JOURNALS FROM

July thru December
2005




Go to
2004
for last year's entries

OR

JANUARY thru JUNE 2005

JULY 10, 2005
Where does the time go? It was just "yesterday" that we moved here....May 22, 2004. And just yesterday again that we began to build our home....April 9. And here it is, half the year has gone and we're looking towards Fall. I don't know about you, but it's just plain scary how fast time is going. And I guess there's nothing to make time go by faster than to be busy. And busy we are. Since we can't afford the time to go exploring, we especially enjoy the nature all around us.
We saw our first Quail at . They are just so amusing to watch, waddling and bobbing their little heads as they scurry along. On the same day, while driving along the highway, I saw a Red Tailed hawk dive from the sky and pounce on his prey in deep grass just along the roadside. To top it off, a bald eagle was catching the wind currents as I drove along a country road. And as I was leaving our rental house the other day, I turned onto the main street from the driveway and there before me in the road was a baby robin, looking absolutely ridiculous. With a look of "how in the world did I get here?", he reminded me of a toy airplane that had come to rest on its tail.. So I got out of the car and shooed him into the brush. Most of his feathers were still covered in those waxy sheaths so any type of actual flight was out of the question. Squawking all the way, he clumsily hopped to safety.

Now that the house is well underway, more and more friends are starting to come by to check in on the progress. Earlier in the week Donna and Gordon made a site visit. They moved here about ten years ago from California and never looked back. Gordon is a master carver and I've "commissioned" him to make some man in the moon medallions that I plan to reproduce and use as architectural elements. While I gave Donna a tour of the grounds, she noticed my newest find, the
deep orange flower I spied hiding in the ferns, and told me it was some type of wild lily. I've since found another one and am noticing some along the roadside on our way up to our property. And that white flower that turned purple is called trillium. Donna said with any luck, these wild flowers will propagate and I hope she's right. The more natural the vegetation, the more wildlife, especially birds, we'll be able to enjoy.

Our neighbor Tim loves his red Jeep. Last Christmas we were invited to a family get together hosted by Tim and his wife, Cindy. Tim created a motocross course on his property and everyone, including me, took turns driving his Jeep up and down steep hills in sloshy mud. I must've been home at the computer when Tim paid us a visit the other day. At any rate, he couldn't restrain himself and perched his red bomb
right on top of a heap of our boulders. Since Tim's also our local building inspector, whatever he's telling us here, you can bet we'll get right on it! After he conquered the rocks, he took a quick run on the trails, including that steep steep incline that our excavation guy, Les, had trouble negotiating during the rains.

Bambi, the African deer has been hanging around the pasture at the bottom of the hill again recently and Greg was able to get a good series of pictures. Hey guys, don't pay attention to
what's going on back there, look this way! As you can see from her profile, her head is definitely shaped differently than other deer that are native here. She was enjoying a bit of sun with one of her horse buddies. Ol' Brownie looks like he's really really relaxed judging from his lower lip. And once they were joined by a cowbird, it was one little happy family.

Greg's so much better at getting good shots than I am. Mr. Chipmunk was chattering at Greg while Greg worked on the computer,
trying to con some extra seed.

JULY 13, 2005
My poor Greg! However difficult and exhausting I think this project is for me, that's nothing compared to Greg's workload.

While beginning work on the back staircase, he fell through the rafters and royally banged up his knee and lower leg. His knee has a gash and the rest of his leg is nothing but purple all the way down to his heel! I wasn't there to see it (thank goodness!), but that must've been some fall.

On top of that, he's caught some kind of local virus that's been going around the Peninsula and it's given him a nasty cough. I finally got him to the doctor who prescribed cough medicine. The doctor told him to take a double-dose to start. He "guessed" at the dose amount while sipping from the bottle and it turned out the prescription was for Vicodin! When he got up the next morning, or should I say tried to get up, he ended up going back to bed for another two or three hours to sleep it off. Well, at least he didn't cough through the night!

And...because of his fall, he's having back pain and walking like a 70 year old. But this speeding train can't stop and so he plows on.

JULY 14, 2005
WHOOHOO! Things are really poppin' at . For the first time we were able to stand on the second floor and walk through the rooms! Well, not actually the rooms, but chalk lines on the floor where the rooms will be. It's been a tremendous amount of work to this point, and equally as much work and more to follow. But from here on in, as far as I'm concerned, we've moved into a phase that has everything to do with what this place is actually going to look like, and I can do some serious visualizing about design as well as practical things.

(For more than you would ever want to know about what's going on, go to
)

Meanwhile, I've discovered cruise control. I'm beginning to think that driving in congested traffic like L.A.'s is somehow easier than driving along open highway. Because on congested streets, you barely get going and there are plenty of cars all around you to keep you on track (not to mention time to apply mascara! - although that was never my practice, but still...). Anyway, on Highway 101, you must have your wits about you at all times. Glancing to watch a hawk dive from the sky to pounce on prey at the side of the road can leave you upside down in a ditch in no time. And speed limits constantly change back and forth along the road from a slow 30 to a top speed of 55. And the police are out in force, especially now that summer vacationers are here. So, although everyone else is whizzing past me (and hopefully getting a big fat ticket.), I set my cruise control to whatever the sign says, and I can putt along without worrying about the state troopers. And the people climbing on my ass can just....kiss it!!!

JULY 16, 2005
Since Greg worked on the staircase at all day, Judie was sweet enough to bring us dinner and so we had our
first true meal at home - a great big salad. Perfect for a hot day. While California has been having heat waves in the high 90s and low 100s and predicted rolling brownouts, our weather has been in the high 70s and low 80s. But still, working outside under a noon sun is still hot. I don't know how the guys keep working - the heat just zaps all my energy.

JULY 20, 2005
There is no end to my chores on the job. I've already told you of my expertise with a jackhammer. Now, I've learned how to use a hand saw. That may sound inconsequential, but every time I've ever tried to use one, it wobbles and gets stuck forward and backward. But I was determined to do some heavy pruning of some trees visible outside of what will be our bathroom and bedroom windows, and through trial and error I got the hang of it. (Hint: it's all in the wrist - just like shooting pool.) I also improved my skills using a shovel. There's a science to everything, or so I'm learning. You can have a bunch of tools, but if you don't know how to use them to their best advantage, you might as well just be using your hands.

I also supervise-
pointing and telling people what to do. That I'm real good at. Les, a true find who's been doing all our excavation and then some, worked with me to remove about a dozen trees on the Olympics side of the property. Here, he's climbed up on top of the bucket of his excavator and limbed a big 'ol Fir tree so we can open the view while keeping the tree.

Who knows what careers this project will lead me to? No, wait...that is NOT the plan here. I must keep reminding myself that the goal here is to do as much of nothing as humanly possible - once the house is finished.....decades from now.

