Posts tagged farm

September and October

I can’t believe I haven’t updated in two months!

Remodel news

We finally got the new dry lot built. Finally, finally, finally the horses have a non-muddy place to spend the winter.

We saved money for the job, but when it came time to do it, what we had saved was nowhere near enough money. Who knew gravel was so expensive? But Todd, our contractor, is beyond wonderful, and he researched and crunched numbers until we were at least able to do part of the work.

In the end, Todd…

  • cleared all of the brush, fallen limbs, blackberries, and dead trees along the road,
  • cleared a new, small pasture area between the dry lot and pasture one that has been christened “pasture zero,”
  • dug cisterns and laid French drains,
  • put down gravel in an area somewhat larger than the old dry lot,
  • built a new wooden fence like the one around the house along the north edge of the dry lot, and
  • installed a couple of new gates.

Building the lot required taking down a lot of the existing fence. We have rebuilt some of it and moved the electric fence charger to the barn. We haven’t completely closed off the dry lot from the other pastures or fenced and gated pasture zero yet, but the horses are secure.

We also haven’t replaced the fence in the front part of the property that torn down when we did the clearing along the road. That means that no dogs or horses are allowed to go out and play in the front area right now.

Due to the economic changes, we tightened up our budget. Before we did that, we were going to have the dry lot paid off within a few months. I think now it might take well into next year. The next step of the remodel is on hold until we pay off the dry lot completely AND save money for the next step. Although it’s no less of a priority, we could probably say the remodel is on hold for a while, because I’m betting it will take a while before we’re ready for the next step.

Horses

The beasties are doing fine, but I wanted to share one story. While Todd was building the new dry lot, the horses were stuck in pasture one 24/7. This isn’t such a bad thing — it’s big, and there are both trees and grazing space. The fences are electric tape, but we weren’t able to turn it on, because Todd had torn down some of the connecting fence. That concerned us, because if they decided to go through the fence, there was nothing keeping them on the property.

Everything went fine while Todd was working. He finished on a Wednesday, but Jay and I still had a lot of replacement fencing and electrical work to do before we could move the horses. Then, as you can probably predict, the horses decided they’d had enough. Through the fence and off they went! Let’s run up and down the road! Let’s go visit Donna’s garden and orchard! Let’s run through the mud and play tag with mom!

Bastards.

So Jay — who was home sick with the tail end of the flu –- went down to Donna’s and herded them back to me. I blocked their way up the road, and miracle of miracles, they headed into our property and ran into pasture two. Pasture 2, however, had to have several posts removed and couldn’t be closed. So I stood with ropes and chased them away from the big hole -– slipping and sliding in the mud the whole time –- while Jay worked like the devil to drive the posts and run wire, so we could close them in there.

We managed to get them contained, but nothing had changed. It was clear that they were testing the fence and planning to go through again. So I tossed hay in there to distract them for a while. (Great! Run away and be a general nuisance, and get fed as a reward!) Jay and I realized we had no choice but to do a fast fencing job and get the pastures -– all of them –- hot.

We got started. I walked the perimeter and fixed any issues the deer had caused. Jay drove posts and did clips. We took turns driving the new ground poles he had to have to ground the new electric fence.

And then God shared His delightful sense of humor: It started raining. No, not raining. Pouring. With lightning.

Not like we could call the game on account of rain, so we kept working. I ran lines, and Jay did the electrical work. We started to put water in the pasture the horses were in, but I decided that rather than tempting fate that they would blow out of their perceived-jail again, we would just get everything hot, put the water at the barn, and give them access to the whole horse area. That required cleaning up of posts we had out but hadn’t driven yet and some other potential hazards, but finally, about 2.5 hours after the horses decided to go walk-about, we were done.

Soaked doesn’t begin to cover it. It was 40 degrees outside, and I was wearing a t-shirt, fleece, and sweats. Even my UNDERWEAR was soaked. (How does that happen, exactly?)

I’m able to laugh about it now. Mostly. But at the time I was ready to eat the bloody creatures.

Work

I love my job. I always have to say that, because it just makes me so happy. I love my job, my team, my manager, my projects — everything.

