Saturday, July 30, 2005

Some travel and others stay put

Quick trip to Grapevine yesterday for all of us and today it was a trip for Melissa, Stephen and Sam. The three of them will head out to Missouri tomorrow for Melissa’s grandmother’s funeral. Sam is going as I can’t breast feed and Stephen is going to help with entertaining Sam for today’s trip to Grapevine and Tuesday’s trip back to Coleman. The trip to Missouri will include Melissa’s brother, sister and brother-in-law, making Stephen less crucial.

“Why aren’t all of you going?” you ask. Because while we don’t have many animals, yet, we do have animals and they have to be let out and put up and fed. This means someone has to stay. Since someone had to stay we decided that not all of the kids would be making the trip to the funeral. This means the bookends are gone and I have the rest of the kids – the chewy center.

With no Melissa to go with us tomorrow I decided that we would skip church hunting tomorrow and stay here on the property. Faith asked that we go and explore and so we will get up and feed the chickens and eat some oatmeal and head out to the “backside” of the land we now call home. I will have the .38 special with shot shells in case we run into a snake or two and we will walk the entire fence line. I am not at all sure what to do with Joy tomorrow as she will not be able to make the whole walk and we don’t have a stroller for her. I may drive us to the other side of the pond and jump-off from there. I may also give her some Robitussin and let her sleep here at the house while the rest of us go for a walk. I’m just kidding, so relax already.

Roger

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hammer Time!

The construction has begun! The garage demo is done and we have the outside walls up. The windows are in place and on Thursday the salvaged siding will go back up on the front of the house until we have run out. I am not too sure about what to do after we run out. The material is a combination of masonite and oriented strand board (OSB) siding. The masonite is the older junk and the OSB is the newer junk. Both materials have a wood textures imprinted on them and at 12” wide. I have not been able to find any in the area. I may have to mismatch the house and steal from the back to satisfy the front and put something else up in the back. I had not wanted to reside the whole house at this time.

Claire says she saw some deer this morning. From what she told me it sounds like two bucks. From what she told Stephen it sounds like a buck and a yearling. I wonder if it is legal to sit on your front porch and shoot deer in the road?

We head back to Grapevine on Friday for Charly Berry’s retirement party. If you ever called me at work and got crotchety old woman on the phone you got Charly. She has been a great friend for the last eight years as my assistant and I miss her out here in the west with no one to keep me up to date on the strength of the Cowboy’s secondary or receiving corps.

After that, Melissa will head to Missouri for her grandmother’s funeral. I will be in Coleman with Joy through Stephen from Saturday through Tuesday. I will probably not blog while she is gone. I will probably crack-up and go so totally crazy as to swim in the stock pond with the leeches and water moccasins.

Roger

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Housewifey thoughts

I have now used my clothes line twice. It was an all day affair the first time because I had a lot of laundry to do. Many things came out stiff, others came out just fine. I added vinegar to the rinse cycle and while it helped to soften things some, it wasn't enough. I'll try adding more next time, but it's mostly just denim that's a problem still. But my denim skirts don't fold up on the bottom like they do in the dryer. Maybe Roger will think I love him enough to starch his overalls and it's a good thing. Hahaha! The first time I used the clothesline I kept thinking about my grandmother. She had just passed away that morning and so it was kind of neat how much the smell of the sheets reminded me of her.

I'm learning a few things about drying clothes on a clothes line:
*Stand up wind of the clothes while hanging them or they'll whip you in the face.
*Don't worry about how you look because the wind and sun will mess up any hair style.
*Wear sunglasses.
*Work fast or the clothes in the basket are dry before you hang them.
*Clothes dry in the sun and wind FASTER than in the dryer.
*Plastic bags over hangers don't last long to hold clothespins. I'll have to sew one with some fabric.
*Wearing a pair of tank tops makes a good "uniform." One that fits tight enough to keep me covered even in the wind and one that fits loosely enough to clip the clothespins to my shirt keeping them handy. And tank tops because I'm not wanting a "farmer tan."

Bored yet?

I'm also learning to cook again--or at least differently. I've learned to make beans from dried beans rather than a can. It's cheaper and that's good. It's also very satisfying to know I spent less and it tastes better. Then tonight I made spaghetti sauce without just opening a jar. It came out pretty good and again saved money. I'm amazed at how much more fun it is to cook when I really cook rather than just heat things. There is such a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I took basic ingredients and made something delicious. I should have known this from baking bread, but I always enjoyed baking and never enjoyed making dinner. But now I'm starting to enjoy that, too.

I will enjoy it more when we have a kitchen that isn't an oven, counter space that isn't cluttered up with things that haven't yet found where they belong, and an oven that doesn't take twice the time to bake things. Well, I've used it twice and the first time it was fine, but the second time it didn't. I'm afraid to bake bread now. But my crockpot is my friend.