JULY 21, 2005
Greg goes crabbing.


Mike, our contractor, and his son are avid fishermen. They've been waiting for weeks for low tide to go crabbing and today was the day. So Greg and the crew took the morning off to bring back a sumptuous luncheon. The Peninsula is famous for Dungeness crabs and Mike has a secret place where you can walk out about a half mile from the shore and literally grab crabs out of the water as they go floating by. They came back with about 15 crabs - four Dungeness and the rest were rock crabs.

I stayed home in the morning and made a big salad and shucked 20 ears of sweet white corn (which were all later consumed) and met them at the job at lunch time. A feast was had by all - our second meal at . There will be pictures to follow but they were taken with a disposable camera, so they'll have to wait....

JULY 22, 2005
Judie plays chauffeur and gives me a lift to to meet up with Greg. And as usual, I look for little Bambi. And she's there, in the pasture, with her two horse companions. If you didn't know it, you might think
Bambi was a foal with her mom and dad.

Just for the fun of it,
this little guy, pretty sure he's a June bug, was checking out the progress on the building site. Still am amazed at the detail you get with a digital camera.

One great thing about having Judie and Sue here now...Good Eats! And that's just what they've named their new catering business. They've already catered a Fourth of July party and this weekend did a baby shower. But Greg and I get the pleasure of dining at their house as often as we like. And between both Judie and Sue, the menus are fantastic.

JULY 25, 2005
Every day the vision of becomes more and more a reality. As the walls go up, I'm able to stand before what will be windows and look out at the view. And what a view! Like the rest of the country, we're having a heatwave (ooooh, I can hear Marilyn Monroe singing in the background! (fyi: that refers to the movie, "There's No Business Like Show Business and the song "Having a Heatwave" sung by Ms. Monroe.)) Suffice it to say, the skies are clear and here's what we'll be looking out at: the view of the Olympic Mountains and Olympic National Park from the
Dining Room, the view from the Living Room, the view from the Kitchen, and the view from the back of the house. These pictures were taken around 8:30 a.m. and you can still see the moon (how apropos!) high over the mountain top. This particular mountain is known as Klahane Ridge. Cannot wait until I'm gazing out those windows watching the snow fall (...on Cedars).

We've started referring to our place as "our little monster"...with good reason. The entry to the house is very large and incorporates a huge stairwell going up to a third-story turret with a 360º view. To get up to this room, Greg will build a magnificent staircase called a double helix. It's a grand version of a spiral staircase but doesn't have a center pole where the stairs attach; it self supports just like the famous
Loretto Chapel staircase located in Santa Fe. Built in the 1870s and the subject of many articles, movies, and tv specials, it has been called a miracle built by an unknown carpenter that legend says may have been St. Joseph. Anyway, to structurally support all this including the roof requires some mighty tall walls; 20 feet tall to be exact. Just to give you an idea of the scale of this, see how small Greg looks in this picture.

JULY 30, 2005
Where oh where is the time going so fast? It was just Fourth of July and here it's almost August!

Got those pictures of our "Crabbing Day" (see July 21 entry) back and so here goes: Here's everyone but Greg (who's never in the pictures 'cause he's busy taking the pictures!) silhouetted against the sun as they trek out
into the tidepools. Mike was the organizer of this excursion and here looks like Moses leading his flock. Soon, everyone was catching crabs as they floated by as the tide went out. Here's Mike's son Justin, Sue's son, Matt, and (finally someone took a picture!) Greg. Before they knew it, their sacks were full. They caught about four Dungeness crabs but here's an upcloseandpersonal look at a Rock crab.

Back at "the ranch",
the day's catch was laid out. Soon they were boiling in the pot, and then I cooked a pot of sweet corn. And a grand meal was had by all including Les who just dropped in to get in on the meal.

Back at , the moon itself was still in the sky by mid morning and hangs over the Olympic Mountain range.
Is this not breathtaking or what? If that weren't gorgeous enough, here's a 360º panorama of the view from the scaffolding erected in the stairwell that will lead to Greg's prized turret. (Be sure to move your scroll bar to see all of it.) In person, you could see the ocean and faint mountains of Canada.

AUGUST 4, 2005
I just can't stay off that scaffold. At this height, the visibility is one hundred miles. Just to know we'll be living here (at some point!) and have the privilege of looking out over the millions of trees, the majestic Olympic mountains, the ocean, and Canada in the distance; just thinking about what this will look like during a rainstorm, or better yet covered with snow, well...

Greg and I talk about sitting up in his turret taking all of this in. While I was up on that scaffold, the world of nature literally flew by. I heard the now familiar call of the
nighthawk, and Greg's favorite bird (so far) - the Cedar Waxwing literally hovered right in front of me. Although they aren't brilliantly colorful like say a cardinal, they are beautiful birds. Looking down, I could watch a little chipmunk, a particularly noisy little guy, while he ran in and around the hundreds of rocks I've been collecting for our landscaping - which we hope will include a waterfall and a pond.

At the end of the day, I was just delighted to see an entire family of quail crossing the road. If I could only hold them! I think it's Papa who first crosses the road and then very timidly the little ones venture out. And then Mama makes sure everyone arrives safely. And we live here!!!!

More and more baby boomers are definitely flocking here and the real estate market has exploded and continues to do so. We bought our lot a year ago April. The last lots in our development will be put up for sale shortly, and prices for the same amount of acreage will now be $125,000 to $159,000. Translation: our property has doubled in just over a year. We were so lucky when we sold our old place - squeezing through the "eye of the needle" so to speak by hitting the market at the optimum moment. And then we bought our land just before things really started getting crazy. To hear the realtors tell it, there just isn't much land available and most buyers would rather buy land and build than purchase an older home. I'm told it's becoming commonplace to make a sale to a "walk in" - usually unheard of.

AUGUST 9, 2005
After sleeping in to a luxuriously late 4:55 a.m. (!), we are treated to a great showing of "Bat TV". We've been so busy since we've started to build the house, that by the time we finally get home after putting in a 12 hour day at the "jobsite", running some errands after "work" like marketing, getting home to make dinner and finally sitting down (in front of the tv because there's no place to sit down at a table with all the files and such everywhere), we haven't had time to even gaze out the porch window like we did last summer and catch glimpses of bats as they get their evening meal. But this morning I happened to look out the bedroom window to a beautifully eerie scene of misty fog and happened to see something in the distance darting about. Then right outside the window screen in front of my face I see several bats silently flitting back and forth. There must be lots of bugs out at this time of the morning. Almost makes it worth it to get up at ungawdly hours like this.

We are both so very tired but we can't slow down for a minute - the show marches on...

