Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Think I Can Live Here

We've been chipping away at the numerous tasks to be done inside the house over the last couple of weeks. Paint is pretty much done (except for dealing with the painter...long story). We spent several hours the other evening with my folks cleaning up the floors in preparation for the concrete sealer guy to come do a final cleaning and final sealing. When I say "clean up the floors" I really mean rip up all of the shredded "ram board" (read: thick construction paper) that was originally placed on the slab about 3 months ago. Once most of that was pulled up and piled on the porch, we went to work with brooms, shop-vacs, and scrapers to get up the texture and paint over spray. Again, several hours later, the place started to actually look like a home inside...a barren, echoing home, but a home none the less. I could almost picture the roaring wood burning stove, Jenna in the kitchen with pots, pans, rolling pins, etc. scattered all over the 200sq. ft. of counters with a maniacal grin on her face, and me lounging on the couch by the fire with a copy of Lonesome Dove in my hands. We're so close I can smell it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lubbock Women

Dwayne and his son Colby stopped by yesterday just as I was heading out to grab a bbq lunch at Don's, a little taco and bbq joint down the road.  (Remember that just about everything is a "taco and.." establishment in this area).  I grabbed sandwiches for the four of us and quickly rejoined the group who were comfortably settled by the campfire, beers in hand.

Dwayne was deep into storytelling, the theme of which focused on rattlesnakes and local wildlife, since Jer had just reported last week's rattler incident.  Dwayne's two sons are badasses, equally.  Although Kelly is arguably a badass in the more traditional sense.  He rides bulls, traps rattlers with his bare hands - the whole deal.  It's possible some of Dwayne's tales about Kelly are a little "tall" but then, I've met his son.  Kelly's not a large man, but he packs a punch with his toughness and stoic demeanor.  I've not seen him without a wad of chew in his bottom lip.  All of his boots are well worn, his buckle's large and polished, and his cowboy hat fits so well you know he only takes it off to sleep.  Although I've heard the story before, it never gets old watching Dwayne act out the time when Kelly drove home with a live rattlesnake.  His teenage son came up the driveway in his beat up oldsmobile.  One hand on the wheel, the other hand grasped behind the neck of a rattlesnake that he held out the driver's side window.  Snake talk always turns to the condition of the local wildlife and Dwayne reported that a "tiger sized" mountain lion was spotted on a wildlife camera just "down the way."  A tiger-sized mountain lion is definitely hyperbole, but still.  Down the way sounds too close for comfort, even though there's no telling if we're near it.  In a rare moment of seriousness, Dwayne cautioned us to "bring the Judge along any moonlight walks you get to takin' 'round here."  Rattlesnakes and mountain lion not 13 miles from the University of Texas campus?  I felt a distinct chill, and it wasn't the weather.

Soon enough though, the topic changed again to Dwayne's third favorite topic (behind wildlife and horses): his past or, more specifically - women.  What I haven't mentioned over the years since this cowboy rode his horses onto our land, is that Dwayne was a permenant fixture and honorary co-owner of Austin's "finest" gentleman's club, The Yellow Rose.  He still plays an integral role as co-smoker for The Yellow Rose each year when it enters the rodeo bbq cookoff.  Which is why it shouldn't have been surprising to learn that, for years, Dwayne was (of course) Santa Clause at The Yellow Rose.  Danced with the girls on stage in his Santa suit.  Like everything, he's got a picture to prove it.  Before heading out to go "listen to some pickin' at a beer joint" he got a little misty relaying his recent trip home to visit his momma in Lubbock.  "You can spend one whole week in Lubbock on your first night in town," he said before falling silent and clearly thinking of someone specific.  "Those Lubbock women," he said softly, "it's a fact of nature that there's more beautiful women, per capita, in Lubbock than any other place on earth.  You're real lucky if you get aholt of one of those women." 

He says stuff like that a lot in such a way that you feel he's almost weepy.  It makes me wonder about all the stories he hasn't told but know that he'll be back around next Sunday.  And surely something new will slip out amidst all the old stories he'll tell again.

Holly Jolly

So far, in our literal neck of the woods, it's been a very cowboy Christmas.  The past few weekends were spent fireside alternately killing rattlesnakes or discussing Dwayne's recent deer hunt.  Yesterday afternoon, after finishing a bbq lunch from Don's bbq (Don's a genius with potato salad, by the way), we lingered a few extra minutes by the embers, poking the fire with a twisted cedar branch.  Jer had the radio on but low enough that only a few watery strains of "Oh my golly it's a holly jolly Christmas..." made their way through the distance and smoke.  The song sounds better by a fire with some Lone Star. 

We got very little done inside the house this weekend due to the painters still working inside.  Not that I minded much.  The sun finally peeked out from clouds and rye grass started poking out of the ground.  Grass grows again in Texas!  The animals spent more time on pasture than hay this weekend and each donkey has green-ringed mouths for the first time in a year.  It's a beautiful sight to these drought ravaged, wannabe farmers.  But perhaps the most exciting benefit of the recent rain is that the pond has turned back into a swampy mud pit.  Christmas came early for our dogs, and especially Winston, who's little labrador eyes popped wide open when he spotted the water.  Happy holidays, ya'll.

Seamus drool.

grass grass grass grass!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Couple of Scenes From Last Weekend

Just a couple of additional shots from last weekend. With the burn ban lifted, we were able to attack some of the many piles of debris that have collected over the last year+ of drought.

And installed some of the exterior lights. Slowly but surely.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

oh Momma.

