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    The Second Week

    I should be working on something right now, but writing a blog post allows me to sit on the back patio, sip a beer and watch Faith play frisbee with Luna while technically being productive so I am writing.

    Probably my mother will appreciate it.

    Someday I am going to move into a “Turn-key” house.  I know they exist because they talk about them on HGTV all the time, but I have yet to live in one.  One of these days though, I am going to buy a house where you just turn the key, walk in and everything is beautiful and ready to live in.

    This house is not turn-key.  It was built in 1968 and the last owner was a bachelor.  He and I differ greatly in what we consider acceptable paint colors.  When you walk in the front door of the home, you can see five different paints: dark gray, aqua, lavender, barn red and tan.

    None of those are colors I would choose, much less all of them.  

    Since we are planning to tear down several walls and replace all of the flooring as soon as we can afford to pay someone to do it, it’s probably foolish to paint now, but I just can’t stand it.  It’s all very dark and cave-like.  We bought five gallons of the gray we put in the last house yesterday and I’ll start tomorrow painting all of the living spaces.

    This week we painted Faith’s room.  When you pack up a 14 year old and have her leave all she holds dear to move to a small town in another state, you have to offer some sort of consolation prize.  In this case, Faith is getting the entire upper floor to herself.  It used to be attic so it has slanted ceilings and plenty of character.  There’s enough room for a bedroom and a sitting room with a walk in closet and adjoining bathroom so she’s got a pretty good deal, once we’re done renovating it.  

    We were going to just paint the walls and ceiling, but before we got started, I noticed that the window was in bad shape so I had to strip it and prime it and paint it, which then led to painting all of the trim and skylights.  All in all, it took five gallons of paint and we haven’t done the bathroom yet.  It’s awesome though.  I’ll wait until the floors are done and everything is put together to post pictures but I’m really excited about it.  It’s going to be the nicest space in the house for a long time to come.  She chose a pale, ice blue for the walls and white for the ceiling and that combo totally opened everything up visually.  A vast improvement over the various shades of cooked squash that we painted over.

    Rich is replacing the blue carpeting with a new floor and then he will tackle the bathroom which he demolished down to the studs.  He needs a plumber to move a few things before he starts rebuilding though.

    Aside from home renovation, we are just trying to acclimate.  We bought a couple of kayaks and have been doing that nearly every day.  Our section of river is above the dam so the current is extremely mild which makes paddling upstream almost as easy as paddling downstream.  It’s my favorite form of exercise ever.

    We went boating one nght with a guy that Rich works with and his wife which was fun.  And I got all brave the other evening and went to a “Ladies Night” event with women from church.  I knew the names of two people going in, and left with at least six so that’s good, right?

    We’re getting there.  I still miss much about Lincoln - especially Reagan.  It feels weird to be putting together our family home without her.  I don’t expect that particular ache to go away any time soon.  But the longer we’re here and the more we do, the easier it’s getting.


    Moving In

    Whenever I’ve heard about living in Minnesota, I’ve been completely confused as to why anyone would choose to live in a place with such miserable winters.

    I’m beginning to get it.

    Turns out that miserable winters are the price to pay for summertime perfection.  This is the picture I took 5 minutes ago from the back patio where I’m sitting right now.

    It is never hot here.  Never.  Well, at least not hot to my standards.  I think it hit the high 80s one day, but generally it’s between 75 and 85.  The humidity is lower than what we are used to and anyone who complains about Minnesota mosquitoes has never lived in Nebraska.  I leave the windows open all day long and only run the AC at night to give my allergy prone kid a break.

    Now for the move in story:

    Living in a hotel was nice for about 10 days and then it got really, really old.  So I pretty much panicked last Thursday when, the night before we were supposed to close on our house, there was a paperwork glitch and we were told that we couldn’t close until Monday.  Thankfully, the seller said we could go ahead and move in so Friday morning I met a cleaning crew at the house and they cleaned and sanitized all of the carpets and flooring and scrubbed the bathrooms and kitchen.  While they worked, Faith mopped the walls and I washed windows.  Rich and Hayden were on the road making the two hour trek to the closest Home Depot to buy new toilets because I’m a freak and I have raised my children with my freakish ways and none of us were willing to use someone else’s toilets.


    This house was built by and for short people and so the squatty potty with the squishy seat was unacceptable.

    Rich and Hayden were back by 6:00 and we started moving our possessions from the garage where the movers had left them a couple of weeks ago, to the correct rooms.  That first night we got the beds set up and a toilet working by 10:30 and then crashed.

