Saturday, August 31, 2013

I love California

I love California.  It is beautiful with its hundreds of state parks and beaches, cold coastal waters and tide-pools filled with wildlife, mountains, rivers and lakes.  There are theme parks to explore, slopes to ski, vineyards to visit and so much in between.  But... I am so glad we moved to Iowa.  Sure I miss my friends, family and the wonderful diversity that lies in California.  I wonder if we will ever go back to our favorite patisserie in Pacific Grove or if my mom can send some of my favorite foods that can only be purchased locally at the Davis Food Co-op or Farmer's Market.

Now we have a new life in Iowa that I am falling in love with too.  One of the things that I love the most is our home.  Now this is not the house I would have designed and I wouldn't call it my dream home.  It doesn't have a gourmet kitchen or a hidden passage.  It doesn't have rustic wooden beams across the ceiling or gorgeous hardwood floors.  But it was built by hand by my grandfather.  Literally. 

For more than a decade after moving to the farm, my grandparents and their four children lived in the old farmhouse.  I heard stories about grandpa wrapping the house in plastic each winter to keep the cold winds and snow from creeping in.  I can only vaguely remember the black wood stove in the living room, the steep stairs to the second floor and sitting around the kitchen table eating grilled cheese and tomato soup. 

 I opened a drawer the other day and inside is a file labeled "house plans."  In the file is a hand drawn picture with labels written in pencil.  My grandpa was not an architect or engineer.  He was not a contractor or carpenter.  But he so loved my grandma and wanted to build her this home that didn't have snow creeping in, that he learned how to do it by reading books about plumbing, electrical and everything else. 

When construction began, I remember the fluffy pink insulation was so inviting, but forbidden.  My aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and neighbors were all on deck digging the basement, pouring concrete and framing the house.  There were wires and pipes to install, walls to sheet-rock and paint.  A roof to shingle.

And now it is our turn.  It is our turn to take care of the home built both physically and emotionally by my grandparents.  There's no lack of projects to keep us busy and there are reminders in unexpected drawers.  But that is what I am loving about our move to Iowa.

Future basement

Pouring concrete walls

Everyone pitching in

Grandpa smoothing the concrete.

Look at me helping build the house.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Groundhog Day

I'll bet you're thinking Groundhog Day is in February.  Right now we are in August, so what gives?  It seems to be groundhog day everyday in our yard.    We have what the kids call "the creature" (aka groundhog or woodchuck) living under our shop, burrowing in the yard and making appearances in the barn.  Sean wouldn't go out in the yard for a several days because he was worried about being bitten by the creature. 

We tried trapping the groundhog, but apparently they don't go for cat food like the neighbor thought.  Hubby tried shooting the thing, but is pretty sure he missed and the puppies have even chased him, all to no avail.  Although not the same animal, it's starting to feel like we are precariously close to a scene from Caddyshack...

Bill Murray, Caddyshack 1980

Caddyshack, 1980

Each morning, the kids like to point out the freshly dug mounds of soil in the yard.  They even like to stomp on the mounds.  Well we've been doing some research and are now prepared to trap the creature, enticing him into the cage with all his favorite foods.  If that doesn't work, there's always dynamite :)   

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cave

We have a cave.  Ok really, it's a root cellar underneath the meat shed.  But my grandparents always called it a cave and that sounds way more awesome, so I am going to keep calling it the cave.  The cave was built by my grandfather in the late 70's to hold pickles, jam, other canned goods and homemade wine. 

When we arrived here this summer, after an unusually wet season, the cave was musty, dusty and full of water.  I decided that cleaning out this building was going to require some extreme measures.  I was going to have to take off my flip flops and put on some boots!

And so that is what I did.  It took several hours of me working in the cave while the kids "helped" their daddy upstairs in the meat shed, but now it is all ready to be restocked.  Canning is something the hubby and I have enjoyed for years, so we are looking forward to trying out all those new recipes and methods that Pinterest has introduced to us.

Here's me not wearing flip flops.