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This might be the first post we’ve put up this year. Somehow life has gotten in the way of blogging, which is really too bad because I just looked back at some old entries, and was struck with the memories they evoked. Without the frequent postings we would have forgotten so many details already.

The real reason for today’s post is to share a few pictures with friends, and it seemed more convenient (and courteous) to put them here than to send a giant email.

We’ve been hard at work the past few weekends building a gate to our entry corridor.

Why a gate you might ask? Sacha the dog has developed a bad habit of going outside at night, and disappearing for 45 minutes at a time. While some might be concerned about coyotes eating her like to so many Fritos, our concern is a bit different. It seems that she’s been running around to the various neighbors’ compost heaps, snacking away, then coming home and throwing up in our room. At 2 a.m. of course. Lovely.

We had actually talked about a gate in this location since the design phase anyway, but the project was accelerated by our Weapon of Mass Destruction. The gate is a nice touch, and adds another “layer” to the entry and approach to the house, which is cool.

So, 9 feet tall, 7 feet wide, and a pivot hinge fabbed up with parts from the Home Depot plumbing aisle. And man oh man it looks bad-ass. We’re really pleased with how it turned out.

On a related note, we’ve also started work on prepping planting beds on the north side of the house.

All of this is a long way of saying, enjoy the pictures. And to Matt, Jesse, Scott and my father, thanks a million for everything you did for us last year. You created something pretty extraordinary.

Outside, looking in.

Yep, we still love the concrete.

Some ferns, hostas and other shade-loving friends, now live under the roof cutouts.


In Palisadian culture, indiginous peoples traditionally festooned the detritus of blustery weather to appease Gusty, the god of strong winds.

I’ve been thinking more and more about K’s thought that each passing season will make the house feel like home. I really like this idea, and it should make for an exciting year. We’re most definitely heading towards winter. Yesterday morning I was enjoying a morning cappucino, reading the paper while L caught up on the latest high-jinks of Scooby Doo and friends. K was out on her ritual run. The meadow was covered in frost,  with a thick layer of fog barely beginning to rise. That’s life in the Palisades. Morning fog is a part of life during the winter months.

It was eerie, beautiful and altogether relaxing. Channeling the truth that the best camera is the one that’s in your hand, I snapped a quick pic from the kitchen with my phone.

We’ll have a more detailed post soon, but this weekend we made a quick trip down to the farming town of Spangle, Washington to pick up a buffet/sideboard/credenza K wants to refinish and turn into a much needed piece for the dining room. On the way back we couldn’t help but take a picture of the reader board on one of the few stores in Spangle. “Gitcher.” My new favorite non-word.

To read the sign you may need to click on the image for the big version. Funny stuff!

tidy shoe rack

a place for everything ...

Finally. Finally! My closet is complete. I have been waiting very patiently for some time to free up so that we could work on the last essential closet element: the shoe rack. In our old house, right before we moved, A built me a super-fabulous shoe rack of a similar style. I loved it SO much, but didn’t really get to spend enough time with it before we moved. Then, in our temporary house, I was back to more of what I was used to in every other house I ever lived in, which is insufficient shelving leading down a dark road to a sad, messy shoe jumble.

But now. Look at it! There are 10 tidy shelves that nearly reach the top of the closet. It brings overwhelming peace to my heart and mind to have all my shoes lined up in such a clean and organized fashion. I already know I am a little OCD, so you don’t have to whisper about it.

Let me just also point out the beautiful design of this product, dreamed up by my fabulous husband. Sure, he could have sent me off to a large store that carries shelving and other organizational supplies and said,”Just get something,” but instead he planed wood and used biscuits and put a sweet little trim piece around the edge to create something not only extremely functional, but lovely to boot.

I’ll just say this though. When we met, I was truly a clogs-only kind of gal. One day, A got me a gift of these sweet shiny red pumps. I would never in a million years at that point in my life have ever even considered adding something like that to my wardrobe. But there they were. They were comfy. They were so stylish! I was completely hooked! Not my fault!

So now, I can say, without exaggeration, that I adore shoes. And even more, I love that I have a pretty place to put them.

The last symbol of fall.

