Thursday, September 15, 2022

# 582 - He Lost Me at "Impossible"

One of the biggest projects during construction of our house has been the tongue and groove pine wood ceilings.

I knew what I wanted, but it took a long time to find someone capable of doing the job and willing to drive the distance to our acreage to get it done.

Jason Riley of Riley Remodeling ended up getting the job, and he handled the installation of our wood ceiling like a true craftsman.

I spoke with five construction/remodeling companies in our area. I'd start out texting back and forth with them as they asked questions about what we needed. After explaining, I would send sample pictures of houses with similar wood ceilings. Yes, we realized it would cost a very pretty penny. Dump-truck loads of shiny pennies.

We live in a rural area and there aren't many jobs like this due to population. A massive hurdle. Houston, where I was born, has a population of over 6.6 MILLION, and you can find contractors able to do this level of work all day long.

But, if you leave Houston and drive a bit to reach our teeny town of Dallardsville with its population of around 350... it's another realm altogether. Our neighbors are hard-working folk mixed in among ranchers and timber barons. In our small town, we might be the only ones who have retired early from Houston. In the closest city to us, Livingston, 

So, it wasn't unexpected for a contractor to tell me he didn't want to install the ceiling the way I wanted, but would instead install sections of tongue and groove with faux beams in between. He refused to "strand" the boards together for the entire length of the ceiling. He didn't want to make cuts or stagger the boards the way I wanted. He said he'd install sections with uniform boards stacked one after the other.

I do like real or faux beams and had seriously considered working them into our ceiling design, but my final vision was one with clean lines, not busy looking. We already had dormers to contend with, and they break up the focus. I wanted the wood itself to be the main feature highlighting the ceiling's height and angles.

That guy stood in my house and rudely remarked, "You'll never get what you're asking for. Can't be done. Impossible."

Yeah... I've had a few country boys tell this woman she was asking the impossible of home builders and remodelers, but I hail from Houston, Texas, and "impossible" is far from what I'm asking.

"Do you realize pine yellows with time?" he asked with his jaw hung open.

"Yes, I do. I like the amber 'patina' of aging pine," I answered. 

He threw his hands in the air and spat out.. $25,000... to do a job he'd already admitted he couldn't do and wasn't happy about tackling. He'd lost the job before he even bid on it. 

He lost me at "impossible."

Why did this guy even make the trip to check out the job? He wasted both our time.

I kept visiting with potential contractors. Several people responded to my request for contractor references, leading us to Jason Riley of Riley Remodeling. During my first conversation with him, he let me know he was both skilled and brave enough to work on a ceiling of our height. 

It then took more weeks for me and Jason to coordinate our schedules so he could come look at the house in person instead of just in pictures. When he showed up, Jason was complete opposite compared to the other "impossible" guy.

Jason discussed my vision for the ceiling. He understood EXACTLY what I wanted and assured me it was indeed possible.


I worked a deal with him. We had scaffolding, but he needed more for our expansive Great Room. We agreed to rent more so he wouldn't have to deal with that upfront cost. And my husband bought all the materials and had them delivered to the house.

We hired a couple of guys to work at the house doing odd jobs, and they were extremely helpful, so we put them to work helping to poly the boards. Riley knew this part of the job would be handled by other workers.

Jason brought his own tools, and he brought along a helper (on most days). He thoughtfully approached the installation, but we made it easIER for him to show up and go straight to work on the actual install. 

But, this wasn't an easy job, by any means. Even so, he listened to what I wanted, and my husband listened to the two of us talk it out and then accommodated Jason as much as possible.

For that, I'm grateful.

And let me add... Jason is a young man who is deaf. Literally, I can't remember the reason for his loss of hearing at such an early phase in life... an ear infection or something of the sort. He wore hearing aids but would take them out during construction so the power tools, etc., wouldn't create major issues with his prosthetics. 

He'd lay his hearing aids aside and get to work.

Jason created a "bridge" to do the high-point of the ceiling.

I usually play music through the day, especially when doing chores, but we had to keep extraneous sound to a minimum, in case he did need to reinsert his hearing aids.

His attention to our ceiling made me pause.

I don't usually do much of anything in total silence, except during the early part of my day. Early, whatever time that means for us in retirement, is a time when I prefer silence for a while. 

No talking.

No sound.

Nature is all right, but I don't want to hear any synthetic/produced sounds.

However, I can't imagine working hours upon hours without any break or interruption so that my own thoughts can cease. Background noise can be comforting. It can fill the headspace that screams when it's too silent.