I love what I do, and I love short deadlines, so I volunteered to do take on an extra project in September. Whoa!!! If I’d known what I was volunteering for, I might have rethought that. The overtime was what made the dry lot possible though, so I’m not complaining. My shortest week in September, I logged 60 hours. By the end of the month, I was more than ready for a break.

October has been blessedly low key. My manager has gone above and beyond to keep my workload light so I had a chance to recharge my batteries, and I sooooo much appreciate it. She is the best!!

We’ve brought on a lot of new people recently. That’s mostly good, though I worried about my job there for a while. See, I’m a vendor. I’m *intended* to be a temporary solution. The company has asked me to become a permanent employee, but I can’t do that right now, and that means that there will come a day when I don’t work at this fabulous, wonderful place. That time almost happened this fall, but someone they had intended to bring into our department had to decline at the last minute, leaving me as the only person with some specialized knowledge about one of our lines of business. Right now, unless the economy forces a change — which it could — I think I’m safe until mid 2009.

If it were up to me, I’d stay forever — at least as long as this team is stable. Nothing stays the same, though, so eventually managers will move on or we’ll get reorged, or the economy will change, and they won’t be able to keep me on. I’ll be sad, but I know it’s not personal. That’s just the way of life for a vendor.

The end of Q3 and the first 2/3 of Q4 are a less busy time for our department. This is good, because I’m planning to go down to half time for four weeks, beginning Nov. 15, because…

Dogs

…I’m getting a puppy! Yayyyyy!!!!

I’d fallen in love with a Newfie bitch owned by Rain’s breeder. This bitch, Rowan, was bred in August, with pups ready to come home in January. Unfortunately, that litter was not to be. X-rays showed she was carrying only one pup — and there was a problem with the placenta.

At the same time we were finding this out, I attended Bob Bailey’s retirement party in Sequim. (Bob is my mentor in animal training.) At his party, I met a Newfie breeder based in the Portland area. Her name is Jenni Lott, and she just happened to have a five week old litter on the ground — her first litter in five years! Hmmm. A Newfie breeder AND a Bob-Bailey-style clicker trainer? What more could I want? Excellent dogs, of course. I checked with Rain’s breeder, and she gave Jenni two thumbs up.

So Jenni and I struck up an e-mail relationship and hit it off. I’ve since been down to her place to visit the pups — three gorgeous black girls. They’re seven weeks old now. Jenni is going to do her conformation evaluations next week and make her final determination on who goes where. Last hurdle is the heart checks at 10 weeks — Nov. 13. If everything is clear, then our new girl comes home Nov. 15. I can’t wait.

No name yet. Not a final one, anyway. Her great grandmother — affectionately called Squiddy — died a couple of days before the pups were born, so Jenni would like the pups named after her. She knows that not everyone will want to name their dog after a slimy sea creature, but I’m going to try. Right now I’m leaning toward “Socorro’s Black Sea Kracken” with a call name of Tennyson — Ten or Ten Ten, for short. But that could change half a dozen times between now and then.

I’ll be blogging alllll about her and her training on the Menagerie page. I’m going to buy a new video camera, so hopefully I’ll have lots to show you.

No curly puppy yet. I really like the litter Dawn Fleming has in whelp right now, but the timing is bad. Also, I’ve been in touch with Gill Wise in New Zealand, and I’m thinking I’d really like to wait until she has the right pup for me. We’ll have to see though. I’m not going to wait forever for a curly pup, even though Jay thinks that four dogs is way too many.

Pax and Aslan will have some adjusting to do when the new baby comes home. I expect I’ll need to carefully manage everyone for a while. I think they’ll both be besotted with her before long though!

I probably shouldn’t post these, since I’m not positive which puppy I’m getting, but I *think* this is Tennyson. If not, it’s one of her siblings. I took the picture last Sunday, when they were six and a half weeks old.

Other random newsy stuff

In general life is going well here at the Alexander household. Jay and I were both sick for much of October. I just had an annoying cold, and since I work from home, it wasn’t that much of a bother.

Life is harder for my dear, dear friend Joene. She lost the love of her life, her husband Garry, unexpectedly in September. They had, a few months before, opened a new salon in Seattle, and his death really throws the business and their finances into turmoil. Please, please include my friend Joene in your prayers. She’s a wonderful person, but she has a very tough road in front of her.

