Tag Archives: moving to Santa Rosa

A Tour of the House We’re Moving To in Santa Rosa

My mom and my aunt bought this house over 7 years ago together.  My aunt lives in Wisconsin but loves to travel and had been spending time visiting us in California because she loves the warm weather and the California wineries.  They decided they would buy a house together so my aunt could have a California home away from home.  Not long after they bought it my cousin Nick had a terrible snowboarding accident which left him a paraplegic.  This changed my aunt’s life profoundly as she and my other cousins all pitched in to take care of Nick and help him adjust to a drastically different life.  Her California dreams pretty much ended right there.

After we moved to Oregon my mom went through a real rough patch while waiting endlessly to get into the surgery queue at Kaiser for her hip which was causing her tremendous pain.  We convinced her to come up to Oregon, at least for long enough to get her surgery, and she ended up staying because she loved Portland so much.  All these years this house on Cherry Street has been rented out.  Now that we’re moving back and need a place to live we get to live in this cool house!  Unfortunately, my aunt recently told my mom that she wants to sell it.  It’s not a great time to sell, though, so she’s decided to wait at least a year before putting it on the market.  I’m not going to lie, I hope she never sells it.  None of us will ever be able to buy a house again unless some miracle happens and I become a best selling author or unless Philip becomes a famous artist selling his pieces for buckets of cash.  We love this house.

I am a practical person though and know that I may have to find another place to live in a year.  In the meantime, I get to live in this house and I am SO excited!  So excited I want to give you the whole tour.  My mom took all these pics when she was still living there and she didn’t have any pictures of the back unit where she has chosen to live (a tiny apartment in the back of the house) so I can’t show you that.  The pictures aren’t all show-stoppers but you’ll get a good idea of what our living space will be like.

This is the front porch and that door enters into an enclosed porch which will be my “office”.  This house is right down town so there’s a lot of foot traffic on this street.  It’s also spitting distance (literally) from the middle school so there are lots of rowdy teens and parents around during the school year.  It’s not a quiet location and I’m so happy about that because I’ve had six years of complete quiet and I can’t wait to live somewhere where there’s good people watching from the front porch and friendliness.  This street is actually not the safest in the entire city as it has a few halfway houses on it and my old psychologist’s office is just three blocks down.  But who cares?  Makes life interesting.  Right now I am surrounded by adult foster care houses (on three sides) with “interesting” people coming and going all the time and routine ambulance visits (sometimes several times a week) so I’m used to an environment of unstable people but this time there will also be other neighbors and an awesome downtown a very quick walk away.

The back yard is low maintenance and very shady.  I won’t be turning it into a vegetable garden.  I also can’t do funky stuff with this property since we’re only renting it and my aunt will expect it to look nice when she decides to sell.  Mostly it will remain just as you see it.

Another view of the back yard.  This is what’s to the right of the previous picture.  Lots of trees and I can’t deny that the shade will make me happy since I can’t stand all that California sunshine and heat.  I’ll be so thankful to be able to get some fresh air without being beat down by the angry summer sun.  It’s a really pretty yard.  We’ll be putting in a laundry line for sure.

This is the back door that leads into the laundry room and then into the kitchen.  There’s some good sun in this spot so I will definitely be putting some herbs in and maybe a lemon tree.

This is my office.  The tile floor will be nice for keeping my feet cooler in the spring, summer, and fall when it’s always warm warm or HOT.  It’s long and narrow and full of light.  It’s a strange little space but when we decided to move into this house I knew immediately that it was the perfect space for me to work and write in.  I’m really excited to set it up.

This is the dining room which is bigger than the “living room”(below).  We don’t do much dining at a dinner table.  I know we’re freaks but it doesn’t work out for us as a family and it doesn’t mean we don’t spend quality time together or that we don’t make time for great discussions.  We just don’t do it over food.  So we’re most likely going to use this room as our living room and use the little narrow living room as a dining room.  It’s hard to tell until we get all our furniture there.

It’s hard to get an idea of this space from this picture but it’s the best I have.  Those french doors lead into the entry way where the front door is.  This room is rectangular and has so many windows and doors that there’s very little actual wall space.  The same is true of the dining room (above).  While this makes furniture arrangements difficult, it is also why the light in this house is so wonderful.

This is the downstairs bedroom which will be mine and Philip’s.  It’s weirdly shaped but decent sized.

This is the downstairs bathroom which is decently sized but features the smallest claw foot tub I’ve ever seen and my mom says it’s missing a foot and is not super stable.

The kitchen is not particularly exciting but it’s a medium size and has a gas range.  Not a lot of storage but I’ll enjoy it anyway.

BECAUSE IT HAS A GAS RANGE!!!!  Pretty sure that’s not the best gas range or anything but who the hell cares?  It’s not electric and for that I am super excited.  I hate cooking on electric stoves.  They’re stupid.  They’re also dangerous.  I’ve never come so close to burning my house down so many times just because the burners don’t look like they’re still on but they ARE.   If I happen to get to live here for a long time and if I had the money I would redo this kitchen with Ikea cabinetry, marmoleum flooring (or vinyl composite), and granite countertops.  And while I’m dreaming I may as well get my old O’Keeffe and Merritt gas range back from the house on Beaver Street.

