August passed in a blink

New flag hanging at the house.
New flag hanging at the house.

Time for a catch-up post! It has been wet and chilly lately: unusually early for these parts, but I suppose that balances the remarkably early hot and dry weather we had the end of May and during June. The weather this week is unmistakably Autumnal.

And that makes me panic a little: wait! Summer can’t be gone already! I’m barely getting my mind wrapped around this new house and I haven’t spent enough time sitting back and enjoying it. Yet, if I think about it, I realize there has been much afoot, because I am Crystal and Crystal cannot sit still.

In different light, and in different weather, the landscape reveals itself to me. Typically the pond is so camouflaged that people don't even know it's there. But one morning it was all I could see out there.
In different light, and in different weather, the landscape reveals itself to me. Typically the pond is so camouflaged that people don’t even know it’s there. But one morning it was all I could see out there.
The pond on another day. Though it's in the center of the photo, it's hard to know I am looking at a pond.
The pond on another day. Though it’s in the center of the photo, it’s hard to know I am looking at a pond.

I had a housewarming party. For me this is a complicated negotiation of life goals and stepping outside my comfort zone. My Internet personality may not show it, and my real life personality certainly masks it, but I am a solid introvert. I find that being around a gathering of people is often so mentally exhausting for me that I usually prefer to avoid them. So planning a party? I was a dervish that week, spinning 14 hula hoops in different directions. Afterward – I am not kidding you – I spent two days not talking to anyone, not cooking or cleaning or doing anything that needed doing, and playing video games in my slow recovery.

Don't I know it!
Don’t I know it!

The background to that plan is that this summer my friend G came to see the property, and announced, “Crystal, you MUST host many parties. This place is made for parties.” I thought seriously about that. I’ve been pretty lonesome ever since Arno and I broke up, and I am adamant that I will not fall in love again until I am comfortable being without a partner. Parties would force my introvert self to make friends. 🙂

Also! I can take that risk as long as G helps me. In her I have finally found one of those friends that everyone should have. We have dozens of things in common, are delighted by all the same exact non-typical things, she’s as odd as me, she’s as mentally and emotionally unpredictable as me. So, while I have a lot of mainstream and socially acceptable interests and talents, now there is at least one person around whom I can fall apart into eccentric quirkiness, and she won’t bat an eye.

With her encouragement, I invited everyone I could think of to the potluck. I even walked to the house of the neighbor I hadn’t met, in order to invite her, and we had a great conversation. My Uncle showed up, my brother and his girlfriend from Seattle, people from work, a group of Tara’s friends, and the leader of my Cherokee group came out with her dogs. Friends that I’ve only known a couple months came out here. The weather was perfect, the food turned out amazing (a recipe for pulled pork I had never tried before, and some gluten-free enchiladas).

For all the hours that people were at the housewarming party, I never thought to bring out a camera, till we spotted the sun setting through smoky forest fire skies.
For all the hours that people were at the housewarming party, I never thought to bring out a camera, till we spotted the sun setting through smoky forest fire skies.
Tara is less afraid of heights than I am.
Tara is less afraid of heights than I am.

The housewarming party was a great success and I am riding that wave to the next one: a Samhain bonfire party, which must wait till the forest gets a good soaking.

Part of getting ready for the party involved painting the two living rooms, finished WHILE the first people arrived, ha ha. The house was a series of shades of white, but now we’ve got green, blue, and *purple* walls. I love the purple fireplace room – can’t wait to get a good shot to show you.

I’ve had an electrician come out, a fireplace inspector, a well and pump specialist…so much work to be done here, and so many things to learn. Appointments are all set for the experts to do their magic and get this place ship shape.

Seafaring robots dressed for the party.
Seafaring robots dressed for the party.

We attended a Tiki party at the home of Arno’s brother and sister-in-law, and I learned a little about being a gracious host. The gathering was relaxed and comfortably whimsical, because the couple fills their home and lawn not only with the best kind of people, but also with fabulous thrift-shop finds and creative inventions. Structures around the place included Tiki gods with fires, Tiki gods blowing bubbles and spewing steam, a monkey dangling from a vine, hula dancers shimmying, and a 12-foot volcano that erupted frothing bubbles. So much fun.

Left to right: they are Jamie, Tawny, Lacey, and Phil all misbehaving and getting ready to poop on the deck where they are not welcome!
Left to right: they are Jamie, Tawny, Lacey, and Phil all misbehaving and getting ready to poop on the deck where they are not welcome!
The Jeep is baptized in straw.
The Jeep is baptized in straw.

