Wednesday, September 10, 2014

# 526 - The RV-Life Blues

This outdoor kitchen is nicely done. We might have the carport area built with the backwall used as the backside to the outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen would be looking out to the main part of the backyard. Since the main structure is already there, this might be the best and least expensive option for us to fit in the outdoor kitchen into our budget.

Imagine this outdoor kitchen at the backside of the carport, accessible out the back door, close to the side that has the home's main kitchen.
Rustic outdoor space.
Lately, it seems we are always exhausted. Life has been extremely taxing. However, I know that the coming months are not going to be any easier.
Tomorrow, I have a list of phone calls to make to get back on top of the construction plan. We are still trying to work out final details with the floorplan and have been traveling a bit out of town, then we caught a terrible cold that had indiscriminately made its way around the family like a germ atom bomb, and now I am simply drained.
RV living is not good for me. I have determined this because I always had space to walk around in our house, rooms to clean, and it was never-ending. However, the main part was that I had room to stretch my legs. In an RV, you have minimal room and walking the floor means you might send vibrations to the other person sharing the RV and the sounds in the main part of RV are atrocious because the main air-conditioning is attached to the ceiling in that room and it is LOUD and intrusive. The A/C is vented through to the rest of the RV, but the main living room is not so enjoyable right now.
In the photo below, the RV with the deck is ours. The fifth wheel belongs to my oldest daughter and her husband, Heather and Henry. They just took it off the acreage a couple of weeks ago, so that means our guest quarters has rolled away!
The RV with the deck is ours.
As Henry was pulling their fifth wheel down our private road, Sgt. Dave was guiding them because the growth in our forest over this past summer has been phenomenal.
Henry did a great job getting the fifth wheel off the land and onto the road for their home near Fort Worth, Texas, which is about four hours away from us. The following week, we would be traveling to see them for our grand-daughter's first birthday.
We have two entrances/exits to our acreage. The other side has the
massive commercial-grade culvert. This side does not have one. But,
Henry has a big truck that handled the hauling, perfectly.
As for our own RV, it's good for me to get so sick of the RV that the construction process will become more delightful. I feel as if I am running a marathon, but getting nowhere. Life can be like that, especially when the process is daunting.
Truthfully, part of the fear about digging in and starting the actual build process is that I will make a decision that really cannot be changed because it won't be affordable to make the change or it won't be structurally feasible. I am trying to build us a house that we have never seen, yet it is very close to what we have seen in person and is rather simple, even so, it is 100% custom. It is similar to the house we shared previously, but also a lot different, as far as siding, color, roof color and such is concerned.
My fear with getting started is that my time to back-track and change my mind will no longer be an option.
I remind myself that we are never stuck with anything in life, yet it is something that I can see is a struggle for my personality. It's been a learning lesson for me to discover more about myself during this process.
From House Beautiful on-line. I love some white in a kitchen. I love this
color, but my last house had green cabinetry and not everyone loved them.
One thing is for sure, once we are back in a house, I will be incredibly thankful to have SPACE.
This past year of being in a cubby hole, in a's been nice, in a way, especially to allow us time to live on our land, to simply "be" and to figure things out regarding the seasons with drainage on the acreage and such. However, I well surpassed my expiration date for RV living.
We better get back on track because my steam seems to let out a lot faster these days. As for my whining, here are some things on my mind about being tired of RV life...I need space to stretch out; I want my bookshelves to be full of my books; I want my piano to play during melancholy moments; I want a guest room ready at all times for my kids and grand-grandbaby to enjoy; I want a bathtub; I want a full kitchen with a real refrigerator/freezer that is FROST-FREE; and I want a real sofa to stretch out upon.
All of these things are luxuries, I know. And the world has such major issues that weigh upon me like a lead-weight, but in my tiny corner of this existence, these are my current feelings about RV life.
Perhaps this coming week will be a positive move toward finishing the floorplan changes, so we can keep moving forward until the day comes when we can call a permanent structure "home" instead of this box with a hitch. Ha Ha. Yes, I have the RV blues.

Monday, September 8, 2014

# 525 - Celebration in the Country! Nana for a Year!

On this week, a year ago, I became a Nana.

Heather & Henry watching their baby girl dive into her first-birthday cake,
face first. Such a wonderful moment!

Actually, on Labor Day, September 1st, my first daughter, Heather, gave birth to our first grand-child, Coraline.

