Thursday, April 27, 2006

Old houses are rumored to retain their residents for a very long time ... I'm told

About a year after we bought the house, we made both upstairs rooms into bedrooms. My sister came on a visit from Utah and slept upstairs in the bedroom where in the photo below shows a red circle around the window to that room.

About a year after that visit she was out here again and we were talking about the Tokeland Hotel which - as the seagull flies - is less than 5 miles across Willapa Bay from our house. However, we have always driven there which is almost 40 miles one way going out to Hwy 101, up the coast thru South Bend and Raymond and West on State Route 105 to Tokeland. The Tokeland Hotel has some rooms that are haunted. As we talked about that, Sis looked at me and told me the following ...

"Arthur, one morning after getting up, I came in from the bathroom and sat at the chair there to put my shoes on. Something drew my attention to the bed (she'd just slept in) and I looked up. I saw a woman sitting there on the bed and somehow knew that she used to live here."

Yeah, yeah yeah ..... and I soon forgot about it.

Yesterday at work I was interviewing a woman - I'll call her Dot - who was a pre-teen in the late 1960's and knew the elderly lady, June Bochau, who'd lived most of her life in this house. Born in 1877, June Bochau died in 1970 at the age of 93 and was still living in the house with her son.
Dot remembered for me how she used to brush the old lady's hair, telling me that she remembered mostly how long it was.

Dot then told me that later on, when she was older, she was back in the house helping another owner do some clean up. She said that June's presence was still in the home even though she had died a few years earlier and that June's presence was most strongly felt in the bedroom where the window is circled below.



I then remembered my sister's story. I'm sitting in that room as I write this since it is now the room where Lietta and I spend probably half of every day while on our computers.

I came home last night thinking about June Bochau, a character about whom I've heard many stories in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here.

Lietta is not here right now but down the road some 40 miles this week in Long Beach with her mother so I'm home alone. I moved Lietta's computer chair with it's arm rests and high back out from her desk and turned it to face me last night.

Every so often I'd turn and look at that chair which is the only place left in her former bedroom where June Bochau could sit down right now.
No, the chair did not move and although the window is open, the curtains did not rustle.

Nevertheless, I think about Dot who told me that she got chills up and down her spine when I told her what house we had purchased and were now living in.

I think about my sister who is not prone to telling ghost stories ....

I look at that empty chair, look out the door to the upper tower room where I can see above the houses in the immediate nearbye streets ... and think some more about June Bochau.



This is the room behind that window in the other picture. That's me at my computer and immediately to my left is my clothes closet.
Lietta's computer is separated from mine by that waist-high cabinet to my immediate right.
Her computer module is in the corner and the window looking out would be to her right if this were a panoramic view.
In the bottom right corner, Lietta's desk chair with a red sweater draped over the back sits empty.
I turn and look at it and just smile.



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Haunted? Old houses are rumored to retain their residents for a very long time ... I'm told

About a year after we bought the house, we made both upstairs rooms into bedrooms. My sister came on a visit from Utah and slept upstairs in the bedroom where in the photo below shows a red circle around the window to that room.

About a year after that visit she was out here again and we were talking about the Tokeland Hotel which - as the seagull flies - is less than 5 miles across Willapa Bay from our house. However, we have always driven there which is almost 40 miles one way going out to Hwy 101, up the coast thru South Bend and Raymond and West on State Route 105 to Tokeland. The Tokeland Hotel has some rooms that are haunted. As we talked about that, Sis looked at me and told me the following ...

"Arthur, one morning after getting up, I came in from the bathroom and sat at the chair there to put my shoes on. Something drew my attention to the bed (she'd just slept in) and I looked up. I saw a woman sitting there on the bed and somehow knew that she used to live here."

Yeah, yeah yeah ..... and I soon forgot about it.

Yesterday at work I was interviewing a woman - I'll call her Dot - who was a pre-teen in the late 1960's and knew the elderly lady, June Bochau, who'd lived most of her life in this house. Born in 1877, June Bochau died in 1970 at the age of 93 and was still living in the house with her son.
Dot remembered for me how she used to brush the old lady's hair, telling me that she remembered mostly how long it was.

Dot then told me that later on, when she was older, she was back in the house helping another owner do some clean up. She said that June's presence was still in the home even though she had died a few years earlier and that June's presence was most strongly felt in the bedroom where the window is circled below.



I then remembered my sister's story. I'm sitting in that room as I write this since it is now the room where Lietta and I spend probably half of every day while on our computers.

I came home last night thinking about June Bochau, a character about whom I've heard many stories in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here.

Lietta is not here right now but down the road some 40 miles this week in Long Beach with her mother so I'm home alone. I moved Lietta's computer chair with it's arm rests and high back out from her desk and turned it to face me last night.

Every so often I'd turn and look at that chair which is the only place left in her former bedroom where June Bochau could sit down right now.
No, the chair did not move and although the window is open, the curtains did not rustle.

Nevertheless, I think about Dot who told me that she got chills up and down her spine when I told her what house we had purchased and were now living in.

I think about my sister who is not prone to telling ghost stories ....

I look at that empty chair, look out the door to the upper tower room where I can see above the houses in the immediate nearbye streets ... and think some more about June Bochau.