AUGUST 16, 2005
Greg is busier than a one-armed paper hanger on this monstrous project of ours. I am continually amazed by his inventiveness and expertise. I dream something up, and he just makes it happen. And of course I come up with some doozies! Why have a straight staircase when I can have one that serpentines!? So Greg has created just that for our stairway that takes you to our front door. It required lots of planning, lots of epoxy, lots of "hands", and a huge form erected in the livingroom.
Thank you Greg!!! (to read more about this staircase, go to this date at .

AUGUST 17, 2005
Greg went into "work" by himself today, while I stayed home to do bookwork and housework. It's almost impossible to find the time to pull off the job to carry on with life's little necessities. It was lightly raining and Greg took this picture of a
rainbow over the local winery on Highway 101. is 3 or 4 miles up the road from here, up against those tall mountains in the background.

AUGUST 21, 2005
Our neighbors, Tim & Cindy, invited us on a picnic. The Olympic National Forest is literally our backyard. Just ten minutes down the road from us is Deer Park, one of the entrances to Olympic National Park. Tim & Cindy have picnicked there often and invited us to come along. The ride up to the top of the mountain took about thirty minutes on a wind-y one-lane road. Once we got all the way to the top, we were looking down on
Sequim and the Dungeness Valley, and Port Angeles and Canada across the water. We just can't get over the proximity of these majestic views. And we can't wait to have the time to hike in the area.

While we were waiting for our BBQ hamburgers to grill, Greg took this picture of
Tim & Cindy and I. After soaking up the views, some good conversation and a hearty meal, we headed back down the road just before it began to get dark and Greg took some incredible shots of the clouds settling down between the mountains below and the last remnants of sunlight.

AUGUST 22, 2005
We've been having fun with boom trucks - hoisting massive beams up to the top of our third story turret. When I took this picture for the house-building journal, I didn't know I had captured this
artsy-fartsy image of Greg scaling a ladder on his way up to work on the beams. For more, go to this date at .

On our way to Judie's house later in the day, the
Famous Sequim Roosevelt Elk had crossed Highway 101 and were causing a minor sensation sitting in a farmer's field. The Elk are a local attraction and are definitely a sight to behold.

AUGUST 23, 2005
Everybody finds the toad!

Earlier in the summer, our next door neighbors broke ground on their house. Since they've hired a local builder with more tradesmen than ants on a picnic, they'll be moving in next month (can you say, "Jealous!"?). Anyway, the guy who ran the excavator is a friend of our contractor. While he was clearing the land, a big 'ol toad hopped out of the underbrush which he promptly caught and brought over to our place for show & tell. And, of course, we offered our property for his new home. Since that day, we've come upon him a couple of times and it happened again today while Les was doing the excavating for our grey-water system. He's a pretty big guy, about the size of a man's fist. And I can't believe I keep forgetting to get a picture of him... Oh well, next time.

AUGUST 28, 2005
Let me tell you what it's like working on a construction site with "guys". It's a constant cacophony of farting and burping, especially from Mike's son
Justin, and Matt. I've ceased being embarrassed because almost every sentence is punctuated with some kind of bodily noise and/or mention of some bodily function. Men! I told them they missed their calling...in the eighteenth century there was a famous man employed by the Moulin Rouge in Paris who had an act where he farted entire musical numbers.

And then, at lunch and brake times, Mike and Justin love to tell us of their hunting adventures which makes me very sad. But it's a way of life here and I'm not going to change anyone's idea of "fun". So I sit there like Woody Allen with my fingers in my ears. Greg and I will never understand.

Earlier this month we got into a bit of a car accident. Everyone's OK but we
lost Greg's beloved 1988 Jeep Cherokee. It was approaching a quarter of a million miles and Greg was sure it'd make it to 500K. As a result, we've had to spend precious time that we can't afford Jeep shopping. We finally found one from a private party near Seattle - a 1995 and it looks like we got a pretty good deal. And here's something you'll never find in Los Angeles: the new Jeep needed a good check up, a bit of detailing, and a new trailer hitch. The trailer hitch guy will drive it over to the repair shop, and they'll drop it off at the auto detailer! Ain't life is a small town great!?

AUGUST 29, 2005
Our contractor has taken to bringing his beloved chocolate lab,
Latte, to the job. What else would you name a dog in the "Starbucks" region?

SEPTEMBER 2, 2005
Our third story turret has now been completely framed! Let's see, that makes our little monster a mere 45 feet tall-give or take! What are we thinking!!! It didn't look so monstrous on paper! And now that we have a little room up in the clouds, the crew thought it'd be a nice change of pace to hoist our lunch up and have
a little picnic.

While other guys have pictures standing next to their trophy catch,
Greg is beaming showing off one of the stringers (part of the staircase that holds the treads) that he built for the serpentine-shaped staircase which leads to our front door. Since tomorrow's my birthday, he worked especially hard for the past two days while I was home doing "homemaker" chores, and surprised me with the beginnings of this unusual "S" curve design. Hmmm, "S" curve...could that have anything to do with my initials??? Go to on this date to see more.

Today was the last day of work for Justin, our contractor's son. It's back to high school for him. He asked for a picture to show his classmates what he did on his summer vacation. Greg snapped this pic of father and son and I standing in the turret - I don't think any of his other classmates
will top this...literally.

On our way home tonight, our neighbors Tim&Cindy gave us some fresh veggies from their Victory Garden. So we stopped by Judie's to drop them off 'cause I know she and Sue are making a birthday dinner for me on Sunday. And look who greeted us at her front door...
this little fellow and what I assume was to be dinner.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2005
It may be Labor Day but on our job, it's not a holiday...it's just another day to labor.

Greg finished our exterior front staircase - at least to the point where it's serviceable during construction.
I'm so impressed by him and all the incredible things he's accomplished. I'm a lucky lucky gal. A few days later, I was able to add my finishing touches to the cement pad at the base of the stairs. You'll never see it once the staircase is completed, but we'll know it's there.

There's always some little critter hanging around. Just as I was stepping into the job trailer,
this fuzzy guy crossed my path. Wonder why kind of butterfly he'll turn into? Well, I googled him, and he'll grow up to be a moth.

Years ago, when Greg was working in Beverly Hills on all the huge mansions, one of the carpenters who taught Greg his trade was Norwegian or Swedish. He told Greg about a tradition which Greg has now passed along to us. A branch taken from the nearest tree is nailed up to the rafters for luck. Our neighbors
Tim & Cindy happened by (that's Tim behind me and Contractor Mike in the window) and so we made a little ceremony out of it. Greg hammered the first nail, and then I finished the job.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2005
As our house rises out of the earth, we are realizing it really is quite a little monster. The turret can be seen from acres away. In fact, Greg and I traveled down the road a piece (boy, I must be settling in here - judging from my handle on the vernacular!) and went to another neighborhood called Maletti Hill. We traveled to the very top of the mountain and
waaaay in the distance you can see a whitish dot in the middle of the picture; that's our house. Can't quite make it out? Well, here's a little help.

