Monday, June 6, 2016
Her book, "Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote....Plus More Stories of How You Can Too" tells the story of how Kerri and her husband Dale came to make their life in a tiny lakeside house.
Interwoven into her story are stories of other tiny house dwellers. Our little cabin is one of those!
The book is a great read for anyone interested in downsizing, whether to a tiny house or just a smaller house or even just uncluttering the house you now live in. It's loaded with tips about paring down your possessions, organizing, holiday decorating, entertaining, and living a sustainable lifestyle. It's full of photos of tiny house life!
Kerri's story is told in an easy to read style, as if she were having a chat with friends. She doesn't sugarcoat anything but tells the challenges as well as the rewards.
You can order the book from Amazon. Just click on the link below! We're hoping for a good release day showing, so if you plan to order, tomorrow is a good day to get in on the excitement! There have been a lot of pre-orders already and a good release day helps the publisher judge interest for additional printings. They've already ordered a second printing based on pre-orders! It's available in both a hardcover and a Kindle format.
Click here to order - Amazon - Living Large in Our Little House
Kerri's blog spotlighted the tiny bunkhouse this week, so check that out too! You can link to it above or here - Living Large in Our Little House - and follow her on Facebook - Living Large in Our Little House.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
I loved him fiercely and I trusted him. Trusted him with my secrets, trusted him to never ridicule my thoughts and feelings. Trusted him to tell me the truth, trusted him to treat me as an equal.
He was my cousin Tommy and he was my best friend.
He had come to live with us my senior year in high school. His family was going to move from Louisiana to Houston but not until later that year. He was having some problems there and needed a new start, a new school, new friends. He found all that. And I found a friend, a brother, a confidant.
Throughout our senior year he and his friend Johnny took my friend Beverly and I to all the teen clubs that sprang up in Houston during the late 60s, the most memorable when we saw Paul Revere and the Raiders at La Maison. We made trips to Surfside Beach near Angleton, staying until dark and heading home happy and sunburnt. We hung out at the Chuckwagon, a neighborhood burger drive-in where all the high school kids congregated in the afternoons.
He'd come home with Johnny Rivers' single 45s, saying "come listen to this, Sue." We'd play them all afternoon, listening over and over again to Mountain of Love, Secret Agent Man, and Johnny's version of Midnight Special and Suzie Q. Dancing in the living room, memorizing the words to the songs.
He spent all his other spare time taking his car apart and putting it back together, parts spread all over the driveway, arms and clothes covered with grease. Getting it running smoothly so we could all go out again on Saturday night!
I can't say my high school years were happy. There was a lot of stuff going on in the family, I was a girl without a lot of self-esteem, afraid to apply myself though the education part of school was easy for me, all the usual teenage angst. The Vietnam War was in full swing and I was just beginning to get an interest in what was going on in politics and the world. Looking back, all these times with my cousin are the times that stand out, the good times we had and the closeness we had. My brothers were either too old or two young to be my buddy. Tommy was just right and we had the bond of siblings.
Around noon on a February day in 1970, I was feeding my baby son John, my second child, lunch when the phone rang. It was my mom. She needed a ride to Aunt Margie's house. Two Marines were there and wanted someone to come be with her before they told her their news. Which, of course, we all knew by their presence. Tommy was dead.
But that's not the way I see him most of the time. Most of the time in my memories of him, we are by his car at the end of the driveway. The neighborhood asleep, our voices low and quiet. His hair hanging in his face, his words that years later come back to me and guide me. "Do what you want because YOU want to do it, not because someone else wants you to. You make the decisions for your life, darlin'. It's your life, don't let anyone tell you different."
Monday, May 16, 2016
The moon was so bright the live oaks in the yard threw out shadows. Even with only a half moon, we could see the yard fence and gate, the trunks of the oaks, the cabin and bunkhouse, and the firewood stacked nearby.
The chuck-will's-widows called out their name, answering each other on all sides of us. We roasted some marshmallows and made s'mores, although most of the kids like the roasting better than the eating! Bixby was too little and the firepit is too big for his roasting wire to reach into the fire. So I went to the garden shed and cut a long piece of heavy wire for him, making a loop at the end for a handle.