This is the room behind that window in the other picture. That's me at my computer and immediately to my left is my clothes closet.
Lietta's computer is separated from mine by that waist-high cabinet to my immediate right.
Her computer module is in the corner and the window looking out would be to her right if this were a panoramic view.
In the bottom right corner, Lietta's desk chair with a red sweater draped over the back sits empty.
I turn and look at it and just smile.



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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wow, a store opened in our village!

I told you we had no stores in our little fishing village community, just the one tavern and a KOA campground, the oyster farms and 2 processing plants, and a county campground park. Welllllll ... three days ago the one and only store opened and we, of course, went to the grand opening..lol.

Actually, I'm tickled at what the 'store' has to offer and it will make daily living in our village a bit more convenient. The new owner is from Long Beach area (highly tourist draw on the WA coastline) so she brought with her a bit of the flavor of Long Beach in conceptualizing our store in Bay Center. The store offers a pizza, deli and dessert bar; necessary grocery items, the beginnings of a gift line (oh we do get the ocassional tourists here) and a cozy relax sitting area with new polished wood burning stove, couch and chairs, newspapers and magazines, and this nifty reproduction record player that actual plays LPs (I want one!).

So now, instead of going the 12 miles into the nearest 'town' for the daily needs like milk, bread, eggs, cheese and such, we can go the 1/2 block to our own little store in Bay Center. Woo hoo!
Oh, and she even introduced a new line of coffee blend = Bay Center blend. My, my aren't we upscale now? No espresso though, not yet anyway. (Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are known to drink a lot of espresso .. you know, the latte although I prefer a vanilla breve.) Me and the dog, Jake, can take a stroll down to the store and have a morning coffee and cinnamon roll while listening to some great vintage music LP playing on the record player. And yes, my dog can go into the store with me, cause it's that kind of laid back community here.

Next - those developers trying to cultivate a high-end housing development around the 'lake'. The plan is for 70 lots, selling at about $400,000 for the lot alone. So it's not hard to imagine what kind of houses will eventually go up on those lots. I worry some, cause we moved here to get away from those insta-grow developments and the cookie cutter shop malls that go with them. I wanted to find a place that didn't yet have a McDonalds or Super grocery store or Super any store and not likely to get such in near future. We're not in jeorpardy yet.....but, still I worry some that our sleepy little paradise village, not more than a road sign on the state highway, will be 'found' and transformed. I like the identity this community already has and has had for the past century. Developers - stay away from here - and people, don't come to Bay Center except as a drive through tourist.

The locals aren't as concerned as I am, cause they've seen high hope developers come into this community before and try to develop a not quite gated community, but one of those development 'estates' with a fancy name like Rialto Beach or Meadow Woods or some such similar type name. But, I'm still concerned and time will tell.

photo of the 'lake' area which developers hope to turn into McMega House estates.




awww....don't mow it down. photo of the first swatch of lake area being mowed down, next comes the sale of the lots, then comes the mega-mansions dotted all around the lake.



posted by Lietta Ruger
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

More ugly - we're floored! Suggest something..

Dear Previous Owners:

We so appreciate the earnest remodelling you did to update this house and it's understandable that as you remodelled it was, in fact, in the 1970s so you were 'cutting edge' at the time BUT ---

did you have to use brown shag on the wood staircase?

tearing off the brown shag carpet reveals beadboard - what were they thinking! Admit it, we've probably got close to the worse staircase project restoration, right?




peeking under the brown shag reveals wood stairs and a jillion nails holding all that brown shag in place. Arghh, groan, huge project just ahead.


Now to the floors in the two rooms on main level (living and dining room).
Dear Previous Owner,

We think your use of expensive wall to wall berber carpeting was probably a good idea, but when you let other family live in the house in your absence, they must have repaired motorcycles or some such kind of thing in the two main rooms. I never could quite understand how such great carpeting could get so badly soiled and stained, that it was beyond salvage. So we finally took up all the carpeting and now I understand why you chose to do carpet overlay to the unfinished wood floor project we found beneath ..... why did you leave the wood floors in the living and dining room unfinished? Now what do we do once we took up the spoiled carpeting and have this patchwork project confronting us?

two rooms, two particle board unfinished floor areas where large persian carpets were once upon a time...


taking up the wall to wall carpet reveals the unfinished wood floor project beneath -- that's right, just cover the whole thing up with carpet - guess it's our project now



Okay, we're taking suggestions. Essentially, once upon a time, very large persian carpets adorned the two rooms, and someone came along later, we guess, to lay wood flooring 'around the persian carpet area rugs' -- ??? Why go to the trouble of laying out a beautiful wood floor and not do it completely? Sigh, okay so we've thought of a few ideas and would love to take more suggestions. We'd prefer to keep the existing wood flooring cause we like the look of what's already down, so what do we do to compliment the existing flooring to fill up two very, very large nailed down particle board rectangles in the middle of each room where persian carpets once laid?

Oh yes, please do comment, we'd love to hear about it .... believe me, my Sweetie and I have had more than a few comments between us, and now we have to 'move on' to more constructive ideas .. ha!


entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Let's Get Ugly

Overcoming the ugly - blech. Mind you, we live in a fishing village with homes that range from deserted passed down thru the generations grandparents homesteads to high-end 'million dollar view of the bay' homes. Our century old house is located in the 'town' part of this peninsula while the newer, designer homes dot the bay in developer's dreams of closed gate communities. They continue to dream for now, but as our little paradise gets itself found, could be we would lose the unique identity of this 'back in time' village.

