Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

You are here. Deal.




Well, we moved.

I had thought I'd be able to write about it along the way, starting with the light switch covers and ending here, today.  But it was a tornado inside a tsunami inside a hurricane (kind of like a Turduken; that turkey-duck-chicken monstrosity), and it's hard to type in a Tor-nami-cane.

Fast forward a few months.

We are sort of unpacked.  As in, "I found the Christmas ornaments and briquettes, but I have no idea where my bra is".  The kids are pretty well settled.  Guy loves it here.  I... um... I am adjusting.  This change has been huge, and, well...

HUGE.

I could pretend I am doing super great, for the sake if this post.  But that would be silly and unrealistic.  I'm doing better.  Better than I was the first week, when I cried most mornings asking "what have we done?", and the second, when my stomach was one giant knot.  Sometime in the third week (after I came home from the church in tears from listening to wild local tales of bears, mountain lions and forest fires), my hubby firmly counseled, "We live here now.  You need to deal with it."

So I'm trying to "deal".  But this has been a very different move for me.  It's hard to explain this place, but I'll try.

First, understand that we moved from a series of 5 apartments to our little house in Rancho Cordova, where we could hear our neighbors cough and flush their toilets (and they, ours... Hi Betty and Denise!).  The sky was wide and usually blue, the land flat and cluttered with the residue of humanity.  The streets were busy; the people, too.  It was the only house most of our kiddos could remember, three of them having been born since we lived there, and two of them born right in it.

It was a habit.  It was our routine.  It was... familiar.

The drive to our new house winds through rolling, golden hills dappled with oak trees and dairy cows, traced here and there by unhurried streams. Soon the terrain becomes steeper, the road windier, the trees closer together.  Our little town of 2,310... make that 2,319, has a post office, a burger joint, two vet clinics, two yarn shops, and an actual video rental store (yes, 1987 called.  It wants me to rent Sixteen Candles).  Our little town does NOT, however, have a stop light.

As the highway bends through town, it climbs uphill, and just on the outer edge of town, there is a street that leads to a road that leads to a lane that turns down a gravel drive.  That drive plunges down through the trees that arch over it in a shadowy tunnel, and spills you out into a small clearing.  And there it is, a towering chalet-like house framed by what I call "the big, green cage"- sky-scraping pines, broad-armed oaks and shimmery, broad-leafed trees that I can't identify.


 The house, a split level complete with 3 stories, an attic and mysterious storage areas that have already been named "The Dungeon", "The Chokey" and "Chokey Junior", sits in a cleft; a shady ravine along side a chattering creek.


A stone's throw from the house there on the 1.3 acre property is a cabin warmed by a wood stove, and a trail behind the house marked by a handmade wooden sign that points the way to Mt. Zion State Park.  The woods.

We bought a house in the woods.

My brain vibrates again with the refrain, what were we thinking?

This house, this place, has a certain magic about it.  It is a place that makes you catch your breath and whisper "wow" in a sort of reverent, if not slightly overcome way.  It's big and green and beautiful.  It's also a place that plunges into darkness as the sun disappears behind the ridge, and that comes alive in the dark with the calls of unseen critters. 


It's a place that wakes well before dawn, every bird in the forest gathering almost on my windowsill in a bellowing clamor to see if they can out-chirp each other before the first light of day.  The mosquitoes are plentiful and ravenous, the neighbors quiet and hidden away in the trees.  The sky, most mornings, is a little angry and grey.  Though technically "up", the sun doesn't peek over the eastern hillside until about 9:30 in the morning.  And that brooding sky isn't kidding either.  Since moving here a month ago there have been several rainy days, and just this past Saturday, in early June, it rained, thundered, lightning-ed, hailed and then... snowed.  Briefly.  But still!!!

We left our home of 14 years.
Our charter school, our friends, our church family.
Our yard.
Our sky.
Our trees.

Change is hard.

And I'm a bit of a wimp.

But I'm "adjusting".

And I have to because

We Are Here.



Monday, February 20, 2017

The Moment the Light Switched On


I walked down the hall 
and stopped like I'd hit the wall. 
 I have been boxing things and painting things and fixing things, but the sight of a new switch plate cover stopped me in my paint-spattered, barefooted tracks.  

