Friday, May 20, 2022


Where was I on the new house? How about the bathrooms? The main bathroom is the one with the shower, and is the bathroom that guests use. It all started with the mirror we found at a salvage place and just loved. We got a cool stone basin and bought a mango wood desk to turn into a bathroom vanity.  I put up photos printed on metal of places we stayed in Ireland and Iceland because they make me happy every time I look at them.

To make the desk work with the plumbing, my husband cut an opening and put in little boards so the drawer is still functional.

My sons complained when they visited that the sink faucet made the water "flat."

Again, we were considering aging as we planned the house, and had a walk-in shower installed, with a bench seat. It is a joy to take a shower in it.

The floor tile is pebbles, so no slipping! 

The master bathroom is, of course, off the master bedroom. We found another cool vessel sink and a little shaker cabinet to convert into a vanity. We actually came in under the builder's budget on everything we picked out for the bathrooms.

My husband and I are both big fans of a long, hot bath and we decided it would be nice not to have one of us having to have the faucet up against our back. We asked to have the faucet installed in the middle, and the faucet itself swivels out of the way.

I found a salt light bulb to put in the light fixture overhead, so it is a warm pinkish glow with just that light on. As you can see, the cliff immediately outside the back window is solid rock and mud.  The builders had to grade down to a solid level to build, leaving the cliff. I am planting climbing vines on it (one of the things I've been spending my time on), but for the moment it is pretty barren.

Fortunately, when you are actually in the bathtub, you can see the forest up above. Eventually, there should be green covering the cliff as well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Where does the time go?

I have been spending every spare minute working on either the house or the outside, when I'm not working at my job. I'm going to try to catch up here soon.

In the meantime, we got our final invoice from our builder. I'd been paying it one invoice at a time from proceeds from the house we sold, and money we were earning during the long build process. Unlike buying a house that's already built, we discovered you never really know how much a new house will cost until all is said and done. There were some unpleasant surprises (my God, who knew it cost so much to dig a well?!) and the usual pandemic cost over-runs and supply chain issues and we were both holding our breaths the whole time. It was a relief to send the last check off and know that we fully own the house now. We pulled out the bottle of Dom Perignon we bought a couple of years ago and my husband made us seared scallops, pasta, and roasted broccoli and cauliflower.  I am so very grateful for this house and land and that I am still here to enjoy it. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Starting with the heart of the home.

Since I love cooking so much, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to arrange a 10x10 foot kitchen to make it maximally enjoyable for cooking.Within a budget, of course. I must have watched a couple dozen videos n kitchen design, We met with a couple of people about cabinets, and ended up with a local business that gets custom cabinetry from an Amish company. Once those got installed, the granite we'd ordered arrived and was put in.

And then, after much delay, the kitchen appliances finally arrived. They had a hard time getting the big truck up the driveway, so the two guys hand-carried the dishwasher, stove, and refrigerator up the driveway.  I don't even understand how that is possible. My husband and I had some initial disagreement about appliance color - he preferred stainless steel and I preferred black. Did you know there is a thing now called black stainless steel? Lucky for us, because it was the perfect compromise.

We decided to forgo upper cabinets for aging-in-place reasons. I don't want to be up on a ladder reaching for things. But we didn't want the appliances taking up too much counter space, so we built a corner shelf to hold the toaster over the microwave.

We also put in a pair of live edge shelves to hold our dishes, glassware and coffee mugs. We decided on a counter depth fridge so it wouldn't intrude into the kitchen space. 

All the cabinets are either drawers or cabinets with pullout shelves, including one with a pull-out trash can at the peninsula. I used one of the shallow drawers next to the stove for spices. They are in alphabetical order except that I always put parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme together. Because Scarborough Fair.

There is actually nothing I don't like about this kitchen. It's really easy to work in and feels much bigger than it is. Plenty of light, plenty of counter space, and we don't even have all the cabinets filled. Nothing is nested in anything else, so everything is easy to grab and put back. Our very first night in the house I made seafood risotto and the extended period of time I spent at the stove stirring it was just a joy. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

They call the thing rodeo.

