Monday, February 28, 2005

Plumb spent

You know how it feels when you're first with your significant other, when passions are running high and you kiss and kiss until your mouth feels bruised and your face is raw, but every time you feel the ache it feels kind of nice, because it's representative of all the amazing things you're experiencing? That's how I feel right now every time I try to perform the smallest function with my hands, which are covered in little bloody blisters and nicks and could potentially shrink in to permanently withered claws after my weekend pulling about three zillion staples and nails (placed about every 1/2 inch) one by one out of the kitchen subfloor.

It's Monday morning, and I'm slumped in my chair at work, feeling satisfied but hung over without any of the fun night-before buzz. The weekend's farm work crew consisted of Ted, Jeannine, Becca, Chris, Charis, Jay, and Jerry Osberg, along with his brilliant worker-bee daughter Brita. What got accomplished: The entire plumbing system was replaced, a sub-floor was installed in the bathroom, the holes were all drilled for the bathroom appliances, ventilation pipes and upstairs sink pipes were installed, new, regular-people-sized doorways were cut for the bathroom, the kitchen counter and sink were replaced (new butcher block - like buttah), and four layers of subfloor and linoleum were painstakingly pried off the kitchen floor, with bare oak now exposed. A sink and a table were also assembled. I have to say that if a union had been involved in our informal hiring of Jerry, we'd be in court right now, because the man basically works from sunrise to sundown, with minimal breaks. He really can't even be bothered with lunch. It was wonderful to experience the gale-force work happening all around me. These people are serious.

On the drive home, Jay and I talked about how what we're doing is another way of living sustainably - of learning our living space up and down, and knowing how to take care of it and make repairs as needed. Jay and Chris will be finishing up some of the plumbing and electrical stuff, and I know how happy they are to have that knowledge under their belts. Progress continues! Next in line is tiling the bathroom floor and sanding the hardwoods...

In other news, our neighbor Bill Beyrer, who basically owns all of the land around us, is happy to have us walk and ride on his property. He came by to see if we wanted to lease our field out to him for farming next year, and we had a great conversation. I continue to feel lucky that we're getting to know these folks.

Love and sweet smelling grass hay to all,


Monday, February 21, 2005

Bank robber suspect was "super nice"

The above is a headline ripped word for word from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a major newspaper. Jay and I have learned that there are a few words and phrases the Midwesterners seem to love, especially adding "super" to any adjective (or just using it as a one-word answer: "Hey, it looks like there's a deal on snowblowers at Fleet Farm." "Super.") and "Ohhh, Jeez," as in "Another four inches tonight? Oh, Jeez." Or you can just use it to finish up any sentence or end a conversation (by trailing off gently as you're saying it). This is rubbing off on Jay and me, I'm sorry to say. Especially Jay. He has, in fact, requested that I punch him when he uses this terminology in my presence, but usually I'm too busy laughing and pointing to follow through.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I can not believe it has been a year

Exactly a year ago, Charis and I left the cherry trees in there full splendor of pink and white blossoms, and our Japanese Maple in its pink flowered canvas, to a dark, cold and bleak Minnesota. We were welcomed with warmth, love and great anticipation by Chris and Becca.
We flew out for a four day weekend to see if the move to the midwest was doable: physically, economically, spiritually and ontologically. We tracked many miles on the Subaru Outback, visited three houses, helped our realtor get her Saturn SUV out of a ditch and I visited three middle schools. We ate great pizza, drank good beer and had many amany conversation. It was an exciting and difficult time. After being too stoic and afraid, I made Charis cry in the Minneapolis Airport. I did not know how to express my fear and nervousness. I knew this was right, but knew it was hard.
Charis, the saint, pulled me and herself through and I was able to communicate with her and myself. We were going. It was horribly exciting.
Now a year later, I can not believe all that has happened. I am amazed and at awe. It has not been all peaches and cream, but to see Charis spend hours in the sub-zero cold with her horses, and watch her come inside all smiles and as warm as an oyster in Mexico, it all makes perfect sense. Standing outside at 1 am looking at the stars and listening to two coyotes packs, it all makes perfect sense. Becoming intimate friends with Chris and Becca, to know I am to be a live-in Uncle, it all makes perfect sense.
I have hated my job, the jail I keep locked with students. They have no voice, freedom and they are not known. I watch them and feel them fall through my finger tips and I can do nothing. I have dear friends with Chris and Becca, Kevin and Allison, but I miss Monday Night dinner, beer and conversation with Dennis, Saturday nights at the Ship, Alan Jones Sextet, sitting in our hot tub with the gang, frisbee with Dan, Nick at Lucky Lab, Tuesday night Mexican meals with Derrick, the best students and teaching team to imagine. I have been terribly lonely and afraid. I have been afraid of losing my edge, my passion, being swept into the norm that is the Mid-West and especially the suburb I work. What was on TV last night is the deepest of depth a conversation with another teacher there is. Nobody recycles and they drive everywhere. I feel more out of place everyday I am in Minneapolis and Hopkins. I do not belong.
YET, the peace, joy, energy and creativity that pulses through my veins at the farm is exhilerating. The driving passion behind Charis, Chris, Becca and I makes me sing. Again, I can not explain seeing Charis at the farm. She has found her home. Her essence is complete there. Her beauty radiates there, Her energy is Herculian there. This is her home. This is my home.

