September 10, 2013

With the recent sightings of bobcats, Orin has become fascinated with them. He wrote this song to express his feelings.

There’s an emotional depth here that I wouldn’t expect from anyone who’s never actually been bitten by a bobcat.



August 8, 2013

Papa's Shirt image

Woohoo from the pacific northwest!



We’ve been busy building fences and clearing out an old barn this weekend. Today we picked up two little six month old goats. They’re a meat/milk mixed breed.  These two are does that we’ll breed in a year. The plan is to milk them and raise their kids for meat. Orin named them Banana and Little Big One, or Lil for short.


We have our eye on a flock of 16 chickens next. The neighbor wants to split them with us, so we might pick them up later this week.


I spend 4-6 hours a day working on some fairly intense design projects and then I go get dirty with Orin and Manijeh. I have more work available than I can take on, so I’m feeling relieved. After I wrap up my current projects I want to take a few days off to work on some ideas. I’d really like to build a rocket mass heater ASAP!


The accommodations are a little tight, but we’re working on that.


We had a fellow come out and dig some perc holes so an engineer can check it out next week. Everything looks fine. There’s more clay in the soil than I’d guessed so we’ll be able to start working with cob as soon as there’s time.


More later!


After about a month staying in Pat and Gina’s mobile home, their daughter, Leslie, arrived with her husband, Mikael, and their two sons, Atticus (4) and Quintus (10 months).


History Lesson:  Leslie and Mikael introduced Manijeh and I to each other seven years earlier and have been great friends ever since.


Leslie and the boys were moving from Muskegon, Michigan to escape an increasingly violent neighborhood and an area that had just been opened to fracking. Mikael returned to Michigan to settle their affairs and sell their house.  Theirs is an interesting story, but it’s not mine to tell.


With winter approaching and space growing tight, Dianna offered to let us stay with her at the end of the lane. We gladly accepted and moved in at the end of July. Having a bathroom and shower of our own again has been incredible. We feel spoiled now.


Orin runs around and finds everything that needs to be childproofed. He is thorough and efficient, leaving no drawer unrummaged and no freezer door unopened.


The boys had a bumpy time adjusting to each other, but they’ve settled into a comfortable friendship – as comfortable as it can be with such a wide age difference. Their favorite team activity is wrestling on the floor with me. The space has been good, so the boys can get together or have quiet time when they like.

After an unbelievable amount of internet scouring, hundreds of miles on the odometer, several disappointments and a couple of heartbreaks, on June 2, 2013 we found home in Lyle, WA.


Here’s the short version. (screen goes blurry, fades to white, then fades back into scratchy sepia)

In early June, we made an offer on 20 acres and had some folks come out to survey the site. The results convinced us to back out. Too many expensive problems to tackle.


Dejected, we went to stay with our friends Pat and Gina in the mountains above Lyle, WA (about 30 minutes west of our most recent disappointment) and talked with Dianna, one of the neighbors next door. At first the answer was a kindly “Sorry, but no.” The following morning, she woke me up and walked down the road with me to 8 acres of beautiful gently sloping land right next to our friends! Unbelievable how quickly things can turn around.


I should note that every time we visited a potential property, it was this area above Lyle, referred to by locals as the Top of the Hill, that was our benchmark. We would always say to one another “It’s nice, but it’s not the Top of the Hill”.


So suddenly not only did we have a home site, but we had THE EXACT home site we had dreamed of for the last 7 years.




After working out the details, on June 15th, 2013, Dianna and I shook hands on the deal.


So we jumped for joy, gave notice at the apartment in Beaverton and moved into Pat and Gina’s mobile home beside their house to wait out the short plat process – – for 6 months (we only stayed in the mobile home for a month and a half or so).

In hindsight, our time in the apartment wasn’t all that long, but it felt like forever.


We discovered a natural spring 45 minutes away on Hwy 26 and made frequent trips to fill water containers. The water at the apartment was brown and not especially tasty.


Manijeh’s mother stayed with us on and off. While we all like each other, the tight space made everyone a little stir crazy.


We covered our walls with potential properties and details like well logs, topographic maps, et cetera. These were always pulled down in disappointment.


There were some good times – Orin celebrated his 2nd birthday there – but on the whole it was a difficult time.

We had a couple of offers on the house right away. We signed the paperwork today and are relieved that everything went so smoothly. We made a little bit of money, but that’ll be spent on storage and moving.

We were able to negotiate a bit and get some of our favorite things back. The buyers don’t seem to care much one way or another, so we picked up our rain barrels and a few other things. Our storage unit is filled, our friends’ yards are filled with plants and stones, and our apartment is filled with all kinds of random bits of a life we no longer lead.

Apartment living feels like everything is fake. Like life is on hold. At least I’m only 3 minutes from work and can save money on food and gas.

I resigned as Creative Director and we finally hired my replacement a month or so ago. So now I’m spending my days documenting projects and wrapping up loose ends.

We’ve looked at a LOT of property online and a few in person. A couple piqued our interest, but nothing of note yet.

It’s a huge relief at having the house sold – and so quickly! Feels like we cut off a great weight and are free to move forward now.

Suggestion:  Try every angle of getting a loan on the perfect property with an older manufactured home on it. You’ll learn many new things. Most of those new things will likely come as no surprise.

On the up side, you may sprout a few new grey beard hairs.

The search continues.


In the last two weeks the police have been to the apartment complex pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day. Bomb threats, theft, man hunts, disorderly conduct, drug busts.

Last night’s bomb threat – made against the manager by another tenant – left us feeling pretty rattled. There are some notably sketchy people living here.

No one bothers us, but this place feels about as unsafe as a place could feel. We’re in full on overdrive search mode for property and plan to look at some places this coming weekend.

After a few grueling days of work, we’re officially on the market. Sad to see all the work done to our little house and knowing we wont be able to enjoy it. It looks so cute and clean.

The yard and garden are beautiful, the chicken coop has had time to recharge after a few years of steady chicken usage. The hops are growing all along their woven path and covering the side of the coop. I can imagine a young couple stepping into the yard and falling instantly in love with it.

We said goodbye to the house and drove the half hour to Beaverton feeling relief at being done with this step.