Showing posts from January, 2009

Itchy palms: money will be coming in soon (and then leaving again)

Really, I swear we aren't superstitious but an hour before our appointment with the mortgage broker yesterday my right palm started itching like crazy.

As everyone knows, itchy palms foretell money changing hands....if the right hand itches, it means money is coming in. Left hand itching means "get out the checkbook baby, you're gonna write a big 'un." And sure enough, when Gary-the-financial genius arrived, he smiled and said, "we have a lender."
And then my itchy palms were forgotten as we signed a huge stack of paperwork. Wahoo. Lots of money coming in.

I don't think it takes a gypsy fortuneteller to predict that in about 3 weeks my left palm will be itchy. At least, I hope so: that's when the sale is supposed to close and Haiku Farm will be ours (and the bank's) at last.

While we're waiting, here's a link to a video of some AMAZING riding skill. Someday, I dream, I'll be able to ride like that. Click on Stacey's name to go th…

Needed for New Place: Shovels and Rakes and Implements of Destruction

Today my friend Sky sent me her list of "must haves" and "nice to haves".
Between all the trail work that Jim and I have done for a lot of years, and even more years of camping with our horses, we've got some stuff...but the stuff we don't have is a kind of motley list itself.
We've posted a bunch of "stuff wanted" ads on FreeCycle, Craigslist, and we've been hunting through every interesting-looking garage sale we can find.

And who knows? Maybe some reader will say, "hey! I've been tripping over some of those things for at least five years...."
So here goes with List #1, The Stuff Sky Says We Need:Stuff we’ve got:Shovels: flat blade, point blade, snow shoveltrenching tools,Ax, chain saw, crow bar, pry barpruners, nippers and sturdy gloves, saw horses, heavy duty extension cords, sledgehammer, post hole digger, splitting wedge, weed wackerGotta-Have Stuff that we don’t have:WheelbarrowHoe, Pitchfork, Post hole pounder,…

Straight from the horse's mouth: an hour with a travelling equine dentist

I always wanted to be a dentist from the time I was in high school, and I was accepted to dental school in the spring of 1972. I was planning to go, but after the Olympics there were other opportunities.Mark Spitz
Unlike Olympic medalist Mark Spitz, I never had an aspirations towards dentistry.
In fact, thanks to my mom's great genetic contributions, I can successfully avoid dentists for years at a time without suffering any adverse effects. When I do (finally) show up at the dentist's office, (usually following some sort of horse-related gravity-test that impacted my mouth) I am heartily scolded by the receptionist, the hygenist, and the dentist because they haven't seen me in the office since the last time a Democrat was President. However, since none of whom can ever find anything about my teeth that actually requires FIXING, I tolerate the scoldings and then wander away for another few years. The dentist must make his boat payments without my help.
Fiddle and Hana, h…

WAHOOOOOOOOO! We have our approval at last. Now the real work can begin!

Phone calls often happen at awkward times.   I was halfway through hitching up the horse trailer to the truck when I got the call from our realtor Jodi, who told me that our house financing Plan C has been approved by a lender at last!
Cell phone coverage at my horse's current home is spotty at best--my phone can ring almost anywhere on the property (as long as I'm not in a building...or near a building...or standing in the shade of a building...or looking at a building...or thinking about looking at a building) .  To actually hear and be heard on the phone requires cell phone users to stand in one of two 2' x 2' square pieces of grass that, for no apparent reason, have cell phone coverage.  
Of course,  neither of these "cell receiving areas" are any kind of convenient to anywhere a person might actually want to stand for any other reason.  
When the phone rang, I grabbed it and raced towards the green spot in the middle of the outdoor arena to answer.
I'm p…

still no banking news. yes, i'm getting impatient. no, that isn't news.

Due to a series of "bad technology" incidents, we still haven't heard back from the credit union.  

Tomorrow will be better, and we will have more information then.
Which does NOT help me calm d own.
Let's just all agree that "waiting" will never be a skill that will make me famous.  
Not in a good way, anyhow.
So, here are more haiku cartoons to pass the time, this time courtesy of my friends at Overdue Media.  Y'all never believe me when I tell you that libraries are funny places;  maybe you'll believe these incredibly talented  cartoonists (one of whom works -- under another name -- for my library system).

Lemme tell ya, if the staff doesn't make you laugh, the public certainly will.  
And laughing is a good way to pass the time while we're waiting for, you know.

Would a haiku by another name still have seventeen syllables?