Since the turret is so high up in the air, Greg wants to make sure working up there is safe. So they've built a scaffold within the room. The studs that support it jut out past the windows and reminds me of a
Viking ship run aground.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2005
They delivered our roof trusses today and
Greg was a happy boy. I took this little gallery of portraits of Greg because it illustrates his intense concentration to this overwhelming undertaking. I for one am in awe of General Taylor.
As always, go to
for much more detail.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2005
I just love it here! This afternoon while we were all working on the house, a young deer walked up from our path in the ravine. Everyone knows what a kick I get out of all this "nature stuff" and so they made sure I could catch a glimpse of her. While she went back down the path from the back of the house, I went to the beginning of the path and stood there for about 15 minutes or so
just watching her while she nibbled on our wild berries. It was just about now that she figured out I was hiding behind the brush - you can see her big ears pointing in my direction at the bottom of the picture camouflaged with the foliage. Once I was spotted, she trotted back into the woods.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2005
We had hoped to begin painting the exterior siding today but unfortunately it rained the night before and looked like it might again. Not good for painting. And since our "roof" - which was actually the floor above - wasn't watertight, we had to abandon plans and go to plan B. Plan B was going to the town of Forks, about an hour or so up Highway 101. We went to check out a family owned lumber mill where we plan to get our exterior trim. It turned out to be a little bit of a vacation in the midst of all our hubbub.

No matter where you have to drive here, the drive is beautiful; and this was no exception. Mountains and forest everywhere.

We went through the little town of Forks and stopped in at the local antique shop, The Silver Bullet. So named because the owner was a fan, and knew, The Long Ranger. Actually he knew the actor who took over for Clayton Moore for dozens of episodes of the television series back in the 50s (as Johnny Carson used to say, "I did not know that!"). Greg found an old tool he was looking for, and I signed an autograph, and then it was back to business.

The McClanahan Lumber Mill was just what Greg was looking for: family owned and beautiful raw lumber to have custom made for our exterior.
This tree lying on a big saw must be about 400 years old. If that's the case, just think how old these two trees are. The equipment to move and process these trees is immense, and dangerous.

Well, the day was relatively young and it turns out the Hoh Rainforest was just down the road and we were longing for a change of pace.

The Hoh Rainforest is covered in mosses, just dripping off of every tree. We decided to go on a short walk on one of their most popular trails, The Hall of Mosses. First we came to
one of several beautiful streams. When we turned around we almost missed seeing this Elk munching just within a few feet of us. We must have stood there for 20 minutes watching her and she could have cared less. Never even acknowledged humans were right there. In fact, at one point she just laid herself down for a rest and I couldn't have been more than 5 feet away.

Then we made our way onto the trail and came to another stream.
This one was magical with great beds of some kind of underwater plant just waving under the water. Around the next bend the stream continued. Years ago some forest giant fell into the stream and became part of the watery landscape. This one was easily 80 feet tall. Later we came across another "blow down" (the term used for trees that fall) which was 160 in length but probably started out at 250 feet. It was so big and so long that it wasn't even worth taking a picture of because it gave you no sense of scale.

What poet said, "I think that I shall never see a poem so lovely as a tree". Well, I just googled it and it was Joyce Kilmer. The Hoh Rainforest is a wonderful example. You simply cannot take an uninteresting picture:
Photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6, photo 7.

Midway on the walk, some old friends made an appearance. I say "old friends" because we found birds just like these Clarke's Nutcrackers when we were hiking on our honeymoon in Lake Louise, Canada. Unfortunately, I didn't have anything to feed them (and, of course, you're not supposed to anyway - but someone must be feeding them because they sure knew what to look for), and this guy kept
peckng at my fingertips thinking they were some kind of nut. It's moments like these I feel just like Snow White.

Well, it was time to head home. On our way back to the car we stopped by to see if Mama Elk was still there. Not only was she still there, she was still laying down resting. Then all of a sudden, she got up and
walked across the stream. As we made our way to the parking lot and the car, the Mama Elk came out of the forest and started to eat her way across the parking lot's grassy center island. Then things really got interesting. I swear, it was just like watching Animal Planet except it was right there in front of us. Mama Elk heard a call in the distance, lifted her head, and called back. Then she began to walk to the far side of the parking lot and just about that time we saw four other Elk, two babies, another mother, and Big Daddy. Mama Elk's baby came running. Evidently, Mama had had just about enough for one day and that's why she had gone off on her own for a little r&r. Now Baby Elk was finally able to get a snack. Then Big Daddy started to charge and we went scattering across the parking lot to take cover behind our car. Big Daddy rounded up his little family and then made a beeline for one of the females - but she wasn't having any. It looked as if the show was over and we headed for home. But not before catching a glimpse of one of my favorite birds, a Great Blue Heron, waiting patiently to catch his dinner.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2005
If you know me, you know that I like a neat clean home. A place for everything, and everything in it's place, and sparkling clean to boot. Well, I have never lived in such squalor! Building this house has just taken any extra energy right out of me and there is practically no energy left over for housekeeping. And making it worse is we are so "busting at the seams" here in the rental house that I literally can't get to things to dust and put away and whatever else I would love to do. Help!!!

Things I Never Thought I'd Ever Do #105,494: Look at me -
I'm spray painting!!!

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
Today was a particularly stressful frustrating day. Adding to the stress was the fact that my car "died" just when I was jumping in to pick up lunch for Greg and help him with a project at . I'm not one who takes unexpected changes easily and so it took me a few minutes to reconstruct my day. Arrrrgggghhh!

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
The big project going on at these days is installing the roof trusses.
Greg's just happy the project continues to move forward.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2005
Wish I were Bud. Here's
how he reacts to all the stress we're dealing with. He sure won the Kitty Kat Lottery when he found us!

SEPTEMBER 27, 2005
Well, it just ain't our year for cars! And here I said that our '88 Jeep and '93 Honda were gonna have to last for years - all our moolah is going toward the house. Best laid plans, right?! So, we lose Greg's Jeep in August. And now.....

September 22 was another busy day - a thousand things to do and no time to do it. Hrumph! I think at the very beginning of this website I put in a quote somewhere that went something like this: I've got nothing to do, and I'm going to be doing it all day. Wellllll, that'll have to wait until after move in and after we're all decorated up. Anyway....so it was another crazy busy day and I timed it to the last second to work at home as long as I could before I shot outta here to drive to and bring Greg lunch and then do some "must do" errands. I jump in the Honda and....well...suffice it to say, I wasn't going anywhere. My "professional" diagnosis was the solenoid/alternator/starter. But, of course, it couldn't be anything as easy (and as relatively inexpensive) as that. Turns out it's the timing belt. Translation: bad news, expensive (could be more than $2K). I ask the repair shop guy, "If I were your daughter, what would you tell me to do?" Answer: get a new car.

