Today’s post is the second of two featuring an interview with Shannon and helping chronicle the gap years between the last blog and the beginning of the new one. Shannon has graciously agreed to be interviewed by herself…let’s see where they are….
Interviewer: Good morning, Shannon, nice to see you again!
Shannon: Good to see you too!
Interviewer: I could hardly sleep last night for thinking about your Big Event in the Fall of 2010. Let’s get right on it.
Shannon: Fire at will…
Interviewer: Okay, so something big happened….what was it?
Shannon: Well, we…bought a house!
Shannon: (grins like the Cheshire Cat)
Interviewer: (clears throat) Okay? That’s it? That’s the Big Deal of 2010?
Shannon: (eyes glinting) Yes…but it wasn’t just any house. It was THE House.
Interviewer: Your first house?
Shannon: (chuckles) Oh no, certainly not. We have moved quite a bit in the span of our marriage.
Interviewer: How many times are we talking, exactly?
Shannon: Well, let’s see…including our first apartment and The House, we have had thirteen different addresses in five different states. Remember, Steve was in the Navy for the first seven years of our marriage. Once he got out we spent additional time trying to find the right fit for what we hope will be our “until we die” house.
Interviewer: And you think you have found it, finally? I am starting to see how the purchase of this house could be so meaningful.
Shannon: God willing, we have found our home. See, while Steve was recovering from his foot surgery he had not much else to do but peruse the real estate ads. We were living in town at the time, in a very cute house in a wonderful, small community. We knew, however, that our hearts were really in the country, even after a disastrous experience with our last country home.
Interviewer: That sounds like it could be an interesting story!
Shannon: Yes, it is…but one for another time. A part of me never wants to look back at those times again, but we learned so much and went through so much. Now we recognize that we needed to go through that to find our contentment now. So, we played around a little with looking at properties. We even went so far as to enter negotiations with a seller for a small rural property, to no avail. Now we are SO glad that never happened, because Steve ran across the ad for this house two days after it hit the market. Economic times were just starting to hit hard in our area, and the property was a foreclosure. Steve hobbled out to the van, demanding that we drive straight over there to drive by that same evening.
Interviewer: Does he do that kind of thing often?
Shannon: Let’s just say that I am used to it. And also that he does not, anymore. At all. *winks*
Interviewer: Okay, then…tell me about the house!!!!
Shannon: Well, when we got there he insisted I drive up the driveway to the top of the hill where the house sat. He knew it was empty, so I trusted him and did. We had to drive past two large outbuildings on the way up the drive, and at the top was a circle drive in front of the house. Before I even had the van in park, my heart started pounding. I scrambled out of the van as fast as I could, and by the time Steve had hobbled up alongside I had already burst into tears.
Interviewer: Was the house just that lovely?
Shannon: The house? No…I wasn’t even looking at the house. (pauses) See, when we reached the top of that hill, our view opened up over thousands of acres of restored Illinois prairie, a Nature Conservancy property since 1987. If you have ever seen the sun setting over the prairie in September you know it is a sight you will never forget. The brilliant gold of the sun set the russet-colored bluestem grasses ablaze with color. The breeze was perfect and caressing; the birds were singing their evening lullabies. I knew I had to live there. Now, I am not normally given to such extravagant shows of covetousness, but I KNEW in my heart we belonged there.
Interviewer: Surely you didn’t purchase the whole property just for the view?
Shannon: Surely you have not seen it, or you wouldn’t be asking me that. (winks) However, no…we did make a sound and sensible purchase. Our realtor came out the very next day for an official showing, on Labor Day even, and our offer went in that same afternoon. The house was small-ish but everything we needed, well-maintained, and obviously well-loved. The icing on the cake was the barns. One was completely ready (after a little cleaning) to house livestock of about any kind, and the other was a nice, big open shed ready to claim our junk and our equipment. All that was missing was the fencing before I could bring my horse home. We moved in the beginning of November, three whole days before the horse came home.
Interviewer: Wow. So it wasn’t even wrecked in the typical way that foreclosures can be?
Shannon: Nope, not one bit. The major mechanicals needed replacing, except for the furnace, but that was it. We were very grateful.
Interviewer: So what are your plans for the place? Five acres, is it?
Shannon: Yup, on the nose. Our plans are to partake in some self-sufficiency-type activities like growing some of our own food, raising our own eggs (and maybe meat birds) and maybe a couple dairy goats. We have also begun the process of replanting our front acre-and-a-half back into prairie from pasture. The folks at Nachusa Grasslands have been a tremendous help and support in this endeavor.
Interviewer: So that should keep you pretty busy.
Shannon: Yes, but we have learned over the years to pace ourselves, and not get in over our heads as far as projects go. I will be building my own business this year, we have become unit stewards at Nachusa, I have started volunteering at church again, and I have re-discovered my domestic roots, so-to-speak. I have come back to enjoying cooking real meals at home, sewing and stitching, gardening. There are a lot of things to do, and a lot of world to see. We don’t want to get to a place where this farm is a drudgery. So we prioritize and take it slowly.
Interviewer: Sounds wonderful! I will look forward to hearing more about your passions in future posts. You surely have a lot about which to blog! It is also my understanding that your family adventures aren’t quite over at the time you moved into the new house.
Shannon: No, not by far. We moved in early November, like I said, then celebrated the wedding of Matt and Jeanette in January! It was a busy but joyous time. Their wedding was simple and uncomplicated but moving and beautiful. I think they were BOTH radiant! (laughs) Then later that Spring Phil graduated high school, I graduated from college with my AAS in Landscape Design and another in General Horticulture, I took on a new job for a small landscaping/retail business in town, also worked for myself, left the job at the business, took a temp job collecting seeds for Nachusa and saw Phil start his college career here locally. We rented out our town house, started a garden, lost our old dog in early 2011, got a large-breed puppy, hung real fences, got another dog…yeah, we have been busy!
Interviewer: Well I guess so!
Shannon: But Steve started a new job at the nuclear plant in early 2010, finally getting transferred out of operations and into an instructorship. This has done wonders for him, as he loves the work, and the hours are mostly straight days. We are thankful every day for the blessings God has sent our way, as un-deserved as they are.
Interviewer: What would you most want your readers to take from these interviews?
Shannon: Gosh, that’s a hard one to sum up. I guess it would be that we have learned a whole lot on our journey to this physical, mental and emotional state we occupy now. The factors that brought us to this place are varied; some are very good, some are frighteningly bleak. We have come to understand how to learn from hindsight, to be more relaxed about the future, and to live in the moment when the occasion calls for it. I think that maybe others might benefit from our triumphs and struggles, too.
Interviewer: It sounds like there are a lot of undercurrents behind these vignettes you have offered us.
Shannon: Oh, yes…that is an understatement! Stories of joy and agony, of faith and family. But there is plenty of time for those revelations.
Interviewer: This interview has run on a little long. Any regrets about that?
Shannon: No. None at all.
Interviewer: (smiles) Good. See you on the blog?