A television left on. An electronic device playing the latest news report or an audible book. Music. Oh Lord, music is a must-have for me, but Jason did not have those options.

He confronted morning-silence that lasted all day, every day, yet he focused on the task at hand.

I admire that kind of tenacity.

My husband and Jason worked out a system together. They got the ceiling finished. Jason definitely earned his money doing this job, and he didn't rob us. It took several weeks. He did have a couple of other jobs, so we worked with his schedule and the distance gap.

Yes, I am an "angles" person. Geometry-minded. Art.

Jason also drove every work day from Huntsville to our house to do the ceiling. That's right at a 100-mile round-trip every day, so he'd no likely be in our house for more than 5-8 hours at a time.

With a nearly two-hour drive each day just to reach our acreage, I was thankful to have found him and his remodeling company, even though we weren't remodeling... we weren't finished "building."

The "big bedroom" upstairs.

And to this day, every morning I step out of our bedroom, I marvel at the beauty of this ceiling. Solid wood reflecting our forested surroundings.

Warm and welcoming.

It's wonderful when the impossible becomes your reality.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

# 581 - House of Perpetual Construction

We live in the House of Perpetual Construction, established (somewhat) in 2016, but it has a potpourri of current-day unfinished sections.


Over ten years ago, in 2013, we left a comfortable life in the suburbs of Greater Houston to move onto raw acreage that we'd owned and held onto since our early thirties. The time had come to tackle building a custom home or spend a lot of time planning to build one.

We'd eventually did build our house, partly through our own efforts and partly through contractors.

In 2013, we sold our beloved house in the suburbs and over-stuffed our brand new RV with "essentials. The rest of our belongings were either sold, given away, or put in storage, to include my piano.

Stefie was a HUGE help for us to get moved.

The day we closed on our house and handed over the keys to the front door, we left for the country. Pappy pulled the new RV as I drove our other vehicle that towed a utility trailer loaded down with an assortment of items.

The guys bringing huge furniture
down the curved stairway.

We already had chickens. Yes, in the suburbs we owned livestock... hens. We'd gotten the blessings of our neighbors to jumpstart raising chickens, and everyone enjoyed regular fresh eggs and knew which door to knock on whenever an egg or herb was needed for a recipe.

There he goes with the RV as I follow with the coop.

Moving to the country meant transporting the chickens, so as Pappy towed the new RV, I hauled the tied-down chicken coop through Houston's highways. Ah yes, I did get a lot of good-hearted waving with huge smiles, honking, and thumbs-up. Thankfully I encountered good-humored drivers.

The chickens were inside a locked cage, partially protected from winds by a tarp. Not the normal sight going down a Houston highway.

Once we arrived "Home" to our acreage, Pappy got the RV into position, and we unloaded as much as we could. We were literally exhausted.

Our first hour living on our acreage.
We both had been working for
days to get ourselves moved and were drained.

We lived without electricity during those initial weeks, but we pulled enough power from a generator to get through the month of May and June in Texas. 

My dad drove the near two hours to visit,
and he noticed my fuel container and filled it for me.
It'd last about six hours before needing refilling.

Our temporary laundry facility.

We also didn't have internet/wifi. We cooked with propane and depended on water in holding tanks to take showers, wash dishes, and flush the toilet. With water already ran to the front of the acreage, we could haul it to the RV... a huge pain.

Every day, we had a LOT to do.

Our first day on the acreage as full-time residents.

Boy... it's a good thing significant hurdles didn't stop us from moving forward.

In those days and still today, I often think of our ancestors traveling across rugged landscapes without a Taco Bell, McDonalds, or Starbucks to rejuvenate their energy. No comfortable bed to sleep in. No bathroom. No dishwasher or stove/oven that didn't require starting a fire for every cooked meal or pot of coffee or cup of tea.

Granted, it's about a 25-mile round-trip for us to go to town, so we didn't go, unless desperate.

Pappy had not yet retired when we moved out here. He still worked in downtown Houston, meaning he had to drive 150-mile round-trips five days a week.

And the week before moving to our acreage, he got promoted and that meant going back to night-shift. Yep, we moved to a rural part of Texas to "camp" on our acreage, and I suddenly found myself alone in the woods every night. The nightshift lasted for about THREE YEARS.

My friends and family thought I was nuts, "Aren't you terrified to be out there all alone?"

No, I wasn't.

The only thing that terrified me were ominous Texas storms. Those unforgettable cracking sounds as lightning struck the tops of nearby pines got my attention. I always looked forward to the next morning's walk to search for the tree that had been struck. I would find them as close to the RV as the strike had sounded. Fun times. 