This past week, we traveled to the Fort Worth/Dallas area to celebrate Coraline's first birthday. We had a glorious time with her.

Even better, we had made reservations at a nice local hotel, but our daughter's in-laws insisted we stay in their guest house, so we decided to stay with them. Since we are all truly one big family, it was better to be at a family member's house than at a commercialized location.

My son-in-law's parents' home - their "pool house." It is very comfortable.

I love my daughter's mother-in-law...we call her "Blondie" and she is a beautiful woman. I feel as if my daughter gained a great mother and father-in-law in her marriage, and I gained a new friend who I feel as if I have known a lifetime. Henry's father, Herman, is a great guy as well. He put up with us two women going for a night-time swim, then staying up past midnight on the back patio chatting it up and laughing as if we have been friends forever.

Sgt. Dave was thrilled to stay with the "in-laws" because he has back problems and had just had his back injections and nerve cauterization done on the day we left for our out of town visit, and their guest bed was super comfortable for his sore back, and their pool was refreshing.

In spite of all the physical work Sgt. Dave handled for the birthday party, he was able to handle it better because of the great accommodations.

As for Heather, she experienced mixed emotions over her first baby turning a year old. She has thoroughly enjoyed having her first baby and has been a wonderful mother in her first year of motherhood, but the sadness at the first year being "over" struck her rather hard.

But, I reminded her that each year will be so exciting and she might feel as I did, "Oh, THIS year is my favorite, really, this one!" And each approaching year will hopefully be the BEST year and BEST phase ever with her children.

I loved every year. It's hard to believe that each year surpassed the last, but it did, and it still does.

However, we do love our babies. It can be difficult to see the "baby" in your baby fading away because those days are full of sweetness, innocence and dependence, but all of that is counter-balanced with a lot of work needed during that first year, which makes it a tad easier to welcome the more independent days that are to come.

God is mighty wise in His creations!

Coraline's first bite of s'mores as
Nana holds her at the lake on her
REAL birthday! She is giving her
daddy those twinkling eyes of
delight. More s'mores please!
I do love being a Nana. It is probably the most joyous position I have held in life. Being a parent was the best, but being a Nana brings such happiness, especially since I am not having to change diapers at 2am on a regular basis.

I have now been a Nana for a year, well, for just barely over a year, and that baby gal has brought me a level of joy that only a baby can bring, minus the diapers, and that's a fantastic kind of happiness!

Friday, August 22, 2014

# 524 - Country Home Construction - Sneak-Peek Preview of Exterior!

Well, here is the house that we will have built...with some tweaks.

It will not have the log-cabin siding, but will have hardy-plank that will be painted white, with a dark grey metal roof for contrast.

Sgt. Dave used an ap that kind of gave the house the look it would have with our supplies, colors and trim. I'm standing on the front porch of this picture, texting someone.

Our look will be more in keeping with a Colonial Farmhouse style.

The main living room and formal dining, well, the only dining room, will have vaulted ceilings and lots of natural light. You can catch a peek in the photos I am sharing.

Upstairs, there is a small loft area, a bathroom, a bedroom with nice sized walk-in closet and a functional hallway that will have bookshelving and room for storage and a second bedroom that will only have enough space for a twin size bed, but it will provide extra bunk space.

The builder is standing in the photo below with Sgt. Dave --- they are standing in space that will become our master bathroom. It is roomy and will be full of natural light.

Normally, I do not like staircases, unless there is a landing, at least one, to help break any fall that might occur. However, this stair will have sturdy railing at the side of banisters and probably a wall rail for additional safety. I think it will be okay. At the bottom of the staircase, it will be blocked by a custom-made gate to prevent any people or pets from going upstairs without us knowing.

In the shot below, Sgt. Dave is standing inside our Master Bedroom. I like the location. We have a lot of sound buffering because our bathroom and master closet seem to encase us into that corner of the bedroom. But, we might add a door from the master bedroom to lead us to the screen-in back porch. That would be enjoyable.

The ceilings in the master are not too high, they are just right. I don't want that window on the backwall where Sgt. Dave is standing---it has to go. In fact, that is the headboard wall and I don't want any solar heat coming through that wall, so it will likely be windowless and the other wall will have the beautiful outdoors coming indoors through a pair of great French Doors.

The room below...well...that's our master closet! Isn't it awesome? It's about the same size as the closet in our last home. It will have some built-ins to make it for efficient and to glamorize it a tad so that my country life will not dictate my wardrobe.

