Thursday, August 29, 2013

# 469 - Small Leap Toward Cabin Construction Process

The big cleaning job here on the land has been tackled by my husband, Sgt. Dave. I get some fun jobs, such as decorative landscaping and gardening, but I have to admit, it's the big jobs that always impress me.

This old oak tree has a lot of wood that will be used for other projects. Once Sgt. Dave stood up this huge hunk of tree, he got carve a seat into the tree and the upper limb will be the reclining back of the chair and the two branchs will be the "arms." This will piece will go into the house and be treasured as a one-of-kind chair.
Can you picture it?

Living in the country is always interesting.

And we're still in what I would consider to be "Stage 1" of the cabin construction process. This week, my husband began to clear the construction site of clusters of trees, brush and vines. The below picture is a shot of the shrubs and newbie trees that needed to be removed from this area.

The two clusters of dense growth right here are the areas that
had to be removed. This particular photo was taken about six
months ago and had become quite compact with greenery to tackle.
So, here is the area more cleared out. There is a pile of limbs my mother-in-law dragged to the burn pile a few feet away. My mother-in-law and father-in-law have been visiting and things sure go faster with my father-in-law's construction skills. Every son should have a father such as him. He's like the rest of us, not perfect, but he loves his family and shows it in unique ways. I've always had a soft spot for my father-in-law, and I am glad the four of us are getting to spend quality time together.

There is a nice oak tree that my father-in-law began, years ago, by sticking one of the acorns in the ground. It worked. The tree is over ten years old now and needs to be replanted to a safe zone, away from our construction site.

You can again see this tree to the far left of the shot below.

Oak tree is to the left of the shot above. Nice tree to be re-planted
in cooler weather. No tree transplanting in this Texas-August heat.
The picture below is the future site for our cabin. Over the past few days, my husband has chopped, cut, sawed, pulled and dug out the mess that was growing on this site.

The beautiful view to the grove of pine trees in the distance will be our view from the living room/dining and kitchen. It is gorgeous in that direction and no neighbors will ever be able to build in that area because of a creek. There are also quite a few towering oaks to enjoy.

Also, the old starter frame for a screen-in shelter that had been built over a decade ago is on its way to being disassembled and the wood put aside for other projects. It will be nice to have this eyesore go bye-bye.

Before I could finish this blog post, my husband and his dad got this old has-been torn apart and the lumber salvaged for future projects.

Now, this area is my official veggie garden zone. I am happier about this than I can express! It works because we can capture grey water from the washing machine and use it to water the garden. Also, we'll be working toward catching water from the shed's roof into an above-ground barrel so that a low-spouted hose can passively leak water for the plants to have water.

So, I need to get out there and re-clean the ground of blackberry vines, weeds and other debris, then mark the zone with limbs so that the chickens can't get into the garden and pick it clean. I love my chickens, but free-range chickens and an open veggie garden do NOT go well together.

I might even take heavy duty black trash bags that are cut into strips and use them to make a root barrier around the border of the garden with extra bags to cover future gardening zones to prevent weed growth.

It seems as if we are finally making some head-way. I'm very happy the home-site is decided upon and that the "trash" weed growth in that spot has been removed.

So nice!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

# 468 - Hiking Treasures

Going on a hike through our woods is always interesting. A couple of days ago, Sgt. Dave and I walked through densely forested woods in which he'd cleared out a new path and wanted to show me his handiwork. Of course, he knows that I LOVE going on walks; I will never pass up a chance to go for a walk or hike.

Each hike through our acreage feels as if I am on a treasure hunt, and I am never disappointed.

This time around, my husband takes me to tree limbs that have beautiful, ornate clusters of berries in brilliant colors.

Never before have I seen these kind of berries. He broke off a couple of limbs for me to take back to document via photography for research. And he is sweet about it, knowing that such moments, for me, feels better than being given a store-bought gift.

These berries are beautiful. If they there were safe to eat, I would have popped one in my mouth for a taste. Of course, I'm prone to educating myself on whether or not the berry is poisonous before the popping begins.

