A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ikea, we have a closet!

Once the decision was made to build a bunkhouse instead of adding a bedroom, we had to make some modifications to the cabin. Most urgently, a closet was needed!

So I went to Houston last week so we could go to Ikea. Buying a closet system is a bit complicated and we were glad we had made a previous scouting trip to select the components we needed. We got to Ikea right before they opened and a most helpful salesperson got things done for us. 

It turned out that we had to get a bit bigger closet for the hanging clothes; the doors that went best in the cabin had to be configured a certain way. Happy to have more closet space but we had to modify our plan on bookshelves. No problem for us; we are always modifying plans!

I took the boxes home and unloaded them. Because I was by myself then and couldn't lift the big 8 foot long boxes, I unloaded them in my usual way. Backed up to the porch, opened the boxes, and brought the pieces in one at a time. It wasn't until the next day that I noticed we had left two boxes of drawers on the loading dock. Not to worry! Ikea has a plan for that and I called, they had them, and Rickie picked them up. He came out this weekend and we put the system up.

I was a little worried we would break the corners off when we raised the cabinets after assembling them, but no, all went well. We did rearrange the drawer, shelf, and clothes rods in the one cabinet after we put them in. We didn't want the hanging clothes bunched up so we ended up not using one shelf and one drawer.

They won't go to waste though. The small wardrobe at the end of the kitchen we had been using for clothes is going to be transformed into a pantry and I'll cut the Ikea components down and use them there. I'm going to start working on that today.

I went through my clothes and have 5 large trash bags full to donate. If I didn't have to keep two sizes of pants (chubby and more chubby, depending on whether I have been on a diet or not) I could get rid of another chunk of pants, but it is what it is!

You can see an unfinished cabinet in the corner next to the closet (photo above). I am going to paint this black and make a top out of some cedar we have and stain the top. We have a mesquite storage rack hanging over the cabinet and I'm hoping to match that stain.

We had planned on closing in the window so that we could put one of our bookcases there. But when it came down to it, we hate to get rid of a window. So we decided to change the arrangement of the bunkhouse a tiny bit so we can put two bookcases there, which was our original plan anyway. 

Then I am going to attempt a project I'm not 100% sure I can do. I'm going to take apart an oak bookcase we have, cut the shelves down and reassemble as a thin bookcase. This will go between the window and the fireplace. Then we can keep our wildlife reference books, cookbooks, and photo books in the cabin. I have a backup plan in case this project turns out looking like hell. We got some gift cards from Ikea as a sales promotion when we bought the closet system. We can use these to get a thin bookcase if necessary.

Getting rid of an extra bookcase is requiring me to walk the walk I've been talking about tiny houses! I've already gotten rid of one bookcase full of books, as we had planned to go from 4 to 3. Now we are going from 4 to 2.5. It's hard for a book lover to turn loose of books. But I'll donate the mysteries and thrillers that I can always get on Kindle, and keep the Texas history, classics, and a few of my favorites. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mamaw

A parade of six deer just moseyed by outside the window. Does and their babies, circling around to the water tanks, taking the long way. A couple of hours ago the turkey hens, who returned yesterday after being gone since last Spring, went by in the opposite direction heading to the feeder. I counted 36. This morning I threw some milo out by the deer feeder for them. Even after their absence they know the routine; they go from their feeder in the back to the deer feeder in the front to the water tanks.

Rickie and I spent all day yesterday working, burning brush and cutting firewood. So today I've spent most of the day in the easy chair by the fireplace, reading and downloading Paul Thorn songs. All work and no play, you know.

Darkness is settling over us. There is a sliver of moon outside the window, what Sarah used to call a "fingernail moon" when she was little. Paul Thorn is softly singing When the Long Road Ends. The fire is flickering in the fireplace and threatening to go out. I've got the Texans playoff game on TV with the sound down and they're threatening to go out too.

Today is my Mamaw's birthday. She was born in 1901 and has been gone since 1993. They say that there is a special bond that skips a generation and I had that with my Mamaw. She was a woman of simple wants; her family was the center of her life.

When I was a little girl she worked in a print shop downtown, operating a mysterious machine that cut and bound notepaper tablets. I remember going to see her there. She sat right inside the front door on an elevated platform behind the big machine. I thought she was amazing.