So what I wanted to write to begin with. I can not believe it has been a year. The idea was hatched and action has exploded. I got a job, we moved horses 2000 miles safely, we bought a 37 acre farm in beautiful rolling hills surrounded by trees and silence, we gutted a room and completely rebuilt it, we added electric fencing, we added a wood stove, we gutted a bathroom (it is all studs and nothing else), we painted all of the upstairs and three rooms downstairs, we bucked hay, we started a compost pile, we have chopped and stacked piles of wood. We have deck and hot tub plans drawn. We have garden plans drawn. We have a bathroom to rebuild, a kitchen to recounter and rip up the two layers of linoleum. I can not wait.
I can not wait to sit on that deck, beer in hand, friends sitting beside and to laugh and cry and to be silent and hear the coyotes.

Wow, I can not believe a year ago, I sat trembling, afraid and excited. I still tremble, but the fear is gone, the love has increased and the excitement pours out of my being.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Die, wood paneling, die!

Well, we've done it. There is officially no more wood paneling in the house, thanks in large part to my mother, who has the energy and apparently strength of three strapping twenty-year-old lads. ("I hope I can do that when I'm sixty," marveled Jay, looking on in wonderment as my mom tore through the front porch siding like some sort of manic beaver). Despite some disagreement and miscommunication (again, sorry boys) as to what to do with the old wood planks we found under the paneling and sheetrock, I think we can all agree that what's happening now is a fair improvement over the 70's look they had going in there before. It's very rustic and farmy indeed. Why, oh why would anyone put acoustic tiles over a wainscoating ceiling? For the love of Pete!

I have to give some serious blog post love to the unbelievably badassssss menfolk, who spent the entire day Saturday ripping out (and breathing in) nasty black insulation from the walls in the bathroom and sledgehammering (!!) the bathtub to death. This formerly moldy, nasty, grouted-together room is now a clean, hollowed-out shell, patiently awaiting it's rebirth, free of its smelly, stained bathroom trappings. It really is something to see.

I was on a juice fast all weekend, which was especially horrible anytime somebody made a delicious farm meal and when Sherri and Tryston Beyrer (the nice boy who's taking care of the horses) came by with homemade banana bread and Valentine's Day cookies. BRUTAL. I'm done now, but none of those cookies are in my belly.

The horses are doing GREAT. Mistie is keeping and even putting weight on, and Colby is fine, though he needs a good butt-kicking every now and then to knock him down a peg and prove that he's not the herd stallion of two. I can't wait to have my indoor arena set up and ready to go!

I also can't wait for two weekends from now, when we get our plumbing set up and replace the kitchen counters! It looks like there are indeed hardwoods under all of the kitchen lineoleum and subfloor, so that may be a good route for the kitchen floors. We're hoping to tile the bathroom and front porch. Major transformations underway!



Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Horses Have Arrived

Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.

You can find the rest of the pictures here.

Arthur Love

I love my sister's post. I have to say, though, that I'm a little hurt that she didn't include Jay's and my special name for the fetus (NOT the baby, by the way). The way I know I'm related to Arthur is that some of Arthur's favorite foods have been Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and what B calls "baked potato build-up" and I like all of those things too!

I love being "the fun aunt" to my two nieces Hope and Ellie already and can't wait to expose Arthur to all the naughty influences in life. It just seems right to have a little person out there at the farm, doesn't it? Little person is a funny term, I suppose. It kind of makes Arthur sound like an Oompa Loompa.

I'm going to ask Chris real nice-like to post some photos of the horses at the farm, as many of you have asked to see some. I know he took a few on his birthday weekend.

