A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Single Lady

I first saw her a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. She was limping along to the small water trough in the yard. I always put some birdseed out on the ground there. She stood on one leg, holding her injured right leg in the air. After having her fill of the milo, millet, and sunflower seed mixture, she hopped up on the edge of the tank for a drink. Perched there alone, without a flock to stand watch, she alternately drank and looked around for any sign of danger. 

I didn't expect her to survive long. Last year we found the remains of a turkey that died a violent death at the hands of a bobcat. The scene of destruction told the story, wings ripped off and bones scattered. 

When we were kids we had a little parakeet that was crippled. We had caught him in the backyard, an escapee from somewhere, on the run. We unimaginatively named him "Crip". He could open his cage and he would fly around the room and land on our heads and shoulders. One day he made his getaway out the door and we never found him. He was a bird with a lot of self-confidence. We thought we had saved him but apparently we were holding him back from his life's adventure. 

This morning, as it has been every day for awhile, I'm surrounded by a flock of about 30 hens. They move from turkey feeder to deer feeder to water trough, hitting all the birdseed spots on their walk. They're a family of mothers and daughters, sisters and aunts. They don't tolerate the male species in their group. This is ok with the gobblers; they have their own agenda with the hens and it's not the right time of year for that. 

Yesterday the injured turkey hen was back at the water trough. She kept her own watchful lookout as she ate and drank, then she left. She can't keep up with the flock so she travels on her own. I wonder does she join them at night to roost. Or do they shun her as not being one of the gang, one of the sisters. 

The desire to protect her, to "save" her, surfaces when I watch her hop around. But it's possible she neither needs nor wants saving. She has her freedom and other than her limp, she seems healthy. She doesn't hang her head in despair. She walks with that "turkey pride" that I see in all the wild turkeys. This land is her home and she knows her way around. We keep the turkey feeder full of milo all the time, so she has plenty to eat, and she has water. 

And as I learned from our friend Crip, she may not see herself as crippled or challenged. She's a bird with a lot of self-confidence. I don't want to hold her back. 

I think I'll call her Beyonce.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas, Little Cabin Style

Rickie and I went to the draw this week and he cut a little cedar tree for our porch, like he's done for many years now. This year he cut a second one, a little bit smaller, for Bixby. It's Bixby's first cedar Christmas tree from the ranch. 

We brought our tree back and decorated it. I used my favorite old quilt. I bought it many years ago in Alabama because it has Davy Crockett fabric for a couple of the squares. Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, killed him a "bar" when he was only three......

The little cabin is one Sarah and Rickie made many years ago for a school project.

We've had some pepper lights for years but I haven't used them on the tree in a long time. This year I just heaped them in an old scale I have on the porch. The color didn't come out but they are red.
My sister Kathy came out last weekend. The weather was so wintry we didn't get to make our cedar wreaths. I always make one for the front gate and last year Kathy and I both made one. I decided to do something different this year. I have some old barb wire we found here, left by hunters that were here before us to protect a deer feeder. Rickie and I cleaned it up last year and made a wreath out of some of it. I painted it orange and it's been on the woodshed. I repainted it red and added a pretty burlap bow Kathy brought for me. I love it!

We put the outside lights on the bunkhouse this year instead of the cabin and set up the fence post tree there. It looks very festive, I think!
Inside the cabin we have a few subdued decorations. There isn't much room inside so most of the decorating is done outside. I'm thankful for my screened porch so we can have a live tree!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Christmas Memory

Every December most of us who are readers will re-read one of our favorite Christmas stories. For years for me it was Dickens' A Christmas Carol. For the last few years I have pulled out Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory

The story is of a lonely little 7 year old boy and his 60+ child-like cousin. They live with relatives in a big old farmhouse in Alabama. They are best friends. The way it is written reminds me of all the Charlie Brown stories; the "adults" are never shown, rarely mentioned, and when they speak at all it is simply a "bwa-bwa-bwa" sound. It is mostly about Truman's real life experience.

