Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Easy Bake

The past few days have been HOT in Tehachapi. Normally I wouldn’t mind heat, since I grew up in a place where 100+ degrees in the summer was relatively normal. However, I never fully appreciated the value of air conditioning on such days; that’s right, here in our little homestead we have no A/C.  Thank goodness for the beautiful old oak that shades our roof, because without that I think the house would feel more like an easy-bake oven!

That being said, it’s still much more comfortable than our little apartment in Playa was during the warm season. We get a really nice cross breeze through the house, and can leave the windows open at night without fear of burglary or loud parties interrupting our sleep. In Playa, the house had absolutely no ventilation, so it was always hot and stuffy even when the temperature outside topped 80 degrees. Here, there’s definitely more relief, even if it’s hotter.

Rob and I have been busily getting ready for the arrival of his parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law on Saturday. The house is slowly taking on the guise of relative calm, and I am finding homes for all of the piles of “I’ll-think-about-it-later”s. Rob has really done a great job of getting the outside of our property ready. Because of all the spring moisture, we had some huge growth spurts for grasses and weeds around the property. Mustard weeds could have formed a jungle. Thank goodness for our riding mower and cooler mornings, or we’d never be able to tackle it all. As it is, we’ve had to spread many of these chores out over weeks and weeks.

My mom is also coming up today to spend the night and help me do some last minute preparations. I always look forward to our “girl time” together. As I get older, I appreciate her presence and advice in ways that, in my youth, I had  just taken for granted. She’s a fine woman, my mom.

That’s about it on the homestead. Oh, we’ve had our first few encounters with rattlesnakes here. Rob killed an adult right near our chicken coop, and saw an adolescent in the one patch of high grass we haven’t gotten to yet. Luckily these guys send out a clear warning before you get too close, but boy is it frightening! The scariest moment was when Sugar stumbled across the coiled adult near the coop. Thank goodness she came when we called. Yikes.

Finished!

We finally got the garden boxes finished. We dug the 6′ x 6′ holes, stapled gopher wire to the bottom of the boxes, and filled them back in with a combination of amended soil: 50% of our own soil (which tends toward clay soil), 25% green  manure, and 25% bumper crop compost. It was a lot of work, but now our garden plot is ready for the coming day when we can plant our seeds.  Now all of our boxes look like the box on the left side of the picture below:

The only real work left, other than actually planting the seeds (some of which we have started indoors already), is to lay down some gravel on the path and to paint the fence. Oh, I forgot: Sugar definitely helped too:

Unfortunately we probably won’t get much more work done this week. I’m starting my Spring Quarter tomorrow, so I’ll be commuting 2 hours each way to get to my classes. Then, on Wednesday, our 70 degree weather is supposed to turn around and change to snow. Yikes.

Small Tastes and Good Fences

Our weekend was filled with various guests–friends and family, young and old alike. We were blessed to open our home to people from all corners of our lives. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for this place…it was as we had always hoped, even when it was simply a dream of ours: a place of sanctuary, of peace, of warmth and love. It certainly isn’t of our own doing that we have this place (God has been the mapmaker of this plan), but we are going to do the best we can to do it justice.

We’ve had a nice dose of warm weather over the past few weeks.  As a result, we’re getting the first taste of Spring here in Tehachapi.

It’s like the little trumpets are heralding an end to the cold–soon enough, soon enough. I can’t wait for the land to errupt in what everyone has assured me is a dizzying array of flowers, the best of which is a ring of lilacs within our driveway circle.  Our oak trees will become full, and green grass will poke its head through the (temporarily) soft earth. We’ll find out if our fruit trees and grape vines have survived the years previous to us taking stewardship; unfortunately, we’ve been told, they didn’t get enough water or pruning or pest protection. But I have hope.

Finally, we’ve made a lot of progress on our little garden plot. The trenches were dug all the way around, and gopher wire was put about a foot down. Once we filled in the earth around the gopher wire, we began to construct our fence. We’re almost done; all we need to do is construct a gate for each remaining side and finish it off.

Hope everyone has a beautiful, gratitude-filled week.

PS…I’d like to share an inspiring blog that I found earlier this morning. Before Fall of 2008, it was a simply a woman’s joyful musings on motherhood and her life in general. But following a plane crash in which she and her husband barely survived, it has become an inspirational testament of her courage. She embraces every day with a courage that I could only hope to have, and gives me pause when I consider the “stresses” of my daily life.  I encourage you to check it out: http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com

Progress and rainy days

It’s a rainy day here at the homestead. We’ve had a wonderful week–during the day I’ve been working on the house and the land, and in the evenings we’ve been spending a lot of time with new friends.