Here's another shot of the master closet.

The photo below is looking through the kitchen area to the large Mud Room with the backdoor. It is great and will also be tweaked, until just right for our needs.

We will need to re-configure the current plan for the A/C ducts, etc., as ours will be much higher on the wall so that we can use that space underneath as a hallway to walk to another room upstairs at the end of the house that would have been closed up as wasted space. We are using creative construction so that we can utilize every spare bit of living space this house has to offer.

The other home-owner has their house designed with the kitchen separated from the rest of the house, but that wont work for me. I must have my kitchen be part of the flow of traffic through the house - it's a critical room toward making things happen for every event. We all want to be together. So, I am moving the kitchen to where the kitchen has a straight line of vision all the way through the dining room and to the end of the living room. My sink will position me so that I am able to overlook everything while washing dishes.

Our house has ample architectural drama that will make the best of our natural light and the vaulted ceilings.

I love the openness of the house.

 The porches, we might do a tad different, but these are eight feet wide across the front of the house. Plenty of room for porch swings and hammocks.

 Our own view across our acreage will be very similar to what you see in the photo below.

 Very nice porch - the main porch across the front of the house.

Eight foot wide porches across front of house. Plenty of front porch moments will be seen across that space over the coming years.


 We will definitely have a covered carpet built with a drop-down-ladder for accessing the carport attic. Our wish list had been that we make that vaulted space an additional hang-out/living space for kids and company. So, we will see how it goes and how much more money it will cost to make this happen, if so, we will build the lower part of the garage with walls to enclose the space and build a true staircase to access the vaulted room. Perhaps we will build a safe walkway coming from the garage vaulted space to the upstairs loft in the main house. We shall see. I would like for the floors of the garage to be concrete, but we will probably do these after market to save money and to keep taxes down.

With hard work, we can build our dream home. It will take time and lots of careful planning, but I am now working on making the floorplan suit our lifestyle. At least we have the main parts of the construction process decided upon.

Our builder is easy to work with. He goes fast. He is a true custom builder and will move walls, ceilings, and do whatever you would like for him to do. For now, I am just thankful that we found a house that speaks to me...I BELONG TO YOU!

As I go along, I will share the changes we are making to the floorplan. Some of them will be unique. Some will be functional. Some will increase our storage and others will make our house a true home to enjoy.

I feel very fortunate that we are able to build a home that we both will love. Sgt. Dave and I look forward to enjoying our first candle-light dinner in this house....the celebrating of this milestone is important to us.

And then, we invite all the family for the best family gathering ever! In fact, we've already been stocking up on some AMAZING fireworks and we will have the first gathering begin with a really big bang and sparkling lights along with great food and a lot of laughs.

Closer and closer, every day. I am happy and grateful!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

# 523 - Fluffy Chicken Sweetness!

I now have 26 chickens. There are a couple of Bantams that my grown daughters picked out, and one in particular has managed to capture my heart.

Yes, chickens can capture our hearts, even Howdy's.

Howdy is a big black fluff-ball, and Baby is a tiny black fluff-ball.
Two adorable balls of fluffiness.

This little one follows me around, hops onto my feet, and sits in my arms comfortably, sometimes falling asleep cuddled against me.

I call her "Baby" because she is the little baby of the group. Her breed will make her the eternal baby of the group because she is a small breed, a Bantam.

But, her personality is completely adorable. Actually, I would love to set up separate accommodations for this little chicken and the little flock that she grew up with because they do stick together, except when I go outside, then Baby runs over to me and sticks with me.

She gives me a guilt complex for living indoors and for leaving her outside. I have to keep reminding myself that she is a chicken.

Yes, at little piece of me is in love with this little chickie.

It is amazing how a little ball of fluffy sweetness can make you smile.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

# 522 - Doggie Disappearing Act

This past week has been full of ups and downs. First of all, I had wanted to go see my oldest daughter and grand-daughter in the Fort Worth area, but things around our own place have been chaotic.

Auntie Stefie with Coraline. My youngest
daughter Stefie with my grand-baby Coraline.

