Three-Hour Tour

Our new home has passed its inspection; the appraisal came in fine; no known financial barriers stand between us and the new place. Because things look sure, we arranged a time to meet with the current owners. This morning, John and Mary Jo (brother and sister) gave us a three-hour tour of the house.

We didn’t get any information on owners from the first half of the century — perhaps our hosts didn’t have that info — but we have plenty from 1959. John and Mary Jo’s parents bought the house in 1959. John was thirteen, Mary Jo was about eight. Their parents lived in the house until they both died four years ago. Since then, Mary Jo has lived in the house, acting as caretaker.

When the family arrived, there was a filbert orchard along one side of the house. There was also a garage and a barn (used for horses, according to John, used for cows, according to Mary Jo). The filberts eventually died (because of ice storms during the 1970s?), and the orchard was cleared for lawn and roses. Jack, their father, loved roses. He was a member of the Portland Royal Rosarians, and the property currently has 134 rose bushes.

Mary Jo and Kris toured the gardens. Mary Jo has been responsible for the garden for the last several years, so she knew the names of just about everything. The are dozens of camellias, a redwood, a cedar, an oak, a spruce, something that may be a sequoia, two pink dogwood, a star magnolia, several holly trees and lots of lilacs, a mimosa, a huge locust, an Empress Tree (Paulownia) a filbert, a glorybower tree, many rhododendrons and azaleas, and manicured boxwood hedges. Winter jasmine, daphne, weigela, peonies, ferns, japanese quince, laurel, skimmia, and what Kris is hoping is a snowball viburnum — the list goes on. There are volunteer locusts and filberts and cedars that will come out to make room for fruit trees, and lots of trimming and pruning that needs to be done.

Jack converted the barn into a workshop. He built a garden shed between the barn and the garage, and added a second storage shed on the other side of the workshop. (We hadn’t even noticed this extra storage shed before today.) Here are some photos of the interior of the workshop, which is maybe ten feet by sixteen feet on the inside:

[first photo of workshop interior]

[second photo of workshop interior]

There used to be great chestnut and cherry trees around the house, but many of them have died, leaving only dark green mounds to mark their passing. One large English walnut remains, but it’s nearing the end of its life, too. Fortunately, a volunteer walnut has started on the property, and it may grow big and strong before the old one has to come out.

The previous family hadn’t taken great care of the house, so Jack and his family spent a lot of time fixing it up. The hardwood floors — a type of oak (as you can see from the following photograph, which shows us peeking under the carpet) — were dirty, but in good condition. They may never have been refinished. The current owners have kept carpet of some sort on them for 45 years. Our current plan is to refinish the floors as soon as we get the keys.

[photo of us peeking at hardwood floors]

Jack loved windows and light, so he added many of them — including the circular window — to the parlor. His wife loved mirrors, so she mounted them on the wall, creating even more light, and adding a tremendous sense of space to the house. (I told Mary Jo that we’d love to have some of her mirrors, but we understood if she wanted to take them.) Jack liked to work with wood, too, so after he retired, he built tables, and plant stands, and a wagon-wheel light fixture, all out of a lovely maple. (Though the wagon-wheel light fixture is beautiful, we admitted that we wouldn’t keep it, which actually seemed to please Mary Jo. She’ll take it with her.)

The wallpaper in the parlor and the den — the stuff Kris hates but I love — has been up since at least 1962. It is, at a minimum, 42 years old. We admitted that we plan to take it down and to paint the walls. Mary Jo did not seem offended. She’s unsure whether the walls are plaster or drywall. She knows that many of the walls upstairs are sheetrock, because they’ve only recently been replaced. She thinks the walls downstairs may be sheetrock, also, but this doesn’t seem likely since they exhibit deformities (cracking, etc.) characteristic of plaster.

The gas furnace that we thought we needed to replace imminently, we are now reassured that it will last at least a few more years with little risk. That means more of a budget for the bathroom remodel — still a major priority — the floor project and furnishings.

As we moved from room to room, I measured various spaces, trying to determine whether our appliances and furniture will fit where we want them. The space for the refrigerator, for example, may actually be half an inch too short for our current one. It may have to live in the mud room, and we may have to buy a new one. Our “Haseldorf cabinet” will fit in the kitchen, beneath a set of wall-mounted cabinets. Our second table will fit in the kitchen. Our main table, with all its leaves, will fit in the dining room. Our sideboad will fit there, too. The mahogany ball & claw-foot desk we purchased on Friday will reside in the den’s nook. Several bookshelves will fit in the den, and in the parlor. Our old hi-fi will probably fit in the den.

The big question is how much we can fit up the stairway. Mary Jo assures us that they’ve managed to get large pieces of furniture upstairs in the past; queen-sized mattresses are a tight fit, but they do go up the stairs. We’re still worried, though.

John and Mary Jo believe the house is in the Gothic revival style of architecture (though I remain unconvinced), which was popular during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Also, once when they were doing work in the walls, they found a newspaper from 1889 (according to John — 1887 according to Mary Jo). Because of these two facts, and because of the age of the materials in the house, the current owners believe the house was built around 1890. No official records actually exist on the construction of the house. The earliest records show that the house exists in 1903, but they’re not convinced this is the actual date of construction.

