Where the Magic Happens

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One major reason why I have been away from WordPress for so long is the long awaited finishing of my studio. Our 10th anniversary was in 2016 and my husband gifted me with this wonderful, little building. I told him that I wanted it to look like a Wild West mercantile. The wood is cedar that was milled by my father-in-law on a small, circular sawmill giving it an authentic, vintage look. The windows were salvaged from my sister-in-law’s house when she had all their windows replaced. My husband designed and built the entire thing including the garden which, soon after this photo was taken, was filled with wildflowers. He has two shops of his own and we turned my old porch shop (see previous posts) into a lapidary for the stones we have been collecting. I think it goes without saying, that I married into a pretty awesome family and I have a more than awesome spouse!

Fire Season is Upon Us.

Two Bulls Fire  6/8/2014
Two Bulls Fire 6/8/2014

Every summer in Central Oregon, we are plagued by at least one major forest fire; usually several. This season is off to an early start with the Two Bulls fire, just outside of Bend, Oregon, We knew something was amiss when the moon last Saturday night was glowing an eerie yellow. By the next day, the air quality was so bad we were nearly coughing all the way back to Beaverton! Of course, as is usually the case, this fire was man made. No word yet on whether or not is it arson, but given that it was two simultaneous fires, I have my thoughts that it was.

Two Bulls Fire From Bend
Two Bulls Fire From Bend

The New Wood Shop and California.

 

Cambria California.
Cambria California.

We just came back from a whirlwind trip to central, coastal California to pick up an entire wood working shop generously donated by my father (who decided to find new and less detail oriented hobbies).

What a trip! We drove down there (8oo miles) in two days from the Portland, Oregon area. After spending 4 days being stuffed with rich food and soaking up as much sun as possible, we drove back to La Pine in central Oregon in one day; 16 hours….whew.

The shop took an entire day to disassemble and pack and only about 2 hours to unpack and inspect.

It is not all reassembled or set up yet, of course. My husband already HAS a wood shop, so it will be a long process to decide what goes and what stays, but I am sure that in the next year or so, there will be lots of good things coming out of all this.

While I was in California, I took advantage for the rock shops and coastal shore lines and brought back a large number of new goodies.

You should expect to see a lot more in my shops these coming months as well.

Montana del Oro

 

Baby it’s Cold Out There!

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This morning in La Pine it was -26 degrees F. That’s -32 degree Celsius to my Canadian friends.

Winter is definitely upon us! That is my husband’s chapped hand in the photo. He went to our La Pine house this weekend to pick up a garage heater he purchased during a Black Friday sale at the local hardware store. No sense in trying to heat the garage in La Pine! I think the heater would run out of fuel before it make a dent in the cold.

Here in Beaverton it is a frigid 10 degrees F. That’s -12 degrees Celsius to my European friends.

The garage heater was purchased at my urging. My husband is a very talented woodworker who has lost his muse and as a result, filled his garage (workshop) with piles and piles of useless crap. My goal for 2014 is to get him back out there and making “stuff”. But first we need to purge a bit and that requires a heater. He must be eager to get started, because he drove 4 hours in icy conditions to a house that took 12 hours to heat up just to get the heater….and perhaps a little bit of “alone” time.

We realized right after her left, that in the 7+ years we have been together, we have only been separated twice; once for a hunting trip (him) and once to strip paint at the new house (me). That might explain why we drive each other nuts! Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

To anyone reading this, please stay warm, stay enlightened and don’t forget to take your vitamins.

I have a feeling it is going to be a long, cold winter for most of us.

When moving day finally came, it was the end of August. We had our offer approved at the beginning of February and as I stated earlier, the whole process what a NIGHTMARE. By the time we actually took posession of the house, I had convinced myself that it was never going to happen. It still took several month before I could relax enough to actual ENJOY being there and to this day, I still have a tiny voice in the back of my head that thinks that the bank will come and take it away from us at any moment.

It needed A LOT of work, but that was one of the things we loved most about it. We could really begin working on making it OURS.Image

Living room in VERY cheerful yellow!

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Front, Upstairs Master Bedroom with Low Ceilings.

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Back Upstairs Bedroom with Moon.

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Cast iron bathtub that was covered in peeling paint and rust stains

You get the picture, no room was without it’s own special character, but oh what fun we are having with it!

 

Once Upon a House – New Roof!

Sorry I have been absent for so long. Tis’ the time of year for illness, holiday panic and, if you live in western Oregon, rain.

As for the house in La Pine, this story could go one of two ways. I could bore you, or anger you, or make you feel empathy by ranting on and on about the process of buying a house in a short sale….but I think it would be best to leave that to an entirely different thread. Trust me, it was a NIGHTMARE. The end result was that we got the house and I was put on blood pressure medication, but there were no homicides on my behalf, which is always a good thing.

In order to get the house, we had 2 weeks from closing to put a new roof on it or we would lose our financing. We found an excellent roofer (after finding a complete charlatan who caused more harm than good – but again, that is part of the OTHER story) and he agreed to have the roof installed by the deadline for the tidy sum of $12,000.