He'd had a busy day being a ranch hand - feeding the longhorns, checking on the garden, painting some birdhouses, checking out the deer blind, doing some target practice with his suction tipped plastic ammo, and just generally doing things a kid does in the country.
As the day wound down the kids went inside to clean up for bed and I was alone at the fire. If you haven't ever sat by a campfire in the quiet of the country, away from people, away from a campground, away from neighbors, it's hard to explain the magic of it. The only sound was the chuck-will's-widows calling all around, each one answering the other as the calls circled their way around me. Though it had grown darker, the shadows of the oaks still lay on the ground and I could still see the trees in the yard. There weren't any of the noisy katydids or cicadas that often drive a person crazy during the warmer months.
It was as if there was no one else in the world except me and the night birds. It's easy to imagine the country as it was 100 years ago and sometimes you think about the people that have called this place home over time. It many ways it hasn't changed that much out here where we are.
A few weeks ago Natalie and Zac and three of their friends came out for the weekend and we got a campfire going. The big kids do the same things the little ones do; they just don't need as much help. They've been doing it for years now and no one ever gets tired of it. We had spent the day at Fredericksburg and Luckenbach then and wrapped it up with brisket in town and some washer pitching in the back yard here. That night I left the kids alone by the fire as the evening wore on.
I don't sit out by a fire at night as often as I did when Rick was here. He could sit there all night. And we didn't have a fire as often once we built the cabin. One of the few downsides to building it.
When the kids come they always want to have a fire and it gets me back out there. I need to make an effort to do more campfire sitting. Just me, the night sounds and shadows, and the stars. And memories. They seem to rise from the burning logs along with the smoke. And they're all good ones. Sometimes the good ones are the hardest to bear but I can't imagine the kind of life I would have lived that didn't include them.
I hope you get to spend some time by a campfire this summer. Make an effort. Find a place where you can be away from neighbors and city lights, a place where it's dark enough for the moon to make shadows of the trees and the night birds to call out to each other. Make some memories, some good ones.
Like these, other times, other fires -
This picture of Rick and Sarah is probably the first fire we had out here. They are sitting where the cabin sidewalk is now. Some of the stones making up this first firepit are still there, too embedded in the ground to be moved by hand. They are part of the landscaping.
Rick and Zac during hunting season in 2005. In his hunting album Rick captioned this one "End of the day. A campfire, whiskey, and good conversation." That about sums it up.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
But his real songwriting talent, at least as far as I'm concerned, is taking an ordinary moment, an ordinary life, and making you stop and look at it and see the magic of ordinary things. This particular song, Flatland Boogie, was about a fella and his love driving fast across the Texas high plains as the moon lights up the caliche on the long straight road they travel down.
That song brought back memories of a vacation Rickie, Sarah, and I took about 30 years ago. It was our first trip to the Santa Fe/Taos area and we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon on the way there. Driving across the endless plains in Rick's Bronco; Sarah just 5 years old, standing up in the back seat singing cowboy songs with us as we wondered whether we would ever get over the plains.
Rick and I would have been married 35 years today. He's not here and yet he is. I still refer to the Rockin' RS as "our" place; I still say "we" when talking about things that are being done here. Though things have changed somewhat with the addition you can still tell this is his cabin when you walk in. I still call the garden Rick's garden, not mine. The leather cap he left on the truck dashboard is still there, all shrunken and twisted from the hot sun; his boots are still by the back door.
We do the things he used to do, we tell his stories, we teach the kids the things he knew. We remember him.
The grief still overwhelms me a lot of times, especially at night when it's quiet and I'm not busy. I'll be almost asleep and the pain will hit me like a punch in the chest and it's clear why it's called a broken heart. I wish I could say it's easier, to give hope to any of you going through the same thing. All I can say is it becomes more familiar and, along with carrying Rickie with me always, I carry the grief always. I'll be carrying them when I breathe my last.
"And yet she could feel the pain becoming a part of her, finding its indelible groove but never vanishing. Time goes by, she wrote, days spill on, routines, appointments, diversions, some fun, a trip, somebody sick, on and on, times goes and grief finds a niche, a place, and settles in and goes along, too, included in everything. 'I'm here', says Grief. 'Never mind me, just go about your business.' " David Kushner, Alligator Candy
Saturday, April 30, 2016
I tightened the chain a bit, loaded supplies in the Mule, and went to the road. I'm starting at one end of our place and working my way across. There were a few little cedars Juan had cut that were tangled in the fence so I cut those out and threw them inside the fence.