Everything else is, I think, going okay. We’re just working hard and getting ready for the puppy.

August update

Sorry I haven’t updated recently. You’d think that means that nothing has been going on, but nothing could be further from the truth. It has actually be a really busy month!

First, remodel news. We had our contractor, Todd, come in to install and attic fan. The plan was to install it in the crawl space above the hall in the original part of the house. Turns out there’s no access to that crawl space. We looked at it and determined there was zero reason to have that low ceiling there, so we took it out. Now the hall has the same angled, roof-level ceiling that the rest of the original part of the house has. The hall looks so much better too — it really opened it up!

The next project is the dry lot. We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to do. It all comes down to money (not surprisingly). The theory was to do it before the rains came back in mid-September, but since the rains came back in early August, I’m not thinking we made the deadline. (I’m hoping for some more sun and warm weather before fall officially hits, but it’s not looking promising.) We definitely will redo the footing and drainage in the most-traveled parts of the dry lot. Whether we can do the whole dry lot remains to be seen.

Next, work. I love my job. (Have I said that recently?) Let me say it again: I love my job. My friend Myella is working with me now, and I’m trying to get Debi (and Margot and Sharon) to come on board as well. They officially offered me an FTE position, and although I actually would love to be FTE at this company, I had to turn it down. With the remodel and puppies, I need money and flexibility.

September is going to be a work-heavy month. We’re projecting somewhere between 240 and 280 hours in this four week (normally 160 hour) month. I can do it, but I’m going to be swamped!

My contract is scheduled to end at the end of November. I’m not sure what happens then. I expect they’ll extend it into the new year, but that will depend on the year-end changes to the company’s vendor rules and on their headcount. I don’t think they’ll be able to fill their open headcount before the end of the year, but you never know. All I know for certain is that I want to keep working there!

Puppy update. Oy, where to begin? I want both a curly and a Newf, but I don’t want them at the same time. I think twins would kill me. I would prefer a curly first, but if I can’t get a curly in the reasonably near future, then I’ll get a Newf first. Rain’s breeder, Denise Castonguay, is expecting a fall litter out of a bitch I really, really like. Those pups would be ready to come home at Christmas. If I can get a curly, though, I’ll get a curly instead. Regardless, Jay and I are driving up to Canada in mid September to talk to Denise and see her dogs in person.

Curlies… I’m head over heels for a dog named Otzo in Finland. He’s out of an American dog named Charlie — frozen semen, because Charlie died many, many years ago. Charlie was the first curly in the US to get a Best in Show. Otzo’s breeder isn’t having a litter again in the near future — bummer. But I talked to Charlie’s breeder, Doris Hodges, and she has inseminated her bitch, Summer, with the last of Charlie’s frozen semen. She said she has waited fourteen years for a bitch worthy of that. Frozen semen often doesn’t catch, though, or results in a small litter, so Doris decided to cross-breed Summer with frozen semen from another dog, Thunder. Thunder was (he has also passed away) an amazing hunter and even did some field trials. I would be happy with a pup from either of those sires!

Doris is going to x-ray (ultrasound?) Summer on September 10 to see how many, if any puppies, there are. Summer is due a week later. If there’s a puppy in that litter for me, she will come home in the middle of November. That actually would be the perfect time, work-wise. It’s right near the end of my contract and at the beginning of the holiday season. I was probably going to have the month of December off regardless! Excellent, excellent timing.

If Summer isn’t pregnant, I’ve found out that there are a couple of other excellent litters planned. First, Dawn Fleming is breeding Chant this fall. That should be a high-drive, very birdie litter. Second, Cathy Lew (Pax’s breeder) is breeding Bouclee in the spring. I fell in love with Bouclee. I think my dream litter would be a Bouclee Otzo cross! And if we decide not to get a curly right now and get a Newf puppy from Denise instead, there are lots of summer curly litters, including a nice one in Finland.

