Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#442 - Living in the Country!

Moving, mostly in pictures --- am again sitting in Lowe's parking lot with the dogs in the backseat as I use their Internet. We are spending enough money here, so it's good they offer FREE internet.


Stefie and I are up too late packing into the wee morning hours and we begin to go COO-COO! But, we laugh so hard that we ache!

Loose piece of foil in a drawer and she says, "HOARDERS!!"

These two buys, Sgt. Dave and Brice...they are MACHINES! Making FAST runs back and forth to Livingston with a massive U-Haul. They'd load, unload, come home, load, unload...HEAVY furniture, including an antique upright grand piano.

Worked ALL NIGHT, until 6:30am the next morning to be able to leave house in decent order for buyers. We overstayed our time-frame by 6.5 hours. Nearly killed ourselves getting moved out.

Leaving the OLD neighborhood in the Greater Houston area for the LAST TIME!

The coop and basket full of chickens was my towing job. I got lots of honks and thumbs up. At first, I couldn't figure it out and then I began to see the hearty laughing that people were giving me as they passed by. On Houston freeways and highways, I'm sure this chicken viewpoint was quite a sight!

Home sweet home!

Our new town!

First day in town, wrench in tire. Had to drive over FORTY miles ONE-WAY to find a Discount Tires since our tire was under warranty from that company.

Mailbox installed by Dept. of Transportation after we hand-delivered the mailbox to their office and got a stake to put in ground for desired location of mailbox.

The dogs are waiting for me to get stakes into ground. We had to walk a few acres in the woods to accomplish this task. Wish I would've taken a photo of myself as I wore my plaid dress, canteen belt, holding all the stakes under one arm and a hammer in the other. A vision of country woman in action!

I didn't say I was a "great" vision, just a "vision."

My first day here alone, after Sgt. Dave went back to dad drives out...leaves Houston area at 4:30am and gets here by 6:30am, just in time to fill my generator. We don't have electricity yet, so we're strictly on generator. We should have electricity this week, hopefully.

My dad is about to begin his third round of chemo. The last bit of his hair is completely gone as is the mustache he has had for nearly fifty years. The mustache was the hard part for him, but he looks good. If you're going to have cancer treatment that makes you lose hair, it doesn't hurt to be a rugged man. Although, I thought my mom was beautiful bald as well --- after her chemo.

Howdy marking EVERYTHING, including the chicken's watering bowl. He got in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

My new view from a window.

The first meal I prepared in the RV kitchen in the country...eggs from the coop and bacon. Sgt. Dave had FIVE eggs and four pieces of thick bacon.

No more refineries and chemical plants surrounding us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And we are very happy!

Sgt. Dave is particularly thrilled about being able to go into DESTRUCTION mode with tearing down, burning, cutting, chain-sawing all day long! He loves it, and said of this next picture, "You can't do THIS in the city, but out here, we BURN our trash."

Loving every minute of it...even the feet that get dirty so easily since we don't have concrete. I wake up hearing a forest full of birds and go to sleep listening to the frogs and crickets.

Can't get much better than this.

Well, except for is my oldest daughter this past week. Heather is pregnant with our first grand-DAUGHTER! Heather is beautiful and doing great!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

#441 - Transition to the Country

Living on our acreage in the country is a dream come true for us, but it has its challenges. However, every day that we step outside to stand in the forest and every night when we look up to see the vast sky sprinkled with stars shining so clear, we feel hugely blessed! And there are so many stars that I am sure city children cannot imagine how stars actually seem to be jam-packed in the sky...until they get away and take a look above on a clear night, away from interfering city lights.

So much work is in store for us, but for now, we are just trying to get the RV comfortable and organized. Sgt. Dave spends his days off going nonstop on the land; he has always been a country boy.

(Using IPhone and can't get back to bottom of my post to insert pictures, it's hung up at the point about my dad putting gas in generator --- if you know how to allow me to get to bottom of post after it is initially written, please comment --- this is the reason my pics are out of order).