Yes, we all know that the last couple of weeks included me falling on the deck steps to badly hurt my hip/back and after a ricocheted .38 bullet hitting me in the hand a few days ago, my middle name must be "extra-cautious." Ha Ha.

No tasting, I thought I'd give my Guardian Angel a much needed break.

On this hike, my husband took me to these berry-producing trees, knowing I would fall in love with them. Both of us value the natural treasures on our land and want to know more about them.

During our recent hike, I also found another deer jaw-bone along a well-traveled animal trail. It makes me wonder what kind of animal could be killing deer along this trail deep in the forest? It's too dense for hunters and clearly runs through our private property, but the heavily tread animal trail indicates the area is a favorite among wild-life. So, in this area, it appears there is a predator large enough to take out deer.

Supposedly, there are black panthers out here, which I would not doubt because of the eco-system providing a wonderful natural habitat.

As for the jaw-bone, I have no idea about the age of the deer, but would love to know, if anyone can tell by the teeth?

The other day, Sgt. Dave also found this bottle in the dirt. Is it old or new? What kind is it? I took a photo of it next to an egg for perspective.

Between animal bones, snakes and potential predatory animals, we always carry adequate weapons on our person. We also enforce high-tech and primitive surveillance methods which need to include this wild-life trail. Taking measures to detect motion and activity throughout the acreage is something many people are doing these days. It's rather easy with the technology of today.

Living with a man who has served in the military on a special forces team will create such a lifestyle. Those of you who have lived on military installations will understand the mindset of most military peeps - you can take the man out of the military, but the military can never be taken out of the man, or woman.

It's fine by me. Living with such a fellow for nearly 30 years of marriage will teach you a LOT.

Regardless, wildlife roams the land; it is their home too, so I am considering making some kind of forest-find chandelier or wind-chime with all the animal bones collected from our acreage. Kind of creepy; however, it's part of living in a natural setting that's been undisturbed for...a very long time.

As long as I don't find a human skull, I'm A-Okay.

Friday, August 23, 2013

# 467 - Backhanding a .38 Bullet

This week, my oldest daughter is getting VERY close to delivering her first baby. The doctor thinks she might even deliver before this Friday, but she's officially due in just about a week.

My oldest daughter, Heather.
I sure love my first-born and am so proud
of her. Plus, she's about to give me a
grand-child...I am blessed.

Everyone in the family is experiencing a serious under-current of positive tension as we wait for the news that the baby is on the way!

A good way for her little sister, for us soon-to-be grand-parents and my future son-in-law, Brice, to blow off steam was to shoot some targets. Of course, little Stefie is always a sharp-shooting force to be reckoned with, and below you'll see a video of her shooting a .22 rifle at targets across the acreage, on a windy afternoon.

Her dad uses the binoculars to help her perfect her shots. She's hitting the target each time, but he's helping her to get long-range bull's eye shots.

Brice found us all ears were ringing with a high-frequency-pitch after our night of shooting the big guns.

We had too much fun.

Don't laugh, but yours truly has preferred to stick with the Daisy BB gun --- only to have the kiddos make fun of me. Well, until I hit seven cans in a row, after calling each can that I was going to shoot and then hitting it. So, Brice made a bet with me, if they beat me in the BB gun competition, which I proved is NOT so easy, then I would have to shoot the .22 rifle for the first time. Believe me, this was a serious bet.

I had never shot a rifle of any sort.

I should've known those kids would be determined to beat my BB gun shooting record just so I would be forced to shoot the rifle. It didn't take long before both Stefie and Brice had surpassed me with the BB gun on the number of consecutive target shots, so I would have to hold up my end of the bargain and shoot the .22 rifle.

Screen shot of me firing the .22 rifle, taken
from a video, so it has the arrow in middle.


After I got into the grove of shooting the .22, I was handed a small gun that I was told was a .25 or something like that, so I automatically made the leap in a thought-process that the sound and kick of this tiny gun would be only one step up from the .22 rifle. Boy...I was played. The little gun I held and shot without much anxiety turned out to have a MASSIVE BANG and kick with a brilliant flash.

