Sunday, August 29, 2010
You: (gasp) "There is MORE to your life than the land?!"
Me: (hands on hips) "YES!"
You: "Lying is inappropriate and just bad in general."
Me: (hands on hips) "WHAT IS YOUR POINT?"
Me: (hangs head) "Damn."
If I'm being honest, I want to stare at this view. All the time. Dusk at the land, Jeremy in his element, the cows quietly looking on.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Til then I've planned many weekday getaways to the land. Early morning drives into the country before the afternoon heat makes such a trip stupid if not impossible. Days like these require that I go there and be there to remember why we tangled ourselves in that 15 acre web in the first place. During the week, the forgetting comes easy.
I'll spend a few minutes around the hay ring scratching donkey ears, looking out through the stand of trees there that opens onto the sweetest view of a distant rolling pasture. Maybe I'll wander to the pond and count turtle heads poking up from murky water then down to the front gate and look at the neighbor's forest. Or wander into our own little patch of trees where that damn house may one day sit, quietly humming a morning hymn, a necessary mantra, over and over....."This too shall pass."
Sunday, August 15, 2010
When I arrived to pick her up, the guy had graciously loaded four cases of old mason jars in varying sizes. These also were packed away into the overstuffed barn. Since I told him we had property in the country, he assumed we were probably the type to make preserves, to pickle, to be your all-round country folks, so he tossed in the lot of jars for free. Good man.
I promptly washed them all and fixed myself a stiff summer drink in the only mason jar that came with a handle. They double as lovely glasses, tupperware, etc. To me, the sight of mason jars is as comforting as chickens in the backyard. The world can change around you but some things were made so right the first time that they're not worth changing. Chickens scratching, pickles pickling, gardens growing. Simple stuff like this gets lost in the jumble of greedy dreams to build big houses on hills in the country. The key is remembering why you want to be out on that hill in the first place. Doesn't have anything to do with the damn house.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
First of all, and this is of the utmost importance, the gentleman let me speak (gasp!). When he began to ask me direct and specific questions about the project I was stunned to silence. I have waited exactly one year to meet a builder who wanted to hear from ME. In fact, I prepared a speech several times in front of the bathroom mirror prior to builder meetings, using the hairbrush as a microphone. But my shock in his interest literally knocked that speech right out of my head.
I became a bumbling mess muttering things like "metal" and "porches" then something about "insane asylum interior doors." The poor man squinted and tried following along, doodling notes and leaning forward in an effort to decipher my gibberish. Finally he asked me to "slow down and start from the beginning. Tell me about the house you have planned."
To those of you who have never gone through this experience, please note that this is a rare query from a builder (in my now vast experience). Having one begin a meeting asking for YOUR hopes, dreams, and opinion is as likely an event as seeing a unicorn in the forest. It just doesn't happen.
So there I was, drooling on self, convulsing in shock and trying to snap-to in order to grasp the fleeting moment. Before I knew it, I had shared everything. The plan for the house, the drawings, the soil test, the explanation of this. Of that. Of the other. It was a beautiful time in my life. And just when I was prepared to hand over my credit cards, wedding ring, and any other valuables in order to instantly obtain his services, he asked about my cows and explained that years ago he helped write a book about organic dairies. Suffice it to say, at this point I was a sniveling lump on the floor, so grateful I hadn't canceled the appointment (which I originally intended to do). It was then that he began the arbitrary spiel to explain his company and services so I put my hand over his mouth and told him to "SHUSH," since he had me at "Tell me......."
Today this builder's engineer came out to walk the land and get a sense for the property site. George instantly became another semi-permanent character in my slowly developing book called "NOT Losing It 101: How to build a house and keep your sense of humor." But George is another story for another time. Just know that there is much to come. None of it is pretty. Little of it is amusing. And all of it will end up right here with the rest of the ugly truths I've been sharing. Today's moral has a little something to do with lights at ends of tunnels. Not that we're seeing them, but sensing they exist.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Yet there I was Sunday morning, unscrewing glass lights from fans stuffed into huge trash cans, pulling wood and scraps from beneath, well, rubble, dragging marble shards out from under empty bottles and trash - happily tossing the loot onto our trailer. Clapping excitedly. For me, August 1 was Christmas come early. See, I'm a self-avowed craigslist junkie and every day starts with a cup of coffee and quick perusal of the "antiques" and "materials" section. An odd combination, no? No. I've found that often antiques can serve as materials, and materials are often actually antique, vintage, old, and beautiful. Garbage to some. Treasures to me. A particular ad caught my eye last week. A contractor had just pulled several huge old marble slabs from a remodel project and asked for offers on the lot of the slabs and various smaller pieces of the stuff. Obviously I was on the phone with him in under 2 minutes and had made a deal of $100 for the whole group. That is, if you know anything about marble, a totally ridiculous price. It's not that I had a specific use in mind for this lot. Between this score and some other previous antique marble acquisitions, I've got enough to plaster a small room with the stuff. But at this point I've transcended the constraints of reason and sensibility. If there's a deal to be made, I must make it. Handle the details later. It's a sickness people, really.
Fast forward several days to Sunday. After some quick planning, Jer and I managed to wrangle a few friends to help with the nearly impossible task of loading one ton (no. really) of marble onto a trailer - without breaking the marble or ourselves. It's important here to give a shout-out to Joe and Kelley (and Lily-the-wonder-pup) who rock our worlds in general, but made us truly indebted by lifting, hauling, and carefully placing my precious loot. Not only did they seriously risk life and limb for this endeavor, Joe particularly scored extra points by excitedly jumping into the jumbo trash can to pull out a few more finds that would otherwise rot in a land fill. Joe, we knew you were awesome when you became ordained via shady website to marry us (we're still pretty sure this marriage ain't legal), but you're now my personal hero for openly sharing in the joyful art that is: dumpster diving.
If you're scratching your heads over just exactly what we managed to pull out of that trash bin, or exactly why one might lose their sh*t over old marble then check it:
OH. And those marble slabs? They were bathroom stall dividers pulled from a shmancy old 1930's sorority house on the University of Texas campus. If you can beat that salvage story then I'll give you a free piece of marble. I'm just really generous in this way.