Winter, Blessings, and a Barn

What an absolutely brutal winter.

*

That star up above represents the 800 words I just cut from this post, where I went into a bunch of boring detail describing how sucky it was for me, linking to articles proving how abnormally rainy and grey it was to “prove” it was okay for me to feel that way, etc, etc.

When I’m boring myself with my whininess I know it’s probably time to cut the words.

Suffice it to say, it was an abnormally rainy winter.  There were only 3 mild days between October and March (when there are usually 17), some months broke rainfall records that have lasted since… well, since they started recording rainfall records. Other months didn’t break those records… but they fell short by less than a tenth of an inch.

At the library we had a lot of people coming in and printing bus tickets, or plane tickets, or any other ticket they could find to get outta Dodge.  “I can’t handle it anymore.  You never see the sky,” they’d say, with a half-crazed, almost caged look to their eyes.

Even long-timers were feeling the press of the grey.

“I don’t remember it ever being this bad,” said my amazingly sweet great-grandmother of a neighbor as she leaned on our adjoining fence.  She raised her own 4 kids in our house before selling it to us, kids who are now grandparents of their own, and it’s been kind of great picking her brain on things like “what kind of tree is this”, etc.  Also, it was nice hearing from her that she thought it was bad, because it kind of validated how I’d been feeling.  “I just don’t think it’s ever been this bad before.”

I heard it time and again.

“This feels worse than ’96.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“I can’t handle much more of this.”

The never-ending winter hung over the entire Willamette Valley like a gloom, like a giant weather-based dementor from the Harry Potter series, and…

Wait.  I thought I said I didn’t want to talk about it?

Anyways, now that it’s sunny, I find myself doing my best to quit wallowing and move on.

Depression is an irritating condition.  I think I’m a little better equipped to deal with it because of my rheumatoid arthritis, and because of my time spent being pregnant in the past. When your body is not your own, when it has been shared with another human, or is still being shared with an immune system that is honestly too stupid to live, it’s easier to understand that the way you’re feeling right now may not actually be reality.

 

Yes, Finn, it does kind of feel like that.

I spent a lot of time this winter looking around, counting my blessings.  I don’t just mean that as a phrase – I would look at them and acknowledge them.  Check out this house you’re living in, Becky.  Look at this amazing living room, with all this light.

Check out the view in your back yard.  Did you ever think you’d have a back yard like this?  I mean, sure you dreamed of it, but did you think it would ever happen?

Load the kids up in the van, it’s time to drop them off at school.  Yeah, the inside of the van is pretty dirty, but check out that mileage.  Look how reliable and wonderful it is.Do you remember, Becky?  Do you remember what it was like, just ten short years ago, to have cars that you worried about driving, or that actually caught on fire

Look at your twins.  It’s so, so much better than you feared when you were pregnant. Sure it gets overwhelming at times, but for the most part, it’s actually almost easy. You are so lucky, Becky.

Check out that amazing dog.  Revel in the job that you love going to. Look at your amazing horse, in your own backyard.

Etc, etc.

I don’t know how depression is for everyone else, but my depression is a talkative thing.  It’s not just content with keeping me from feeling happiness – it’s bound and determined to make sure I notice it, with its mutterings of “it will always be like this”, and the “why bother”s, etc.  I find that talking back to it helps.  It helps me recognize the depression whispers as lies.

No, depression, life is not actually sad. My body is just not doing a good job producing the right happiness chemicals.  Objectively, I’m very happy.  I just can’t quite feel it right now.

 

On a side note, I did break down and go to the doctor somewhere around March or April, to discuss the possibility of medication.  I don’t remember what month it is because the twins still aren’t sleeping through the night, so time is still a little bit hazy.

Anyways, I took all four kids with me, and as I pulled up into the parking lot, Magpie spewed curdled, half-digested milk vomit all over the car.

Yaaay!

I suppose if you have enough kids, eventually one of them is bound to get carsickness.

I cleaned her up as best as I could, and shoved them both into my TwinGo baby carrier. (Side note:  Dude.  If you have twins, get one.  I don’t know where I’d be without mine.)  When it came time for the appointment, I left DragonMonkey and Squid in the waiting room, doing their homework.  “If I come back and find out you’ve done anything but sit there, I’m going to skin you alive and pick my teeth with your bones, you got that?  I mean, love you.  Be back soon.”

I would have brought them with me into the waiting room, but they’re terrible eavesdrops and even worse gossips, and I didn’t feel like having them running all over town, spreading the news of my depression like tiny little town criers.

The doctor I met with seemed like a very friendly, intelligent, and caring man.  He shook my hand, and I think he said that he’d suggest waiting on the medication until the sunlight came back a bit, and that I was doing a great job as a mom, and that if it got any worse to just call him back.  He might have also suggested I see a counselor?  I think?

If I sound unsure about the details of the appointment., it’s because the second I stepped into the room Finn decided to begin wailing at the top of his lungs, and we conducted the entire office visit screaming at each other.

“ARE YOU TAKING ANY VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS?”

“WHAT?”

“VITAMIN D.  ARE YOU TAKING ANY?”

“YES.  I FORGET SOMETIMES, THOUGH.”

“WHAT?”

“I SAID I FORGET SOMETIMES.”

“MAKE SURE YOU DON’T FORGET.  IT’S VERY IMPORTANT.”

“WHAT?”

I suppose I should just be glad I wasn’t there to talk about genital warts, or anything like that.

I took Finn out of the baby carrier and tried to entertain him, but he wasn’t having it, and he spent the entire visit doing alligator rolls in my arms, trying to escape…. only to scream even louder when I set him down.   By the time the visit ended I was a sweaty, frazzled mess.