I am a syllable-counter. For me, the exercise of summarizing my thoughts into blocks of exactly seventeen syllables is good discipline. It's not about pretty words all the time, it's about being concise with details.
So for tonight, since my brain is all tangled while I wait an extra day to hear ANYTHING from the bank (because tomorrow is a holiday!), here are some translations of my favorite haiku. The poem was written by Basho, the great 17th century wandering poet. His original, 17-syllable poem is this: Michi nobe no mukuge wa uma ni kuware keri

Unfortunately, I don't speak Japanese, so I depend on translators to assist me However, translating poetry, especially haiku, appears to be one of the most difficult of human endeavors, akin to rocket surgery and cat herding. Therefore, I'm including several different translations of th poem.Along the roadside
blossoming wild roses
in my horse's mouth
The farmer's roadside
hedge provided lunch for
my tired h…

the lazy gardener lets a good manure pile do most of the work

I admire raised-bed gardens, and square-foot gardens, and even traditional gardens with their long, straight rows. My grandfather had a gigantic garden, and when I'd visit in the summer we would go out to the garden and snack ourselves silly right there in the dirt.
My first garden was intended to be a raised bed garden in the "Victory Garden" style, raising food to supplement a meager income. I pretended that the fellow to whom I was married at the time would fall in love with the fresh vegetables and volunteer to help weed, water, and cultivate our beautiful little plot of plants. Well, I was young, and that's my excuse.
In years following my divorce, I planted some kind of vegetables whenever and wherever I could...but I could never muster up the energy or cash to actually build raised beds, or install a trickle-fed watering system. Instead, I stashed carrots beside the front walkways, and tomato plants out near the garage. (More about my adventures with …

Gardener's Playboy: Territorial Seed Company Catalog

Here's some wisdom from Michael Perry, author of Population 485 and Truck: a Love Story:
Never shop for groceries on an empty stomach, they say. Corollary riff: Never order seeds when the world is frozen stiff and leafless.

No kidding.
The photos alone are enough to send me entirely into an unreal fantasyland that reality can never match.
I know that spinach never looks as leafy in my garden as it does on page 74 of the Territorial Seed Company catalog. I know that beans in real life aren't that color. The pumpkin photos are definitely airbrushed--real pumpkins aren't like that.
And yet, as when I glare at the magazine photos of supermodels near the checkout stand, I can't help leafing through the catalog, choosing seeds for my new garden and hoping that someday I will achieve stupendous melons.
Or at least, acquire some really amazing asparagus.

House financing tanked. A moment of Onwards to Plan B

Gary the financial genius is still pecking away at our financing, but is not hopeful.   
However, I'm with Winston Churchill, who knew a lot about perseverence.   In a speech  given in October 1941, Churchill said,
"Never, never give up. In nothing great or small,  large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and  good sense."
 We're off to the credit union today to see what we can learn from them about financing.  

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes, I know it helps.
In honor of Churchill, here's a cartoon about haiku-writing. 

UPDATE:  the credit union rep we spoke with was very encouraging, and we applied for another loan there.  Fingercrossingprayercandlewishes are still needed and greatly appreciated.  We'll probably hear back about this loan on Monday.   
Here's another haiku cartoon to make the wait go a little faster:

Everyone join hands and do the "Money Dance" so we can buy this place!

Gary the financial genius overlooked a few of the "new rules" (post-economic-bust) for mortgage lending, so we're on the ropes at the moment.  
Fortunately, he IS a financial genius, so if there are any financial rabbits still hiding in hats, Gary will find them for us.  It's not a "sure thing" though, so we'd appreciate any positive money prayers, good vibes, red candles, prosperity dances and anything else you can think of that might help us. 
Please, no more rain dances, though.  I think we got a little carried away with those on the last go-'round (this photo is the railroad bridge in Arlington, downstream from Haiku Farm by about 15 miles)

Up the hill a bit, things are much drier.  The Shelties and I went out to make sure everything was okay:
This little spring "sprung" out of a mousehole in the lower pasture.  I was pleased to see that the water is very clear.   It's not run-off from the surface, but rather groundwater that spouted u…

We like to shop online; lately we've been shopping for a good TRACTOR

This is how we entertain ourselves and each other on these cold rainy nights: we shop for tractors.
I grew up in an agricultural county, and thought I sort of knew about tractors. Turns out that, aside from knowing that John Deere tractors are usually painted green and yellow, and Ford tractors usually aren't, I didn't know much about tractors.
I grew up thinking that tractors are huge complicated machines that only ga-zillionaires could afford to buy. Turns out that I was wrong about that, too.
I've recently learned that tractors haven't changed much at all in the past 50 years. The really high-end tractors with air conditioning and satellite communication devices are nifty, but when you just need to move a big heavy bunch of dirt and rocks from one end of the farm to the other end, a fifty- or sixty-year-old Massey Ferguson or Allis Chalmers or International Harvester can do the job just fine. These old machines are strong and tough and built to be stored outdoors and …

