(This post was migrated from the first RH website, first published in May, but explains how we got here.)
Ahh... the first blog post, finally. I have been waiting for everything to settle down before getting this blog started, but now it looks like I'll be playing catch up, because we've already been here almost three months!
My husband and I met in the fall of 1994 in botany class at the University of Washington in Seattle. We were both in the forestry department, but I was working on my Conservation of Wildland Resources degree while he was working toward a Forest Management degree. That pretty much set the stage for the rest of our relationship -- I catch the spiders in the shower and set them outside, he washes them down the drain. I spend way too long pulling weeds, while he wants to reach for the Round Up. BUT --- it works. Opposites attract and we're opposites in many ways, but in many ways we fit perfectly, and so here we are, 25 years later, married, two beautiful, AMAZING daughters who were both born in China, tons of cats on Earth and in Heaven, and 11 moves in 22 years of marriage.
Charley began his career as a forester for the Makah Indian Nation in Neah Bay, Washington. Our house overlooked an undeveloped bay full of otters and whales and eagles on the beach. It was a postcard. It was not to be our last postcard view. Then we moved closer to Olympia, Washington. No postcard views there, but we purchased our first house there and put in gardens, picket fence, everything. That was wonderful -- our little backyard was bursting with veggies all summer, and our front yard was jam-packed with flowers, including lavender plants I'd grown from seed while we were in Neah Bay. But then Charley had the chance to move into a reforestation forester position in Tillamook, Oregon, and we jumped at the chance to move to the Oregon Coast.
We lived in Tillamook the longest so far -- seven years, and it's also where we were when we went through two international adoptions which resulted in our family doubling in size, adding Emily and Mary to our madness. That yard was also cram-packed with gardens -- raised beds in the back full of spinach and tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. And our flower gardens were HUGE and took up most of the backyard. Luckily, we lived near a park, so we could pop over there so the girls had room to run.
But then Charley got a new job that took us north again, outside of Astoria, Oregon -- it was an acre. A WHOLE ACRE. Not only did we install A HUGE GARDEN, but we also added A HUGE BERRY GARDEN. And then we got chickens!!! Our acre was flat, in the country, the neighbors were quiet and friendly, and the view out the back was a beautiful little mountain that was always covered in mist. I'd started a blog while in that house and it was called Under the Misty Mountain -- I'd forgotten that was a thing in the Lord of the Rings books -- but it was truly like living in a moving picture postcard. The mountain changed all the time -- the mist would roll off its back and run down the side, pooling in the valley below. The sun would shine on the trees, lighting up a million shades of green, tossing shadows at the back. It was always different -- under clouds, through the rain, covered in a dusting of snow. I loved that view.
Our next move(s) took us up to Washington again, just over the border, and even though the two homes there were rentals, we planted flowers. I always plant lavender and rosemary everywhere I go. Fuschia baskets, ground covers, pots of mint, thyme, and sage. We missed the acre under the misty mountain, we missed owning a home. But there was a recession on, so we knew we had to ride it out and wait. Our time would come again.
And then a job appeared that would take us back to the Oregon Coast. We found a rental on top of the hill in Astoria -- a 100-year-old American Foursquare, yellow with white trim, and it had a dumb waiter, coal shute, and FOUR STORIES. The views of the Columbia River were FREAKING AMAZING. Totally a moving postcard! Every day! But we knew it was temporary -- it was on the busiest corner of the entire city, no actual parking spots, traffic driving by would drown out conversations and/or the TV, even when the windows were closed! So we bought our last house -- the Buttercup Cottage. Down below on a dead end street, it was wonderful. We fixed it up, made it our home, enjoyed living right downtown close to the water and the Sunday Market, but then.... it happened.
Another job offer.
But this time we weren't looking.
Charley was contacted by a company who was looking for a district forester, and it would be a significant pay raise. The kind of raise you can't turn down.
Discussions began in the summer of 2018. Where Charley's at in his career, there's an age gap -- people in forestry are retiring, but there's no one to hire, because anyone with the amount of experience in forestry that they need are already working somewhere. So what happens then is, companies have to find the people qualified for the job and woo them from their current job -- and we were definitely wooed. WOOED.
The journey from our first discussions of moving to Roseburg to moving into our Rosemary Hill was six months. It felt like two years. It was such a stressful time -- we were in the middle of a huge backyard renovation at the Buttercup Cottage -- the structures were done, but the decking, landscaping, patio, etc. etc. were just not done. We'd had to stop because the fall rains had come, and so we were just planning on picking it up the next summer. But that was not what happened.
I spent Christmas break painting, fixing, tweaking, and cleaning out the cottage. I filled the one-car garage with packed boxes and furniture. Then I filled the man cave in the basement with packed boxes and more furniture. We kept packing and packing and packing. I had packed us up how many times before?? But this one HURT. I was so sick of it. I just wanted everything to pack itself!!! Throughout ALL of this, my sweet kitty Sandy, who was 19, was dying. We knew it was just a matter of time. I was so stressed out from the impending move, waiting to hear details about the job, Sandy's time becoming shorter and shorter -- she needed literally all of my attention when she was awake.
