Day 54

It has been more than a month since we got the nod, allowing us to move back … Home. A long year in an oversized rental house, navigating the world of insurance claims (from the customer side, for a change), and herding a General Contractor to keep on track are (almost completely) behind us. Life returns to something more normal.

When first getting back into our house, the damage to the landscape really sank in. A full year without a working irrigation system had definitely taken its toll. For a couple of pine trees…this meant a conversation to firewood (yes, we have a wood stove in the redone living room, but no more 20’+ brick wall waiting to age badly and become a risk!). Not happy with losing a pair of Quaking Aspen, though. We love how their leaves flutter in the breeze, and hope that the massive root structure pushes up some replacement shoots, given the resumption of regular watering. Highly disappointing, though, was the apparent loss of two Dragon’s Claw Willows that stand directly outside our front door.

Dragon’s Claw Willows on the hillside

My initial inspection resulted in no real signs of life, and I feared that they would have to come out. After a couple of weeks of watering, however, I’m happy to say that some green shoots have appeared on both!

I may have to heavily trim them back, probably removing half of the large trunks on each one, but so glad to see that they have life in them, still.

High on my list, once breathing while outside returns as an option, is the installation of automated timers and valves for all 8 irrigation zones. Would be nice to have this happen in the middle of the night, on top of not having to keep track of reminders and schedules.

I’ve been far more able to tackle projects since moving back, which feels great. Might be part motivation based on essentially having a new home to live up to and maintain and also part being far more healthy than I have been in years. Smarter eating habits and usually 6 days of exercise a week have gotten me (comfortably!) back to the same size jeans I wore in High School!

The one room that was essentially untouched by the fire/smoke was the Sun Room, off the living room. Originally part of the passive solar design of the house, this was built as a Heat Sink, the dark bricks and wood-lined walls absorbing and then slowly returning solar heat on late fall, winter, and early spring.

Sanity check time. A heat sink, in an area that gets above 100 degrees for extended spans every year, may not have been the best idea. Might be a great asset for some of the coldest days, but the end result for the majority of the year is an oven that happens to be encased in windows.

The solution has been: lightening the surfaces (also with the intention of a warehouse brick and whitewashed wood appearance), adding pendant lights, trying out heat blocking window films, and the eventual conversion of this into a continuously livable extension of our space. I also plan to build a long harvest table that will run down the middle of the room, with benches on each side.

The end goal is a nice dining and gathering space. Maybe wine tastings…?

With all of this … yes, I’ve also gotten out and done a bit of Fly Fishing.

A bit on rivers …

… and even some still water time, via pontoon boat.

So blessed to have these beautiful places within an hour of home.

Oh, yeah. Also happy that my “office” is now much more defined and purpose-built as both work space AND an excellent fly tying den!

Just out of sight on the right is a tall stool, so I have a more stable base when tying. Also note the dual lighting, so I can augment the normal desk lighting, as needed.

Yes, that’s a wine map of Burgundy, too. For my last birthday, the family gave me an elegant decanter, a copy of the game Viticulture, and “The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste.” I am certain this all means something, but I will need to wait to again ponder this riddle until I am holding a glass of wine, this evening.

Tight lines…

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