Country Living Series

Friday, July 19, 2019

A mountain of books

Right now we have two bookshelves in our living room.

These are, literally, the only books we have on display at the moment, and they represent maybe -- maybe -- 10 percent of our total collection. The remaining 90 percent are packed away in the barn for the time being -- a veritable mountain of books.

This is because we're emptying our house of all personal possessions except what we need on a day-to-day basis, and what we need to display a handsome and spacious structure to prospective buyers. But wow, do I miss our books.

Because we don't yet know where we're moving, nor of course how our future home will be configured, we made the decision to get rid of all the bookshelves Don made over the years to accommodate our library. After all, these shelves were built according to the particular configuration of our house, meaning they probably wouldn't fit as well in our future house. Besides, we didn't want to move them.

Nor did we want to burn or trash these shelving units. Instead, I loaded the shelves into a trailer...

...and made a little sign:

Then I drove the shelving units to our nearest dumpster and dropped them off. We have no garbage service in rural areas of our county. Instead, the county places dumpsters in strategic locations. Whenever someone has an item in good shape they wish to pass on to someone else, they drop it nearby the dumpsters for anyone to take.

So that's what I did with our shelving units. I put them near the dumpsters and taped the sign on them.

They were gone within an hour. I hope they bless another family's book collection!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

More Facebook creepiness

Older Daughter, who as most readers know works as a nanny in New Jersey, has a Facebook account. She seldom posts; it's more a chance for her to keep up with distant friends.

She just posted the photo below:

"I just got an ad for this here on Facebook," she noted. "It's so monstrous that I almost feel obligated to order it."

"It just shows how creepily dialed in their marketing is..." replied her aunt, my sister-in-law.


UPDATE: Reader Jeff in Idaho sent the following from the Terms of Service (click to enlarge and READ EVERY WORD):

Holy stinkin' cow......

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jeff pointed out how the above Terms of Service is from FaceApp, whatever the heck that is. But apparently Facebook is far worse. See this link: Think FaceApp Is Scary? Wait Till You Hear About Facebook:
Facebook has nearly 2.5 billion monthly active users to FaceApp’s 80 million. It, too, applies facial recognition to photos that those users upload to its servers. It also actively pushed a VPN that allowed it to track the activity of anyone who installed it not just within the Facebook app but anywhere on their phone. When Apple finally banned that app, Facebook snuck it in again through the backdoor. And that’s before you get to the privacy violations that have led to a reported $5 billion fine from the FTC, a record by orders of magnitude.
Apparently Facebook's Terms of Service includes the following:

"[W]hen you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings)."

And Facebook and FaceApp aren't alone. Creepy creepy creepy....

Monday, July 15, 2019

Today's the Big Day!!

Today we officially listed our house for sale! (Kinda scary, really.)

We submitted a For Sale By Owner listing to Zillow (it needs to be verified before it will go live). We also have a listing on Survival Realty (here) and SurvivalBlog was kind enough to mention it as well.

We've spent the last few months remodeling and renovating the house and property, and we're still in that process (the bathroom is the current project, for example). Most of this beautification has fallen on Don, and his skills and creativity have resulted in some absolutely beautiful interiors.

I invite everyone to come see our dedicated webpage which has a full description and dozens of photos. Please send this link to anyone you know who might be interested in relocating to North Idaho. We would appreciate it if everyone would post it on their own blog, FaceBook page, or tweet it out to friends.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Is Facebook really this bad?

I have very little experience with Facebook, since I refuse to create a page or post anything (I tried once, it didn't work out, and that was the end of my interaction with them.)

But Facebook, it seems, is getting creepier and creepier. I know someone, for instance, who posted a group shot of herself and some friends while they were out on a hike. She did not include any names or anything, just posted a photo. But when the posting went "live," Facebook automatically supplied names to every face without her permission or request.

Eewwww. Creepy.

This morning I saw yet a new reason to never, ever set up a Facebook account. On a forum, one fellow posted this:

"Beware of a new Facebook policy. When you log off for some time or have issues getting on, you now must scan and provide a real ID or they won’t allow you to log on. No way will I send my ID to them."

Is this true? If so ... ewwwww. Creepy indeed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Failed, but with class

Here's a little gif we came across recently. This young lady failed -- but failed with class.

Notice her leg pop up after she hit the mat. Her toes are even pointed. That's class, folks.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Painting the house

Here's a huge project we needed to tackle before our move: painting the house. We hadn't added a lick of paint to the outside in the 16 years we've lived here, so it was a long-overdue task. We decided to stick with the original theme of white with barn-red accents.

First we need to go back in time to last November, when we had some work done on the siding. The south side of the house -- which faces the prevailing wind/weather direction -- was getting somewhat battered. It didn't help that we had some red-shafted flickers -- woodpeckers with powerful bills, a subspecies of northern flickers -- wreak havoc with the siding a few years ago. We'd stuffed the holes with spray-foam insulation which worked very well to keep rain out, but as you can imagine it looked like kaka.

So we hired some local contractors, who completely removed the siding and replaced it. These guys were fast and efficient, and had the job done in a day.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the insulation beneath the siding in excellent shape (we were braced to have to replace it).

The material they used to replace the battered siding was a different color (beige) which actually looked so nice we thought about painting the whole house to match it, but in the end decided to go with the original color theme of white and barn-red.

That's all we did until a couple weeks ago, when we tackled the job of painting. This was a task we did ourselves because we were quoted a staggering $4500 a couple years ago by a professional painter and nearly choked at the cost.

To this end, however, we did purchase a professional-quality airless paint sprayer. It was pricey, but worth the savings in time and effort (especially when compared to the professional quote we received).

