Friday, August 31, 2012

# 335 - Country Cottage Non-Negotiables

Scaling back my life to affordable and manageable on my own terms is a challenge. Lately, I've been reconsidering how much square footage I will need for my own country cottage, but I do need to have a guest room always available and other guest space for those wanting to crash in the country with me for a nice visit.

I figured there are parts to the country cabin that are non-negotiable:

1. Kitchen
2. Dining Area
3. Living Area
4. Bathroom
5. Closet Space
6. Laundry Zone
7. My Master Bedroom
8. Guest/Multi-Purpose Room

These areas I need to be able to have built, which means I will eventually be required to finish these rooms completely with sheetrock, trim, moulding, doors, paint, window treatments, flooring and so on. The immediate area that would need to be finished as fast as possible is the Grand Area that will contain the kitchen, eating area and living room...for a while, I could survive in that space so it will need to be completed as quickly as possible, along with a bathroom. Then, I will have space to eat, sleep and live for the immediate future.

Over time, I can finish the master bedroom and guest bedroom.

Since I have a puttering personality that has adapted to my body's unique abilities, I will simply putter around and do the most I can do everyday, in the span of time I have strength. Some days are great, other days are not so hot. I'll take what I get. I'll do the best I can with what I have to offer.

In addition to the country cottage, I will definitely need to have a storage building constructed for my extra furnishings and packing boxes to be held until I can get them into the finished house. Plus, I'll need room for my riding lawnmower and other tools since those are a necessity on acreage. I'm hoping to find a regular handyman in my area that I can call upon for hourly help, such as when a ceiling fan needs to be installed or the lawn tractor needs a tune-up or a fence needs to be put up...a well-rounded jack-of-all-trades handyman who needs a little extra cash and who is aching to be handy. I know I will be able to work things out. God works things out for me in uncanny ways, I'll thoroughly enjoy being able to write about my miracles of all sizes during this process.

Additionally, there is a lot that I know how to do on my own. I am a people-watcher and pretty good with my hands and with figuring things out. Once upon a time, in my frustration during construction at our house following Hurricane Ike, I showed a hurried, incompetent worker how to pop a chalk line, in front of his buddies, because he kept floating a corner with wavy lines. I cannot tell you how funny it was when his circle of friends' eyes got big and started making sounds to make fun of him. It was a glorious moment as a woman. Any more excuses?

I guess some men might fear a woman such as myself, one that refuses to put up with the bull and who will not accept being treated with disregard and disrespect without making it CLEARLY known how I feel. I guess like any man, us women can also have a bad temper. Go figure! And if I get angry dammit, then there is a very good reason for it. Since I didn't even raise my voice at my children while raising them, it might be safe to consider that my raised voice is a definite indicator of being at the end of my graciousness. It is a challenge for me, physically, to raise my voice, but once it is up is significant and means much more than shallow frustration. Sometimes, I've found that the raised voice I never dug to release for so many years is my way of empowering myself to say, "NO MORE!"

Maybe the content of the anger should be listened to closely; I don't leave much open for mystery. If someone does me wrong, repeatedly, like most people, I am going to get fed up and no longer be available as stomping grounds. Sorry. My apology is that I am no longer the same person and I am tired of the lifelong whining and ungrateful attitude that I suddenly cannot tolerate. This is the time when I have discovered my tank to be on empty.

Collapsing n defeat is not my style, if I am treated in a disgusting manner, I might get knocked around, but I will come back up fighting. I might shed a few tears, but each fallen tear morphs into a sizzling potion that hits my skin, strengthening me to do what is necessary to protect myself.

These days, I admire even more than ever, a strong man who is good, confidant and respectable in his day to day activities. Good men are out there...they not only want to help support their family, the work to bring goodness and tolerance and tenderness into the home instead of leaving all that to the woman. Regardless, I'm ready to call out bad behavior as readily as I am to admit when I am wrong. Besides, any man who voluntarily forsakes his woman might be wise to have some healthy fear of her wrath. Doesn't the Bible mention this warning? Didn't the Lord who created women understand this scripture and put it there for a reason?