On the way to work today it hit me like a ton of bricks. The season is changing, and changing quickly. As I drove past a grove of aspen, the road was more green and yellow than black asphalt. And while there are still vibrant colors, especially on some of the bigger trees, we’re definitely past the autumn foliage peak.

I hope she writes a more expansive post about this some other time, but last week K and I were talking about whether the house now feels like a home. This is a question we often get from friends and family. K’s thought–and I quite like this–is yes it’s feeling like home, but you don’t really know a house until you’ve lived with it through the seasons.

We’re heading into the tail end of our first season together in Spokane’s Palisades. And it’s indeed feeling like we have a home.

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We had a good weekend. On the project front, I finished installing the living room shelves and the guts of our office storage. This is kind of a big deal, as it 1) makes the living room feel quite complete (because it is!) and 2) got rid of a stack of boxes that littered the two rooms. Good stuff all around.

The living room shelves in particular are quite beautiful. Vertical grain fir boxes, custom-sized for each opening, moulding that needed to be scribed to fit perfectly with the imperfections of the drywall, and of course K’s handiwork applying polyurethane.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention our daughter L in this list. Seems she noticed too. So yesterday, after watching K rock her leg of the Spokane Marathon (that’d be 6.7 miles in 54 minutes–nice!) L got quite excited to help. Her idea was to drill all of the holes for the shelf supports. Now she’s quite coordinated for a 6-year-old. But drilling perfectly straight holes in very expensive wood? Probably not the best task. She was willing to settle for installing the steel shelf support pins into the holes I drilled  though.

It turned out that some of these were tough to push in. So, being the veteran construction observer she is, Lyra suggested using a hammer. I thought this made sense. So she ran to the garage and came back with a giant framing hammer. I guess she couldn’t find the sledge hammer.

The main problem with using a framing hammer isn’t its size, but the texture of its face. It’s waffled. When framing and whacking giant nails into equally giant pieces of lumber you’ll never see, the waffle is great because it keeps the hammer from skating off of the nail, and landing instead on say your thumb. But it also wreaks havoc when it comes in contact with wood, destroying the surface and leaving behind a nice waffle-shaped embossing.

Alas, she was so proud of herself for finding the hammer in our catastrophe of a garage that I actually let her use it, with careful oversight. Trust but verify. This philosophy worked well for Nixon, so how about us? All is well that ends well. L did a great job, carefully tap, tap, tapping away.

Better pictures will follow some other time. And if there are any mind-reading blog visitors, if you could let me know which box we packed our camera charger in I’d appreciate it.

What could possibly go wrong?

Choking up on the handle for better control. That's my girl!

The semi-finished product.

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Yowsa. It’s been busy around here lately. I’ve been flying (literally and figuratively) at work, L is of course back to school, gymnastics and lots of playing, and K is cranking on a bunch of fronts too. We’ve been keeping our feet to the pedals at home in an attempt to finish some big projects. So consider this an interim project report. It’ll be light on the details, but I’ll at least post a few pictures.

And speaking of pictures our trusty camera has been a bit funky lately. For some reason the images aren’t quite up to snuff and are all a bit fuzzy. Chances are the lens is coated in sawdust, like so many of our things, but put it on the list of stuff to figure out.


OK, I’ve referenced this one a bunch lately, but Jesse is just about through with his part of this project. He and Scott poured a small retaining wall on Friday which will add a really nice detail to the big courtyard. We’ll now have two levels, about 7 inches apart, separated by a step/garden bed. Awesome.

Scott at work. This is taken from our bedroom. The retaining wall will be a nice step to a lower part of the court, and breaks up the pattern a bit.


I’ve been cranking away on a stack of storage-related items. The shelves in the kitchen storage posts are built, finished and installed. Big exhale on this one, and we love how much this helps make the room feel finished. I still have a free-standing unit to build that replaces the wire racks we have in place temporarily, but am short a big piece of butcher block. Bummer. Soon enough though…

More shelves to the right of the refrigerator. These hold cups and glasses and most importantly, coffee making equipment.

Panel installing.

In the living room we’ve had two big voids to stare at that are filled with crap, I mean boxes of precious possessions. These are designed to have a 3/4″ thick solid panel of vertical grain fir, that I thought would look best with a 1/8″ reveal between the wood and drywall. The first one went in yesterday with one more to come. On the backside of these panels is deep storage that hold books, art supplies and electronic gadgetry, accessed from our office niche. In the soffit above the panel we’ll eventually install a similar fir panel, this one just a 1/4″ thick.

Another fir panel will eventually sit in the recess above.

Art making.

K plans to write a more detailed post at some point, but she deserves a major hat tip for her various art projects. This weekend I hung her most recent, which she’s typically humble about. I’m not though. It’s amazing. K trolled through our scrap wood pile, finding discarded pieces of fir, cedar, plywood and beech. She then arranged and painted them before installing them to a panel, which now hangs in our dining room. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but especially at night it creates a stunning effect.

Check out the shadows. In person this is quite a piece.

Here we go now, to the southside.

No, I’m not quoting Moby. I’m pointing to the south side of the house where Jesse is cranking away on the patio, deftly moving around 88 pound pavers.

I’ve had barely a minute to think about building this week. Two out of town work trips will do that to a person. But check out this picture. Jesse texted it to me in the middle of a presentation I was giving. Thankfully I waited to respond until I was done talking. While I loved getting the text of his iPhone pic, it really doesn’t do his work, or the house justice. This is meticulous work.

Click for the big view.


In person this is downright amazing. And the best part? L has come up with a set of rules for “extreme hopscotch,” that involve jumping between the dark gray pavers. If you’re under 10 years old there are special rules that include throwing stones and sticks. I love this. Up next is building a small retaining wall that will create a lower part of the patio that will die into the meadow. Awesome. I’ll take better pictures this weekend.

Last weekend the Spokane Green + Solar tour was a wild success. We moved our random boxes into the garage, which now looks like a bad episode from the TV show Hoarders. We had about 100 people come through. Thankfully the rest of the place looked great. Well, except for some of the missing trim, cabinets and shelving.

What a great group of people. Really thoughtful questions about how we built our house, what we would have done differently and the materials and systems we put in place. I was a little worried about some of this. Well, not worried, but at least aware that our place, while energy efficient, doesn’t have the geothermal/solar panels/water catchment/recycled everything (including nails) that some homes include. Like I said in a previous post, we have a celedon house. But our visitors were fantastic, understanding and seemed happy to share a beautiful pre-autumn day in the Palisades.

A special thanks to the organizers, and Sarah McGovern in particular who not only helped make our life easy during the tour, but even brought by some of the most delicious croissants I’ve had in a long time. Also, Matt Melcher spent a few hours on Saturday and Sunday helping to get the place ready. This went way above and beyond. Jesse, too, came early to help clean things up, spread fresh gravel over the piles of sawdust I created the day before, madly attempting to finish a set of cabinet drawer fronts. And Scott McSpadden? He spent five hours with me spraying lacquer on Saturday. Thanks!

I wish I had some pictures of our smiling guests during the tour. Sadly, I spent too much time talking.



K is exceptionally good at motivating people. She’s been excited for the first part of our patio to be completed, so on Friday morning called Jesse to dangle that if he finished, she’d supply a beer or four.

Now Jesse wasn’t running behind on the timeline, but hey, it was Friday, it was hot out, we haven’t had an evening to decompress in quite a while, and really, doesn’t beer make everything better?

Yes, it does.

An impromptu happy hour broke out. Jesse was in of course. Suddenly so was Scott, Matt, two of our neighbors, their kids and La Familia S. Plus two dogs. Tile master Alex F. showed up too, unexpectedly but happily.

And the new courtyard? It rocks. It has rocks. And even though there’s more to do, like plant stuff and bring in a bit of decomposed gravel, what a place. It was 95 degrees when I was riding my bike home up Mount MoFo, as the locals (me) call it. The patio? Maybe 80. Nice.

So here’s a hat tip to Jesse, who over-delivered on one exceptional patio. The North Court is complete. Next up? Let’s go south. In the mean time, check out L playing this weekend.

And here are a few more.

Remember K’s post about Sacha the weimaraner as a WMD?

Well, here’s a small example of what she was referring to. Good thing we have that fancy new washer and dryer. Life in the Meadow House sure is glamorous sometimes! Dogs. They sure add something special to our lives.