During those initial years on the land, living in the RV, I cooked the best country meals because we didn't have energy left to drive to Taco Bell. I must say, I often love my own cooking and would make enough to have ample leftovers to send with my husband for his lunch the next day and for me to have another meal. 

I won't lie... I did miss the spacious kitchen I enjoyed at our last house, but the RV kitchen wasn't too shabby. I felt a part of the "Small House" movement. Crazy people living crazy lives.

My former sizable yet cozy kitchen.

Our little, efficient kitchen,

It took about TWO YEARS to start building. We never thought we'd live in an RV for very long, but we did. I'm thankful we bought a spacious, new RV, but we obviously weren't in a hurry to move into another house. I think we needed a time-out to think about what we wanted in our next home.

And I admit, the process of designing and building a new home in the woods wasn't an easy task.

My sister, who is a school counselor, would call my procrastination, "Paralysis by analysis." 

Overthinking things.

Constant planning with mounting fear of actually beginning, so the planning continues, and on, and on.

Views from inside the RV were peaceful.

Mainly, we used to seasons to closely watch the patterns of changing weather and how it affected the acreage as we searched for the perfect spot to build. And then that became my excuse to not start the process of building. 

Deep down, I was terrified that I'd end up with a house qualifying first on the list of the "TOP TEN HOMELIEST OF HOMES" from my worst-imagination or some such nonsense.

The funny thing is... more than two years later, we finally picked the spot. Never mind the fact that it was the exact spot my husband had thought would work best before we moved to the acreage... I had to have the idea settled within me. Settled and mildewing. It took nearly three years to go full circle before confirming our house-site, but it's at a great elevation and not in a flood plain. We have a beautiful view and are tucked in deep enough in the forest to make life an adventure in nature, yet close enough to the road for emergency services.

I can't believe it's been over six years since we built the shell of our house. And I can't believe we still have SO MUCH to do. We went strong for a few years, and now we go through long stints of "burn-out," and then a we'll have stints where we work at least ten to fifteen hours per day on projects while still needing to find the time to tackle day-to-day regular chores.

But we plug away. Each project finished brings a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the home we created.

Dirt nightmare. Before grass.

And now I've got to think about our next project for the house of perpetual construction.

Sweeping and mopping the floors; weeding the garden; staining more interior doors; finish painting the exterior of the house; finish the master bathroom; complete the stairway that I maybe should've had carpeted; install bar tops; and the list is long, long... very long, my friend.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

# 580 - Introducing "Boots"

Living on acreage takes a lot of work, and we've incorporated a big change to BootCreek Farm this past week. 

We don't have many animals at this time, mostly chickens, but we have a good deal of acreage to maintain.

Our homestead is comprised of gentle rolling hills with a spring fed creek, open grassy areas, but the majority of our land is dense forest. That's because we live in the midst of the Big Thicket of Texas.

The grandkids love our backyard.

We've had this acreage for over twenty years and have lived on it full-time for the last nine. 

First, I thought I better clear this up. My husband has had many blog-nicknames throughout my years of writing, going from Deputy Dave... to Sgt. Dave... and now to his last... Pappy. 

Likewise, these days I've transformed into Lana-the-Nana. I still go by Lana, but answer to either. Who could've imagined this journey would've led me to writing as Nana?

Okay. Proceeding.

Since I've got a lot of catching up to do, I need to get through this next part. It's a heartache. 

Nearly a year ago, on October 31, 2021, we lost our beloved Howdy, our full-blooded black tri-color Australian Shepherd. After twelve years of loyal friendship, fun, and perfect guarding, we had to say goodbye as he naturally passed away here at BootCreek.

Howdy brought us much joy.

For me, Howdy brought increased safety, guarding me, diligently. When working outside in the yard, he would sit like a sentry, his back to mine as he watched my back, literally. Nothing got past him. He could sit for hours in guard mode, sharp eyes roaming the land as his ears remained folded back to listen for questionable noise.

A "working" breed, he'd encircle me to check all vantage points, always settling to watch the direction my eyes couldn't face. If I changed direction, so did he. An Aussie's instincts are uncanny. 

When he began to weaken, he struggled to continue in his same way, and it was heartbreaking. His strength made it even more difficult to say goodbye as he faded day-by-day, refusing to give in. He didn't want to stop protecting those he loved.

No photo description available.
Howdy's final days.