Next topic… my mom! My mom is currently visiting. She arrived on Tuesday the 19th and is staying until Saturday the 30th. Nice! It has, unfortunately, been cold and rainy pretty much the entire time, and she was prepared for a SUMMER visit, not a fall one. I joked that we’re trying to freeze her to death. She’s sitting on my couch right now wearing a jacket and wrapped in a blanket. So sad.

We’ve done a few fun things, but most days have been quiet. We drove up to the Tulalip casino one day. We had a great dinner with our neighbors one night. We went to the dog show one day (but that was a disappointing bust). Yesterday was awesome though. The weather was unexpectedly sunny and warm with a great breeze. We drove to Tacoma and went to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and then went to the glass museum. On the way home we stopped at Salish Lodge for a fantastic dinner looking over the falls. We’re supposed to go to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe on Friday, but we may get rained out. Again.

And I think… that’s all. That’s enough for one month, don’t you think?

Summer returns

In 2007 we had a week of days in the 90s in May. Although the atypical weather was a welcome change from the cold and rain, I worried at the time that it might be a harbringer of a brutal summer. I need not have feared. That was pretty much the only warm weather western Washington got last year. For all intents and purposes, we just forgot to have summer. July, August, and September were uncharacteristically cloudy, cool, and at times, rainy.

I left the South because I’m not a lover of sun and heat. That said, even I need SOME warm weather and sun. I have appreciated every single sunny warm day we have had, even the ones this weekend where the temps have climbed into the 90s. And I’ve done so with very little complaining, even though we have no air conditioning, and my office is in the kitchen instead of nice cool basement.

I needed some sun. Truly.

That said, Jay and I agree that it’s time to move back into the basement, and so we began that process this weekend. We’re planning to do a big remodel down there, but the outside work comes first. I’m betting the basement is a year away (though I’m hoping for spring). In the meantime, though the basement is ugly concrete floors dotted with the remains of glue, carpet bits, and tack strips, it’s perfectly serviceable. It just needs a little cleaning.

It was grungier down there than I expected. While Jay pulled up tack strips, I took a broom and cleared out cobwebs. No bones about it, I’m afraid of spiders. But I’ve developed a tolerance for them since I moved here. More than a tolerance in some cases. In some cases I name them, talk to them, and occasionally deliver insects to their webs. Yes, I’m strange.

So as I went through the basement today, I had to decide, web by web, whether the denizen was going to get to stay or whether it needed to relocate. In no case did I knowingly kill a spider, but I did destroy a few occupied webs. That Jay is so tolerant of this quirk is proof that he is meant to be my husband. He would even point spiders out to me, so I could run over and move them so he wouldn’t accidentally hurt them while removing tack strips. He’s a good man.

He does laugh at me occasionally though. I was trying to move a box into his office, and it wouldn’t fit through the door as I’d planned, and I was a bit confounded. I looked over, and he was chuckling. “Are you laughing at me?” I asked. “Laughing at something in that general direction, yes,” he replied unapologetically.

He also laughed when I was relocating spiders and said, “How would we ever find a housekeeper who would be able to understand which spiders stay and which go?” “We wouldn’t, Melissa,” he said.

June update

We have a new fence around the house. I should charge the battery on my camera and take a picture. <searches around for camera> Hmmm. That would entail finding said camera. <searches some more> There it is! Cool. Battery charging. This may or may not result in actual pictures. We’ll see.

The fence is gorgeous. Gorgeous. Can’t say that enough. Gorgeous. It is secure for both dogs and horses, and just high enough that Rowan hasn’t tried to put her head over and graze on the other side. The wooden posts are also concreted in, so hopefully neither horses nor dogs will knock it around and make it wobbly anytime soon.

Right now the fence is just around the house. Todd built it right outside the old fence, except in the back, where he moved it 16 feet into pasture 2. We did that so sometime in the future, when we actually remodel the HOUSE, we have room to move the back of the house out and add a back porch.

Have I mentioned the fence is gorgeous? And I love it?

Next — after paying for this fence — is the footing in the dry lot. We may not be able to get to the fence around the dry lot this summer, but we MUST add drainage and change the footing so the horses aren’t in mud next winter. I have a lot more tolerance for rain when I and my critters aren’t sliding around in the mud.

