Happy birthday, America!

Tara and I are celebrating Independence Day by, first of all, not working on the house. The truth is, there’s very little left to do at this point: all the painting is finished, the hardwood floors are 94.7 percent installed (due to a contractor snafu, they thought 18 boxes of bamboo would cover the job but ended up falling short, so box #19 is on order),  our storage unit is completely emptied out, and we have cable and internet. We’ve got a couch being delivered on Saturday, new carpeting and vinyl flooring being installed on Monday, and movers coming on Thursday to empty out the apartment. Which means we are exactly one week away from moving in. Whew!

Incomplete or not, our new floors look great!

It’s been a lot of work for sure, but the place is looking really good. And there’s a definite pride in ownership that comes with transforming a place to make it your own through blood, sweat, and tears. That’s something you don’t experience when your new home is move-in ready. (You also don’t experience late nights and sore muscles and hundreds of dollars worth of Lowe’s receipts for paint, but that’s neither here nor there.) I don’t think I would change a single step of the process.

Tara came up with an idea to paint a mountain mural in the guest room. By hand. I was skeptical at first…
…but she nailed it.

Second of all, we’ll be bar-hopping downtown in the afternoon/evening. It’s how we spent the 4th last year, and that turned out to be a great day. The weather does not look promising for fireworks; we have had some strong thunderstorms the past couple of days (and nights) and more are expected for the next few days. If we’re able to catch a good fireworks display tonight, that’s great. If not, maybe nature will deliver.

We have a literal front porch view of storms that develop over the Black Hills.

Last night, we finally had a chance to call Doris’ daughter, Kristi. She lives in Connecticut and was very happy to hear from us. The feeling was mutual – we talked for 40 minutes and learned so much about the house and Doris’ family! Like the fact that their original home was destroyed in the 1972 Rapid City flood that killed 238 people, so they purposely chose to build a new house as high up as they could get on a hill (hence our stellar views). We learned that both Doris and her husband were teachers in the Rapid City school district and that he was quite the craftsman, having built all the kitchen cabinets by hand. We found out the dwarf irises in the backyard have been in the family for 300 years and are descendants of plants brought over from Norway. There were once 50+ rose bushes and a couple of poplar trees in the backyard, and apple trees in the front. We heard about how the family turned the backyard into an ice-skating rink every winter and all the neighborhood kids would flock there. That Doris would pace around the living room nervously every time there was a thunderstorm, smoking an entire pack of cigarettes as memories of the flood that cost them their home (and almost their lives) haunted her. And how she was so beloved that people drove in from three states away for her funeral five months ago.

We had no idea these dwarf irises had such a storied past. They have been in Doris’ family for over 300 years.

In fact, she wrote a story about our house that was published in a literary magazine! It’s a fascinating read and she’s a pretty good writer. If you’re interested, check it out here.

Kristi is coming to Rapid City next month to get married, and will be bringing us a piece of her mom’s pottery. In exchange, we’re letting her take some of the family’s dwarf irises, which she lamented leaving behind. She seems like a very nice person and we look forward to meeting her and her siblings. Suffice it to say, she is very touched over how diligent we have been in learning more about her mom and our desire to pay tribute to her. If there is an afterlife, I’m confident that Doris totally approves of us.

Have a great 4th!

12 thoughts on “94.7%

  1. It’s cool that the kitchen floor isn’t quite finished, because you get to see the before and after all in one picture. The floors look great!! I find it scary to pick out flooring, paint colors, cabinets, etc. because you know they’re going to look different in your house than they look in the store and you can’t be sure it will all come together the way you imagined– but it looks like you guys have done a great job, and that mural!! Wow, Tara is talented. If I tried to do that, nobody would know what it was. Just a pseudo-artsy mish-mash of paint colors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time we walked into the store to look at flooring samples, we felt pretty overwhelmed. There were so many choices and different styles, we hardly knew where to begin. But we are very happy with the bamboo – I think it looks great and will hopefully last a long, long time. Plus, it’s very eco-friendly, which is great.


  2. Wow Mark, you and Tara have completed SO MUCH in a relatively short period of time! You both deserve a BRAVO!!!!

    And it all looks absolutely faaaaaabulous! Please tell Tara that I think that mountain mural looks freaking AMAZING! I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a brilliant idea. And yes, she nailed it!

    I bet you and Tara so excited about meeting Doris’ daughter, Kristi. And I’m sure she can’t wait to meet you. I’m sure your meeting will be very touching, for all of you.

    Those iris’s are stunning! And such history they hold.

    Hope you and Tara are having a relaxing and enjoyable July 4th. Cheers to you both!


    1. It really has been a whirlwind month. I’m so glad we’re at the point now where most of the hard work is finished! I shared your comments with Tara and she thanks you very much for your kind words. Our 4th was great – hope you also had fun!


  3. Holy cow! How did Tara do that?? The mural looks fabulous!!!! What a great idea for a guest room in the Black Hills!

    I am so impressed by your interest in Doris and her family. I’m sure it helps them give up their family home by knowing that the new residents care so much about its history. Yeah for buying a house up high! It was the first thing we looked for when buying our current home, after all the basement flooding we suffered before.

    So interesting to learn about how those flowers got there. Just neat stuff, all around. Happy Belated 4th!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tara DID do that. Your reaction is about the same as everybody else’s – including mine. Pretty impressive, huh? Who knew my wife had such an artistic streak?

    This past week, one of my coworkers has been dealing with a flooded basement after lots of rain. Makes me even gladder we are up on a hill. Hope you had an excellent 4th, too!


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