The house went on the market the first Friday in January.
We had eight showings, and that entire weekend Sandy was just getting worse and worse.
We had five offers by Sunday night, one over the asking price.
Monday the 7th was Charley's first day working in Roseburg -- five hours away. He would be staying in a company-owned home during the week and coming home on the weekends for who-knew-how-long, because that wouldn't be stressful at all.
Monday morning I had to take Sandy to the vet and say goodbye. That was after a night of no sleep for me because Sandy had to sleep right next to me, but I was terrified she would try to get off the bed, and her legs just weren't working anymore. So, no sleep, just Worried Mama Night. I hadn't been able to eat that morning, because I spent the morning holding her -- it was what she wanted. She was done. She was so tired. She wanted me, and she needed to go see our sweet Bob and my mother and grandmother in Heaven. So I held her -- I held her in my arms and talked Mary through making her lunch and remembering her things for school, because we were all a mess knowing Sandy was going away that morning. It was awful. Truly awful. She was almost 20, born in the summer of 1999.
After the vet, which was heart-wrenching, I had to go to our Realtor's office, by myself, with no breakfast, and decide which offer to accept so we could sell the house. *SNIFF* They had snacks -- nuts and dried fruit -- at the Realtor office. And coffee (Oh - I forgot that part --- I'd left the vet's office and went to 3 Cups Coffee, but THEY WERE CLOSED for remodeling!! MORE BAD TIMING!).
We got Charley on speakerphone and made a decision. January was a blur of inspections on our house, and negotiations.... nightmare. They cost us money, the Realtor's cut was astronomical, considering that our house sold itself the second they threw it online. But, whatever. Keep going. Meanwhile, we had to buy a house in Roseburg.
Ahhhh..... the house in Roseburg. In September 2018, I started looking at houses for sale in Roseburg, Oregon, that were on property. Because I wasn't moving again. I wanted a farm, mini-farm, a farmette, whatever. I wanted space. I wanted to look out the window and not see into a neighbor's house.
I saw Rosemary Hill in that first round of searching... it had palm trees. It looked like a resort. It looked like home. The amenities were swoon-worthy -- on 4.5 acres, it had a greenhouse, a huge garden full of raised beds -- all irrigated with well water. Oh, there was an orchard that was also irrigated with well water. And the patches of grass of flower gardens around the house were also irrigated with well water. Did I mention there was a well set up to irrigate the whole flipping property?
The house was five bedrooms, 3,000 square feet, and there was a carport connecting the house to the shop that is almost 2,000 square feet. There was an acre of oak forest behind the house, and two acres cascading out in front of the house, where there was a huge loop of a driveway that had to be almost a quarter of a mile.
Did I mention the palm trees?
All I saw was that garden full of food. The greenhouse full of seedlings getting ready to hit the yard. Berries added to the orchard. Lavender filling that grassy area out front -- I could get at least an acre's worth out there. I could add a gazebo in the middle.
I already knew that the Roseburg area is like a GARDENING MECCA. You can easily garden year-round here using row covers, your greenhouse, cold frames, etc. Easily. The limiting factor is water -- but this house had a well. And the well is just for the yard -- the house is on a community water system separate from the well.
And then I really started thinking bigger -- we could have chickens again, but instead of 10, we'd have room for 20! Enough to give us eggs, and then I could sell the excess. And we could have bees!! Bee hives for honey bees in the front, Bee boxes for mason bees in the back.
When we were looking at properties, not one ticked as many boxes as this one.
We came down for a quick trip after Christmas to view homes -- this house was at the top of what we wanted to spend, but we drove into the valley and I saw it, and I felt the blood rush to my heart. We drove up the driveway and I felt like I was coming home. We get out and the scope of the yard, the view, the way the house sits on the hill -- everything -- was perfect and screamed HOME. The house was huge, just went on forever. The backyard looked like a park, and led into the oak forest beyond. The shop was huge and had its own guest bedroom and bathroom, which is amazing. No other house we looked at matched this one.
So we bought it.
I named it Rosemary Hill after our daughters, Emily Rose and Mary Pearl. I love the plant rosemary, don't get me wrong, and I will plant more and more rosemary, but there will be more lavender here than anything else (hopefully, eventually) and so everyone will wonder why it's not called Lavender Hill. LOL
Part of the deal of buying a large property like this is that the land can help earn its keep, and so that is what we're working for -- growing the fruit and vegetables we need for our family, and then the excess can be sold. Have enough laying chickens to provide us with eggs and then sell the extras, and then eventually running enough hives so that Rosemary Hill will have its own honey source.
Rosemary Hill: Honey, Herbs, and Eggs
Now I just need a logo.
Welcome to the first blog post -- we moved here during a major blizzard, but that's for post #2.
With love from the hill.....