Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm Moving Again!

Just kidding. Sort of. I've told Don if I hated living in our new home I'd still stay a good ten years - moving is highly overrated and we're not going anywhere. But my blog is.

Just about every single aspect of our lives has changed in the past few months, so it seemed a good time to change up my blog too. So where? Here. What am I moving to? A new way of blogging - absolutely the real me, posts more often but shorter, generally. (Sometimes a girl just has to get something off her chest.) I won't have a site meter, won't even always allow comments if I can figure that out, won't have any sidebar links to anybody. I'll still be reading blogs of family and friends but I'm already learning time, with a retired husband at home, works very differently. On a beautiful level we have no schedules. On a maddening level we have no schedules. Time gets eaten up with sitting too long sharing morning coffee or fixing the septic system or 100 other things.

So I hope you'll feel inclined to move with me, but with no obligation to do more than sit a spell. Come listen to what life on a lake in central Texas is like - with a newly retired husband, kids around and kids sorely missed, new friends, no friends, snakes and such, bluebirds over breakfast, mostly conservatives and a measure of rednecks and racists, cranes fishing off our dock and bits of toilet paper flying up in the yard, gardens and cooking and sewing and knitting and reading books (when I find the time) - life in Texas is working out to be an adventure a minute most of the time!

Monday, May 10, 2010


This is what we started with - it looked a bit sad and neglected.

Half driveway, half crushed rock and grass that had grown in.

And there were too many trees - you couldn't even see the house.
We've pulled out 26 so far, with our eye on about 20 more that need to go.

We hired Lester to come tear everything up, and pour a LOT of concrete.

Lester is good at tearing things up. He's also good at figuring out drainage so the next whopper Texas rain storm we get, the rain should run across the driveway and onto the yard, rather than into the garage...

We didn't want the driveway to look like a Walmart parking lot, so we included two big beds, with curbing to make water go the right way.

Very exciting to see the forms going in, and be able to see what it was going to look like when Lester was done.

There's the 'tree bed' in its beginning stages - high hopes it'll turn out pretty!

Old concrete - meet new concrete! Join hands and be friends, please!

Thank you, previous owners, for leaving us crape myrtles, irises, daffodils...

Plain, but we've got plans to make it charming.

There - much better. A nice little spot to sit in the evening and wave at neighbors driving by. Or read a book. Or drink morning coffee and watch the sun come up.

Mixing up concrete for a lamp post base.

A bit of wiring. It's D.A.R.K. out here so a lamp post close to the house will be wonderful!

Last touches to line everything up just right.

Pretty, pretty. Just needs some ground cover and it's good to go.

Next - biggest bed in the front yard.
Before: WAY overgrown, falling down, and a perfect hiding spot for snakes.

After weeding: much better, but the retaining wall fell apart.
Another project we weren't planning on. But thank you,
previous owners, for that bed of cannas!

Back to the home supply store for 3,500 lbs of blocks.

"Hello Dan. Would you like to come be our slave, and learn how to build a retaining wall?"

He looked like he was having so much fun...

I decided I needed to learn to drive it too!

After: much better, and manageable. And not scary.

Hard working men - thank you Dan for being our slave for the day. xoxo

Soooo much better! Makes me happy to come out and see it in the morning!

A bird feeder next to that crape myrtle, then a bit of mulch and we'll call it good - one BIG project knocked out.
And we beat the Texas heat too!

I'm heading indoors for a bit of stripping wallpaper and painting kitchen walls (and pie safes). I'm thinking Don is going to hide out in his shop and try to avoid me for awhile.
And I can't say that I blame him. He's lost enough weight, working so hard, that he's going to need a pair of suspenders soon. He's told me, so far, retirement is harder work than work was!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Cat for Mother's Day!

I've had a cat since I was 15 years old. We've been 'catless' for about a year now, since I gave my cat, Miah, to my grandson, Landon. (Man, are all those commas right? Looks like a lot.) Anyway, now that we're at the lake I've been hinting to Don that I might need another cat. I've prayed that God would just send one my way and have been leaving a dish of food out on the deck for awhile, just in case God needs help. It's been eaten a few times, although I'm not sure if my visitor was a cat or armadillo. Or raccoon. Or skunk.
So we went shopping in Waxahachie yesterday (isn't that a fun name for a town?), and Don bit the bullet and bought me a cat for Mother's Day. I was so hoping not to get another long-haired, and I am a bit partial to a calico. But this one looked like it could use a good home.

