Monday, June 27, 2005

U Haul Time

We spent the day packing and loading the truck. We're exhausted. The Grapevine house is much emptier, but not yet empty. We'll need to make another trip.

Joy seems to be breaking out in spots today. Chicken Pox time. Sam should be getting chicken pox for his first birthday. We'll get him something else too though.

Roger's planning to leave early tomorrow in the big truck to beat the traffic. He'll take two kids with him and I'll meet him later with the rest. The plan is to unload tomorrow, return the truck, then get some things done at our new home. We have to be back in Grapevine Saturday through Tuesday. We need to get a chicken coop built in Coleman pretty quickly. The plumber will meet us out there on Wednesday to see if they can find the gas leak. Meanwhile we have no hot water or stove or oven. Cold baths and showers aren't so bad though if you don't have a/c. See, all things work together for good . . .


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Our new place

When I first walked into the house I just thought, "I can't do this." But I got busy and started cleaning. The first thing that hit me was the smell coming from the kitchen. But I couldn't deal with that first. The bedrooms, hall and one of the bathrooms are carpeted. I wanted to get the carpet cleaned early so it would have time to dry before we slept on it that night. So I started right off vacuuming. That helped a lot. I got the walls and ceilings free of cobwebs and the dead bugs off the floor. The kids all played outside all afternoon and had a blast. The kept Samuel with them which allowed me to be able to get a lot done with two hands! Then I shampooed the carpets. It's funny. After vacuuming I was thinking they weren't that bad after all. But they were a whole different shade of brown than I realized. We have no A/C out there so the floors dried quickly. The girls took Samuel in one of the bedrooms and played with him in there.

While shampooing the carpet in the second bedroom there was a curtain that kept getting in my way. Rather than be annoyed by it, I was so excited. I always pictured a house on a farm with the sun shining in and the curtains billowing in the breeze. That's what I was getting. I'd pictured prettier curtains, but this was a great start!

We had to go "to town" pretty quickly for diapers. I thought I'd packed some for the trip, but couldn't find them. Faith thought Sam was stinky so Roger rushed to the local store to buy diapers. It turns out Sam wasn't stinky. Faith had been smelling the water in the house. The water has been shut off for a couple years and the water heaters were full. So the smell of old water was really awful. We didn't need to run the hot water though since we never could turn on the gas to heat it.

Then there was that refrigerator smell from the kitchen. There was still some food in there and it had sat for 3 years without any problem. But they shut the electricity off several days before we had it turned on. There were bags of ice that melted and re-froze in a sheet at the bottom. A package of meat got thawed, rotted, and then re-frozen into the sheet of ice at the bottom. A seal on the door of the freezer is in bad shape so the smell kept escaping to the room. We haven't gotten to that one yet. I really wanted to just dispose of the whole unit, but that would be wasteful. I wiped down the outside and that helped. Next trip out there we're going to move it into the yard and hose it out. At least then it won't stink up the house.

The diapers in Coleman were more expensive than we're used to so we went to nearby Brownwood to do our grocery shopping. We drove 30 minutes to go to Walmart. But it was worth it. Everyone smiles at you there. Rather than pushing to get to the food first, people stepped out of the way and said excuse me. It felt more like being around real people there than it does in the Metroplex where everyone gets so rude and pushy. I even catch myself doing it at times here. If you are nice to someone here, others push their way in and you get stuck waiting forever. Same thing on the roads. It was a nice change of pace.

Our cleaning efforts were interrupted a couple of times that first day. Neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves!! Wow! I just didn't think that happened anymore. It was a welcome interruption.

Roger mentioned the swallows and the horned toad, but I think the swallows bear repeating. Anytime anyone needed a rest, we would sit in the living room and look out the window at the swallows. There are about 6 babies in the nest over the porch. There were 4 adults feeding them. It was fascinating to watch them. Especially in the evenings when there were lots of bugs out. People think I work hard taking care of 8 children. I think those swallows work harder with 6 babies. Fortunately for them, they mature more quickly. I'd be pushing my kids out of the nest much more quickly if I had to feed them that often. Not to mention regurgitating into their mouths. . .