I did NOT like it. It scared me very bad. Jerks.

That night, we ended up shooting a .22 rifle, three different 9 mm guns, a .25 cutie with a hard kick, a Daisy BB gun, pellet gun, a .38 special and a .45 that was Stefie's college graduation present. I shot three of the guns.

Stefie shooting the .22 rifle.

We ate pizza, drank cold beer and iced-tea, then shot a couple hundred rounds. And this is how rural our acreage is folks...not one law enforcement officer comes out to check on the "shots fired," which is extremely odd after living in the Greater Houston area for so many years because one shot usually signals the sound of BIG trouble.

Out here, fire-arm sounds of all kinds is "normal." See the video below...can you imagine this kind of family fun?

However, we did have one odd thing happen that could have been bad. Brice was shooting the .38 and the bullet ricocheted off a wood beam that had a bolt inside it. A bolt we didn't know existed. The bullet did not explode, but came straight back at us on the deck and hit me in the hand HARD between my knuckles. I let out a scream of pain, instantly knowing it was not a shell casing, but NEVER imaging it had been a bullet. It happened so fast and so hard, it was a shocking moment.

Stefie was standing right next to me and thankfully the bullet didn't hit her, but she saw it hit me and her sharp eyes saw the bullet fall onto the deck. Of course, we knew which one it was because it wasn't a regular bullet with the backside attached and it wasn't a shell casing. As I was standing there trying to regain focus through the pain, Stefie picked up the bullet that hit me and Sgt. Dave suddenly put in the order to stop all shooting.

Miraculously, my fingers were intact and the skin didn't even break, but the tissue between the knuckles felt MUCH OUCH and the vessels at the back of my hand began bulging and swelling.

Since my husband has a tad bit of knowledge in ballistics and Brice is about to graduate with his degree in Criminology, which includes indepth studies in ballistics along with his hunting experience through his life, the guys went on a mission to dig through the target zone to figure out what the .38 bullet had initially hit to cause a ricochet. Like an investigative team, they figured it out.

Obviously, this was a much bigger deal than me, Mrs. No-Shooting-Experience person, even realized.

Needless to say, I now understand what a huge blessing we had been given. My guardian angel was, yet again, putting in over-time on my behalf. In fact, I think Stefie and I share the same guardian angel since we were literally standing two feet apart when the bullet hit my hand instead of the front of her neck area.

Yes, guns have their dangers, even when the barrel is pointed to a far away destination. Ricochets happen, even at shooting ranges. No matter, I stand firm with my right to carry and use a gun whenever I choose because the loss of such a right means that "we the people" are less powerful. The right to have a gun did not happen because someone liked shooting, the right came because our nation was began by a group of people who fled big government that saw it fit to intrude upon the personal lives of citizens in every form and fashion.

Historically, if a nation's citizens are being disarmed, then big trouble is about to begin because crooked political-types feel more empowered as their "followers" become less empowered. It's a pretty simple concept that many of us understand and won't chance having to learn...again.

That right to have a gun signals the strength of people who stood up to tyranny, and I won't squander their blood. Some people get it and some people don't. Since I've lived outside of the United States of America, I know how our rights should be treasured, even if you don't want to exercise those rights.

That aside...

My hand took the ricocheted .38 bullet as Stefie watched, and that girl's eyes grew as big as teacup saucers. And, we moved our targets much farther away.

Now, the running joke is...Brice shot his future mother-in-law. We took a photo of the gun and the bullet that hit me as a keepsake, but I will be getting that bullet made into a necklace as a reminder that I am so dang tough that I BACKHANDED a .38 bullet.

In all seriousness, thank you to my Guardian Angel for making me bullet-proof for this night and for letting me be the shield that protected my daughter from a rogue bullet in a freak moment.

