22 April 2014

Almost Done

Taking a break from unpacking and organizing to share a little with you all.  Our household goods were delivered a week ago Friday and we've spent the bulk of that time unpacking and trying to find places to put things. Thankfully my folks were able to come over several times and help with the kids and the dog and the unpacking and arranging (and rearranging) of things.  This is our smallest home so far - we're at a little over 1200 square feet, coming down from almost 1600 in Texas, which was down from over 1700 in Okinawa.  I recently joked to a friend that after a couple more moves, we'll be living in a yurt and I'll have one bookshelf and a yarn bin.  (But hey, that's not necessarily a BAD thing!)

I've got pretty much everything where I want it - I think.  The kitchen took me the longest to get situated as I needed to unpack everything in order to figure out where it would all fit.  Thankfully I purged as much as I did recently, because it would NOT have fit in this kitchen as it was (and honestly, I don't have that much "stuff" for my kitchen as I'm sure more talented cooks have on hand).  It's getting situated though, and I was able to take down the Post-Its that were on the cupboards so I could find things that first week.  (I still have to tell the family where it all is - but by golly, they sure remember which drawer has the snacks!  hahaha)

I took a little break from all of the fray and went garden shopping with my stepdad one afternoon while the kids and dog were hanging with Gramma.  They'd shown me their strawberry pot, preplanted with berry plants and at a very fair price, so we headed over to pick some up.  I ended up with:

  • two strawberry pots filled with plants (including some flowers on top - my only nod to flowers in the garden until my mom showed up with housewarming gifts of red and white flowers for the front garden and the back porch LOL)
  • one lemon balm
  • one lemon verbena
  • two peppermint plants
  • one pineapple sage
  • one chocolate mint
  • four English lavender (I always choose English because we are more focused on culinary/medicinal use than perfume or aromatic use)
  • one stevia
  • one Italian parsley
  • one English thyme
  • one sage
  • one rosemary
  • one Greek oregano
  • one aloe plant (to replace Bub's aloe, which didn't survive the trip north - unfortunately I left it in the truck and temps dropped below freezing that night, and it went downhill from there)
  • six green romaine lettuce starts
  • six red romaine lettuce starts
  • two spinach starts (contributed by my folks along with the flowers they brought and spare containers they let us have)

The parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (who just sang that with me, hmm?) are in the kitchen window along with the stevia and oregano plants.  Bub's aloe is in the laundry room window, which gets great sun - or has on the sunny days we've had.  The lettuces and spinach are on the back porch so they get great sun in the morning, but by lunchtime they get shade and cooler temps as they usually need.  The herbs are all out on the front, with the bulk of them in railing planters my folks happened to have.  They also let us have some spare lawn furniture and we've all been enjoying the front porch a lot in the afternoons.  The kids are super excited to have a little bin with sidewalk chalk and bubbles that they can mess with while I'm working in the kitchen (or if I'm able to just go hang out with them in the sunshine - my joints are a mess right now and that sun sure does feel great).  They are also getting a LOT of park time now that we're back on base instead of out in the boonies.  It's really interesting to have neighbors in such a close space again, but even I have to admit it's not necessarily a bad thing like I used to think it was.  Our TX neighbors were awesome, but there was no opportunity to just wander down the street to a playground and have the kids meet five new kids to play with.  And the homeschool group - oh my word - there are almost 200 members in one group and probably close to that in the other - and that's JUST those affiliated with the base population, not any off-base civilian groups that I used to attend years ago.  One group has three activities going a week *just* using the base facilities like the bowling alley plus field trips and of course the military offers family programs like sports and martial arts that are for all kids, not just homeschoolers; we could be insanely busy if I were willing to spend that much time out of the house.  (Which I'm not, at all - it's just really helpful to see activity and commitment in the groups here and not have to drive an hour roundtrip to attend.)

