My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Greetings from Dragonfly Cottage!

I've missed you, dear blog readers (and dear blog!), and am happy to be able to carve out some time to share some news and pictures at last ~ and get my blogging muscles back in shape!

We finally got a contract on our house in mid-August, and got busy trying to find a place in town and start packing, while going through all the inspections -- home, radon, well and well water, plus appraisal - with our fingers crossed. It's not easy to pack with your fingers crossed, but we managed it. ;-) And it (along with all our efforts, diligence and expense) worked, because the property passed everything with flying colors and no repairs were required nor requested, which our realtor said was unheard of. Whew and yay!

We didn't get real ambitious with the sorting, culling and packing until we got the results of those inspections and the post-appraisal green-light, just in case! So by then we had less than a month before our scheduled closing date of Oct 3. But after looking at about a half dozen houses for sale and ruling them out, on Sept 1 we leased this little bungalow - which we've named Dragonfly Cottage - right on the creek, between two parks, and within walking distance of downtown!

Front of cottage facing Big Goose Creek & Kendrick Park.
I took this photo on the day we signed the lease,
so the flowers on the porch were the previous tenant's,
who's now our neighbor living in her brand new house.
Note Miss Willow doing her own property inspection! ;-)

I've added my own Autumnal touches to the front porch.

This is the back of the cottage...

You can see the green footbridge on the left
that crosses the creek into Kendrick Park,
and a tiny bit of our micro-garage on the right!

Here's our view from the front porch of the footbridge and neighborhood's wildflower meadow (closeups of some of the beautiful wildflowers will star in a future post!)...

The cottage is a Sears Catalog Craftsman kit house from 1920, and is the only original house that was allowed to remain in a new "Pocket Neighborhood" development called Bridge Creek. So far there's just one completed new house and one under construction that's scheduled to be finished by Thanksgiving, and another is scheduled to begin construction next spring. We've met all of our present and future Bridge Creek neighbors and really enjoy them. We think this will be a fun neighborhood for us, and the dogs sure love it! Ironically, though we're on a tiny lot, they have a bigger yard here than they did when we were on 10 acres! And now they have lots of shade trees, their very own "Pooch Porch" to sleep in (more on that later), and can participate in as well as observe all the comings and goings past the house on the wonderful walking/biking paths, part of a huge and growing system of paved pathways (our house is in the middle of that map, between the two parks) that's earned Sheridan major points from us and the dogs! But the girls think the best part of living here is the squirrels! (Like watching bunnies ~ only way better ~ because they climb trees!) :-)

Willow's very first day of squirrel watching

In addition to squirrels, we also have a family of mule deer who stroll through the neighborhood regularly, at least one bunny (and where there's one, there's usually several!), and ducks! We went for a sunrise stroll a couple of weeks ago and BW enjoyed sitting on the bank in front of the cottage watching a large group of beautiful Mallards in the creek, while I took this photo from the footbridge. We've always wanted to live in a cottage by a creek, so we're pretty much in heaven these days! It doesn't even feel real yet ~ most of the time we feel like we're housesitting for someone else, or on vacation.

I do miss the Mountain Bluebirds and Magpies, but now have new friends - including Grackles (who share the Magpie's iridescence, long tail and chatterbox traits) and Flickers! I haven't gotten photos of a lot of the wildlife yet (but rest assured that I will!), but I do love this photo I took of an inquisitive Northern Flicker in our back yard...

Anyway, it's been a very hectic few weeks. Moving from a 2800 square foot house with an oversized 2-car garage and two outbuildings on 10 acres to a 1000sf cottage with a single car garage too small to store anything but our Jeep (and that's a tight fit) required a LOT of culling. We sold most of our furniture (and then had to buy a few new pieces, like a sofa, coffee table and dining set that would fit our new hobbit house size!), sold our remaining firewood and wood pellets, and sold or gave away lots of clothes and household goods, putting most of what remained in storage (though I hope to sell several more things on eBay this winter, and at another yard sale next spring).