I didn't feel well this past week...for those of you who are long time readers, you might know that I have jumped a few MAJOR health hurdles, which includes two critical Cardio-Thoracic surgeries that were a year apart. I also have a rare condition that actually makes my blood pressure plummet, which can create jello body. Since I have had trouble this week keeping my blood pressure elevated, I knew that driving one-way for 4+ hours might not be the wisest choice. When this happens, I just have to wait it out. Usually, it does happen more often during the summer months because I am outside to do this and that and it causes my electrolytes to get a little off-whack, causing me major issues. Not fun. I have medicine I take to elevate my blood pressure, but sometimes it is more complicated than a little pill can fix, so I have to kind of take it easy and wait it out. I have learned that patience is crucial to getting through the frustrating times. I still have so much to do, whether I am doing outdoor work or handling necessary paperwork and home business to keep things running at home.

So, there you go with that angle. Tough week as my blood pressure yo-yo's.

To top it off, the dog we had rescued from the deep forest a few months ago is scheduled to be "fixed" in about a week at our country vet's office. Apparently, the appointment was off by a couple of weeks because Gracie went into heat and everything went into chaos around here as Howdy entered a zone-of-crazy-dogness.

For days on end, I felt as if I were living around events that closely resembled what I can only refer to as "live porn" and it was fairly traumatic. Thankfully, Howdy could not figure out which end was what, if you catch my drift. However, there was a lot of kennel time off and on during the day with a sharp eye on both dogs to usher my "STOP THAT" command.

You would have thought my blood pressure would've gone sky high with all the constant attempts of the dogs to be "involved" that had been going on around me.

Howdy still has the jewels because we were hoping to one day get another full-blooded Aussie for him to breed with, especially because he truly is one of the best dogs I have ever been around...awesome farm/ranch dog that is great with the animals, a natural lead dog for walks and an excellent guard dog with sharp senses and an ability to follow detailed commands.

However, after these intense days of Howdy being in the zone, I was ready to neuter him, myself.

In fact, Gracie has been a dog that has been prone to give in to her wanderlust, but Howdy has always remained by my side, true blue. We have tried to handle her wanderlust, but on a lot of acreage, that can be a challenge. The good part, overall, is that the older she gets, the less often she wanders and the more often she loves to linger directly in our yard with the chickens at her side. Gracie loves to find a stick or a branch or a bone from the forest and chew on it for a few days in one of her favorite spots in the yard. With the summer heat, she is more prone to elect to stay inside next to the fan.

However, this past week, in the chaos of a dog in heat for the first time, Gracie decided to go on an excursion and the especially bad part is that Howdy followed her.

He has never left the homefront and he flat out left. That morning, I had been outside doing morning chores as the dogs were outside with me. I was keeping my eye on Howdy to make sure there wasn't any "funny business" happening. In fact, Howdy had been commanded to get onto the deck and to stay as I walked a few feet away to collect eggs. In the amount of time it took for me to collect ten eggs against me and turn around to face the deck, he was gone, Gracie was gone, both were gone.


Setting the eggs down, I began to walk around calling for Howdy because he is the one who will turn on a dime at a command. The problem was...he wasn't showing up. Highly unusual. I kept walking from one side of the acreage to another, walking for acres and acres, probably a total of pacing hit around walking a minimum of ten acres as I called out commands to him that he has never ignored before this time.

Finally, I decided to go back to the home-site to wake Sgt. Dave, even though he'd been working long hours and had not gotten a full night's rest, I could not continue searching by myself. He woke straight up and headed outside to start his own calls.

Sgt. Dave even fired the rifle and the .38 because Howdy does NOT like the sound of gun-fire. But, nothing worked. It seemed that Howdy was completely out of hearing distance.

Knowing that we are surrounded by THOUSANDS of forested acres made me feel hopeless. Also, rain was coming, so I feared that their scent trail to find their way home would be wiped clean.

Also, the roads surrounding the acreage are very dangerous to animals because nearly everyone around here drives a huge truck. Then, I was concerned that Howdy and Gracie would come up to a neighbor's acreage and either be attacked by one or more of the neighbor's dogs or that they would be shot by the neighbor trying to protect his own animals from rogue visitors.

No matter...I had terrible thoughts and the more time that passed, the worse the thoughts became.

Sgt. Dave went driving around, looking for the dogs, with no luck. Eventually, he had to leave for work. I began calling local places to see if they could keep their eyes and ears open for anyone seeing or hearing about our dogs being caught.

And, nearly eight hours passed. I knew they would never come home again. I tried to not be angry at Gracie for her wanderlust and for the natural conditions that made Howdy want to stick to her like a piece of duct tape.