For a surprise, I cleaned out the garage for Rob and laid out his tools so he can put them in order. Our garage had exploded into a mess of wood bits, sawdust, grout, paint, half-filled water buckets, and trash from our week of bathroom construction, and I knew that the mess was weighing on him. So I took a sunny afternon and cleared the trash (5 construction trash bags full!) up to the barn, swept, and put things in order.  After all…he works so hard to make this dream happen. I want to make his time here at home as calm and enjoyable as possible, because I truly appreciate that sacrifice. He’s quite a man, my husband.

I’ve also got almost 3 sides of our “gopher fort” dug, chicken-wired, and filled. I had to call off the digging today because the rains have settled in for a couple of days. But once they’ve passed through and softened up the earth even more, I’ll be back at it.

Speaking of our garden, our fencing arrived this week. Which means after the underground gate is in, we’ll be digging post-holes and setting up our cedar fencing. I’m excited about that. We also spent a lot of time looking through an organic heritage seed catalog and picking out our seeds. I’ll be ordering them in the next few days, although they’ll arrive throughout the year (some seeds and some seedlings) depending on what type of veggie it is.

Another exciting event of the week: the former owner of this house was watching his friends’ chickens while they were on vacation, and pulled me along for the ride. I got to meet 8 pretty laying hens, and we plucked four eggs from the roost. He let us keep them, and we were eating honest-to-goodness farm fresh eggs the next morning. I can’t wait until we have our own, but we have a lot of work to do on the coop and the fencing before we get there.

Our beehive equipment also arrived! We’ll be spending some time this raining weekend assembling it all. All the books I’ve been reading say that it’s a good idea to get everything assembled and ready a few months ahead of time–that way, when the bees arrive, all you have to worry about it getting them settled in. Since our bees are set to arrive April 16th, I think we’re right on schedule.

Our evenings were spent at the houses of our new friends. It’s been quite a blessing to have only been in town 8 weeks and already have people with whom we enjoy spending our time.  I’m also beginning to appreciate the gift of knowing people that are different–different beliefs, different lifestyles, different values, different hobbies. Many of my friends from college and grad school were people who were strikingly similar in our core belief systems and interests. I’m not sure if that was just dumb luck or if being involved so closely with LMU Campus Ministry shaped it, but there is was. This was a blessing to me at the time, because it helped me to become more comfortable with my newfound place in the church, in my faith journey, and in my own self-confidence as an increasingly independent woman. But now I find myself appreciating that I can share my life (and faith and values) with people who don’t necessarily share them in the same way. I can appreciate where they come from and why they see the world a certain way. Being in seminary really  began that part of my journey, and living in Tehachapi is continuing it.

Finally, the big news on the homestead: we’re hoping to trade in one of our cars this weekend for a truck (well, kind of a truck). We’ve been looking at different trucks and have our eye on a Ford Expedition that is in our price range. It has the power and (hopefully) the room of a truck, so it can haul a small animal trailer or have a few hay bales stuck in the back. At the same time, it has plenty of room for what we hope to be an expanding family. So we’ll see how it all turns out. If we like the test drive and like what they offer us for the car, we’ll have a dependable four-wheel drive for our next snowstorm.

No Longer Storybook Lore

When I was growing up, we’d learn about the seasons in school. I’d read books about the changes that come with each season, and I remember the pictures: Winter brought snow, spring brought flowers, summer brought green and heat, and in fall all of the leaves dropped from the trees.  Sure, I’d always think. That sounds nice. But it doesn’t actually happen.

And in the suburbs of Los Angeles, it didn’t happen. Well, at least not to any real extent. Certainly there was no snow. Spring did bring more blooms than usual, but because they never really left the scene, it was only slightly noticeable to a child. Summer was certainly hot, so I noticed that difference. But one of the most striking differences that I’ve noticed since moving to Tehachapi is the barren winter trees.

I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I can’t describe why it’s so beautiful to me. Perhaps its because of the rustling sound the branches make as the wind pushes its fingers through them. Perhaps its because it means there won’t be any more leaves to rake up. But I think it’s actually because of the beautiful, joyous potential. I know that the leaves will return in the spring. The resurrection awaits.

I’m so grateful for this changing of the seasons, this palpable rhythm of the earth. I am so grateful that I can stand as a witness to this change, and that it is a living testament of life’s promise right outside our door. I am so grateful for the nakedness of those branches, and for the knowledge that they will be full once again in only a quarter year’s time. I’m so grateful.