We ate watermelon and spit the seeds into a corner near the house. We're hoping for some watermelon to sprout and grow. We'll see.

Chiggers are bad out there. We're all covered with bites. Except for Samuel. He was held most of the time and crawled around in the grass, too. But he doesn't have a single bite. The younger ones were exposed to chicken pox last week and should break out this week if at all. I don't know if I'll be able to tell the difference!

Oh, and we discovered that we can manage pretty well without a/c. The house was built to allow breezes to flow through, like most old houses were. Plus it's not as humid there and cools off at night. It got to 96 degrees Thursday and we were working hard all day. But we were fine. As a matter of fact, Walmart seemed way too cold to us.

Well, we are moving the refrigerator and freezer soon and there's some ice cream that needs to be finished first. . .


Friday, June 24, 2005


Farm life is underway. I will leave it to Melissa to write about the cleaning as I am only a bit player in that sphere of life. I will say that it was gross, but no more from me on that topic.

We tried to get the propane going on Thursday, but that was a no go as there is a leak somewhere. I have got to call a plumber. Getting a plumber to actually answer the phone is a whole other story. I have been given leads on four plumbers. Two are in teh phone book but their numbers are disconnected and two are not in the phone book as business or personal numbers. I will keep trying.

There sure is a lot of nature out at the farm. We went for a walk Thursday morning and the kids found a horned frog. We looked at it and it looked at us and we all went on our ways. There was no sign of the ducks. This could mean they are dead and it could mean nothing. Faith and Claire and I went on our own little walk looking at plants. There are several types of wildflowers that could look very nice in a house’s flower bed and we will see what we can get in the way of seeds later. There was one plant that has a small yellow flower and when it has run its course, it just loses all color. It does not wilt or change into burrs; it just turns white and brittle. I am trying to find out what that plant is.

Work on the farm seems to be a series of distractions. I believe that the success of the farm will rely on our ability to overcome the distractions. Yesterday I was going to relocate the clothes line. I pulled the poles out of the ground and as I pulled the second one out it turns out that I disturbed a wasp nest. The wasp immediately came after me and stung me on the top of my head. I went in to have Melissa look at the sting to see if was getting wild as my dad has quick and bad reactions to wasp stings. No problem for me. I sat there and Melissa was talking to me about how she had not swept or cleaned in the converted garage parts of the house. Since converting the existing garage to a laundry room is the first project I went out to sweep the garage. As I swept in the back corner I noticed movement in the corner behind the bookcase. Yes, it was a snake. I thought about how my grandfather had grabbed snakes and just snapped them to death and I thought I might try that since the snake looked like it was a rat snake. The same kind I had killed in the coop a few weeks ago. However, just to be sure I slid the end of a board into the snake to see what would happen. The snake coiled and rattled. Rather than a non-venomous rat snake I was now dealing with the venomous western rattle snake. I had thought about my use of a rake on the rat snake and while I got a dead snake out of the deal, I never did get it cut in half. I figured that maybe a shovel would work. I also figured that if I used a posthole digger it would be like using two shovels at once. I got up on the cabinet and struck with the posthole digger. The snake rattled, but much slower than when he had been tapped with the wood. He also moved from beside the cabinet to behind it. I moved the cabinet and climbed up again and there he was. He was not coiled. I started smacking him with the posthole digger. I dropped the posthole digger and he curled around it a bit. I went to the shovel and he died. Still, I did not manage to sever him. We left him behind the cabinet until sundown as I have heard that you should never take a dead rattlesnake for granted until it has stayed dead until after sunset. So I went inside to sit and get a glass water and watched the barn swallows fly by and feed their offspring. I did not get the holes for the clothes line poles dug. I did not get the garage swept out. I did not get much done at all.

Last night I took the snake’s body out and threw it in a ditch. It was about three feet long and the rattle had eight sections on it. I kept the rattle for myself.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A First

Today was a great day for me. It may have been the first time since becoming a mom that I got to go to lunch with a friend--without kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them usually. But what fun it was to go out with a friend and just visit! Thanks, Karen!!