Doing dishes isn't so bad for me. I'm teaching the kids how to do it and do it right and even clean up the kitchen when they are done. The boys and the girls alternate nights.

Well, off to take my cold bath. I'm still enjoying those since it's still hot. I just have to be sure to do it at night when I'm hot. I just wash my hair in the morning. And did you know that washing your hair in cold water actually makes it softer and shinier? Doesn't help me any with styling though. Too bad. haha!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bandit the Guard Dog

An amazing transformation has occurred with Bandit. The dog we were worried would continue, if not expand, his chicken eating ways has become a chicken guard all on his own. We have been keeping him chained up during the day and letting him run free at night, after the chickens were put up. During the day the thought was that the chickens would stay in their area and the dog in his and all would be fine so long as the two did not mix. A few days ago the chickens started breaking out of their area and coming over to hang out by the house. The dog is tied up by the house and was behaving quite well on the end of a chain. He had always done well on a leash while wild as a March hare when running free.

So I was sitting out back reading my Bible and drinking some coffee when the chickens came over to the area around the dog. He was a bit perplexed at first as they were in his space and he made a couple of starts at them. I firmly said Bandit at each of those moves and he broke off any kind of pursuit. In a little while the chickens were all with his reach and he was sitting on the grass watching them. They would drink from his bowl and he’d watch. Mostly, however, they stayed away from him.

Thursday night we let him off his chain while the chickens were still out. After a few nervous moments on my part everything settled down and the dog was playing over by the coop and at one point was drinking from the chickens’ water dish while they were also drinking with him.

We are still keeping him tied up during the day because we like having him around the house and it seems he likes to have us around him, but in the evening as we herd the chickens over to the hen house we let him loose and he runs after the chickens, runs through the tall grass (hops would be a more apt description), explores where ever he can get to and hunts skunk with me. He will eat some of the chickens’ stuff and drink their water every night to get some payback from what they took during the day.

So, the dog we thought we’d have to kill but took a chance on brining out here with us has turned out to be the dog we would want for what we have out here in the country. When he went missing after that first night Melissa prayed that we would have the perfect dog, whether Bandit or some other dog, it seems that God returned the same dog to us with a new way of being.

Roger

Thursday, July 21, 2005

TV - yes...Blog - no

It has been several days since we have blogged. A combination of busy with farm stuff and we now have a TV. No satellite, no cable, just an antenna, but at least we get to watch the news. We are able to get news from Abilene and San Angelo. We have watched the CBS affiliates from both cities and it is hard to say which of the two was worse. My big complaint is that we watched them on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and it was not until we were watching Letterman Wednesday night that we learned the President had made a nomination to the Supreme Court. How sad is that to learn about a news item from David Letterman. Tonight we are watching the NBC affiliate from Abilene. Not too much better, but at least their early look at weather included Coleman.

Today we began the remodeling and had visitors. Mitchell and I cut down a couple of trees and we began the demolition in the garage. The garage will become a new laundry room that will have the storage Melissa enjoyed in Grapevine and part of the area will become the boys’ room. This, I think, has a lot to do with Mitchell’s willingness to help out. After almost a month he is tired of sleeping in the dining room. Dining room is a euphemism for open room that we are using as a place to eat.

Stephen was in the area Sunday through last night. After he got back from the mission trip he felt led to share a word with his youth group and that happened last night. Today he came home with the Swansons. The boys all played all over the property. Stephen and Shawn went fishing at the stock tank and caught a bunch of perch. Mitchell, CJ and Joshua played games and ran out of gas on their way to the far barn. Faith, not to be outdone, caught a horned toad. The property is thick with these things.

It is nice to have everyone home again.

Roger

Friday, July 15, 2005

Work + Watermelon = Good Day

Lots got done today. The screens are almost all repaired or replaced. The holes for the clothes line posts are dug and ready for concrete tomorrow morning. The door to my bedroom is now up. More boxes are unpacked. The fan in the girls’ room has been replaced with one that has a working light. The phone line to the bedroom for computer dial-up use is now installed. The antennae connection is now in place in the living room. The front porch is clean and ready for sitting. The dog is settling in and the chickens are laying their eggs where they are supposed to.

This was a good day. On top of all of the good stuff, we got to eat watermelon again this evening and this time we bought a big melon. A melon that was still gone after the family ripped through it, but we all got to have almost as much as we wanted. The highlights of the evening included throwing rinds at each other, watching a beautiful display of clouds as the sun set and a good breeze. It doesn’t take too much to make us happy these days. Oh yeah, I didn’t have to go to City Hall or take a meeting or talk to someone that was unhappy with the Police Department for writing him a ticket while two teenagers and a minority did not get pulled over and they were going just as fast.

The chicken coop is supposed to get wheels installed tomorrow. I will let you know how that goes.