By coincidence, one of the guys that works for us told me he was turning in his wife's gas guzzler and that they had extensively researched and test drove just about everything on the market. They decided to go with a Toyota Prius. It's the hybrid car...for the 21st century. It's not like the old electric engines that require plug-in stations. This thing switches from gasoline to electric and charges itself. It's got loads of bells and whistles including a navigation system, side airbags, keyless ignition, power assist brakes, 10 year warrantee, you name it. And very very roomy; surprisingly so. And a huge cargo area when you put down the back seats. Anyway, he tells me the Prius will run for a year on only $400 worth of gas! And with what's happening with gas prices, and us traveling an hour and a half each day up and back from, we decided this was the best decision: the savings should just about pay for the car payment. Sooo, we should get the new car within two months. Which is an improvement because they're so popular there are none to be had "on the floor" and it used to take 6 months to order. Will keep ya posted on this one.

But I had to laugh. When we left the job to go to the show room, we were just covered in "construction dirt" and spray paint. And I was wearing my "uniform": David Letterman baseball cap, T shirt, and cargo pants. We looked just like Clem & Clementine Kadiddlehopper! But that was hardly a blip on their screen.

Meanwhile, I guess is beginning to get a bit of a local reputation - we've actually noticed private aircraft buzzing our house to check it out!

SEPTEMBER 30, 2005
Today was farewell to Matt who's been working with Greg and I on the job. Matt came to the Peninsula with his mom, Sue, and Judie since we told him we had a job waiting. But from the beginning we told him to keep a lookout for permanent employment since we're just a one-time job opportunity. So he got himself a job working for a builder and starts his "new career" on Monday. Good luck Matt!!!

Speaking of Sue. She's the queen of desserts and I just gave her an assignment. One of the few things I miss about Los Angeles is the restaurants. It's about this time of year that Greg and I always went to Off Vine in Hollywood because it's in the Fall they add Pumpkin Soufflé to the menu. If you like pumpkin, it is incredible. So, Sue...don't let me down!

OCTOBER 1, 2005
When we first moved up here, Kathy, my friend from Salem, Oregon sent me an email titled: You might be from the Pacific Northwest if... I thought I'd share a few of them with you:

You might be from the Pacific Northwest if:

You know the state flower (mildew)...
You use the statement "sun break" and know what it means...
You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant...
You stand on the deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "walk" signal...
You know if it doesn't have snow or hasn't recently erupted, it's not a real mountain...
You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and the other 100 brands at the other 10,000 espresso drive thrus...
You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, and Willamette...
In winter you go to work (work!!!! everyone's retired!) in the dark and come home in the dark - while only working 8 hours a day...
You notice the "mountain is out" when it's a pretty day and you can actually see it...
You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep your socks on...
You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps...or tourists...
You knew immediately that the view out of Frazier's window was fake...
You buy new sunglasses every year...because you can't find the old ones...
You measure distance in hours...
You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer/Elk Season (Fall)...

And th-th-th-that's all folks!

OCTOBER 3, 2005
Today was our ninth anniversary.

Nine years ago today
we were in a forest in Banff, Canada reciting our vows with a waterfall for music. I remember wishing with all my heart we could live in a place like that...and I got my wish! We've been together since 1980, so it's a quarter century for us. I'm a lucky gal...he's a keeper!!! Next year, fingers crossed, we'll be all cozy at !

Last year we celebrated our anniversary at the Crescent Lake Lodge. This year I spent the evening alone. Greg had to rush off on Thursday to drive 900 miles to Santa Rosa, California to attend a last minute roofing installation course.
See the September 29 entry at the
link for more.

Even though he drove 1800 miles in five days going up and back to California, he found the energy to pull off the road and capture this intriguing image of a
small forest of trees submerged in a lake.

OCTOBER 5, 2005
Just before we left for the day, I found this
fuzzy fellow hanging around the job. From my earlier Google searches it looks like he's some kind of moth. I know he'll be eating my plants, but boy he's neat looking. The brilliant orange and black are just right for Halloween.

OCTOBER 7, 2005
Yesterday I went on another Native Plant Field Trip to learn about the variety of plants growing wild at . I posted a few pictures at the
link for October 7. It was a rainy day and there were little newts all over the walking paths. They're slow moving little guys so I couldn't help picking a few up to get a closer look. I had seen some of these creatures last year and thought I had correctly identified them as salamanders but our instructor corrected me. Ya learn somethin' every day here. So today while I was running all over the property taking pictures of some specimens of native plants, I discovered an abandoned bird's nest hidden in the trees. I've sent off this picture to bird experts via the internet to see if they can identify which bird nested here...will let you know.

Had to laugh. These two cartoons recently ran in the local paper. Everyone's always talking about
how crazy the real estate market is and about the bubble that's going to burst. And how Californians are moving here buying up everything in sight (but guess who's selling the properties to the Californians...).

OCTOBER 9, 2005
Greg was working all day at while I stayed home and worked. He took this picture of a
Daddy Long Legs. I've heard of several critters called Daddy Long Legs, but this one takes the prize. That's the head of a nail right next to him. This sucker was almost 4" from leg tip to leg tip! Ahhhh wilderness!

OCTOBER 12, 2005
I'm nursing a cold...or is it an allergy? No matter, I stayed home today...to work.

Yesterday, as a bonus to my Natural Landscaping course, we were invited to a local nursery to see native plants in a garden setting. It's an entirely different mindset than my garden in California but I like it. I'm learning a new appreciation of the haphazzard landscaping plan of nature. And because I want to encourage the wildlife, I'm realizing that nature has a purpose even for the ugliest weed, and so I'm going to let nature do it's "thing".

With my newfound knowledge, I've been busy at hunting down some of the native plants I've been learning about. I was happy to see we had lots of
Willows and/or Bitter Cherry trees. At least I think I got these two species right. These two trees are so similar, it's very difficult to tell them apart. So I may have to amend this once I get the county expert out to identify them. One plant I've definitely learned to identify is Huckleberry with its succulent fruit the birds love. And then we have dressed-for-Fall low growing Oregon Grape among the shiny-leafed Salal, and several patches of delicate Fescue, a type of grass. I also discovered the soft and fuzzy-leafed Thimbleberry, Trailing Blackberry, Big Leaf Maple trees that have begun to show their Fall colors, and an abundance of Gooseberry and Salmonberry. Salmonberry got its name because the Indians used to serve it at feasts featuring salmon.