"Sacrifice Area" : no sharp knives or beating drums are needed here

Here in the Pacific Northwest, mud is a fact of life.  Mud is pretty much universal -- in parking lots, trails, backyards, and even in the house if dogs and boots aren't vigorously hosed off before you allow them indoors.  The mud in stable yards can be nothing shy of epic, and can get so deep and sticky that it sucks boots right off your feet...but there are mitigations.  
All it takes is money and time!  Simple, right?
Horses for Clean Water  is an awesome local organization that teaches horse owners how to minimize the mud--and thereby, keep the mud and manure out of the water table.  I read several of their articles today to refresh my memory about constructing a sacrifice area.  
A horse sacrifice area is not a place to ritually exterminate misbehaving equines.  Rather, a sacrifice area is an enclosure that is designed to be an outdoor living and play space for horses that does NOT grow that the grass can grow and recover from trampling feet and yanking teeth.  A sacr…

For mapgeeks like me, satellite images provide hours of great fun

It's true that I can entertain myself for hours poring over maps and satellite photos...especially if the maps and photos in question have something to do with finding trails, or figuring out where the heck we can put stuff on the new place.
(as always, click the photos to enlarge them)

So this evening Jim and I were able to settle down with our friendly neighborhood mapping software (SCOPI is a fabulous resource for land images in Snohomish County!) and my photo-editing software, and make some plans!
The first priority was to find the perfect place for the barn. After walking the property several times, we've got the spot picked out (shown on photo): at the northeast corner of the pasture, with the south-facing roof able to house solar panels.
The stalls will face south, and the hayroom will face east towards the driveway, so that we won't have to do any fancy manuvers to unload hay or to park the truck and trailer. We will have to build in some rolling grade dips in th…

this is the post for country folks who want to know about the outside

The parcel is slightly larger than 5 acres, in a fat L-shape (I'll post the satellite image when SCOPI comes back online, it's being tweaky tonight), with the house and driveway at the top of the L (to the east), and the pasture on the bottom.   
To the east of the house, literally across the road, is Ebey Hill, which locals call Ebey Mountain; the altitude rises from  330 feet above sea level at the house, to 350 feet at the top of the driveway, to 1650 feet at the top of the hill less than a half-mile to the east.  Yes, very steep.   The mountain is covered with logging roads and game trails that I hope will keep us and the horses busy for the next 40 years.  
Speaking of horses, there is no barn yet.  There is a small outbuilding that we can use to store hay at first, so that the horses can move in as soon as the fences are properly installed. We will build a small barn at the northeast corner of the pasture area, with pasture to the south and west.  We walked the pasture on …

this is the post for city folks who want to know about the house stuff

Here's the basic info about the house:  it's a 2001 doublewide trailer built by Goldenwest Homes.  It has 1,782 square feet, three huge bedrooms, each with a walk-in closet larger than my first apartment, and two bathrooms (one is normal sized, the other would easily house a horse or two friendly ponies).  
The kitchen is approximately 5 square acres, with windows that view the pasture and the building site for the new barn.
For the truly geeky among us, it has R-19 insulation in the walls and R-38 in the ceiling (!) and a woodstove that HEATS the entire house (Colleen was wearing shorts and a t-shirt when we arrived in our multiple layers of polarfleece, wool, and gortex).  
There's plenty of natural light, and big double-paned vinyl windows.  We won't do much with the house for the first year or two, except possibly some interior color on the walls (white is soooo boring) because we think the outside work is going to take almost all our time and energy....but that's…

While we were taking photos,snow rolled down the mountain to welcome us

Really, the snow followed Jim down the driveway, it was quite amazing!
I took lots of photos today while he was out taking the water sample and measuring everything with the GPS.
We found all kinds of stuff, including a treehouse--dilapatated, but the ladder up is still sound and the platform is repairable, assuming we can keep the BLACKBERRY VINES at bay. Jim is now searching for a tractor that has a flamethrower attachment....
There is a line of fenceposts already along the north pasture line, so we'll just need to put up field fencing and some "hot" electric tape there to keep the horses on the inside...and then get busy planting fenceposts on the west, south, and east lines. There is an outbuilding onsite already that we can use as temporary hay storage, so really, we can move the horses in as soon as the fences are up. Hooray!
I'll put up a separate post for all the city folk who want to know more about the HOUSE, and then a completely different entry for …

Not superstitious: we just never leave port on a Friday, that's all....

My best friend in high school came from a commercial fishing family. Her dad, Harvey, was a great huge guy who had his own way of doing things. There is a silver dollar under the mast of every vessel Harvey ever built. The coffee cups in the galley always hang up with the open end facing the stern of the boat. And no matter what the forcast says concerninig the weather, the tide table, or the fishing season, Harvey nevers leaves port on a Friday. Midnight-plus-1-minute on Saturday morning, yes. But not on a Friday. Why take chances?

What's this got to do with Haiku Farm?

Lemme tell you: I'm not superstitious, but while we're in this Limbo area between making our offer and signing the closing papers, I'm not taking chances.

We saved the Thanksgiving and Xmas turkey wishbones, and were careful about the wishes we used...I got the first one, Jim got the second, but since we were coordinating it was okay either way.

I am the first person outside every evening at dus…