John and Mary Jo were wonderful hosts, and they took obvious pride in showing us their childhood home. We hope to do them proud, to maintain its glory for many years to come.

Each time we go to the house, we love it even more. It’s perfect for us.

Bring on the projects!

(Thanks to my co-writer and wife, Kris Gates, who really ought to have her own weblog, eh?)


On 31 May 2004 (07:53 AM),
Scott Smith said:

Wow. If I can ever get back to Oregon, I hope you will let me drop by to see the new place. (Do you have a name for it yet?)
I have lived in Las Vegas for six years now, and have almost forgotten about gardens, roses and rhododendrons. I miss the sights and smells.
Here in the desert, we have a water district that pays you to rip out your lawns and install xerascape (rocks with a few drought tolerant plants). Such is the price you pay for 360 days of sunshine per year.
Congradulations on jumping through the hoops necessary to purchase the house!

On 31 May 2004 (09:55 AM),
Tiffany said:

It is amazing that the wallpaper can be 40 year old! It seems strange that it was never redone. But I guess that Grandma’s downstairs bathroom has had the same wall paper me whole life.

On 31 May 2004 (05:13 PM),
Aimee said:

On your behalf, I went to the Oregon Historical Society website to try and find an old photo of your estate, but to no avail … I couldn’t remember the name of the original builder/owner. Isn’t it something like Guernsey? In any case, I found the online photograph catalog extremely user friendly, just for your information …

On 31 May 2004 (10:01 PM),
Nikchick said:

I’m impatiently waiting for you to get settled in so I can see the place! I wish I’d had time on either of my trips to Canby this weekend to stop in and talk with you about the house and the move. It all seems very thrilling, for those of us living vicariously.

On 01 June 2004 (12:47 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

You will have to keep a lookout for old artifacts as you remodel — maybe you will qualify for HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk.” πŸ™‚ What a neat project this is for you both! I’m wondering if you have had the inspection on the house you have are selling and how that end of the process is going.

On 01 June 2004 (12:48 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

Ack — I’m not sure how that extra “have” got in there; it should read “the house you are selling.”

My Little Pony

My campaign to corrupt the innocents continues apace.

Several months ago, somebody was asking Harrison about me. I forget what question was asked, but I remember his response: “I believe most of the words that he says.” And that pretty much sums up our relationship. Mostly I’m a good influence on the boy, but occasionally I’m a rascal, and he knows it.

I was talking with Jenn recently. “You know how we have those superhero popsicles?” she said. The kids are really into these popsicles packaged in Marvel superhero wrappers: Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America. “Well, Harrison asked me today whether Spiderman is a part of Justice League.”

“What did you tell him?” I asked.

“I told him he wasn’t, but I wasn’t really sure.”

“You’re right,” I said, proud that even Jenn is beginning to absorb superhero knowledge.

“You know, you could just have Hank call me with any of his superhero questions,” I added. “I’d be happy to answer them.”

Jenn sighed.

After several days of preparation, our house is officially on the market. We had three families tour it yesterday. The last family could only make it at 8 p.m., so we called Jenn and invited ourselves over for dinner.

When we arrived, Emma was playing with horses. Multi-colored horses. With manes as long as Barbie’s hair.

“Emma,” I said. “Barbie is one thing, but now you’re sinking even lower.”

“Play with me, J.D.,” she said.

I sighed. “You know what, Scout? I’m not a big fan of horses and ponies. I don’t really want to play with them. Maybe later. Or maybe Kris will play with you.” I went outside to help Jeremy grill the steaks.

After dinner, Emma sat me down to show me more about her My Little Pony collection. (MLP FAQ, funny porn star or my little pony quiz)

“Ugh,” I said after examining all the ponies. “I’d rather clean dishes.” So, I got up and went to help in the kitchen.

Emma followed me. “J.D., come play with the ponies,” she said.

“Emma, how do I feel about the ponies?” I asked.

“You like them,” she said.

And at this point, Jenn chimed in, the voice of reason: “Oh J.D. — step out of your comfort zone and go play with the ponies.”

What I did instead was go to the den to write down this conversation for today’s weblog entry.

“Come see the ponies’ castle,” Emma told me.

I went to see the ponies’ castle. It was a molded piece of pink plastic (actually several molded pieces of pink plastic) with mirrors and steps and frilly things all around.

“Look,” said Harrison. He likes playing with the My Little Pony collection, too. “When the ponies step on the castle, music plays.” And lights flash.

“That’s not a castle,” I said. “It’s a barn.”

No,” said Emma. “It’s a castle.”

“It’s a barn,” I said. “Have you ever heard of a horse who lived a castle? Horses live in barns. That’s a pink barn.”

The kids argued with me about this for several minutes. Finally I agreed that maybe it could be a castle if the king or queen of the horses lived there.

“Ponies don’t have kings or queens,” said Harrison. And who was I to argue?