Over the weekend I was able to unpack the plastic totes that were originally purchased for building a worm bin at the Texas house; they were repurposed into carrying our liquid items and my kitchen oils/spices that the movers couldn't pack.  I'll be tackling the worm bin in the coming weeks as we've gotten signed up with a CSA and we're getting plenty of things that would be composted or vermicomposted if I were ready.  We do need to get a fence installed first, as the worm bin will be on the back porch and there are wild critters that will wander through.  So far we just have birds and squirrels, but this area has had black bears that wander around and the trails are clearly marked about them.  I certainly wouldn't blame a bear for toppling over a worm bin and eating the goodies in it, but I would rather NOT have that happen, for our sake and for the bear's!  (Plus I assume we have raccoons and skunks in the area and I definitely don't want to draw them in.)

Hoping to get seeds going for other plants soon, such as tomatoes and peppers, along with a variety of squash, peas, beans and such, once the fence is in as well.  I'm trying to not run out and spend a thousand dollars on containers, but haven't had any responses yet to my call for kitty litter buckets.  I'll have to ask again and see if anyone has any now that I'm actually in the area and can pick them up right away.  I hope to make a bean teepee for the kids by placing the containers "just so" in the backyard.

Well, that's the most exciting part of the updates I have for you - I'll share more about our goings on in the coming weeks as we get more settled.

11 April 2014

There and Back Again...

Okay, so we won't be going back again anytime soon - but we made our trip safely from Texas to Washington state.  Thankfully we checked the weather while staying in Cheyenne and Manly made the judgement call for us to leave super duper early on the day we planned to make Billings, Montana, in the hopes of beating the storm heading through the area.  We were able to make it to Billings just as the storm came in.  It rained and snowed the night we were there and we woke super early the next morning to several inches of snow on the ground.  We made it out of town and kept most of the weather on one side of us until we got to a pass, where we did hit a brief white-out.  (Gramma, Chatty and I were in the car following the menfolk in the truck with the trailer; we learned the hard way when that white cargo trailer - that we knew was there - "disappeared" in the snow that our white car was probably not being seen well from behind either, even with the headlights on on all the vehicles.  I threw my four-ways on and radioed to Manly to do his as well and we were much more visible.  Whew!)  I have to hand it to the road crews in Montana: they know their stuff!  We left our hotel at around 0400 and had very few issues on I-90.  The issues we did have were mostly from other drivers and a few vehicle things, such as me forgetting that I was driving a rear wheel drive car, which is a rarity for me, and downshifting on ice like I normally would.  The Crown Vic let me know with a quickness that method was unacceptable and we got along fine the rest of the drive.  ;)

I have to share that I'm pretty proud of how very much driving I was able to do during this trip.  On our drive down to Texas, Manly did the driving as I had less than an hour of experience driving with a trailer.  I probably would have done just fine on the many straight sections of highway, but we got into a groove and left it that way.  This trip, our original plan was for Grampa to drive Manly's car with Gramma and the kids (or some combo thereof, to keep the kids occupied) and me and the dog up in the rig with Manly, hauling the trailer.  However, when you combine a 70-something man with osteoarthritis and a chatty granddaughter with a long drive, you kinda owe him some breaks.  LOL  The grands took the kids for several stints, but we switched off for part of Kansas on day two so he could relax in the passenger seat for a while - I took the first shift, then we switched when my hips couldn't do much more.  From Cheyenne to Billings, I took the wheel because we left during dark hours (this kept him from having to drive with night vision that isn't what it was years ago, and also put me in the back with a radio where I could communicate with Manly on our terms - we tend to eyeball things similarly on the road and communicate pretty effectively about them, so I could warn him of groups of vehicles coming up on our tail, folks who were a little heavy on the accelerator, and so forth - hopefully this also helped other drivers, because we were driving under the limit even on the good days due to the trailer and its limitations [it actually did better than some would have, even after a mishap on the road that ripped the light hookup right out of the tail of the truck and bent the pins!].  We certainly didn't want to slow down the truckers trying to do their jobs, so I'd take the shoulder with four ways and then Manly would ease over when he could safely do so, and we'd give them as much room to pass as we could.  Most of the truck drivers were awesome and did their best to return the favor.)