This is upstairs.  Upstairs has its own small kitchen, this room which is an open living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom.  This room is going to be Philip’s office/art room.  The light is fantastic and he can do home brew projects in the wee kitchen (not pictured in this tour) and keep an eye on Max who’s bedroom is on the other side of the wall.

This bathroom is impossibly narrow but has a great CLAW FOOT TUB which I intend to use frequently.  On the other end of this room there’s another window and just enough room for a cabinet of some kind which is good because there is no other storage for this bathroom.  I wish the picture showed a better view of the tub.  It’s what I’ve been dreaming of having for the last six years.

Max’s bedroom.  Lucky boy.  It’s a nice sized room with good light which he’ll want to obliterate with dark curtains to get rid of the glare on the TV he uses to play his video games.

Just in case you missed the picture of my office in the beginning – here it is again. I’m going to be writing books in here, working for BlogHer in here, doing urban homesteading projects, and writing the Post Apocalyptic Cookbook in here.

Postage stamp front garden patches.  My aunt love agapanthus.  I know she’s not alone in her appreciation for it but it’s beloved of institutional landscaping and I really dislike it.  I will give these away to someone else and then when the day comes that I have to move out – I’ll put agapanthus back for my aunt if she wants me to.  I see herbs (both culinary and medicinal) and flowers going in these wee patches of soil.

That’s the end of the tour.  Philip took off this morning in his u-haul truck, trailing his car behind it.  It’s not pleasant to have him gone knowing he won’t be back for three weeks.  I miss him already.  He’s moving into the upstairs rooms (the other two units of the house are still occupied by tenants until July 1st).  Tomorrow he has a job interview with a company he really wants to work for.  Keep your fingers crossed for him and send him courage and brilliance at 1pm.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Putting the Urban Back in My Homesteading

Yesterday we officially announced that we’re moving back to California.  The decision to do this came just two months after getting our home loan modified.  It seems amazing that we could work so hard to keep our house, to stay in this town, and then decide to walk away from it, but we’ve  been miserable here.  For a long time we wouldn’t let ourselves even consider moving back to California because it seemed impossible.  We can’t sell our house and we’re broke as shit and jobs are hard to find anywhere so we chose to make the best of what we had going on here.  Hence our great efforts to keep our home.

However, our morale has been extremely low.  The company Philip works for doesn’t pay him industry standard wages for the work he does and raises have been thin on the ground.  We thought we couldn’t afford to move but it turns out we can’t actually afford to stay either.  The job opportunities in this town are few and are mostly retail or office related with poor pay and little chance for advancement.  (Unless you’re a tattoo artist – there are TONS of opportunities for tattoo artists all over the state of Oregon.)  Jobs in Portland aren’t particularly plentiful in his field either.

I haven’t been this depressed since I was a teen and for the first time in at least ten years the thought of dying started coming back to me as a viable alternative to continuing to live in a town I hate, broke, with a very thin support system and I eat a lot of cheese and drink way too much beer to cope and so I get fatter and fatter which makes the cycle of depression that much more vicious.

It finally became obvious that if I don’t move, I will die in reality just as I’ve been slowly dying inside.  So we decided to figure out a way to move back to Santa Rosa.  If I have to be broke I would like to do it where I have a strong network of friends and family for support.

Yesterday Philip gave notice to his bosses and is going to go to Santa Rosa ahead of us to get a job (he’s been looking for two months but it’s hard to get interviews when potential employers see that you’re out of state).  Luckily I can do my job anywhere.  On July 1st we will move into a house my aunt owns with my mom in Santa Rosa and we’ll be renters for the first time in 12 years.  I’m totally okay with that.  The house has a good sized yard but most of it is in shade so there won’t be a lot of vegetable gardening there.

I will be able to do some gardening at my father in law’s 2 1/2 acre property within easy scootering distance of our house.  He has always been generous about letting me run wild in his orchard of old apples and dig holes and plant things so I will get to do some food growing – it just won’t be on my own property and I’m okay with that too.

This is partly why I chose not to start our dairy free cooking challenge until August.  Starting a whole new way of cooking in the middle of a cross-state move (which we will do ourselves since we can’t afford movers) seemed like a bad idea.

I’m so excited to get out of this place, to move back to a city where most people I know don’t own guns, or if they do, they aren’t cultishly excited about having them.  I’m excited to move back to a place where I’m not insulted constantly and called a child abuser for sending my kid to public school.  I’m so happy to be moving to a place where people mostly share the same liberal ideals as I have and when they have different ones can discuss it without calling Obama “Hitler”.  I’m so excited to get away from all the small mindedness.

I’ve learned a lot about myself living here and the main one is that I’m not a small town gal, I’m a city girl.  A literal urban homesteader and in that sense I’m going to more than ever be embracing the idea of homesteading on a city scale, using other people’s property to garden, foraging where I can – like how I used to pick blackberries in an abandoned parking lot and also next to the coroner’s office.  I’m returning to where my whole urban homesteading adventure began, and it feels good.