The aforementioned critters are doing well. Aslan has been growly lately, and I’m wondering if either his ears or his hips/shoulders aren’t bothering him. I’ve cleaned out his ears, and they don’t smell oogie, but his infections tend to be way down deep, and I don’t know about them until they get really gross. Pax is just trying to stay out of his way and not piss him off by doing something dumb like, you know, walk into a room wrong. <eye roll>

Oh! Aslan is on my LIST. There was a two-day period where we didn’t have a secure fence around the house. So I would let the dogs out and encourage them to the front of the property to potty. That area has better fences, and Aslan’s recall is good there. In the evening of the first day, I let them out, and they both take off at a run. I don’t know what they saw — deer? rabbit? — but they saw something and took off after it. Pax came back when I called. Aslan… gone into the woods.

Damn dog. We could hear him, but we couldn’t see him because these woods are dense with undergrowth and dark. It took an HOUR to get him back, and I don’t think he was ever more than 50 feet from us. I was soooo MAD. He went out on leash the rest of the time we were without a fence, and he hasn’t had one paw outside the new fence (and probably won’t until we’ve replaced all the fence in the front half of the property.)

Horses are fine. Princess is still thin, but the vet says that with her lameness issues he’d rather see her at this weight than the equivalent amount overweight. Rowan hasn’t gone to Leslie’s yet — and I may have another option. Her farrier, Christina, knows someone who is looking for a horse to start. Long story, but they may be a good match. We’ll see. If not, then I’ll send Rowan down to Leslie, and I want to send Blue down there regardless.

Pax’s littermate is definitely pregnant. Puppies expected July 4! Yay. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be getting one of the puppies in that litter. I certainly hope so, and we’re planning for it, but there just may not be a pup for me. Fingers crossed. I guess I’ll know for certain by mid July.

Work is going well, as always. I adore my job. It got crazy last week, but I expect that near rollout time. I should be starting a new project here soon — not sure what though. Best news is that my friend Myella is going to be working with our group beginning June 30! I absolutely can’t wait to work with her again.

I guess the only other news is that I’ve actually been writing. I’ve wanted to write a novel for a long time, but prose fiction isn’t my strong suit so I worked on screenplays instead. I decided a while ago that I would write my most recent screenplay as a novel, but I never really got started. Until now. That’s a tale better told on my Current Projects page, I suppose, so I’ll post those updates there.

Death and destruction are our friends!

How’s that for a blog title? Jay told me he’d been waiting for my post on the subject, so it seems like as good a title as any for my May update. The title refers specifically to the death and destruction of blackberries and alder saplings, both of which are weeds in the Pacific Northwest, and both of which suffered major casualties a couple of weeks ago.

As I said, alder trees and blackberries are weeds here. They grow fast and rampant, and they are constantly encroaching on the areas we’ve cleared. I realized this year that we’d lost a ton of pasture to those evil weeds, and judging by the fast-disappearing fencelines, we were soon to lose a lot more. So we called a guy down in Cherry Valley who had a lovely mulching machine. This thing would snap a tree in half and then eat it to the ground. It was awesome! We brought him in a couple of weekends ago, and he cleared all of the brush inside the pastures (and near the house) and outside the pasture fencelines of pastures three and four. There’s still a fair amount to be done, but he got the important stuff, and now we’re on to our next priorities: replacing fencing and making the drylot dry.

We had Todd come out last week to look at the work we want to do and to tell us what it will cost. First priority is to replace the fencing around the house. Second priority is to replace all of the fencing on the property except the pasture fencing. Third priority is to redo the dry lot so it won’t be a mud pit next winter. We want to replace the existing fencing (a mix of wood, field fence, and electric tape) with a fence that’s both horse- and dog-proof. That would mean, when we’re done, we have four or five separate areas in the front part of the property that can hold either dogs or horses. Right now, the fencing is ugly and falling apart, and only the fence around the house can even pretend to be truly secure for dogs.

Another thing we’re doing right now is planning to move back into the basement — without doing any work on it. I had suggested just throwing in some cheap carpet and a coat of paint, but Jay didn’t want to put any money into stuff that will get torn out in the “real” remodel. I understand that and decided that really, there’s no reason we have to do anything (though we may want to throw blankets on the floor to keep sound from bouncing around). It’s going to be a while before we can do the real remodel, and I don’t want to be out of the basement the whole time. We need our guest room, and the basement is the coolest place in the house in the summer.

