Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The House

In my mom's goodbye letter she said she imagined me in the house I would buy with my inheritance. Looking at houses on Zillow kept my spirits up in the months right after they died. I had hip surgery six weeks after it happened so for months I could go far from the couch or bed. I watched Doctor Who and sobbed about Rose, the Pond's, and River Song. And I would look at houses imagining what mom might like.My mom loved to house shop and loved old Portland houses. My favorite childhood house was my step dad's old 1920s home with a big porch and white columns. Some of my best childhood memories are of holidays in my aunt's Craftsman and exploring my great aunts old Tudor.

My absolute dream home is a big craftsman bungalow with a porch. If it had living space in the attic and crawl spaces I would be in heaven. I've been lusting after big porches for as long as I can remember. I've often driven slowly through the older neighborhoods stalking my dream homes. 

Housing prices have shot up in the last year in Portland. My friend almost doubled his month on a house he purchased four years ago. I watched them creep up and figured that dream house would be my next house. I wanted to stay in my neighborhood because it was the last area in the city where houses are affordable and the investment is worth it. A year ago I would have easily afforded the dream home but people were listing (and selling them) for 50-100k higher than a year ago. 

I had my plan of a good investment I could be happy in. Maybe something newer so I didn't have to worry as much. Then I could pay off debt and sell the House later for a profit. I went on vacation and waited for private to close. I hoped there would be the right home once the dust settles. 

The day I came back from vacation I headed to the lawyer to sign the finals papers and said "I'm in no rush for the funds to transfer" then hopped on Zillow for the heck of it in my car before o drove home. I saw this and almost fainted:

It was beyond perfect. It was the absolute most I wanted to spend. I would
Need to hop on getting that new job (more on that later) so I could afford all the extras but I could make it happen. The only reason I could afford it was because the rest of the houses in the surrounding blocks haven't been remodeled so it was the first one going for that price. 

In a little over two weeks I made an offer, had an inspection, and closed. In three weeks I had that new job. All of the photos in this post have been of my house. I can't even believe I found it. She's 105 years old and has all original hard wood floors. The porch is huge and they are ten foot ceilings. My bedroom is a giant finished attic. There are secret doors under stairs and Eves. It has so many windows. So many windows. It hasn't been all smooth sailing. They remodeled and while they spent money on fixtures they also did bonehead things like dump concrete mix down the sink and forget to put Teflon tape in the shower so it leaked and I ended up with four holes in my walls. 

Home ownership is fucking stressful. I don't care though. I live with two amazing people who are keeping me from letting the place fall to ruins. And I figure if she has made it for 105 years she can handle some ineptitude on my part. If you're ever in town give me a ring, you might want to take a bath in my giant tub ;) 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Summer of Equines

The love of horses has saved me many times and last year was no different. When I could finally drive a car again I used my horse time as physical therapy. When you herniated a disc you should walk for 30 mins at a time (even if it is excruciating). That's where many people go awry in recovery. It's so painful that you don't want to move but being still only extends recovery. On the other hand I had months of strict motion restrictions for my hips. I wasn't supposed to walk for more than ten minutes at a time. What I needed for my back didn't line up with what my hips needed. 

So I hauled myself out to the barn and walked with the horses. I would wander until my hip disagreed then sit down and let them graze. I could lean on the boys when I got tired. They got used to my cane and crutches. When I could scramble into the saddle I would walk Dickie a few Laps at a time. It is the same motion as walking but without all the weight bearing. 

Pretty soon I realized I was getting through the day with minimal pain. I was trotting and cantering a half a lap here or there. Against my better judgement I decided to do a few horse trials that offered walk trot stuff. My horse was an angel for putting up with me. 

By the end of the summer I my strength was much better but my body still felt like a stark gee (still does). I'm flexible in ways I have never been and stiff in areas that were like spaghetti noodles. My riding might be shitty but I had a blast. I knew by the end of the summer I would have a job again. This was a rare chance to go to trail riding when I wanted, spend days at the beach, and camp out at shows. This year I will be tethered by a job, a house, a garden, and dogs. 

As spring approaches I'm still overweight and is worse shape than last summer. That said, last year I was on crutches and didn't get on a horse until June. Even with the current state of my waste line and lung capacity I'm ahead of last year. Bring it 2016!!!!!

Where Do I Begin?

My last post was over six months ago. If you've followed my blog you will know last year was a rough one. I wanted to start a post so many times but didn't know where to start. I touched on the fact my parents died but never went into details. I thought people lose their parents all the time so details don't matter. I've found over time that the circumstances really has made grieving unique and challenging. In 2014 my step dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  I took three months off at the end of 2014 to have hip surgery and take him to chemo. We were close before and I will cherish the hours he spent imparting wisdom over apple cider while the poison that gave us another Christmas pumped into his veins. We talked about life, death, and diesel trucks. The cancer continued to take over and in January of 2015 he had reached the point where he would soon need help bathing and using the bathroom. Less than a year before the man could hike further than me (I was half his age) and still hunted with a long bow he made himself (he even cut down the yew tree)

We always meant to get around to looking into Oregon's right to die laws. We didn't. We were too busy cherishing every second. My mom had a long list of painful chronic illness and he was her caretaker until he got sick. On January 26th he had weeks or left on this earth. Rather than continue in pain that was untouched by the strongest medications on the market he chose to end his journey of life. My mom did so as well. They scheduled an email to arrive 12 hours after they were gone. They did not suffer. While I miss them dearly I also understand why they did it. 

It was quickly apparent they had been planning it for some time. My mom had collected a room full of boxes to help me pack the house. She packed up most of the valuables and hid keys to trunks so I could quickly take them out of the house. They knew the story would hit the media and were worried looters would show up. 

Media did in fact print the story with names and the street. The property is in the country with only a few houses on the street. My family and friends helped me pack the house in a matter of weeks. The house was on the market and closed quickly. In six weeks the house was sold and I was heading into surgery on my other hip. 

After my second hip surgery a bulging disk from a November 2014 car accident herniated and I found myself unable to walk,drive, or even sleep without pain. Through it I earned how many amazing people I had in my life. I was grateful for those people. Those who helped me pack the house, drove me to physical therapy, showed up with food, took care of my horses....... 

It's now over a year since they died. I own a house, I'm engaged, I have a new job, three gorgeous horses, a a sweet ride to haul them in. Life is by all accounts good. Despite all of that these positives, winter has been hard. I didn't have time to grieve last year. There was too much to do and I knew If I thought about it then the weight of it might crush me. You can't prepare yourself for being in the middle of a murder suicide scene. As the days get longer I'm figuring out how to face my new normal. 

Cheerful horse pictures: