An Update on the Barn - Part 1

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Quinn and I have lived in Blueberry Barn ever since we were married. We rent it from my wonderful in-laws, who first built it when Quinn was only 3 years old, as a little living space while they built on to their cabin. It was never supposed to be a nice place - just something to live in while work was done on the real house. But over the years it's been getting nicer and nicer, and finally it was decided to build onto it.
"Oh! What light from yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Greta is the sun!"

Last summer, Paul - my father-in-law - worked away at preparing to build onto the Barn. Everyone was involved. First we needed to tear off the green house (now a shed) from the back of the Barn. This was moved down to the chicken coop and converted into more space for them (I try not to think too much about the fact that the chickens got an addition way before I did...). Then came the dirt work, dad using his old excavator to do the job. And then, pouring concrete. 
In the photo above you can see the bare patch where the shed used to be, along with the orange wires for our future in-floor radiant heat. It was all-hands-on-deck that day, every one of us helping smooth out the wet concrete (and all of us learning a lot along the way, as dad was the only person who knew what he was doing).
 As you can see in the background, Laura is helping a great deal. Haha!

Lupin and Greta of course were very excited about all of the noise and excitement, and they seemed to be just as tired as we were by the end of the day!

We worked all morning and well into the afternoon smoothing and re-smoothing and smoothing again. The day got nicer and sunny, so we ordered pizza and sat outside on the porch and ate it, very tired from all the work. But of course this was really only the beginning of the work. 
Over the next few months Quinn and dad worked tirelessly to put up the studs and to enclose the two floors before it snowed. The plan was to build a downstairs living/dining room, with a small laundry/furnace room off to the side, with a second bedroom on the second floor above. The pounding that went on during that time was crazy. I don't think there was a single picture I owned that didn't fly off the wall at sometime or another. Eventually I got the idea and took them all down. 
Here is Quinn showing Lupin the start of the walls.

When I sat upstairs, I could see Quinn and dad working away. Several times Greta made it up onto the second story somehow, to peak at me through the window...
And here's a photo of what the second room looks like through that same window, but now all walled in and ready for insulation and sheet rock:
Soon we had something that really looked like a proper house!

As it often does, life gets in the way of these big projects. There was Christmas, and a long visit down to see my family in December, then mom and dad left on a trip for a month and a half, and the new addition didn't get any good progress for a while. 

But soon dad was back, and he and Quinn set to work again - this time covering the Barn with a fine layer of sheet rock dust (that seemed to be everywhere no matter how hard I tried to clean it up). Soon the walls were done and ready for paint, and we were finally to something I could help with! We decided on a light green color for the walls, and I painted and painted until my arms and hands were so sore I could barely hold the roller! But we wanted to get this living room done! We had set a goal to finish the downstairs living/dining room by Mother's Day - and we were going to try our best to reach it!
Here's Quinn tiling the floor, as handsome as ever!

Besides painting and helping to tile the floors, I had another fun project to work on. Melissa had offered to give me her old wood cook stove, as she had gotten a nicer one two years prior. I heartily accepted, and set to work cleaning the stove. It had been outside under a shed roof for two years, so it was covered in spider webs, some rust, and it was buried under all the stuff that goes into Paul's boat in the summer. So after excavating it I was able to see what I had gotten myself in to.

Dad had oiled the top when he had put it in the shed, in hopes of saving off some of the rusting that was bound to happen. After sanding it all down, I took it all apart and washed each piece in hot soapy water three times to get rid of all the oil. The ash bin was bursting beyond all capacity, dad said he didn't think they had ever emptied it. The poor stove was in a very sorry state, but dad promised me we could patch the holes and repaint it. And after two days of work it was looking a lot better! I couldn't wait to move it into the new addition!
Quinn and dad worked so hard to get the living and dining room completed - finishing it the day before Mother's Day. The upstairs bedroom and the laundry/furnace room have to be completed, but they deserve a nice long break after all the hard work they put in! And now, on to the reveal:
Here we are looking into the new room from the doorway into the kitchen. This doorway is in the same space a little window used to be, and the stairs to go up to our bedroom are to the right. Quinn's cuckoo clock was the very first thing to get hung on our new walls. 
Here is my new-to-me wood cook stove! I have used it a lot since putting it in - just for fires, I haven't yet been brave enough to cook or bake something with it yet (but someday!). Through the doorway you can see into the kitchen, and on the very left of the photo you can see a panel that will someday open into a storage space under a new set of stairs. 
Of course Greta wanted to be in a photo too (in reality she was waiting for me to let her outside, haha!)! After moving the couch and the table and chairs downstairs, our bedroom felt very empty - and more like a bedroom! 
Here you can see the coat closet dad added to the space - something I am very grateful for! You can also better see the curtains I made! They are white and lacey, and I think they'll be perfect for all seasons. 
I wanted to write this out not just for you, Dear Reader, but also for myself. That way I can look back at all these photos and remember everything in this journey to build an addition onto Blueberry Barn. Of course it isn't finished yet (that's why I titled this 'Part 1'), but we have reached the first victory, and I wanted to share all the hard work Quinn and dad put in to reach this! 
Until next time Friend!