They are best friends and the story is about how they celebrate Christmas back in the 1930s. Their tradition of making fruitcakes, cutting a Christmas tree, making gifts, the love they have for each other. A little dog named Queenie is the other member of their family within a family. It is a touching story of love and of people that are different from the rest of the family. Those who don't quite fit in. They have found each other within that family and mostly ignore the others.

At the end of the story they are separated by the family and the little boy is sent off to a military school. It is disturbing to me that children live in a family that has no clue about what kind of person they are. That a quiet sensitive odd little boy should be sent off to a military school is horrifying to me.

The story is only a few pages long and if you haven't read it, I recommend it. Especially if you have ever felt like the odd member of a family. I kind of think we all feel like that at one time or another. But some of us are different all of the time.

I grew up in a large family with 6 siblings and grandparents that lived with us. Sharing a bedroom with 3 sisters and a baby brother, there was no place to go to be alone. I often climbed a big mimosa tree in the back yard and read. Within its feathery leaves it was cool and peaceful. And quiet. 

I was always the family member that wanted something a little different, that believed a little differently, and I still am that one. But I was never as different as the young Truman and his elderly cousin. My wish for the season is that everyone has a place they feel at home and safe and accepted.

And if you have the opportunity to offer this to someone, I hope you'll take it.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


My family is full of carpenters and I love all things related to that. Levels, tools, nail aprons, and especially yardsticks! You used to get them free at every lumberyard and many stores and businesses. They were great not only for measuring but for sword fights, slapping your siblings, and drawing straight lines! My favorite ones are from old lumberyards, of course. 

Collecting is a bit of a challenge when you are a little cabin person. You have to be creative with what you collect and how you display it.

So I've used them as crown molding on the screen porch! I recently visited my friend Cece and she gave me 5 yardsticks, some from lumberyards and home improvement departments. I found a couple in Comfort and I had a couple from an estate sale in Menard. I bought a lot of 6 on eBay. I'll keep an eye out for local ones and replace some of the eBay ones. Most of them are from the Ohio and Pennsylvania area and I prefer ones that I have some connection to. 

One of the ones Cece gave me is from TG&Y. If you are my generation you know that was a chain of dime stores before the days of Walmart and Dollar General. My first job was at a TG&Y in Houston; I made 90 cents an hour. I still have my first pay envelope; back then we were paid in cash if you were on the pay scale I was on. My mom, mother of 7 kids and always stressed, accidentally left my little brother Lee at TG&Y one time. She did realize it and retrieved him. It wasn't the first time she misplaced one of us, but that's another story! 

I painted the screen porch ceiling a pale blue, the traditional porch ceiling color. It lightened up the porch a bit and new paint always looks so clean and happy! We closed half of the West side in with tin last Spring and that had taken away some of the open feel. The paint brightened it and made the ceiling seem higher.

I love how it turned out!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Merry Christmas, Hattie Marie

Last week when I went to the Dollar Store I found it in disarray as they were putting Christmas items out. Boxes stacked in the aisles, shelves half empty. Ornaments of every kind; shiny glass balls, wooden snowmen, knit stockings. Gift sets of bath products, colognes, nail clippers, hot chocolate, and snack foods. Toy sets of tiny farm animals, glitter crafts, and tiny fake weapons of mass destruction.

I was instantly transported 40 years into the past. I had to look around to make sure Grandma Hattie wasn't standing by my side. My dad's mom loved Christmas. Almost up until she died she had Christmas presents for all her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As she got older and had little money, when we asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she would say just some money so she could buy presents for the kids.

So that's what we gave her. I had two small boys and not enough money myself but I always gave her a little and so did others. She never learned to drive so we took turns taking her shopping. She loved to go to the Dollar Store where she could get the most for her money. With Larry and John by our sides we walked the aisles as she carefully picked out something to fit each person on her list, stretching her meager funds to cover everyone she loved.

For the adults there were scented lotions and soaps, colorful kitchen towels and pot holders, and after shave lotions. Tiny toy trucks and animals for the little boys and sparkly jewelry and fake makeup for the little girls and sometimes puzzles.  And of course, pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue to wrap them, and gift tags with glittery Christmas trees and Santas.