We spent the day packing again. Tomorrow we get to actually go out there and begin cleaning and unpacking a few things. We spent the afternoon swimming and that was really nice.

Oh, and my CD player in my van had quit working. The warranty covered it so I wanted to take it in before we move. They said they'd have to send it in to get it fixed and then put it back next week. But they fixed it today. That was a big blessing to me because I really like to sing while I drive. It keeps me awake.

Roger is sitting beside me tonight. This is noteworthy because there is a city council meeting tonight. He's not there. I think he's missed one meeting in the entire time we've been married. I had just had a baby and he had to stay home and help me with the kids. He might as well have not been home since his mind was there, but tonight he's all mine.

We're going to enjoy the evening together now. . .


Monday, June 20, 2005

A Dove and Two Ducks Walk into a Bar...

I took Mitchell and Claire to the farm today along with two ducks and a morning dove. The birds were set free, Mitchell and Claire had to work with me. The morning dove rode in the back seat of the truck with Claire. When we got there she released him before I even knew she had taken the container out of the truck. He flew away and I asked her if she had named him. She said she had. I asked her his name and she told me she hadn’t decided on that, yet. I guess it is good it was only a bird and not a child.

We ate lunch in Coleman at a hole in wall BBQ place. The tables and such were inside, the smoker was outside and the cook was running in and out throughout the lunch hour trying to keep up with the orders. The BBQ was good and it was one of those places that you see from the outside and wonder if you should go in and eat there. It was apparently fine as we all ate there and none of us are sick.

The enormity of the task ahead of us is settling in a bit. I know we can get it all done over time, but there is still so much to do. There is the buttoning up of things here and trying to get all out there. What to do first is the big question. Remodel inside the house? Chicken coop? Air conditioning? Job search? I think it is chicken coop that we will have to do first. It was pretty hot in Coleman today, but the house was not all that bad and I think we may be able to squeeze some time out before we go ahead and install the AC. I have found a couple of radiator heaters in the house and they could get us through parts of the winter. Remodeling the house will have to come sort of early as the laundry situation has to get sorted out. That is interior priority 1. It should be okay though with a fairly low cost as I will not plan on doing the flooring until later and tile/carpet/wood or whatever is expensive stuff.

Tomorrow we will get packed big time for the farm and head out Wednesday morning. That will give us time to get some things done here that can’t wait too much longer. We will probably not be blogging from Wednesday through Saturday as we will be out there and do not have a connection.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

2nd Best Father's Day Ever

What a couple of days this has been. Stephen and Faith and I went to the farm yesterday and got some things done. Faith put in doorknobs and dead bolts, Stephen mowed a very high and very large yard. I ran the weedeater and the yard looked good when we left. We also got the house measured as well as the windows and ceiling heights, so the stuff our AC guy needs is ready and we can get that designed. I got the layout plugged into our CAD program and last night I think I even got us to where we know what we’ll do when we remodel. Not too much wall movement and I even figured out a third bathroom. The one thing that did not happen was setting off the bug bomb. From all the dead bugs in the house it looks to me like there have been bug bombs before.

We also found out the electricity was turned off. That kind of threw us off for tomorrow. We were going to get out there and get after vacuuming and carpet cleaning. Instead I am going to have to go and get the electricity turned back on. I hope they can give me a feel for when they’ll get out there to it. I am hoping that being out in the country the meter will get set within a day.

That was yesterday. Today was Father’s Day. I did not get a tie, book or golf balls. Melissa has ordered three pairs of Key Imperial overalls for me. They are not here yet. But that’s okay as I got a great present from the best Father’s Day gift ever. Today was Faith’s 11th birthday. Eleven years ago Father’s Day fell on June 19th also. This morning at church we were just sitting there and Faith went up front and sang a solo. She sang ‘You Raise Me Up” and it was wonderful. Since she had to sing at both services the two of us stuck around until she did her deal at that service and she and I went to El Fenix. Then the two of us went to see my parents. What a great day, the second best Father’s Day ever.

This afternoon I got the trailer loaded and Sam’s room is now cleared out with the exception of a rocking chair and his crib. Tomorrow, Mitchell and Claire will go with me to Coleman and we’ll unload and try to get our electric service set-up. Then we will turn around and come back home.

