Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Into the fog

As I look out the window this morning, I can't see much farther than the midpoint of our tree lined yard. Today is not a day we live above the fog line. But it is the first day of Thanksgiving break for me and I am thankful none the less for where I find myself sitting at 7:24am on a Tuesday morning in November.

It was just about a year ago exactly that we moved up the hill from our 16 year starter home, to serenity. There has not been a single moment that I have regretted that choice. I miss living across the street from my sister, but that is the extent of my regret.

Last weekend I spent two days feeding a deer apples in my yard. Less than half a mile up the road is McDonald forest. Next door is the sweetest old couple I've known since Ed and Audrey. We live in good people country with nature at the door. Annie has never been happier. Neither have her parents.

Life outside these walls is challenging. School has become an unrecognizable zone this year. Can I just chalk it up to a really bad year, or is it the new normal? The jury is out. I know I can't keep going like it is, but change is hard and in my heart of hearts I love what I do. Sean has deadlines and is pulled in so many directions. Life outside these walls is challenging.

But every night as I drive home, as I turn up the hill and head into the neighborhood, I feel the day float into the mist and I am so thankful to be home.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


This is not the greatest picture, but that is my much neglected mountain bike in the back of my car. Truth be told, I haven't ridden her in over a year. So a few months back when I saw the flyer for the "Women's Mountain Biking Skills Clinic" show up on a Facebook page I knew it was time for me to sign up. Oh, this wasn't the first time I signed up either. I did it last year too. Then a couple of days before the event I gave in to the fear and I canceled.

This year I was the first person to sign up. I did it almost 3 months in advance. I told myself as soon as the weather gets better I'll start riding. Then it was as soon as work settles down I'll start riding. The weeks came and went and I didn't get on my bike once. Fast forward to the week before the clinic. Sean is desperately trying to get me out on my bike or at least into the driveway to practice before the skills clinic. Unfortunately, my body had other plans and I got a case of bronchitis the entire week before the clinic. Nothing a little antibiotics can't take care of, but it was also the perfect opportunity to back out. Again. So, I sent an e-mail to Mary the instructor explaining the fact that I've been sick and I'm concerned about holding others back. She assured me that wouldn't be the case, but left it up to me. So, I mustered all my bravery and I decided it was go time. No more excuses. You see, my whole life I have quit before I really try. This time, that was not going to be the case.

So yesterday I was right on time to the local bike shop. I had no idea what to expect. My fear factory brain started creating scenarios of fit college women who would leave me in the dirt (literally). Instead, what I found was a group of seven women  ages 27-47 who were just like me. They were trying to improve their fitness and challenge themselves in an activity that might scare them a little too. We got our bikes checked out and headed over to a field by the university where we could learn more about the sport, the bikes and strategies to employ as we got started. Mary taught us some drills and we got started. The first thing was riding up a ramp and down the other side. I have always been nervous about narrow pathways, so this was good. I thought nothing could go wrong, but the first woman went right over the edge. When it was my turn I was trying so hard not to go off the edge, I almost did. First rule, look where you want to go, not where you don't! The bike follows your eyes. We practiced several drills and then were sent home with instructions to meet up at the Saddle (a network of trail heads) the following morning.

Today I woke up nervous. My fear was strong this morning as I got ready to go.  As we all met up we chatted about our fears and how we all almost didn't go. Once we all arrived, we headed up to the trail. We took a gravel road that was a bit of a climb. No one tried to outshine anyone else. Everyone just took their time and chatted and encouraged each other. It was such a nice ride up. When we got to the trail, we got instructions from Mary and started down the path. We stopped and regrouped before the technical turns on the path began. I'm not going to lie. The turns were scary and trying to pick a line is tricky when you can't seem to take your eyes off your front tire, fearful that some rogue root or rock will suddenly leap off the trail and attack you. Mary gave us tips like not to run over sticks bigger than your finger, or don't run over loose rocks bigger than your fist (known as baby heads). As the morning progressed, I noticed that with each conquered obstacle my confidence increased. Not enough to do anything stupid, but enough that I was getting a little more out of my head and a little more into the trail. The more I got out of my head, the more the fear began to dissipate.