The last few years of her life she got too weak to make the trip to the Dollar store but not so frail she was yet in the nursing home. So the last year she gave gifts she took things from her many collections and wrapped them for her family. She had shelves of ceramic dogs and elephants, tea cups, inexpensive cut glass and milk glass serving dishes. That year Larry and John each got a ceramic dog and I got a milk glass pedestal bowl.

Many years, many moves, and many life upheavals later, that bowl and those dogs got separated from us. When I go to antique stores I seldom see milk glass. I guess this area of the country didn't collect a lot of that or else everyone is holding on to it. But one day I'm going to find that pedestal bowl with the scalloped "lace" cut-out edge and bring it back home. And fill it with shiny glass Christmas balls, mostly red, Grandma Hattie's favorite color.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There's Always a Project in the Country

I thought I was finished with the outdoor kitchen and then a couple of things came up. I ended up with a pallet and built a table where we can eat, play cards, work puzzles, whatever. It cost about $15 in material besides the pallet, which came with the new AC unit we bought. I actually had the material already from other projects. I had one chair and bought the other three for $9 each and spray painted them. I had a hard time finding the metal chairs. Everywhere I checked had plastic ones. Finally found the metal ones at WalMart. We don't have an actual table in the cabin; we eat at the island, so I was happy to have a table! We have had some beautiful ones over the years in different places we've lived but none of them survived the downsizing. 

Rickie has two BBQ pits. One is small and low to the ground and is perfect for just the two of us. He asked me to build him a table to put it on. I made it about 3 or 4" shorter than I would have, but I had 4 pieces of 4 x 4 left over from another project and wanted to use them. We have to get a piece of metal to put on top of it then he can sit the little pit on top of that. I used some of the decomposed granite to extend the kitchen area to include it. (You can see the shadow of the hammock in this photo!)

Rick had recently ordered a couple of Adirondack chairs online. Found some that weren't too expensive but they were unfinished. I finally got them stained and love how they came out. We want to use them by the fire pit so we can recline and look at the stars! (They have pull out foot stools.) But we needed a place to put them off the ground when we weren't using them. So I used the last of the granite gravel and made a place for them. In front of them we're going to have our fire pit. We're waiting on the nice but busy fellas at the welding place in Fredericksburg to get our ring with swing arm grill completed. Then we'll put some stone around the outside of it. Hope to get it finished soon so it will be ready for the Thanksgiving week! My sister Kathy and her husband and grandsons are coming out again this year for some deer hunting!

We have a little garden of volunteer plants by our septic tank cleanout, which is covered in some rocks to disguise it. The wildflowers and the garden flowers have all been pretty the last few weeks with the cooler temps and rain.

Bixby and Justin came out a few weeks ago and Bix has become quite a little climber. We had a good time doing ranch chores and exploring. I took him to the turkey feeder to see and smell the milo and toss some out on the ground for the deer. I love the way it looks and smells; it's my favorite grain! In fact, I think I'm going to fill an old clear jar and put it on the mantel. It has beautiful orange and yellow fall colors.
We broke the pallet table in, having our breakfast, which we cooked on the outside stove, there. Everything tastes better outside!

The area by the pumphouse is filling in with plants and odds and ends. Just like I like it! The chickens were a gift from my sister Jackie. I made the Howdy sign from a piece of leftover metal we found here. 

I finished a project that I've had on hold for over a year, closing in the bottom of the woodshed. I used stone from the property and moved it there a long time ago. Then it got hot, and one thing then another interfered. I was kind of dreading this project too. I closed in the other shed with stone a couple of years ago. But I had some cut stone left from the cabin and it was easier to use that. This project required me to try this and that stone and finding ones that fit. I like how it came out though. I added some trim boards and they'll age and match the shed. We had a couple of big flat stones that worked out great for a step into the shed.

This little area by the birdbath I made a few years ago is one of my favorites. The birds love it and the plants have been really pretty this month. The Mexican sage is blooming purple flower spikes now. It'll die in the winter and we've not had any luck getting them to come back here. If the winters are a bit warmer where you are they'll come back each Spring and get nice and big. It's on the other side of the rosemary in this photo so it's a little hard to see the plant.

