Category Archives: Home

Spring Chores

Burning Brush Pile

One of three brush piles on fire

It’s hard to believe that my last blog post here was all the way back in October, we were firmly in fall and looking forward to winter. Apparently I just skipped winter, at least from a personal blogging standpoint, and skipped all the way to spring.  I never considered blogging as one of my spring chores, but apparently it is. 🙂

In addition to making a blog post to celebrate spring, one of my real spring chores is to prune trees, clean brush, pile that brush and then burn it.  We have 2 acres with a lot of trees, needless to say that there is a lot of brush to cut, pile and then burn.

We bought our property in the spring of 2012.  Prior to us owning it the property was allowed to get very over-grown and we have been working every year to clean it up and turn the entire 2 acres into a park like setting.  For the first time since we have moved in we are really starting to see the benefits of all that work.

Pruned Fir Tree

Fir tree that was planted as part of a Christmas tree farm

The biggest difference this year is that we are finally getting to pruning the trees.  I blogged here a couple years ago about our property having been planted as a Christmas tree farm.  Those trees haven’t been touched in years.  One of our goals since moving in was to clean them up enough that we could walk around and under the trees.  In the past I had used a traditional chain saw for the tree pruning but it was a literal pain in the back when trying to prune the lower branches and all but impossible to reach the higher up ones.  Possibly the best investment ever was a rechargeable pole saw, it really has helped us tame our property.

I have every intention to post here again before two more seasons pass by.  🙂

Storage

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If there has been a single constant in my adult life it has been a complete lack of storage.  I am not a packrat by any stretch of the imagination, I find throwing things away and “lightening the load” to be very liberating, but at the end of the day you need a place to store the stuff that you actually need and use.

The first house that my wife and I owned in Tucson had a 1 bay carport, no enclosed garage of any kind.  Since I have almost always had a project vehicle or some kind, I was constantly fighting the storage war.  During those 15+ years in that house, it usually meant renting an over priced storage unit near by and every time I needed something like my air compressor I would have to make the drive over, get it, take it home and use it, and then return it to the storage unit when I was done.  After we sold that house we lived in two different rental houses that had full 2 car garages, which were great for being able to store things, but because of the garage being used for storage, I could never actually park my daily driver in the garage.

When we started house hunting in the Olympia area, we had a couple must haves on our list, first and foremost was a little bit of land and some isolation from our neighbors.  Second on my list was a large garage/shop, we ended up with the first, but the place we bought had a standard sized 2 car garage.  Since the new place sits on 2 acres, and we are also doing a vegetable garden each year, this simply means that we have even more, and larger items, that need a home.  In this case a riding lawn mower and a rear tine rototiller.  Of course they ended up in the garage and yet again I had a two car garage that I couldn’t actually park my daily driver in.

That all changed this last week with the addition of a brand new 10′ x12′ storage / garden shed.  Not only have I been able to move all of those large items out of the garage, I have actually managed to park my Tacoma in the garage.

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It’s a little tight in there, but they do fit, and the Tacoma will have a roof over her head for winter which is just around the corner.

Now I just need to work on the second constant in my adult life, the lack of a dedicated workshop. 🙂

Looking out my office window

Small Bird

There are days that I don’t always love my day job, if I were to tell the truth, there are days that I don’t really like having a day job, but one thing I do love is that I work from home.  With the exception of a couple years in Arizona, I have never been an office / cubicle type of person, and I honestly don’t think I would be able to do that again.  When was the last time you were sitting in your cubicle and were able to look out your window and see something like this.  Wait, your cubicle doesn’t have a window?

Finally have a riding mower

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All of my adult life I have wanted a riding lawn mower.  Of course up until now I have never had a yard big enough to actually justify a good push mower, but of course that all changed with our move to Olympia last year.  The screen cap image in this blog post shows our 2 acres and everything that isn’t trees is grass that seems to grow VERY FAST. 🙂

We sort of let it run wild last year, but this year I have a new riding mower to help me keep all that grass under control.  If I am to be completely honest, I sort of enjoy mowing now!

A year ago this week

Olympia Love

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of our moving back to the pacific northwest from Arizona.  As always seems to be the case, that year seems to have flown by.

What many of you probably don’t know is that I grew up in northern Idaho and it was my joining the USAF that took me to Arizona in the first place.  I served in the USAF for 10 years before I left active duty.  I had always intended to return back to the northwest after leaving the military, but it just never seemed like the right time to do so.  I went into business for myself for a number of years and after that took a job that lead to the day job that I have today.  It really came as a shock when I looked back on things and realized that I actually spent more time in Arizona while not in the USAF.

Some people love the desert, I never did.  Truth be told, I never even liked it.  While I never actually liked the desert, there are two things that I do love from my time in Arizona, one is the life long friends that I made there and the other is the Arizona monsoon.  I only ever tolerated the heat and even after 20 plus years of living in the desert, it still seems wrong to not be near trees and water.

Back in late 2011 it became very clear that my wife and I were both quite unhappy living in Arizona, it was time for a change so we boldly decided to pick a date and be moved by then.  We picked May 1st 2012 as that date.  We told our bosses that we were moving and accepted the fact that we both might need to start looking for new jobs once we got to our new home, fortunately both of our companies agreed to let us work from home.  Not having the stress of having to look for new jobs, we were able to start a cross country house hunt.

The house hunt was actually quite interesting.  We knew that we were going to move to Olympia but we really didn’t know anyone there, we certainly didn’t have any contacts in the real estate business.  I started looking at real estate companies in the Olympia area and was immediately drawn to one for a very simple reason, they were using one of my images on their webpage.  It is actually the image at the top of this blog post which  I captured back in 2007 when I was in Olympia for work and had uploaded it to my iStockPhoto account.  I emailed the company and told them that I had been drawn to their site because they had licensed one of my images and that I wanted to do business with them.  I ended up getting a canned response from someone in their office who had obviously not read my email as the first thing they asked was if I had ever been to Olympia before.  To make an already long story a little shorter, we ended up getting a referral to the agent we ultimately used through a cousin who is an agent in Idaho.

We had never done a long distance house hunt before, it should go without saying that there was a lot of money spent on airfare and hotels to make trips to look at properties as well as tons of hours spent looking through online listings and emails back and forth to our agent.  We ultimately did find the property that met almost all of our needs and desires, and we got the ball rolling on the purchase.  If you ever do need a real estate agent in Olympia, I couldn’t recommend Casey Jones highly enough.

All that was left was loading everything we owned into a truck and head north, should be easy enough, but it ended up being one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Due to a number of logistical problems I was going to have to make the trip twice, once in a 28’ Uhaul truck and then again in my Toyota Tacoma.  In both cases I would have pets along for the ride.  I am not going to go into too much detail as to that part of the move, but I did manage to get that 28’ UHaul truck stuck in the mud in Oregon and to this day every time I see a Uhaul on the highway all I can think is “you poor bastard.”

Again, the past year has flown by and we haven’t done nearly the number of things to our new home that we have wanted to do, but as always time and money are always issues.  Stay tuned to this blog though, even though I have been neglecting it more than I should, I do want to use it as motivation to start getting some of the little projects I have planned done.