Our house then is located amongst other homes on our streets with a mix of 'how sweet' to too bad they don't tear that place down to abandoned and overgrown and lost to the blackberry growth which almost covers the house.

homestead in our community engulfed by blackberry bush overgrowth



So having set the stage, now can begin to show the 'ugly' of our house. Starting with the propane tank. PO converted the hot water and kitchen stove to propane - good idea! However, setting up the propane tank and pipes gives the side of the house a full on view of the propane tank - guess it's our permanent ornament.

Mind you, it's located right on the street side of the house, not at all hidden away in some less visible corner of the property, so it's the first thing you see turning the corner at the intersection, and most folks visiting us park alongside that side of the street - Hello Propane Tank! But hey, at least we upgraded from the old, ugly propane tank that was here when we bought the house to a shiny new propane tank!

New propane tank!


Oh, hmmm, there's a story to my Sweetie's plans to sell the old propane tank and offset costs. For a while there we had two yard ornaments; the old tank and the new tank, while my Sweetie tried to figure out how he was going to transport the old tank even if he did find someone who wanted to buy it. NOT! I'm a patient wife, and amusingly wait for some of Sweetie's ideas to reach fruition until the amusing aspect wears off and with this idea of his, the amusement wore off fairly quickly. 2003 and we were having family come for Thanksgiving and I was hostessing his office Christmas party that year so I was really - Really not wanting family and guests to have the delightful first view of the two propane tanks, the old one and the new one, while parking their cars. Much as I was lauging off the 'yard ornament', it just flat out makes a 'statement' that I just wasn't quite ready of willing to identify with .... Sweetie finally agreed to have the propane company take the old tank off our hands ... safely ... much to my relief.

Bye bye to old propane tank!




entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back of the house and what about the yard?

Before; what the back looked like when we bought the house, Nov 2002.



We did take photos of the house when we first bought it, on digital camera, stored in our computer, which crashed and since we didn't 'save' or back up, regrettably lost those pics. There are a hand few left from online activities. This pic is one my mother took of the back side of our house, shortly after we moved into it. I place it here to show the add-on structures that have altered the original salt box structure.

Since I've found housebloggers.net and begun this blog, I've been seeing our house through slightly new eyes. It occurs to me then, that when Mr. Bochau made the first modifications, perhaps he added three bay windows; two on side of the house and one in the back where kitchen area exists. Perhaps not. Perhaps the later owners added the bay window area to the kitchen. We do know that the previous owner, John Joseph, who did much of the improvements and upgrades to this house, added onto the kitchen. He met with us and gave us a run-down of the work he'd done to the house over the 26 yrs his family lived in the house.

The added on kitchen sports an unusual style 'bay window' which is literally panes of glass glued together in some kind of super duper window glue. Scary, huh? Well I thought so, knowing to expect Pacific maritime wind and rain storms. But in this area where we live, this same glass glueing project to create bay window effect has been used in one of the historic buildings in nearby town (small town but it actually has a grocery store and some other stores that qualify it as more than a village or a hamlet, I guess). We've been in the house now since Nov 2002, weathered 4 winters of rain and windstorms and that kitchen window is virtually im-moveable so it must be some great glue holding the panes together.

Asthetically, it's not attractive as it is, in fact, a bead of glue running vertically along the panes, which bugs me when I'm looking out the window at the kitchen sink. An interim solution is to cover the two seams with two fabric curtains so that it looks like I'm right there on the cutting edge of designer use of curtains and fabric. I don't want traditional curtains at the window as it detracts from the idea of the all glass bay window Mr Jospeh installed. I tried a couple of different curtained ideas at that window and decided it was counter productive to why those windows were there in the first place.

Outside, you can see the over-mature shrubs and lilac tree. We didn't do much with cutting anything back the first year, and were cautious in the second year, and last year we took the plunge and generously pruned back all the mature shrubs and trees.

More pics coming of the back side of the house, primarily in the changing yard. Structurally, we are unlikely to be changing anything about the house except to add front porch and re-work the back enclosed porch. I'm not sure about the original property lines for this house, but the lot now has a small front yard, a larger back yard, no side yards on either side. Since the 'back yard' runs parallel to the street, it really seems more like a side yard, than a back yard to me.


Notice the mature lilac tree; fullness of the camelia bush and wild fushia bush. They pretty much dominate this upper section of the yard.


Before


After

Seriously cutting back the camelia opened up the yard. It also revealed the bay window in the basement level of the house. Gave me area for flower bed and I plan to continue to work that into a showpiece flower bed. I cut back the wild fushia bush somewhat but not knowing the nature of how it grows, and it is the primary home to hummingbirds who lived here before we did, I pruned cautiously to perserve the numerous fuschia blooms for the hummingbirds.



We did light pruning to the Lilac bush (now tree size), which had four mature trunks. Two of the trunks leaned so far to the ground in the 2005 winter storms, we pulled them out, and actually preferred how much that opened up the yard. A new shoot is coming up between the two trunks, and has hardened now to become the newest trunk of the lilac. I'm relieved because if we lose the last two mature trunks, we would have lost the lilac tree.



entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Poor terrain behind the house caused drainage and runoff problems from the start


You're looking at a rhododendron "tree" two stories high.
But that's a story for another time.