My family put it like this, "If you don't take care of your woman and hold her close, then your empty arms will be free to catch hell."

In my situation, I've lived a life of being forced to deal with horrendously bad behavior more often than I desire to recall. Now, I have toughened up and am giving back a tiny fraction of what I've endured. As I thought all along, I've been stronger and able to deal with all that had been dished out to me while knowing that if it had been in reverse, there would have been a crumbling effect and inability to see straight because of the discord. I always said, "Dish it out ONLY if you can be force fed the same crap yourself." Folks, that is pure Texas elegance.

Being in my shoes has taught me more about life, marriage and broken vows than I can express. Well, my shoes were pretty covered in crap for far too long, on far too many occasions, sometimes during the worst times of my life, yet it didn't matter, the crap still was heaped on me. However, I stuck to my end of the bargain through it all. I figured, at least I'd be able to lay my head down in peace, knowing I've been faithful the entire time, but I had a sneaking suspicion that my tolerance would come back to bite me because my efforts would never be enough. And yep, that's where we have arrived...I overlooked way too much and I can see it was a mistake.

The beauty in the storm is, lately, I've been presented with moments of clarity that have done nothing but fortify me for upcoming changes. I feel stronger, healthier, more clear-minded and peaceful about my future than I've felt in years. There comes a point in our lives that moves us beyond moves us to the planning that is required to make major changes and to do it with a joyful heart full of anticipation, as if we're planning the ultimate vacation. The permanence of it is unbelievably exciting. The unknown is no longer scary, it is welcomed and approached, as if it is an awesome adventure.

Regardless, my own strength and ability to speak up for myself has become fine-tuned. My anger at being severely disappointed is slowly morphing into knowing this means I will need to be able to make it on my own, the man I choose to be by my side is not strong enough anymore, he really wasn't ever strong enough and showed it through multiple major issues, for years. However, I just now receved the message for what it is. I've understod that me standing by him through his years of follies meant nothing to him; I should not have expected anything but more of the same. I am accountable for fooling myself and for holding out false hopes and for thinking this time in our lives would have been the best. Yes, I've learned that my future is changing, for the better. And my strength combined with my newfound determination, will definitely be useful on a construction site. And as a Texas resident, it will also be useful to speak a little spanish.

Part of my plan with getting my country cottage constructed is to engage the services of a long-time business associate who is a state licensed home-inspector. Any work I have done to build my cottage will be given a final inspection by my buddy to check for any problems and to make sure there is a second pair of eyes on hand and those sharp, experienced eyes know how it's supposed to be done. In fact, this old friend started a construction company a couple of years ago and I might just give him a call to see if he'd have any interest in helping me get my country cottage constructed.

He'd be glad to not have to pull a million permits since we will be building out of Harris County and in a rural area, but he'd also understand my concern that the construction techniques be held to a high standard. I want a 100 mile per hour wind certified construction plan and my roofing shingles will be architectural and my mechanicals will be in perfect order. Since I'll have electric heating, I might have a tankless water heater installed, it's still up for debate.

Anyway, I am hoping to get a cabin shell built as soon as possible. I guess God will keep directing me and will give me the cue when the time is right. Since the Lord knows I have been forsaken one time too many, I do believe his full blessings will pour out on me. I have tremendous faith in this area and can't wait to show what that faith can do for us. Since I will be on a much tighter long-term budget than my spouse, I will have to be very careful during construction so that my cabin will be well insulated, well built, and easier to maintain for the long-haul.

Yes, I believe it's time for me to call in the expertise of a few friends.

As for negotiables with the cabin, I'd like to have an expanded laundry area that could double as added pantry space and room to store all cleaning supplies and cleaning tools. I'd like the area to have room for my dogs to lay their head at night.