Man, what is happening to the Spurs?


Bad Hair Day

I had a bad day. I'm having a hard time putting this down because I don't want to be negative. I keep writing and deleting. But I've finally decided to go ahead and just share it.

I was home with 3 of our kids almost all day. They are sick. Everyone else got to go do something "fun." (Six Flags for some and working with Roger at the farm for the others.) I had some fun with the kids and did a pretty good job not feeling sorry for myself.

Then Roger came home and I found out he wasn't able to fumigate the new house yet. That bugged me. I was hoping to have it done and then be able to clean everything Monday. But we've readjusted our plans and it will be fine.

Then everyone wanted to go swimming. I stayed inside though because I knew I still had to get to the store and I chose not to have to fix my hair again. These locks have been especially unruly lately and I just didn't want to fight that battle twice in one day. Vanity. But Samuel is one of the sick ones and he was inside with me so I still couldn't get to the store. I had to wait for everyone to finish swimming. A good thing happened though. Samuel was playing near me. He crawled over to me, stood up and hugged me, then went right back to playing. He's so sweet.

I finally got to the store and enjoyed shopping for my daughter's birthday gifts. But the lines were long and slow.

So there was good and bad and I just had a bad attitude for a good part of the day. I feel bad when I can't do anything. Okay, I was doing something, but it didn't feel like anything. I was just holding babies today. I think they're beginning to feel better so that should help. Then again, the nursery worker at church called to tell me they were exposed to chicken pox this week. But that's got a good side too.

Roger and his crew put new locks on the doors, mowed and measured. Roger has a floor plan drawn up of the house now and we've been able to start planning the remodeling of it. That's exciting.

Off to bed now so I can try to be more cheerful tomorrow.


Friday, June 17, 2005

The End - The Beginning

Today was my last day at work and it was an odd mix of emotions. I was glad to be leaving for the new life on the farm, but I was sad to leave the people I had come to care about so deeply. One friend came and we talked for about 90 minutes. Neither of us wanted to end the conversation because we knew that after today we would not have the proximity to help us stay close and in touch with each others’ lives. We took a picture and hugged and pretended to be strong.

Saying goodbye to Charly was really hard. She cried and I almost did. Charly had promised the folks in the building I would make a tour on my way out. I made her a liar as I snuck out the back and got in the truck and disappeared.

I expected to be jubilant, but that was not the emotion. There was some sadness to be leaving City Hall, but that wasn’t it either. The best I can do to describe it to tell you it’s like coming home from your last day at work before a two week vacation. You’re leaving the next morning and everything is packed. You have to wait, your kids have to wait and everyone is ready to go. Yet you have to wait because your plans don’t call for an all night drive, just an early start. It is anticipation and a sense of the unknown mixed together with excitement.

So tonight we packed up the truck with the lawn tractor, new locks, the .22, ramps, gas cans and such as Faith and Stephen are headed to the farm with me tomorrow for work on the yard, chicken pen and barn cleaning. We leave at 6 a.m. I would like to be going right now, but that ain’t happening tonight.

Oh yeah, I got a job offer this morning that was pretty intriguing. May look into it further, but I am more interested in the eco devo gig in Coleman.

Off to the farm in about eight hours.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Clarence Needed

Sorry to be gone for a day, but yesterday was a crusher, in a very good way. Yesterday was the party day for me and my family. At noon I had lunch with City employees. All were invited and many came – of course none of the firefighters came. At 5 p.m. we had the community wide celebration and when that was over we were wiped out. It was hot and long and I was on my feet the whole day. So, we swam and relaxed.

I have never trusted, because of my job, that when people told me they liked me that they were being sincere. Flattery is a powerful tool for people that want something. So, it is very seldom that I take a compliment to heart. Crappy way to live, but it was a defense mechanism that served me well many times. Its cost was those times when the flattery was sincere.

Now, I have no power or authority to deliver any kind of favor to anyone looking for something from the City. Still, many people came to the employee party and the evening reception. The Chamber gave me a gift certificate for custom boots. The employees gave me some cash for the farm. The Council gave me a laptop - the laptop from which this particular blog is being written.