OCTOBER 14, 2005
Just got word from the local Audubon Society that my
abandoned bird's nest is most likely a Robin's.

OCTOBER 19, 2005
Went to run a supply errand for "the job" and while I was waiting in the lumberyard parking lot, a small hawk swooped down on something. Moments later a crow began to mob him. Mobbing is a term for "dive bombing" birds that come into another bird's territory. I tried to walk up on him to get a good shot but
wasn't too successful. I think it's probably a Sharp Shinned, especially since I got a good look at his tail in flight and it was blunt at the end. It's the Cooper's Hawk that looks some similar but its tail is rounded.

OCTOBER 26, 2005
With that cold or bad allergy I caught, I didn't feel like doing much the past two weeks. But now that I'm feelin' my oats again I've been making up for lost time gardening. Now let me explain here: I have NO INTENTION of becoming a slave to a garden like I did in California. That said, there is a certain amount of "grooming" that I'd like to do while definitely keeping the grounds "au naturel". I'm deathly afraid of spiders...but when I get into "pruning" mode something comes over me and I just forge ahead (provided I don't see a spider on me!). Otherwise I'm whooping and yelping and jumping all over the place. At least lately, no spiders. But a few weeks back when I was in the bushes, hours later a spider parachuted down from my hair. Gawd!

OCTOBER 28, 2005
Our neighbors on a nearby mountaintop happen to be the people involved with creating our development. John is an avid flyer and has his own helicopter and frequently buzzes overhead on his jaunts. Last Saturday he flew over to take a peek at our progress. So I sent he and his wife a little invite to come for a walk through at . Unfortunately, his wife Linda couldn't make it but we gave John the royal tour including the turret. And that took a bit of work. Since the roofing installation has begun, getting to the turret requires walking out onto the roof (which is very steep and slippery) and climbing in through one of the windows (which practically requires the agility of a ballerina). But we had a great time. While we were all looking out at the magnificent view, John started talking of Cuban cigars and told Greg he'd bring them over once the turret is finished. One day in the future John and Greg will be smoking those Cuban cigars while gazing out at the Olympics and the Ocean in the comfort of Greg's hideaway tower.

OCTOBER 30, 2005
Please, someone stop me!!!!

Never say never. Property taxes have gotten so out of hand here that we're forming a group to try and tackle the problem. We're organizing a meeting with some county officers and inviting the public to see if we can get some sort of Prop 13 going. There have been so many letters to the editor of our local paper with people complaining and fearful of losing their retirement homes, I began cutting them out. Here's a "small town" for ya: almost everyone's phone number was listed in the phonebook! So I gave them a call to invite them to attend.

OCTOBER 31, 2005
How fitting for Halloween...
a ghostlike mushroom. It's that mushroom/fungi time of year again and they seem to pop up overnight.

NOVEMBER 5, 2005
For Californians, the weather here would spell w-i-n-t-e-r. But here in the Olympics, it's just early Fall.

It's been raining of late and since there's nothing I can really do at , I've been staying home this past week.

While I've been
cuddling with our little boy, Greg was able to watch the snow build up on the mountains outside our kitchen. Hopefully, next year this time, we'll be sipping our morning coffee and looking out on this.

Maybe it's better I wasn't around too much lately, judging from these pix of Greg. Here, he's up on the turret roof and the
wind is whipping by. OY! I swear, he's a monkey, working while hanging out of a second-story window.

NOVEMBER 11, 2005
It's snowing in the mountains! Really snowing. Down at our level, it's cold and rainy, but just look at this
view of Blue Mountain covered in snowdust! No matter that the weather is cold and gray, not every bird migrates. While at I heard an unusual birdcall. At first I thought it was the Stellar's Jay which seems to have an entire repertoire of calls. But then I realized it was a flicker, related to the woodpecker. Here he's perched at the top of the Cedar tree in the middle of the frame. When he took off, he flew right overhead and revealed beautiful iridescent orange feathers under his wings.

NOVEMBER 15, 2005
Every time we "drive down the hill", we go by that pasture and look for our little Bambi friend who hangs out there. Today I was able to get a
great shot of Bambi surrounded by all her pasture pals; the two horses, the two cows, and even a crow. And everyone has on their winter coats.

NOVEMBER 16, 2005
FILE THIS UNDER NEVER SAY NEVER!


As I wrote on October 30, I guess I just can't help myself when it comes to jumping on the community activist bandwagon - especially if no one else is coming up to the plate when it concerns such an important issue that could directly affect our future here: Property Taxes! Washington has nothing like Proposition 13 in place. This area's real estate values are skyrocketing. Which is a good thing if you're planning on selling and reaping the benefits. But the majority of people here, like ourselves, plan to live out the rest of their lives in their current home. So when property values escalate, it puts those with a fixed income in jeopardy of losing their homes. Which is why a friend of mine, Jill, and I decided to call a town meeting. The following local newspaper articles will give you all the details.

********

The Sequim Gazette
Rising taxes spur community concern
By Leif Nesheim - Date: 2005-11-16 11:00:53


Fed up with skyrocketing tax bills, nearly 200 Sequim-area residents crammed into the Pioneer Park clubhouse to learn how the law can be changed to provide tax relief. Many advocated something similar to California's Proposition 13.

I don't care really what (the tax rate) is per thousand. I want some predictability in how much I'm writing my check for, said Shelley Taylor, one of the people who organized the Nov. 14 meeting.
Taylor and co-organizer Jill Willauer invited Clallam County Administrator Dan Engelbertson, the current and newly-elected Clallam County assessors Mike Hopf and Pam Rushton and Jefferson County Assessor Jack Westerman to discuss existing tax law and how to change it.
"If you're going to change the law you need to understand what's happening now," Engelbertson said.

State law limits property tax increases to 1 percent countywide overall, Engelbertson explained. Because the law also requires the assessor to value property at its fair market value - the amount it would sell for if placed on the market - areas like Sequim shoulder a larger percentage of the tax levied, he said.

"It redistributes who pays the taxes, it does not generate one nickel of new taxes (beyond the 1-percent increase)," Engelbertson said.

The amount paid per thousand dollars of property value goes down every time property values increase but the dollar amount people whose property is worth more goes up, he said. In areas of the county where property values stay the same or increase marginally, taxes go down, he said.
"You're paying more, Forks is paying less," Engelbertson said.
The other big increase in the tax bill sent to property owners is voter-approved tax levies, such as the nearly $1.9 million Fire District No. 3 maintenance and operations levy increase approved by voters last year.

"When your valuation goes up your tax rate goes down," said Mike Nicholson of Carlsborg. "The reason your tax goes up is because you vote for all these levy increases."