Over his last two days with us, Pappy would pick him up as if his arms were a cushioned forklift, and he'd gently move him, offering him the highest dignity for as long as possible. He gave loving tenderness to his buddy, doing everything for him while always assuring in a soft voice, "I got you, Bud."

It reminded me of how I cared for my mother as she died, thinking it an honor. To love another on that level is a beautiful experience.

During the last two days of his life, Howdy couldn't move on his own any longer. I watched my husband extend heartfelt care to Howdy, and it squeezed my heart.

I tried to help with certain unpleasant tasks, but Pappy refused and firmly said, "Don't worry about any of this. I'm doing it for him."

A few years ago, I caught rare moments of
Howdy allowing himself to be held.

We had three grandchildren at our house the day Howdy died. Of all days, it was Halloween, a day when we had big plans with costumes ready for the Trunk or Treat that evening at our local church and had to wear a real mask of happiness, for the sake of the kids.

Some things you can't plan, reschedule, or dodge. We'd lived with Howdy's ups and downs, and we'd hoped he had a little more left in him to give the kids time to leave before he passed but apparently, he felt fulfilled enough with them here to let go.

Despite the life-changing transition occurring, I did my best to give the kids a "normal" day, even though they were confused about Howdy nearing the rainbow bridge.

Whether new life has arrived or one is departing, we must keep going.

On Howdy's last morning with us, Pappy carried him outside to lay him on the soft grass in the backyard, a perfect spot for him to watch the three grandkids... one of his favorite things to do. And then Pappy rounded the edge of the forest of our backyard to finish digging Howdy's grave and then he returned to the back deck to finish constructing Howdy's coffin.

Heavy-hearted tasks, indeed.

The sun shone bright as a cool breeze shook leaves loose, and they fluttered to the ground. The forest responded to the changing season with soothing sights and sounds.

Ah, all of life does have its seasons.

I stood on the back porch and watched the children encircle him. They sat on the grass next to Howdy and softly stroked him while telling him through tears how much they loved him... saying their goodbyes. I had my cell phone, and through my own tears, I captured the moment.

Later, after an early lunch, I settled the kids down for quiet time and then went outside to sit on the front porch by myself, thinking of how our lives were about to significantly change. 

That last year of Howdy's life saw an evolution of him going downhill. He could no longer devote excessive energy toward all the things he'd once loved. Most days, he still walked around the acreage to mark his boundaries and to bark once or twice at whatever needed a reminder to stay away, likely coyote or fox.

It wasn't easy to watch him deteriorate. And now, I sat on the front porch trying to unravel churning emotions.

With loving action, Pappy carried Howdy out to the front porch and gently laid my boy on the floor of the porch next to me. By this point in his last day, he couldn't even lift his head. I cupped a hand against his head as his big brown eyes gazed up at me. I kept my hand on him, assuring him he wasn't alone. I was there.

My in-laws learned he was near the end, so they stopped by for a few minutes, each coming up to the porch to give Howdy their love. 

My father-in-law pressed his 84-year-old hand to Howdy's head, "You did a fine job, old boy, a fine job."

My mother-in-law fought tears. They loved Howdy, too. It was a five-minute visit. Before departing, they both told me he'd been the best dog they'd ever known.

Now alone on the porch with Howdy, I noted that he never whimpered nor whined. If he were in pain, he refused to show it. His eyes wore an expression of resignation, as if he knew the curtains of life were drawing to a close. We shared many long moments of gazing at each other... I purposefully let loving thoughts flow from me to him during those quiet times.

Shepherds can get something similar to MS when they reach ten-plus years of age. The veterinarian believed this was Howdy's diagnosis. He lived two years with on and off symptoms of declining health, but there were surprising days when he would wake up to bounce around as vibrant as a puppy, and we'd have wide smiles full of surprise and joy.

Conversely, there were devastating days came when he couldn't walk, but we'd pray the next day would find him running around like normal. We quickly learned that any athletic moments would likely lead to bad days, so we had to put away the tennis balls and keep him distracted from overdoing it. Anyone who has had an athletic bred dog understands what it means to hide all the balls around the house. It's not good. 

No matter, his rebounds were inspiring.

On the porch that last day, I fought a primal urge to plead with God for another rebound. I wanted to believe this wasn't the end, but my heart knew otherwise. I sensed we had mere hours or minutes left with him. 

Instead, I followed a more powerful urge to express my gratitude to God for giving us generous time with one of His precious creations. We'd enjoyed more than a marvelous decade with him. 

I thanked Howdy for his life of loyalty. I had yearned for such loyalty, and he gifted it to me.