Seems having a pitched roof and needing a high quality roofer comes with a steep price tag. But, they had us over a barrel. By the time we got to this part of the transaction, I was so riled up, there was NO WAY we were not going to get this house. Of course, when we drove out to La Pine on the day of the deadline, the house still sat, old roof intact….but again, that is the OTHER story.

Wow, I have PTSD just thinking about the 7 months I spent fighting over this house…..breathe.

Ok, so where was I….Oh, yes, WE GOT THE HOUSE!!!!

The new roof was finally put on, the financing stayed intact, for the most part, and we were ready to start dreaming and scheming about how we were going to turn this slapped together vacation home into something we were proud to call our permanent residence.

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Old roof from the back of the house.

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Old roof from the front of the house.

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New Roof!!!!

As stated earlier, come move in day, we still did not have a new roof, but we remained hopeful and made some panicked phone calls. It turned out the sky light the roofer had ordered, was subsequently shattered and they needed an additional week to get a new one (you can see it in the above photo). The finance people we already calling ME asking why I had not taken care of the roof, but in the end, through shoddy cell phone service and hard to reach people on a Saturday, it seemed that everything would still work out.

I had never owned a house before….actually, I never even IMAGINED owning a house before, so this whole experience to me was surreal.

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Here I am, standing for the first time on MY porch…mine, all mine.

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Then a friendly squirrel offered to snap a picture of hubby carrying me over the threshold.

He likes to note that there was not an ounce of strain showing in his body as he lugged me into what has, thus far, become my dream home.

Once Upon a House Part 4

As we continued down the main hall of the house (which is all of 15 feet long) the little hands that had been grasping my wrist, pulled me again to the side and into a room that was overlooked by the others. It was set back from the hall by a deep alcove that, at first glance,  appeared to be nothing more than a closet. The child pushed open the door, ran from my side and threw herself on a large bed that dominated the room. “This is Ghrhefts’s room!” she exclaimed loudly as she rolled back and forth across the bed. Aside from the bed, I noticed a large closet with a sliding door and that there was ample room for a desk and book shelf in the room as well. Then, before I could take in much more, my wrist was once again under the control of the child and I was whisked back into the hallway.

Down bedroom

We quickly walked past the door to a large bathroom that was making a gurgling sound, through the utility room and out into the garage where the other had been standing and chatting quietly.  Nancy was awkwardly trying to seem interested in what my husband, Steve, was showing her while the owner stood at the ready to answer any questions as best he could. A previous owner had, oddly, decided to build a bathroom in the garage. It was derelict and filthy and a mouse or squirrel has obviously been eating pine cones regularly while sitting on the back of the toilet. The debris pile left behind was several inches thick. The owner chatted on about the absurdity of having plumbing in a room that could be 20 degrees below 0 in the winter. Nancy nodded appropriately while my husband continued to stare up into the rafters. It all felt awkward and I was really not sure why we were standing around in the garage to begin with. Then Steve pointed to a large beam over my head and let me in on the secret. The beam was very obviously milled from a small milling machine, The blade swirls and cut marks were unmistakable. “this house was built by a woodworker”, he said. “did you see the doors?” He pointed to the one I had just passed through to enter the garage. “They are solid wood, held together with forged iron bars”. I looked and suddenly, it hit me. This house was made of WOOD!

Garage 2

OK, that sounds silly, because most houses are made of wood, but this one was REALLY made of wood. There was no fiber board, no plywood paneling, no commercial grade 2×4’s. This was hand cut, hand milled WOOD. The walls of the garage could not lie. We walked outside and it was more of the same. The exterior of the house was board and batton, all showing milling scars…the porch was large flat planks with lovely swirling blade marks peaking through the layers of pealing paint. This house was not a kit. It was not a random plan, this house was someone’s hard earned dream. This house was built out of imagination and sweat. THIS house was what we were looking for. Our diamond in the rough…and oh boy, was it rough.  In the Real Estate industry the frequently throw around the phrase “good bones” when trying to describe a house that is solid, but needs work. The bones of this house were as solid as you could get and I knew right then and there that Steve had made up his mind.

When we got back into the car after thanking the owner, Nancy paused for a moment before asking if there were any other houses we would like to see before we headed back to her office. “Nope, this is it” Steve said giving me a hopeful glance. Nancy seemed a bit relieved and confused at the same time. “What did you like about it most?” she asked. When we told her it was hand made and solid wood, she seemed to accept that as reason enough. “Well, I guess when you know it, you know it”, she said and spent the rest of the trip back to the office telling us who we could contact to remodel pretty much everything.

What Nancy did not know was that our entire plan, was to remodel it ourselves. Steve is a woodworker with an entire wood shop at his disposal. I am an artist with a deep love for anything that involves paint. Together, we were already making plans to turn this jalopy of a house into the home it should have been when it was first imagined by the original owner only better!

Then Nancy dropped the bomb…..it was a short sale.