What else? Work is going FABULOUSLY. I’m soooo blissfully happy. I love my manager and my department and my projects. They seem to have enough work to keep me employed through the rest of the year. Hopefully beyond that as well, but they certainly can’t promise that now. Hopefully there won’t be any weird rule changes at the beginning of next year that would keep me from coming back in the same capacity I’m in now.

I have my fingers crossed that I’ll finally get a curly puppy in September. Pax’s littermate was bred to a very nice dog in May. I don’t think the pregnancy has been confirmed yet, but I’m hoping, hoping, hoping!

Horses are doing reasonably well. Miss Princess lost weight over the winter, and that concerns me a little. The vet is coming out either tomorrow or the beginning of next week. I upped her groceries, but she doesn’t seem to be gaining weight the way she should. The other horses all look great — good weight, came through the winter well. Miss Rowan BIT me the other day. Little witch. I called Leslie that afternoon and told her Rowan needed to be trained before I killed her or she killed me. Hopefully Leslie will be able to do the training herself — and take Blue at the same time. Ideal ending to the story would be that she takes her, trains her, and finds an excellent home for her.

Ummm… I think that’s about it. Life is great here, and I’m blissfully happy!

Rethinking the remodel

I’ve been have second thoughts about the scope of the remodel. When we left the city, I wanted to downsize to a smaller house. Didn’t happen. This house felt a little smaller, but really that was just because the space was used so poorly.

Now we’re talking about a remodel that wouldn’t just rework the space we have, but actually add square footage. I can’t help but wonder why I want to do that. Okay, I know why. I hate my bedroom, and I want more space up there. But I’m beginning to think that rather than add square footage, I’d rather have an interior designer and our contractor work together to use the space we have more efficiently. This house is roughly 2400 sq. ft. Two people just don’t NEED more space than that!

That said, I don’t think that decision, if Jay agrees, is going to significantly lessen the cost for the remodel. This house was, in a way, unfinished when we moved in. Not much of the detail work had been done, and THAT is what will cost us a fortune. And we’ll still be doing some major construction. I want to change the stairs, make a great room in the basement, and create a bedroom/office on the mezzanine level.

Even if we don’t push out the back of the house, Jay may still want to expand the laundry room, and I will probably still want to build the porches off the back of the house. Of course, if we don’t do that, we may not have to replace our septic system. But that probably ought to be done, regardless, so I shouldn’t use that as an argument against the porches.

Aarghh. I’m feeling the need for another dinner with Todd and Kalisa. And a winning lottery ticket!

Remodel update

Ah, the first post of 2008!

Progress is being made on the remodel front. Phase One will be outside work — improving drainage around the house, fixing the roof on the pump house, improving drainage in the dry lot, and hopefully even getting the hay barn fixed. I think Jay wants to bring gas in in this phase as well.

We haven’t gotten a bid for how much all this will cost. We’re refinancing the house, and we wanted to wait until that was done and I started back to work before we officially kicked the project off. I’m not sure how close to done the refi is, but I go back to work on Monday. (Yay!! Y’all know how much I ADORE my job.) Hopefully we can have Todd out to give a bid here in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve also been bandying ideas back and forth about what we want to do to the house during the remodel. We’re having great fun with this. I call this the Imagination Phase. I’m sure when we figure out how much all this will cost, our dreams will get considerably smaller. Of maybe not. Maybe we’ll do everything we plan and just stretch the project out into many, many phases over a very long time.

Phase Two will be the remodeling of the basement. I *think* we’ve come to a decision about what we want down there, more or less, but I’ll give you the details later. If nothing else, we need to talk to Todd and make sure everything is feasible. Hopefully we can do phase two this summer sometime (assuming, of course, my continued employment).

Phase Three will be the decorating of the basement. Greg Perry, our absolutely kick-ass realtor, recommended an interior designer, but I haven’t contacted her yet. I suppose I’ll do so when Todd makes his bid on remodeling, because we’ll need a plan for flooring, paint, windows, and fireplace. Most of her part will come after Todd’s part, and hopefully we can do it by the end of 2008.