Roger

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Doggone

The dog is now at the farm with us. His first night here he slept under the girls window after he managed to escape from the yard where we thought we had him confined. Last night I locked him up and went inside. This morning I went out to let him loose and he was gone.

Some of us got in the van and drove the roads looking for him and some walked the property to find him. None of us were successful. I was worried that he had succumbed to a rattle snake as a neighbor had run one over on the road in front of our house last night. I was also worried that the dog had tried to battle it out with a car and lost. This was not the case as far as we could tell this morning.

Around noon Faith was watching a pair of turkey vultures circle something and land on the road about 100 yards from our house. The two of us walked over to see what it might be. From the house there was no way to tell where the vultures were landing, only that they were. I was thinking that the tall grass beside the road was prime for a rotting dead dog corpse.

Turns out they were dining on the remains of the rattler killed the night before.

This evening the kids called me out to help as they were certain that they had heard the dog barking from under the house. I looked and did not see him. I was very glad to have not seen him as a moral dilemma would have come up at that point. Do I admit I see him and climb under the house or do I act like nothing was there in order to avoid climbing under. I am hoping that when the lightening kills me in 56 years that I have still never had to climb under the house. My other option was to let one of the kids climb under in my place – they are smaller and more able to maneuver under there – but decided that if the dog is under there I will climb under there. If the dog is dead, I will not climb under there but will instead get a meat hook and pull his body out before he starts to stink up the place. So, there I am looking under the house praying a little prayer that the dog be elsewhere. God answers my prayer. Amen.

After the dog under the house theory is debunked it is decided that we should go to look for him by the creek. This is another lost cause, but I go anyway as my other choice is to go back to tiling the bathroom. (if you ever come out, the bathroom tile job is awful and I know it, but we needed to get the urine soaked carpet removed and the 39¢ tiles will do just fine until the job can get done for good) We went to the creek, no sign of the dog. We walked south, still shouting his name and here he came bounding for joy at the sight of us. He was filthy and we were ecstatic. Even Claire, his love interest, was happy to see him. So we fed him and hugged him and laughed and after it got dark I went and put him in the yard he escaped from last night and we will see if he is back tomorrow morning. If not, the kids will have another adventure to go on – after they are done with their chores.

Roger

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Tight Fit

Sorry we haven't posted in a while. Still no internet in Coleman (or Santa Anna--turns out our address is Santa Anna now so we can get our mail in front of our house. The Coleman carrier's route stops a ways down the road.) and there won't be until we get some working phone jacks in the house. Right now there's one and it's no where near where the computer will be.

We've now taken 2 truck loads full of stuff and we're back in Grapevine preparing to load the 3rd truck tomorrow. We've been here a couple days now packing and packing and packing. It looks like we'll make our self-appointed deadline and have everything on the truck before we go to the airport to get Stephen. (Our 15 yr old son has been away on a mission trip this week. We've all missed him a lot. God has been watching over him and his group though. There was a hurricane headed straight for Jamaica, but it turned to the right, went around them, and then got back on it's previous path. I'm sorry to those who were hit, but so glad my son is safe!!) So we'll go to the airport to get him, take him out for dinner, then head back to the house, catch the chickens and load them in dog kennels, load the dog in the truck with Roger and Mitchell (if anyone knows me they know I do NOT want to ride with a dog in my van.) and take off for home. We'll leave behind an empty house that has still not sold. I know God is saving it for the right family. I just wish that family would hurry up and find it. ;-) But HIS timing is always best and we're waiting to see what that is.

So we're taking all these truckloads of stuff to the farm and I'm having a really hard time figuring out where to put it all. We had lots of built in storage at the Grapevine house--built in shelves galore, closets, cupboards, etc. And we'll have very little at the new house. I've currently got bookshelves lining the hallway. Not pretty, but it works. The sofas are all in the barn being stored since there is no room for them in the tiny living room. We have three chairs--a rocker/recliner and two gliders--in the living room along with 3 more sets of bookshelves. Then there's a bar from the kitchen to the living room and we have 4 barstools there. That's still only seating for 7, but we have pillows for the floor stashed in a corner.

Our dining room table is huge. It needs to be to seat all of us. We had to find a place where it will fit. The boys bedroom is the converted garage that was called a 3rd bedroom. We had to put our refrigerator, freezer, dining room table and the 2 sets of boys' bunkbeds in that room. It all fits with room to walk through the room still. Thankfully this is all temporary. I think the kids will want some privacy soon.