I'm not going to lie. There were crashes and tears. Not mine today, but we were such a tight group, when someone got hurt or went down, everyone was there to rally around them. It was the most supportive group of women I have ever met. We all vowed to keep in touch and I honestly hope that this is the case. Because when you all go through something like that together, when you all face your fears and support each other, then it forms a bond that I hope continues on.

I also am pleased to report a renewed love affair with my bike. I can't believe that I had forgotten how much fun it is to be out in nature riding a bike. As Humphrey Bogart said at the end of Casablanca, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Today I had my mother in law over to help me plant my native plants I had purchased a couple of weeks ago and to survey the yard. We have an acre and a quarter her at the new place and I've never managed that kind of space before. I'm slightly more than a little in over my head to say the least. The week we were supposed to move in here way back in November, there was the worst ice storm this mountain has seen in 35 years. This is according to all the neighbors, and based on all the damage that we still hear being cleaned up by saws and chippers, they aren't lying. Our amazing next door neighbor did the majority of the big clean-up from the huge trees we lost, but there is still a lot of clean up to be done.

Enter Jane. She was downright giddy about the prospect of spending the foreseeable, non working hours helping me clean up beds, pile up branches and all sorts of other things to whip this place into the showplace of natural beauty it should be. It has been really fun watching all the little bulbs poke their heads up and seeing the poor storm damaged trees still manage to start popping out theirs buds of fresh growth. Spring is coming to the mountain, and it's shaping up to be one beautiful spot. Now, if I can only figure out what I'm going to do with all of this crazy debris. They have no yard debris cart services out here and I have no truck, so it could be interesting.

I'm excited though. Spring break is only two weeks away. Some of the family is going camping, but Sean has to work and can't take time off, so I was wondering what I'd be doing with myself for that time. After the visit and planning session today, I'm pretty sure I'll be busy the entire time. It sure should look nice when we are done though.

Hopefully I will have some opportunities to get some forest hikes and fun in as well. If not, at least the place will look nice!

Friday, March 6, 2015


Holy crap, it's March already? It feels like this year is passing in a blur. I guess that happens with each passing year, but damn, seriously, March? Life at the new place continues to be great. I miss my easy after work running path, and my proximity to my family. Those two things are probably the biggest adjustments. However, I'm sure getting used to the amazing nightly city view and morning sunrise. It's lucky that I get to call this place home. Change is mostly, very, very good.

March? Seriously? I have got to get back to reality. None of my clothes fit any more and swimsuit season (which comes with a community pool), is just round the corner.

March? Seriously?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Just another day in paradise.

2015 is starting out to be a very good year. This photo is actually prior to fixing the wall behind the stove, but the sentiment of the shot pretty much sums up my life since  the close of 2014. Yesterday I turned 46 and something tells me this is going to be the best year yet.

We finally sold the house on 53rd and moved to the mountain back in late November. The chaos and unforseen nightmare of that entire process is best left in last year's memory book. The future is much brighter. The last bit of unfinished business from that roller coaster is the location of our missing appliance suite. It shipped out back on December 11th and has yet to be seen anywhere. Super frustrating, but out of my control. Hopefully they will show up on our door step very soon.

Welcome 2015 and my 46th year on the planet. I'm excited to see what you bring.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

And so it goes...

You shouldn't be able to see light under the garage door. That was my first thought as I pulled into the driveway yesterday. My second was, "What is that cable on the outside of the door." As I quickly headed into house and through to the garage, my curiosity turned to rage. The garage door was clearly broken. The reason for the light underneath was that it was off it's track and where a tightly wound cable used to be, there was now an unattached cable. Sean who was a few minutes behind me soon returned home. Shortly after I heard him pull into the drive way I heard him step on the door from the outside. He had seen it too. Soon, there was two of us standing in the garage, unable to believe our eyes.