However, not only are we located in the country, we are truly in the middle of rural wilderness. Our land is heavily wooded, has a creek and the topography is with gentle rolling hills.

This week, my dad has plans for the two of us to build a 10x14 storage shed while Sgt. Dave is at work. I am concerned for my dad because he has now gone thru two of three intense chemo rounds which has already caused him to lose what hair he had left, including the mustache he has had for over 40 years. I suppose a cancer fight can bring such harship, both emotional and physical. For him, the mustache was difficult because it was such a huge part of his identity. He is also very weak. Some days he's so weak that he can't even drive his beloved new Mustang because he doesn't have the energy to do stick shift.

Still, the first day I was here by myself, my dad drove the near two hours from the bay side of Houston to come see me, to check on me and to fill the generator with gas and to review safety measures etc with proper handling of the generator. As for my dad, he has a big motor home and I would like for him to bring it out here so he could be close by after this next round of chemo, especially since he is weakening. And he also loves it out here - it's peaceful. We will see how it goes.

Then, my father-in-law had surgery at MD Anderson two days ago for cancer of the tongue. So things have been bittersweet. My in-laws have a motorhome as well and I think our parents should park on the other side of the acreage that has a strong culvert to cross over, especially since we are having meters and breaker boxes installed over there by the end of next week. We are the only kids of theirs, now, that had prooerty to accommodate their motorhomes. With the health issues, I don't know what else to do. My dad is so weak that I am very concerned and I really don't want him being alone for too long at a time.

Anyway, last night I made our first meal in this RV and since our chickens are laying a TON of eggs, I decided to make bacon and eggs. And they were delicious! This RV kitchen is amazing and nice to cook in! And it was nice to get a home-cooked meal since we've been on the go so much and that means picking up food when in town. We are the kind of people who enjoy eating at home, so getting more settled is nice.

We have so much to do, but living on acreage means there will always be work to be done. Sgt. Dave will be hanging our country's flag today, and we will be thinking of all the sacrifices made by our veterans so that prople like us have beautiful opportunities sto live an America dream.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

#440 - Living in the Country - Finally!!!

I am sitting up in the RV, listening to the generator hum in the distance, yet the night sounds of the country are so strong that my ears are filled with noises of crickets and frogs.

We are having to use minimal electricity because we will not have meter boxes installed for inspection until next week. The electric company has already given us a visit and will be back after installation for final inspection. Since we have acres of wooded property, we had to be on the land to give precise instructions. Thank God for the generator!

Water is from a Co-op, for now. Years ago, we had well over 1,000 feet of line ran just to reach one corner of our property, so the Co-op guy came out and put in a new water meter. Today, Sgt. Dave (yes, changing with the times) will be installing a spigot so we can bring water to the RV that is tucked in the woods, about four acres away.

Direct TV will be here June 3rd for installation on both RV televisions, so that will be nice. At that time, I will finally have more than my IPhone wont be my only source of wireless --- and I won't have to deal with these tiny texting buttons.

To get a mailbox at front of property, we had to buy a box from Lowe's, according to post office specifications, and then hand deliver it to the Texas Department of Teansportation for installation. Living off main Texas road means we have all kinds of restrictions with our mailbox, no decorative boxes allowed. Oh well, there goes my idea of having a Picasso-style box!

We also met with Tx-dot to discuss the need for another culvert. I guess I should not say "we" had a discussion because I went into their office to put in a request as Sgt Dave remained in the parking lot to change out a tire that was hissing and going flat due to a wrench sticking out of it. No joke. An entire Craftsman wrench.

As I filled at paperwork at the Texas Dept of Transportation --- which is a little building off the highway in town --- about five administration and field workers came out to talk once they heard me telling the receptionist, Mary Lou, that we had just moved here from Houston area. Everyone came out to talk, mostly to give encouragement except where my chickens are concerned...telling me they won't last the week. Then, they went over all the predators that are seen on my side of Livingston, since I am in the Big Thicket. They said to beware bears that have now migrated here from a reintroduction plan in Louisiana's Big Thicket, Black Panthers. Bobcats, coyotes. Snakes. Chicken Hawks, foxes and more.

