Monday, April 26, 2010

Settling In

We've met two of our neighbors who are deep back-woods people, definitely not lightweight weekend country dilettantes. They are a husband and wife team who rather interestingly live next door to each other, sharing 22 acres of land and a garden to die for. They are transplants from Santa Cruz, been living here for the past 27 years. They are a great resource for newcomers like us, and have been telling us all the wonderful little historical bits of lore that make our little neck of the woods the place that it is. How they came to be neighbors to each other doesn't seem to be out of any particular desire (as far as we can tell) to not live together, but the wife's intense love of gardening and neighborliness made her the heir to their elderly neighbors, who left her their 17 acres of land and little house when they died. So, she moved in. They are ageless, in that post-60s (not the era, the age) hard, but good life way. Earthy. Unpretentious.

Roger and I admired her garden every time we walked past it on the way to the mailbox. Her driveway shoots off the road on a curve, and it's hard not to miss the big GO AWAY sign she has posted there. So, we obeyed, hardly even willing to cast our eyes in the direction of her splendid garden. Then, one day, she came down the hill riding her garden tractor. She looked us over and said, "You're new on the road here, aren't you?"

"Yes, we are. We moved into the old Benton place. We've been admiring your garden."

"Hey you should stop by and I'll show you around, anytime."

"Really? Your sign made us feel like we shouldn't."

"Yeah, I know, that's just for the jerks who can't figure out that this is a driveway and not the road. Come by and I'll give you some day lilies for your garden."

We liked her right away.

A few times over the past two weeks she has walked over to our house with her little Jack Russell Terrier. She comes to take the dog and us for a walk. The dog is a new rescue who growled and groused on our first outing, but now just basically ignores us or actually somewhat likes our company. She has shown us the secret hikes we can take right out our front door. There's a reservoir not ten minutes from the house. From there, there are miles and miles of trails. Bear and coyote scat. Flocks of acorn woodpeckers calling from the pines. Here we caught the last open views of the Sierras before the oaks fully leaf out.

We feel lucky and grateful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Photo for Wednesday

One of the surprises of our new home was discovering that Black-headed Grosbeaks summer here as well as in the great northwest. We didn't think we'd see them again, and here they are eating from the same birdfeeder their relatives ate from a thousand miles north of here. We heard a Belted Kingfisher down by the pond Tuesday night. Another surprise. We're looking forward to photo opportunities.

Life unfolds.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting To Know The Neighbors

We are settling in, learning the lay of the land, meeting our few neighbors. It takes time, energy, effort. We've hardly been visiting our favorite blogs and not posting on Facebook at all. I haven't been returning emails or phone calls. We're losing track of where everyone is these days, but we trust that spring is springing up everywhere, and all is well in your world. Sometimes I wonder if I'll wake up one day and discover that we've simply stopped blogging and facebooking. But then I look out the window and something so good is happening out there, that I have to grab the camera and take a wander. Here is a little of what we've been seeing:
We have had some beautiful spring weather these past few days. Temps even hit the 70s on Sunday. That brought out the local Western Fence Lizard. I had no idea when I was photographing it that its belly was blue, but when I downloaded the photos the first thing Roger said was "Hey, check out that blue belly." Made us laugh and think of Pablo and his blue-tailed skink (except our little guy is a real lizard!) These lizards were out and about and scurrying everywhere.
When we first moved in (was it just ten days ago?), one of the real estate agents told us about the robin's nest in the tree closest to the driveway. He wanted us to know so we could warn the big moving van driver to avoid knocking or coming close to this low branch. The movers were very good about it and worked diligently not to knock the branch off the tree. For a few days, though, that nest appeared abandoned. We just assumed all that effort had been too late, but look who showed up the other day. Isn't she a beauty? We're hoping for a nest full of little baby robins. Although the daily calls of the local raptor keeps everyone on edge and alert.