Anywho, I took the wheel again from Billings on our way to Coeur d'Alene due to the darkness and weather, and ultimately it came out that we pretty much split the drive time overall.  I'm grateful my folks were willing and able to fly down and help us out, because it was great for the kids and incredibly helpful for us.  Had it just been Manly and I driving, we'd have been able to do it, but we probably would have ended up adding another day or two on the road.  Even something as "little" as having more adults to provide bathroom escorts while one of us walked the dog was actually HUGE for us - for our sanity but also for our timeline and how quickly we got in and out of places.  My mom and I switched off on hanging out in the truck with the dog so the others could go get a proper sit-down lunch instead of just having someone run into a fast food joint; one time it was me because I just needed to be ALONE after a stressful shift behind the wheel.  (Hey - my theory is, if I worry about it, "it" won't happen... so I tend to worry about a lot on the road.  Once again, the point was "proven" because we had no major mishaps, and the one that did occur, I was the one to catch it.  Nothing like making my own proof, right? LOL)

I will say I got very little knitting done.  Nothing on the cowl.  Only about 8 rounds on the foot of sock #2 and that was after we got to my folks' house.  I got to read the rest of my magazines when I did take breaks in the passenger seat.

On other fronts: our house sale in Texas finally closed when we were about halfway through Montana.  PRAISE BE!  Everything was emailed to us and we had quite a run-around thanks to Kinko's (which we were told would have a notary, but they didn't) and banks who won't sell money orders to non-account holders and post offices with lines out the front door...but we got it printed, signed, sealed, and delivered. This week we checked out the house on base, went to the housing brief, did our inspection, and accepted the unit.  Our household goods arrive today - in fact, my alarm just went off to tell me to go start getting ready to head over to the base, so I'll shut up now! 

Hope you are all doing well - leave a comment and let me know what you're up to these days!  You know I'll be up to my ears in boxes the next few days (and loving it - getting everything organized is the fun part of a PCS).

30 March 2014

Halfway There!

We've made it safely to several more stopping points.  After viewing the weather forecast for today and seeing the winter storm watch, we decided to leave three hours earlier than planned to try to get past the area the storm was forecast to hit.  We actually saw some of it as we went past a mountain range.  We hit some rain and snow/rain mix on our way into our stopping point, but made it in safely.  The kids have already enjoyed the pool (indoors, of course! LOL) and Manly, the kids, and the Grands are down at supper while I hang out with the dog and try to clear my inboxes again.  Just two more days!  More wintery weather is expected along part of the route tomorrow so we'll be hitting the road early again - wish us well.  Allllllmost there.  :D

I haven't done anything else on the sock or the cowl as I did end up doing quite a bit of driving yesterday and today to give Grampa a break (and some bonding time in the truck with Manly and Bubby).  I did get a chance to finish the latest issue of PLY magazine and most of Wild Fibers, as well as read through Mother Earth News.  Good stuff!

Hope this finds you all well!

PS Military and other government employees - if you are traveling on official business and book a reservation at Holiday Inn chain hotels, be very careful and make SURE they are charging you the government rate that you reserved at.  I'll explain the full issue later - once it is resolved (or not) - but suffice it to say we've had problems at most of the locations we've stayed at this week.  Bleh.  It wouldn't be a PCS Adventure if there wasn't drama, right?  ;)

28 March 2014

On the Road Again...

Well, folks, just a quickie update for you: we're officially on the road.  Yesterday was, um, eventful.  No damage done but oh what a long day and our patience buttons were pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  Thanking G-d for grandparents who are helping us.  Oh.  My.

In the win column: we made our first destination late (hours late - we didn't realize the route was mapped figuring the delightful Texas speed limit [75 mph], so our 60 mph speed plus potty/stretch/meal stops added a good 20% to our time); the hotel is quite nice and oh the beds...  squoooooshy.  They are getting the included breakfast ready in the breakfast room.  Miss Violet has sniffed all over the place, protected us from multiple noises, and tinkled as necessary for leaving pee-mails (outside, of course).

Also in the win column: Manly was able to get his sign-out paperwork emailed over to the leasing agent at our gaining base, and by lunchtime she had officially assigned us a home in the requested neighborhood.  Our pending move-in is just a couple of weeks out, so that is super handy.