This is a busy time of year here and it's our favorite time! We've got some more projects in the works. And it's time to move the big washtub that holds firewood onto the back porch. We'll soon have the fireplace going!

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion." Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The People That You Meet When You've Walking Down The Street

The young man in Silverton was rearranging the fetishes in the glass display case. I'm a sucker for the little animals carved by the Zuni and Navajo artists. We bought the first one for Sarah 28 years ago when we went to New Mexico on vacation and have been collecting them ever since. We settled on a little turquoise beaver for Bixby and a brown bear with a turquoise fish in his mouth for ourselves. The blond haired young man told us he was a carver and took a beautiful tiny black bear out of his pocket. It was smooth and the shape of the face and ears was perfect. He offered it to me to hold and one of the things about fetishes is how they feel when you hold them. As you rub them and move them around your fingers you are reminded of the strength and characteristics of the animal they represent. It is said they offer protection and as we talk about this the soft-spoken young man smiles and says yes, anything to trick us into thinking everything will be all right. He said he may add some turquoise eyes to his bear but he may just keep carrying it in his pocket as he has for some time now.

Down the street in the jewelry store we discover the young married couple that own the store are miners. They own a mine that once belonged to John Jacob Astor IV, who perished aboard the Titanic. How the couple came to own it or how they were trained as miners, I don't know. I wish I had asked. The young man said they make the trip every so often to get more stone, hiking 4 days to get to the mine. They dynamite it and remove it in slabs then cut it into shapes using templates he showed us. They polish it and a 30 year old woman in Durango makes it into jewelry. The stone is pink with gray and is called Astorite, after J J Astor.

The older man in the Durango jewelry shop stops me at the door and asks if he can look at my earrings. He asks how long I've had them and I tell him about 25-30 years. He inspects each one and pronounces them good turquoise. What that means I'm not sure! He says there isn't much of the good stuff left anymore. He pulls out a stool and sits down and tells us his story. His great-great-great aunt lived in the South during the Civil War. Some Yankee soldiers came to her house and asked to be fed. She cooks them up a Southern meal and they all drop dead. She has poisoned the food. She hightails it to Oklahoma, where the family all settles. He's from there but has chosen to live in Durango instead. And who can blame him. It's beautiful. And they have good breweries!

We drive up to Arroyo Seco, a community of artists outside of Taos. We were hoping to find some apples to bring home but so far haven't seen any so we ask the friendly lady in one of the shops. She said late freezes got all the apples. Last year they had so many they were making some into chips and giving away to visitors to her shop. They have 100 trees and the abundant crop allowed for sharing with the bears! This year no one has any.

She is selling brightly colored pottery in her shop for one of the Seco potters. She tells us he made a beautiful urn when her nephew died recently. The priest said it comforted the congregation to see the father cradling the urn as he walked out of the church after the funeral. As she was relating this story to another local woman a while back, she noticed tears in the woman's eyes. It seems the potter had made an urn for her grandmother and she is touched by the story of the woman's nephew.

A dog has entered her shop with us. Her name is Lucy and she belongs to the potter. Lucy visits all the shops to get treats! 

Down the street this potter has his shop and workplace. He has a deck on the banks of a beautiful little creek. What a place to do your work! Scott isn't there but he has his pottery all over the deck and on tables in the yard. He has a box on the door and if you want any pottery you put your money in the box. It's a simpler, kinder place to be where you can do that. We are told by the last shop owner that someone recently stole all his large bowls. But he continues to use the honor method so that his pottery is available if he isn't around. His honor is greater than that of some of his visitors. We purchase a few items and put our money into the slot on his money box. It makes me happy to know there are places like this still, where a person's honesty is tested and the failures of that test don't harden a person's heart.

A visit to another artist's shop puts us in touch with a woman from Denver that is working there. She quit her high-powered Denver job after 25 years and moved to the Taos area, changing her lifestyle. She now spends her days working in the shop, bike riding with her husband and hiking up Mount Wheeler, the highest peak in New Mexico. She gives us a big smile when we tell her we live in a 464 sq foot cabin! We talk about lifestyle changes and the joys that come with a simpler life. 

