Two new oil paintings - just finished and still Wet! Unoriginal title of 'Cabin by the Lake'  

Posted by Lietta Ruger in ,

After a too long time away from my paints, brushes, and the messy operation that is oil painting, yesterday I completed two paintings! The paintings I've accomplished grow fewer and fewer over the years since 2006. Lots of reasons why, but I hope this change in momentum means 'I'm Back'!

I sought out the old painting clothes and found I've outgrown them (that means I weigh more now than I did when last I wore them). Time to set aside another set of painting attire, in larger size.

Painted this scene in 16 x 20 size. And then painted the scene again in 11 x 14 size, although it has variables from the larger size, making both 'originals'.
I took photo of the larger size and the paint is still Wet!

The house just doesn't have much accommodation room for paintings to dry. There is the cat who can jump up anywhere, so the paintings need to be in a room with a door that closes. And as I looked around the house, I see we don't have many 'roooms' that have doors that close. Then there is the odor of oil painting that can permeate the air. If I'm going to paint frequently, I need to figure out the logistics for these challenges.

So we put the Wet Painting on top of a wardrobe (a place the cat has not yet figured out how to climb) and I snapped a few photos ... not very good photos due to the angle of looking up at the painting, and the paint is still ..... well Wet!



Holiday Gatherings are Gaily Wrapped Gifts  

Posted by Lietta Ruger in

Lovely holiday luncheon yesterday.  Dear Lady put on a sit-down holiday luncheon for about 20 women in our community.  If  it had been 1950, the luncheon might have looked like women wearing shirt-dresses with petticoats to make them flounce, hats and gloves, and a fashionable purse.   But it isn’t 1950, and that is not what the women looked like at our luncheon yesterday.  Although, our dear hostess, bless her heart, had a gift for each of us at the close of the luncheon --- individual hand-sewn aprons that she had been making since the previous summer.  She made them specifically to gift to each of us at her holiday luncheon.


I would share photos, but I haven’t obtained permissions from the women, so in respect for their privacy, if I have photos that don’t reveal faces, I’ll post those later. 


I’m just tickled with the holiday festivities this year right here within our small little village.  Open house party, holiday luncheon, church potluck, Women’s Club potluck coming up next week, annual Christmas play put on by the children, Open house party on New Year’s Eve, chili dinner – bring breads later in January.  Perhaps these gatherings have been the norm here for several years, but I’m just entering into all the festive fun this year, so it’s all new to me.  And as such, it’s like opening a lot of gaily wrapped presents, different in form and shape.

Survived the hurricane-force winds; Pacific Northwest storm, December 2007  

Posted by Lietta Ruger in , , , , , , ,

Pacific Northwest Storm of the Decade, Dec 2007. Declared disaster area in Southwest Washington, Washington coast and Northern Oregon coast. We live in Bay Center, WA, Pacific County, and had hurricane strength winds for 2 days - 119 mph with gusts of 145 mph. Photo slideshow below.

Can read more at my account of our experience in Pacific County at Washblog story. Also at my blog 'Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay' and the special page I made at the blog 'Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007'

Doing Something Positive - The Urban Pioneers are doing it, so can we!  

Posted by Lietta Ruger in , , , ,

Excellent video encapsulating wide array of concepts in Sustainable Living. These Urban Pioneers got a jumpstart back when it was called self-sufficiency- meaningful living, abundant living, simplistic living, getting off the grid. And they go even further back ... see the video below. Big hat tip to Path To Freedom Journal blog.

from the Path to Freedom Journal blog 'about us'
On 1/5th of an acre, this family has over 350 varieties of edible and useful plants. The homestead's productive 1/10 acre organic garden now grows over 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of organic produce annually,providing fresh vegetables and fruit for the family’s vegetarian diet along with a viable income.

In addition they have chickens, ducks, goats, brew their own biodiesel (made from waste (free!) vegetable oil) to fuel their car, compost with worms, solar panels provide their electricity needs, a sun and earthen oven is used to cook food in.

Spring Time Tulips  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

First year for the tulips in my yard that I planted last Fall. I'm so pleased!

I have to toss in a photo of the Money Tree plants growing at the side of the house. I mention, because I planted the seeds last spring and they grew all winter and really sprouted flowers by early spring this year. I'm astonished since I planted seeds, didn't see harvest and thought it was a lost cause. Apparantly not! I was also astonished to still be pulling up turnips in December in my garden. I say astonished because I'm not a knowledgeable gardener and so I'm thrilled when anything I plant works - in other words, lives, flourishes and yields produce, flowers or just lives at all.