So, we spent our last moments together on the porch with love. 

I bent down and told him, "I love you. I'll always love you."

I told him I was grateful to him for keeping me safe all the years of his life.

I assured him that he would remain an unrivaled companion. My most stoic and loyal guardian.

Howdy at the lake at the back of our acreage.

Through tears, I told him that I considered him one of my children, but he'd oddly surpassed me in age to become a wise old one. For many years he'd been extremely athletic, far exceeding our expectations with endless energy, agility, and strength. Howdy lived a vivacious life, and now his face showed strands of white hair to mark bygone youth. I dreaded goodbye.

After a good while outside, Pappy walked out to the porch, wanting to bring Howdy back inside since the air was cooling fast. I got up and went to our bedroom to lay down with the kids who had all miraculously fallen into a deep sleep. Yes, we needed a nap to get through this day of enormous challenges.

Less than ten minutes after I'd squeezed into a small spot on the king-sized bed with the sleeping kids, Pappy opened the bedroom door, took a few steps toward me, anguish marking his face as he mouthed, "He's gone."

The shock of hearing what you'd expected to hear is unexplainable. That second of time cannot be anticipated thoroughly enough to buffer you from the pain of loss.

I rose from the bed and went to see and bury our boy as the children slept with sweet innocence, protected from seeing the worst of our grief consuming us.

There were many years when it was just me and Howdy at home together in the suburbs of Greater Houston. The kids had gone off to college, Pappy still worked in law enforcement and wasn't yet able to retire, and my business life had slowed. During those years, Howdy kept me company, and I did the same for him... using a wall in our living room to throw a hard ball and he'd catch it on the rebound with powerful accuracy.

I used a scrubbable paint for that wall, and it worked beautifully for both of us between ball-playing stints outdoors. My dad LOVED that wall.

On cold days, I worked at my desk and he laid across my feet, keeping me warm and comforted. I always felt him leaning against me.

And then Sgt. Dave retired to become a full-time Pappy when we moved to our acreage to build our home. When that happened, Howdy must've decided Pappy now needed his undivided attention, so he stayed near him throughout each day. If Pappy went outside, Howdy went outside. If Pappy worked on our acreage, Howdy tagged along to watch his back.

But if I went outside, Howdy never let me go alone. If I headed outdoors, I became Howdy's first-choice because he needed to do sentry duty. A visible short battle would wage within him as I headed for the back door. His head would swivel toward Pappy and then toward me. No matter how worn out or comfortable he might've been, he always elected to get up, to follow me, and stay by my side as I pittered around outside or weeded the garden.

Having a dedicated guardian at your side provides a level of comfort that cannot be beat. We live in the middle of a forest, yet I never worried with Howdy by my side.

I loved Howdy's hugs.

It gave me incalculable comfort to know Howdy would've instantly charged toward danger. There's no doubt that he would've battled to the death to protect any of his flock. He especially protected me and all the children in the family. The men in our family could NOT roughhouse with the kids because Howdy couldn't distinguish if the children were in real danger or not. If he sensed the kids were in danger at all, he would go into action to put a stop to it.

All of us appreciated his proactive guarding. Both of my son-in-laws have been the recipients of Howdy's warning nips to stop playing the part of a monster chasing the kids while growling, "I'm going to get you." 

Well, the "monsters" didn't get the kids because Howdy got the monsters first.

These two good fathers were never angered over Howdy's guard duties because they respected the fact that he acted on behalf of the children, not afraid of grown men charging after the children. And he could've full-out attacked the men, but he'd simply run up and nip as a test to see if he could detour their behavior. If not, there's no doubt that he would've gone in for a full effort to protect the kids.

We always knew that if ANYTHING or ANYONE came out of the woods with an intent to attack or drag away a child, Howdy would immediately go into action to protect them. He was a formidable guard. He had the capacity to make split decisions on his own and go into action. That is a priceless trait to have in a faithful friend.

Having a formidable looking dog is great, but having a dog who watches, judges, decides, and acts to protect his own is a priceless trait, indeed.

Losing Howdy hurt, but I was comforted by the thought of him and my father being together. My Dad died the year before Howdy. They sure adored each other.

Dad and Howdy in a joyful greeting.

It's nearly been one year since we lost Howdy, and I'm a mess as I write this post because we've added a male puppy to our home.

We could NEVER replace Howdy, but living on all this land means we need a good male dog. Their marking of territory sends a clear sign to predators that this area is spoken for, and if you cross this boundary, you subject yourself to the one protecting it.

