A few things to report since I last posted about a month ago:
- We went on a spontaneous camping trip in – or, rather, near – the Methow Valley over Labor Day weekend. Because we hadn’t planned to do this at all, it felt like a special treat, and also somehow surreal.
At 2 pm on Saturday we were still lounging around, with no intentions to do anything special that day or that weekend; at 5 pm we were suddenly running around the apartment and throwing forks and flashlights and instant noodle soups into bags; at 10 pm we were driving through the North Cascades, pitch dark except for the glimmer of lights near one of the dams far below the highway; at midnight, after hearing an owl and seeing a bear in Winthrop, we were scrambling up a seemingly endless forest road in our rusty little city car, with the dog bouncing up and down in my lap; and at 1 am, we were finally at our campsite, with innumerable stars above our heads and a fire going to keep us warm on a surprisingly chilly night. It ended up being a really good, low-key trip. We hiked a short trail down to a lake during the day and walked on the forest road at sunset, collected water from a stream running through a sort of miniature grotto, and realized that a burnt forest doesn’t look all that scary, especially several years later when young trees are beginning to emerge and there is fireweed everywhere (the area we were in was burned in the Tripod Fire in 2006). Also, a bear came to our tent at night. At least, we think it was a bear. It definitely sounded like a large animal moving around, and not one with hooves. A cougar is another possibility, but it would have been much quieter. Our dog barked, and P. yelled at whatever it was that was outside and then came out of the tent to take a look, but it was gone.
- I actually spoke to a bank about getting a mortgage loan! We discovered the USDA Rural Development Loan Program, and it looks like we may qualify for a Guaranteed Loan. I emailed a bit back and forth with the USDA office in our state, and then contacted one of the banks on their approved lender list. This was a very preliminary conversation, but at least I got some questions answered – although now I have even more questions! The bank also sent me a copy of their loan application form and a list of paperwork they would need us to submit along with it, so we can see what we’ll need to prepare when the time comes.
- We continue to go back and forth on the “buy a house” vs. “buy land and build” issue. Initially we were leaning towards buying a piece of land and building a home, then decided that it would be much easier to buy land with a house already in place so we could move immediately, and not get bogged down with construction. Most recently, we are swinging back to “build” again. We’d like to do the building ourselves, but we know that we will need a lot of help. I’m pretty good at figuring out paperwork, so I feel reasonably confident that I can deal with all the permitting and compliance requirements, but then there is the actual construction work… P. has one family friend in mind that may be able to help with that, but hasn’t spoken to him yet. There is another friend who immediately comes to mind as someone who could pitch in as well. If these two guys are available, it would make all the difference; however, we’d need to pay their way to come here (they live in other countries), and also somehow time the whole thing in a way that works with both their schedules, our schedule, finances, and the weather – oh, and the availability of a suitable piece of land, of course.
- Hopefully there will be a bit of improvement in our financial position soon. I am taking on some side projects in addition to my main job this month and for the next several months. Some of these were planned; others fell in my lap and I couldn’t say no, because the work is so rewarding for me in a number of ways, only one of which is cash. P. and I decided to try to save half of this extra money and use the other half to make extra payments on our credit card debt. It won’t be a huge amount of money, but it should make a tangible difference in reducing our debt, and it will feel good to have some savings again, as we’ve had two dollars and change in our savings account for months now (I can almost hear the tinkling of the pennies as I type this).
Also, on a totally different note, I’m sorry I hardly ever post photos on this blog. I think I’ve posted one or two so far? I know, a blog without pictures is boring, right? We used to have a good DSLR camera and take lots of photos, especially P. However, our camera, which we still have, is no longer good because of age-related wear and tear, and is virtually non-functional. We use an iPod to take photos now, but it’s not the same, and P., historically the family photographer, is rarely in the mood to take pictures these days. When he does photograph something on our trips, it’s usually a shot of me, the dog, or a combination of the two of us, and because I’m still blogging anonymously, I’m reluctant to post those. In any case, there is not much in those photos that would be of interest to anyone other than immediate family and close friends. I’ll do my best to find a way to liven up this space a bit, whether it’s through photos or some other way.