Christmas at Home – 2006 and a new to us blue couch recliner

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Wow, it was April 2006 we made the last entry to this blog! No way to ‘catch up’ 10 months of no posts. Life has certainly moved on for us, but not this blog.

Okay, so Christmas 2006. We purchased (at seriously reduced price) a new artificial Christmas tree. We already have a huge 6 foot tree that completely takes up either the upstairs or downstairs cupola if that is where we place it. Or takes up the whole front of the living room if that is where we place it. It certainly holds all the decades of Christmas ornaments back to when the children were, in fact, children. Now, they are grown with children of their own.

It’s kind of sad in a nostalgic kind of way to put up the big tree with all the years of ornaments unless the kids and grandkids are going to come for Christmas visit. For now they are scattered about, and sometimes they can do the travel, sometimes not. I wanted instead a smaller more compact tree that I could tuck in a corner and I’m quite satisfied with the size of this smaller tree.

Our Christmas gift to ourselves this year. A nice double recliner loveseat. We have for several years now been discussing getting either couch or loveseat that has dual recliners. It was still years in the future for us as a purchase. When we were out and about taking in Christmas bazaars and such like, we came across a garage sale that we almost didn’t stop at and found this great dual recliner at a price too good to pass on.

Nope, not telling, but we knew we would not likely come across such an affordable price for this kind of piece of furniture again and it was in such good, cared for shape. We left, both yearning and wishing we hadn’t committed to dental work and $$ cost to us. Somehow we managed to talk ourselves into believing we could tighten the budget belt, squeezing hard, eat beans and rice, and doing so could manage to pay the dentist $$ and treat ourselves to this Christmas present. Now, it’s February and we are recovering but recliner is paid for and so is the dentist $$.


Poor terrain behind the house caused drainage and runoff problems from the start

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You’re looking at a rhododendron “tree” two stories high.
But that’s a story for another time.

Our lot has the house more or less in the southwest corner of the property with the “back” of the house a mere 4-5 feet wide before encountering the hurricane fence of our neighbor and their huge treeless grassy yard. Some time in the future perhaps we’ll attempt a purchase of a little more room, but I’m not optimistic.

That narrow 4-5 foot corridor that consitutes the back of the house was a problem. The house next door with its huge grass lawn sits on what is the summit of a small but wide ridge which leaves our lot slightly downhill with a gentle slope toward the street which would be off to the right in the photo below.

Consequently, that “back yard” was not really attended to over what looks like the past ten years and when purchased, that back yard was nothing more than a dirt incline that left the house about a foot and a half lower than the ground at the fence line … basically a dirt “ditch behind the house.”

Whenever it rains, that ditch filled got very wet and drained slowly into a late basement addition directly below the kitchen which was apparently added sometime in the last 30 years. The basement room has a concrete floor, concrete-block walls and one small window. Would presumably make a good wine cellar or cool storage area of some kind – even a root cellar since the only floor-level door accessing that part of this tri-level house is the “basement” door from the carport.

However, the drainage seeps through the walls when rain is heavy leaving anything in there subject to both mold and rust. I had to put a ply-board floor on 2-inch decorative bricks to allow the water to flow on the floor and out the other side (remember, the ground into which that basement room was built reflects a slightly downward slope which causes the water to flow toward the house.) The neighbor’s lawn is vast and does absorb the majority part of the rain uphill from the house. But the little dirt path on the other hand, couldn’t handle hardly any downflowing drainage and merely acted like a leaky canal, collecting the water at the foundation of the house and forcing it to drain down at that spot directly opposite the basement cold room.

My solution was not something we plotted or planned. Once we started new landscaping, digging up a garden, expanding the rock garden, building a red-rock walkway … any project that caused us to dig up the lawn, we dug out turf squares which we then carried to the back of the house. We eventually over the course of working and reworking our landscaping, laid out enough turf squares to first level the dirt path and then raise it over two-three layers to get it to the same even height of the neighbor’s lawn. We’re still not there yet (even with neighbor’s lawn) but we’re getting there.

Decorative “trellises” made from sidebars from a
wrought iron bed frame that we stuck in the ground to
“train” the vegetables in how to grow up.