    Saturday was full on hustle day.  Rich and the kids got the rest of the boxes in and I lined all the kitchen and bathroom shelves and drawers and began unpacking.  By Sunday night, the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas were done.  We still have boxes to unpack in the storage area and Rich will be assembling his office space for at least another week (being a technical perfectionist is rough).

    The house is not my favorite thing.  Honestly, the first day I cried because it smells weird and everywhere I look is another project and I just really wanted my Lincoln house.  Getting our stuff unpacked helped.  I will never again downplay the value of “stuff”.  I’ve always tried to say that it’s the people that are important, not the possessions, but there is so much comfort to be gained by being in one’s own bed surrounded by familiar objects. 

    Slowly the place is growing on me though.  The view helps immensely.  Every morning I sit out back with the dog to eat my cereal and drink my coffee and just drink in scenery.  We have chipmunks and geese and snails and eagles.  The first day, the kids found a turtle that Faith named Gary.  The second morning they found Gary’s freshly hatched eggs.

    I also got a picture of a pelican floating by.  I had no idea pelicans lived this far north.  Pretty cool.

    We finally did close on the house on Monday morning and celebrated by making s’mores in our fire pit.  It’s like we have all the great things about camping here and then we can go inside and take a shower and sleep in our own beds.

    I guess I can deal with the house.  There’s plenty of room and lots of potential.  It won’t smell like other people forever and the projects will get done.  


    For now, we are just going to get settled in and figure out small town life and actually meet people.  Apparently bringing baked goods to the new neighbors is not a thing here.  I’ve waited for cookies and brownies for days in vain.  Looks like I’ll have to get out and make an effort.

    Maybe tomorrow.


    Not Whining

    At least I’m trying really hard not to, but I gotta tell you: it’s a struggle.  But everyone knows that moving is hard.  I know that moving is hard.  Whining won’t help and it just annoys the people who have to listen to it.

    And things will get better.


    Can I just vent this one itty bitty thing though? 

    I have been to Walmart more times in the last two weeks than in the previous six months because IT’S MY ONLY CHOICE and that’s really not acceptable.

    Thanks for listening.

    On the list of positives for the week:

    1) I think we’ve found a church.  At least we’ve found a place with some promise.  The congregation is small (by our standards - I think they said around 250) and meets in a converted gas station which gets instant points for fun.  Other highlights:

    -2 dogs
    -a granny in leather pants
    -a children’s pastor with an excellent sense of humor and full sleeve tattoos 
    -a child who let loose an epic belch in the middle of the sermon
    -a young pastor with a British accent whose message was well delivered and full of grace and Scripture
    -a worship set with a lot of promise and musicians who would probably benefit with guidance from a seasoned guitar player

    We even went to an ice cream social in the park that they held and I talked to actual people and didn’t die from it, so that’s a good sign I think.

    2) I found a drunken troll.

    I don’t know why that counts as a “positive” but I really feel like it does.

    3) We got a dog.

    Which was totally not something I planned to do, but Faith is struggling a bit with this adjustment and it was strongly suggested us that a dog was an excellent antidote.  I’m a big fan of puppies - for about 2 hours.  Then I want someone to take them and train them and let them chew up someone else’s house for the next year.  So instead of going that route, we went to the local no-kill shelter and found this charming little lady.  She’s about 18 months old and comes with no guarantees, but we’ve spent an hour or more with her each day this week and she seems smart, trainable and friendly.  She’s been at the shelter for three months and has had no behavior issues in that time.  In fact, she’s the staff favorite.  The director got teary when I filled out the adoption application.  She keeps her kennel clean, but they have no idea if she’s actually housebroken so that could be interesting.  Good thing I’m planning to tear out the carpet in the new place soon anyway.

    If you’re thinking it looks like she has some Pitt Bull in her, I would agree with you.  But it also looks like maybe some collie and lab is mixed in there so I’m hoping that all together, it works out.  She really has taken to Faith.  They lie in the sun together and the dog rolls over for belly scratches.

    Let’s just hope she gets along with the cats.  Right now we’re going with the name “Luna”, but that’s not set in stone.

    She will remain at the shelter until we close on our house next week, but we go over every day to see her and play with her.  While we’re there, we get other dogs out to help socialize them and work on basic commands.  It’s actually pretty fun and the weather here is always gorgeous so it’s a good way to get out and feel useful.

    Just don’t get me started on the fact that at this point I know the names of more dogs than humans.


    The List of Fun Things

    Faith and I are still living the Suite Life of Zack and Cody - Thief River Falls Edition.  The hotel is full of Eagles this week.  Not the birds.  Not the band.  Actually I had to ask what an Eagle is.  It’s kind of like an Elk I guess.  The breakfast room was full of them this morning and what Eagles appear to be is happy old men who eat donuts.

