Monthly Archives: June 2017

A Trip to the Woodshed

I woke up this morning to the sounds of hammers. The roofer was finishing the bead board replacement on the porch ceiling. Thus my day began. With so much needing attention it is hard to decide which job to take on each day. We knew it was going to rain this afternoon, so any job that needed to be done outside needed to be completed before the rain began. Caleb was voluntold to paint the new bead board with primer. (A job he hates by the way). I chose to clean the woodshed. My biggest worries in cleaning the woodshed were that I was going to find a snake or that the armadillo that digs armadillo divets in our yard every night was living under the piles of wood that had been thrown in there. I found neither, (relief) but I did find numerous wasps and yellow jackets. Thank goodness for Raid wasp spray!

And so, this is kind of what my life feels like right now. Like a big pile of God knows what but some of it is definitely useful. My life has been so odd. I didn’t follow the rules. I quit university to join the Navy. I got out of the Navy and raised five children. I raised children, cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, vegetables, and even an odd duck on a ranch in the middle of nowhere for 15 years. Richard inspired me to start my own cleaning company in 2011 and that is what I did for four years.Then came the degree and I find myself wondering what is next. What will I do with this big pile of God knows what of my life experiences? Until I figure that out, I will continue to clean and tidy and know that the answers will come when they are supposed to, for forcing things never works and things usually break if you try to force them. Take the time to do the job right and see the results.

      Oh, and this is what it looks like in front of the woodshed. A trailer rental and a day of trips to the dump will take care of it! Not scairt!



Let’s Begin At the End




    Today I breathe. Of course, I breathe every day, but today is the first day in six-hundred-fifty-six days that I feel like I can relax just a bit. I even slept in for the first time in forever. In August 2015, I decided to return to The University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas to finish the BA that I had started in September of 1987. It was time to put value into myself after raising my five children and putting everything into them. My eldest son, Caleb, got out of the Air Force last month after six years of service and I graduated from UST with my daughter, Caprice, on May 20th. I can breathe.

When we moved to Houston we found a little bungalow in the Heights, just north of downtown. We could walk down the street and be on the feeder to I-45 and see the wonderful Houston Skyline only two miles away.  It was a world away from the small-town life of Ganado, Texas. Jackson County, Texas had been home since 1995; it was where my children had been raised and where my life was. Caleb was stationed in New Mexico, my eldest daughter, Cadell, had a good job and was living with her best friends. Clark, my second son, was going to be attending UST with my youngest daughter – child number 3 – Caprice, in the Fall of 2015, and my youngest, Craig, was moving to Houston with us.  My children had not objected to my attending university with them. I even had classes with Caprice, as our degree plan was the same. St. Thomas is a family and sharing classes with Caprice was a little odd at first. Then time passed and we became accustomed to the situation; there were the times when our professors looked at us and shook their heads as we laughed at some random thing that we found funny. St. Thomas is family.

As I began my last semester, my husband, Richard, and I began to look for a home. We called our realtor, Selena, and she was excited that we were ready to move on. She didn’t know what she was getting into! We had an idea of what we wanted. More than one bathroom for sure but after that, I don’t think we really knew what we wanted. The house was going to have to speak to us.

We looked at homes all over the greater Houston area for months. From Humble, Spring, the Medical Center, and beyond. Each home offered one or two things we liked but not one said: “This is home.” Then one day Richard called me into his office: “Come look at this”. I looked at the monitor of his computer, and on it was a large Victorian house in Bellville, Texas. I thought nothing of it. Bellville was too far from Houston as far as I was concerned, but the price…it was really good. The house also came with .70 acres. We had to see it, but Bellville? We called Selena, but it had already been put under contract. Oh well…

Then, not a week later, Selena was calling. The buyers had backed out, we could go see it the next day but it would be back on the market two days later. Richard could not go out with me but his parents were visiting from Alberta, Canada, where Richard had grown up. We went out, it was a mess of horrible wallpaper and junk left behind; the electricity was not on but the bones were good and it had amazing potential, plus it had 3 bathrooms and it had a one room cabin in the backyard!

Mum and Dad were ambivalent, Caprice’s boyfriend, Conor, was visiting from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Richard’s eight-year-old son, Max, had joined us for the walk-through. Conor saw the work that needed to be done and was like, “No”. Max, he hated it. I drove home wondering what Richard would think and if we would make an offer.

Mum and Dad checking out the kitchen during the walk-through.

Richard and I mulled over what everyone had said, went over the photos and video that we’d taken and spoke to Selena. It was the house we wanted. It was historic – one-hundred-thirty years old – and it hadn’t been ruined by renovation and remodeling. The floors were original. All of the problems, they could be fixed over time.  I do not remember how it happened, I was busy writing my thesis and studying for exams, but we put in our bid and it was accepted. We had numerous problems with the former owners and the abstract company but that is another story.

What our parents had done at 25, we are doing. We are initiating a big, big project on the backside of forty. We are beginning a new life as our older children begin their adult lives.  We have purchased a one-hundred-thirty-year-old house, a house whose life would surely have ended in another twenty years without intervention. As we start our new life we are giving our new home a new life as well.

Join me as I begin my blog of our adventures in restoration. A week in and I’m exhausted. I don’t want to be twenty-five again but I’d go for forty. I need to lose what I call my “paperweight.” That is, the weight I gained sitting on my butt for the last two years writing essays and my thesis. It all needs to go into this house! Not only the house needs to be restored but so do I. And…we’re off like a herd of turtles!

The current view from my kitchen desk. The wood was an old deck and Caleb is pulling it apart so we can build a new walkway from the gate to the back porch.