So now that we're locals, we decided we had to take in the rodeo when it came to town. This was a first for both of us. The line to get in backed up well along the highway.

It was sort of a county fair atmosphere - a petting zoo, one of those mechanical bulls, food trucks, and live country music. I'm not sure I've ever seen so many cowboy hats in one place in my life.

After we'd gotten our dinner, we found seats in the arena. It was packed and we had to climb up into the bleachers. The South is a deeply flawed place, to be sure, and there were political jokes and long, long prayers we just had to tolerate. But, when I started making my way up into the bleachers, instantly half a dozen hands reached out to help me along. The same thing happened when we had to climb back down. To a person, everyone was friendly and helpful.

While they got the bulls loaded into their chutes, the announcer and the rodeo clown kept up a show to entertain folks. This included an audience sing-along, with one song including the instructions to hold up our phones in flashlight mode like lighters. We sang along (and my husband laughed when I didn't miss a beat when the song was "Friends in Low Places") and cheered when the rodeo started.

The riders waited their turn. The announcer commented that the most dangerous part was probably when the rider was on the bull in the chute, because they were trapped in an enclosed space with an angry bull.

First up were the bucking bulls. Those were some big, scary animals. One even crashed through the gate and rampaged around the arena before they got him corralled back into a chute. The cowboy hopes to be able to stay on the bull for 8 seconds, holding on with only one hand. Some were tossed off almost immediately, and then rolled (or limped) to safety while the two pick up men on horseback and the rodeo clown diverted the bull. Only a few of the riders wore helmets.

Next, the broncs. The bareback riders were required to come out of the chute laying back with their legs at the horse's ears. There were also riders who used a pommel-less western saddle. 

Last before intermission was the mutton-busting event. This is when small children are placed on the back of a sheep and hold on as long as they can. In this clip, it's a four-year-old girl. I'm not going to lie, this was adorable. And while it might seem abusive, there was one young fellow who started crying as soon as he was put on the back of a sheep and his dad whisked him off and hugged him and the crowd cheered for him, too, so there was clearly no pressure for the kids to do anything they weren't comfortable with. We got a funnel cake before we left, and I popped back in to watch a little of the barrel racing. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but we will definitely go back next year.

Well, it's bulls and blood, it's dust and mud,
It's the roar of a Sunday crowd.
It's the white in his knuckles, the gold in the buckle
He'll win the next go 'round.
It's boots and chaps, it's cowboy hats, 
It's spurs and latigo.
It's the ropes and the reins, and the joy and the pain,
And they call the thing rodeo.
It's the broncs and the blood, it's the steers and the mud,
And they call the thing rodeo.
       -Garth Brooks

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Okay, here we go.


We moved into the new house a couple of weeks ago, before it was entirely finished. Actually, it's still not entirely finished, but it's quite livable. And I lam thrilled with everything about it. This house looks and feels bigger than it actually is. It's just a hair over 1200SF, which is small by today's standards. But plenty of room for us even with family visiting (as we found out a week after we moved in when my older son unexpectedly visited and we hosted him, my younger son, and my younger son's girlfriend). I have loads of work to do outside and we are also working on getting things sorted out inside, and I will be putting together posts about all of that. In the meantime, I want to catch up with everyone here.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

In the midst of a brief hiatus.

I'm not dead, just completely overwhelmed. I am working long hours, having to travel back and forth to the property to feed the cats and check on things, and not enjoying the cold or the dark. Don't get me wrong, there have been good things. Both my boys were in for Christmas and we have Christmas Eve dinner with them and my stepdaughter here at the rental house. My older son has gotten engaged and my younger son has re-connected with a girl he has known since he was 13 and they've decided to be together long-term. I'm very happy about all of that. But the house build continues to go painfully slowly. Just this week our builder fired the masons because they were only willing to come out one day a week, do a little work on the fireplace and then turn their attention to foundation work they weren't even supposed to be doing, and leave again. The problem with that is the roof can't be finished until the chimney is finished. Which means there is now water damage to the drywall in two rooms. I could go on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I am taking a little time to focus on work and build problems and will be back to you lovely folks as soon as I can.