    Every day we come up with things to do to get out of here.  On Monday we checked out a furniture store, got groceries and looked for a walking trail.  Tuesday I met the movers at the new house where the seller let us unload all of our stuff into the garage.  That took all day long because the truck had to park on the street and the poor guys had to carry everything up the driveway which is about 50 yards long.

    I wandered around the yard a lot that day and measured rooms inside and made plans for furniture placement.  Also, I need to figure out how to get one of those HGTV shows to come and help us completely reconfigure the layout of the house.  I’ll happily take a sledgehammer to a wall on national television if someone will come take charge.

    Yesterday Faith and I wandered around through some of the shops and came up with a list of things I think I’m going to like about living in a small town in Northern Minnesota:

    1) Giving directions to my house will involve saying, “Go past Dee’s Kitchen which is now Biff’s Kitchen and then turn right by Erl’s Bait Shop.”

    2) When you go to spend more money than you thought possible on a lawn mower, the guy who owns the shop is your next door neighbor so you get a good discount and he offers to hold it - no deposit necessary - until the end of the month.

    3)  The fact that driving across town takes 8 minutes which includes time for getting lost for a few blocks.

    4)  That a few blocks is the most I can get lost.

    5) These signs everywhere.  I don’t know what they mean yet, but I find them entertaining.

    6)  So far, the hottest it has gotten is 84 degrees.  This while my friends in Lincoln are enduring 100+.  I feel fortunate.

    Check with me again in February.

    7)  Grand Forks is 80 minutes away and it has everything I need shopping wise.  Last night while Faith was at dance for four hours, Rich and I explored and went out to dinner.  I found everything I could get in Lincoln.

    8)  Strangely, there is a Mexican restaurant here that has better food than I could get in Lincoln.  It rivals some of the Mexican restaurants in Denver.  This makes me very, very happy because the other restaurant offerings are a smidgen disappointing.

    9)  The trolls.  All around town, different businesses have wooden trolls sitting out front.  Some are male, some are female and they’re all different.  I didn’t want to take pictures and look like a tourist, but Faith snuck a shot of this guy:

    They’re kind of fun.

    There’s probably also a list of things I’m not going to enjoy about living here but I have the feeling the time for that list will be mid-winter when I do all my best whining.  In the meantime, I think I’ll head for the library and try the pie shop we passed yesterday.


    The Living Situation

    When Rich went to Minnesota at the end of April to start his new job, the company put him into a two bedroom apartment.  They have several of these that they lease just for these situations.  He came home back to Lincoln for a week to attend recital and graduation and then he and Faith returned to Minnesota.  I’m not sure what Faith did all day in the apartment by herself but I’d guess it involved a lot of Netflix.  Oh! And she tried out for a new dance studio that week and got a spot on their highest team which was exciting.

    Meanwhile, Hayden and I were in Lincoln finishing up closing the house, supervising the movers and he went to New Student Enrollment at UNL.  He’s so excited to start college in the fall - it’s fun to see.  On Thursday morning we got up early enough to make sure Hayden’s mattress made it to the curb before the garbage men arrived.  (Teenage boy + smelly dog + 6 years = a mattress not worth moving.) Then we put the cats into carriers and headed north.

    And headed north.

    And headed north.

    At the end of a excruciatingly long day, we made it through five states and arrived … home? That’s weird but true.  

    I live in Minnesota.

    Probably I will say that about 800 more times before it sound right, but it’s a fact.  But while I know what town I live in, we are currently homeless.  We can’t close on our new house until the end of the month.  Until then, Rich and Hayden are still in the apartment, but cats aren’t allowed there so Faith and I are in a hotel.

    It’s not a bad life.  We have a pool and a hot tub.  We can get up and go work out and then wander in to grab breakfast.  The maid cleans our room.

    Things could be worse, but I’m sure that after three weeks we will be very glad to get into a house and have our own space.  We took the kids by the house we are purchasing yesterday.  I myself have only seen it once before and I wasn’t really thinking we were going to buy it when we went through so I didn’t look all that closely.  It was good to go through it again so I can start thinking about what projects we need to tackle first.

    The project list?  It’s long.  Really, really long.  Longer than I remembered.  But the lot the house is on … oh my goodness.  I think I’m going to spend a lot of time on my boat dock (no we don’t have a boat).

    And staring at my new view. And lving in denial about the project list which will be pretty easy to do with this kind of scenery.

    That’s my backyard lawn abutting the river bank there.  How fun is that?

    And then one day it will get cold out.  Really, really cold out and THEN I shall think about this list.  That is when the whining will begin in earnest.

    I’m sure you’re looking forward to that.