Our lot has the house more or less in the southwest corner of the property with the "back" of the house a mere 4-5 feet wide before encountering the hurricane fence of our neighbor and their huge treeless grassy yard. Some time in the future perhaps we'll attempt a purchase of a little more room, but I'm not optimistic.

That narrow 4-5 foot corridor that consitutes the back of the house was a problem. The house next door with its huge grass lawn sits on what is the summit of a small but wide ridge which leaves our lot slightly downhill with a gentle slope toward the street which would be off to the right in the photo below.

Consequently, that "back yard" was not really attended to over what looks like the past ten years and when purchased, that back yard was nothing more than a dirt incline that left the house about a foot and a half lower than the ground at the fence line ... basically a dirt "ditch behind the house."



Whenever it rains, that ditch filled got very wet and drained slowly into a late basement addition directly below the kitchen which was apparently added sometime in the last 30 years. The basement room has a concrete floor, concrete-block walls and one small window. Would presumably make a good wine cellar or cool storage area of some kind - even a root cellar since the only floor-level door accessing that part of this tri-level house is the "basement" door from the carport.

However, the drainage seeps through the walls when rain is heavy leaving anything in there subject to both mold and rust. I had to put a ply-board floor on 2-inch decorative bricks to allow the water to flow on the floor and out the other side (remember, the ground into which that basement room was built reflects a slightly downward slope which causes the water to flow  toward the house.) The neighbor's lawn is vast and does absorb the majority part of the rain uphill from the house. But the little dirt path on the other hand, couldn't handle hardly any downflowing drainage and  merely acted like a leaky canal, collecting the water at the foundation of the house and forcing it to drain down at that spot directly opposite the basement cold room.


My solution was not something we plotted or planned. Once we started new landscaping, digging up a garden, expanding the rock garden, building a red-rock walkway ... any project that caused us to dig up the lawn, we dug out turf squares which we then carried to the back of the house. We eventually over the course of working and reworking our landscaping, laid out enough turf squares to first level the dirt path  and then raise it over two-three layers to get it to the same even height of the neighbor's lawn. We're still not there yet (even with neighbor's lawn) but we're getting there.


Decorative "trellises" made from sidebars from a
wrought iron bed frame that we stuck in the ground to
"train" the vegetables in how to grow up.


We're after a "leveled look" that makes the transition from neighbor's lawn to our "back yard" seamless. In addition, 2-3 layers of turf squares created a greatly enhanced absorption capability and now we've just passed thru our second winter without any significant flooding through that basement room. This allows us now to look at some sort of concrete sealing of the walls and floors that would allow us the use of that room which is ... oh ... maybe a 25-36 square foot space. Would also make a wonderful place to store dry and canned food and get it  food off the shelving elsewhere in the basement.

You can see the first layer of sod we're now starting at the base of the tower. We're pleased with our back yard because each year the sod settles and the grass grows. I used to could only mow that sod after raising the blade to maximum height.

I can now mow it at the same height as the rest of the lawn which means that when mowing and I get to the back of the house, I just keep going without stopping to adjust the blades. That's meaningful to an impatient old lawnmower. Oh ... and I don't have or like a riding mower which would be too big for mowing the yard in this lot anyway. Mine is a front wheel pulling mower that also mulches and only if I've negelected the mowing will I bag or rake when cutting. I'll be 60 this summer and I like the exercise mowing gives me

Entry by Arthur Ruger, I'm half as old as my house.



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Thanks to Houseblogs.net for adding our blog to the webring

Yippeee, our Bay Tower House blog has been added to HouseBlogs Webring. We're in good company now with other owners of old houses blogging their show and tell experiences and renovations with their great old houses. I'm so glad we found houseblogs.net and the 240 other housebloggers blogs that are there sharing their experiences.

Also thank you to all who are visiting our blog, now that it has been added to houseblogs.net

We hope to learn from many of you who are putting in the labor of love in your own great old houses. When we travelled through this area on our way to somewhere else, I was so struck by all the 'cool ol' houses' that it prompted us to make a decision to move away from the city, and after being here a while and renting other people's cool ol' houses, we bought this one.


entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house
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Monday, April 17, 2006

Plus and Minus Concerns in buying the house

Identifying plus elements and problem issues when considering buying this house. We began our house-hunting in Aug 2002.

Plus

-- quiet neighborhood, quiet community, not even one store in the whole village!
-- attractive tiled tin roof (pacific nw rains = cost saver for roofing woes!)
-- upgrades give house old and new decor mix without compromising historical context
-- repetitious bay windows give light and let the outdoors inside
-- structurally sound, initial cost outlay for structurally improvements minimal
-- built on additions in kitchen and master bedroom provide spacious rooms for those areas
-- upstairs rooms haven't been upgraded much, historical feel to the rooms, throwback to early 1900's
-- yard is manageable with some mature focus specimen plantings
-- architecture of house w/ additions gives it unique look
-- wiring updated and up to code
-- plumbing is satisfactory
-- basement = spooky but Arthur finds it fascinating
-- price is right for our budget