Making change
The only way to change the law is to change the state constitution. The constitution's uniformity clause requires properties of equal value to be valued equally for taxation purposes, Westerman said.

That means the law would have to change to adopt a law like California's Proposition 13.
In 1978, California voters enacted Proposition 13 by a vote of 65 percent to 35 percent. The measure reduced local property tax money collected by about $6.1 billion, about 53 percent, overnight by rolling back property tax values to the 1975-76 level. Growth was capped at 2 percent and allowed reassessment only when property changed owners. It also required state tax increases to receive a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature and imposed restrictions on local tax districts.

Because the law would limit the amount property values could be raised by a set percentage, the effect would be neighboring properties of equal value would be taxed differently based on when they were sold, Westerman said.

As long as the proposal doesn't roll back assessments to some date in the past local school districts and other taxing districts won't lose any money, he said. The advantage to property owners is that there is much greater predictability from year to year what the tax bill will be, he said.

"To get a Proposition 13 you have to amend the constitution," Westerman said. "An initiative does not amend the constitution."

To change the constitution, a proposed amendment must pass four steps: state legislators must draft a bill, it must pass by a two-thirds majority in the state House of Representatives and state Senate, be signed by the governor and pass a public vote.
"If you're going to do this, that's the process," Westerman said. "I really think you can pull this off."

He noted politicians up for election have incentive to support a popular tax reform measure and that people statewide are interested in controlling property tax.

Westerman added that if people are serious about getting legislation passed, there are ways of making it more palatable to the various interest groups.

Many suggested having the assessments on property rolled back to the original purchase price, whether the homeowner bought the land in 2003, 1973 or earlier.

Dave Munro of Sequim said his property taxes have tripled to $6,000 in just a few years.
"That's outrageous," he said. "It needs to be rolled back."

Others agreed.

"If we allow this to become a 2007 (assessment), we're all screwed," said Isabelle Dunlop of Sequim to a chorus agreement.

"If you try that one you have a huge uphill battle," Westerman said. The effect would be to drastically cut the money available for all sorts of tax-funded services, he said. Picking a set date in the past would be unfair to someone who got assessed just prior to the chosen date, he said.
"Some places would be trapped with higher valuations," he said. Furthermore, rolling back the date would cripple fire districts and other local taxing districts, he said. That would increase opposition to the measure and decrease its chances of success, he said.

"You're not going to get anything if we don't have give and take," Taylor added.

The last time the constitution was amended for a property tax change was twice in the early 1970s when an exemption for low-income senior citizens and an exemption for farmland and open spaces were added. Property owners 65 or older who earn less than $35,000 a year qualify for the exemption that freezes their property tax; owners of farmland and certain other open spaces pay taxes based on current use value rather than the value of land if it were sold.

Senior citizen lobbyists oppose expanding the low-income exemption to all seniors regardless of income because then even billionaires and all their land would be protected from tax increases, making everyone else shoulder the burden, Westerman said. "It's not just a senior issue," noted one man in the back of the room.

Some suggested starting locally by changing the way local assessments are conducted by having assessments every four years like in Jefferson County rather than every year like Clallam County.
Assessor-elect Rushton said the problem with that would be property owners would be hit with one massive tax increase every four years rather than having it spread out over several years with annual reassessments.

Every year a computer-based statistical analysis re-computes the value of property, she said. Every six years, county assessors do an on-site inspection like ones done in Sequim last year and in some surrounding areas this year.

"Your market went crazy," Westerman said. "If you were on a longer cycle the tax burden shift would be even more dramatic."
--by Leif Nesheim
Gazette staff writer
Published 11.16.05
Copyright © 2005 Olympic View Publishing. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed for any commercial purpose without permission of the Sequim Gazette.

********

Grass-roots group seeks predictability in property taxes
By Alan Choate
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM ó People packed the Pioneer Park meeting room to overflowing Monday night to discuss changes to the stateís property tax system and arrived at a possible, though daunting, approach ó amending the state constitution to limit the annual growth in property assessments.

That approach would avoid slashing the current budgets of taxing districts while providing stability for property owners worried about sudden, skyrocketing property values, said local resident Shelley Taylor, who helped organize the meeting, and Jefferson County assessor Jack Westerman.

Amending the state constitution isnít easy, however.

It requires approval by a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state Legislature and the governorís signature, and then it must pass a popular vote.

Nothing formal has been proposed.

The emerging group doesnít even have an official name yet, although "Property Owners for Tax Predictability" is being considered, said Taylor.

Predictability sought
Indeed, "predictability" is the mantra being uttered.

"We donít have predictability to figure out what our life is going to be like . . . with the valuations changing every year," Taylor said.

In Washington, each county assessorís office examines property for reassessment at regular intervals, and in interim years performs a statistical adjustment so that the assessment keeps up with market values.

Property must be assessed at fair market value, according to state law.

Thatís led to some shockingly high reassessments in areas such as Sequim, where development and demand for housing have pushed prices steadily upward over the last few years.

Assessments are part of the equation determining property taxes, and higher assessments make it difficult for people who purchased property that is suddenly valued at far more than they ever bargained for, said Taylor.

Talk to legislators
The next step is talking to legislators to see if thereís any support for this kind of proposal.

"How thatís going to progress, I donít know," said Taylor.

"Itís a big battle, but somethingís got to be done. It only seems fair for fixed-income people not to worry about whether they have a home."

Westerman said the idea is "doable" as long as the proposal doesnít take money away from existing public budgets.

As he described it, the amendment would limit the growth of individual assessments, perhaps to 1 percent or 2 percent a year, unless a property is sold.

New construction would continue to be assessed at market value.

"If you do it the way Iím talking about, no district will lose any money from what theyíre getting now," he said.

"Those properties that didnít sell, their taxes are going to be much more predictable.

"It will be predictable for the buyer as well, because heíll be able to predict into the future."

Valuation rollback?
There was some sentiment at the meeting for going further, such as voting on a valuation rollback to a time before property values started escalating.

Such an effort could make an already difficult task even harder because the rollback would end up slashing revenues for schools, fire districts and other important entities.

"The problem with rolling back the assessment ó then you really start impacting districts," said Westerman.

"Youíve got some people who are winners and some people who are losing."

"Thereís people who want things rolled back," Taylor said.

"Weíd love that, but we also want to get something passed."

********


I'll let you know how this goes. Currently, a local assessor and myself are trying to pin down the local reps for a meeting....

Meanwhile, my instructor, Joe, from the native plants class came to do a site visit at . Not only is he my instructor, but he works for the county Conservation District and one of the services they provide are site visits. It's part of an effort to get people to use more native plants and natural landscaping. I was like a kid in a candy store, dragging him all over the property and pointing and asking, "What's this, and this, and this???"