We waited until we knew the weather conditions were right: dry, warm (but not hot), calm.

Sadly, Don had to remove the heavy growth of Virginia creeper that had, true to its name, crept up onto the front porch roof and twined itself around the porch railings. He trimmed it back to ground level, otherwise we would not have been able to paint the porch. (It's already starting to grow back.)

Then we completely cleaned off the side porch.

While Don figured out how to work the sprayer...

...I started taping newspapers over all the windows.

The inside of the house was very dim as a result.

Before starting on the house, Don tried out the sprayer on a board to get the hang of things.

We soon got into a rhythm. He sprayed, and I followed behind and rolled with a extension roller brush. My goodness, that sprayer was fast. We progressed far quicker than we anticipated.

The dingy look of the house was replaced with fresh, bright paint. Looked lovely.

Speaking of dingy, this was what one of the inside portions of the side porch looked like before painting. Grungy, no?

What a difference!

While spraying near a window, we surprised a very scared frog who had been resting on top a window frame. Poor little guy got paint all over him. I hope he survived.

Here's the south side of the house with the new beige siding.

Soon it became white.

With the main house rough-painted, we turned our attention to the long barn, which had a similar color scheme (white with barn-red trim).

We hired the teenage son of a neighbor (whom we'll call CJ) to do handiwork for us. My goodness, this young man is a treasure. He works and works and works and works. Here he's on a ladder scraping wood on the long barn before priming.

Gee, what part do you suppose will get painted red?

Don started spraying, and I followed with the roller.

He worked carefully around this one part that has swallows nesting under the eaves. The parent watched anxiously as Don got closer. Don kept the sprayer at least a foot away from their nest, and I was able to follow and roll the paint all around the opening without disturbing the babies.

Once the white sides were painted, CJ climbed a ladder and started painting the trim red.

Don tackled the trim on the upstairs windows of the house.

(He still has the little window in the loft to do, as well as some overspray cleanup.)

Don and CJ are still working on the painting details of the house and barn, but so far the results look splendid. A new coat of paint. Who'da thunk it could make such a difference?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ready ... set ....

We've decided to officially list our homestead for sale on July 15. We've had a huge -- tremendously huge -- response of interested people after the initial announcement of our plans to move, so we hope our little farm is going to sell quickly. To this end, if you're serious about making our home yours, you may want to get your financial ducks in line before July 15. A friend who used to work in real estate says this means interested parties should go beyond getting pre-approval by a bank; it means they should get a loan package filled in.

The one mystery question most people have is our asking price. We're still deciding that. All I can say is this: A large house (3600 sq. feet), two barns, huge garden, 20 acres, and every other amenity, improvement, and bits of infrastructure we've built up over the last 16 years will cost less than the average suburban house on a tenth-acre lot in California.

We're still remodeling and making home improvements, and that process will continue even after we list the house (so if you're an early viewer, please keep that in mind). The house itself is ... well, yowza, it's looking gorgeous. New flooring, new paint, oak trim details, handcrafted wainscoting (woodworking husband!), new outside paint job, productive garden and orchard ... why do we always fix up a place this nice only to sell it? That's just one of life's mysteries, I guess.

At any rate, let this post be an advanced warning about our homestead's availability. Keep your eyes on the blog for the Big Reveal on July 15, at which time we'll have a dedicated website with loads of photos showing what buyers can expect.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Early to bed, early to rise...

When I was in high school, I distinctly remember setting my alarm clock for 6 am so I had an hour to read in bed before getting ready for school. During summer vacations, I would often get up around 5 am just ... because.

Interestingly, in the summers when our schedule was flexible, I would often wake up just as my younger brother was going to bed. (To say he's a night owl barely hints at the degree of his nocturnal preference.)

You see, I'm a morning person.

When our girls were babies and toddlers, early mornings were my time. It was the only chance I had to get some writing done, drink a quiet cup of tea, and not have tiny children demanding my attention. When the girls grew out of that stage, my early morning "my time" continued -- a necessary compromise in a household where all work is done at home and everyone is together 24/7. We all need our "alone" time. Since Don is a natural night owl (though not quite as bad as my younger brother), he gets his "alone" time after I go to bed.

Now that our girls are grown and gone, my early bird habits continue. It's not unusual for me to pop out of bed at 4 am or even earlier. Just don't ask me to stay awake beyond 9 pm or I turn into a zombie.

Which is why I found this article so interesting: "Waking up early can make you healthier and wealthier — yet 95 percent of Americans hate mornings."

"A whopping 95 percent of Americans hate mornings, according to a new Ipsos survey commissioned by the Sargento cheese company," starts the article. "And 43 percent of people 'despise' the sound of their alarm clock, while 39 percent identify as 'slow risers' who need to ease into their day."

In a society that requires most people to show up for work at 8 or 9 am (or earlier), the night owls have it tough. On the other hand, I've had jobs where I worked nights, and that's just as tough (if not tougher, I like to think). That's one of the blessings Don and I have cultivated over our married life -- working from home allows us to set our own hours and work when we're freshest and most awake. It's also handy during winter when Don can stoke the woodstove before going to bed and I can stoke it when I get up, so the house stays cozy.

One preference (early bird vs. night owl) is not inherently superior to the other, despite the old proverbs about who gets the worm. As long as the work gets done, who cares when it's accomplished? However the characteristic does appear to be genetic.

Unfortunately for the night owls, most sleep-cycle advice articles tend to focus on how they can reprogram their internal clocks, something early birds are usually spared (no one calls us lazy if we go to bed at 9 pm).

So I guess the bottom line is Vive la différence. I'm glad there are night owls to work graveyard shifts when the early birds are in bed.