Concerns


-- berber carpet on main floor rooms is beyond salvaging, so badly stained, unlikely can get cleaned = deal w/ flooring.
-- renovations seem structurally sound, little attention to finishing details however, gives it gerry-rigged appearance
-- renovations done in 1970's give seriously dated and tired look = stairs, upstairs flooring like glue down carpeting - 70's restaraunt era; brown shag on stairs -yuck!
-- heating; primary heat is a newly installed wood-burning furnace under the house w/ chimney that screams at me'unsafe'. secondary heating; registers installed in each room, inadequate in some rooms to heat the space.
-- decking on which addition has been builtwill need immediate attention, peeling rubber cement exposes wood to Pacific NW rains.
-- front of house; not welcome, functional, or practical entry. Needs a porch and front door re-do
-- back porch - enclosed and rusticly 'finished' also unwelcome and serves as main entrance to the house due to the impractical front entrance planning.
-- unclear once carpets pulled up, what lies beneath = prepare for cost outlay
-- kitchen could use an update, was updated to 1970's cosmetics, but is more than adequate for years until we have cost outlay $$


Generally speaking, there are about even number of drawbacks as there are positives that make this house worth considering. Biggest drawback is that house would benefit from renovations and improvements w/ cost outlay - not likely in our budget.

Thus, after carefully considering if I could live in the house 'as is' for perhaps years until we could get to renovations/improvements, I honestly wasn't sure and thought we should continue to keep looking. My dear husband is more of a handyman than he is into renovations or improvements, so unlikely we could knowledgeably take on too many diy projects. My husband became instantly enchanted with the house, and while I was also 'enchanted' by what I could see in my mind as what the house might look like 'someday', I was concerned about what it looks like present day and our capability w/ diy improvements. The diy upgrades and improvements made to the house look like diy .. sometimes gone wrong or unfinished.

We discussed, and discussed, while I fed my fears and Arthur tried to reassure my every concern. We decided to buy the house, inspections came back approved for wiring, plumbing, septic, structure and whatever else gets inspected in mortgage arrangements. Nov 2002 is when we moved into the house. If we had the resources to take care of some of the improvement projects before moving in, might have been a better way to go, but that is why it is an adventure and now in 2006, we both love living in this house!

entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house!
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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Adventures living in an old house surrounded by water.

Welcome to our Bay Tower Home in Bay Center, Washington on the Willapa Bay.

Arthur, Lietta and Jake

We're the homesteaders in what some residents consider to be "God's Valium" (cause it's so quiet most of the time.)
After years of renting beach houses on weekends and vacations, we finally bought our own beach house as our permanent residence.
Bay Center is an old fishing village on a finger of land that juts out into the center of Willapa Bay on the Washington Coast. We're 45 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River and about the same distance due south on Hwy 101 from Aberdeen, Washington.
Cities?
Well, if you drive south east 125 miles you'll be in Portland and to the northeast some 150 miles is Seattle.
Bay Center ain't no city. From our house if you go 4 blocks east or west you'll be in the Willapa Bay. If you head north you'll be in the woods on the tip of Goose Point. If you head due south 4 blocks from our house you'll be at the only dining facility within 15 miles.

Bay Center (the house is inside the small elipse in the center of the foto)

on Goose Point


Entry by Arthur Ruger, I'm half as old as my house.
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Buying the old house Nov 2002...



We bought the Old house, November 2002. Built in 1886 as a Saltbox style home, in a fishing village on peninsula in the center of Willapa Bay, the village was named Bay Center.

The home was originally built and owned by Miller family; their daughter married Harry Bochau, who was a barge builder. Harry began reconstruction projects on the house to add an upstairs cupola that did not previously exist. He added two sets of bay windows to the main floor living and dining areas. His wife, pleased with the changes called the house her 'chateau' and it became known in the community as the Bochau Chateau. We are assured by the old timers who still are alive here and know the history back to the Bochau family, that the wood and beams used in the construction of the house are without flaw, without knot holes, and would be an enviable commodity should the house be torn down. We wanted to give the house a name, and came up with Ruger's Bay Tower House in Bay Center.

The Bochau family lived their entire lives in the house, and it passed down to their son, who unfortunately was not able to retain possession of the house. The house was originally built on the style of post and board without foundation or basement, without inside bathroom, and without inside water. Purchased by a local enterpreneur, who dug out a basement and built a brick foundation, using brick from the high school torn down in neighboring town. It seems he had enough brick to also build a brick fence around front, and sides of the house.


There came two more owners afterwards and during that period of history, the lower level of the cupola was added, the kitchen expanded, an additional add on to create a bathroom on the main floor and a bathroom upstairs, running water, electrical rewiring up to code, a deck was added and later a room was built, bumping out from the main house structure onto what was the deck area. The back porch was surrounded by rough-in structure to shield from the pacific winds and serves as an enclosed porch now. Additional bay windows came along with the various construction add-on's, so that the house now has 13 different bay window areas on three levels.




By the time we came along and bought the house in Nov 2002, the house could be described as unusual - unique - interesting, or some might politely say 'it's different'. The house was among featured drawings by Earl Thollander in book 'Backroads of Washington'.






We have some ideas of our own to add to this quaint house and look forward to the years ahead living in this great old house in this quiet little fishing village of Bay Center, on Willapa Bay, of the Pacific ocean, with gentle seasonal coastal breezes along with the fierce winter wind and rainstorms. We live in an area where tsunami signs are posted road signs....let's hope no tsunamis in the near future for us.