We are drawn to a weaver's shop where we see many beautiful rugs, wall hangings and clothes for sale. The shop has several looms in the back room where they teach classes. The weaver working this day is from Vermont. She made several of her rugs there and has them for sale. I ask her if it is hard to let them go. She says yes, but she decided it was better than just keeping them in storage because she has more than she can use at her home. She gives me information on a 3 day weaving class they have and encourages me to come back. It's an expensive hobby though so I'll just have to enjoy looking at the beautiful results of others' efforts. 

A young man carrying a dog comes down the stairs and greets us as we enter his pottery shop. He's from Michigan and came to Taos for graduate school. He met his wife there and the rest, as they say, is history. He has several small kilns in his shop and invites us back to look at them and his work in progress. He has a large kiln out in the mountains and he goes there when he has a lot of items to fire.

Back in Taos, we stop off at the Adobe Bar for a Blue Moon beer. The young man there admires my turquoise and silver bead necklace. I tell him I got it in Arroyo Seco and he asks if we went to the Taos Cow Ice Cream shop. We told him we tried to but the lone girl working there was overwhelmed with lunch customers and told us she couldn't sell any ice cream then. I wanted to try the local flavored ice cream, made with pinon pine nuts and lavender and was disappointed. He has gone there since he was a kid. Recently he moved back to the area after living in San Diego for a while.

We are fortunate to be able to purchase some small items on our trip and we enjoy them and the memories they carry. But one thing we most like to collect is stories. Stories of the area and stories of the people we meet. This trip we met many people that have changed their lives; that have been drawn to the mountains and the high desert and have followed their hearts there to live the life they want.

I'm always sad to leave New Mexico and Colorado and the people that share so many of the same interests and beliefs I have. There are pockets of this same type of people in Texas but, unfortunately, that's not the face we have been presenting lately to the world. I hope one day soon we can talk about art, and plants, and outdoor activities, and craft breweries, and Cowboy Buddha margaritas, and all the things we like instead of all the things we hate and live up to the meaning of our name. Tejas, friend. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Friends That Shape Us

Growing up we had some good friends, Papa and Ruth Gordy. Papa Gordy was named Otis but no one ever called him that. He was Papa Gordy to everyone.

They were some of my parents best friends. Papa Gordy was a deacon in our church and Mrs. Gordy was my Girls Auxiliary leader at church. They were kind soft-spoken people and the memories I have of them are all good ones.

With Mrs. Gordy my class went to visit a girl in the hospital who was older than I was. She was in her late teens and had been badly burned. She was burning trash and threw some gasoline on it; the back draft of the flames on the fumes burned her. We were all scared, horrified actually, and silent on the visit but Mrs. Gordy talked to her as if everything was normal and that calmed us down and gave us courage. She died a few days after we visited her. I learned from Mrs. Gordy that sometimes you have to be brave and strong so that you can comfort others and that sometimes that is all you can do for them.

While we were still living in Monroe the Gordys moved to Grayson, Louisiana. This was about 40 minutes south of Monroe. It was also before we lived in Houston and a 40 minute drive won't even get you across town. At the time it seemed far far away. My parents weren't big on driving long distances and my dad never went over 25 miles an hour if he could help it. My grandparents lived in West Monroe and we only visited them on the weekend because it was such a drive. About 15 minutes at Daddy's speed!

But my parents loved their friends the Gordys so we went to visit them more often that I would have imagined. The Gordys had children but they were either younger or older than me. I was closer to Mrs. Gordy than to her children. I loved to visit her partly because she had a whole collection of Connie Francis records! This was getting pretty wild in my circle. She let me play them on her record player and I spent most of the time on our visits doing just that. Where The Boys Are had me dreaming of a handsome true love, Everybody's Somebody's Fool proved to be prophetic in my case when Lipstick On Your Collar told the tale; then I was Breaking In A Brand New Broken Heart, and Who's Sorry Now offered me hope of revenge if I was ever sporting that newly broken heart! She was beautiful and glamorous and sang dreamily about things a young girl wanted to experience, not the more grown up beer drinking songs of country music that my parents listened to. 

