Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A new housemate

Sorry for the silence, folks, we've had a busy month! Let's back up a bit and catch you up on what's going on. Grab a cup of tea and prepare for a long post.

Older Daughter has been wanting to take over the tankard business. She grew up with it, after all, literally before she was even born, and it's a sure-fire business she can run while living rural.

Don is more than eager to hand it over to her. He's been wanting to retire from the woodcraft business for a long time anyway, and if Older Daughter wants it, it's hers. She's been doing the assembly work, gluing, coating, etc. for years, but hasn't worked the tools. So during the summer of 2020 (before we moved), she apprenticed with Don to learn that unfamiliar part of the process.

Then we moved. Older Daughter rented an apartment in another town, got a job, and all was chaos for a couple of years. Now that things are settling down, she's been itching to get busy on tankards.

And then problems started cropping up. She can't just move anywhere and set up shop. Her apprenticeship on the power tools was two years ago, so she needs guidance until she refamiliarizes herself on the equipment. Plus, the tools are in our shop – it's not like she has a shop of her own. The logical solution was for her to move closer and work in our shop.

The big thing that was holding us up was housing for her. Our new location is so remote that rentals are nonexistent. We racked our brains trying to figure out how to get her a place to live, to no avail.

At one point we thought about building a guest cabin on an unused piece of ground near our house. Two things prevented that: One, the cost of materials kept climbing and climbing. And two, we were on a time crunch. Her apartment lease ran out at the end of May, so she needed to either extend it for another six months, or find a place to live near us. There was no way we could build her a place inside a couple months (and that wasn't even factoring in all the rain we've been having!).

We talked to some folks who run a business building sheds and small barns, and explained we were looking for housing for an adult daughter, and was it possible to retrofit one of their larger sheds into a "tiny" home? The answer was yes, and they quoted us a fairly reasonable price. But by the time we counted in the necessary materials to turn the structure from a shed into a home, the costs were ratcheting up again – concrete foundation, insulation, sheet rock, wiring, plumbing, running pipe to the septic system, hooking up water and electricity....

The costs and hassle kept mounting, especially once we realized we were essentially building a second house. We didn't have either the time or money for this. Back to square one. What to do?

Finally, with time running out on Older Daughter's apartment lease, we had to make an outside-the-box decision: She would move into our home. Our home is a three bedroom, two bath, 1400-sq.-foot place, and we only used the two smaller bedrooms for overflow storage. What if we partitioned that section into separate "in-law" quarters?

The more we thought about it, the better a solution it seemed. It would give Older Daughter privacy. She would have a separate entrance, a bedroom and sitting room, and a bathroom. She would use our kitchen and laundry facilities. A new hallway door would keep her cat, Frumpkin, on her side of the house.

Older Daughter was fine with this solution, so we got to work partitioning the house.

The first thing to do was sort through the overflow items in the extra bedrooms. When we moved in, Don took one room and I took the other. Giving these rooms up gave us the impetus to take a hard look at what we really wanted to keep and what we didn't. We stored some things in the barn, found spaces for other things in the rest of the house, and made an enormous pile of things we'll be putting up for sale later in the summer.

This is the short hallway leading to the back bedrooms. On the middle-left is the bathroom, on the middle-right is the pantry. Don's aim was to build a door right in front of the bedrooms.

Here's the new hallway door, installed (mostly).

He also got to work in "his" room, cutting a hole in the wall for an outside door as well as another hole on an inside wall to give inside access to the bathroom.

(Yes, the shocking fluorescent-green paint was here when we moved in. The previous owners had some interesting tastes in paint colors.)

By late April, Don was able to punch through the wall, getting ready to install the outside door.

Here's the door, ready to install.

With the door in place, we have plans to build an outside screened porch, but that will have to wait until the rain stops. Meanwhile Older Daughter can use the main house entrance.

Next, Don cut a separate door hole in the bathroom to give Older Daughter access from her sitting room (as well as the hallway). Here's the bathroom, before the extra door was cut:

 And after:

Installing the three doors (hallway, bathroom, outside) was all Don got done before his surgery, and of course he had to recuperate for a couple weeks before he could do any physical labor again. Meanwhile the clock was ticking for Older Daughter's lease to expire at the end of May.

So we pushed through and got things done (except painting over the awful wall colors – Older Daughter will have to take care of that on her own).

Here's "my" room, cleaned out and ready to become Older Daughter's bedroom:

(The shade of green in this room isn't as bad as the other room, but it's bad enough.)

While we were busy on our end, Older Daughter was just as busy on her end. She interviewed with a local business and got a job working 30 hours per week. She buttoned up her last job. She packed her belongings, giving away what she didn't need. She called U-Haul and reserved a small moving truck to bring her belongings to our place.