I'd like an additional bathroom with just a shower, sink and toilet to take the burden off the restroom attached to the Me-Master bedroom. If you're looking for double sinks, don't come to my house because I always thought they were a wasted expense, I'd rather have bathroom counter space..

My wrap around porch will be a delight, but I might only be able to start with the front porch and have the rest of the wrap around porch built at a later date and time. I'll do what I can with what I am given.

I'll also have to spend money to stabilize my parking area and depending on whether I choose one side of the land or the other, either way, I'm still going to be stuck with a major expense of installing another septic tank or digging a well. Not looking forward to that expense. I'll give the pros and cons of each side of the acreage later on. Since this is a starter home, a country cottage, I feel good about it not being the end of the world if things are not perfect. However, deep down, I want country cabin/cottage PERFECTION! Wouldn't that be nice? But, I know it's not realistic, so I will stick to doing my best to have a safe, stable structure built for my home.

To be honest, this country cottage is becoming one of the most important tasks I've ever faced in my life. In many ways, it is testing me and pushing me to become all that I can be on my own. I might not have the most beautiful place in the neighborhood, but I can guarantee that my home will feel like home. My place will be welcoming and full of rich family history; my home will be a place where a person can find tranquility. My home will reflect the residence of a woman who has been knocked around by life, but who is fighting back and refuses to give up. My home will be stable and potentially the start of some of the most beautiful years of my life. I will make it everything I dreamed about and beyond...

Yes, I think that once I do have grandchildren, they will be delighted to have a quirky grandma who happily lives in the forest by herself, surrounded by my furry four-legged buddies, a few chickens, a manageable vegetable garden, beautiful flowers and tropical plants and climbing vines, a game of horse-shoes ready nearby, a dart board hanging on a tree and a few hammocks ready to create lifelong will be memorable and enjoyable.

I am not giving up. I am moving forward. Even if it is painfully slow and tedious, I am full of eagerness to step inside my cabin shell and get started Once I make up my mind about the location and have enough funds to get started with construction, I will be probably camping out on the land while construction takes place. I'll be there and doing my part. I'll document the progress and it will be the biggest adventure of my life.

How can I not look forward to such excitement and beauty?

How can the hard work bring me anything but deep rewards?

How can I turn back now?

I can't.

My oldest daughter has a mind of steel when she gets her focus tuned-in on something she wants to accomplish, she got that from me. My youngest daughter has a quiet way of going after what she is determined to grasp, she did get that from her mother. And I got this determination from my own mother and grandmother and great-grandmother. Such determination, even if against all the odds, is a trait passed down from strong women in my family, for generations. Once our mind is made up, we're on our way and we do not look back. That's where I am in this point of my life. I'm not looking back; I'm looking forward and I actually like what I see.

I like it with such passion that I have to keep myself from running toward it. The double for my trouble is about to begin.

My old buddy, the home inspector and construction company owner, I will be having a serious conversation with him this weekend. Knowing his personality, I will be getting the best help I can imagine toward building my country cottage and toward building my own life. The rest...I will let God help me confront, day by day.


Rama's Mama said...

Wonderful photos. Made me dream about my own plans for a cottage in the country (another country). :-)

Dar said...

I loved the cottage pictures and even got a few ideas to add to our cabin in the woods/acreage. It is a challenge if you're doing most of the work yourself, but we did it without knowing a thing more than common sense basic construction. It's a wonderful retreat and I wish you well in finishing yours. Good luck finding that 'handyman.' The trick with any of them is making them believe that your ideas were theirs all along. It's amazing how things get done the way 'you' want them.

Mike said...

Onward Christian Soldier. Moving forward will help you stay sane and keep your mind off the nasty past. Looking forward to the construction process.

LindaG said...

You've developed some great contacts there, Lana.
Looking forward to you getting started on your dream, too!

Anonymous said...

You are great!! Love all the ideas, keep on thinking and soon it will be accomplished. Looking forward with you is eye opening and rewarding. Beth