In the not-such-a-win column: the house closing has STILL not happened.  *Yes, insert a little person in my head running around screaming and throwing things*  Supposedly the title company has everything ready and it's the buyer's bank causing the delays.  Either way, this is obviously adding to the stress levels as we were supposed to close 10 days ago and have a mortgage payment due in just a couple of days, plus moving expenses, plus a pro-rated rent to pay when we accept the base house.  *breathe in, breathe out....*  Okay, end vent. 

Our last knit night was very cool.  My mom was able to attend and do some work on a cross-stitch project, meet all our "yarn ladies", and do some shopping.  We got lots of pictures with our pals there and I got my gusset decreases completed on sock #2.  Hopefully I can get some rounds done on the foot today - I'm going to do some of the driving of Manly's car today to let the menfolk enjoy some quiet in the truck.  heh heh.  Finished reading the current issue of PLY magazine - all about silk, silk worms, moths, etc.  Oh.  My.  Word.  Love love love love.  The kids and I still hope to raise silkworms in the near future and this issue was very educational.  If you don't have it, I highly recommend it.

Alrighty - breakfast should be ready soon.  YAY!  Wish us luck - we've got a long drive ahead today.  Woo.  Yay.  LOL

19 March 2014

Yarn-y Goodness

Hi all!  Wow, what a crazy, crazy month March has been.  "In like a lion...", as they say.  Let's hope it really does go out like a lamb.  After all this busy-ness, I'd like the trip north to be nice and quiet.  LOL  I've got several little updates to share, but let's start with the yarn and the books, shall we?  Miss V has joined me on the air mattress to show you how my WIPs are going.  Above is Basic Sock #2 with its heel turned and the gusset on the way.  I made the mistake of trying to work the heel turn while the kids were still up one night - oh yes, every lady at knit night made the same comment you're probably all thinking, and yes, I have learned my lesson there!  I made several lovely *cough* mistakes and ended up with my SSKs all wonky and my stitch count off and totally crooked.  And here I was so proud I'd done the heel flap correctly.  (What's that adage about pride going before something?  LOL) 

One of the ladies from the shop looked it over and told me where I'd gone wrong, then I started tinking it back and couldn't even figure out how to take the stitches back off properly, so she ripped it back into the heel flap for me.  That, my friends, is exactly why I wanted to be into the heel turn before I left.  I knew I'd want some supervision on picking up the stitches for the gusset and really did end up needing that and more.  Luckily for me, we had two other appointments prior to knit night so Manly met me there nice and early - we got our other things done and had supper, then I had plenty of time to get help before the shop got busy for the night.  She got me rebooted (resocked?  reheeled? haha) and I got the heel flap finished back up and did the heel turn, checking in frequently with the experienced ladies there, and got my gusset picked up!  I was able to come home and do two rounds into the gusset decrease section.  *happy dance*

During and prior to the heel escapades, I worked more rounds on my Souk cowl.  It's coming along nicely - I love seeing the stripes appear!  This is my first foray into self-striping yarn that actually stripes properly.  (I used some to make a scarf on my knitting board a couple of years ago, but didn't know how it was supposed to stripe until after I made the thing.  I just thought it was variegated yarn.  Of course there wasn't any sort of proper gauge so it turned into a stripey flecky thing.  Er....okay then.)  This cowl is officially my "can't/shouldn't work on the other more involved project so I'll do a few rounds of this one" WIP.  It's a very simple pattern, really, now that I know how to do the woven stitch; it's just that each round is so many stitches that I only get a round or three done in a sitting. (Yes, I know you sweater and blanket people are snorting with laughter at that "so many stitches" comment! *chuckle* Don't worry - I'm not saying that in a whiny "so many stiiiiitches" way - more of a "understanding my hands' limits" way.  I'm enjoying the process and learning my boundaries with this one.) 