I had a second gate put in on the road because there was no way to access half of the properly without going through the longhorns' pen. There is a cedar on each side of it just outside the gate. Juan, the contractor that cut the cedar, hand trimmed them on one side. He would have done more but I was ready to be finished with contractors.
I was almost finished cutting for the day when my chain jumped the bar. I got it back on and was up and running again!
This was my first time doing the cutting. I sure missed my partner today but I found I had learned a lot working with him out here for 26 years. Of all the work we did out here, cutting cedar was the thing we loved doing the most. It gives instant gratification and opens up spaces, maybe a view. We mostly cut in the cooler months and every time a cold wind blows in I remember those times and feel the urge to load up the Mule.
We always felt closer to nature doing this than anything else we did here. Working a while, then taking a break, sitting in the shade drinking water, and listening to the wind rustling the cedars. That smell they release when they move.
And tomorrow and next week I hope to do more of the same!
Thursday, April 28, 2016
I've been gone for a few days so when I got home it seemed like the garden had really grown!
I planted one little nasturtium for my mom, who loved them. My Papa planted them for her every year when we were kids. One of the rare tender mercies he showed his daughter. It has its first bloom!
The garden path I added has settled and hardened. When I had the new fence put up the gate was moved to the orchard end so I could get the lawnmower in there without going through the vegetable garden. I like how it adds another element to that section.
The Texas Bird of Paradise is showing off by the bunkhouse. It's only two years old and it can take the cold weather where the Pride of Barbados variety can't.
Antelope Horn Milkweed, a native wildflower the Monarch butterfly caterpillars need to survive. We have several that come up in the yard every year.
We've had some rain so things are green here. The live oaks have put back out and the grass is growing, making Woodrow and Gus happy.
In the vegetable garden the tomatoes are blooming, the corn and cucumbers are up, and the peppers, squash, onions, cilantro, and pinto beans are growing. Something has eaten the basil. A dill plant came up from last year's seed; I cut some to put on potatoes and green beans for supper tonight.
The grapes are loaded with little clusters of blooms and we have a few peaches, not many, and the little plum tree has lots of plums for its size.
Looks like we've got the start of a pretty good gardening year!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
The rain woke me up, blowing loudly against the windows. I tried to go back to sleep, to pick the dream back up. Sometimes if I'm only half awake I can get back to my dreams. But the wind and rain were persistent and I never could go back and find him. The dream just evaporated.
It's been a crummy week. Lots of things going on that have made me feel sad and overwhelmed. Some big, some small. But even the little things seem determined to pile on. The lawnmower won't start and I'm in the process of learning to change the spark plug, waiting on the rain to clear out. Which shouldn't be hard after I've already learned to change the oil and replace the battery in the Mule. And the new washer makes a squeaking noise, like a belt squeaking or something. I'm ignoring that right now because it's not causing problems yet.
I used to have a sign that read "it's not the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe." I feel like one more thing going wrong, no matter how small, will be the one that does me in.
Everyone has these weeks, I know. I'm not special in that. But it's been that kind of week for me. It'd be pretty sad if the woman who completed her room addition almost singlehandedly was done in by a squeaky washer.
This afternoon late I walked back to the ridge, hoping to find some peace. It's been cloudy all day and the low light makes all the new leaves on the oaks such a bright green it looks unreal. As if someone edited the photo to an unnatural shade. I didn't find the peace I was looking for though I found some beauty.
On the way back I stopped to pick up a little skull fragment from one of the deer Rick or the boys shot in the last few years. We had a place back on the hill where we put out the share for the scavengers. When the cedar was cut this was cleared and the bone fragments are scattered.
Like the fragments of my life.
"I almost felt you touching me just now, I wish I knew which way to turn and go.......if I could only fly, if I could only fly, I'd bid this place goodbye to come and be with you. But I can hardly stand and I got no place to run, another sinking sun and one more lonely night."