When we took our recent trip from our digs on the shoreline edge of Western WA to Eastern WA, we didn't get very far East when we encountered these tulip fields belonging to a Nursery in Mossypoint. These give Mount Vernon in Skagit County a bit of a run for the money. Mount Vernon is known for the amazing daffodil and tulip fields the farmers grow there and in approximately April every year people travel to Skagit County to see the daffodil and tulip displays.

Spring time - reshaping the front entrance yard area  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

We figured it out! The front area of our front yard (entrance to the house) that has been elevated and rocked with bricks laid for pathway, concrete poured for a patio and three concrete steps to walk up to the elevated 'gardens'. Nice idea, but makes no sense to the lay of the land and we have been trying to figure out if PO intended it to be decorative or why it was installed the way it was.

Work in progress as Sweetie has dug out the 'elevated' bed (translated to big pile of dirt, lined by boulders, overgrown with ivy and other assorted unasked for and undesireable volunteer growth). It is hard to make out in this photo, but the wall he has lined with boulders is the heighth of the dirt mound (elevated bed). The neighbor's yard right behind is about level with the bottom layer of the boulder wall. Sweetie has begun digging away and in a matter of a couple of days will haul most of that dirt away. While we weren't able to do away with the 'elevated' beds, he was able to seriously dent it and push it back away from the front door entrance leaving enough room for us to do a bit of landscaping and comfortably walk around to the back (more literally, the side) of the house.

The brick path that leads from the elevated bed to the front door is so steep that surely anyone attempting to walk it would easily slip and fall so it's not useful as a footpath, in fact, flat out dangerous. Nixed that by blocking off the brick pathway to avoid having visitors use it at all. But that was a bandaid fix.

The Weeping Spruce that spreads out horizontally across the top of the brick wall is a 'Must Save' so unlikely we would tamper with this element and will leave it as it is...

As I once again try to figure out the minds of the PO with some of their modifications to this house that make no sense to me, like adding a lower turret/cupola to the main level as an extension of the top floor cupola but in so doing, opening the whole side of the house to what amounts to the air flow of a front porch without the barrier of housefront or front door. So, I wander around that area looking at the historic photos trying to figure out where the front door orignally was and what did they do to the architecture that caused removal of the porch, the front entry door and secured the house from winter seastorm winds.

I digress, (as I usually do). So oila, as we are reviewing the historic photos of the house, and realizing that second PO dug out the basement, since there was no basement and the house was post and pier (sat on pier blocks) ---- wait a minute ---- PO dug out basement and what did he do with all the dirt he dug out?

We think we know. Now we think we know. Historic photos of this house show the front yard to be flat and in countour lines with the neighboring proprety. These two elevated mounds of dirt that have been landscaped with boulders and rocks and plantings, and brick pathway and concrete patio and steps --- was this all just to disguise two huge mounds of dirt removed from under the house when the basement was added?

The elevated 'bed' is so close to the front of the downstairs cupola, that it makes no sense when looking at the contour of the land. Now, with this 'aha' moment, perhaps it makes sense. Surely, I think to myself, with the amount of labor to dig out the basement, install bricks and concrete floor, you'd think there were funds or labor to haul away the dirt??
Did PO think this would provide some kind of water table drainage barrier or .....

Sweetie is doing what amounts to construction type labor in disassembling the boulders, digging out the dirt and hauling it away as he carves into this hill of dirt that makes the 'elevated' garden bed. I respect him for doing the labor, and taking on the project.

Quarter Sawn and Petrified wood for floors in this house!  

Posted by Lietta Ruger in , , , , ,

Part 1 of this story and phase;

Our neighbor, who grew up in this fishing village of Bay Center, stops by from time to time when we are working outside and shares some stories with us about the old days in this community. We know then, that he was a child growing up when the second PO of this house lived here and their son was growing up. So our neighbor knows the son who inherited this old place. Son wasn't able to keep it and it was sold out from under him (sounds more like almost 'stolen'). Son lived his entire life with his parents, and then his mother when the parents divorced late in life. Son was what would be called in this day and age perhaps somewhat developmentally challenged.

We invited neighbor in to take a look at the house and tell us what he remembers about it back in the day - in it's more original condition. Neighbor, btw, is rather shy, and it has taken a few years to build up a neighborly over the fence relationship with him, so we are happy to learn the bits and pieces he is willing to shareof the old history of this community. Remembering that he himself was a child when he visited PO son, and he tells us they were infrequent visits inside this house, he does remember some things about the layout. Neighbor has an interesting adult life history, and is a commercial oyster farmer, knows about boats, the Bay and the River and knows that PO was a barge/boat builder so knows a bit about construction back in that day.