Its kind of like “It’s a Wonderful Life” without the snow and no Clarence. Funny how you never have any idea how blessed you really are until it is too late.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Done (with this part)

We closed. We drove for seven hours. We are happy, but tired. Goodnight.

(I had hoped to do this as a haiku, but I hate haiku poems, mostly because I do not know how to make the word haiku plural - haiku's? haikus? haikues?)

I get punchy when I am tired.


Monday, June 13, 2005


Today was the first day of my last week here in Grapevine. No big deal today. I had lunch with my secretary. Charly is going to retire next month. It is the one thing I am sure that I will return for, her party. Charly had been in the City Secretary’s Office before I took her away. She cam on board with me a week after I was named City Manager and the rest has been eight years of fun. Charly is a huge Cowboys fan, which means the last few autumns have been very hard on her. She thinks of Michael Irvin as her son and was up and down with him throughout his troubles. Her other son was Deion Sanders. I might have spelled that wrong, but spell check won’t work on that name.

Anyway, Charly pretty much cried when I told her I was leaving. She was the hardest person to tell because I knew how she would react. So, now she will retire and when we build our guest cabin at the farm it will be available for Charly whenever she wants it. She has been through several births with us – from Claire to Sam. In that same time she was made a grandmother twice, Jake and Emma. Jake came in three months early and is a perfect example of why modern medicine is a great thing. Without it, no Jake coming by to see us and that would be a great loss.

Even with her own grandson and granddaughter, Charly has been wonderful to my kids, in particular she and Clark are good buddies. Clark always has to see Miss Charly and she will sneak him a candy and always remembers his birthday. Among all of the pictures on her desk there is a picture of Clark. In typical fashion, Charly has cut herself out of the picture and has just Clark in a frame on her desk. I have the picture of Clark with Charly still in it and will treasure it for a long time. There are few people that have been as kind and loyal and willing to speak their mind around me as Charly Berry and I will miss her and I will be glad that I got eight years of working with her.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Go Spurs!

First half – Spurs were dang near perfect. Let’s see what Larry Brown can get into his guys’ heads at the half. I hope he can’t get them going.

This was a busy day with family luncheon thing and a showing and a memorial service. The P.D. had a memorial service for Darren Medlin this afternoon. Darren died a year ago today when a drunk driver hit him. He was in the process of arresting another drunk driver when the guy plowed into him. He left behind a wife, two daughters and two step children. It was a nice service, but it would be better if we hadn’t had to have it.

Tomorrow I get to have my last Monday here. A week from now we will be finishing packing and getting a good night’s sleep before we begin the move.

No dog training today. He has been good, though. Has not been jumping on the kids the last 24 hours or so. Maybe it will work, I am praying it does as I do not want to have to shoot him.

Good night, the second half is starting.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Not Much, Just Fun

Not much work done today. Did a little weed eating. Swam with the kids and Melissa. Ate too much pizza. DOG TRAINING MOMENT BEGINS - shocked the day lights out of the dog a he jumped on Claire and Clark. Not sure it is working too well. Turned it up as high as it will go and only minimal reaction as near as I can tell. Stephen came up with a good idea on the chicken side though and what we will do is let the two roosters we hatched mature and set one of them on the dog. If the rooster wins, Bandit will leave the chickens alone. If the rooster loses we will smack bandit with the rooster corpse and tie it around his neck until it rots off. Then we still have the second rooster to test whether or not the treatment worked. We have too many roosters and this may be the best solution. If the rooster wins, we'll eat him. - DOG TRAINING MOMENT OVER

We have got offspring watching set for Tuesdy when we go to close and we are working on our calendar to try to figure out when we will be taking loads to Coleman. Looks like we are there full time on July 5th or 6th. Now we have to figure out how to do the new chicken coop. The plan is to have one that we can move around the pastures and free range the laying hens as well as the meat birds held up in the tractors.

Read a lot this morning about cow birth. Did you know that there are many, many ways that things can go wrong with cattle in the birthing process. In fact, there are even times when a fetus will die and the heifer will not push it out until months later. Since it is sealed up in the womb, rather than rotting it mummifies and eventually gets delivered. So if you run into a leather like lump laying out in a pasture some time, that could be a cow that didn't make it.