In all the years out here with Howdy, he kept the coyotes at bay, and the fox didn't find it so easy to trespass, and any wild dogs stayed clear of our property.

In the near year Howdy has been gone, we've seen all the above encroach onto our land to the point they are now coming closer and closer to the house, more frequently. 

In fact, one day, I was outside and found myself eye-to-eye with a coyote about sixty feet away in my backyard. It wasn't afraid, but I was unarmed. I managed to get to back onto the porch and get inside to retrieve the rifle. Back outside, I had enough time to get into position to shoot as it finally bolted.

Then came a series of wandering feral dogs. We've seen strange dogs a handful of times out here, a rarity. A couple of times they were lost pets whose owners did show up to retrieve them, but when you have a strong male dog with good boundary marking, other dogs stay clear.

I truly thought we'd never get another male dog. We have two gals right now. The oldest is about ten years old. Gracie has strong behaviors that passed on to a puppy, and she learned many of her habits from Howdy, so her methods are partly an extension of his. I know the new puppy can learn much of the same with added training.

The best part about this puppy is that he comes from my oldest daughter's house. Her full-blooded Australian Shepherd had an unexpected tryst with a Weimaraner neighbor, and voila, sturdy puppies. Eight to be exact.

I didn't want another dog, so I avoided my oldest daughter as if she were the plague itself. This has become a family joke. I hoped Heather would find all the puppies their forever homes. And of course, I did see her several times during this timeframe, and the grandkids even came to our house for extended visits during those weeks, but I didn't want little temptations of all sorts in my face -- urging me to take home a puppy.

My patience didn't outlast anyone.

The fur-babies are no longer babies, but are now a couple of months old. My daughter's favorite remained one of the last to be claimed because she KNEW in her heart that he belonged to us, and apparently my husband and our daughter had formed a secret alliance of wills, conspiring to get the designated puppy over here.

Pappy and I are in a group text with our daughters, and Heather continually sent pictures and videos over the last couple of months to especially highlight this one puppy. I stayed strong. Sometimes watching the videos of the romping puppy with just one eye trained on the screen of my cell phone.


And then we were home at BootCreek Farm one day when the thing we'd never had happen in all our years here did happen. Near the end of July, a trespasser showed up during the middle of the day, around 2pm in the afternoon. 

With multiple surveillance cameras trained upon the grounds with multiple indoor cameras pointed outdoors, along with other monitoring methods, we caught the trespasser's approach. This person breezed past multiple no-trespassing signs to meander through the forest -- our land -- toward our house. Most surprising, the trespasser walked right by the front steps of our house, and then turned to walk toward our BACK porch.

But, the trespasser took the time to approach one of the cameras, intending to steal it... and with hands on it... looked up and noticed more cameras capturing their actions. Did that stop the trespasser? No.

A documented meth addict has little incentive to stop them from deeds that might lead to another batch of drugs.

It took less than five seconds from the first notification of the trespasser's presence for us to fly into action, ready to respond and self-defend. Before the trespasser climbed the steps of our wrap-around porch, we were armed.

We are the Nana and Pappy a thief wouldn't want to encounter. 

It definitely wasn't a smart move to approach our house. I'll tell the entire story later, but this person did end up in jail.

On that day, our two female dogs cut loose while inside the house with us, but Howdy would've been a different story, if he'd been here. Howdy would've provided another layer of safety in a potentially bad situation. 

So, yep, we got the largest fellow of the liter, a robust little one.

When you live in the country, you are probably well prepared for such an occasion, likely better than the average person. Country people must be ready and able to confront and combat ill-intentioned individuals, out of necessity. Law enforcement doesn't have rapid response times in rural settings, but countryfolk usually have at least one strong, trained male dog ready to assist in guarding their property.

After this encounter, I did some hard thinking. We had considered moving this last year, maybe to Galveston, but with an unfavorable economy inviting inflation with soaring prices of basic essentials, we also watched local crime stats rise. This made the prospect of seaside living more precarious. And then we had other reasons to rethink moving.

Our property offers abundant fish and game with a spring-fed creek and lake. We don't have a vegetable garden this year, but for most of our life together, we've grown many of our own vegetables. Living in the country gives us a cushion against hard times. And our house is the place family and friends can come to, if the need arises.

Staying in the house-of-perpetual-construction means we needed another large, male dog. That's a mighty long commitment. 

The responsibility of having dogs is not something we take lightly, and my heart has struggled with this decision. I'm not one to let love in or out of my heart so easily.