A full grown cat. A very calm cat. I tend to think kittens are a bit over-rated, dealing with all that skittering around, clawing up the furniture, and cat-box lessons.

Who would have dreamed we'd find the perfect cat at an antique store?! $15 and she never needs shots or food or vet visits.

I haven't picked out a name for her yet, but I did buy a quart of brick red paint for this. It fit in the back of the Durango with a whole 2" to spare.

Still thinking about a real, alive, purring cat. Still praying - maybe God will send me one. In the meantime, the pie safe will be a great start to warming up the kitchen. Anthropologie has some monogrammed knobs - I think it's going to look great when I'm done.

Happy Mother's Day everybody!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pardon the Gore

But we had our first snake event at the lake today. Don was busy working on putting in some wiring for a light pole in front of our house; he left the electrical junction box for a bit, to assemble the light, and while he was gone I wandered by. There, curled up and around and all over the electrical box, was a S.N.A.K.E.

In retrospect, now that our hearts aren't beating quite so fast, we are sad to think that this was probably a harmless rat snake of some sort. I, being the thorough type, have a book called very appropriately, "Texas Snakes". But when the snake is curled around the electrical box you don't run in the house and get the book. You grab the camera and take a step or 10 back, while you watch your husband whack it with a shovel.

So - we ordered a poster of poisonous snakes that we'll put up somewhere in the garage for future reference. While I don't really want to adopt any snake for a pet, we also don't want to kill a harmless snake. Instead, brave Don will lift him with the pitchfork and carry him across the yard, setting him loose in the vacant lot next door. Even knowing he might well come back for another visit. In the meantime, is anyone out there up on their snakes? Anyone who doesn't have a queasy stomach?

I know it's not the same snake that showed up in our daughter, Sarah's barn yesterday. Hers definitely looks different. This one was two to three feet long, sort of skinny, tried to get away and only tried to strike when it was clear it was in danger.

My guesses are: Great Plains rat snake, Texas rat snake or Prairie King snake. Can anyone tell me definitely?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just Another Day at the Lake

Our day started with this - spied resting in our backyard at 7:30 am. The neighbors told us a mother deer raises her fawn in our back yard every single year. The fawn was SO little. Precious way to start the day. Precious enough that I called out to Don, "Get up, right now, you have to see this!" Luckily he thought it was worth jumping out of bed for.
I hope I didn't scare her off and she'll be back for more early morning visits.

Sarah helped me clean out a front flower bed last week, and we discovered a bush of "Knockout roses' hiding under the crape myrtles. I cook enough grits and black eyed peas and cornbread that the sign fits my kitchen. And putting anything red in this house just makes me happy. It was all pale blues and peach, so red is a step in the right direction in my book.
Finally an afternoon storm swept up, coming across the lake and sending us scurrying indoors. Impressive to see waves flying up over the seawalls all around us. The martin house Don put together for me will just have to wait til tomorrow, after it dies down a bit. It only took three trips to the hardware store to find the right fittings and poles and such. The old one was in such bad shape it literally fell into pieces when Don tried to lower it.

What you don't see is the four shrubs I dug out of the back and transplanted to the front, newly dug bed, and how nasty dirty I got doing so. Again. We're finding we're going to go through some laundry soap living out here! Working hard makes for very sweet dreams, and healthy appetites :-)

I also managed to plant three pots of herbs - cilantro, parsley and sweet basil. Still looking for chives, rosemary and one other I can't remember, but I plopped them all into clay pots buried in the flower bed. That's good enough for this year.

Just another typical day at the lake - the adventure seems to keep rolling on and we're loving it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Groovy Grammy

Sarah and Chris got a chance to get away, so I volunteered to come stay with the grandkids. We're into day two, and I'm beginning to find my grammy groove. I didn't read Sarah's notes every hour on the hour today. Maybe I should have because the kids went down for naps two hours late, and never did get an afternoon snack. News flash - if you want kids to eat really well, don't feed them as often. They'll scarf down whatever you put on the table if they're hungry enough!

Yesterday we headed out on a field trip to Target and when Grayson told me 'Target is boring' I put my fingers in my ears and pushed ahead. I haven't been in a Target for over a month so I was pretty thrilled. We did make a stop at Sonic for milkshakes to keep it fair.