I'm ready for the next shooting competition. Bring it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

# 466 - Moutain Biking

For most of my life, I have hiked and biked. Well, I encountered some serious health problems that began a few years back, which included a broken neck in 2009, so all of my "in the wild" explorations on foot and bike slowed down. SLOWED DOWN people...they haven't stopped, not by a long shot!

The great thing about that kind of active life during our years of raising our children was that my entire family participated. My husband, me, and the kids spent many, many, many days of our lives hiking through forests, canyons, deserts and biking all over the place.

My daughters, Heather & Stefie with their bikes
years they looked while riding through
our neighborhood. As you can see with
Stefie's protective gear...she
takes after her mother in the clumsy trait.

Especially during the Spring and Summer months, me and the kids would bike all through our neighborhood. One fun goal was to go down every street and find water sprinklers, then we'd bike through them. In Texas, that was an excellent way to have fun and stay cool at the same time. Sometimes, we'd find a really good sprinkler and we would bike in circles through the falling water, over and over, laughing about the home-owners possibly running out to say, "GET OUT OF MY WATER SPRINKLER!"

We were such rebels.

Lately, I have been feeling the effects of aging. BLAH. That's not something that anyone gets excited about. But, HEY, I have a different perspective on aging...I'm thankful to be here; every day that I get to see the sunshine and the sunset, I am grateful because I've teetered on the brink of the big "In Between" a few too many times. After those kinds of experiences, you welcome the wrinkles.

So, this past week when I took a bad fall down the deck steps as I held a heavy load in my arms, I hit the hard edge of the bottom step extremely hard, against my lower spine and back. In fact, right there next to that slab of wood, my rear sat in the dirt as I laughed in a demented way, then the laughs turned into little cries as I realized I WAS HURT!

New stairs I fell on. I stepped half on and half off
the temporary landing board. Needless to say, I
got busy with laying pavers and adequate stepping
stones at the base of the steps over the past
couple of days.

Those of you who know my two daughters are now grown, you also know my two dogs are my babies today. As I sat in the dirt, both dogs ran to my side. Howdy was clearly distressed. As a "working dog" he actually tried to nuzzle me off the ground and when I couldn't budge, he ran up the stairs to the RV door and began barking and scratching in a frenzy to get Sgt. Dave's attention. At least Howdy's rescue-Lassie-style response gave me good reason to be distracted from my pain and prompt me to get back up the stairs and inside to wail a little at my predicament.

Most of my regular readers know my middle name is "clumsy" so this contributed to my fall. With my arms full, I was not holding onto the railing, which is a required for me and stairs to peacefully coexist. However, I must have severely bruised my left hip bone because I could not sit or lie on that side for two days. Even now, I have trouble with certain motions involving my left leg, such as walking. Hardy har har. No, actually, I now have trouble with simply stepping OVER something.

However, within ten minutes of my fall and realizing I had indeed hurt myself, I soon decided to go back outside for a walk through the forest. It hurt like hell. I had hit a hard line along my lower back so hard that the edge of the step made a raised impression of a white line straight across my back to the other side of my spine that continued with a line of broken skin.

I walked and walked and whimpered.

But, in my mind, when I am hurt, I feel as if I must at least try to walk it off. Every day since my injury, I go for at least three separate walks. Finally, days after the fall, I now feel limber enough to do a bit of landscaping each evening.

My sister and I were joking about my need to alternate between lying down with complete immobility, then I would get up and get into motion, as if I could work out the pain --- my sister and I laughed about how we were raised to believe you can WALK OFF ANYTHING!

She referred to my belief in activity as "Motion is Lotion."

Isn't that true? Once we start to become more sedentary, things begin to rust, freeze up, become less agile. But, we sometimes have to stop doing so much because things are rusting, freezing up and becoming less agile.


Therefore, since my fall, I have wondered why my clumsiness was completely absent when biking? On a bike, I have perfect balance...go figure.

Since I do believe that Motion is Lotion, I have decided to work toward getting back into mountain biking. Heck, there are INCREDIBLE mountain biking trails nearby that are begging for me to explore them. One particular trial is 18 miles round-trip and slices straight through an eco-system that will have me wondering if I am in Heaven.