Love and cigars to all-


Monday, February 07, 2005

Babes in Farmland

And I'm not talking about hot women in bathing suits. I mean the real, gurgling, bald-headed, 6-9 lb. kind of babe! Chris and I joyfully await our first baby the first week of September (or hopefully thereabouts). A perfect time to welcome a newcomer to the farm, I must say - the garden will be lush, the green trees will be thick and beautiful, the horses fat and happy, the farmers leathery and satisfied, the family hysterically jumping up and down while weeping...oh wait, that's just mom reacting to becoming a grandmother.

The last few weeks of adjusting to the news have been truly life changing. We are still grasping the reality of it all, but with excitement and bewildered anticipation. This feels like we're going on a life long trip with no map, no itinerary, no bags, no toilet paper, nothing but my body that apparently knows exactly what to do and how to create a new life. And those of you who know me well will accurately assume that I am the slightest bit anxious without a job to do (besides eat and wait). Though, eating for two is already a whole new world of fun, so please try not to look too shocked if you don't recognize me within a few months.

Charis has so dutifully and beautifully scribed the past few weeks and months of farm life for us. The time with good friends last week was almost dreamlike...I sat back many times and flashed forward to time and time again that we hope to welcome you all to our home...take you on our ski trails, hike the ridge overlooking the county, gather 'round our dining room table for big meals and many laughs. We are very blessed by you.

The prospect of bringing visitors out this summer definitely kicks up the project schedule! Charis and Jay, Chris and Kevin have all been awesome, crow-bar wielding warriors with the wall-demolition and electric bugaloo in the house. I'd really like to get my hands on a maul and have first crack at ye olde bathtub next weekend! And pulling off the rest of the kitchen counter linoleum will be just as gratifying. Jay and I are especially hyper about the big, sprawling deck of our to begin with "the thaw." It's a good thing mother nature controls some of the plans, as we might otherwise be up to our ears in half finished projects indoors and out. While winter at the farm has proven beautiful (most of the time) and peaceful in its own special winter way, it's safe to say we are all waiting with baited breath to see the first green buds pop on the trees and smell the fresh soil again.

You will also be glad to know that the first seeds of our stellar observatory have been planted. Chris got a beautiful telescope for his birthday - a wonderful gift from Dan and Michael - and we are all anxious to bring it out to the farm for a first look at the polar ice caps on Mars. Seriously! Good incentive for me to learn more about space than the Big Dipper.

As we plan for the farm/baby life, we patiently wait for change. Please keep us in your thoughts (and pray that we're not asphyxiated by the composting toilet). And we'll keep you posted. Love and peace from Minneapolis and Colfax! -Becca

The great melt-off

Chris' partay was a rager. Eleven of us all total cross-country skiied and the boys brought out their own keg of homemade beer and there was a big bonfire and pizza from scratch and plenty of beautiful white snow, and if the digital photos are telling the truth, a bare butt or two was exposed (which must have happened after I went to bed). Oh yeah, and the septic system froze. That was good times at party central. It actually just gave us a reason to pull out the old composting toilet. Yes, there are some kinks to be worked out, but I believe we have a good alternative in place, and as I'm sure you can imagine, there were some muy hilarious practical jokes played while someone sat on the potty box in the closet. I'll bet you can't wait for your visit now!

This last week it got so warm (50!) that the snow almost completely melted off to nothing, creating weird, Portland-like puddles. I almost didn't recognize them. On Wednesday, Chris and Kevin were at the farm to work, and I met them there to do my equine business. We ended up putting in the dining room chandelier (Kevin and me), the kitchen light (Chris and Kevin), the hand railing (thank you Jesus! And Chris.) and the outlet covers in the living room (also Chris). I have to say that with these few additions, the place is feeling very homey indeed.

Jay and I went out on Saturday, and finished up the chandelier, which is a simple, medieval-ish black wrought iron deal. I also got inspired and painted the ceiling in the dining room, and finished up painting in our bedroom while Jay battled the septic system outside and chainsawed down a tree up in the woods, which, by the way, is increasing the size of his biceps drastically. I got in a ride, but of course it started spitting ice pellets half-way through and cut my fun short, with Colby shaking his head furiously as we cantered home. This was the first sign of the big cool down, as it's now back to the typical teens here. The last thing we did before we left was to knock down a couple of walls in the bathroom - this makes one feel very powerful indeed. Nothing like slamming a crowbar into the wall to get your ya yas out. The goal is to have the thing gutted by the end of the month when Jerry the plumber arrives to make all of our dreams come true. Can't wait to get those kitchen counters in either!

Love and thick black farm coffee to all of you- I'll write more soon!