Where The Boys Are by Connie Francis

They lived in a wonderful old house like you see in small towns. The rooms all went round and round from one to the other. There were big trees in the yard and the yard sloped down on a slight hill. My sister Jackie (in photo) was 4 or 5 years old and she decided to climb into their car one day. We were in the backyard and looked up to see Jackie staring calmly out the driver's side window, both hands on the window, as the car rolled down the hill. She had put the gear shift in neutral and off she went! We yelled for Daddy and she was saved!

A year or two after the Gordys moved to Grayson we moved to Houston. They came to visit at least once but we rarely saw them after that. Mrs. Gordy passed away a few years after I graduated from high school. By then I was married with two small boys and a job in the big city. Responsibilities lay on my shoulders and the day-dreaming 12 year old child I had been was so far gone from me I barely remembered her. But every once in a while when it's a warm summer day with the breeze blowing on my skin, that young girl resurfaces and I'll find myself humming I Don't Hurt Anymore, an old Hank Snow song Connie Francis recorded on her country album. And I'll remember Mrs. Gordy and her wonderful old house and her kind heart and that you should always try and be brave even when you are scared.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Morning Comin' Down

It's 68 degrees and overcast. From the cabin windows it looks like a wintry morning but it's not, of course; it's still August. There's no wind, no birds singing and flying around; the air is heavy.

(The photos in this post are from earlier this year and last year. I didn't have my camera out this morning.)

There's one little fawn staring at me from the longhorns' pen. She's been here since her birth so she's familiar with seeing me. But still, the deer never trust us completely. Our area is very rural with few people so the deer don't eat out of our hands like some places. They retain their wildness even though throughout the years my neighbors and I always have "pets" among them, those deer that tolerate our presence a little easier and show a little less fear of us. We often name those ones, sometimes unimaginative names, like "yard deer", and sometimes, as my neighbor did, after a grandchild, and sometimes after Texas characters, like the orphan twin bucks we called Waylon and Willie.

I need to go get a haircut today but hate to leave when there is any chance, however slight, that it might rain. Not because I don't want to drive in the rain but because rain is an event to be celebrated and enjoyed around here. I like to see the ground soaking it up and the trees dripping with water.

I should have gone yesterday but couldn't muster up the energy; sinus headache problems had me dragging. What with the dust from Africa and the smoke from Idaho all blowing in the last couple of weeks, it's causing allergy problems. It really is a small, small world.

I've taken my coffee and iPad to the front porch. The birds are waking up. There's a hummer on the last salvia greggii that is blooming now, the one on the porch right by my feet. She spies the red cover on my iPad and comes over to hover in front of me. 

The little cottontail that lives here has moved into the grass in the center of the driveway. I almost stepped on him the other morning. He was eating some birdseed that fell from the feeder in front of the pump house as I walked by. He was born here in the yard; I first saw him as a tiny thing hiding in the giant rosemary bush by the cabin. He's always out and about in the early morning.

The white-winged doves are following him across the grass eating whatever it is they are finding on the ground. I count 13 as I sit here. There's a little cardinal eating buds on the cenizo. I hear a raven squawking from the neighbor's direction.

Out in the pasture by the deer feeder there's a jackrabbit and there's one in the boys' pen. A couple of does came in there to eat any alfalfa Woodrow and Gus have dropped. They don't like me sitting here though, so they move on. Sometimes I wonder why they never accept me like they do the longhorns and turkeys but I guess their survival depends on staying leary. I also wonder if they know I am the provider of the alfalfa they're eating!

It's peaceful out here in the mornings. No sounds but the soft ones of animals waking up and getting on with their day. No vehicle noises, no television, no human voices, the AC isn't running, just the quiet sounds of the natural world.

The promise of the seasons changing, one of the best times of the year. No matter what season it is we are always glad toward the end that a change is coming. We've either been too hot or too cold for too long and look forward to something different. Right now I'm thinking about the crisp cool days of Fall, soups and chili, pumpkins on the porch, scarecrows in the garden. Sitting on the porch with a warm throw in my lap and some Bailey's in my coffee.