This trail is closed October 1 - September 1, for hunting season. This trail is considered to be moderate to difficult. Since it is both a mountain biking and horse riding trail, it should be interesting. There are nine miles of trail into the preserve and nine miles heading out.

View Of The Trail

Of course, I will bring my temporary pet-bug case with me on each biking trip. Plus, our land is big enough for me to ride around on a bike, especially after we get our trails cleared again.

First, I will need a new mountain bike, so I will start looking. I'm thinking inexpensive, to make sure this body can handle the sport again. However, I am determined and anyone who knows me also knows that I am persistent.

A mountain bike with good shocks will work for my system. I can go for as long of a ride or for as short as a ride as I desire. My muscles, especially my legs, will get a good workout. And my cardiovascular system will get a pump of activity that will serve it well. Plus, my eyes and spirit needs the movement and the scenery that the biking scenes will provide, not to mention that it's probably safer for me to do than walking.

And I have already found one at Walmart that I am obsessing about.

As you can imagine, Sgt. Dave is extremely excited about my desire to return to mountain biking; he's jumping with joy, so elated. I guess I need to remind him to be glad that it's not still a motorcycle that I'm ready to buy...I'm making strides in my aging years.

# 465 - Pet for Half a Day

Going for a walk on our acreage means a treasure-hunt is included. To tell the truth, we don't even have to look for the unusual or the curious because it usually crosses our path.

This little dude was moving along the ground and he got selected to be the pet for half a day.

Sgt. Dave was generous enough to volunteer to capture the creepy-crawler between his fingers and to carry it all the way to the home-site for me to put into the examination jar. I am thinking this is a cricket of some sort.

The colors on this guys body stand out...reds, yellows, black and the design is intricate. How can I not stare at it?

Very quickly we let the beauty go into the edge of the forest.

Living the city does not offer such opportunities as does a walk through the country to see nature first-hand. And being in the country seems to put me closer to God, to see His handiwork more often, and very up close.

I love exploring nature, as long as it does not include a slithering creature with fangs.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

# 462 - Toad Road?

Oops, missed post #462, so here it is. I'm making it quick...including photos of the visit my niece had with us in the country, last week.

Here is part of our private road on our property. It's rustic. However, Shaye was fairly excited that we had a "street" of our own. I suppose we need to name it...perhaps Toad Road?

Well, I always see frogs on it. For real.

In the photo below, Shaye is chilling out inside the RV on a 100 degree. She loves the tablet that her parents bought for her birthday that is coming up at the end of August. I bought her the new pink, sparkling ear-buds for $1.00 at Dollar Tree. Best dollar I've spent in a LONG time!
It's hard work being an aunt.
Being Shaye's aunt is one of my most favorite roles in life!
Shopping with my wild child. Of course, you can tell that I am either an Aunt or a Grandmother. Well, I'd love to give the stories of when people think she's my child, but when she is on a sugar high, I'm eager to point out that I'm the Aunt. Lol.
She tried on a selection of hats and choose this one below, which we actually decorated with chicken feathers. Seriously. It looked pretty awesome once we were finished, but I didn't get a photo. We used the soft downy white fuzzy feathers tucked along the rim of the hat with a few long yellow feathers alongside the hat.
Of course, I am her favorite aunt because I have mastered the art of bribery, which includes a $5 bill for her to spend at the dollar store on things I would have purchased for her anyway. Her getting to hold the five dollars helps her to control spending and to have a sense of budget...with my five dollars. But, it works!
To top it off, she gets fudge ice-cream. However, she can't get inside the Cowboy Cadillac (Dodge Truck) until she eats it. In the Texas summer heat, it is a difficult feat to get the ice-cream into the tummy before it melts off the stick.
But, she tried.
And it feels pretty darn good that I can still out-last a six year old.
Dollar Tree is a life-saver! With all her new goodies, which included a bag of five wrist-glow-sticks, one for each night here, she is kept busy.
 The End...for now.