Thursday, December 31, 2015
But weeks spent waiting on supplies to come in and waiting on contractors to come out added more time than I anticipated. So I've had to be content with being close.
The ceiling fan I bought worked one day and quit working. A call to the company yielded me the advice to take it back to the store. I couldn't find another fan like I wanted at the big stores so I had to order one from a small lighting store in Kerrville. I like the first fan better but was leery of just replacing it with another. So I'm waiting on the electrician to come back and take the first one down and install the new one. Luckily it's not summer so I'm ok without the fan!
I had room for a little table and chairs in the corner of the bedroom. I'll use it for writing, reading, puzzles, and sitting and staring out the front window!
So I wait. The fellas have all treated me kindly, almost as if I was their mom or grandmother, and gone above and beyond in doing the job. But it is a small town and if a relative or big rancher they've know all their lives calls, or someone has an emergency problem, my little project gets pushed back. But I'm hoping to get it wrapped up soon! I'll make calls next week after the holidays. Wish me luck!
Friday, December 4, 2015
"Sarah and I are on the road today, each carrying material components of the man we love, leaving behind in Houston only those family and friends he treasured. Thank you to everyone who helped us and supported us and sent your love while we were here; it carries us home. ❤️"
This was my Facebook post a year ago. Sarah and I had gone to clear out the apartment. We had another couple of months on the lease but I felt an urgency to gather up Rickie's things and bring them home. A need to circle my arms around everything that was left of him and keep it close.
It's heartbreaking to walk into a place that someone left expecting to return. It wasn't the big things so much; the empty leather chair or the bed he neatly made before he left, a habit he acquired over the years from me. He used to laugh at all my pillows and throws on the bed but he'd long ago gotten used to them and where they went.
It was the grocery list he'd started with just a few items on it, two envelopes labeled for the last months' rent before he retired, a scrap of paper with the name of a song he heard and liked called Always Remember Me.
Family and friends came over, bringing supper for Sarah and I, and comfort by their presence. Sometimes grief is best handled alone but sometimes the face of a loved one is the only thing keeping you going. They instinctively toss out the tiniest of lifelines and you hang on. A hug, a kindness, even a laugh at a memory. They knew when to come and they knew when to leave.
Sarah and I gave away most everything in the apartment, some things to loved ones and a pickup load to the donation center. The things we couldn't part with filled a pickup truck for each of us.
We made arrangements for a final cleaning, locked the door, and left the town I called home for most of my life.
When you lose your longtime partner, the one that understood you the best, the one that you shared the little things and the big things in life with, you don't know how you will go on. But you just get through each moment, each day, each week. And then you realize it's been a year. Family and friends fill that time and you have moments of joy with them. But no one ever fills that space left by your partner.
You talk to them still, sometimes in your head and sometimes out loud. Because they are the only one that knew you, really knew you, as you knew them. You've shared most of your life with them, the memories and the good and bad times you went through. That space they occupied will be forever empty.
You don't try to fill it. You just try to live with it.
Friday, November 6, 2015
My people are on the move today! Not my family, although we still have a few that hit the road this time of year. But the kind of people I grew up with, sometimes worked with, hung around with, and married. The people that head for the hills (and the woods and the bayous) for opening weekend of deer hunting season.
I made a trip to Kerrville today to get some flooring material. No other time of the year will you see the traffic out this way like I saw today. And these people don't travel light! Every pickup bed has at least one big cooler - some high priced Yetis and some ancient Igloos. There are portable fence panels to keep the cattle away from the feeders; there are 4-wheelers, Gators and Mules, and duffle bags of camp clothes and boots. There are all variety of travel trailers on the road from expensive 5th wheels to ancient cabover campers.
You won't see any blinds or stands. Those were brought out weeks ago, back in September. Cedar trees trimmed to make room to slide them in; rolling secretarial chairs, the preferred seating for hunters, in place.
The pickup truck lines at the feed store I stopped at were out into the street, waiting their turn to be loaded up with deer corn. Most feed stores have some kind of hunter appreciation meal and open house today and the one I stopped at was no different. Tables loaded with food and the Meals on Wheels ladies selling baked goods on the side. In a mood of good cheer the hunters will often pay more than the asking price, helping out the local organizations. Some feed stores will have raffles and door prizes and all have sale items for today only.
These hunters have planned all year for this weekend. Some have saved and budgeted and carefully monitor their expenses. Some spend like they're rich, and many are. They all have one thing in common. They want to get away and go to the country. They want to hang out with friends and family that enjoy the same thing. They want to bring back some meat for the freezer. They want to sit around the campfire and tell stories. They want to make memories. And they're willing to make it happen, whatever it takes.
For more than half of my life this weekend has been a memorable one for me. Even back in the early days of our marriage and owning this place, back when I didn't go with Rick, there was still a flurry of activity that swooped me up and carried me along with it. If you're in a hunting family, you know what I mean. If not, you're probably wondering what I'm talking about!