Link to our website Ruger's Bay Tower House in Bay Center

entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house
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Wednesday, April 5, 2006


Lance, our family cat passed away. I miss him as he was constant companion as I went about my daily routines.  Posted by Picasa
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Lance, our family cat passed away. I miss his company as he was a constant companion as I went about my daily routines.  Posted by Picasa
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Lance, our family cat passed away

April 3, 2006

We have sad news this week. Lance, the cat, died last night, in my arms. We don't know the cause; our guess is old age, something wrong inside like a tumor or cancer or he got around something outside that wasn't good for him. There was little warning that something was wrong, except the night before he was moving slowly. I had just this past week put his cat box back on the porch as we had him inside all winter, and it was warm enough for him to be on the porch again. Yesterday morning, when Arthur left for work, Jake was there as usual, but Lance wasn't and I called for him. He came (very slowly) from across the street but wouldn't come inside. I called him all through the morning, as he was walking (so slowly) back and forth across the side yard. I went out to round him up and bring him in, and he was nowhere I could find him. Finally, he was just sitting at the bottom of the stairs, and I don't think he had the energy to come up the stairs.

I went and got him, brought him upstairs, bundled him up to dry him off, and put him on the couch. He came in the kitchen where his food and water are and tried to drink his water, but was too weak to manage it. I took away his water bowl and put a flat saucer of water down for him, he took a few sips and his head rather lolled in the saucer dish. It was too late in the day to take him to the Vet, and I called Arthur to tell him that I think Lance is dying. I took Lance, all bundled up and just sat on the couch with him till Arthur got home. Arthur took him, still bundled, upstairs and held him to say his good-byes. I took him back and kept him on couch with me, stroking him, petting him, but he could no longer purr. He tried but it was more a vibration than a purr, and then he gave a couple of small gasp sounds, and there was no more vibration. We had been checking his breathing and when he gave those last gasps, there was no more movemet. He had died in my arms.

Today, I'm so sad because I feel like I lost a friend - really. Lance took to me and went everywhere with me, upstairs, downstairs, outside, kitchen, basement. Every morning Arthur and I turn on our computers in upstairs room, and Lance is right there ready to jump up in my lap. It was part of our morning routine. I used to say 'not yet Lance, it's too early' but he'd jump up anyway. He'd sit and stretch out across my shoulder and purr like crazy. If I went downstairs for another cup of coffee, I'd give him to Arthur and he'd stretch out across Arthur's comfortable sitting spot on his belly and stretch out across his shoulder. When I came back, Lance would come back over to me and do some more sitting, stretching out, purring, sleeping. Whenever I sat down to watch tv, Lance would always come and jump on me, do that kneading motion on whatever blanket I was using to keep warm, then curl up when he got comfortable and stay with me till we went to bed.

I can't believe how much a friend a cat can be, and I never wanted a cat, took in Lance, and he took me in is more like it and became good companions. I will miss him much, every single day. We will bury him by the Harry Lauder tree, so he can always be with me in the yard when I am doing gardening and yard work.

Lance lived for about 7 yrs with Bree's family, and when her family moved to Germany, after Woody returned from Iraq, Lance was fostered out to us. We fostered him to Lica's family where he was intimidated by her family cats, so back to us. We have had Lance for almost 2 yrs, and he became part of our family in strong way.
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Lance, our family cat passed away

April 3, 2006

We have sad news this week. Lance, the cat, died last night, in my arms. We don't know the cause; our guess is old age, something wrong inside like a tumor or cancer or he got around something outside that wasn't good for him. There was little warning that something was wrong, except the night before he was moving slowly. I had just this past week put his cat box back on the porch as we had him inside all winter, and it was warm enough for him to be on the porch again. Yesterday morning, when Arthur left for work, Jake was there as usual, but Lance wasn't and I called for him. He came (very slowly) from across the street but wouldn't come inside. I called him all through the morning, as he was walking (so slowly) back and forth across the side yard. I went out to round him up and bring him in, and he was nowhere I could find him. Finally, he was just sitting at the bottom of the stairs, and I don't think he had the energy to come up the stairs.

I went and got him, brought him upstairs, bundled him up to dry him off, and put him on the couch. He came in the kitchen where his food and water are and tried to drink his water, but was too weak to manage it. I took away his water bowl and put a flat saucer of water down for him, he took a few sips and his head rather lolled in the saucer dish. It was too late in the day to take him to the Vet, and I called Arthur to tell him that I think Lance is dying. I took Lance, all bundled up and just sat on the couch with him till Arthur got home. Arthur took him, still bundled, upstairs and held him to say his good-byes. I took him back and kept him on couch with me, stroking him, petting him, but he could no longer purr. He tried but it was more a vibration than a purr, and then he gave a couple of small gasp sounds, and there was no more vibration. We had been checking his breathing and when he gave those last gasps, there was no more movemet. He had died in my arms.

Today, I'm so sad because I feel like I lost a friend - really. Lance took to me and went everywhere with me, upstairs, downstairs, outside, kitchen, basement. Every morning Arthur and I turn on our computers in upstairs room, and Lance is right there ready to jump up in my lap. It was part of our morning routine. I used to say 'not yet Lance, it's too early' but he'd jump up anyway. He'd sit and stretch out across my shoulder and purr like crazy. If I went downstairs for another cup of coffee, I'd give him to Arthur and he'd stretch out across Arthur's comfortable sitting spot on his belly and stretch out across his shoulder. When I came back, Lance would come back over to me and do some more sitting, stretching out, purring, sleeping. Whenever I sat down to watch tv, Lance would always come and jump on me, do that kneading motion on whatever blanket I was using to keep warm, then curl up when he got comfortable and stay with me till we went to bed.