It’s kind of frustrating to think of it taking that long, but when I think about the vast sums of money it’ll take to do all this — and we want to pay for everything in cash — then it’ll take lots of work hours to pay for it. Come on employers, don’t you want some overtime…? I made out a tentative schedule, but even this is pretty darn iffy unless you work a LOT of overtime:

Basement — 2008
Utility room — 2009
Kitchen — 2010
Master bedroom — 2011
Living room — 2012
Outside porches — 2013
Guest bedrooms and bathroom — 2014
Landscaping — 2015

I talked to Jay about it this afternoon, and he didn’t think it would take that long, but he didn’t realize that interior design will cost as much or more than the construction, even though we’re talking about things like knocking out the back of the house. But things like furniture, lighting, window treatments, and doo dads cost huge amounts of money.

Oh well. I guess I just need to sell a screenplay or novel or something.

Step one in the Great Remodel

I warn you, the Alexander remodel is going to be a long project. A really long project. Like the rest of my life.

We had a basement guy come give a bid yesterday, and our contractor friend Todd came over last night. Basement guy wanted to channel and put in a sump pump. Todd suggested doing work outside the foundation to move the water away from the house. We like Todd’s suggestion for a couple of reasons. First, no sump pump to maintain, hear, or report when we sell the house. Second, because our house has never had this problem before, we agree that it occurred only because of the unprecedented, massive amount of water, and so a good system for directing water well away from the house should take care of the problem. The first guy’s solution channels the water IN to the sump pump, so if it stops working, we’re hosed.

Drawbacks to Todd’s plan are that it’s more expensive (more labor-intensive) and because it requires digging channels outside our foundation, our deck is toast. The deck is rotting away under our feet anyway though, so we were going to have to replace it anyway. It isn’t top of our priority list, though, and without it, we’re rather limited in options for getting in and out of the house. As in, we can’t.

Todd and his wife Kalisa spent a good while walking around our house with us, and then we went out to dinner. They had lots of good information about what we could and couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do. They also told us about a plan that our electric company has to replace all the doors and windows in the house for such a low price and easy terms that they’re using it for their place – it’s cheaper than Todd-the-contractor could do!! So we’ll probably hop right on that, just to improve the LOUSY energy efficiency of this place.

Todd and Kalisa said first thing we do is figure out what we want. That’s really much harder than it sounds, because I don’t know everything that’s out there, don’t know the cool things that could really make the place work, and don’t have an eye for design. But I’m willing to give it a try. Jay and I are working on lists of what spaces we need and what we need from those spaces, and I am delving into books and magazines to look for ideas.

Jay asked for priorities this morning. I want a bid from Todd for drainage around the house and in the horses’ dry lot. May also roll in some electrical and plumbing work into that, since he’ll have the digging equipment here. If the bid is doable, that’s our top priority. Now, that said, that doesn’t mean we’ll be doing it right away. We have to be able to pay for it first. Jay is looking into refinancing right now, but I’m hesitant to take on more debt. Sure is tempting though!!!

That outside work also doesn’t remodel our basement. I’m betting that we’re out of there for at least a year. Is that doable? In my opinion, yeah. Inconvenient, but doable. Oh well, I’ll keep you apprised.

Rain = flooding

We live on a ridge about 300 feet above Cherry Valley, a spur off of Snoqualmie Valley, through which runs the Snoqualmie river. Needless to say, we’re not in a flood plain, and we considered it pretty unlikely that our property would flood. Well, we didn’t count on the water table rising high enough to cause leakage in our basement.

Monday morning, in the midst of a storm that dropped roughly six inches of rain, I walked through Jay’s office and felt the carpet squish. Uh oh. We spent a long, frustrating day sucking up water with a shop vac and then toting the water out in buckets — up and down the stairs for HOURS. And in the end, it was still a losing battle. Because of our efforts, it didn’t get very deep, but we lost the carpets in Jay’s office and the den.

I was not a happy person.

My office moved to the kitchen. I’m using the kitchen table as a desk, Jay’s office chair as a desk chair, and my big chair was brought up so Jay could sit in here and see his wife occasionally.