This puppy will receive a lot of love and training. I look forward to resuming my vegetable gardening and other tasks around the house without having a rangy coyote sneak up on me, but I whispered to Boots, "You've got mighty big paws to fill."

He's trying.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

# 579 - Moment by Moment

I now have a new computer and am thrilled because my others had given me headaches when trying to write and post.

Things are changing in this part of my teeny world since I've finally purchased and am using my first MacBook Pro. I'm now on a steep learning curve and often veer off path as I try to figure out this new existence sans a PC.

As for living with Addison's, this year we've jumped back into traveling with an effort far bigger than a splash. I'll be sharing how we've experienced beautiful travels as Addison's is a concern along the way.

Nana & Pappy on another cruise to the Western Caribbean this summer.

No matter, for 2022, I've enjoyed beautiful days of immense adventure and other bed-ridden days where I'm content to binge some series on Netflix or Hulu. On the difficult days, I struggle, but I constantly make peace with my day-to-day physical limitation.

Adaptation is key to living a great life with Addison's or with any physical condition that demands your attention, whether it be sudden or a snowball sort of attention-grabbing health issues.

The days when there are only slight taps on the shoulder, "Excuse me, could you spare me a brief moment so we can avoid the brick wall ahead," are the best kinds. On those days, you're in tune with your body, and no sneaky-fox Addison's symptoms are pouncing upon you.

Here I am at the start of summer at 54. No makeup.
Just me with my art supplies.

Traveling can be a challenging time when you have Addison's, but I don't let it hold me back, until it actually pulls me down and my moment of choice has altered to a moment of adapting to what I MUST do to get through the worst of it.

I take decent care of myself, and I don't hold back seizing the day. And yes, that means confronting my health needs, being prepared, listening to my body, and knowing when to stop seizing and to instead wave the little white flag.

On the white flag days, I make a hasty retreat to climb into bed and allow my body to do the dance of calming rest.

I've lived with Addison's a long time and have had a rather joyful existence despite very critical times... a broken neck and other multiple surgeries that were about as high on a surgical-risk scale as you can get for a normal, healthy person, but I got through them with Addison's. 

There have been illnesses and heart-wrenching deaths of people I most loved, and I figured out how to get through it all... with Addison's pouncing on my devastated state of existence. Staying on top of my blood pressure, heart rate, medicine, and it can be a juggling act. Times of loss can make it extremely difficult to manage Addison's. 

We all walked to a special spot in Texas to spread my father's ashes. With my mother's.
That's Coco, his oldest great-grandchild walking in front of me.

In 2020, I lost my father, and I will admit that the year that followed his death put a strain upon my body as never before. His passing caused extreme stress, which made managing Addison's a warring time for my body.

There were many months when I had trouble walking... forget stairs... and I lived with nausea. I did take stress doses, but there is no easy way around the ups and downs that come with profound loss. It was an Addison's nightmare that I did my best to handle without adding stress upon others, but it was probably the most dangerous phase for me, other than my surgeries.

Dad is now with Mom who died in 2006 at 57-years-old due to breast cancer. Dad was 74, and I had selfishly wanted more time with him. He went to Italy shortly before he passed, spending a good deal of time there. I'm glad he did so much in life, but he's now moved to a new address in Heaven, again with so many people he loved. 

I'll write more about his passing later because my long-time readers know of my closeness with my father. I have been blessed.

My mom and dad when we lived in Scotland. I took this picture of them.

But the good days give me reason to savor each second of treasured vibrancy, whether it be from a sedentary position or with me dancing in celebration. I go with what I'm given. 

I barter with my body. I know, for the most part, about the precarious give-and-take relationship I share within it. If I don't listen to my body's needs as it carries a passenger I must address, then that passenger, Addison's, will rule the day... and perhaps more.

To get to my next best day, I've got to listen to the passenger inside. I have to stay on top of things to keep it quiet and satisfied. Sometimes it makes demands upon me that I cannot overrule, and this is when adapting is the key to living a great life. I refuse to hand over more than is absolutely necessary to this passenger.

That means I don't let Addison's own me. I refuse to let it hold my life hostage. When strong, energetic days are presented, I don't question it. On those days, I get into the highest gear allowed and tackle as much as I can for as long as I can.

Pappy with our two oldest grandsons & Nyms.

With Addison's, you never know how the next day might go, so when the good days come, you make it work for you. Those are often catch-up days. Those are the days when I am enthusiastic yet a microscopic part of me yearns for the pre-Addison days when I hadn't known high gear would become a rarity.