I can't believe how much a friend a cat can be, and I never wanted a cat, took in Lance, and he took me in is more like it and became good companions. I will miss him much, every single day. We will bury him by the Harry Lauder tree, so he can always be with me in the yard when I am doing gardening and yard work.

Lance lived for about 7 yrs with Bree's family, and when her family moved to Germany, after Woody returned from Iraq, Lance was fostered out to us. We fostered him to Lica's family where he was intimidated by her family cats, so back to us. We have had Lance for almost 2 yrs, and he became part of our family in strong way.
Read more

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Spring - time for yard and garden - where's those helping grandkids!

Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Sweetie got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren's toys from last August when the family stayed with us....ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it's height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better - ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I'd like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I'd like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I've taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I've wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I'll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I'm receptive to the art of 'freezing' what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $$, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $$ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $$ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW - had a great time imagining all I could buy....but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn't stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun - but I had to put about 50 packets back - over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2' starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn't resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It's not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it's zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I've started for the last 3 years don't seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I'm in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where's those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil.....ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I'm also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.
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Saturday, April 1, 2006

The Country Cottage Garden - Easy as 1, 2, 3

The Country Cottage Garden - Easy as 1, 2, 3:

Adapted from Heirloom Country Gardens, by Sarah Wolfgang Heffner (Rodale Press, 2000).

Simple Solution

A cottage garden is the ultimate country dream come true, where flowers mix with herbs and vegetables in colorful abandon. You’ll love cutting fresh flowers for bouquets, snipping herbs and lettuces for salad, and picking tender beans for dinner.

The real-life cottage gardens of English history were commonly mixed plantings of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, complete with honeybees, chickens, and perhaps a family pig. As time went on and living conditions became less harsh, more flowers were added to cottage gardens.

The joy of these gardens is their casual, informal appearance. They should not be overly neat and tidy! All you really have to worry about is thinning vigorous perennials every few years so that they don’t over step their boundaries! Here is a list of 20 plants to get started. Print it out and take it with you next time you go to the local garden nursery:

Sneezeweed

Honesty

Feverfew

Bacherlor’s button

Hollyhock

Johnny-jump-up

Lemon lily

Golden glow

Garden phlox

Sage

Scarlet runner bean

Thymes

Dill

Borage

Mints

Peonies

Foxglove

Jasmine tobacco

Wild columbine

Bleeding heart"
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Time to hit the garden and yard .. my climate zone

So, I learned something today. I had thought where I live the climate zone per USDA Hardiness chart was in zone 8-9. Ahh, but I found the below today which points out my maritime environment puts me more in line with Zone 5. Now I will adjust my planting times accordingly.

Also, it's April 1, and I'm eager to start the seedlings, and I learned something else about planting some of the vegetables too early. From Washington state Master Gardener's website; Everything can go into the ground now, except the heat loving crops like tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, cukes, corn and basil.


Sunset Climate Zones, Oregon State Univ., LANDSCAPE PLANTS

Sunset's Climate Zones

In the Sunset Western Garden Book (1996, 2001, Sunset Pub. Corp., Menlo Park, Calif.), the western U.S. is divided into 24 Climate Zones. These Climate Zones do NOT correspond to the USDA Hardiness Zones.

Sunset's Climate Zones
are based on winter minimum temperatures, but also include other factors such as summer high temperatures, length of growing season, humidity, and rainfall. This approach is used to avoid the difficulties encountered when the USDA Hardiness Zones are applied to parts of the western U.S. For example, with the USDA Hardiness Zones, the Olympic rain forest in Washington State is in the same Hardiness Zone, Zone 8, as part of Arizona's Sonora Desert. Seven Sunset Climate Zones are used to cover Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. They are:

Zone 1 Coldest Winters in the West In this Zone, snow falls and stays on the ground (from a day to all winter) and the growing season is from 75 to 150 days, but frost may occur on any night of the year. The Cascades and most of Central and Eastern Oregon are in this Zone, including the Oregon cities of Bend, Redmond, Burns, etc.
Zone 2 Second-Coldest Western Climate Here snow is expected but the average annual winter temperatures are higher than in Zone 1; they range from -3o to -34o F. A few lower elevation sites in Eastern Oregon, such as LaGrand and Baker City, are in Zone 2, as are Spokane and Pullman, Washington, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Zone 3 Mildest of High-Elevation and Interior Climates This Zone is often called the "banana belt" since the winter are fairly mild, but minimum temperatures may range from 13o to -24o F. The growing season can be shorter than in Zone 2, but the winter temperatures are always higher. Oregon's Coastal Mountains, as well as the Oregon cities of Hood River, The Dalles, Pendleton, and Ontario, and Boise, Idaho, have Zone 3 climates.
Zone 5 Marine Influence Along the Northwest Coast Mild ocean air bring relatively warm winters in this Zone. Minimum temperatures range from 28o to 1o F, although in some year a "big freeze" can cause considerable damage to plants. Zone 5 extends from the Puget Sound area in Washington, including Seattle and Tacoma, south along the Pacific Coast to north of Brookings, Oregon, including Astoria, Newport, Coos Bay.
Zone 6 Willamette Valley Warmer summers distinguish this Zone from Zone 5, average temperatures being 5o to 9o F higher. Average winter lows are similar or lower than those of Zone 5. Much of the Valley has a long growing season, with 279 days in Portland. However, Portland may also experience icy winds blowing down the Columbia. Zone 6 extends from Longview, Washington to Roseburg, Oregon. This of course includes Salem, Corvallis, and Eugene, Oregon.
Zone 7 Oregon's Rogue River Valley: This Zone has hot summers and mild but pronounced winters. Typical winter lows range from 23o to 9o F, record lows vary from 15o to -1o F. The Oregon cities of Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland are in Zone 7.
Zone 17 Marine Effects in Extreme Southwestern Oregon and Northern California A narrow strip along the Coast between Gold Beach and Brookings, Oregon is in this Zone (as is the Coast of Northern California and much of the Bay Area).
Read more