He was very impressed with the diversity of native flora we have here. In fact, just yesterday I went to the edges of the property and spied a pine tree. Although native, I had never seen one anywhere in our "neighborhood". Joe identified it as a
Western White Pine. In the plants, shrubs, and weeds category, we have: Bald Hip Rose, Bedstraw, Trailing Blackberry, Black Cap Black Raspberry, Brome, Bull Thistle which is related to the Artichoke, Oceanspray, Pearly Everlasting, Star Flower, Twin Flower, and Wild Currant. And in the tree category: Cherry, Cottonwood, Big Leaf Maple, and Willow. Cottonwood is very common, but so far we've only found one on our property. And the Big Leaf Maple is common also, but we have only a few. So I encourage whatever sapling I might come across. There are other wild plants or weeds such as Alfalfa, Doc, Juncas or Common Rush that are on nearby lots. There's just no telling where the wind will blow seeds. Most of these plants are benign and serve some kind of purpose. They either amend the soil or attract or shelter wildlife. But mixed in are the occasional "noxious" weed, like Canadian Thistle, which looks very much like the Bull Thistle but will push out desirable plants. With a good pair of gloves, I've been yanking out the bad thistles wherever I can.

Although many of these plants can be considered "weeds", it doesn't mean they don't produce pretty flowers. We're heading into winter and all plants are going dormant now. Even though they're rather sad looking, like this
Oceanspray, it still provides seeds for wintering birds. I'll have to revisit them and get some pix of these same plants in full regalia in the Spring. You really get seasons here, unlike in California, and the landscape is constantly changing, day by day.

There are only a few plants I'll be adding to the natural landscape. At the top of the list are irises and daffodils. This
doesn't look like much now, likewise this area above our retaining wall and near our "to be" pond, but hopefully in Spring it will be ablaze in yellow!

NOVEMBER 24, 2005
It's Thanksgiving! And we were invited to Judie and Sue's for a Thanksgiving Dinner that would have had Martha drooling. Sue loves to put together these incredible and labor-intensive meals, and this was a standout! There were roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, spiced yams served in bowls made of orange peel, stuffing, salad (that was our contribution), and, of course, turkey which was incredibly moist. I'm ashamed to say I ate until I was full to bursting...but it was so worth it. And we even scored leftovers. I know what we'll be having for dinner tomorrow night!

NOVEMBER 26, 2005
We have succeeded in getting the house "buttoned up" meaning the windows are in and the roof underlayment has been installed so that we'll be fairly dry inside for the winter. That means we can start the plumbing and electrical. Greg is constantly busy - no time for down time. He's been working on the
template for our front door (that's the big piece of plywood that's shaped like a church window) so that our contractor can start applying the stone around it. But still, there are a thousand and one more things to do.

NOVEMBER 27, 2005
So here we are
on the front steps at . Notoriously, any kind of nest feathering (new construction or remodeling) is extremely hard on relationships. Greg and I are hanging in there very well. I guess it helps when you both understand the stresses of such an undertaking.

File this in "if my friends could see me now" department. In order to build this house, not only Greg but I too must roll my sleeves up. So today, I climbed a 20 foot ladder up into the turret which is essentially our third floor. Fall is definitely here; in fact it's supposed to snow any day now. It's cold. And I'm up in the air 47 feet handing Greg the nail gun
while he works on the roof. I'm the one holding the camera!

Standing up there with him, knowing somehow he hauled up, by himself, huge sheets of plywood and 100 lb tools, and built an exterior scaffold 47 feet in the air, I literally burst into tears. It is almost incomprehensible the scope of this project Greg has taken on. Thank you, Greg. You are my hero!

NOVEMBER 30, 2005
Constitutional Amendment Update: we have really lucked out finding a local assessor, Jack Westerman, to help our cause. With his guidance, we have already met with one state legislator, Rep. Jim Buck, and he gets it! It seems we may be on the "fast track" to getting this document created in time to bring to the legislative session next month. If that's the case, we hope to get it on the 2006 ballot. When it comes to property taxes, Washington's constitution hasn't been amended since the mid 1970s. It's time!

As for the house, we're now into freezing temperatures - at least at night. Which means we probably won't be installing stone any time soon: it's too cold for cement to cure. Now it looks like we can't start that project until Spring.

DECEMBER 3, 2005
IT'S SNOWING!

Every time I see snow, I'm a child again. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. My mantra: everything looks better with a coat of glistening white!

It began to snow on Thursday, but it really went wild today. I can tell we're going to get much more of a winter than last year. Nothing so far has put damper on that except it is affecting the progress at . I finally got someone to help me with some yard work and then the flakes began to appear. (Warning: you're gonna get bored with all these snow pix but I just can't help it!!) I had raked the yard debris into piles but it all became an exercise in frustration. As the snow fell, the piles were buried. Still, I couldn't help running around and capturing the snow as it
began to fall; on the trees in the meadow, on the paths, and on the house.

Meanwhile,
Greg and Mike marched on with their work on the turret - 40+ feet in the air.

On his way up the road this morning, Greg found our little Bambi,
huddled between his horse buds tryin' to keep warm. And then the scenic show began, from the moment he turned off the main road, to the meadow where (hopefully) my daffodils and iris will bloom in the spring, to the woods and where the pond will one day be, and to the most breathtaking of all, the view we'll see when were cozied up in the turret, sipping on hot cocoa with our Bud in our laps.

DECEMBER 11, 2005
Shelley Taylor
goes to Washington - literally.

Well, I've really done it now! And although I can tell you what's likely to be ahead for me, I don't think it's actually sunk in. But it should by tomorrow because that's when the fit hits the shan, so to speak.

Our group's bill for a constitutional amendment to limit property assessments is being officially submitted tomorrow. There have been local newspaper and radio interviews and articles. We have contacted the Associated Press. Mass mailings have been sent to members of political parties. Our website has been launched, www.predictabletax.com. And I'm about to do a mass emailing to all the Senators and House Representatives later today. I've been told that the next couple of months will be filled with traveling statewide to speak with editorial boards, make protests on the capitol steps, do television interviews...and the list goes on. And, the capper was receiving an email from the Representative who is submitting our bill, and is of course a seasoned politician that....and I quote: "You are about to be famous again."

What have I wrought!?

DECEMBER 12, 2005
Another day where I've stayed home to catch up and Greg works on his own at . How he does these things all by himself just amazes me, but
here he is, 47 feet in the air, working on the lightning protection for our new weathervane. (He put his camera on a timer.) From the street, the moonvane looks like a toothpick atop a huge play fort. But it was a beautiful day there and Greg caught one of those incredible rainbows to bring home. Last week he captured an otherworldly pink sky over Klahane Ridge.

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