Today we started off with pancakes and Caiden told me he was so happy because he 'hates oatmeal with a capital H'. Funny that I'd somehow forgotten that when you have three kids they all like and hate different things, so much of dinnertime is spent trading and shuffling. Gray will happily eat all Addie's clam chowder, and she'll scarf down Caiden's string cheese and Caiden will eat just about anything except cheese because he's apparently growing and / or has hollow legs just like Sarah's brother, Dan did when he was that age. I forget what dinnertime was like 20 years ago.

I've had fun pulling weeds and praying none of it is poisonous since my arms and legs are covered with poison sumac that I can't identify to save my life. So I'm also spending some time reading my Texas Gardening Guide while the kids ride scooters on the driveway. I've scrubbed the day's grime off their necks and legs and arms and remembered how sweet and tiny they look when they're naked and wet with bubbles stuck to their faces and every single one of their ribs show; we've read Wind in the Willows while I took in the sweet smell of freshly washed kids. We chased chickens (they're not easy to catch!), watered Sarah's garden and fed their dogs.
I've driven around town, making one wrong turn that resulted in pulling the GPS out of my purse so I could get us back home. All this makes me wonder what our mothers must have thought when we left the kids with them. Did they check them and then check them again right before going to bed, to be sure everyone was still breathing? Did they kiss the tops of their heads one more time, even though they were asleep and would never know? Did they feel every single year of their age? Did they wonder how they ever did it 24/7, 365 days a year?

It's D.A.R.K. here at night, and Papa hasn't arrived yet to 'help' us. I use that term loosely since we all know the 'God's honest truth'. Anyway, we've been alone. It would never occur to me to be afraid, being alone. I looked forward to it actually. For the first time in over two months I slept in the middle of the bed, went to sleep when I wanted, and got up early this morning for coffee and devotions while everyone else was still in bed (even if it was threats that kept them there.) I suspect my dear husband is enjoying some time alone too, before he joins us.

But last night, when I was making the final rounds, checking and rechecking the doors to be sure everything was locked down tight, one light was still on by the side of the house. I knew it shouldn't be. And I also knew to reach the light switch I'd have to go outside to turn it off. As I opened the door, and began to step outside, there in the bright yellow light sat four of the biggest toads I've ever seen, contentedly eating bugs. I just couldn't step out. No way. I realize toads won't hurt you, don't bite, but they jump unexpectedly and might have touched my feet. And that would have done me in. I guess there's still a kid lurking somewhere inside me too.

It's good to remember - what it's like to be a little kid, what it's like to be a mommy day in, day out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Exactly Where Did Spring Go?

The end of April - can you even believe it? I can't. We pulled into our new driveway on April Fool's Day, and the irony of that is not escaping us. A month ago. We've been here an entire month and it feels like the fastest ever. In our entire lives.

So May - let's have a talk. May flowers. And picnics. And bike rides around the neighborhood. And good books waiting to be read. And new knitting projects (finished the eternal afghan I started two years ago - hurray for Bev!). Next to June, May is my absolute favorite month, so there are great expectations for it.

This all has to happen in May because I've heard by June Texas gets so blasted hot I won't even consider being outside for picnics and bike rides and such. So I'm counting on May.

But here's the truth - May is actually going to be the month we have the house painted, shutters and faux windows installed, and gutters to deal with the gulley washers Texas gets. And find a way to get the partially torn up wallpaper off the kitchen walls and paint them before we have any official visitors because right now it looks unbearably ratty. And redo all the front flowerbeds that look like the perfect place for a snake or critter to make a little bed. And unpack the craft room, find a place for all the books that somehow made their way into our home - no way did we buy all those books! And we're hoping it's the month we are able to find a good used boat we can afford, and a golf cart for the neighborhood because that's apparently how everyone visits each other. Seriously nobody ever walks in our neighborhood. Ever. I wonder if it's hot here so long that they get out of the habit? Maybe I'll start a new trend and find a new walking partner?

And maybe, just maybe May can be a little of both? Of painting the house, then taking a day off for a picnic in some nearby state park? Of spending a day stripping wallpaper, then maybe some time riding our bikes to check out the neighborhood. And unpack all those boxes of books, one case for fiction, one for non-fiction, one for Bev's self-education and crafts, but maybe also grab one or two we've been waiting to read and curling up on the sunporch with it, just watching the sun go down on another beautiful May day in sun-drenched Texas.

Dear May - feel free to take it nice and slow. We're not in a hurry. Really.