We're keeping our 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee beater and dog-hauler supreme, but traded in our car and 1978 Ford Crew Cab pickup, snowplow and flatbed trailer on a 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (driving a hybrid - another dream realized!). And we thoroughly cleaned both houses, made major fixes to the cottage fence so it would hold the dogs and made some other, more modest repairs/improvements to the cottage (even as renters, we're "particular," to quote our contractor - or did he say "peculiar?" No, I'm pretty sure he said, "particular!") ;-) We did all our own packing and moving (even having to replace the alternator on the truck in the midst of one haul), and had to maintain both houses and yards for about 3 weeks, driving the 30+ miles between them nearly every day till we finally closed on Oct 3, so it was a very busy, exhausting time. We're not quite settled in yet, but we should be putting the final touches on everything by this weekend. I even have my Fall and Halloween decorations up, and promise to take and share some interior photos as soon as possible, but since I am going to try to squeeze in a trip to Havre in the next week or two to visit my mom, your continued patience is requested as blogging still hasn't gotten dibs on the Front Seat of Life. :-)

I'd long been saying that the first thing I wanted to do if we ever moved to town was to buy a bicycle. True to my word, the very first thing we did after we got the check from the closing was to hit the local bike shop! I still don't have photos of our bikes, but this is mine (in gloss silver) and here's BW's (in gloss black). We've outfitted them with various racks, odometers, head and tail-lights and locks, and ourselves in helmets. And since I'm an easy bike-ride away from the library and local Safeway (and much more), I got this nifty gizmo at the bike shop, which is great for hauling books, DVDs and groceries. Though I already have my sights set on something bigger for next spring! :-)

So in addition to downsizing, packing, moving, replacing, cleaning, unpacking, repairing and getting settled, we've also been enjoying our exploratory walks and bike rides, and I've got some photos from both to share next time. I've also been re-acquainting myself with using a dishwasher (haven't had one in 20 years), cooking on gas (ditto), and learning to live without a clothes dryer (no room for ours here!) Since it's getting too cold to use our clothesline, we bought a second large one of these to add to the one we've been using for a few years (they're fantastic!), so we're all set!

Oh, and something else we've been doing that we haven't done in well over 20 years? Rake leaves! Lots of shade trees = lots of leaves in the yard, so we've been getting a good workout. But when I saw this beautiful leaf caught in the fence, I had to drop the rake and grab the camera. Because there's always time for an artsy-fartsy photo! :-)

I'll be back as soon as possible with more news and photos, including this year's annual library quilt exhibit, which runs through the month of October! (Remember last year's?) I already have the photos downloaded, and I think you'll really enjoy this year's entries.

Until then, I hope everyone's doing well - I really have missed you all (and your blogs!) Happy Autumn!


  1. Hey, Welcome Back!

    I've been thinking about you a lot lately and wondering how you were. Thanks for the update; the cottage is beautiful and in a beautiful setting. Congratulations on selling the house and all the hard work of moving!

    Sounds like a big change of pace, but a nice so close to town will be great, and especially with your new bikes. How fun! Great to hear that your neighbors are nice too...all sounds like a wonderfully positive adventure.

    Cute little pumpkins on the porch...I'm looking forward to the interior pics too.

  2. I was thinking about you only yesterday:-) I'm glad you have accomplished your move - your new location sounds delightful. Time now for a little relaxation.

  3. What an absolutely perfect little cottage

  4. I'm so glad to see you've finally posted! I knew you were busy, but still, I was starting to be concerned.

    love that you live in a Craftsman kit house — there's something very nostalgic and homey about that — but I know just what you mean when you say it feels like you're living in someone else's house. When do you suppose that feeling will go away?

    It sounds like you'll have an ample amount of wildlife in your neighborhood to entertain you and the dogs, and lots of potential friends. I'm excited for you!

  5. Welcome back. I have missed you.

    The new cottage looks like a joy and a delight. New neighbours who are nice, pleasant walks and rides - who could ask for more.

  6. It sounds like you're in paradise right now! Believe it or not, we only had 1100 square feet of living space in our last house, and that was between 4 people & 4 animals. I kind of miss having a smaller place at times & yours looks and sounds just perfect!

    It sounds like you'll be having lots of fun taking walks, exploring & biking. I'm jealous!

  7. A welcome return for the lesser spotted Laloofah! Love the pics, and the house. What a fab location.

  8. This was so much fun. It was great to see photos and here more details and just plain have you back. I understand it's not "front seat" for now, but at least you're back in the car!!!

    I enjoyed looking at the links of your new bikes and they look great. I love the gizmo you have for hauling things! I've come back from the grocery with a bag in each hand and that's not great for steering so that's a great idea.

    I liked the photo of the flicker - what a huge bird! And kudo's on your artsy leaf shot - good for you because that was worth dropping the rake for!