We're considering buying one window unit to put in the bedroom/dining room/future kitchen just to help us make it through the summer. No a/c is really not bad until around 1pm and then it stays hot until around 5:30 or 6 when it begins to get bearable again. I'm learning to adjust my schedule around that. I wait to do laundry until after I put the kids to bed. Washing isn't a problem, but the heat from the dryer blows right back in the windows and it's too much during the day. One of the many things Roger has to do is set up my clothesline. That will help. I originally just wanted it for diapers, but we'll see. I hate to iron though and clothes dried on the line can be really wrinkly. Maybe there's a trick to that that I can learn soon. But I'm not sure how soon poor Roger will want to tackle the clothesline again. Last time he touched it he ended up getting stung by the wasps that didn't want their housing moved.

The swallows have lost their charm on us. Stephen was getting buzzed by them before he left for Jamaica. With him gone they chose to pick on Roger. We're thinking when those babies are gone, the nest goes too. There were only 2 of the 6 babies still living at home when we left Friday evening. We expect them to be gone by the time we get back tomorrow night. But we'll see. They seemed pretty content to just hang around and be fed.

We got some more cleaning done on the farm house and it's feeling much better to be there. There are fewer spiders showing themselves (but if the spiders we saw are any indication, things will get really big on that farm!) and I've gotten the dust and dirt off the walls mostly. The handprints and "I love Melissa" written in the dust on the bathroom tile is gone, but that's okay. Once we get new hot water heaters, Roger can write me notes in the steam. I think I'd prefer that anyway.

So we're squeezing in and we still have another truckload to move. It will be interesting. The kids are finally understanding why I've been telling them they have too many toys for the new house. And we're getting to go through all the years of clutter we've built up and evaluate what we really need. There's something really cleansing about getting rid of junk. I wish I'd done more of it years ago. I'll be doing more and more as we try to fit in our house.

Lest you think I'm complaining about the size of the house, I'll have you know I think it's great. When I'm in the kitchen, I can hear my children at either end of the house. They are not so far away that I can't keep up with them at all. Plus clean up is much easier because there is less to clean. And there just won't be room for all that clutter to build back up. It just can't. And that's good. I've been told that clutter is one of the main causes of depression in women. I don't know if it's true, but it sure gets me down. I also know that it is feeling really good to get rid of it.

We'll try to update again sooner so I don't have to write a book all at once.

A couple prayer requests in case you'd like to say a quick prayer for us:
*We need to sell our Grapevine house.
*Continued safety from rattle snakes (Claire found one up close in a garden. She was happy that God kept her safe, and is much more cautious outside now.)
*God's guidance to find the right church.
*We need to sell our Grapevine house.

Melissa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Packing and unpacking

I've spent the last week packing, unpacking, and re-packing the boxes to use again. Right now I'm wondering why we don't just throw it all out and do without. Over time we will do that a lot, but for now we just want to get things moved. Then we can decide what we don't have room for later.

We've been without a computer while at the ranch so we haven't updated for a while. A lot has happened and I couldn't possibly cover it all. I'll share some random thoughts and events from the last week. It has been wonderfully uplifting to see God's provision. And yet we have moments of discouragement when things go wrong.

We finally got a plumber to come look at the gas pipes. That was some pretty extensive work that will surely cost a lot. We'll get the bill when we go back this week. On the bright side, we will have new pipes and won't need to worry about them cracking and leaking.

In planning the chicken coop for the laying hens, I really wanted it to be mobile because chickens will eat up everything in an area if they don't move around enough. Roger found wheels on the property that will work out great. The coop is looking like some sort of hot rod now. I think it's great.

The heat was kind of hard to take Friday. It was over 100 degrees and hot hot hot. We ate ice, drank ice water, and did the best we could to keep cool. Just when it seemed I couldn't take it, a breeze would blow by. And then it started to cool off at the end of the day and felt wonderful. We loved our cold baths!

Stargazing is fun, especially with Roger. He's showing me all these constellations I never even knew existed. Ask him and I'm sure he'd love to show you Saturnalius the Constipated. There was one area I thought looked like a sunburst, but he pointed out it was a tick. It had a name, but I don't remember it. I have a feeling that if I asked Roger what it was, it would be different this time because he wouldn't remember either. ;-)

We don't spend too much time stargazing though because we're tired. I've noticed we're naturally falling into a pattern of "early to bed and early to rise" when we're out there. Not so true in Grapevine. Funny how I go right back to my old habit of staying up too late.

The first night out there this week I had spiders crawling on me in the dark while I nursed the baby. I didn't sleep much the rest of the night. But it's been better since then.

The baby swallows are growing up and looking crowded in their nest. We're wondering if they'll still be there when we go back in a few days.

When we pulled back into the driveway in Grapevine, Joy threw a fit because she wanted to go to our farm. She wasn't happy to be here until I explained that we had to pack the rest of our stuff to take it to the farm. I think everyone is getting used to being there. It is starting to feel empty here.

Well, there's more, but I'm exhausted. We'll try to update again soon. But tomorrow's the 4th of July and Tuesday I may not have a computer. We'll see.

Melissa