them!)

The laundry room is still not my favorite room in the house, but at least the new look makes me smile when I walk in there instead of cringing!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our Piano

Shortly after we moved to Washington from Tennessee, we inherited my grandparents' piano.  Its move from my cousin's house in Oregon to ours in Washington was not its first, nor its last.

When we moved from our rental two years ago, we just couldn't figure out how to make it fit in our log house, so we tried to give it away to any family member willing to pick it up.

Heavy, old, one wanted it.

So it moved with us to the log house, and went straight into the garage.

It was slightly out of tune, but not too bad, so when the girls started piano lessons last fall they went out to the garage to practice.  They practiced all winter out there, too, in coats, hats, and fingerless gloves...brrr.

Now that it's actually being played again, we made a space for it inside so the kids' fingers won't turn purple when they practice this winter, and we enlisted four strong young men to help move it in.
And then I made an appointment for a piano tuner to come out.

He wanted to know about its history, so I told him how my great-great-uncle (an organist who believed in quality instruments) picked it out for my grandparents when they wanted to buy a piano for my aunt to use.  It has a mid-1960s date written inside the lid next to the store's stamp, so I wondered aloud if that's how old it is, or if maybe it had some work done on it then.

He looked around a little and decided that some of the pins had been replaced sometime after World War II, so he guessed the date was written in at that point.

I asked him how he knew the pins had been replaced after World War II.  He admitted that he was just guessing, since they looked so much newer than everything else, but he was pretty sure that the piano itself was made post-World War I.

Of course I had to ask how he knew that!

Before World War I the coils and strings for the lower registers were made out of copper, but as part of the war effort, piano manufacturers switched to steel.  Mine were steel...
...wait a minute...
He took a tool out of his bag and scratched a spot on one of the strings.  Nope, they were copper!

So we decided that beyond a doubt, my piano was made before World War I, and we joked that it couldn't be older than 1895 because that was the most recent patent date stamped inside the piano.

And then, just as he was finishing the fine tuning, he found it.  Tucked away in a little corner, like an artist would sign a painting, he found a barely legible name and date.  The last name matched a signature that is scrawled elsewhere inside the piano, (along with a P.O. Box address in Chicago) and the only part of the date that we could read with any certainty was 1903.

It's still heavy, it's still well-loved and missing most of the ivories, and it's still old.
But it's really, really old.

And the offer to give it away to any relative who would come pick it up... most definitely expired.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chicken Feathers

We lost a chicken.

No one saw it happen, so at first we weren't sure exactly what got it; we just knew that at 5:00 in the afternoon there were two big piles of feathers and only 12 chickens cowering in the chicken run.

Our German Shepherd tracked whatever-the-culprit-was until it crossed the creek, and we were impressed that he found three more piles of feathers along the way.  He had been with us in the garage while we worked that day, so we didn't blame him for not scaring off the predator, but we were very impressed with his previously undemonstrated skill of tracking on command!

The next afternoon around 3:00, I took a break from our garage work because a chicken was making a strange noise out behind the barn.  I walked out to where they were, and found ten chickens huddled together next to the barn, and the remaining two squawking noisily next to the elderberry tree halfway between the house and the creek.  I couldn't see anything wrong, so I walked past them toward the creek, and when I turned my head there was a big coyote just standing there by the creek looking at me.

Wait, did I say a big coyote?
I was wrong.
It was a REALLY big coyote.

So of course I did what any self-respecting country girl would do.

I shouted for Mike.

And threw a stick at it.

It ran away, and when Mike didn't come (because he couldn't hear me over his music), I shouted some more and threw a few more sticks for good measure.  Shouting at an invisible coyote while throwing sticks at said invisible coyote is extremely therapeutic.

The next morning, after many cups of coffee, Mike was upstairs in our bathroom when the dog started barking his special just-let-me-out-of-this-fence-and-I'll-tear-you-apart bark, and two of our girls (upstairs in their bedroom) starting screaming, "Coyote!  Daddy, there's a coyote!"

By the time Mike got to the window, the dog was trying to climb the fence, and the coyote had almost disappeared back into the tall grass along the creek.  There just happened to be an antique Russian sniper rifle loaded and sitting next to the bathroom window, and the screen from the window just happened to have been removed the day before, so Mike squeezed off two quick shots at the disappearing coyote.

He missed.

But that coyote hasn't been back (in the daylight hours) since.

The Pile

The pile of debris out behind the barn was here when we moved in, and it only grew bigger as we worked on improvements around the property.

 In May, after almost two years of seeing that unsightly pile every day, we finally rented a dumpster.
 A really big one.

And the girls and I got to work filling it.

It was like an archaeological dig - layer after layer marked the changes this property has seen.
First there was the old rotten round-pen we tore down last year, followed by all the debris we removed from next to the pumphouse the year before.  Underneath that was trash from the new appliances they installed right before we bought the place, then old suitcases and tires they must have added to the pile before they put the property on the market.  Then came the layer of pieces of electrical wiring and construction trash from when they built the garage.  Under that there were giant roots and branches left over from the tree they took out to build the garage, all mixed in with random household trash...old pictures, a toilet seat, clothing and plastic bags.

Gloves.  Good thick gloves, long sleeves, and boots.  And a sense of humor.
That's the only way we could have gotten the job done.

 But we did it!  All we've got left are some giant rotten stumps and logs,
which we'll burn once they're dry enough...
and when the yearly burn ban is over!

My Summer (So Far): Teaser Post

Since you've been waiting so patiently,
here are some of the reasons I have not posted since May:

Yes, it IS a really big dumpster.

Unfortunately, those ARE chicken feathers.  Lots of them.

Oh look!  A piano in my living room!

Oh look!  No piano in the garage!  (Which is just one of many big changes in there.)
But I don't want to talk about the garage.  I'm pretending it doesn't exist.

Ugly laundry room shelves.  I couldn't stand them any more.

The never ending saga of my cardboard box temporarily resolved!

The stories behind the pictures are coming soon!
(Soon IS a relative term, though...)

Why I Haven't Blogged Since May

I sat down and went through the pictures I've taken over the last few months, 
thinking that I'd just do an update in pictures
but it was so overwhelming that I gave up within minutes.

I know we've been busy, but I'd forgotten already just HOW busy!

This picture though, pretty much sums up my summer so far:
four happy, healthy, active kids!

(The girls are wearing some of my mom's keepsake clothes: 
Anya - a shirt from Mexico, Jaela - my mom's high school graduation dress, and Macey - my mom's first sewing project)