We’re after a “leveled look” that makes the transition from neighbor’s lawn to our “back yard” seamless. In addition, 2-3 layers of turf squares created a greatly enhanced absorption capability and now we’ve just passed thru our second winter without any significant flooding through that basement room. This allows us now to look at some sort of concrete sealing of the walls and floors that would allow us the use of that room which is … oh … maybe a 25-36 square foot space. Would also make a wonderful place to store dry and canned food and get it food off the shelving elsewhere in the basement.

You can see the first layer of sod we’re now starting at the base of the tower. We’re pleased with our back yard because each year the sod settles and the grass grows. I used to could only mow that sod after raising the blade to maximum height.

I can now mow it at the same height as the rest of the lawn which means that when mowing and I get to the back of the house, I just keep going without stopping to adjust the blades. That’s meaningful to an impatient old lawnmower. Oh … and I don’t have or like a riding mower which would be too big for mowing the yard in this lot anyway. Mine is a front wheel pulling mower that also mulches and only if I’ve negelected the mowing will I bag or rake when cutting. I’ll be 60 this summer and I like the exercise mowing gives me.

post by Deersong’s husband

Buying the Old House as of November 2002

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We bought the Old house, November 2002. Built in 1886 as a Saltbox style home, in a fishing village on peninsula in the center of Willapa Bay, the village was named Bay Center.

The home was originally built and owned by Miller family; their daughter married Harry Bochau, who was a barge builder. Harry began reconstruction projects on the house to add an upstairs cupola that did not previously exist. He added two sets of bay windows to the main floor living and dining areas. His wife, pleased with the changes called the house her ‘chateau’ and it became known in the community as the Bochau Chateau. We are assured by the old timers who still are alive here and know the history back to the Bochau family, that the wood and beams used in the construction of the house are without flaw, without knot holes, and would be an enviable commodity should the house be torn down. We wanted to give the house a name, and came up with Ruger’s Bay Tower House in Bay Center.

The Bochau family lived their entire lives in the house, and it passed down to their son, who unfortunately was not able to retain possession of the house. The house was originally built on the style of post and board without foundation or basement, without inside bathroom, and without inside water. Purchased by a local enterpreneur, who dug out a basement and built a brick foundation, using brick from the high school torn down in neighboring town. It seems he had enough brick to also build a brick fence around front, and sides of the house.

There came two more owners afterwards and during that period of history, the lower level of the cupola was added, the kitchen expanded, an additional add on to create a bathroom on the main floor and a bathroom upstairs, running water, electrical rewiring up to code, a deck was added and later a room was built, bumping out from the main house structure onto what was the deck area. The back porch was surrounded by rough-in structure to shield from the pacific winds and serves as an enclosed porch now. Additional bay windows came along with the various construction add-on’s, so that the house now has 13 different bay window areas on three levels.

By the time we came along and bought the house in Nov 2002, the house could be described as unusual – unique – interesting, or some might politely say ‘it’s different’. The house was among featured drawings by Earl Thollander in book ‘Backroads of Washington’.

We have some ideas of our own to add to this quaint house and look forward to the years ahead living in this great old house in this quiet little fishing village of Bay Center, on Willapa Bay, of the Pacific ocean, with gentle seasonal coastal breezes along with the fierce winter wind and rainstorms. We live in an area where tsunami signs are posted road signs….let’s hope no tsunamis in the near future for us.


Rising to the morning routine, simple pleasures

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It is one of those crisp winter days this morning. We wake up, immediately turn on our respective computers, catch up on what’s new or better said, more of the same, and as the sun comes up, we are drawn like a magnet to beginning the day. Husband goes about the business of morning preparations to go to work. I, on the other hand, mentally lay out the plans for my day. I send him off in our usual morning routine. What that looks like is stepping out on the porch into the bracing chill, calling for our dog Jake, to make sure he is around and not off chasing an adventure somewhere in the neighborhood, and locating our cat, Lance.