These days, I have leveled-out, for the most part. I do not have many high-gear days nor too many days of feeling dissolved, but both kinds of days do make their respective appearances here and there. 

The "walking through mud" sensation I began having when Addison's decided I was a prime vehicle for it to hitch a lifelong ride in... that sensation is still with me, more or less. Depending on the day, there is either thick mud I must press and battle to wade through with each step or there are energetic days when it's easier to move, but the mud then can fall upon me from the Heavens, threatening to press me to the ground. 

Having Addison's is indescribable, but when my blood pressure and electrolytes go out of whack, I can feel like a rag doll surrounded by mud. That's the best way I can describe it.

Sometimes my symptoms are in check with treatment and are barely noticeable, but I've never had a day when the disease is completely absent. And yes, I have to turn down more invitations than I'd like. I have to ration my energy. For me, it is more than a precious commodity.

If I want to show true love for my family, I've got to be real with my limitations yet not use the disease to bail out of life. The stressful things do take a toll, that's the entire nature of Addison's, yet I have to decide how much of a toll I can manage with medication.

On a recent cruise in May. At the "no choice" phase. I had to rest.

Sometimes I appear normal looking on the outside, and then I'll have a day when strangers reach out to ask if I'm okay or their eyes hesitate upon me for too long as their expressions reveal concern. Boy, I don't like those days.

My grown daughters understand that my body requires more rest than it once did, and they're totally onboard with normalizing my normal, and I love their own adaptability. I have daughters who are now amazing women, wonderful mothers, and we all treasure one another.

With my oldest daughter, Heather. 
I can't put into words what she means to my heart and soul.

We can never make it through photos without cracking up.

Regardless of what each day holds, I keep wading through the mud on the days when it is all but a brick wall, and I must battle to get to the bathroom. And like I said earlier, sometimes the mud moves from in front of me, changing consistency and coming at me from a new direction... falling upon me, like an invisible light rain that isn't actually light. It is pressing. It's a strange resistance when our body is affected by the worst of Addison's.

And as I age, now in my fabulous fifties, I find some things are harder because of Addison's, but the strange thing is that a lot of things are easier. Living with this passenger for over two decades has taught me valuable lessons. 

Me with my youngest son-in-law, Brice this summer.

This specific, unique disease has taught me specific, unique life-saving attitudes and behaviors. Those translate to prompt me to make the best actions for surviving the mud-slinging disease I've come to study, respect, and learn.

After all, my attitude is the best shovel one can own against this disease. Years and years ago, I thought Finding Lana would be easier after Addison's hailed me as its permanent ride when I was 33-years-old, but I've learned that finding my adaptable self is a lifelong journey. Addison's means various phases of life will require additional adapting to the disease... in many ways. I'll age into new issues, but Addison's always complicates matters, and I do not ignore that fact.

If you have Addison's or any other disease or condition that requires vigilant attention, I hope you never stop figuring out how to help yourself make it through days when the mud is packed around you.

This is a recent 24-hour time constraint charcoal
of my oldest daughter, from when she was a kid.

Take notice of your body and take NOTES. Figure out what makes days better and what makes them worse. Monitor your vitals, Juggle those medications to give yourself the best Addison's ever-changing self-treatment that you can muster.

I want others to know there are treasured lessons that come from great struggles, lessons healthy people are often ignorant in knowing. That's not a bad thing. But, living with such a struggle can provide rare Masterclass lessons in countless ways, giving you "new" eyes for seeing everything touched by life. 

My oldest grandchild, Coco.

My youngest daughter, Stefie, with her beautiful family.

My goofy husband to whom I've been married a LONG time.
We not killed each other, and the lack of bloodshed has been worth it!

If you can figure it out, tell me the good lessons - the surprising lessons - and the lessons you might not have learned without the boost from whatever it is that requires you to adapt.

Keep your inner shovel ready, but know when to set it aside and tune-out the world so you can endure the worst, whether the worst be minutes long or longer. How do you adapt and make life matter during those moments?

What matters to you? How do you provide self-care and self-nurturing.

For me, I take actions to make life worth living. I savor the small stuff for as long as possible and spit out the bitter as fast as I can. I make downtimes work for me, either through that tv binging, through writing, or through art. During those times, my passenger must stay seated and well-mannered because I'm still in charge.

Treating my in-laws to another late lunch.

How do you hand peace to your inner-self in spite of a raucous passenger? What is your distraction?

Live well, MOMENT-BY-MOMENT, no matter your speed!


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