Then, after 5:00pm, I walked into the yard to find the dogs coming across the acreage to the deck. Howdy looked like HELL. He was filthy, soaking wet with debris sticking to his fur, and he literally could not make it to the deck...he collapsed on our acreage, in our yard, about half way to the deck.

Better days the followed the doggie-disappearance day.

Obviously, they had also found something to eat because Gracie was dragging a piece of heavy foil with bits of charred meat stuck inside of it, so they had their fast-food with telling where they got that from, probably another reason to almost get shot.

Sgt. Dave had three problems on his hand when he had left for work...Gracie missing, Howdy missing and his wife, me, who was beyond furious. In fact, after Howdy disappeared, I called to vet to also schedule him to be neutered. My husband asked me, "Isn't that premature...I mean...he hasn't even come home yet."

And I have to be honest, I responded, "Well, when he comes home, it will be to face a ball-less future because his following her is because he is not thinking straight and we CAN fix that!"

Yes, I scheduled Howdy for a neutering as he was missing. I had to do something since I felt out of control and scheduling him for surgery to remove the source(s) of the reason for him to stray felt like the right thing to do at that time.

Sgt. Dave has been bringing home wood pallets for us to recycle for
various projects around the land, such as when building a new
chicken run-coop.

Anyway, the dogs came back. I gave them water, then put them in their separate kennels until Sgt. Dave got home from work. I had no energy left to give to them since I had already been feeling like puke and had walked enough that morning to get in a week's worth of exercise. My throat was raw from going outside every twenty minutes to call for them and the stress of KNOWING they had met some foul ending had zapped me completely. I kind of felt like Howdy did as he collapsed, as if I almost did the same thing, weak knees and feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness that they were able to make it home after being gone for so many hours in the Big Thicket forest.

Picture taken on another day when the dogs weren't so worn out.

So, I know that we need to make fencing a part of our construction plan. Acreage needs boundary fencing, but that won't really keep in a dog that is determined to wander off the property. Even though this is probably a rare occurrence for Howdy, I need to make sure these dogs have a proper fenced-in yard they can stay in as I go to town. For now, I cannot leave for any significant amount of time because they have to stay in the RV, which means no potty breaks, so I cannot be gone long.

The lack of fencing has restricted my own freedom and my own ability to live life as I please, so that fenced-in yard area will be crucial to our new residential site. Also, the chickens were left unguarded with the dogs gone, especially since they are mostly free-ranging chickens.

Howdy even listens and jumps up toward swooping hawks and he has taught Gracie to do the same. But, the day they were gone, I realized that I have the animals living too interdependent of one another. It's great that all of our animals can be together, but I do need each to have their separate quarters and fencing.

And you guys already know that I am fed up with having chicken under my feet as I am walking back and forth with laundry in my arms, unloading groceries or trying to just do something simple outside...chickens are great, but not underfoot.

They also have access to get upon our deck, which is a constant battle and a problem that I can only describe as creating "nasty" circumstances that is not acceptable to me. Sorry, I don't want poop on my walkway, on my porch or in my yard.

This one little chicken I call "Baby" might be a chicken
I would let move in, give her a bedroom, and act
chicken-crazy about her. She's fairly adorable. Lol.

So, fencing has become another element of my construction process and it will be given priority over the outdoor kitchen because we cannot even enjoy an outdoor kitchen without the dogs and chickens having proper accommodations.

There are stresses in life that can be reduced with proper planning and action. For me, fencing is now at the top of the list and my priorities are in order.

Having acreage is different from our last few houses that were located in the suburbs and required a few wood picket boards between us and our neighbors to create a nice fenced-in space. The problem was, the space was limited, directly against the neighbor and we had neighbors who didn't want to share the load or expense of fencing. So, I am glad to be out of that situation, but that also means that we have a different scenario with acreage...I will have to make sure we put up effective fencing that is affordable and that will do the trick to keep the animals in the designated place in a way that looks attractive or that does not block our views.

On top of it all, last night, Gracie evidently had a sick stomach and began having diarrhea, inside the RV. She had cried out and I should have immediately let her outside. I have learned that when she communicates with me, she does it because she means business.

Regardless, this week has been eventful and a challenge to search for the "good" has been my task as I have encountered a lot of activity that would disturb anyone's peace.

One of my goals with the new house is to set things up so that I do have peace and enjoyment in and around my home, not to be run over by animals, but a home that I have under control. This year of lacking control has not been a pleasant part of this experience. But, I can change that, and I will.

Fences are coming.