Learning includes taking care of the growing birds. My chickies are now practically hen-sized and hen-shaped, but no eggs yet. They are big enough to intimidate the neighborhood cats, so I let them roam free around the acreage during the day. They are getting saucy and healthy on grass and bugs, and they have claimed the place as their own. I have the worst time trying to keep them off the deck. One day I had the sliders open and I caught them in the house! I purchased my first bale of hay, and my first 40-pound bag of chicken feed. “What kind do you need?” asked the woman at the counter. “uhhh….” was my eloquent reply. Next time I’ll have an answer.

Robert Lewis tells a story with the help of audience members. Tara is on the right.
Robert Lewis tells a story with the help of audience members. Tara is on the right.
Tara's reed basket.
Tara’s reed basket.
Showing the colours
Showing the colours

Tara and I managed to get to only one Cherokee gathering this summer, but it was a good one. We went to Eugene for a combined potluck with both the Tsa-La-Gi group and the Mt. Hood Cherokees, for announcements by visitors from the Nation in Oklahoma, and awards and gifts presented by Chief Baker. Tara went directly to our friend Robert, who was working at the basket-weaving station, and made a gorgeous basket. Robert later told us some stories about our favourite clever hero: Jistu (Rabbit). We also got our full-color picture ID cards for the Nation, so fancy compared to the old paper ones.

Families sit on the beach in the evening, with a view of Longview, Washington.
Families sit on the beach in the evening, with a view of Longview, Washington.
A puff of steam from a factory looks ominous in the otherwise romantic evening.
A puff of steam from a mill looks ominous in the otherwise romantic evening.

We joined the local annual festival here in tiny Rainier, and gathered at a pretty park right on the Columbia River with hundreds of others as the sun went down. The Washington side of the river hosts a seaport, with barges and tugs, lumber and pulp mills and their narrow towers reaching to the sky and covered in lights. It’s not at all pristine, but I’m growing to love those sparkling towers at night. I can find beauty anywhere.

My new home office
My new home office

At work two announcements came that have captured my interest: first, a job opening for a new position that I am applying for. It’s still with VA, and in the same office, but on a different team. I’ve got 8 years yet before I hit my 30 and can qualify for a pension, and rather than 8 years of doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the past 8 years…I may as well try to learn a new job and keep my brain fired up! So cross fingers for me. The other announcement came this week: no more mandatory overtime! Thank the gods! I cannot even express to you how wiped out I am from 4 years of mandatory overtime. Who knows when VA will find more money and set us back at it again…but for now, I am going to revel in the luxury of a regular 40-hour work week.

That is enough news for now. I’ve jabbered long enough. I’ll leave you with a couple more deer photos. I know it’s old news, but I still love to see them.

The most I have ever seen on the land at one time.
The most I have ever seen on the land at one time.
Look at how pretty this Black-tailed deer is.
Look at this pretty Black-tailed deer.

21 thoughts on “August passed in a blink

  1. I really hope you continue to have a wonderful time on your new home, Crystal. Your friends are great snd so hsppy Tara was there to t as ke you out of your comfort zone. Love the forms of nature, including a lot of deer. You are making it into a special place. I remember when you moved in with the cat on the back deck or pstio. . . Time flies when you are having fun, Crystal 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I do have good friends and I’m glad that came through in my writing. Today is the anniversary of our second month here. It’s still brand new, but you are right: we are making the place our own.

  2. It’s all looking and sounding wonderful Crystal – you seem to have achieved rather a lot in a short amount of time! Good luck with the new job application – mandatory overtime sounds pretty horrendous, especially when there are folk looking for some work! It is going to be such fun seeing the photos of your home as you settle in and the seasons change. It all looks pretty fantastic to me right now!

    1. Thank you! It is wonderful and I am struck by the wonder of this place almost every day. I have great big plans, but each thing must be approached one step at a time. Thanks for saying it seems like we have accomplished much already, because I can really use the encouragement. I haven’t forgotten that I’m tending the land with thoughts of you and your wishes for your own place. Pauline’s fingers are virtually in the dirt here, if only in spirit. 😉

  3. great photos, and thanks for catching us up with your new house. I think we have a lot in common as I find lots of people exhausting as well. Writers do tend to be introverts. As for summer, yes, I think it is just starting to arrive down here.

    1. You are so right, and I didn’t think of how many bloggers would be able to relate to me. I agree that often writers are more introverted. Thanks for reminding me of another reason why you are all valuable to me, in my online community.