Life is good. I hope it's good wherever you are this morning too.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Me vs. the Pump House

I only meant to put up a new can of paint I had bought. I hadn't meant to spend two weeks building shelves, installing plywood on walls, moving everything from the pump house to the garden shed, and painting the inside of the pump house. But one look at the unorganized creepy pump house where our paint is stored and I had one of those Popeye the Sailor Man moments - "it's all I can stand and I can't stand no more"! Does that ever happen to you?

We had plans to reorganize things there after Rick retires. We're going to build a lean-to and move the riding mower from where it sits now in the middle of the garden shed. But that day I made up my mind I couldn't wait another minute. Never mind if it was 100+ degrees. Never mind there wasn't a place for shelves in the garden shed. Never mind I was in the middle of several other projects. My mind was made up and common sense be damned!

I don't want to talk mean about a little building that has served us well for storage and protection of our well. But the pump house has always been creepy. It is dark and crowded and gloomy and the ceiling is low. There are no windows. Things are lurking there. I've painted and decorated the outside and it looks cheery and happy. Until you open the door. There is so much stuff in it you only have a narrow place to walk in the middle of the room. I avoid it as much as possible.

I'm familiar with creepy buildings. My dad had a workshop that was super creepy. I wouldn't go inside. After he passed away, I went as far as the door and Rick went inside and got a huge old rusty pipe wrench for me to keep. I could see that from the doorway. My dad was a pack rat and never threw anything away. He also never cleaned. The shop was dark and full of those creepies-who-must-not-be-named. And snakes. And mice. And goblins and trolls.

I have my method of entering the pump house. First I open the door and stand back a step or two. Just waiting. Giving anything there a chance to hide. I look at the ceiling to make sure no creepies are waiting there to jump on me. I sniff the air because sometimes you can smell a critter; I once smelled the musky smell of a snake before I saw it in our backyard in Houston. Then I zero in on what I want, take a deep breath, and move in fast and retrieve the item. I don't look around when I'm in there because I don't want to see what might be there looking at me! Scary!

But on this day I've decided I won't be defeated any longer by the creepiness of this pump house. I'm going to face it and I'm going to be the winner. And I'm not just going to accept the creepiness of it; I'm going to take the creepiness away! I refuse any longer to have a building here that I am afraid of.

First I went to the garden shed and pulled things away from the wall where I was going to build shelves for my paint. We had scrap plywood in the pump house and I used that to cover the studs in that section of the shed. I had to make a trip to town to buy one piece I needed. We had some leftover insulation in the pump house and I put that behind the plywood. I try to utilize leftover things instead of tossing them out. For storage buildings it's more important to me to use leftover materials as much as I can rather than new. For a project in the house where looks are more important I might prefer new. After installing the plywood I built the shelves and attached them to the wall. I feel happy now with all my paints so easy to get to.

Once I got things moved and organized I remade the shelves in the pump house so I could move the freezer from the side wall to the back wall. Then I mixed some leftover paint and painted the walls. It's not beautiful, but it sure is an improvement! I should have taken a before picture but it was just too horrible.

After Rick retires we need to replace the roof. We'll put some plywood down under the tin so we can seal it better. And before then we need to put a new door on. So there are still things to do but it's definitely less creepy already! I may address the floor then but it is a pump house in the country and we're in and out with dirty boots all the time, especially in the winter, so I have to keep that in mind and keep it real.

I had a few things that didn't fit anywhere; they were parts from a broken wagon, a galvanized trash can, a tripod cooking stand. I turned all these into decorative accessories, painting some of them, hanging them on the outside of the sheds or putting them by the bunkhouse. I painted the old trash can and I'm going to turn it into a planter. 

It's taken two weeks and I'm declaring myself the winner in the pump house war, but it sure did put up a fight!

Now, back to my other projects. The chore list fills the chalkboard and there are several I am working on that aren't on the list. Hmmmm, maybe I need to make a bigger chalkboard my first project!

One of the projects I had been working on was a little bench. I did get a chance today to finish it. I added a piece of iron fencing to it as a back. We've had the fencing for years and have used it in different ways. I like how it turned out.