Wednesday, June 22, 2005

News from Wyoming to start with!

Well, life has been so eventful lately. My mom thinks I should keep a blog (Modeled after my sister's blog)... I just don't know where to begin, although I have the same problem with an update letter, so here goes. This is the first entry of my blog.

I imagine my last letter was just after we moved to Jackson, into the 1000sf Condo. We immediately started looking for our first fixer-upper to buy and after much sticker shock in Jackson settled on a little (ugly but soon to be pretty) house in Alpine, 40 miles down the road. There is a commuter bus that runs from the end of my road to town so I am willing to commute that far, as I can get some things done (like write this letter). But it freaks me out a bit when I think that I leave home at 6:30am and get home at 6:30pm for an 8-hour job! So again I am trying to make the ride productive and do my exercising at lunch, and that was my home time is freed up. This is an adjustment after my commutes of the past 7 years.

On the brighter side Alpine is beautiful. I have also never lived rural before. We have 2 acres, and everyone around us has horses, we also have a horse pasture and are looking for some loaners to munch our grass and give the girls some horse experience this summer. The forest is two houses away and the valley extends in front of the house. It is very quiet and has a billion stars! We have had 3 sets of Robin hatchlings in the yard. And all that at 1/3 the cost of a run down house on a 1/4 acre in Jackson.

The house had an unfinished basement and carport rather than a garage. The upstairs (two bedrooms, 1 bath, living, kitchen, and dining) were finished but smallish. So we are currently finishing the basement, so the girls can live down there. We got carpet in on Friday so Sunday night was their first night in there. We will enclose the carport in phase two, making it a three car garage, and phase three is to build an addition with a great room in front then convert the kitchen, dining, living into a master suite. Our original goal was to do this sort of project every 6 months and that would be Mike's income, but his business has grown very quickly in Jackson and so we don't need to rush quite so fast.

Mike has built two decks for a guy in Jackson with promise of other decks and remodel work to follow. He has a client (two older ladies back east) that have a house in Jackson and he has replaced their tile in three bathrooms, and now they are calling him to replace thermostats, put in a garage door opener, re-stain some woodwork etc. This is a great client for him. And next week he starts on a barn for some folks in Alpine. So he has been pretty steadily busy, and our past experience has shown that once he gets busy, it will keep on coming. Although he is physically challenged everyday, he is happier not to be idle.

My job has been fine. I quickly remembered all the reasons I got out of Architecture and most of them still apply, but it pays the bill and is interesting for the time being. In the mean time I am getting more interested in alpaca again, but won't do that until we are more sure that we will not be back in Jackson, we are still trying to work our way back up there. We went to a national alpaca show in Salt Lake ad learned a lot.

We had the chance to use our raft once on an easy section of the Snake River and are going to try something more challenging next weekend.

The girls are having a good time. They have been sleeping a lot, hanging out a lot, jumping on their trampoline a lot. I don't think they miss living in Jackson nearly as much as I thought they might. Last week they went to a horseback riding day camp. They met a good friend (the teachers daughter) and learned a lot. This was english riding so even Kelsey learned a lot. We signed them up for the next session in July. The ranch that had the camp was about 2 miles away and so the girls rode bikes home, giving them another venue to explore the hood. The neighbor across the street also has a daughter in between my girls ages and they have had her over a couple of times, so they are doing well. The summer is going fast though.

As I mentioned we are looking for loaner horses for the girls to ride. About a month ago we met another neighbor who immediately said, "Are you going to use your pasture or are you interested in boarding?" I thought it was fate. We quickly discussed the details and it seemed a perfect fit (not least of which was that since she lived next door we could share the responsibilities). Well, she has had trouble getting a trailer.. blah, blah. Anyway long story short the horses still aren't here. Did I mention the summer is going fast?

Finally, last weekend we entered a Dutch oven cook-off. I made chicken cacciatore, Parmesan /garlic rolls, and Baklava. There were 7 teams. The cook-off started at 10am and you had to have your dessert ready at 1pm, Bread at 2pm, and Main Dish at 3pm. Then judging at 4-5pm, so it was ALL DAY and we were exhausted. But we learned a lot and had a lot of fun. We, however, did not win anything, which really surprised me as all three judges said my Baklava was great, one guy the best he had ever tasted. But apparently (although they told us otherwise) you were judged on presentation; garnishes, etc. We were not prepared at all for that, and therefore did not even get awarded a fourth place for the "best baklava ever tasted". That is not to say that the other creations were not fabulous as well. The leg of lamb, Herb Rolls (my bread was underdone and therefore no surprise at all there), and double layer chocolate cake, were all excellent winners. Anyhow, I guess we learned how to improve. That is IF we decide to compete again.

Click here to see more photos of the cook-off at imagestation.

Still struggling with legal battles with my ex, but he apparently has granted permission for me to take the girls to the Caribbean with my family in August. The other hot issue is that he has decided Sara should change schools. But I think I'll leave that for another issue. This letter is long enough.

Hope all is well with everyone else. We'd love to get news back. Watch this blog for more updates. I'll try to send a notice out the next few times. Please let me know if you like this format and /or would like to be notified of future postings.