Our guest bedroom was converted into Jay’s office. The bed has been dismantled and is leaning against the wall. He brought up a table and his computer from the basement. He also put the TV and the Wii in there. He did not bring the rest of the entertainment center, and the TV is not hooked up to the satellite anymore. In fact, he’s canceling satellite TV for the foreseeable future. Good thing I am down to only four shows or so, and I can download those to my computer. I can watch DVDs on my computer too.

We packed the “stuff” in the office and the den, and then had two guys come out and move everything from the basement to the mezzanine level. Then the same guys helped us cut the carpet to pieces and move it out to be hauled away. The basement is bare and empty except for a little stuff in the well room and the junk room, which didn’t flood.

Next step is to have a basement sealant company come in and look at it. We had actually already planned to remodel the basement; this just moves the timetable up a bit. What that remodel looks like, however, depends on the sealant company and what they guarantee. If they can guarantee that next time the water table rises, our basement won’t flood, we’ll remodel and make it a usable space. If not, then I no longer consider the basement to be usable living space, and so we can wait and just do basic remodel — cheap carpet and paint — before we sell the house, some time in the future.

In the meantime — which translates to months and months, if not years — we have no guest room or eating area. Just offices. I suppose that’s a problem only as far as having my mom come visit, because there’s nowhere for her to stay here, and the nearest hotel is at least 45 minutes away. Other than my mom, it’s just a convenient excuse for me not to have people come over!

Weekend update

Our beautiful weather vanished on us. It rained — and it snowed. I tried to tell myself that it was just an April Fool’s joke. I want my warm weather back!

Saturday morning, we hit the feed store bright and early and got a bunch of stuff for the electric fence. It took a fair amount of the day, but we managed to repair the fence and get it hot, all strands, all pastures. I had much too much fun on Sunday morning watching Rowan go into the pasture and test the wire. She was quite confounded that it bit back this time!

Sunday morning was devoted to getting the hay barn ready for a new shipment of hay. The big snow at the beginning of March brought the tarp down, so Jay put up a new one. We also cleaned out the pallets and rearranged them, so the best ones for walking on were on the walking paths.

We finished about 1:15, and then went in to eat. I had just put my lunch in the mocrowave when I realized I was supposed to meet Tanja at NSAE at 2:00. Eep! I changed clothes, woofed down my lunch, and hit the road. Tanja was very sad when I got there. She is leasing her horse, and she had just learned the horse’s owner is planning to sell him. She is brokenhearted, but because she and her husband are saving for a downpayment for a house, she doesn’t think they can afford to buy him. That was a downer.

It was terribly cold, but I picked up some videos I’d ordered from them, and then stayed to watch Craig teach a lesson. I wish I could hang out at his barn and tape record every lesson he gives, so I could take notes and reread them when I start taking lessons and have a practical understanding of what he’s talking about. I really would love to put Rowan in training with him, but unless I sell my screenplay, that isn’t going to happen.

Today, the horses got their annual vaccinations. This was Rowan’s first time, and I thought it might be traumatic for her, but she was just a little surprised. Dr. Pickering said she did really well. Princess managed to reinjure the shoulder she injured last summer. At least she had good timing, so the vet was able to clean it up and check it out while he was here. Nothing serious.

Guin is going to be delivered to her new barn this afternoon. I put a rain sheet on her, and I groomed her a little. I got the terrible knot out of her mane and combed out all the tangles. That girl is anything but hair-challenged. I’m going to follow the guy over to the new barn and get her settled in. I expect Kyra will want to ride her today, but since she got vaccs this morning and is getting a new home this afternoon, I think we ought to let her settle in a bit first. She has some rain rot on her back as well, and although it’s pretty much dried up now, we ought to get it cleared up before we saddle her.

Speaking of saddling, I was hoping to get the barn cleaned out yesterday, so I could pull together everything that I need to take to Guin’s new barn. Didn’t happen. I’ll probably go out in a little while and dig in. It’s a nightmare in there. I’ll need to turn the horses into the pasture while I play in the barn. I don’t want Guin back there, though, so I’ll turn her out in front. I miss her already!