Time to hit the garden and yard .. my climate zone

So, I learned something today. I had thought where I live the climate zone per USDA Hardiness chart was in zone 8-9. Ahh, but I found the below today which points out my maritime environment puts me more in line with Zone 5. Now I will adjust my planting times accordingly.
Also, it's April 1, and I'm eager to start the seedlings, and I learned something else about planting some of the vegetables too early. (Lietta)

From Washington state Master Gardener's website; Everything can go into the ground now, except the heat loving crops like tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, cukes, corn and basil.
Sunset Climate Zones, Oregon State Univ., LANDSCAPE PLANTS



Sunset's Climate Zones
In the Sunset Western Garden Book (1996, 2001, Sunset Pub. Corp., Menlo Park, Calif.), the western U.S. is divided into 24 Climate Zones. These Climate Zones do NOT correspond to the USDA Hardiness Zones.
Sunset's Climate Zones
are based on winter minimum temperatures, but also include other factors such as summer high temperatures, length of growing season, humidity, and rainfall. This approach is used to avoid the difficulties encountered when the USDA Hardiness Zones are applied to parts of the western U.S. For example, with the USDA Hardiness Zones, the Olympic rain forest in Washington State is in the same Hardiness Zone, Zone 8, as part of Arizona's Sonora Desert. Seven Sunset Climate Zones are used to cover Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. They are:
Zone 1

Coldest Winters in the West In this Zone, snow falls and stays on the ground (from a day to all winter) and the growing season is from 75 to 150 days, but frost may occur on any night of the year. The Cascades and most of Central and Eastern Oregon are in this Zone, including the Oregon cities of Bend, Redmond, Burns, etc.Zone 2

Second-Coldest Western Climate Here snow is expected but the average annual winter temperatures are higher than in Zone 1; they range from -3o to -34o F. A few lower elevation sites in Eastern Oregon, such as LaGrand and Baker City, are in Zone 2, as are Spokane and Pullman, Washington, and Salt Lake City, Utah.Zone 3

Mildest of High-Elevation and Interior Climates This Zone is often called the "banana belt" since the winter are fairly mild, but minimum temperatures may range from 13o to -24o F. The growing season can be shorter than in Zone 2, but the winter temperatures are always higher. Oregon's Coastal Mountains, as well as the Oregon cities of Hood River, The Dalles, Pendleton, and Ontario, and Boise, Idaho, have Zone 3 climates.Zone 5

Marine Influence Along the Northwest Coast Mild ocean air bring relatively warm winters in this Zone. Minimum temperatures range from 28o to 1o F, although in some year a "big freeze" can cause considerable damage to plants. Zone 5 extends from the Puget Sound area in Washington, including Seattle and Tacoma, south along the Pacific Coast to north of Brookings, Oregon, including Astoria, Newport, Coos Bay.Zone 6

Willamette Valley Warmer summers distinguish this Zone from Zone 5, average temperatures being 5o to 9o F higher. Average winter lows are similar or lower than those of Zone 5. Much of the Valley has a long growing season, with 279 days in Portland. However, Portland may also experience icy winds blowing down the Columbia. Zone 6 extends from Longview, Washington to Roseburg, Oregon. This of course includes Salem, Corvallis, and Eugene, Oregon.Zone 7

Oregon's Rogue River Valley: This Zone has hot summers and mild but pronounced winters. Typical winter lows range from 23o to 9o F, record lows vary from 15o to -1o F. The Oregon cities of Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland are in Zone 7.Zone 17

Marine Effects in Extreme Southwestern Oregon and Northern California A narrow strip along the Coast between Gold Beach and Brookings, Oregon is in this Zone (as is the Coast of Northern California and much of the Bay Area). posted by Lietta Ruger
Read more

Spring - time for yard and garden - where's those helping grandkids!

Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Sweetie got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren's toys from last August when the family stayed with us....ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it's height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better - ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I'd like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I'd like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I've taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I've wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I'll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I'm receptive to the art of 'freezing' what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW - had a great time imagining all I could buy....but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn't stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun - but I had to put about 50 packets back - over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2' starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn't resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It's not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it's zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I've started for the last 3 years don't seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I'm in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where's those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil.....ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I'm also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.

posted by Lietta Ruger
Read more
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