      Every time I notice the opposite seasons for you and my other blogger friends in NZ and Australia, it brings out the wonder and awe of science I felt as a child learning about our globe for the first time.

  4. So good to hear from you again and YAY to no more mandatory overtime. You have enough on your plate. Sounds like I missed a good time. The red sun setting was gorgeous and we know why it was so red. Your friend is right. If there was ever a place meant for gatherings, that one is it. I’m wishing you luck on the new job. Hope it’s one where you can still work from home as much. I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed.

    1. Yay indeed! Time to live my life is *so* much more important to me than the increased paycheck that the extra hours provide.

      The biggest reservation I have about the new job is that it does not currently offer a work-at-home option. The talk is that it is coming soon, but that is not a guarantee. If the team is offered a chance to work at home in the future, there is no guarantee that I will be one of the employees selected. So you nailed it: the worst thing about getting this job, if I get it, would be having to commute every day, even temporarily. That is a Lllooonnnngggg drive. It is going to be a major topic of discussion during my interview, if I am offered an interview.

      1. The question isn’t whether you will be offered an interview, I’m pretty sure that’s a given, it’s how firm you will stand your ground at the work from home part. My sister has been commuting from Washougal now and later from Woodland every day. And she hates traffic. 😦 How is Tara doing with school?

      2. Tara has not yet left! What a late start OSU has. I’ll head down to help move into the dorm on Sep 20th, and then classes begin the 24th.

        I hate traffic too. I think that during training I’ll change my schedule, and go back to 5 days a week, and work 6am to 2:30pm, so I can avoid most of the people. Believe it or not, I-5 is already packed over the bridge from Washington to Oregon at 5:45 am.

  5. Good for you for following through on the party (that’s quite a sunset shot!) and good luck with the job application.
    I’m so happy that you are settling into this dream of a home with it’s fabulous surroundings. It’s a lot of work, but what joyful work it is!

    1. Joyful work! Yes it is. I am so pleased about having to do these things, that I don’t even mind walking into the farm & feed store and having no idea what to ask for, ha ha. I may be mostly uninformed today, but I am fully confident that in no time I will have the resources and confidence that it takes.

      The next big thing around here that I am looking forward to is the installation of a new wood stove insert. It was not a priority up till now, with our hot summer days and warm summer nights, but after a week of rain and high temperatures around 60 degrees, I am eagerly anticipating the stove installation on Saturday. Nothing says “home” like hovering around a wood stove on a chilly morning.

    1. Thanks for the support. I can’t stand being alone, but something tells me that it’s the worst possible reason for beginning a new relationship. 😉

      Derrick you are so diligent and attentive in providing your own home and family updates, I imagine you’ll never need to write a what-I-did-last-month blog post, ha ha! But each of us writes when we can. I am flattered that you are interested in the catch-up news!

    1. Oh you don’t fool me. Possibly the length of the days has recently caught your attention, but I’m sure you are already feeling a bit of anxiety that we are in September and the baseball season is drawing to a close. Earlier sunsets mean the lights come on sooner.

      …or is it that you are trying not to think about the end of any seasons, and thus sustain your joy? In that case, oops. Sorry, my friend. There is likely a pagan god somewhere to whom we can send an offering and beg for it all to begin afresh in 2016.

  6. Great to hear you are doing well and getting settled in. Congrats on the housewarming party. Those are a lot of work for extroverts. I can only imagine the amount of energy and courage it took for you to take it on! It’s good to hear you are keeping busy. I always look forward to hearing from you and your travels.

    1. Thanks for the validation on party planning. Since I have had two friends now tell me that my place was made for parties, I guess that’s a sign. I think it would be fun to keep having them, and learn a few tricks to make it less stressful. Anything is easier once it’s known rather than unknown, and keeping my house periodically filled with guests would prevent it from feeling too isolated.

      Gosh, I’ve been dying for a journey lately. My trip to Sri Lanka won’t be in January as originally planned, so I guess I’ll be travelling locally instead. Next big trip: backpacking in the snow in The Enchantments wilderness area of Washington state. I’ll be sure and bring my camera. I totally have to get to your site and read about your trip!!

      1. Thanks! I have been starting my posts about Ireland. There are a lot more to come. I can only do so many before I get bored with it. So I do them in bursts. I think I have one scheduled for each day this week. I hope people don’t get bored reading about Ireland.

        How can you go wrong visiting the “Enchantment Wilderness?” Sounds lovely…

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