Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mrs. Johnson Goes to Washington, Part 1: The House

1. I have been a blogging failure all summer.
2. I am no longer going to be a blogging failure.

So, here I go--getting back on the horse, dear readers.  I think this post is going to end up being a series of posts because I have about three months of catching up to do.  So, here’s the long story short to get you caught up on my life, starting with the fact that we now live in WA.  For six years, I had to clarify that we lived in SOUTH Carolina, as opposed to NORTH Carolina.  Now, I have to clarify that we live in the state, not D. C.  Other than that one similarity, life is basically 180 degrees different for us than it was six months ago.  (You can click here for a detailed chart of the differences between SC and WA.)

I was in OK until the end of July with Will and Ben while Scott completed his weapons instructor course in New Jersey.  Upon completion, he outprocessed from Charleston and found renters for our house, while I took a trip to WA to find us a new house.  We moved to Olympia, WA (or “Olhippiea” as I like to call it) on August 1st, received our household goods ten days later, and started Will’s kindergarten year (at homeschool!) two weeks later.  Somewhere in there we started going to therapy.

So, I think the easiest way to approach this series of posts is to begin with some thoughts about moving.  Anyone who has ever moved into a new house knows that the process is a little bit like childbirth--when you’re in the middle of the process, you want to kill someone, anyone, the closest person holding your junk, but in the end, when you’re looking at your new baby, it’s so worth it.  And just like having a new baby, there are things you expect, things you look forward to, things you dread, and things that surprise you.  There’s an adjustment period for everyone involved, but eventually, you find a sense of home again.  Here is a list of surprises, some good, some bad, that we’ve experienced with our new 2,200 square foot treehouse of a baby.

First of all, here’s our house:

Let me explain exactly what’s happening here.  The bottom story is a 2,200 square foot garage.  The side door in the first picture is the only way into the house, so we don't have a front door, and the big garage door is for our RV, of course.  Originally, the homeowner was going to use it to store his multiple cars, his boat, and his RV (with a small room walled in for his business office).  The top story was intended to be a guest house for visitors, and the homeowner and his family were living in it while they built their 7,200 square foot dream home, which looks like ours except way, way bigger obviously.

The two houses are situated on 38 acres of mountain landscape, and this is the view from our treehouse porch: 
At this point, you may be thinking: why are you living in this family’s guest house?  Well, that’s where it gets all Twin Peaks/All My Children.
So, rumor has it around the Black Lake area that Mr. Homeowner was a complete asshole.  Other words that have been used to describe him by this small community include: douchebag, loser, good-for-nothing, and scumbag.  His wife is equally respected by their former neighbors (which includes less than 20 people within a 3 mile radius of the property).  Anyway, Mr. Homeowner was over his head financially, got wasted on scotch, and scuba-dived to his death--all after canceling the insurance policy that would have benefitted his wife (who, by the way, had a new man living in their home before the funeral).  The building company took pity on the widow and bought the property instead of leaving her to be foreclosed upon.
The new owners plan on parcelling the land and have been renting out both houses since taking ownership, and the moment I saw the house (despite it’s soap opera beginnings), I knew it was perfect for us.  We are situated up a 2 mile gravel road in the mountains.  We feel like we’re stuck in the boonies, as our immediate neighborhood consists of four other houses, some Winter’s Bone trailers/barns at the bottom of the hill, and Black Lake Grocery, a convenience store where you can buy bait, beer, and assorted grocery necessities, but where you should also make sure your children don’t get kidnapped.  HOWEVER, in reality, we don’t live in the boonies because Barnes and Noble, Trader Joe’s, and Chipotle (among other businesses that make life worth living) are all within a ten-minute drive from the Black Lake area.  It’s truly the perfect situation.

Here are a few things that we’ve learned since living here:
Can you see me?  I'm incognito. 
Secret blackberry ops.
The people of western WA have an intense hatred for blackberries.  This is a tremendous advantage for us because we have acres and acres of blackberries to pick and no one else wants them.  I have taken up canning jam because my freezer isn’t big enough to hold the pounds and pounds of berries we have picked.
The water in WA is ridiculously soft, which has multiple benefits.  First of all, cleaning is infinitely easier because there aren’t the same kinds of minerals that turn everything white or green that I’m used to dealing with in OK, or the weird pink gunk that gathered on everything when we lived in SC.  Also, the tiniest amount of shampoo and conditioner gives me magical hair.  I’m talking angel hair.  Like 1970s Farrah Fawcett hair.  Light, fluffy, magical.  (Also, I have to be careful to use a very small amount of shampoo or body wash, or I end up having flashbacks to the traumatic bubble party during my senior trip to Cancun--soft water=too many suds.)
Our expectations about people in WA being crazy hippie liberals did not even come close to touching reality.  It is so beyond even my wildest dreams.  I have always felt like the most liberal member in nearly all circles of friends, but you have to consider context.  I grew up in OK, went to an evangelical church, and married someone in the Air Force.  So, my (truly) middle-of-the-road political and religious leanings have always been viewed by others as extreme lefty.  For the first time in my life, I am the conservative righty prude.  It’s refreshing.
This is the road that leads to our house.  At night and without two cute little boys, it is much, much creepier.

I will probably not be able to watch any suspense/horror movies during the duration of our stay at this house.  In addition to the quaint pleasures that accompany “rural” living, there is a very significant sense of fear.  I am slightly afraid of death by black bear attack/deranged prisoner escapee every time I am out walking the dog at night or driving back from town after dark.

The first thing everyone says to us about living in the PacNW is something along the lines of, “Oh!  You moved there at the perfect time!  The summers there are BEAUTIFUL.  But watch out for winter!”  At first, I thought people were just being dramatic--the rain can’t be that bad, right?  But then, literally everysingleperson we met would go into this line of thought: WA winter=immediate suicide watch.  So, I think that just means I need to put a tanning bed somewhere in my 2,200 square foot garage (right next to our indoor playground and trampoline).  I joke, but I have had three people tell me to buy my tanning package now.

I really wanted to post some more pictures of the house (mainly because everyone keeps asking), but it still looks like a bomb went off, and I figure this way, you will just have to come visit if you really want to see it.  Look out for Part 2 of “Mrs. Johnson Goes to Washington” when I will explain how someone as unbelievably cool as me can be a homeschool mom.  

1 comment:

  1. Your house looks so awesome! I have only been to the Pacific NW once (Seattle), and it was only for a week, but I loved it. I think days and days of rain would be kinda nice. :)

    Also, I LOVE blackberries SO much.

    EASY BLACKBERRY SNACK (also good with some raspberries mixed in):
    1) Put blackberries in bowl
    2) Sprinkle a tad of powdered sugar on top
    3) Sprinkle granola (vanilla almond is best) on top
    4) Tastes like a blackberry tart! WOOT!