    So many posts to look forward to. Inside shots of the house and the quilt show are my vote for "most anticipated". I can't wait - but I love the anticipation so I'm glad you let me know they're coming.

    Happy Autumn to you too!

  9. Welcome to wonderful world of squirrels and leaf raking ;-). Your new place looks like a piece of heaven to me, not unlike the Ranch....just in a different way.
    All of your hard work really paid off and made for a smooth move. I've never heard of there not being anything needing fixed or updated from a home inspection....good work!
    Glad the pups like their new home, too!
    Looking forward to more pics and tales from Dragonfly Cottage ;-).

  10. Rose ~ Thank you! I love your new profile photo! You look mischievous. :-) The old-fashioned sepia tone is a nice touch, too.

    This move is a huge change for us, but so far it's been 99.9% positive, which is a pretty good number. :-) Besides all the conveniences, the wonderful walking/biking paths, the creek, the neighbors, and the easier-to-care-for small cottage, we're really enjoying the sound of the trains! Just close enough to be romantic instead of annoying. :-) Also, I failed to mention that one of the places that's within walking distance of us is a new brewery! We walked there one balmy evening right after we moved in and had a flight of some of their beers. There are a couple we were very impressed with. Haven't been back since, but it's nice to know it's there for next time!

    You also might be pleased to know that our landlord is originally from Boston. :-)

    I'm TOTALLY loving riding my bike as much as possible, and am so grateful we've been enjoying such a long stretch of gorgeous weather for it! I rode to the bank (went through the drive-thru, lol) last evening, then on to Safeway to get a few groceries. In a little while I'll hop on "Sylvia" again and ride to my haircut appt and then to my massage. Such fun! And do BW and I ever appreciate his 5-minute commute! Just think how much more we'll appreciate it when it's cold and snowing.

    Aren't those the cutest pumpkins? I bought a big one yesterday for the back porch, but I just love those little ones. Got them at Home Depot, of all places.

    I'm looking forward to having the last details in place so I can take those interior photos and share them! That will be fun. But I'll have to post more exterior/area surroundings ones first, since I've already got them in the hopper.

    Hope to get a chance to catch up with you (and your blog) soon! xoxo

    jabblog ~ Thank you for thinking of me, that's very sweet! I was MIA about two weeks longer than I thought I'd be. I agree with you that it's time for relaxation - almost, anyway! (I'm squeezing some in when I can right now, though - it's been too many years of slogging not to start playing a little!) :-)

    Jamie ~ It really is a cutie, isn't it? Adorable on the inside too! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Andrea ~ Thank you! I know, I was getting concerned too! LOL I was anticipating a lot of work, but this move was an even more daunting chore than I thought it would be. It would have been hard enough moving to a place of similar size, but you were right that downsizing is tough work!

    I love that it's a Sears Craftsman kit house too, and love the era in which it was built. Did you check out the Pocket Neighborhoods link? I love that concept, and also love that all the homes here will be Arts & Crafts style. Too many of the neighborhoods here are a sloppy hodgepodge, with 1970s split levels next to 1890s Victorians, 1980s doublewides next to 1920s Craftsman, etc.

    I'm not sure when the novelty of living here will wear off, and what's funny about it is that as soon we started bringing pieces of furniture in, it felt like home immediately. Now that I've found places for (almost) everything, and have pictures on the walls, in some ways it feels like we've lived here for years! Yet it still feels unreal. I suppose after 19 years in one place, being in a new place will take a while to sink in - sometimes I just want to pinch myself! :-)

    Isn't it something that we ended up living right across the creek from the spot where you guys, Robyn and I had our Vegan Meetup Breakfast? Future Vegan Meetups will be a breeze! :-)

    Thank you for being excited for us! Have you gotten pretty settled into your cute little cottage by now?

    Ellie C ~ Aww, thanks! I missed you too! You're right, it's quite delightful to live here. Can't ask for much more than all the goodies this place has to offer, but - and I hate to sound greedy - a little more storage (especially closet space), a bigger garage and/or another bedroom would be perfect. (We're using the second b/r as our office, so have no guest room). If we end up buying this place (and we well might), we can address a couple of those things.