And when they asked what my husband did for a living in Houston and I told them he worked with the baddest of the bad in Harris County Criminal Courthouse, they clammed up, as if they were traumatized. I figure these parts do not even like talking about the possibility of horrendous crime. However, all the guys standing there finally had one break the odd silence by saying, "...those murderers will hopefully get more than their paperwork punishment once they are in prison." I didn't say anything. After we all got back on track talking about the benefits of living in then country, we were having a great time as my husband was changing a tire. After checking on him, I stepped back inside for Mary Lou to sweetly tell me, "The atmosphere got so weird when they asked what your husband did for work in Houston because one of our main guys just got an autopsy report on his sister who was just murdered, discovering she has been shot and then burned up." My heart sunk. Now I understood, and I could only say, "God Bless."

She gave me five marked stakes to mark our frontage property line, the desired mailbox locaton and stakes to mark either side of the culvert to be put in. She went and got my husband a cold bottle of water and we said our goodbyes. Two days later, the mailbox was installed and a field worker came to do a report for a much needed culvert. The following morning, I woke up early and walked the good distance to the front of the property with my five stakes, sturdy walking stick, both dogs and a hammer. In my canteen pouch, I put my cell, knife, and whistle. A few cars whizzed by along with one logging truck. But I welcome the change in trucking from chemical tankers surrounding all sides of us on the road to a logging truck here and there. The only "Shelter in Place"'that would occur around here would be weather-related.

So, we have water on side of land where cabin will be constructed. We should have electricity next week and Internet/TV as of June 3rd. For now, we are still in a bit of chaos for a while, but that's to be expected.

For the scenery surrounding us, it is all worth it! We are LIVING IN THE COUNTRY, FINALLY!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

#439 - MOVED to the COUNTRY!!!

We have moved out of monster house and are in the country! Sitting in lowes parking lot since I won't have Internet until June 3rd. Lots to tell...

Friday, May 17, 2013

# 438 - SOLD!

Hello everyone! WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! It's official! There's no going back now!!

We signed final papers on Wednesday, but we have until Monday to move out because we negotiated for a five-day leaseback, which is SUPER NICE.

But, there have been multiple "kinks" in the moving life usually dictates!

First of all, every RV we liked ended up having an offer on it already. Let me just say...RV sales are super duper right now.

There was one used RV that we LOVED and it is a Cougar Keystone 30FKV and it had been on the RV lot for FOUR days and by the time we walked to the office to put an offer on it, the RV had been sold. It was a 2010, so we searched high and low to find another one, but we soon found out that this floorplan is in such high demand that they are nearly impossible to find. When you do find one, you better move fast because it will go fast.

So, even though we are in Houston, we had to negotiate with a dealer all the way outside of San Antonio, Texas to get one of these RV's with the great floorplan, brand new. I cannot believe we had to search five hours distance from HOUSTON to find a NEW available RV. However, the out-of-town dealer gave us a great drive-out price that includs delivery to the Houston office. BINGO.

However, the problems we encountered with trying to find an RV took a full week out of our schedule, and it was exhausting and stressful. We didn't rush out to buy one early because we have neighborhood restrictions with keeping one in the driveway (no more than three days is allowed), and we wanted to MAKE SURE the house was sold before we bought a temporary residence for the acreage.

On top of everything...the RV search, the closing on the house, the packing and the huge life-change we are encountering from city life to life on rural husband gets a call on the day we closed on our house that he had been promoted to Sergeant! This had good and bad elements. The promotion means an automatic shift change and a "mystery" re-assignment that is not up for debate, plus you lose your slot on the vacation schedule because you have to re-apply for vacation at your new department.

LOSING SCHEDULED VACATION IS NOT GOOD DURING A MAJOR MOVE. Having part of next week off is critical because we must be moved out of our house by Monday. I am so happy about his promotion, but there are hitches. The good part is, there is a pay increase so this means less working time for more money...always good.