For dessert, the kids had superhero popsicles again. Emma chose a Captain America popsicle (red, white, and blue). Harrison chose a Hulk popsicle (green, purple, and grey (well, black)).

Hank I goofed around while he ate his popsicle. Because he couldn’t defend himself — he had to use both hands to eat — I covered his eyes and made him walk ahead of me, blind.

“Which superhero is blind?” I asked.

“I can’t remember,” he said.

“Daredevil. Daredevil is blind.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s what I thought.” Hank considered this for a few moments. “What are Daredevil’s powers?” he asked.

“Well, he can’t see, right? So all of his other senses are extra-powerful. He can hear things, even quiet things. He can smell things. He’s got super-sensitive touch. Plus he has a sort of radar, like a bat.”

“Oh,” said Harrison. Then he said, “Does he climb walls? Like Spiderman?”

“Not really,” I said. “No. You know how spiders and flies can climb on walls? That’s how Spiderman does it. He can climb a wall just like a spider. Daredevil isn’t like a spider. He’s very strong, and could climb a building if there were things to hold onto, though.”

Harrison thought about this as he finished his popsicle. “Well, maybe he could grab onto the walls with his hands” — and here he formed his hands into claws of strength — “he could grab onto the wall and crush it when he grabs it. He could even smash buildings!”

“The Hulk climbs walls like that,” I said. “But not Daredevil. Daredevil isn’t that strong.”

He thought some more. “Well, maybe he could have magnets in his hands and use them to climb the walls.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said. “He doesn’t do that, though. I don’t know of any superhero with magnets in his hands. Maybe you can make your own superhero.”

After the kids had gone to bed, we stayed to watch Love Actually. We just saw the film two weeks ago, and though it’s fluffy pap, it’s high-quality fluffy pap. Kris and I both like it, and were willing to rewatch it. I liked it just as much as I had the first time.

During the movie, our realtor called to let us know the eight o’clock family really liked the house. “They’ll be faxing over an offer tonight,” she said. Wow! That was quick! We still don’t know the details of the offer, but we’re meeting Mary at one today. We have until three to make our decision.


On 21 May 2004 (08:33 AM),
Joel said:

Not to bring politics into EVERYTHING, or anything, but wasn’t Hugh Grant’s character in “Love Actually” a wonderful liberal fantasy? Complete with Monica-esque girlfriend?
Also, I’ve spent some time in Milwaukee. Either I was going to the wrong bars, or there was some serious Oscar-worthy movie magic going on there.

On 21 May 2004 (09:29 AM),
tammy said:

JD,I can’t believe you find fault with My Littel Pony! I’m crushed! Anna Lise loves the things. She wanted the castle for Christmas and I didn’t get it fo rher. Now I regeret it.

And you know what? Superheroes most certainly do have magnets in their hands. Spidermand does!It helps him get up and down poles. I bought a spiderman for Wally the other day and his hands were magnetic so he could slide down the magnetic pole that came with it. His hands and feet both clasp the pole by use of magnets! Now you go apologize to that little boy! And next time believe the kid when he tells you something! Out of the mouth of babes,ya know!

On 21 May 2004 (10:02 AM),
Dana said:

Heck, back in the 70’s you could get Meego Batman and Robin dolls that had magnets in their hands and feet so they could climb up slides and swingsets and whatnot.

And then, of course, there’s Magneto…

On 21 May 2004 (10:56 AM),
Denise said:

Another set of toys I never liked was Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Blech!

On 21 May 2004 (10:57 AM),
Denise said:

Ack! Bad grammar – sorry – should be were. My apologies!

On 21 May 2004 (11:08 AM),
mac said:

is Magneto a “super hero”?

On 21 May 2004 (11:10 AM),
Emma Jordan said:

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.
-Henny Youngman, comedian, actor (1906-1998)

On 21 May 2004 (11:32 AM),
Joel said:

Ouch, I scored 5 out of 12 on the “My Little Pony or Porn Star?” quiz. Are the ponies really scented?

On 21 May 2004 (11:36 AM),
Aimee said:

Yes, dearest … I had one that smelled like cotton candy. Her name was … well, Cotton Candy.

On 21 May 2004 (11:40 AM),
J.D. said:

Aimee: Her name was … well, Cotton Candy.

Sounds like a porn star name to me…

On 21 May 2004 (11:45 AM),
J.D. said:

And Joel, I only got two out of twelve on the porn star vs. pony quiz… πŸ™

On 21 May 2004 (11:48 AM),
Tiffany said:

Does that mean you need to watch more porn or play with toys more?

On 21 May 2004 (01:53 PM),
Joel said:

I should think the answer to that question goes without saying.

On 21 May 2004 (02:20 PM),
Johnny said:

Is there a difference?

On 21 May 2004 (02:37 PM),
Denise said:

Yeehaw! (I can say that – I grew up in Canby.) Congrats on selling your house. When you guys decide to do something, you don’t mess around, do you?

Glad that everything is going so smoothly, hope it continues to do so!

On 21 May 2004 (02:50 PM),
Tiffany said:

I already miss your house.

On 21 May 2004 (03:47 PM),
Joel said:

Eh? It’s 3:47, does this mean you’ve accepted the offer?