    Molly ~ It's pretty close to paradise! No mountain views from my windows, but in 2 minutes I can walk to a spot that has spectacular views of nearly the entire Big Horn Mountain range! And though it closed down for the season the week we moved in, the Farmer's Market is in the park right behind us, and the trolley (which runs from Mem'l Day to Labor Day) stops in the park right in front of us. I may just end up taking the trolley to the health food store (it stops nearby) come spring! :-)

    I didn't realize your first house wasn't much bigger than this one! You really did shoehorn yourselves into a tiny space - kudos! How big is your current house? I don't miss the old house and all the work that went with keeping it clean and organized. This place is so much easier. Although I am finding that the dark fir floors, though gorgeous, show every single dog hair! And even though the dogs are outside all day nearly every day, a lot of fur comes off of them on their 2x daily march through the house to their pooch porch. But I definitely prefer mopping to vacuuming! (Got a Reveal mop with microfiber dry mop and a couple of damp mop heads, and that has made cleaning life MUCH easier!)

    We are having fun exploring, just yesterday I took Willow on a 3-mile walk (she's having to spend today at the vet getting her teeth cleaned and a cyst removed, so I wanted to treat her to a fun only-child outing yesterday!), and discovered an entire neighborhood I never knew existed! Are you guys still enjoying your scooters? They sure look fun! Can't wait to catch up with everyone's blogs and latest news - feels like I've been gone for 6 months!

    veganelder ~ Thanks! I sure hope your horrid hot weather has finally come to an end, and you're enjoying crisp fall days and lovely cool nights at last.

  12. It does feel like you've been gone for a while! I'm glad you're back. :)

    The scooters are, sadly, put away for the next 1/2 year. Wind chill is in the 30's and it's not going to get much better. Bah!

    I think our current house is about 1600 square feet, not including the basement (which would add on almost twice as much space). It's a good size for us for now, but once the kids are out of the house it'll be way too much room for us.

  13. A big difference for us is that while not necessarily new, all the furniture in our house is "new" for us, so not familiar. And we don't have the art that is still hanging on the walls in Wis. The house still feels a little cold to me. Working on it, though.

  14. Barbara ~ LOL ~ and just when we thought that species had become extinct. :-) I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos and love the cottage, and you're right that it's a great location. I'm loving the creek, and while I used to dread running errands, now I'm looking for excuses to run them because it's such fun to do on the bike! (That will change when the temps eventually drop into the discomfort zone, however!)

    I sure hope you get your place sold soon, and find the perfect cottage for your fun (and mostly furry) clan! :-) I'm sending lots of dragonfly magic your way.

    Jo ~ Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed the post, even though you heard about a lot of it on the phone while it was unfolding. :-) You should get yourself one of those bike trolley thingies, it's pretty handy for groceries and hauls from the library (or in the case of my latest errand last evening, a bottle of Merlot and a 6-pack of Sam Adams Oktoberfest - plus my purse! It holds quite a bit!)

    The flickers are big birds. After a night of rain recently, there were about half a dozen of them in our yard, pecking at the ground. Looked like a flock of funky chickens! :-) We have pigeons and mourning doves here too, and robins of course, but I think we showed up too late to see what songbirds hang out here. Judging from the huge number and variety of trees and birdfeeders (and even bluebird houses in the park) in the area, we're hopeful that we'll enjoy a great abundance of avian activity!

    And many thanks for mentioning and appreciating my artsy leaf shot. :-) I was really pleased with it. Sure was a pretty leaf with the sunlight hitting it just right!

    Can't wait to share the quilt show and more cottage photos with you!

    Spud ~ Thanks, I love the wonderful world of squirrels and leaf raking! :-) It's so pretty when a breeze makes the leaves shower down from the trees, I don't even mind it when I've just raked.

    You're right that this place is very different than "Almosta Ranch," yet heavenly in its own way. So far we are really enjoying and appreciating all that living in this area has to offer us, even though life is still a bit more hectic than we want it to be.

    We did work really hard, and sacrificed a lot while at the old place, so while it didn't pay off as much as we'd hoped when it came to the final sale price, we are grateful to have sold it at all in this market. It was looking pretty grim by August and we've watched homes with which we were competing have to drop their prices again and still not sell. And not having to spend more time and money on repairs/improvements was great! Did I tell you that the buyers ended up being the very first ones who'd looked at the house back in late April?! Took 'em long enough!

