Moving into our renovated farm house wasn’t exactly like a scene from one of those hone-renovation shows on HGTV … you know, where the homeowners go away for awhile, return to a perfectly-renovated home with everything in place, then weep for joy.
Our renovations are almost but not quite finished. Rather than pay another month’s rent on the apartment, we went ahead with the move. Consequently, my HGTV moment was more like this:
“How come there aren’t any faceplates on the outlets?”
“They’re doing that next week.”
“They’re not done with these baseboards, are they? I see a lot of splatters from the walls.”
“They’re coming back to do another coat next week.”
“Uh … didn’t we used to own some nice big rugs?”
“They’re in the garage. We can’t put them on the hardwood floors for 10 more days.”
“So the movers have to come back and move all the heavy furniture again?”
“You know, I don’t want to criticize your furniture arrangements, but–”
“We have to keep all the furniture three feet from the walls until the painters and the electrician are done.”
Take it from me: if you ever feel you’re blessed with an abundance of space, move all your furniture three feet from the walls. It’s amazing how quickly it all converges in the middle of the room.
We didn’t have a working kitchen until Sunday. We knew that would be the case, so you can imagine how happy Chareva was when one of my co-workers at BMI invited us to his place for Thanksgiving dinner. When I called home to pass along his invitation, the conversation went something like this:
“Hi, Honey. Would you be interested in spending Thanksgiving with—“
Despite having to step around stacks of unpacked boxes to navigate a room, we’ve already enjoyed some out-in-the-boondocks moments. Wednesday night we saw two deer running across our front pasture. As we left for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, we drove past five wild turkeys hanging around our loooong driveway.
Jim, the aforementioned co-worker who hosted Thanksgiving, is a big man with a big laugh, a big heart and a big family – six kids. (No, he’s not Catholic or Mormon. He told me people ask him that all the time.) He’s also surrounded by his extended family. Together they all own 25 acres of hilly countryside north of Nashville, with everyone living just down the road from everyone else.
With so many relatives (plus several friends) in the house, Thanksgiving dinner was served in three different rooms. The food was terrific, and since it was a holiday, I didn’t concern myself with carb counts or which foods would qualify as paleo. I skipped dessert, but only because I was full and a slice of pie didn’t appeal to me.
The girls didn’t skip dessert. None of the kids did. Perhaps because he’s raised so many of them, Jim had wisely planned ahead with a full lineup of activities to keep the sugared-up kids busy after dinner.
For starters, they got to walk a horse around the barnyard and then ride it.
Later, the kids all participated in a shooting contest with a BB gun. As you can see, Alana developed her own technique for drawing a bead on a target.
Sara turned out to be a natural dead-eye, placing second in the contest despite never holding a gun before. If I take up hunting someday, I may have to bring her with me. I’ll spot, she can shoot.
After the shooting contest, all the kids, three dogs, and three adults set off for an hour-long hike and scavenger hunt in the forest behind Jim’s house. The kids took along their lists and dutifully checked off the items they found as they tromped up and down the hills, jumped over logs, climbed rocks, swung from branches, and waded in a stream (despite instructions from the adults to stop wading in the stream).
As we were hiking up the last hill to return to the house, Alana announced, “This is the best Thanksgiving ever!” I didn’t ask how many Thanksgivings she actually remembers. I remember quite a few, and I have to say, running around a forest in the hills of Tennessee on a cool, sunny day certainly felt like a fitting way to spend Thanksgiving. Over the river and through the trees kind of stuff.
When we said our goodbyes and left for home, Alana fell asleep in the car almost immediately. She continued sleeping for another 12 hours. I guess the best Thanksgiving ever can wear a person out.
I spent the rest of the weekend engaged in manual labor. As I mentioned when we first bought the farm, we got a great deal because the elderly widow who lived here for decades had let pretty much everything go. The wooden floors and stairs, for example, all looked like this:
The good news is that the wood has been refinished.
The bad news is that sanding and refinishing all that wood left a layer of sawdust on nearly every surface in the house. The sawdust was still there when we moved in last week. So Chareva and I spent all Friday and Saturday removing it. After we moved some furniture around (at least three feet from the walls, of course), I vacuumed all the walls, doors and baseboards, and she followed behind me with a damp rag.
It finally occurred to me to snap a picture of a wall that was partly vacuumed. You can see how thick the sawdust was.
Take it from me: if you ever find yourself complaining that your house isn’t spacious enough, try vacuuming every square inch of it. You’ll quickly realize just how big it is.
As we were clearing sawdust from Chareva’s office, two wild turkeys paid a visit to the back yard outside her office window. I managed to grab the camera in time to snap a picture of one of them before they scampered off.
We’re still more packed than unpacked, the house needs more work, my office is crowded with furniture placed three feet from the walls, the rugs are in the garage waiting for the wood floors to fully set, and there are holes in the ceiling where vents for the heat are supposed to be. Everything feels unsettled.
On the other hand, the girls had a terrific time running around the Tennessee countryside with Jim’s kids, the layer of sawdust is finally gone, the wood floors sparkle, and I’ve got deer and wild turkeys showing up on my land.
The best Thanksgiving ever? I don’t know, but it’s definitely near the top of my list.