Sunday, August 4, 2013

First Post of 2013

Now that 2013 is more than half gone, a blog post is way overdue.  Lately, life has seemed to be mostly about planning, helping and maintaining ... with a couple of fun events thrown in for good measure.

We are planning for the possibility of adding a 1,000 sq. ft. mother-in-law apartment to our current property.  This is where John and I would live for the rest of our lives.  The apartment attaches to the back of our garage/barn and will be fully wheelchair accessible (if/when needed in the future).  The plan is to rent our current home to caretakers for when we travel. 

Rendering from architectural software.  There will also be a wrap-around covered
porch for cement slab.  (I could not show the covered porch with my software.) 
The barn is existing and the addition is toward the back of the property.
We started taking action to make this happen last winter.   In the process of having a new septic design drawn up, we found that we needed an easement for our current drain field.  Unfortunately, our neighbor hasn't been forthcoming with that easement despite a verbal agreement.  So, at this point, we are moving forward no faster than a herd of turtles with little more than architectural plans to show for our efforts.

John especially has been spending time helping his family in Yelm, taking his Dad to doctors' appointments and helping his Mom around the yard.  Then, in March, our brother-in-law Rick passed away after a heroic battle with colon cancer.  We joined with John's sister Laura, Rick's family, and his many friends and colleagues last month to celebrate his life at his Kelley Park Ranch in Yelm.  I was honored to help with the decorations, as John assisted with preparations and parking for the event.  I will always remember Rick with fondness and count it a privilege to have known him.

Rick Kelley (1954-2013)
Drawing by Chalene Swankie, July 2013
One of the past vacations we took with John's family was a cruise to Alaska.  So, it seemed fitting that the family take that same cruise again in June, with Rick with us in spirit.  For me, it was a happy reminder of his joy as he experienced Alaska grandeur and beauty for the first time.

Panorama of Misty Fjord outside of Ketchikan, AK.  June 14, 2013
This also seems to be the year of major improvements and maintenance around our home.  We installed a solar array on our south-facing barn/garage roof.  We estimate that it will provide about 1/3 of our current electrical needs and pay for itself in about 7 years (through electrical cost savings and federal & state incentives).  In addition, our house needed a new roof, as well as fresh stain and paint.  Other maintenance activities included some serious downsizing, garage sales, digitizing photos, and donations as we prepare to move into a smaller dwelling.

Solar array installed on our barn/garage in April 2013.
Last weekend, after more than a year in the making, some of my family traveled to Washington State for our summer picnic.  Traditionally, it's held in Southern California where I grew up.  But, this year, they came to our place in Washington State and camped out.  I really had a wonderful time with everyone -- including several of my brothers, cousins, a nephew and their families -- from 62yrs to 5wks old.  We just turned our property into a campground and said "make yourself at home" ... and they did!  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again at Thanksgiving time.

The part of my family that was here for our summer campout/picnic on July 28.
All related by blood or marriage on my mom's side
 -- brothers, nephew, cousins and their families.
The youngest, my great-niece Nona Rose,
meets the eldest, my 1st cousin John.  7/28/13
My husband John is enjoying his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird (think "Smokey and the Bandit").  But, he wants to sell it so that he can eventually get the same car he had in high school, a 1968 Chevrolet Nova SS.  In addition, he still has his laying hens for eggs, and a smaller vegetable garden this year with corn, peas, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes.  I have a garden too, but I just seem to raise just enough strawberries to feed our resident slugs and snails :).  Except for staying in Yelm to help out with John's family, our RV has mostly remained parked.  I'm hoping to use it for travel and exploration soon.

John's current hotrod that he wants to sell.
"Smokey and the Bandit" -- 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird

I'm also happy to report that John's scans continue to come out clean almost 3 years after his cancer surgery.


  1. Thank you, Suanne. Wonderful update.

    1. You're welcome ... I love your work.

  2. Excellent update and while I am sorry of your loss, it sounds like other folks are doing well and your homestead is delectable....thanks for sharing...and also, Swankie's drawings are always amazing...

    1. So, good to hear from you Bri ... broadcasting from you own wonderful homestead there. Hugs, Suanne