On 21 May 2004 (04:06 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

That sounds pretty definite — congrats, J.D. and Kris! I’m glad your house sold so fast! It’s in a great location and a nice house, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Thanks in part to you (and also one TV commercial), I signed up for Netflix about a week ago and have so far watched The Age of Innocence and Girl with a Pearl Earring, both of which I had read in the last few months. Love Actually is in my queue and I just added Fog of War due to your recommendation a day or two ago and also the fact that it receives high marks on the Oregonian A & E section’s video/DVD ratings chart. I have Lost in Translation and Calendar Girls here right now to watch. I think I will most likely watch Calendar Girls tonight and Lost in Translation this weekend. I have quite a few films yet in queue and I didn’t even browse seriously yet. -G-

On 21 May 2004 (04:07 PM),
Kris said:

We’ve accepted the offer, but of course it is contingent on the house inspection results and financing for the buyer. So, we should feel a bit more sure about the whole transaction going through by next weekend. We’ll keep you posted.

On 21 May 2004 (07:23 PM),
Lisa said:

Speaking of the Monica-esque character in Love Actually, I found it annoying that she was described as “chubby.” She was a perfectly normal looking woman. Good grief!

On 21 May 2004 (08:46 PM),
adam luckey said:

Ok…so no super heros with magnets in hands…but Magnito does have magnetic capabilities.

On 21 May 2004 (09:53 PM),
Lynn said:

Thank you, Lisa! I was terribly annoyed at the constant chubby remarks because she looked great. Oh to be that chubby!

Interpreter of Dreams

Update: From nightmare to dream come true…

Updated update: Photographs of the house (hover over photos for description)

Google is your friend.


No. No 4027044.

[photo of exterior of house]

1814 square feet farmhouse on 3/5ths of an acre — two car detached garage, workshop, garden shed — four bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, hardwood floors, period architectural details — elaborate rose gardens, many mature trees, privet hedges — tucked into the heart of Oak Grove

Kris found a house, we both fell in love with it immediately. We rushed to make an offer.

Our offer was first — and good — but a second offer came in today. With knowledge of our offer, the other buyers were able to outbid us.

We are sad at heart.

We just spent three whole days pouring every spare moment into this dream, and we came up short by the slimmest of margins.

Woe are we.

(Kris notes that we’re not really house shopping. This just happened to be the Perfect House, and it appeared unexpectedly. Please don’t tell us about the house for sale in your neighborhood.)

Kris and I sulked after hearing our offer wasn’t accepted. Denise and Shannon (and Ryan) were over — dining on Mac‘s seafood pasta — when we got the news. I’m afraid that for the rest of the evening our minds were elsewhere, and we were less than perfect hosts.

Last night and this morning, we talked and thought and talked some more. For different reasons, we came to the same conclusion: We really are ready to move, ready to live in a house that we truly love. We decided to look around.

We lay in bed for hours, reading real estate magazines, looking at web sites, trying to find a house that we loved as much. No dice. There’s nothing even close.

Still, we found a couple that we liked enough to drive by. We set out this afternoon to do just that.

We were winding our way through Gladstone, looking at houses, when Mary (our real estate broker) gave us a buzz.

“J.D.,” she said. “The first offer backed out. The house is yours if you still want it.”

We were in a state of shock. We told her we needed to talk about it.

“Do you still want it?” I asked Kris.

“Of course I still want it,” she said.

We called Mary back to accept the counteroffer. “There’s a complication,” she said. “The seller’s Realtor is expecting another offer. If you don’t sign the papers by the time she receives that offer, she’s legally bound to present it to the seller.”

We zoomed to Custom Box Service where we waited by the fax machine for the documents to arrive. We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And they came. We signed them in a hurry and faxed them back.

Mary called us a while later. “I talked with the seller’s agent,” she said. “She confirmed that she’d received your signed paperwork without any further counters, and that the other offer had not yet come in.”

“Does that mean the house is ours?” asked Kris.

“That means the house is yours,” Mary said.

We’re giddy with excitement, but we still don’t know whether to believe it.

Right now, our closing date is June 15th. Anyone want buy our house?

Rock on!

[photo of outside of house]

[photo of two-car garage]

[photo of house from near rosegarden]

[photo of dining room]

[photo of living room]

[photo of piano room]

[photo of kitchen]

[photo of back porch]


On 07 May 2004 (10:03 PM),
Bad teacher said:

Boy do I know how you feel. I was just searching for houses moments ago. We’re in that limbo-land of having not quite sold our house (Joel, Amy sound familiar?) but are still thinking of “that number ($)” that our house will sell for AND THEN look for the dream house. I guess I’m not pacing around the house but I know the appeal. “House porn”.

Porn is such a great metaphor.

I’m in the middle of our school’s musical (Anything Goes) and the kids were commenting on how bad the story/plot is and I said, “Ya, it’s kind of like porn, it’s not about the plot but the “action”. In a musical the “action” takes place during the songs…

Corrupting young minds one ensemble at a time.