Oh yes - and as my sleepy assistant is demonstrating, I have worked my way through almost all of the Seaside Knitters books.  I will be starting the last one, Angora Alibi, today.  Perfect timing, actually.  They are all due Friday; Chatty and I dropped off the last few on our way home from knit night.  I'll read this one and then close down our library card when I return it.  I really enjoyed this series, though the running joke I've made when telling people about it is that if I lived in a small port town where several people I knew got murdered annually, I'd MOVE.  ;)  Definitely a good series though and I'll be keeping an eye out for more of them in the future.  They remind me of a blend of Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street books mixed with Maggie Sefton's Kelly Flynn series - I think I actually like these a bit more because of the lower levels of romance.  While relationships are formed in pretty much each book (and I am a little tired of hearing how Nell and Ben still find each other so "hot" after all these years LOL), I like it a little more than the pining away and angsty relationship stuff in the Sefton books.  The plots are still very socially relevant, but with less of a "major issue" (divorce, adoption, unwed mothers, widowhood) catalyst than Macomber's books.  It's been rare for me to peg the murderer early on in these books - I like that. 

Moving on ~

I wasn't going to indulge in any purchases at the shop yesterday - but much to my surprise, there were several new things that I decided to grab up before they were gone.  The main MUST HAVE was some Lorna's Laces yarn that was custom dyed for the shop.  It is called Texas Wildflowers and was beautifully displayed with a picture of the blue bonnets of Texas.  (They'll be printing copies of the photo for me and Chatty to take with us.)  Above is Chatty's worsted yarn - she's going to make herself a scarf; probably a skinny one she can wrap around or tie a couple of ways.  Also shown is a book that came in - The Prayer Shawl Journal & Guidebook.  They only ordered one copy, right at the edge of free shipping and with the thought that someone in the shop would "have to" have it.  I'm gonna call that kismet.  lol  It's an absolutely beautiful book that just begs to be perused and wondered at.  I've been eyeballing prayer shawl patterns here and there, but needed a little more to it than just a pattern and my own thoughts.  This book had me picking out shawls for certain people in my life just as I flipped through the descriptions and suggestions.  I think it will be a great read during the trip.  (And it will be the only "real" book I have on hand other than my Kindle, so I should be able to devote some special time to praying over and pondering it.)

Chatty's worsted yarn wasn't the only skein of Texas Wildflower yarn I grabbed.  I did get myself two skeins as well.  One of my goals for this year is to make a pair of mitts, so I picked up enough to make those mitts and a matching pair of socks.  The sample projects on the display table were a cabled mitt (of the sock weight) and an adorable cowl (in the worsted).  I was sorely tempted to grab myself some worsted to make the cowl as well, but figured I'd better stop while I was ahead.  Our road trip north will not include much stopping and shopping, but I do have one yarn shop I want to check out in Cheyenne, and I had mentally budgeted for a yarn purchase there as well.  But oh, oh, the SQUEE factor of this yarn is just...  oh my.  I'll have to get permission to share the photo from the display with you all in another post!

So - that's all the yarn and WIP talk.  A few quick updates on our move:  our refrigerator and chicken coop sold last week.  The chicken coop was delivered to the buyer yesterday and the fridge will go tomorrow.  The packers came in Wednesday and Thursday - it turned out it was a father/son team, which is why they needed two days to do the packing.  (I was originally confused by the three day event this was forecast for until I found out they were sending very small crews.)  The movers came by on Friday and loaded everything up. 

The appraiser came by on Friday morning as well.  It turned out that the delays on the appraisal had nothing to do with him and everything to do with a change in financing for the buyer - the appraisal was not ordered when we thought it was.  He was a very pleasant man and was in and out of here in a half hour.  We got word yesterday afternoon that his report was done and the appraisal was at the contract price, so everything was sent to the underwriters.  When we learned there would be a delay in the closing we changed our Lodging reservation at the base to a later date, so we've been camped out here in the house with the things we set aside for our cargo trailer and our air mattresses.  As usually happens with air mattresses when you don't want it to, ours appears to have a slow leak, so Manly and I woke up in the middle of Friday night with our bums on the floor and our feet up in the air.  I went ahead and just deflated the thing and we're sleeping on the floor.  LOL  We hope to be closed either Friday or Monday, but it should still be before we hit the road, which is all we'd hoped for.  (Well, that and the contract price being met.  Sending up many praises there!!!)

Well, I think I'll sign off here now.  Thank you for stopping by for a visit - y'all have a great day.  I'm linking up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On; Ginny at Small Things for Yarn Along; and Tami at Tami's Amis for WIP Wednesday.  Swing on by and say hi to them while you're out and about in blog land!