A Mirror of the Sea

Friday, June 7, 2019

Quinn has been very busy at his new job as a guide for tourists on the Mendenhall Glacier - but don't feel too sorry for him. After all, he gets to ride a helicopter to work every day! But because of his busy schedule we haven't been able to go on any hikes while the weather has been nice. So of course it was pouring down rain on his first day off in a while.

As we are somewhat used to being disappointed with the Juneau rainforest weather, we decided to go on a hike anyway (and invited our friend Aaron along too)!

There is a saying here in Juneau, "It's always nicer out the road." I can remember my mother telling me this fervently as I climbed into a bus to take me out to Echo Ranch Bible Camp (which is all the way out the road) while the raindrops fell around us. As far as I can tell, this saying is usually correct! It certainly was in our case that day. The whole drive out it was pouring, and as we got farther and farther away from town the rain lessened, till we arrived at the Point Bridget trailhead and found it hardly sprinkling at all - we even took off our coats part way through the hike!
Now I may have said "hike", but it's really more of a walk (by Alaskan standards anyway). The Point Bridget trail is about three miles long and flat the whole way, with lovely mountain views and ending at the ocean. We had hoped to see some of the horses from Echo Ranch - which sits just across the river - but there was a kid's camp going on so I'm sure the horses were busy (we even heard the lunch bell go off - a very loud siren that echoes off the mountains and brings back fond memories for all of us). Often times the horses roam free around the large meadows, or they're busy giving rides to campers through the woods.

I was just a tad bit nervous we would run into a bear on our hike. One time we stayed out at a cabin in the meadow with our friends. Our friends Jacob and Leah weren't going to stay the night with us, but on their hike back they ran into a bear and stayed the night anyway, rather than risk hiking back in the dark when a bear was close by. Thankfully we didn't meet a bear, though there was something no larger than Greta scuttling around in the bushes at one point...

The flowers were so pretty on our way out to the beach - I had to stop myself from picking any, knowing they would wilt. I promised myself I would pick a bouquet on our hike back to the trail head.

The woods gave way to meadow, then the beach!
The three of us sat on an old log and ate some lunch. Quinn went down to the water's edge and threw some very large sticks for Lupin and Greta - which they enjoyed profusely - their barks echoing off the mountains (no bears would stick around after hearing that!). Aaron even spotted a whale way out past the rocky shore. 
We had a marvelous time exploring the beach at low tide. There were tide pools even deep enough for Greta to swim in, and all manner of tiny sea creatures to discover within their depths. 

Here is Quinn trying to take a selfie with me on the large rock that was pictured above. He laughed after he saw it and said "ALL nose!" Unfortunately Aaron did not make it into the photo, but I don't think he's too disappointed about that, ha!

Farther up the beach we found a large tree that had washed up on the shore. Greta enjoyed the little windows the roots made, and I couldn't pick which photo to show you so here's a whole lot!

She seldom smiles for the camera (I don't think she wants to be famous, ha!), so I was so excited to get these silly photos of her! 

I was thrilled to see the wild sweet peas blooming along the sea shore - their purple and blue flowers are one of my most favorites! I had told myself I would pick a bouquet on the way I started one right then and there! Perhaps I could simply add on to it as we made our way back along the trail.

Here's my bouquet of sweet peas and wild geraniums! After I made it I decided it would be best to leave it as is, since the stems of the sweet pea are so short and they wouldn't get any water in a vase of tall lupin. But don't you dare think that I stopped there!

We started hiking back and Quinn and Aaron were so kind as I stopped every five feet to pick another flower. Quinn even offered to hold my first bouquet as my hands were starting to get full. What's more, he even posed for a photo!
 In case you haven't noticed Dear Reader, I had my hair cut very short recently! I have never in my life had it this short, but I really love it. Quinn takes great delight in it too, as now his hair is longer than mine! 

A Poem from my Poetry Notebook:

       -A Mirror of the Sea-

A mirror of the sea shone bright
With colors livelier by far
For pinks and purples meet the sight
And yellows shining like a star.

Ripples too can there be found
But not of water, foam, or spray.
The wind he travels fast, unbound,
To blow the petals far away.

To wander through this ocean wide
Would be an afternoon well spent,
For with the bees and butterflies
One will truly be content. 

I gathered lupin, shooting stars, buttercups, irises, and wild geraniums for this bouquet. The chocolate lilies pictured above were so pretty, but they stink horribly, and so I decided against it. Again, Quinn and Aaron were so kind in waiting for me as I ran around in the wet grass picking flower after flower. I could have stayed there all day!