On 07 May 2004 (10:12 PM),
Lisa said:

Ohhhhh… It’s a beauty–I’m so sorry that it didn’t work out.

On 07 May 2004 (10:24 PM),
tammy said:

Oh JD it is so gorgeous! That is just not fair. People shouldn’t get to know about the original offer and if they do find out the owner should give the first people a chance to up their price.

I must say I am proud of myself for hitting the bulls eye in my guesses.

On 08 May 2004 (08:33 AM),
Yoda said:

A sad end to the riddle it is. A rare gem it was indeed. Despair you must not. There are other gems out there….

You have only known of your dream a short while. In time, the dream shall become reality.


On 08 May 2004 (05:30 PM),
Lisa said:

Oooooh! I CANNOT wait to see this place in person. It looks beyond fabulous. Hope the inspection and all such stressful hurdles pass without incident.

On 08 May 2004 (06:49 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

Congratulations! It seems as if this was meant to be, the way it has come together for you. Will you be able to take the bookshelves in your computer room with you? You made such nice impreovements to that area. I wish you the best of luck with the move and selling your house!

On 08 May 2004 (08:13 PM),
Lynn said:

That house is GORGEOUS! Congratulations! And I think one of your first new-home purchases had better be a riding lawnmower.

On 09 May 2004 (03:16 AM),
nate said:

Congrats! I really dig the porch and upper-balcony features, from what I can see in the pictures. Nice yard, too.

On 09 May 2004 (06:20 AM),
dowingba said:

Holy crap, man! That would totally suck if this turned out to all be a dream. All be a dream. All be a dream. Be a dream. A dream. Dream. –ream.

On 09 May 2004 (09:38 AM),
Denise said:


Ok – all I have to say is I did mention at dinner that the deal could fall through…and you could still get the house.

And that stupid saying that everyone says…but it always seems to be true: If it’s meant to be it will happen. Oh, yeah, and the famous: Things always happen for the best.

Anyway – CONGRATULATIONS! I am so excited for you both!

No worries about being preoccupied at dinner – it was to be expected and Shannon, Ryan and I had a great time – thanks for having us!

On 09 May 2004 (02:03 PM),
Dana said:

Great news! I’ll keep my various digits crossed till closing, just in case! =)

On 10 May 2004 (07:12 AM),
Yoda said:

Much lawn to mow, you will have. Find you a lawn-mowing land-speeder, we must.

Use the force, JD…

On 10 May 2004 (08:00 AM),
Amanda said:

“Charming” doesn’t even begin to describe this house. It is spectacular! Good for you guys!!!

On 10 May 2004 (08:21 AM),
J.D. said:

I’m so enamored of this house. I keep scrolling this page up-and-down, looking at each photo individually.

Just so you know: there are definitely problems with the house. The bathroom situation is woeful. Our top priority once we close on the deal is to remodel the main bathroom, which is located on the first floor. (All the bedrooms are on the second floor.) Before we even move in, we may have to replace the wallpaper in the living room and study. Also, the current owners just put down new carpeting (which I don’t like). Why did they do this? Are the hardwood floors in bad repair? Were they simply replacing old carpeting?

These are examples of our questions.

Many of our fears have been allayed, however, by the fact that the current owner reportedly had a full home inspection done before putting the house on the market. He made all the recommended repairs on the inspector’s report. This is comforting, if true.

More later, I promise! πŸ™‚

On 10 May 2004 (08:51 AM),
Cari said:

It’s beautiful! I can’t wait to see it! We close on our new house on June 11. Moving season, I guess. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

On 10 May 2004 (11:03 AM),
Virginia said:

JD, the house is gorgeous, It looks like a total dream. It is the style house that I love.

I am soooo happy for you and Kris.

Is the house in Canby? Maybe you already said but once I seen the pictures and that you actually get it, I couldn’t even read the rest of the blog.

On 10 May 2004 (11:07 AM),
Virginia said:

OK, the house is in Oak Grove πŸ™‚

On 10 May 2004 (01:07 PM),
Paul said:


If you need help with tiling the bathroom I’ll be glad to help. I’ve tiled our bathroom and the backsplash in our kitchen. It’s kind of fun but time consuming.

(We’ll be there in July!)

On 10 May 2004 (01:14 PM),
Amy Jo said:

Oh goody. Kris and I can have tea parties in the garden . . . We can’t wait to see the house. It looks wonderful and sets my mind a flutter, thinking about a new house for Paul and I someday soon. Of course, we need to dig out from the paint cans and tools strewn about our current, hopefully soon to be sold house. I must admit, I hate to leave my garden now that it is finally taking on my character . . .

On 10 May 2004 (01:16 PM),
Amy Jo said:

Paul and me . . .

On 10 May 2004 (04:24 PM),
Shannon said:

Hey, congratulations to you both. I’m very happy for you. That was so sad when you thought you wouldn’t get it. How exciting. The pictures are great. It looks like it has a lot of character.
Denise and I had a great time. Thanks for having us over. I enjoyed the cd too. Thanks again.
Well, I wish you the best of luck with the closing. Hope everything goes well.
Keep us posted!

