2020 – She’s a Frisky wee Beastie…

October 10, 2020 3 By Jeanah Bartruff

So how crazy has this last year been eh?  Near the end of 2019 we headed back to La Grande to finish working on our house there.  The game plan was to sell the summer of 2020.  We then wanted to head out on an extended road-trip to visit family and see the sights back East, head South as the weather turned cooler then steadily work our way back West returning before the Holidays with family in Oregon.  Uhuh.  You know where this is going.

Working on our 1890 Victorian has been a 15 year process.

Many a weekend we drove Friday night from work in Tigard to La Grande, getting as much done as we could before leaving Sunday evening for the drive home and our regular jobs Monday morning.  Actually living there should greatly simplify the process right?

Our first task was finishing the stairs.  These had been plywood for several years and it was time to make them pretty.

Oh the maths involved in this process!

With 2 landings and 3 runs each a different width/length and shape we had our work cut out for us.  Except not.  We had to cut it out ourselves, literally.  We could not find treads with a bullnose in the widths we needed in the right species of wood so we got a router and created our own.  Twenty one of them to be exact.  What fun!

Matching the floor took some doing.  Each piece on that staircase was lovingly sanded and hand rubbed with six layers to achieve the right color and finish.  By the time we were done I had named most of the pieces.  We can not remember a project that took more time but delivered such a sense of accomplishment and pleasure at its completion.

In February, we took a break from house stuff to spend some time in Mexico, Arizona and California. 

Victor joined Vic and Carolyn at Beaver’s spring baseball games.  I soaked up as much warmth and sun as I could. 

Our flight home was the first week of March as this thing called covid 19 was ramping up.

Back in La Grande we continue to do small indoor projects on the house and in general lay low like every other soul on the planet.  In April, my mom and dad purchased a property in Imbler, 15 minutes outside of La Grande. 

It is a major remodel project so we spend the next 6 weeks working out there helping to make it habitableish. And this is how dad got me on the roof to break up an old cracked chimney. If you are from OSHA, look away!

Whose your favorite daughter now?

We essentially framed a wall inside the existing wall to run plumbing, electrical, add a decent amount of insulation and beef up the structure.  New exterior doors and windows made a huge difference.

But it’s back to our place because the weather was improving and we had a lot of outside work to accomplish. Our next tasks included blow in insulation, siding installation, gingerbread replacement, some electrical, having drywall installed in the utility room, painting and then flooring in the utility room.

And then the one we have been waiting for.  Painting the exterior.  The color was a mad scientist concoction that took some time to create. Armed with black, white, blue and green paint, I mixed a zillion candidates which were slapped up on the fresh siding.  Innocent family members were pressed into giving their opinions of sample sections of house.  In the end, a shade I named “Eyes like the sea after a storm” was the winner and we rented a lift and got to work. Points if you got the paint name reference.

The diamond gingerbreading couldn’t be sourced so we hand cut dozens of these to repair the north gable end. Victor rigged his Ryobi circular saw into a diamond shake death machine and came away with all his fingers intact so we are calling it a win. It took an embarrassing amount of paint coats to have their smoothness match the 130 year old originals.

It’s impossible to tell in all of these photos but depending on the sunlight, this can bend, gray, blue or deep slate green.  It’s the chameleon of house colors.

But there is always time for an evening with family. Uncle Jim and Grandma Evelyn came for a visit during her birthday week and we enjoyed the fellowship of family time. What a comfort that is right now.

A big thank you to mom for maintaining her lovely landscaping even after they moved out of the house. A big thank you to dad for pitching in with all things mechanical when we got in over our heads.

We stained the porch, put in some landscaping next to the house, changed out some appliances, made some closet doors, installed a new furnace, finished all the baseboard trim (and another zillion little things) hired a cleaner and were on the market.  Whew!  

We accepted an offer a week later from the lovely lady who cleaned our house.

Because of the changes due to covid, we had been talking more seriously about maintaining a “home” base.  Previously we were going to start traveling immediately following the sale of our house.  Now, the world is a different place and who knows when that dream will become reality.  On a routine perusal of realtor.com I came across an option we had to explore as it sounded perfect for us.  And that is why in August we bought a small vacation condo in Long Beach, WA. 

And this is the view off the Patio there. We went over for a few days to sign the paperwork and take some furniture but returned to La Grande to continue the move out process and do more work at Imbler. 

We were happy to be able to offer our empty condo to family members displaced by the Wildfires and grateful for this retreat we have been blessed with. When the closing on our house was delayed due to lender hold ups we went ahead and moved out of our home in La Grande.

One last picture of Dingo’s resting spot and we were off to Long Beach on September 24th. The closing on our La Grande house is official as of today and we will always cherish the memories we made there. Our immediate future involves a kitchen remodel in the condo we have christened Seaglass.  Hopefully that will be finished by early November but for now, things are a bit chaotic and displaced.

Fortunately, some peace is just a walk down the path from here…

To here…

And it is very good.