And then ... U-Haul screwed her over. It did precisely what it did to us when we were moving! She had booked a truck through the local dealership, literally a five-minute drive from her apartment. And what did they do? They told her – at the last possible second – the only truck available was in a distant city, a four-hour round trip away. Arrggghhhh.

Suddenly she was in a major quandary. She had friends who were coming over to help her load the truck, but there was no truck to load. She had to be out of her apartment within a day or two. We were too far away to be much by way of material help. I tell ya, my opinion of U-Haul, already rock bottom, descended into the pits of Hades after this incident.

Finally in desperation we called some friends from our old neighborhood. And you know what those blessed people did? They took an entire day, drove to Older Daughter's apartment, loaded her belongings into a large trailer, and moved her here. We can't even begin to tell you how grateful we are to these folks. (Harry and Bonnie, we're eternally in your debt!)

Moving day was, as always, wet. The area in front of Older Daughter's new door was a quagmire of mud. We'd hoped to unload many of her belongings through this door, but it was too wet to walk.

So, with Harry, Bonnie, and Older Daughter on their way, we improvised by laying down some of the old boards from when Don remodeled the back deck last fall. Worked like a charm.

Soon Harry drove up and expertly backed the trailer as close to the new entrance as possible.

Then we formed a chain gang to unload everything (except Don – he wasn't supposed to lift anything heavy yet, so he was in charge of making lunch). It took a surprisingly short time to get everything offloaded and make a jumbled mess in the previously empty rooms.

The next few days were chaotic as Older Daughter settled Frumpkin in, unpacked, unloaded, sorted, arranged, and otherwise dealt with the aftermath of moving. Meanwhile it rained and rained and rained some more.

Two days after moving in, Older Daughter and I took a trip back to her apartment and scrubbed it from top to bottom, stem to stern, in hopes she would get her full security deposit back. (She won't know until late June whether it worked.)

Meanwhile, Don's been creating a second shop for himself in the barn, moving all the hand and power tools Older Daughter won't need for the woodcraft business. While this was happening, Older Daughter started her new 30-hour-a-week job and so far is enjoying it very much.

She also offered an interesting form of rent. One thing she learned while living on her own is she enjoys cooking. (I don't.) However she also learned she doesn't like doing dishes. (I do.) So we've come up with this arrangement where she creates the most astoundingly delicious (and low-calorie – we could all stand to lose a few pounds) meals, and I clean the kitchen afterward. It's a system that is working divinely so far. Man, this kid can cook! And since I've never minded doing dishes, it's a perfect trade-off as far as I'm concerned.

So everyone is settling into our new routine and living arrangements. Right now the rain is keeping us more confined than we'd like. (A couple nights ago we had an intense storm cell move overhead that dumped about two inches of rain in ten minutes. It was some of the heaviest rain I've ever seen. Unfortunately it was too dark for photos.)

As soon as the weather breaks, Don and Older Daughter will get started building her porch, so Frumpkin can have a place to hang out in warmer weather. We keep getting calls from potential wholesalers interested in purchasing tankards, so Older Daughter's woodcraft business will be able to take off with a bang once she gets moving.

We'll keep you posted.


  1. Like many of us, your daughter made a full turn. First it was off to a nanny school and a job back east, only to have her make a full circle and be back home again. If it works out, and she stays at home, you will have built in care as you age. Now the next big question is what will your Navy daughter end of doing and where will she settle. It will be interesting to see if you all end up where you started, which is together.

  2. This all sounds like the beginnings of a wonderful adventure and the making of memories. I am glad you found a win-win solution.

    I, like your daughter, really enjoy cooking and dislike cleaning. The first time my family and my husbands' parents went on vacation together, I realized that my mother-in-law and I are a perfect match...I cooked and she cleaned. It was amazing!

    - South of Houston

  3. This is wonderful news! And I hope someday she expands into cheese presses. I'd be the first to order one! We've also had horrendous rains in east Kansas. My early garden was destroyed. Peas one week from picking ripped out of the ground by a microburst. We got between 5-7 inches of rain daily for weeks. Talk about mud! Just got my sweet potatoes planted (second set of slips - first rotted waiting to go in). Planted dent corn for the chickens very late - now we are hot and dry 95-97 with very high winds. And I'm down sick with Lyme disease flare-up). Ok, God has my attention....Anyway, keep us posted on the doings out there. Love your site and have sent many people there. Love to the family and Frumpkin!