And if you think I’m exaggerating, I’ll have you know that I was looking at the doctor’s notes about the visit, and he actually noted it:  “Seems overwhelmed upon having two of her four children in the room with her.”

Thanks, Doc.  I love you, too.

The good news about the whole thing is that when I came out to the waiting room, I discovered that both DragonMonkey and Squid had finished their homework, put everything back into their backpacks, and were sitting quietly, reading books as they waited for me….. so I know there’s a light at the end of the very long “I have a toddler” tunnel.  I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.

Anyways, I’m bound and determined to stock up on as much Vitamin D as possible this summer, and then when fall hits, if I start to struggle again,  I’ll revisit the issue of medication then.

As far as life on Bean Acres… it’s pretty sweet.   In fact, it’s so nice that sometimes I feel guilty, very #FirstWorldProblems about having struggled with depression.  Even though I know it’s a brain chemical imbalance, I still feel embarrassed.  It’s not even that I feel so cliché (Oh, look, another overweight American struggling with depression…)

It’s that I feel ungrateful, when I have so much compared to so many.

“Oh, hi, hold on… let me wipe the counter of my brand new gorgeous house – I did just finish making breakfast from the bountiful food in my fully-stocked fridge,

And as you know, those crumbs do get everywhere…… Oh, wait, give me one more moment to wipe the faces and hug my beautiful, healthy, loving children,

 

And pet my loving companion, the best dog ever,

and let me take a few moments to throw some feed to my magnificent horse in my very own backyard,

… my backyard with the acreage and the stunning views I’ve dreamed of all my life…

 

 

Anyways, after I do all that I’ll come back and tell you about how I’m so sad …”

Bodies, man.  Aren’t they irritating, sometimes?  At least with the return of the Vitamin D my brain has remembered how to feel happiness again.

Moving on.

The big news in my life right now is that I have a barn in my backyard.  In fact, I can see it right now, as I’m typing this, peeking out from behind the leaves of the trees, and the red siding is bringing me a ton of joy.

I know I shouldn’t take joy in things, but in people… but eh.  Who cares.  DUDE, I HAVE A BARN! 😀 😀 😀

After trying to figure out the best horse shelter idea for the long run, we ended up going with a carport/metal building company, and built it from scratch, so to speak.  We placed the order for it about a month after we moved here, but there was a backlog of orders so we had to wait.

It ended up being a good thing that there was a backlog of orders, because as it turns out I absolutely cannot judge the slope of a land.

“Is your ground level?”, the carport company asked.
“Yup!  It’s got a slight tilt to it, but it’s almost completely flat.”
“We need it to be within 2-3 inches.”
“Oh, it’s not nearly as bad as that.”

When The Bean found out I had told the metal building people that it was flat, he very politely didn’t laugh at me.  “I don’t think it’s nearly as flat as you think it is, Becky.  It’s gonna take a lot of work to get it within 2-3 inches..”

I was positive he was wrong…. but as it turns out, not only was he right, he was REALLY right.  If we had tried to level the land behind the paddock, where I originally wanted to put the barn, we would have had to install a 6 foot retaining wall before we were done.

 

Even though I know this, and that I trust the guy who told me that… my brain refuses to see it. My eyes still look out my kitchen window and see flat land, with just a tiny bit of a slope.

I think we can safely knock “land surveyor” off my list of potential careers.

Eventually we settled on a “flat” spot on the other side of the property.

Even at the flattest spot, we still had to dig down almost half a Squid high to make it flat.

We added 5/8 minus gravel  to help with drainage.  In fact, it was literally 24 tons of 5/8 minus gravel, courtesy of the local quarry.

The guy who came out and did the backhoe work was very knowledgeable and had a lot of experience, and he thinks that with the gravel and the angle of our property and growing some grass on the dirt that it will be enough to combat any water problems, but if it’s not we’ll rent some equipment and install a french drain like we did on our old property.

The hardest part about the process, aside from the waiting, was trying to keep the boys and their bicycles off the hard-packed gravel as we waited for the barn to be delivered.

Eventually, it arrived.

It looked really small to my eyes with only the framework, but after the whole “Oh, sure, our land is flat” fiasco, I’ve learned not to trust my eyes.

 

It took two days to install, but once it was it was even more awesome than I imagined.

 

 

 

You know what I learned about myself?  I learned I like barns almost as much as I like horses.  Every time I step into that barn I get the same feeling of peace as I do when I’m scratching on Caspian’s neck, or listening to him graze.

The next step was turning the 20×24 metal building into a barn with a hay area and two 12×12 stalls.

I actually think I’m going to save that for another post, simply because this one is getting too long already, and I have a bunch of boring “how to” photos that I know someone out there on the internet is going to like.

Since I’m saving the how-to for a later post, I’ll just skip to the end and say that it took the whole village to get it done – my stepdad engineered the whole thing, The Bean helped with engineering troubleshooting and such after he got home from work (most people don’t know he came thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to getting an engineering degree back before we met), and my mom watched the kids and cooked amazing meals and kept the trains running on time, so to speak..

I mostly lifted heavy things, stared in awe at my stepdad as he accomplished in four days what would have taken me four years to figure out, and walked around the barn with my arms outstretched saying “Look at this!  It’s so cool.  Look!  It looks just like the drawing I did!  It never looks like the drawing!  This is so cool!”

So, check it out.  I’ve got a barn!

 

 

Yay! A hitching post! This means I can now bathe Caspian to my heart’s content, because it means I don’t have to set aside an hour each time to hold him while he dries.

 

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