Perhaps you are asking yourself, why is she making such a big deal of a broken garage door? Things happen right? You would be correct, they do. Except this garage door was perfectly fine just two hours earlier. What had changed during those two hours was that our home was being inspected for our buyer. Somehow our garage door was broken during the inspection. What the hell? Even if for some reason it was about to break which I don't see as possible since there had been no problem with it just last night, a note of some sort would have been helpful. We just came home to damage, no notification of any kind. No information to our agents, no warning to us that our house was no longer able to be secure. Just another check in a long series of pain in the ass boxes that have documented this house selling experience.

There is a reason that buying and selling homes is on the top five list of most stressful life events. We Ross's don't like to do things half ass, so we decided to double down and do both at once. Except for my first year of teaching, which happened to also be the year my dad was dying of cancer, this is the worst and most stressful experience we have ever lived through in our entire marriage. Preparing this house to sell took my entire summer and all of our savings. Then we had  the water heater issue, then the rodent issue and don't even get me started on the ongoing battle of installing hurricane straps. Yes, in the Willamette valley we are supposed to entertain the idea of hurricane straps. We are resisting for now. All this adds up to about $8,000 in repairs after we exhausted our own savings, that mom has financed until we close since one of the fun side effects of buying a house is that you can't take out any debt. Great...we put mom's extra money in limbo so we can fix things that are ridiculous just to be able to sell.

Oh and then there is the buyers. So far there has been three of them. The first had no business even wasting our time since she had no money. The second dropped out as quickly as he got in. The current buyers have made it to the inspection stage, but not without significant bumps, delays and uncertainties along the way. With the addition of a broken door during their inspection, I'm not holding my breathe that their list of requests will be smooth and simple. Oh, and have I mentioned that with all the unexpected items,  and the rock bottom price with closing costs included, we will be lucky to have enough money at closing to just pay mom back.

Which leads me to the buying portion. We have our dream house in our reach. It is absolutely perfect for us, except for one thing. It is no longer a walk to my sister and the kids. That part breaks my heart. But the home is so amazing and we are in the same town that I have resigned myself to driving to visit sister instead of walking. I will not let this location change our relationship. The house is set on the side of a hill, near the top of a local mountain. It is beautiful and you can see half way across the valley from the roof top deck. Initially when we found it, we expected we would have about $25,000 to bring the original 1980s home into our century, but now we will be thrilled just to get in. We will have the rest of our lives to make it our own. Right now, we honestly just want to get home. We've got our financing in order, we've got our inspections done up there and we have done everything right along the way. It's time that our buyers get their shit together and do the same.

We are really hoping for no more bumps in the road. I'm a little concerned though because this morning the fridge is making all sorts of noise.....

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The waiting game

I go back to work in two weeks. This summer has been a blur of home improvement projects to get this place on the market. It officially hit the market on Saturday. So far we have three showings scheduled along with a realtor tour and an open house this coming Sunday.

I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming emotions involved in this entire process. Binge watching HGTV is not an adequate preparation for buying and selling a home. I thought all the manual labor of the home improvements would be the worst. Nope, not even close. The worst part is living in limbo land.

See the staging people want you to have a house that looks like a home, but not a home that anyone actually lives in. So you can have the rule of 3. Three things on any flat surface. That means no appliances out in the kitchen, no personal pictures, nothing like that. So instead, we get to live as if we were in a hotel, out of a few bags that can easily be tucked away with the phone call that a showing is scheduled. The only difference is that there is no maid here. I'm constantly tidying up and poor Annie is searching the want ads for a new family. Seriously, this blows.

We have found our dream house. I'm not sure if that makes this game we are playing right now better or worse. There is a goal in mind, but it is just feels more unattainable with each showing that doesn't produce an offer.

Let's just hope that we get an offer soon.  Patience is not my forte'.