  4. Glad to see that older daughter has arrived. Make sure Don does not push himself to soon or too hard!

  5. What a great solution. I'm sure she'll make a success of the business.
    Your cooking and cleanup arrangement reminded me of working one school year as a live-in nanny. I'd come home to a cooked dinner that the mom would cook. Then I'd do the kitchen cleanup.The mom was thrilled with the arrangement.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  6. Wonderful time for you all. <3 I had my son come home for a while. Similar situation: we moved, he joined us, started his business life from here before he moved on. I hope this doesn't sound awful, but it was easier to have the "empty nest" the second time. I missed them SO MUCH and grieved sometimes from the heartache of not having them around. This time I was either ready for it or got my "fix" from it. lol Now he is nearby, and we visit. All is well. <3

    We had the same issues with Uhaul on 3 occasions. I had to move my mom's things when she passed away, reserved equipment at the place down the road. We had to go 75 miles and get different equipment. Then we moved. Same thing. We were supposed to get our stuff right down the street and wound up almost in Dallas, an hour away, getting it. Then my son had it happen. They reserved it in town and had to go across the metro area to get it.

    I wouldn't say I'm glad to hear it happened to you as well, but until you said it, I just thought we were the "lucky" few. I don't expect to be moving any more, but if things change, I don't think I will use them any more.

  7. That is a lot to be going on - but with a very happy ending. Here is to Older Daughter's success!

    (The cooking/washing arrangement is how it works in our home as well: someone cooks, I wash dishes. It has worked well for at least 20+ years).

  8. Welcome home!!

    Let us know what it’s like having kids bounce back— I know it’s bad of me, but I’m kind of hoping for our oldest to do just that (while preparing for Hubby’s mom to move in— isolation, inflation, and age have all caught up to her).

    It’s sure an adventure!!

  9. What a story! Now, I will be in fear of needing U Haul.

  10. I've been praying your children would "come home" to at least very near you.
    The Lord didn't make cities. He made families. Populated places were named after the family that settled there. And there is that proverb about the more strands in a cord, the stronger it is. (paraphrased)
    I hope you and Don live long, healthy lives. However, things come up like his surgery more frequently as we age and it helps to have extra helping hands.
    One of the greatest challenges "professionals" in the elder Care industry have is incorporating multigenerational activities because there's this unhealthy mind set about people being with their own age group. (Not saying this about you and Don being in that place of life, but my own folks.) It is normal and healthy to have " community" with different age groups, especially with family. Keeps the older folks young and the younger ones wiser. The Amish and Mennonites have it right.
    You may have just constructed your own future dawdi house.(sp?)
    Anyway, best of luck! And with more luck tankards won't be the only thing she makes!

  11. Ditto with the cat, ditto with U-Haul. I rescued Teeko 10 years ago when she was an abandoned kitten at a hospital construction site in New Mexico. Now, I am but her most humble servant.

    When my son and his family moved 350 miles away, the U-Haul store where we reserved the truck was just three miles away. The morning we were to pick it up, they made us drive across the Albuquerque metro to get it while volunteer friends waited. Same thing one year later, when my wife and I moved. Reserve it nearby, then tell us, the morning of, that we have to go get it some distance away while the hired loaders wait on us.

  12. I have a similar situation, our son moved back in to start a new life. At one point I thought I had enough food for my husband and me, however after watching my son eating during the first week I realized I had to get cracking on more food stocking. It is amazing how much a younger person eats, I had forgotten, at 70 we eat together as much as my son eats alone.

  13. Same experience with uhaul when we moved! Avoid, avoid, avoid them. Borderline crooks.

  14. I just had a similar situation with U Haul! Booked a trailer to move a car, was told location X didn't have one so I would need to go to location Y to pick it up. Sure, not problem. Show up at location Y (after receiving a confirmation call the day before) only to find out they don't have a trailer for me, and wouldn't for 4+ hours, IF it were returned on time.

    Other than the Uhaul fiasco, I am so excited to hear of the new developments! I'm sure it will be wonderful having Older Daughter home, and how fabulous that she will be taking over the tankard business! Best of luck to her on this new chapter!


  15. I'm glad to see that Frumpkin has accommodations in the works. By the way I found some pictures posted long ago that may bump his age up a few years. I was looking at the random pics from Nov. 2012 and noticed a young cat looking in the door while you were at a neighbor's house having tea. The markings are very similar (the dark lines above the eyes not connected and the wide V-shaped bib) and this cat was very young, perhaps 6 months. My ocd has struck again about this, please check it out if you have the time. 🙂

    1. I went back to take a look at the picture-- you're right that it does look quite a bit like Frumpkin! However, we believe that was a while before the people who inevitably dumped Frumpkin moved in. Plus, the tip of Frumpkin's nose is browner than the rest of his face. So-- probably not the same cat. But good eye!
      - Older Daughter