Jake, as usual, comes trotting out of where-ever he chose to sleep for the night, sometimes on the porch, sometimes outside. Lance is either inside, curled up someplace or outside and ready to come in. I give Jake his morning “treat” and he waits patiently, wagging his tail. He knows the routine…Daddy will go get in the truck and Mommy will give the dog a bone.

Our little entourage then waves Daddy off as he heads down the street and I take in the morning sights. I take a look at the sunrise to see what kind of day we will have, look over to the bay water to see what color it is this morning and how the water is moving or not moving. I look to the neighbors’ houses to see who is up and about, who has left for the day. I check to make sure the cat has food in his dish and then am reminded to remember whether I fed the two beta fish last night. I often forget to remember to feed those two, as it’s hard to have a relationship with a couple of fish swimming in vases. The two beta fish and the cat are inheritances, acquired when my daughter’s family was finally able to move to Germany.

So quietly my own day begins. Which is exactly the way I like it to be, for the most part. I used to be part of that morning preparations to get ready for work and remember well that “morning rush” which I rarely enjoyed. The hair, the grooming, the make-up, choosing the clothes, putting on what I called the “uniform” constricting the flow to focus on the taskings as set forth by employer/employment. Rushing to the car, checking the time, flying down the road so we wouldn’t be “late” and then arriving, stepping into the office, and that whole aura of 9 + hours and this place owns me.

This quiet and leisurely way to start the day is a contrast which I still relish and savor. As the sun finishes it’s rise, I now know the tone of the weather for the day. I decide if I will open the blinds and curtains or let it remain awakening time a bit longer. Today it is sunshine, and light streams in, so the blinds and curtains are opened. We get a fair amount of rainy days here and sometimes I like to open the blinds where I sit at the computer to watch the rain fall and listen to it hitting the metal roof.

Lance isn’t sure what he wants to do, and Jake has a strange gift to attend to outside. I closed up the porch last night, meaning to keep him in only long enough to eat his food, since he likes to share it with all the neighborhood dogs, and forgot to open the porch door last night before going to sleep. Jake then was rather locked in then last night, not his usual routine. So I know he could not have brought that hooved deer leg into the yard, yet there it is this morning. Where did it come from? Which dog brought it and now, of course, Jake is seriously interested.

Meantime the birds are busy on the metal roof making a racket and doing whatever they do on the roof. I take Lance outside to do his bird-monitoring thing and he is busy now prowling on the deck railing trying to keep up with the movement of the birds. And I thought I’d just blog about how our mornings begin. I’m so weary of blogging my other blogs and the war and the politics which have highjacked my daily life simple wonders in my own consuming focus to try to influence getting our troops home, thus hopefully ending some of the carnage and destruction that go on daily in Iraq. See how those thoughts creep in even as I write to the simple pleasures of my morning wake-up routine.Well time to start the day…………..


Winter Breezes

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Here in my quaint old fashioned home, in the Village, as I wander from room to room going about my daily business (whatever that might be on any given day), I am continually struck by how this house was put together. There are windows everywhere, in great part, due to the continually remodelling and upgrades over the years.

We didn’t do the alterations, we bought the house as is, so to speak. I can look outside everywhere I wander in this great ol’ house. It never ceases to catch my breath. I open windows and doors to let in the winter breezes and love the feeling of fresh air on my face, letting the outside in. I feel like I’m in the control center of our little neighborhood when I’m in my house, as I can see outside in every direction and know what is going on out there.

It’s taken a couple of years to get the house put together in a satisfactory way that accomodates our furnishings and our lifestyle. What that means is that I’ve rearranged the rooms in this house so many times now, it’s taken on it’s own life since we moved in a little over 2 years ago. I can now remember when this particular room housed the grandchildren, and before that it was my painting studio room, and before that it was a guest room. It goes like that for each room in the house.

Today the winter winds are blowing, and I’ve got Tim Janis CD playing as I type, life is a good as it can get in this moment. Those are the small wonders I am trying to look for now in a world gone over to the dark side.


Our Very Own ‘This Old House’

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Our ol’ house in a small village off the beaten path. Built 1892 originally in saltbox style and modified by the different owners over the years. Photo taken by daughter, a bit of a photography buff, she worked it in sepia tones.