This is my first opening day without Rick. He wasn't just a guy who went to work and did everyday things we all do. There was a whole slew of activity swirling around him, like Pigpen's little dust cloud in the Peanuts cartoons. When he walked into a room, especially this time of year, the whole feel of the room changed. As if it was charged with electricity, as if he brought a source of power with him. I could slip into a room without being noticed. When Rick walked in, stuff happened!
So when I lost him I lost everything that went with him. It's closing in on a year since he's been gone. The loss, the grief, the absence of my partner, the pain, it doesn't go away but I've become familiar with it.
And if there's a happy hunting ground somewhere I know Rick is there. And he's sitting quietly on the edge of a field, cedar trees at his back, a cold wind blowing from the north. Waiting.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
I was at Lowe's yesterday getting some more paint for my project and there was a couple about my age checking out next to me. Maybe a little older but in my age bracket. They had a cart with two artificial Christmas wreaths in it. Ones made of greenery with red bows. Nothing over the top, just simple wreaths.
As I was loading my paint and caulk in my truck I saw them on the next row loading their purchases in their SUV.
Something about it touched me. It was an ordinary kind of thing. They acted the way couples long together act, not much talking, a calmness about them. As if they had decided before they left home what they needed. Maybe the kids were coming over for the holidays and they wanted to freshen up the decor, buying early to beat the crazy rush later.
The kind of thing you do when you're retired and have plenty of time to think about these things and make plans. The kind of thing Rickie and I would have done. Just a little ordinary thing that goes on in the lives of people living an ordinary life.
The kind of thing I miss the most.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
I reached a goal this weekend that I wasn't positive I could reach. I got to the peak of the ceiling! Most everyone I know was concerned about it and I know it scared the kids some to think of me on the ladder way up there. Except maybe Sarah, my daughter. She's seen me do a lot of things and she was like, yeah, mom can do that. I promised them if I got to a point I wasn't comfortable with I would get another plan. I understand how they felt because when we did the cabin 11 years ago I looked at the ceiling and said, oh, hell, no, I can't do that, even with Rickie doing most of the work and me just as the helper. We ended up hiring someone to do that ceiling.
But I've learned how to do a lot of things since then and I thought if I took it one board, one row at a time, and moved slowly, I could do it. I had been working on the walls and had learned a few tricks to make it easier. I just needed to work out how to handle the cordless nail gun, which is a little heavy, and the other tools I would need. Two of the ladders have a place to hook the nail gun but the tallest one didn't. I bought a clip called a Gorilla Hook, that goes on a belt and you can hang the nail gun on that. But it was too heavy. I already had a tool belt and this would just be too much. Women learn ways to make things work that we don't have the strength to do, so I hung the belt with the hook from the top rung of the ladder!
I had offers of help. Some friends who did this type of ceiling at their home offered to come out and get it done. And my neighbor offered help, as did the kids and siblings. My brother-in-law, who has been undergoing radiation treatment, fretted that he and my sister weren't able to come help me. Nieces and nephews from Texas and Louisiana offered help. The framing carpenters told me they would come help me. And I have others that would come if I called.
But I feel the need to do things myself if I can. I have some friends who will walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain next year. Martin Sheen, starring in The Way, completed this walk for his son who passed away in the movie. This project is sort of my walk. I have a list of things Rickie didn't get to finish and I want to finish them for him. It's important in a way that's hard to explain.
But I'm not crazy and if I can't do something I will get help. The shell, the plumbing, and the electrical and AC are beyond me so I had someone else do that. And my son John and grandson Zac came out and helped me with the frames for the corrugated metal skirting that I'll add once the contractors all finish. I don't like creepy crawlies so I was glad to have help with that and I find it hard to deal with 2 X 4s since I don't have an impact drill or a framing nail gun. Also it was fun working with the kids. Zac came out to help, along with his dad, when we built the cabin. He was 6 years old! He's 18 now and he's a pretty good carpenter himself. At the rate things are going, they may be back when it's time to put the frames and metal up!
I was worried about how I would get to the ceiling above the bathtub once it was set. Then one night I had an idea! I got up the next morning and framed a little drop ceiling above the tub and put the tongue and groove boards up. Sarah was here and helped me frame it before she left but then I realized my method was wrong so I had to take that down and start over. I decided I don't want to be a framing carpenter! I'm going to splurge and get someone to do the tile around the tub. I've done a little tile work before but mainly I don't want to fool with the cement board that goes under the tile or work around the tub.
When we built the cabin I dislocated my knee. When we built the bunkhouse I injured my rotator cuff. I've had sore muscles this whole project, comes with my age, and the up and down on the ladders got my knee to hurting so I've been wrapping it each day. After two days of painting the walls and gables, my shoulder was threatening me last night. I've been clear coating the ceiling before I put it up and that saves a lot of pain!
But you can't get anything done if you aren't willing to have some pain. If there wasn't a cost to accomplishments they wouldn't have as much value. Some mornings I think there's just no way I can go back out there and get on that ladder or cut any more boards to fit. But somehow I do. And now I can see the end in sight.
I'm hoping to be finished in a few more weeks then I'll just have to wait on the plumbers and electricians to set the fixtures. In addition to boards leftover from the cabin that covered most of a wall, I ordered 270 12' pieces of tongue and groove. I've got about 70 left. Half of those will go to the remainder of the ceiling. I've already cut boards for some of the bathroom walls so I think I'll have enough.