On 11 May 2004 (10:04 PM),
ElizabethSwartzendruber said:

J.D. AND KRIS the house is absolutely beautiful. When after the 15th are you moving? I would love come see it sometime so let me know your new address and phone number.

On 18 February 2005 (07:07 PM),
nelina said:

nice to meet you i want to know is this house has a basment an 4 or 5 bedroon and at less 2 bathroon please let me know i really want to know i need to buy a house i have looking for a house for months


Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for — or even that you’re looking — until the object of your desire appears unexpectedly before you.

What do you do then?

Do you cling to your old, safe life, the life of the known and the familiar, the life that always seems a little hollow?

Or do you take a risk? Take a chance on what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

Do you listen to your conscience, to the voice of reason, to your friends? Or do you jump at the chance to pursue a dream, succumb to love at first sight?

Maybe, in the past, you waited, took the safe path.

Not now.

You know what it’s like to taste a dream deferred. You want to know what it tastes like to taste the dream realized. Though you know you’re playing out of your league, you move as quickly as possible, pour all of your love and time and attention into your dream.

You give your best effort.

And then you wait.

You wait because your dream is in somebody else’s hands.

You wait.

Your heart sweats. Your body shakes. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. Your throat is tight — you can’t breathe.

You are chasing a dream.


On 07 May 2004 (07:54 AM),
J.D. said:

If you discover the answer to my riddle — and some of you will probably figure it out quickly — please do not share. Just sit smugly satisfied in the knowledge that you know what the hell I’m talking about. (Feel free to post conjecture, but don’t post an actual solution once you discover it.)

I’ll share the whole story some other time.

Meanwhile, discuss your dreams. What does it feel like to take leaps of faith? How much strength does it take to put your heart on the line? When have you done it and been glad? When has your heart been broken?

On 07 May 2004 (08:41 AM),
Lynn said:

So, you bought powerball tickets?

On 07 May 2004 (09:16 AM),
mac said:

is it a mint condition copy of every comic book ever made?

On 07 May 2004 (09:20 AM),
Johnny said:

Uh, you got the call and you’re going to be a Robert Palmer girl?

On 07 May 2004 (09:59 AM),
Denise said:

Well, it’s either something really good, or he’s got the DTs.

On 07 May 2004 (10:34 AM),
Dana said:

Johnny:Uh, you got the call and you’re going to be a Robert Palmer girl?

No, that’s my dream, silly =)

On 07 May 2004 (11:22 AM),
Courtney said:

You take a risk, follow your dream, and know that it will turn out as it is meant to.

In 1999, after an incredible heartbreak, I did just that!

First, I completed the Portland Marathon (my first and only so far); next I walked 55 miles in 3 days to raise money and awareness about breast cancer (Avon’s 3-Day in Southern California); then I went to Thailand by myself and celebrated the Y2K New Year.

Taking one risk enabled me to take many more and my life since has been very fulfilling.

Congratulations! I’m very excited for you!! πŸ™‚

On 07 May 2004 (11:26 AM),
Lynn said:

After wasting 6 years of my life and then getting a divorce (no, I’m not bitter at all), I bought my own house and went back to school. It was scary to start all over and be alone, but it has been very gratifying and has made me a much stronger person.

Go for it, JD!

On 07 May 2004 (12:49 PM),
tammy said:

Okay, I cant stand mysteries! What are talking about? How long do we have to wait to find out? Are you leaving Custom Box for a different job? Have you finally decided to leave Canby and move to the big city? Oh, don’t wait long to tell us! I just can’t handle stuff like this!

On 07 May 2004 (12:58 PM),
anonymous said:

…knock and a door shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find…

On 07 May 2004 (01:54 PM),
Dana said:

Okay, everybody — mark your calendar! I agree completely and without reservation with Tammy’s last comment. =)

C’mon, JD — Spill it!

On 07 May 2004 (02:06 PM),
Amanda said:

Maybe it’s just me but the first thing that came to my mind was sci-fi related.

If you’re moving to the big city that sounds way cool!

On 07 May 2004 (02:07 PM),
Yoda said:

Troubling it is; not knowing the truth.

Wait for it you must – my young padwans.

Smug I am; knowing the truth.

On 07 May 2004 (02:15 PM),
Amanda said:

Um, thanks, “Yoda”.


On 07 May 2004 (02:31 PM),
Lynn said:

Ya’ decided neither the sun nor the moonroof was going to cut it so you bought the convertible! Right, Yoda?

On 07 May 2004 (02:35 PM),
Jeff said:

I bet JD & Kris are getting an SUV!

On 07 May 2004 (02:41 PM),
Dana said:

If it really is an SUV, I’d be disappointed in anything less than one of these, really.

I suppose this would satisfy me as well…

On 07 May 2004 (02:43 PM),
Johnny said:

Dana– wanting a Hummer is a very masculine thing (on multiple levels).

On 07 May 2004 (02:54 PM),
Yoda said:

Wanting a Hummer am I. Bigger than the Millenium Falcon are they.

JD I am not. Led you astray, I have.