    I'm loving our wonderful weather, we've been blessed with an extra long and beautiful "Indian Summer," but part of me can't wait till the first substantial snowfall, when we can chortle and gloat over not having to make that drive up the mountain or shovel that ginormous deck! (We'll probably be humbled by the lack of a large, attached and/or insulated garage, but we'll worry about that some other time!) ;-)

  15. Molly - Brrr!! I was hoping you were getting some of this lovely weather we've been enjoying! I wonder if your proximity to the lake makes it so much colder there. We've noticed that since we now sit in a very low spot, and right on the creek, it's quite a bit colder here than in other parts of town. Lots cooler in the summer too, though!

    Your house size sounds just about perfect, and I covet your full basement, especially if it's unfinished (I love an unfinished basement). We now think 1200-1300sf would be just right for us and the three dogs, assuming some basement or garage storage. It's a lot tougher in a place that has such wildly diverse seasons, since it means there's a lot more to store. We've been trying to sell our snowthrower but so far just one nibble and no lookers. That would make some needed storage space (and after a $400 vet bill yesterday, a little needed jingle!) Another reason I'm looking forward to our first snow - maybe it will bring out the snowthrower buyers! :-)

    Andrea ~ l imagine not having your familiar things around you would definitely make it feel like someone else's home for a while, but I know you'll end up making it just beautiful and all your own with your artistic touches! Were you able to create a comfortable work space for yourself?

  16. Just lovely cottage and really a beautiful place.

    Willow looks adorable!

  17. Sonia ~ Thank you, we think so too (about the cottage, the place, and ~ most importantly ~ Willow! :-) Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your fun comments! I hope you'll return, as I'll be sharing more scenery (and Willow) photos soon.

  18. Hey Tex-I was hoping your absense meant a house sale!! I'm so happy for you. Congrats. Your realtor is right. No repair requests is a beautiful thing in this market. I'm delighted.
    Your new cottage is so sweet. It must be a big adjustment living in space 1/3 of what you had, but less IS more. My house is about that size, and half the time I don't use the extra room.
    I'm glad too that Willow is happy. Your setting looks really nice and I bet you'll enjoy living in town. New adventures are the best. Spiffy bikes too!

  19. Sue ~ Thank you! I was wishing throughout the process that I'd find time to email you, but never did. I'm feeling a lot less overwhelmed these days, but still at loose ends - still can't find a few things since the move (where's my stapler?!) and am trying to get into a routine, which is taking longer than I'd thought. Probably because life here is so different than it was up on the mountain! I keep getting pulled away on walks and bike rides, for one thing. And my weeks no longer have to revolve around my Wednesday marathon trips to town! We do love living in town, at least so far. Took far less adjustment than either of us thought it would.

    I'm so glad you like the cottage! Funny you'd mention about not using your extra room half the time, because just last evening BW remarked that unlike the old house, which had rooms we almost never entered never mind used, we use every bit of this one. With the possible exception of the sunporch off the living room (on the north side), since it still has the original single pane windows (several of which are cracked) and isn't insulated, so it's gotten too cold out there to enjoy. If we buy this place, that's one of the first things we'll address. But we use every other room daily. The second bedroom is our office.

    The entire fur gang seems very happy here, and they're going on walks (sometimes wicked long ones) nearly every day - these walking paths are fantastic! Josie is such a couch potato and so loves laying under a grove of poplars in the corner of the backyard where she can keep an eye on everything going on around the cottage (while remaining "invisible") that she's less keen on having to get off her butt and go for walks. :-)

    Thanks for your good advice about not piddling around over a few thousand dollars. We wish we could have gotten more, but we're glad to have sold at all and without any hassles! Couldn't ask for much more in this market!

    Hope you and Tula are doing well, hope to do some catching up on your blog very soon! xoxo

  20. Laloofah, for one reason and another, I haven't been checking blogs much recently, but Barbara told me you'd moved house! Yay!!! I'm SO pleased it all worked out in the end! Your new place looks so cute and American! Do post some interior shots soon! Happy hugs!

  21. Penny ~ I'm glad Barbara mentioned our move so you could stop by and see this post! Thank you for your cheers! :-) I'm glad you think our new cottage is cute, and you're right - it's quintessentially American, being from a Sears Catalog! :-) I still need to find time to explore your post that gives a tour of your cottage - I am still trying to get a routine and tie up lots of loose ends, and the days just fly by.

    I can't promise it will be soon, but I can promise I'll share some interior shots when I can. I've photographed a couple of rooms already, but still need to get a little organized in some others. Seems we always have several projects going on, with the associated clutter!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Penny!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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