We haven't had time to put up our good birdfeeder yet. We just found it on Saturday after looking through several large boxes. The platform feeders are still providing the food for the house finches, lesser goldfinches, stellar's jays, and quite surprisingly our first black-headed grosbeak, which showed up on Sunday. The mourning doves, dark-eyed juncoes, California towhees and spotted towhees all prowl the ground under the feeder for fallen seed. It's quite a menagerie out our window, and we're hoping to attract more with a variety of foods.
I'm mixing up batches of hummingbird sugar water in amounts I never had to do in Port Townsend. Our little rufus hummers up there were not quite as voracious eaters as the batch of hummingbirds we have here. We have two feeders up, and they are going through them in about two days. I think about their little bodies, their hearts beating a thousand or more beats a minute and I think, "No wonder, they live on sugar!" They are incredibly fierce little creatures. Had I been quicker with the camera, I would have gotten a shot of one buzzing our nodding-in-the-sun kitty cat, staring at him from about three feet away. Ah, now that's fierce.

This is our world these days. More to come as we do more exploring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Sunlit Tuesday With Wood Ducks

After three days of heavy rain, the sun came out briefly Tuesday afternoon. The world brightened with leaves that looked like they had been painted with diamonds and grassy hillsides swathed in gold. I grabbed the camera and headed out to look for rainbows. I didn't see any, but that doesn't mean they weren't there.
I did spot this rainbow of a duck in the pond again. What a pair these two beauties are. I try never get too close because I don't want to scare them off. I want them to feel completely safe and welcome. Roger is going to build them a nest box. We hear that Wood Ducks are very fussy. So, he plans to build something they simply can't resist.

Then the sun disappeared after this very well-lit respite.

I went back to unpacking boxes, finding things I had completely forgotten we had. And, OMG one was a jewelry box full of my crazy big old earrings. Style can be a very strange thing, in retrospect.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Makes A House A Home?

It took four truckloads in a 14 ft U-Haul to get almost all of our stuff here. Almost one whole truckload was Roger's tools. The bigger, heavier, wreck-your-back stuff is being picked up Monday morning by movers who will probably do it all in less than an hour. (Oh to be young and brawny!)

We've got most of the stuff for the kitchen, baths, and bedrooms put away. But there's still a garage full of boxes filled with things that we haven't looked at since we packed it all two years ago. Some of the stuff we haven't even seen (or missed) for the past six years. Maybe we'll be surprised when we finally get to all of it (I doubt it).
Moving makes us wonder what makes a house a home? First two days here I kept expecting the previous owners to come in and catch us as interlopers in their house. We're strangers here, figuring out where all the light switches are and how to turn the heat on (it's not just an on/off switch with temperature gauge). I smudged the house with burning sage. It's supposed to get rid of old weird energy. It sure made the house smell wonderful. We replace their ambiance with our own-- mostly through cooking and sometimes a little incense. Our furniture, our rugs, our laughter fill the place with a deep sense of us too. Day after day the house becomes our own.
Luckily there are surprises everyday. The place is just teeming with hummingbirds, for whom I've already made a batch of sugar/water nectar. They are most appreciative. There are two platform feeders for the goldfinches, nuthatches, stellar's jays, and others. We will get rid of those as soon as we find and unpack our birdfeeders. The previous owners also left us some plastic grow pack boxes on the deck. One is filled with lettuce starts, the other is empty but had the cutest little frog hiding behind it. Why is this little froggy on the deck when there are so many other grand places to be? Ah, now we have our first mystery. It's one of the things that also makes a house a home for us.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Our Welcome Home Committee

We got the keys, and we're moving in! Our new mantra is "we're movin' and we're groovin.'" Today we drove up the driveway and were greeted by this: two beautiful Wood Ducks in the pond. We've never seen Wood Ducks before so it was an incredibly grand and exciting "hello" from our new neighbors. We've got two days of moving ahead of us, so blogging will be sparse. Not much different from how it's been lately, but we have big dreams of being inspired by this home and land. When I saw these Wood Ducks I said to Roger, "Ah, now we are home."

Wordless Wednesday: With Words, As Usual

We took a walk Tuesday afternoon to exercise (and exorcise) the stress we've been under. Oy, you'd think it would be easier to buy a house, especially when you make a full price cash offer. But no, not when one of the sellers is a lunatic drama queen who just can't seem to let go of her house. But, her insanity was our inspiration to get out and stretch our crazy winter limbs. So we walked the shady ditch trail and watched three vultures sun themselves on the first warm blue-sky day in a week. Those of you who are not our friends on Facebook don't know what we have experienced with this woman who has hijacked this experience in her pursuit of her own emotional wackiness. Roger and I are the absolute picture of sanity in this most insane transaction. Who would have thunk such a thing?