When Guy and I bought this house, we had a new-home-buyer's nightmare on our hands.  The previous owner had actively and deceptively hidden severe "pet damage" (meaning she would leave her dog and cat in the house all weekend while she went away for days, turning it into a 1600 square-foot litter box, and then covered every obvious trace of the damage with paint, carpet-fresh and air-freshener plug-ins).  Once we were moved into the house, and the intense cinnamon smell aired out, the vile and musky reality of our new situation began wafting out of the carpet and drywall.  We were the proud owners of a kennel.

A real estate lawyer reviewed or claim and told us that the risk of losing our case was 50-50, and recommended that we invest our money, time and energy into fixing our house, and not fighting a very-possibly losing battle.  He said he would go to bat for us on principal, but that principals could get expensive, and that ultimately a person who would do this to a family would not learn any sort of lesson, even if she lost.  "Don't worry though," he assured us, "She'll eventually get what she deserves, because people like her always do.  It doesn't have to be at the cost of your peace."  

He refused the $250 consultation fee.  
"You kids go home and use that money to fix up your house.  It's going to be okay."

We spent months, years really, repairing the damage, in some places removing drywall and even treating saturated studs.  We ripped out every thread of carpet, and scrubbed and sanitized and painted.  Every dime we had went to making the place livable.  We certainly wanted to put our own touches on things, and did here and there when we could afford to, but the two things I remember actually indulging in were a good wool rug for the living room 
and light switch covers.

Copper light switch covers.

I love copper.  It reminds me of my sweetie's hair, back when it was more red than grey.  It has warmth and light and depth, and a certain dignity to it.  
Again, like my sweetie.
And let's face it, it's not plastic.  
Indulgent, unnecessary. 
 It was our own little stamp on the house that made it ours.

So when I walked down the hall last week and saw Guy placing the last screw in a plain off-white plastic switch cover, my heart dropped.  Up until that moment everything I was doing was really just following through with repairs and updates I had always planned on making.  We were already planing to repaint the kid's rooms new colors.  We knew the bathroom floor needed repairs.  A new front door has been long overdue.

But this was the first change to our little house that was not something we would have done for ourselves.  Of course, I could have left copper plates here, but they are coming with me to my new house, 
a house that I've never seen before,
 on walls that I cannot picture.

"We're really moving, aren't we?"  I asked Guy, tears pooling.
*
Yes,
Yes we are.







Sunday, February 5, 2017

Don't Box Me In...


New Year's Resolution,
meet
Curve Ball.

I did say I would write here more, and then Life said,
 "Silly girl, wait till you see what I have in store for you!"  

We've known for a long time we needed to move.  
There are eight people using one bathroom in this house.  That means DMV-quality lines on a regular basis, with attitudes to match.  There have been times when I have had BOTH of The Littles "using" the backyard trees because a Big was parked it the bathroom, and their little bladders, simultaneously, couldn't wait.  That would be fine in an emergency, but it's become a way of life.  
That ain't right.

Build a bathroom, you say?  Yes, everyone who loves us and wants us to stay keeps suggesting that. And what do I do about the tiny kitchen that won't fit my whole family around the table? or the boys sleeping in the enclosed patio?  

No, it was already time to move a looong time ago.  
But a new motivation has set things in motion.  
Dad is coming to live with us! 
 Um, oh yah, one bathroom, 9 people...

Time to move.

Like, now.

While we embark on this new adventure (that's what I'm calling it.  "Adventure".  It's not original, I know, but it's better than "Panic Attack" or "Massive Eye Twitch"), I'll jot notes here... rough and probably not well edited, to keep my commitment to myself to write our family history here.  It will be brief, but the ten people who actually read this will be glad for that.
***

This week we have gone to see 3 properties.  Well, two.  One would have required a sherpa and three alpacas to get to, and a tow truck and a winch to get us out.  We made it down the brambly, pothole-laden dirt road that Google Maps assured us should take 10 minutes (ha! try 25) to within a half-mile of the house, then sat in the van, perched on the precipice of a slope that certainly was the inspiration for every roller-coaster drop every made, and turned to look at each other.  