Pleasant dreams,


A closing date on the farm -- take 2

We now have a closing date that we think is real. We close Tuesday at 4. The lost heir has been found and has signed the documents he needs to sign. So everything is in place and ready.

Now we can start to plan. Now we can call the utility companies and ask for things to be turned on. I mean, we're willing to rough it for a while, but we would eventually like running water, electricity, and a phone. And now we can begin to think about a moving date and start to really pack. So far I've just been decluttering and cleaning mostly.

I got to sew today. I made a dress and beaded 3/4 of a pair of socks to match. I'm looking forward to getting more sewing done so I can get my web page launched. I love that I now have an excuse to go sew and don't allow myself to feel guilty about it.

We had a discussion the other night about how the chicken eggs get fertilized by the rooster. Clark, 5, was thinking that it was from using fertilizer in your garden. Good thinking, but it wouldn't work. So as we ate dinner I explained about how the eggs get fertilized before the hen lays them. Now Claire understands why she shouldn't let the dog jump on her. She's also willing to make the rooster be nice. This will be a great education for the kids. Somehow it's easier to explain reproduction with animals than with humans. There's less embarrassment involved. Poor Roger missed the whole discussion because he was at a city council meeting. That's probably a good thing. He loves to tell the kids bizarre things. (The boys used to believe that he and I were Jedi knights who retired to have children. And ask him how his brother Jimmy is doing. That's a whole nother story!) He'd have told Clark something like the fertilizer for the garden works and if we plant chickens we get lots more eggs. Or some other such nonsense. Keeps us on our toes!


Friday, June 10, 2005

What a day

The roller coaster was going good today. At this moment, Thursday night at about 10:15, we are not going to close tomorrow. The lost heir was found last night and was supposed to call the title company today. He did not as far as I know. However, he did talk to the realtor and is going to go in and sign the docs tomorrow. So, we may still need to go close tomorrow. Then again, he may not show up. We wait. We are so good at waiting.

So, I’m talking to the realtor and he says to me “hey, we have an economic development corporation and we need a new executive director, do you think you’d be interested?” Crimeny. The thing I have enjoyed about work the most has been the ecodevo stuff. So, I at least have a real prospect for when we get to Coleman.

We also came up with a name for the farm/ranch this evening. This is a silly thing to most people, but we wanted to have a name that was interesting and reflected what we are and who we are. Are you ready? Panivino Ranch. In Spanish, pan is bread and vino is wine. So, bread and wine - the elements of communion. It’s also fun to say. PAH-nee-vee-no. Say it with me – panivino, panivino, panivino, panivino. It rhymes with panomino and salibeano.

I also have a new e-mail address – Aunt Helen, if you are reading this, I will still only be writing one liners to you.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Not really a closing date on the farm

False alarm. Why should it be simple? We were set to close. I was going to be off and Mitchell was still going to get to go to writing camp and we were all ready to go. I called the title company and found out that there is a missing heir. Of the seven people that have to sign the documents, six are accounted for. The seventh? Well, no one knows where he is right now. Four of the six have given power of attorney to the other two. It is the last of the seven that we are missing and without him, no closing. The roller coaster continues. I should never have prayed for patience.

On the other hand, I had an enjoyable breakfast with a very old friend. I have known this guy since I was about 12 and he was my Dad's intern at University Park. He recently retired and is presently doing a little City work, but came to the realization that he would still be doing the same old thing and just wanted to compare some notes. It was an honor to be asked by someone I admire questions about what I thought and how I came about thinking them. This guy is perhaps one the sharpest people I have ever encountered and could do whatever he wanted. It was a great moment for me and a nice conversation.

Of course, after that was over I had to go to work. Work is a misnomer these days. I went to City Hall and sat around and talked to folks about junk and answered a couple of phone calls. Yipee. Pretty soon here I am going to have to start cleaning out my desk and bookshelf. I have so much crap from the last ten years. A silver shovel from the groundbreaking at the mall. A bunch of wine bottles I do not care about. A hat or two. Some golf trophies. A statue. Gotta get all of those things packed so they can sit in the attic at the new house. Does anyone know the R value of a 25 pound bronze statue? Does anyone read this?