All this is lead up to explain how we learned about the wood floors in our house. Well at least the stairs and upstairs flooring. Since I tore out the horrid decades old 70s era brown shag carpet that covered the stairs and upstairs hall flooring, we are left with some major clean up and I still haven't come up with a decision for how to go; try to restore via sand and stain; paint and forget it or some other variances on either of those plans. After giving our neighbor a tour, I have renewed respect for the wood flooring.

He explains that it is 'quarter sawn' wood. What's that we ask. Wellllll, he says.... and explains that back in those days they cut the hardwood trees, sank them in the mud to let them cure (harden - petrify) and then took them to be sawed for use in building homes, boats, floors, etc.. This process of 'quarter sawn', he explains was considered wasteful since a quarter sawn strip of lumber has no knotholes and is cut in a particular way with the grain of the wood. The process then leaves behind waste pieces of wood. After the wood is given it's mud bath, it has become so hardened that it broke too many saws and in time sawmills refused to cut this kind of wood.

Wow! So guess this wood ain't going anywhere and will probably last another lifetime. Neighbor showed us how to look down the wood planks and notice the grain and no knotholes of any kind the entire length. We did and we noticed what he was pointing out, which we wouldn't have noticed or appreciated if he hadn't shared (with almost a reverence) the nature of the quarter sawn wood process.

He also explained how the nails had to be driven in a most certain way on an angle so as not to split the wood down it's length. Well, guess if they could get nails hammered in, the wood can't be too petrified, or perhaps so petrified, it splits? I don't know, just trying to understand based on neighbor's explanation. He said, btw, that to this day he knows where some of those trees are still sunk in mud, but he's not telling where. Guess he'll go to his grave knowing where they are and not telling.

Part 2 of this story and phase;

Recently, we were invited to give a presentation at a conference in the Eastern part of our state, so we made the 7 hour drive and met up with a colleague who had rented a B&B place to stay for couple of nights. Okay - sounds sweet, eh? The Eastern part of our state is primarily agriculture so it is miles and miles of scenery that can be plateaus of the Columbia Basin, rolling hills of the Palouse, the fruit orchards of the Yakima area, and flat scrub brush in areas located in the neighborhood of Hanford Nuclear Plant. Thus, there are a lot of generational family farmers (and I'd guess a fair amount of new 'corporate' farms).

As it turns out, we got a bit lost trying to locate the B & B. Not lost as in lost in the city, but lost on an old country lane that went from pavement to gravel to no outlet, with only a few fairly run down and delapidated houses along the way. I was feeling fairly insecure that if one of these houses wasto be the B & B, I was going to have a shaky night and we might need to look for a hotel in town. Sweetie made a call to the owners, got directions and then got us on the right road to the B & B. It was still a country road, that went from pavement to gravel, and there were few and far between old farmhouses. But we found 'our' farmhouse, rented out at B & B by the owners, who were Professors at the University and also 'worked' the land, so it was called a working farmhouse B & B. The owners, btw, don't live at the farmhouse, and have a place in town, or maybe they stay in town when the house is rented out, I'm not sure how that works.

But, here is what does work. It is an old farmhouse - and I like what the owners have done with it, partly restored, partly rehabbed and the decor is pretty much strictly antiques and collectibles so it retains a feel of a farmhouse in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Except for the kitchen which retains it's 1970s upgrade....too bad, but it was a big kitchen and with a few restorations or reworking it, could quickly lose it's 1970s identity.

One of the magazines on the coffee table was a big hardback book with lots of great photos about Architecture of Old Farmhouses. I was fascinated and gobbling up the information. It seems that back in the day, what could have started as a humble one or two room dwelling would be added onto as family demands (and family prosperity) grew. So architecturally the style of the day might be added to the style of yesteryear, thereby compromising the definitiveness of architectural style. And 'saltbox' style became quite popular but is not in itself a 'style' as much as it points to an add on to the existing structure thereby altering the roof line.

Well, there you go - our house then, doesn't really don't have any kind of singular architectural style, could be in the classification of a farmhouse, but not exactly, and I tend to call it more the style of the homes of the martimers who lived and fished here. Mr. Bachau, who added elegance to the straightforward style, sheaved the sharp ends at each corner of the roof, added a turret/cupola to the upstairs level, and added bump out bay windows to the street side of the house and the back kitchen. It appears the kitchen is a bump out from the house (an added bump out kitchen was not uncommon, per our neighbor, to the houses built here way back when).