On 07 May 2004 (02:57 PM),
Dana said:

You misunderstand, Johnny — (sarcasm)I don’t want a Hummer, I want a man in a Hummer! I’d be satisfied with JD getting a Hummer (or a Canyonero, of course)(/sarcasm)

(Which is not to suggest that I want JD, or that any sort of SUV would enhance his attractiveness to me — Don’t worry, Kris! I’m not competition!) =)

(Not to beat a dead horse, but my tongue is firmly in my cheek with all this SUV talk…)

On 07 May 2004 (03:04 PM),
Jeff said:

I know! He is going to organize his CD’s chronologically rather than alphabetically.

On 07 May 2004 (03:22 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

I should note that what you’re feeling is insignificant compared to what I’m feeling. I’m a wreck. I’m pacing the house. I’m unable to focus. I feel as if my life is on hold til I get a response, til I know how the other party feels. I can only hope that everything is resolved by the time Denise gets here for dinner tonight.

On 07 May 2004 (03:53 PM),
Lynn said:

Well, look at it this way: if it turns out bad, you can binge on PCCCs; if it turns out good, you can binge on PCCCs.

On 07 May 2004 (04:44 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

In theory, I’ll know whether I succeeded in chasing my dream in another seventeen minutes. In theory.

And Lynn, I’m going to eat a butt-load of PCCCs tonight. (Assuming Denise brings a butt-load.)

On 07 May 2004 (05:00 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

As my deadline passes, I am utterly nauseated. My pulse is racing. I think I’m going to be sick. When will I know?

On 07 May 2004 (08:47 PM),
tammy said:

When will we know? This is killing me!

On 07 May 2004 (08:48 PM),
tammy said:

I just checked the time on your last post. Jd, you should kow by now. Where are you?


Mostly when I write, I have no worries about plagiarism. My writing is based on my life experiences; when I have worries, they’re not about appropriating others’ material so much as about revealing shared stories when I know other participants might be reluctant to have the stories shared.

Sometimes, though, I read something, or see a movie, and I say to myself, “I wish I had written that”. Often I think this and then forget about it. Other times, I’m compelled to try my hand at emulating the author, or at adapting the source material.

Something funny happened on the way to writing the short story for last week’s class:

I read Craig Thompson’s graphic novel, Good-bye, Chunky Rice, and a subplot affected me in a profound way. (Craig Thompson interview here and here.) Part of the backstory is that two of the characters, brothers, once owned a dog named Stomper. Stomper gave birth to a litter of pups, but the boys’ father made one of the brothers drown them. This event haunts both boys. It haunts me, too. It’s a great little story, and I wish that I had conceived it. I wished it so much that I could think of little else while writing last week’s short story. Instead, I spent my time adapting this comic book to prose.

This raised a lot of complex questions. Quite obviously, Craig Thompson wrote this story in its original form. At what point does it become mine? Simply when I’ve converted it to prose? I don’t think so. When I’ve changed the names of all the characters? I don’t think so. Then when? Can it ever become mine?

How do I make the story mine?

As I’ve only written a first draft, I don’t feel tremendous pressure for complete immediate ownership of the story. For now, I’m content to have adapted the section from the comic book, making what changes occurred to me, fleshing out certain aspects, and adding to the story in one significant respect. I worked to incorporate elements of the myth of Artemis/Diana into the story. By doing this — and adding an “inspired by the work of Craig Thompson” to the byline — I feel that the story is beginning to become mine. But is it really? I mean, I’ve lifted some dialogue and phrasing directly from Armstrong’s comic.

I’m delved deep into a grey area, and I don’t know where the line is.

Ultimately, if I was ever to be truly happy with this story, and wanted to publish it, and still felt it was too similar to the source material, I would actually contact Armstrong to ask his permission to use his idea.

I’ve posted the first draft of Harbinger for you to read. (Remember: this is a first draft. I welcome comments and suggestions. I’m not going to be hurt or offended by anything you say. In fact, any advice you can give at this point is going to make the story stronger and, more importantly, more mine and not Thompson’s.) If I had the time, I’d scan the relevant panels from the comic and post them for you to compare with the story.

While doing yardwork on Saturday morning, several changes occurred to me, all of which help differentiate the story from Thompson’s.

The most important change I could make (but have no plans to do so — yet) is to alter the ending. The ending is a literal adaptation from Thompson. If I were to change the ending (and that would be difficult, because I love the ending), then the only remaining strongly-shared element of the stories would be the drowning of the puppies. At that point, I’d probably feel I owned my story.

For now though, I’m working on more writerly concerns. My classmates noted, once again, that I need to develop the characters more, to explain their motivations, to make them more complex, to show the dynamics of their relationships. They also felt the actual drowning scene was rushed. Great points.

To that end, my second draft will feature more background regarding the father, who becomes “a hard man, though he was not mean”. The father will have a personal relationship with the dog, Diana, so that when he orders the pups drowned, it carries more weight, and has a (more) rational basis. There’ll be more detail regarding the dog’s pregnancy. All three characters will watch the birth. Pa will be happy to have the puppies at first, but when he returns from his logging job, he’ll be dismayed at the manner in which Diana has wasted away. He’ll have Alex drown the puppies because he can’t do it himself. Etc.