My blessing yesterday? It was my last City Coucncil meeting and I will never have to wear a tie to work again. Also, I had a very fun boat ride with three dear friends and we laughed about the last ten years here. A good time and I will miss these three folks very much.

My blessing today? I guess it was breakfast and lunch with friends and dinner with my family. Three meals in one day is one more than I usually get to have.

No dog training today, Claire was too tired.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A closing date on the farm

We finally have a tentative closing date on the Coleman house! WooHoo! It looks like Friday we can go get started on the farm. I have a box of cleaning supplies ready and I'm working on getting sleeping bags washed and ready. The current plan is to close at 11am Friday and then we'll have the water turned on while we can be there to check on things. The house has been empty for a while and we don't know what we'll find when the water is turned back on. We want to change the locks and probably fix or replace toilets. You can see what our priorities are.

So it's finally happening. We can finally start moving! We have things on Sunday we need to be back in Grapevine for, but we'll spend the night in Coleman Friday night. Then the kids and I have Vacation Bible School next week and Roger has his last week at city hall. We'll spend the weekend in Grapevine for Father's day and then it's off to the farm!

I find my thoughts filled with things like what cleaning supplies to take, what and when to turn on/off utilities. And other such boring details. My thoughts are geared toward creating a new home out there on our acres. I think Roger is much more in tune to what needs to be done outdoors. I'm sure in the coming weeks you can read about all the work that gets done out there.

Meanwhile, I still have children begging to be fed each day, several times a day. So I need to keep that up. Better go feed them some dinner. Joy, the 2 yr old, is beginning to try to start it herself. Yikes!


Monday, June 06, 2005

Dog Training Begins (poor Claire)

The training of Bandit with the magical shock collar began this evening. I took the three days to get Bandit used to wearing it and that was easy. Today I started with jumping behavior. Since Claire is Bandits, shall we say, girlfriend, I started with her as the bait. She was a trooper and I was very proud of her. She ran, Bandit chased. She stopped, Bandit jumped, I shocked him. Problem - Bandit was still jumping after the shock. So, we called it off and went inside to increase the jolt in the collar. We tried again. Claire ran, Bandit chased, Claire stopped, Bandit jumped, Claire got knocked into the fence, Bandit got shocked and I felt like crap. No, I felt dirty. I felt like I had sold my daughter out to be beaten up by the dog. She went on and toughed it out and performed a valuable service for the family. Unfortunately, the early results are not very encouraging.

On the brighter side, we have our title work ready and I am thinking we'll have a closing date set by the end of the day tomorrow. We are hoping for a Friday closing which will give us a couple of days to see how it all goes in the heat. I also found out the the squeaking sound in the engine compartment is the engine mounts, not a bearing going out. The instability that the mounts are allowing is causing the clunking sound in the transmission. So, now I am looking at about $250 in engine mount repairs versus $2000 of tansmission repairs. An finally, a sign that our house is at least getting looked at. When I got home today there was a piece of trash in our yard. I went to pick it up and it turned out to be a page from a Mapquest search directing someone from a spot in Fort Worth to our house! No call, but it is the single shred of encouragement that I had been praying for. (I am also aware that it could have been a dry run for violent home invaders, but will hope it is actually home buyers. If no post tomorrow, call the cops.)

So, plenty of blessings today. None greater than getting to be the father of a brave seven year old girl that toughed it out against a dog.


Peace in the midst of no quiet

Well, there's nothing new today. I, Melissa, get to do the writing because I'm better at using a lot of words to say nothing.

I'm feeling more peaceful about waiting now. I realized that I just need to use this time to relax and trust God. I know He's at work. He didn't lead us to get started on this just to drop the ball and leave us. He'll send a buyer for our house when the time is right. It looks like we'll close on the house in Coleman soon so that helps. We are anxious to get out there and get started.