"Nope." Guy said.
"We may make it down, but I don't think we'll get back out."

"If you don't feel right about it, let's turn around."  I agreed.

I was sad after an hour of driving to have gotten that far and not even have seen the cute house we had admired in the MLS listing, but we had decided a few miles back that this was not a drive we could make every day.  No wonder the house has been listed so long. That driveway was like the bridge troll in a Monty Python film.  "None shall pass!"

Another house taunted me with it's cute, moss-covered retaining walls and acre lot with a creek running through it, but the interior was, um, somewhat dismal.  At one point I think I may have uttered the words,"I see dead people."

The last house we saw is a Maybe.  It meets many criteria that we have to fill, though we haven't been in it yet.  Our agent had a dental emergency, so we decided to just see if it was even reachable without a biplane before we dragged her out there.  This particular Maybe would be a lot of work, and it's a little funky, as most houses on the outskirts of towns are, but it's on a couple of acres and is in a beautiful area. And you get to drive through a hilarious little ram-shackle gold mining town that looks like a movie set to get there, so bonus points for quirky charm.

***

Back here on the home-front we are packing, painting, and trying to get this old girl gussied up.  She is somewhat reluctant to put on the girdle I'm trying to squeeze her into.  We won't have time to do a lot of what I would wish to do to get it ready, and I am having to dial down the perfectionism in my repairs.  It's probably not necessary for me to get a porcelain smooth finish on window frames for 60 year old aluminum windows that someone will likely yank a week after they sign on the dotted line. 

 Yah, probably not.
*
*
*

Now, on to that pile of empty boxes.

(to be continued...) 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Go, Snail, Go!

The months of October through December have collectively become what we here in the Holman house call, "THE SALE".  All energy goes to THE SALE.  Our calendar, clock, menu and bowel movements are set by THE SALE.  Each year has brought growth, and we have gone from packing up just the studio/school room, to now packing two more rooms as well.  It's like moving 1/3 of our house once a year.  Somewhere between Vomiting Kids and Flooded Kitchen on the Annoying Scale.

This year I wanted to really begin to focus my art more on things I enjoyed making and less on "something for your granny"; to ditch scarves or generic earrings - gifts that would appeal to the masses- in favor of bigger pottery pieces and jewelry items I really like (and will wear if they don't sell).  The risk paid off, and my own personal sales shot up by about 50% over last year.  It felt good.  No, wait,
IT FELT GREAT!

But to make that happen, I had to spend 4 hours a night, usually 6 nights a week, for about 8 months, in the studio.  In the final weeks before THE SALE, I was in the studio up to 15 hours a day.  I got three things out of this schedule:

* A studio-load of pottery and jewelry, of which I am very proud.

* A repetitive stress injury to my neck from having my head hanging over my lap for 40+ hours a week.

* A sadly neglected blog.

Which wouldn't bother me so much... if it didn't BOTHER me so much!!!  This is (sadly) my journal.  It is our family history.  It is where I catalog the memories that my rusty lobes refuse to record! Without my blog, I seriously can only remember general events, like "went to Southern California", and no details.  It's like looking at a blurry photo.  It makes me sad.

So, my fellow Resolution Makers, this is mine:
 I'm back.

 (and now that I've said it I actually have to do it... some call it accountability, I call it how embarrassing if I don't!!!)

**************

A note about the piece of pottery above: I made eight items in this style; my take on Sgraffito, a process where black liquid-clay is painted over white clay, and then carved into to reveal the white clay beneath.  It's a very sexy process.  I sold most of them before they were even completed, and had a few folks jockeying for the same pieces.  It was so exciting!  Well, exciting like really polite snail races, if you're really into snail races, and if your snail is going to be bringing in a shell full of cash at the end (I'm picturing a little smiling snail with a wreath of flowers around his neck, like at the Kentucky Derby).

This particular little pretty (the pot, not the snail) went to live with my hubby's co-worker, who, upon seeing a photo, declared it to be hers!  I LOVE letting my pottery babies go to live with people who love them that much!

And on a second note, one of the pieces took me 32 hours to carve, so GO, SNAIL, GO!!!!