The character development in the first draft was constrained by the assignment. Some of these constraints have been lifted for the second draft, and we’re supposed to add five pages to the story. That’s plenty of room to flesh out the characters and their relationships, and to work toward making the story more fully mine.


On 04 May 2004 (03:14 PM),
kaibutsu said:

I think it’s all grey area, really; a question of how much we want to try to draw lines separating ‘my’ ideas from ‘yours.’ Sure, there’s a legal question possibly involved if your were to publish it, but there’s so much adaptation and reworking of other stories out there that it’s hard to say that this story of the drowning of the puppies – a kind of story definitely told before – is plagiarism. (In fact, I think the worst you could be accused of is theft of intellectual property – plagiarism probably doesn’t even strictly apply, unless you are copying dialogue word-for-word.)

Shakespeare did this all the time, for just about every play he wrote, actually, adapting specific pieces of fiction and history to his theatrical versions.

This touches your biographical material, as well: where is the line between something that is your story, for your biography, and someone else’s story? Does it have to do with being a central character, as opposed to merely a spectator? Do you even have to neccesarily be present at an event in order to be allowed to tell the story? (Aren’t the stories of our grandparents somehow also ours?)

I don’t think we can draw bright lines around our stories, saying this one is mine and this one isn’t, any more than we can around our lives, saying this experience is mine, while that one was my brother’s. We share experience, we share stories. (And I tend to think that the distinction even between experience and story is a fuzzy one…)

The child I tutor is currently doing a project for school, in which he has a partner and the two are essentially role-playing the pioneer’s trip to Oregon. Each day, they have to write a journal entry on what happened, how things are going, etc. Jason likes the kid he works with a lot, and they talk about what’s going to happen to their characters, And yesterday he started talking about some great idea they had which would affect his partner’s character, Mr. Morris. Jason, though, was opposed to writing about this in his own journal, because it concerned Mr. Morris rather than Mr. Text (his own character). Here’s a nine-year-old kid with apparently highly developed idea of what constitutes intellectual theft.

Given that on the previous day he wrote rather remorselessly about shooting a couple of Sioux who tried to take his food, I tend to worry about where our moral priorities are placed.

On 04 May 2004 (04:59 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

Mom writes:

Reading your blog today reminded me of a story about your dad, and I thought you might be interested in it. When we first moved out here and into the trailer house when you kids were little, we acquired two black lab puppies, Sarah and Abraham. As you grew, they did too, until they got to the point where they were big enough to push you and Jeff down in their exuberance. We didn’t know what to do about that but both your dad and I felt for sure that we needed to get rid of them before they hurt one of you boys. Uncle Norman came up with the solution — he thought your dad ought to shoot them, which is what Uncle Norman did with unwanted dogs, even those who wandered across his property. Your dad said okay and came down here in the field near this place and got back far enough to take aim and shoot. He said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done, with those trusting eyes looking back at him, but since Uncle Norman was there, he didn’t feel he could back down. So he went ahead and shot them. He never considered doing that again.

I do remember this story, and have thought of it often in the past two weeks. It’s precisely why Thompson’s bit about drowning the puppies is so affecting. There’s a biographical connection with my own life.

I think Mom’s version above is much better than anything I could have produced. It encapsulates everything I love and hate about my father, why I have such mixed emotions when I remember him. He loved his children enough to protect them from thoughtless animals, yet something in him forced him to choose the worst possible way of dealing with the problem. And that choice haunted him for the rest of his life. He told me the story of Sarah and Abraham many times as I was growing up. It gnawed at him, I could tell.

Dad was a complex guy, and my feelings for him are equally complex. I’ve noticed that many of my stories are basically therapy as I attempt to reconcile my conflicted feelings about him.

Perhaps there’s a way to incorporate the story of Sarah and Abraham into the story I’m trying to tell.

On 04 May 2004 (07:50 PM),
Virginia said:

Maybe it has something to with the fact that
your dad’s dad loved to tease animals. Your dad may have liked them inside but didn’t know how to deal with animals, if the animals needed to be delt with.

On 04 May 2004 (07:50 PM),
tammy said:

My dad shot dogs all the time. We’d bring home a stray and he’d let it stay until it started dragging stuff around the yard or causing some sort of other trouble and first thing you know, we’d come home from school to find the dog was gone. Pop had shot it. Every spring he drowned all the new barn kittens. In the spring we’d have as many as 25 cats around there. Into the bag they’d go along with a heavy brick and that was the last of them.

We could name the meat in the fridge; what pet was wrapped in each package of hamburger or steak. We ate the bunnies, we ate the chickens, we ate our pigs, we ate our cows. We even ate the bear that came to the orchard to steal the fruit we ate. I was traumatized by none of this. It was just the way things were.

On 04 May 2004 (07:52 PM),
tammy said:

We posted at the same time mother. Didn’t know you were on now.

On 04 May 2004 (08:41 PM),
Virginia said:

Tammy, I honestly believe you are going to be the ruin of me!