The bouquet got so large I could barely fit my hand around it! But what a glorious array of colors! I was a bit nervous it wouldn't survive the hike back and the long drive home - but it did! And it now sits proudly on my kitchen counter, ready to be admired every day!
I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at that picture - and I know for sure it will be even more loved and cherished when winter is in full swing!

Picking wild flowers must be my favorite thing, and I don't think I mind that one bit.

All The Meadows Wide

Monday, June 3, 2019

This last Autumn I planted some mixed daffodil bulbs in my garden bed, as well as some crocuses. When Spring finally dawned bright and beautiful here at Blueberry Barn there were no little green shoots to be seen - though at Quinn's grandmother's home all her bulbs were in full swing. I despaired that perhaps I had planted them too deep, or maybe the bulbs were no good? Imagine my delight at seeing their sunny faces emerge from the cold ground. Perhaps a little late, but a welcome sign of warmer weather to be sure. 

My garden is all planted now with seedlings and a few treasures I got at the big annual plant sale here in Juneau. Now all that's left to do is wait for things to start growing (and do all the weeding and watering of course). Since this is only the second year of my flower garden it is still quite bare, however my mother-in-law Melissa's garden beds are already alive with color (her's being quite well established). I've always enjoyed this time of year when the flowers start blooming in earnest - especially the apple trees! They're pink and white blossoms always bring a smile to my face, and I find myself spending as much time around them as I possibly can.

This hasn't been hard this year, as two of the apple trees were moved just recently by my father-in-law Paul (who is making space for a green house). We had a wonderfully long stretch of sunny weather, and I was watering my garden bed seven or eight times a day (it sits in the highest and sunniest part of the yard). I would also water the apple trees in their new places. I had feared we wouldn't get a good crop of apples because of the move, but the trees were covered with blossoms and they seem to be doing really well so far!

This last Spring I did quite a bit of research on pruning apple trees, for ours needed a lot of attention (I don't believe they had ever been pruned before). Quinn and I set to work shortly after the family left on a long trip, which was good because I don't think they would have liked to see how many branches came off... Several trees were also quite bent over from heavy snowfall, and Paul has since propped them up with boards and ropes in hopes of straightening them out (which seems to be working quite well!).
Greta doesn't think too much of the apple trees - unless I'm sitting under one of course. Lupin on the other hand has a fondness for chewing on the lower hanging branches, the naughty girl! And not just of the apple trees but of the beautiful lilac bushes as well. Melissa and I have tried to curb her love of this, but I'm not sure we have yet succeed. 

A Poem from my Poetry Notebook:                               
The apple blossoms hold no sorrow
Knowing they will fade the morrow.
No tear is shed, no sigh forlorn,
There is no room today to mourn.
For sun shines high, the bees they dance
Upon the wind in dreamlike trance.
Pink and creamy white the flower
Held aloft in fairy's bower.
They nod their heads and seem to say,
"Spring, my dear, is here to stay!"
They'll vanish then, within some squall,
But there'll be apples in the fall.

Perhaps I should have added a line in there about Lupin being the nemesis of apple trees. Oh well, haha!

As Quinn very kindly took the photos of myself and the apple trees, the sky quickly drew on towards sunset and we knew it was going to be lovely. Without thinking too much about it we ran down the road down onto the tidal flats to watch the sunset - and perhaps to pick a few flowers as well.

This photo here reminds me so much of the Disney cartoon version of Beauty & The Beast (Belle was my favorite princess as a child!), specifically the part where Belle is singing about how much she wants to leave her little town and go explore the world (here's a link to the video of her song! One of my favorites for sure!). I must honestly say I had no idea what the word "provincial" meant as a child, I probably thought it meant boring, ha!

The lupin has only just started blooming, painting the flats a lovely shade of purple. Last year I managed to plant some lupin seedlings I had grown in my garden, and I'm hoping for different colors than the blue that's all over Juneau. We will see!

I tried so hard to get a photo of a bee while we were down there, but they were all to busy buzzing away to stop for my expectant camera. Greta and Lupin enjoyed running around the flats - their favorite playground - but Quinn managed to get a shot with Lupin and her namesake, pictured here on the right. Later she enjoyed running around me in circles as Quinn tried to get a photo of me spinning (this vintage Gunne Sax dress has such a wonderfully full skirt!). Greta was off in a gully getting wet and muddy, as she so often enjoys doing.

As the sun sank lower and lower we made our way back up to the house, the dogs especially were sad to leave the expanse of light behind. After making our way back through the lengthening shadows and darker corners of the woods it was glorious to see the last of the setting sun in all it's majesty at the farthest point of the yard. We've since had several rainy and gray days, which makes the memory of this particular sunset so special.
It's all I have to bring today - 
This, and my heart beside - 
This, and my heart, and all the fields - 
And all the meadows wide - 
Be sure you count - should I forget
Some one the sum could tell - 
This, and my heart, and all the Bees - 
Which in the Clover dwell.
It's All I Have To Bring Today
By Emily Dickinson
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