I never walked into a room where she was that her face did not light up to see me. I don't recall her ever saying an unkind word to me. She lived with my parents and took care of the home, doing the cooking, laundry, and being there for the kids. She bought my school clothes and every Easter outfit I had growing up. At different times she kept my boys for me when I was at work. When I was a little girl we lived in a duplex with my grandparents on one side and I always went to her house every night after supper and stayed until bedtime. When I was far from home she wrote me letters that I still have. I take them out and read them when I need a dose of Mamaw love.

I left home when I was 17 years old. I am often the "odd man out" in my family. As with most people, the call I hear is my own. I miss most gatherings of my family because I am far away from the family core. I live a different way of life than most of my family and the influences that shaped me are not the same as the ones that shaped them.  That's true of everyone, I believe. But with my Mamaw I was never the odd man out. I always had the feeling that if she could have made me any way she wanted to, that she would have made me just the way I was.

The little girl in the tree with her straight hair cut short and overalls on has become the sixtyish woman with her straight hair cut short and jeans and work boots on. I still like playing in the dirt and I don't much care what people think of me. I learned a long time ago that you have to be true to yourself and take the consequences of that if you are to have any peace in this world.

But what I wouldn't give to walk into a room and see my Mamaw smile at me and know that, in her eyes, I turned out just the way she hoped I would.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Line Rider

Yesterday I spent an hour walking the southwest quarter of our place. We have a tiny place by West Texas standards, but because of the woods you can't see all of the 54 acres from the cabin. I like to walk it every so often; checking the fence line and for anything that might be wrong. Like the cowboy line riders, only on my own two feet!

I was half way looking for Trinity, the three legged doe. We haven't seen her since Christmas Day. The odds of her being alive still are slim. So are the odds of me finding her. She could be on any of the neighbors' property. Still, I wonder what happened to her and would like to know.

I was sad to see one of the old cedars we have had died, a victim of the drought. The trunk is bigger than me. The old cedars out here are the only ones that really have one big trunk. Most of the cedars have multiple trunks, all fairly small, making it a nightmare cutting them down. Rickie has to work his way into them when he does. This big one was in the southwest corner by the road. 

We had a beautiful snowfall last week. It was gone by noon of the day it fell but still it was welcome. We had gone over two months without measurable rainfall so any little bit of moisture is welcome. 

I like walking in the woods here. There are places where the trees surround openings that are cathedral-like in their quietness and beauty. And I walk the fence line to make sure there are no breaks. And to make sure no deer are caught. As easy as it is for them to jump, they get caught more often than you would think. Rickie and I saw a doe caught by her back leg a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was down the road from us. She couldn't have been there long because someone would have seen her and helped her; she was already dead. 

Once I came upon a deer skeleton under some trees near the fence line. The bones were scattered and I looked around to find the skull to see if it was a buck or doe. It was a doe. And a while back when Rickie cut some big cedars down on the hillside there was the skeleton of a fawn. But yesterday I didn't see any sign of Trinity. It's actually raining now (yay!) but later in the week I'll walk the other parts of the ranch and see if I find any sign of her. We've had up to 13 deer at the feeder this week and she hasn't been there.

We do have an old doe that is still showing up. I saw her this afternoon. She goes to the feeder before the others come. I think they would run her off; those does can be vicious.

John and Zac came out after Christmas to do some deer hunting and to check out the bunkhouse. They gave the bunkhouse a thumbs up but didn't see any whitetails that could make it into sausage; just some moms and babies or yearlings. After they left 5 big does came out. Wait 'til next year!

This is the quietest time of the year out here. The holidays are over, the hunters and family are gone. Rickie has had to go back to work after weeks of being off. It takes me a few days to find the rhythm of being alone again. To go back to doing the chores Rickie has done while he was here. To decide what's for supper when it's only me. To pack the decorations up, put Bixby's toys away, to shut the door on the bunkhouse that has been full of our kids and my sister's kids. 

After a few days I settle back into a routine. The fireplace is roaring and I've got some good books to read. Potato soup is on the stove. Woodrow and Gus are fed and have hay for later. Misty rain is dripping from the trees and a quietness has settled again over the little cabin and the woods. I am thankful for the chance I get to live this life.