Slowly but surely it's coming together!
Monday, September 14, 2015
The leaves changing on the Spanish oaks, the smell of cedar that the breeze stirs. The lesser goldfinches and butterflies showing up; the hopes that the Monarchs and hummingbirds make it safely to their Winter homes. A rare year when we see the sandhill cranes or whoopers pass overhead.
But I'm grateful for these memories. And I'm grateful that I realized when they were happening how precious they were. How important. How they were the very essence of what life is about.
Monday, September 7, 2015
I've started my part of the work on the cabin addition. First thing I did was build the little deck to cover the odd shaped area by the chimney. This will make it easier to skirt and also helps tie the addition to the cabin. Once I finished the deck I immediately dismantled it. WHAT!!!!! I know but I wanted to give the AC/electrical guys more room to get in the crawl space. The duct work ends right near this space. It's a tight fit under there and this is the easiest way in. I numbered all the boards and stacked them on the front porch. I'll reassemble as soon as I can. I have a center support board cut for the front edge that's not in the photo and some trim pieces that run along the side. I'll probably spray the chimney with some deck cleaner once I finish. We intended to let the cabin gray but the boards there have grayed more than the rest of the cabin. Just want to clean it up a bit.
Before I dismantled it I sat quietly on the deck for a while. It makes a great wildlife viewing blind! The deer walked all around the yard without noticing me. I'll have to take the binoculars out there and sit a while once it's finished.
Yesterday I finished the insulation except for the bathroom walls. I'm waiting on the plumber to do the rough-in first. Then I can wrap that up. I don't mind doing insulation. It's a perfect DIY job because it's pretty simple. But it's a messy job and I'm glad to be finished with it. I wasn't sure I could do the ceiling but I gave it a try and got it done, slowly and carefully. I've found that if you just concentrate on one piece at a time and not think about the whole thing it usually gets you through it.
Before I did the ceiling insulation I had to move some lumber out of the way. I had enough tongue and groove left over from the cabin to do almost one whole wall. I decided instead of moving that around again and again I'd just put it on the wall and be done with it. So I did that first. It was actually the first time I've used a nail gun. That was always Rick's job. Because I'm a little scared of the air compressor I had bought a cordless nail gun. I love it and recommend it! I put the nails into the tongue of the boards so they don't show, just the way Rickie did the cabin walls. I've learned how to do a lot of things since we worked on the cabin. You can learn a lot just by being a helper.
I'm going to paint the walls. I have a white/cream color of HGTV Sherwin-Williams paint from Lowe's. It's imaginatively called Creamy. For the trim I'm using a white called Marshmallow in the same line of paint. I'm going to clear coat the ceiling and leave it natural.
I've tried to think of different wall coverings to kind of mix it up and save money. But nothing saved enough to make it worth the extra work of using something else. The beaded board paneling we used in the bunkhouse and the kitchen and bath in the cabin is a real pain to handle on your own, especially trying to cut it and cut outlets.
I got all the fixtures for the bathroom. I was able to offload most of them from the truck to the Mule and then to the front porch. The bathtub presented a problem. It was too long and big to offload to the Mule. So I cleared things out and was able to drive around to the side of the front porch, back up, and "walk" it off onto the porch. That worked great! Except for the two screws I picked up in my tire. I had tried to find all the screws and nails from the shell construction but I missed these two. I had to make two trips to the tire store. One to repair the holes and a second to get a new tire when the repairs didn't hold.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
I'm not sure why I decided to paint the back door to the bedroom addition pink, but about three weeks ago I had a notion to do just that.
Usually I stay in the subtle nature color scheme on things like this - the front door to the cabin was black for 11 years - and add color with accessories and fabrics. Yellow, orange, red, and green are the colors I usually go to. I've never painted anything pink before.
Rickie and I love the Southwest and after working in San Antonio for a couple of years we found ourselves drawn to color. The formerly adobe colored pump house got a coat of terra cotta paint. The door on it has been purple, blue, and is now a yellow gold. Rickie actually liked the purple and wanted to keep that color but it didn't make me happy when I saw it so I changed it.
So why pink? Maybe it's because without Rickie I feel I'm a fainter shade of the red I like. Maybe because it's a softer version of the warm colors I go to, and without Rickie I've faded a bit. Maybe, although we don't do boy-girl colors in our family, it's because with me working on this project without Rickie it's a nod to girl power.
Maybe I just tired of other colors and wanted a change.
Originally I brought home a hot pink color and tried a sample. But it was too jarring when I saw it each time. So I mixed a bit of it with some white I had and got the color I used. Maybe I'll later step up to a darker shade but maybe not. This is a peaceful color and changes with the light, sometimes looking purple. And that's a nod to the pump house door Rickie liked, if not the bright purple it was.
I need a bench for the small new deck. Maybe I'll paint it the hot pink.
(Though I mixed this color by adding Hot Gossip to Marshmallow, it almost perfectly matches a Behr color called Youth Blush.)