Sheaving the ends of the roof line, our neighbor explained was done to reduce the rotting of the corner ends from the moisture, rains and sea storms that roll in off the Bay, off the Pacific Ocean. I had shown him the photos I have of the original house and the roof line is pitched at both ends. Which is why he explained what he explained about shearing the roofline corners.

After the Bachau's lived their lives in this house, and she died, and Son inherited the house and wound up 'selling' it to the next owner. The house was what is called pier and block, and had no basement. Next PO dug out a basement under the house, bricked up the basement and poured a concrete floor, and added a carport where once were the two beautiful bay windows Mr. Bachau added to the house. We learned that owner lived about 20 years in the house (or less but much longer than we had been given to understand). He sold it and now the next PO added a bump out to the bumped out kitchen, and a bump out on pier and block (no basement) to create a downstairs bathroom. Incidentally, the original house had no bathroom, had an outhouse, and the downstairs bathroom had to be plumbed, there was no upstairs bathroom and the last PO created a room and had plumbing done for upstairs bathroom.

Definitely then, this house fits the definitions of what constitutes an old farmhouse to the degree that the book I was reading defined architecture styles passing along through the generations. But our great old house no longer has it's front porch. A situation I hope to remedy and have a front porch built and added, because I want the old rocking chairs and to be able to sit out on the porch.

What else I learned from reading the book (and looking at the photos) was that some homeowners prefer to restore elements of their house to it's original architecture, ie, primitive stairways with high risers, architectural columns, beadboarded walls, heavy wood paneling (no, not the 70s stuff), panel doors, ah, memory fails me here, but the list is lengthy. And glory be, I found a photo of an exact staircase bannister as is in our house. It seems that is a deliberate design, how it curves at the top of the stairs. Also that the newel post at the bottom of the stairs is by design Greek Gothic and all I've ever thought was that is was primitive in look.

Enough of a post, and some of our next projects I'm considering are to remove the plasterboard that was put up on the walls as part of second owners 'rehab' to get back to original plank walls -- maybe, as I need to do a bit more research before we start tearing out plasterboard. I can see from some of the original closets that were not rehabbed or upgraded the wallpaper (which is linen btw) and a tear shows the plank walls behind the wallpaper.

Our trip to the Eastern part of the state then brought me home with fresh ideas, renewed love for our old house, and while we went to give a presentation on an entirely different matter, I came home with renewed mental energy to look at this house with fresh eyes or new perspective of it's valued old history.

Project; Painting or transforming Laminate (Formica) Countertops  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

Well, now this, I don't know about, and I'm not even sure I would be wanting to take on this project, but it seems all the fashion these days to have granite-looking or marble-looking countertops in the kitchen and bathroom. I'm not too unhappy with our formica or laminate countertops, but I suppose if we wanted to get fancy or look like we are upgrading, this is a project we could take on. Well not until we get those stairs finished. I think I better post this one to our houseblogs, too. I first posted it to my blog Everything old is new again..

Suggestions for transforming old formica countertops - from Thrifty Fun.

(My disclaimer - these are other people's ideas, suggestions and projects. I have no experience whatsoever with doing anything to alter the appearance of formica countertops.)

and close up

Colors - skyline and autumn  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

An Autumn sunset. This photo captures only a percentage of the great sky and even though it's a snapshot, that's one spectacular paintbrush.

We have some beautiful sunrises and sunsets here, but there are those days when it is more breathtaking than other days. It registers on us here living in the village. While this photo was taken in Sept 2006 from our stairway window, and it is now Feb 2007, we had the most amazing sunset in Jan 2007 that it had all of us coming out of our homes and trying to snap photos of the sky.

It was kind of funny to watch us humans trying to dare to capture the fullness of what we were seeing. People running up the road chasing the skyline before it faded into the bay. People jumping into their cars to hurry down to the beach to capture the skyline, knowing it would most certainly end it's journey at the waterline of the bay. I was among those running around with my digital camera trying to capture the shots. In my drawstring pajama bottoms still (hey they're comfortable), and without a jacket, me and the neighbors out there trying to be photo journalists to catch those great sunset pictures. My digital camera decided not to work, low batteries, and the elusive skyline would have been gone by the time I changed the batteries. Hopefully, a neighbor will share their photo shots with me.

And here is a couple of photos of Autumn and the changing colors. Not so spectacular, there are far more spectacular photos of fall, landscapes that show off the painted colors of the season. I always feel a tug on my heartstrings, melancholy at seeing the summer season leave, and energized that it will be the season of color and cooler temperatures, but knowing winter stretches out after that and spring will be a ways away.