We have a little plaque in our house that says "Peace is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God within one's heart." I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I need God's presence in my heart every minute. It makes sense. It's a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). If I need peace I will get that from the Spirit. So I pray. It really helps. Of course.

It reminds me of our 2 yr old the other day. She needed me to just hold her. I was busy and tried to put her off. She ended up screaming and crying. Just being in my presence wasn't enough. She needed to feel my presence by having me hold her. That's how I feel right now. I want to feel God holding me. I need that reassurance that He's there and we're doing the right thing. We know we are; we know He's with us. But I'm like my 2 yr old throwing a fit because He isn't picking me up and holding me. Or maybe He is and I'm too busy throwing a fit to notice. I want the farm and I want it NOW! But He's a good Father and doesn't give in to that kind of thing. His timing is the best and He'll stick to that. Only the best for His children.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Killing Snakes

The boys spent the night a friend's house last night and as we got going this morning we never thought about the chickens. Melissa has been taking care of the chicks and Stephen has been letting the chickens out. We remembered the chickens around 4 this afternoon. They were still alive. Their coop is shaded, so they should have been alive. Their visitor startled me a little, though. The rat snake was in one of the nesting boxes. The chickens got out of the coop as soon as I opened the door, but the snake just lounged there in the box.

My first thought was that this would be a great time to have the shotgun. Melissa showed up and decided I could kill the snake with a hoe. Duh! The snake wasn't too concerned. It just laid there and let me go get the hoe. The snake is now dead. I don't remember ever killing a snake before, so this may have been a first for me. I am pretty sure it won't be the last snake I kill.

My dad tells how my grandfather would just grab a snake by its tail and crack it like a whip, snapping the snake's head off. I thought about that this afternoon, but decided the hoe would be the best way for me to go with this snake. I've seen pictures of my grandfather and he was a good sized muscular fella with blue eyes. I'm just like him, I have blue eyes.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Party On

No post last night because we were at a party. Some of our homeschool friends threw it for us since we’re going away. It was a wonderful evening. No crying (that I saw) or speeches or junk like that, just food, volleyball, basketball, running around and visiting. Our kids got to see their friends and play until they dropped. We pretty much did the same.

I took Clark and Joy down to the lakeshore and while I am not a big fan of lakes and stuff like that I did feel a sense of loss that this was one of the last times to be at the lake. It has, for over fifty years, been one of the defining symbols of Grapevine. We will be seeing Grapevine in a different way over the next few weeks as we find we can no longer take some of the wonderful things in and about this community for granted. Main Street, convenient shopping, great roads, great parks and a great library are not going to be the norm where we’re going. At the same time, a relaxed life style will be worth the hubbub that we’re giving up.

Another thing that I am giving up is the need to be politically sensitive. You know those lights on Main Street that show up around Thanksgiving? They are holiday decorations for me for another two weeks. Then they will be called what it is right to call them, Christmas decorations. Can I get an "Amen"?

Thursday’s blessing? Our friends. That’s three days in a row now.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Today's Blessing

Another day, another blessing. Had lunch with a friend of mine. It was nice and we got to talk about work and our kids and the lunacy of things around us. I am finding myself feeling bit of remorse about the move, but not because I am going to where I am going, but because I am leaving behind a few people that mean a lot to me. My friend did make an interesting comment - she told me that she figured I would be back in city management in about four years. I disagree. I am going to be back in city management in a month. Just this time the city will have a population of ten people and nine chickens. The tax rate will be really low, the zero cents the Mayor has always wanted for Grapevine will be in place in Nelsonville. We will grow Nelsonville through the prudent development of pastures and the addition of cows, more chickens and maybe some goats. Maybe a dog, too.

The dog, now here is a non-blessing at work. Our dog is a chicken hater. He kills them when he can and mangles them we can't get the job finished. So, I am having to get after some training on him starting now. Otherwise risk having him kill a chicken on the farm and then having to shoot him. Remember what almost happened to Babe when the farmer thought he had killed the sheep? Bandit would also get the death penalty but without a pardon. Shock collar and beatings will be delivered in the coming days, so if you are one of these people that thinks of dogs as your children, you will want to skip the posts that have the words DOG or TRAINING in the title.