Baptism By Snow

Our internet was finally hooked up yesterday before the big snowstorm hit, which means I will be able to post more regularly as we settle into our new homestead. I had thought that it had really snowed the morning of the move in…boy was I wrong! I had nothing to compare it to–until yesterday. Man, oh man.

The weather was stormy but fairly mild, all things considered, until about 2:45 pm. And then it hit. And a half hour later, with no signs of letting up, I couldn’t even see our driveway anymore. All I could see was white, white, white.

The temperature when we woke up this morning was a balmy 21 degrees. I realize that for some, this is mild, but for a Los Angeles gal, I’ve rarely seen it dip below 40 in any place I’ve lived. And over the past 11 years, when I’ve lived near the beach, it wouldn’t even dip below 50 very often. So 21 is cold. But I have a little confession to make.

I loved every minute of it.

It was as if I was privy to a secret that this house held. The beauty of the land is ever-changing. The view from our house as the sun rose was something for which no house-hunting venture could have ever prepared me. Wow. 

And this is our home now. Our home.

I looked out the kitchen window this morning and saw a blanket of white softly covering our neighbors’ farms and ranches. As I looked at the trees, I thought of the spray-painted white Christmas trees sold on tree lots and realized how short they came of the real deal. Thick icicles hung from our rooftop. I walked out to get a few pictures, and the snow came up to my shins. It was amazing.

We Made It!

Move in day was last Friday. Well, technically, I suppose it turned out only to be move out day. At 7am, we picked up the truck, only to realize it was too small. I don’t know who from the UHaul website decided that a 3 bedroom house could fit into a 17′ truck, but it definitely wasn’t the case with us! We had thought that we had been doing well to simplify, but this was a wake up call. Things hiding in corners and closets…where did all the stuff come from? Regardless, it wasn’t fitting into the 17′ truck, and that was that.

With no larger trucks available, we ended up renting a second truck, the smallest available. Rob drove up the 17′ truck and my dad drove the smaller. Our loading crew consisted of me, Rob, my mom, my dad, and my brother. We had quite a bit to load:

Despite tireless work from our brave loading crew, we didn’t get done until around 4pm (I had hoped to be on the road by noon). The trucks had to drive up a bit slower because of high winds in the Antelope Valley, so I went ahead to turn on the heat and get the cats settled. The trucks pulled into the driveway at around 7pm, as a light drizzle began to fall from the sky. Although I was cold and exhausted, I was filled with joy as I waved to the caravan as they pulled into the driveway. We were home.

We knew we couldn’t start unpacking that late; it was dark, we were exhausted, and we absolutely needed food. So we backed the trucks into the driveway so they would be ready to go the next morning, and then went to enjoy the best pizza I had ever tasted. I’m not sure if the pizza was actually amazingly good, but I had probably burned 4,000 calories that day and was ready to eat anything!

Rob and I had reserved a hotel room for my parents at the Holiday Inn, and we decided to see if there were any extra rooms available. Luckily, there was a room right across the hall from them, and we settled in for our first night in Tehachapi (the cats stayed at the house–lucky guys!). Rob and I slept restlessly; I think we just wanted to be home! We woke up around 5am, showered and dressed, and went down to the lobby room for some morning coffee.

As the sun rose, we looked out the window to miserable weather. The wind was howling and the rain was pounding (did I mention the sign on the trucks that said they were water resistant but not water proof?). We decided to head to the house to check up on the cats. We’d meet with my parents in a few hours for breakfast.

As we got closer to the house, the landscape changed. The rain turned to snow. The wind calmed. The silence grew. All thoughts of anxiety left us as we drove down our rural country road…no anxiety could be sustained in such beauty.

A few pictures from our driveway:

And of the truck!:

The cats enjoyed the weather, too:

At around 9am, my family met us at a local restaurant and we had a hot breakfast while the snow came down outside. Lcukily, by 10am storm seemed to have passed, and by 10:30 we were unloaded the truck in dry–albeit cold–weather.

By 6pm, everything was unloaded and most of the kitchen boxes were unpacked. The bed was assembled and we had enough clothes unpacked to last us a day or two. We had made it–we were home.

I am so grateful to my parents and brother–without them, we’d never had been able to do it (especially moving the piano). I am so grateful to my husband–he was so patient and worked tirelessly. I know he must have felt some anxiety about starting a new job the following Monday, but no anxiety came through during the whole move. He was incredible. And I’m so grateful to God–for this opportunity, for this dream, for all the memories that are to be made here. There are more stories of affirmation that have happened this week, but for now, I’ll end the tale.

But, in truth, it’s just the beginning.