On top of everything, the "good" news meant that Deputy Dave, who is now Sgt. Dave, be present this morning, far across town, for the Sheriff of Harris County to present his new gold badge to him during a promotion ceremony.

The first time my husband put on a law enforcement badge, nearly 25 years ago, I pinned it on him...this second time, the Sheriff himself pinned it on because it appears that only another law enforcement officer pins on upper level badges, which is nice. Many Deputies being promoted would have their father, brother, uncle or mentor pin on their badge...or the Sheriff.

However, Sheriff Adrian Garcia pinned the badge on without fully finishing the job with putting the pin through both holes and so it could not be latched closed, so my husband asked me to put it on him ALL THE WAY for the first time, so I did, and I was proud to do so.

Another great part about this promotion is that he doesn't have to wear his badge on the uniform because he can wear it in a special badge holder that goes on a chain around his neck. This is especially good for off-duty issues.

It was an awesome ceremony. Sgt. Dave was one of the few at the ceremony who had served in the military, and it's always nice to see a veteran receive recognition for their duty. The applause was hearty.

An emotional moment came with another Deputy being promoted was honored for serving TWO TERMS in Vietnam. Outstanding sacrifice and service.

I must take a moment to say that I'm extremely proud of my husband's career choice; he's good at what he does in law enforcement. It's his calling. For all the heartaches, physical strain and dangers that he and his fellow law enforcement brothers confront in the Greater Houston area --- and this is a tall order with a high concentration of "big city" crime issues that never stop. The Harris County Sheriff's office covers 36 cities in and around Houston. For the men and women serving, I am pleased that we have people willing to go through the rigors of such a job because there is most definitely NOT ENOUGH PAY to keep a person in this job; it must be a passion.

So, after seeing my husband dedicate his entire adult life to this field and after seeing him go through personal suffering because of this job on so many occasions, I am happy to see a sliver of recognition via a promotion that he deserved.

So, we had a very long day, again.

A day that kept us away from the house, again.

A day that has prevented us from packing. Another day that has prompted more exhaustion.

To make matters more stressful, we got a call that the dealership near San Antonio had problems with their driver, so they were not even sure if they could get the RV to us by tomorrow. And this is my response, "WE HAVE SOLD OUR HOUSE AND HAVE NO WHERE TO LIVE!!! THIS IS THE EXACT REASON WE HAVE PURCHASED THIS RV...SO WE COULD HAVE TEMPORARY HOUSING AS WE BUILD A HOUSE!!!"

However, I think I sounded more like a horror scene from the Exorcist as I was telling the dealer that this RV was NOT FOR RECREATION.

As it stands, I don't know if our RV will be delivered to Houston in time for us to get it loaded and hauled to the acreage in Livingston by Monday. Things are really unpredictable because none of our plans are working out very well, so we keep going with the flow, then keep trying to get back on track.

But, this RV is worth waiting for. If you read the post I made about the RV search with our checklist of preferences, I must say that this RV that we've purchased does have everything we wanted...and more. It will be fairly comfortable and spacious, for an RV.

Solar lights will be needed next week since we don't have
electricity connected, yet. Augh!

However, another snag...the utilities will not be connected in Livingston in time because there are problems with the lines running to the acreage and the water has issues too, issues that require us to be on site for resolution. It appears we won't have running water, electricity and no cable/internet or any other utility; therefore, it's fantastic that we'll be in a self-contained RV, powered by a generator, and with a good holding tank full of water to conserve carefully until the water is turned on at the spigot four acres away from the RV site.

Are we having fun yet?

I can't wait for all of this to come together, but there are fragments of chaos surrounding us. Anything worth having requires sacrifice. 

As the Duck Dynasty group would say, "We're happy, happy, happy" and that's all that matters. Inconveniences in life are nothing compared to what we've lived through in the past, so things are in perspective.

Well, things are in perspective until I must use my Exorcist voice again.