Waterproofing the exposed wood deck  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

The deck coating is peeling and bare wood is exposed. With the forever rain of Pacific Northwest, this is not a good state for the deck and it was in this state when we bought the house. I've worried about it and summer 2006 dear husband made it his project to attend to the deck.

We determined what had been used as the original covering, and it looks like the PO used roofing type of compound to waterproof the deck. I had thought it was more like a marina use compound. But apparantly not, as after comparing product at several stores and getting the wise counsel of building store staff, we determined it probably was not a marina waterproofing compound but a roofing compound.

So, we bought a couple of 5 gallon cans and hubby went to work. Peeling, scraping, and then applying first coat, letting it dry and applying second coat. I don't think he did a third coat, and we'll wait and see how it weathers through the rain of the Autumn, Winter, and Spring seasons to determine durability. Likely he will add another coat summer 0f 2007.

Summer's End 2006, was a great spring and summer  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

There's no pretentions to this home, it's pretty much salt of the earth kind of house and we live in pretty much as salt of the earth kind of people. Now, I'm not saying there haven't been efforts to get the house more upscale and we're grateful to PO who invested in giving the house more than a cosmetic face lift as the PO before them had done. As you read our blog and see our pics, you kinda see the down and dirty along with what we hope are some of the pretty.

Haven't done much 'remodeling' since we started this blog, and there is good reason for that, but moving on...end of summer 2006. We spent many happy, contented hours of the spring and summer months working on yard and garden.

End of summer 2006, and sad to see the season come to a close, but there will be another summer in 2007 and we look forward to watching all the new plantings grow next year. Planted a hybrid 3 kinds of apples on one tree - that should be interesting. Planted an ornamental Mt Fuji Japanese white flowering cherry tree.

We ordered ten bare root trees from National Arbor the second year we lived here and planted them per instructions. Bare root trees are really just twigs sticking out of the ground. Dear husband ran over several of them with the lawn mower - more than once. Accident, of course, not intentional. But they must be hardy because only about 5 didn't make it and 5 are still with us. We replanted them in 2006 season to their new permanent homes.

We planted two Eucalyptus trees, one is potted in whiskey barrell and the other in the front yard. That about does it for the trees I can plant in our limited yard space. And it's too bad, because I wasn't done with trees for our yard yet. I learned this year that where we live, we have a mini planting zone that permits some plantings that don't do as well in the regional climate zone shown on the climate zone maps as our 'zone'. We live on a northern bay on the Pacific Coast which creates a maritime climate zone for us. That can be good and not so good, but it does help me to realize that what my inland neighbors can grow is not the same thing I can as easily grow. Now, it seems in addition to apples (Washington - apples, you know), I can also grow peaches and apricots. Really! Okay, but sigh - no room in our yard. I'll just have to fit it in some way cause I intend to have one of each.

Long time no blog, we're baaaacckkkk - Christmas 2006  

Posted by Lietta Ruger

Wow, it was April 2006 we made the last entry to this blog! No way to 'catch up' 10 months of no posts. Life has certainly moved on for us, but not this blog.

Okay, so Christmas 2006. We purchased (at seriously reduced price) a new artificial Christmas tree. We already have a huge 6 foot tree that completely takes up either the upstairs or downstairs cupola if that is where we place it. Or takes up the whole front of the living room if that is where we place it. It certainly holds all the decades of Christmas ornaments back to when the children were, in fact, children. Now, they are grown with children of their own.

It's kind of sad in a nostalgic kind of way to put up the big tree with all the years of ornaments unless the kids and grandkids are going to come for Christmas visit. For now they are scattered about, and sometimes they can do the travel, sometimes not. I wanted instead a smaller more compact tree that I could tuck in a corner and I'm quite satisfied with the size of this smaller tree.

Our Christmas gift to ourselves this year. A nice double recliner loveseat. We have for several years now been discussing getting either couch or loveseat that has dual recliners. It was still years in the future for us as a purchase. When we were out and about taking in Christmas bazaars and such like, we came across a garage sale that we almost didn't stop at and found this great dual recliner at a price too good to pass on.

Nope, not telling, but we knew we would not likely come across such an affordable price for this kind of piece of furniture again and it was in such good, cared for shape. We left, both yearning and wishing we hadn't committed to dental work and $$ cost to us. Somehow we managed to talk ourselves into believing we could tighten the budget belt, squeezing hard, eat beans and rice, and doing so could manage to pay the dentist $$ and treat ourselves to this Christmas present. Now, it's February and we are recovering but recliner is paid for and so is the dentist $$.