The verdict is still out about whether or not the tile was "worth it."  But what's "worth it" mean anyway when you're talking about stairs?  Subconsciously I think I was looking for a creative outlet, and boy oh boy, did I get it.  I will be happy to never handle grout again.  Unfortunately, I still have several rooms that need tiling.


Jenna and LuLu contemplate life.  And tile.

The grout is accidentally different colors.  Isn't that fantastic?!  (scowl)

This does not look like a farmhouse.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Things That Are Not Awesome

The following list is presented in no particular order, although the least awesome thing of all is saved for last.
Things That Are Not Awesome
1. The  9 hours spent hunched over stairs grouting tile that stopped making sense or looking nice as soon as I realized the extent of my stupidity choosing said tile. 

2. Having "Redneck Woman" stuck in my head like a skipping record.  I'm not knocking country music, mind you. But there are some lyrics you just don't want to start inexplicably singing out loud while grouting tiles that are apparently not intended for grout (please refer to #1)

3. Realizing that the most perfect name for our unnamed farm is the official name of a llama farm three "doors" down the road.  (Mesquite Bean Farm!  Come on.  Does it get any cuter than that?!)

4.  In the depths of winter, finding a rattlesnake at the bottom of a brush pile.

And the #1 thing that is NOT, under any circumstances, awesome:

5.  Upon killing rattlesnake by separating its head from its body, learning that a rattlesnake head will continue to lunge forward and bite while its headless body will writhe, rattle its tail and slither for over 8 hrs after losing its head.

Even if I tried people, I couldn't make this stuff up.  So there you have it.  A list of 5 things that would not make my Things That Are Awesome list. 

Which, incidentally, reads something like this:

Things That Are Awesome
1.  Having my mom help me start and Jeremy help me finish the most ludicrous tile project in the history of tile.

2. Having "Redneck Woman" stuck in my head.  Because it's pretty funny to sing, "Victoria's Secret, well their stuff's real nice, but I can find the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half price."  You go girl.

3. Knowing that you have a farm to name. 

4. Finding a rattlesnake in the winter and realizing your husband is also your #1 hero after bravely killing it with a shovel. 

5. (just because there were five items on the first list)  Eating hot soup after a long, cold day spent alternately tiling and considering whether condo living was not a better, more snake-free option.

Some Trim Pics

Don't those doors look great? (Someone please comment on Jenna's doors) Painting starts on Monday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Day Jeremy Made Me the Happiest Woman Alive

There are a compelling assortment of objects in front of me this damp and cold, late fall evening.  I'm gazing at a chilled bottle of Viognier from a local vineyard.  This is a favorite for us and stands out amongst the overly flashy companies that ooze "cute" in such a way that I gag just a little when driving by.  Becker is fairly simple.  Rustic.  It's got a lavendar field and harvests that crop along with the grapes, so I'm sold on this principle alone.  But their wines are delicious compared against many other Texas contenders.

Next to my chilled bottle of wine is a dutch oven filled with some bubbling concoction that I truly hope turns into a delicious soup, although its ultimate flavor is a best guess, since I deviated from the recipe.  What's a white bean and kale soup without some spiced sausage?  So in went the meat along with fresh herbs on hand and, we'll see.  I hope it's passable.  It will be warm, if nothing else.

In a mesh bag near the soup pot are a pile of Clementine's, a seasonal favorite, endearingly branded as Cuties with the image of a tangerine being unzipped. Marketing really works on this gal, so I'm sold by the little picture, but the flavors don't hurt the overall package much, either.

It's a pre-winter eve here in the heart of Texas.  The temperature has hovered just above 40 degrees for a few days, and it's been damp and chilly like a late January season.  Normally, this weather would knock me down and drag me out but the promise of my sister's holiday cookies and a Christmas tree - the nearing move - has got me fairly giddy.  Rain, cold, and gray skies?  BRING IT.  I've stocked up on wine and Cuties.  It's all good here.

Cold, wet weather stirs the most primal needs in most of us, I think.  Shelter, food, and a heat source are just about all that's needed to keep us ticking this time of year.  I guess it's something about those basic elements that always cause me to think again about what matters and what doesn't. And what matters most to me lately is stress relief.

Which is why we spent some time at the land yesterday for an impromptu painting bid, details of which are being reserved for their own post.  Maybe their own book.  I'm still reeling from the experience and from the multitudes of "personalities" I've encountered through this entire two-year long bidding process.  Let's just say that Jeremy and I exchanged more eye rolls, and mouthed "WTF" more times during this interview than has ever occurred over the course of this long story.  The painter got the job, by the way.  Due either to poor judgment on our parts or the fact that his behavior was odd-enough that we were intrigued.  Apparently the colorful neighbors and house build itself haven't created enough drama/humor in our lives for us to reject such a fabulous opportunity for another character story.

Which brings me to the whole stinkin' point of this note today:


Do you need me to repeat that?  Because I'd be happy to oblige.  Those words just look so pretty written down.

Maybe it was our impending fate; trowels in hand and electric wires wrapped around our bodies like chain.  Maybe it was the list we created yesterday morning detailing every last piece of work we signed up for to complete this project.  Whatever "it" is caused Jeremy to breathe deeply and say with his eyes closed and mouth set firmly - "Ok.  Get paint bids."

Oh.  Happy day.  So forgive this post which seems a little luxurious in its unnecessary description of food and drink.  But everything in my world just seems more vivid.  Brighter.  It's like I'm alive again after months spent worrying about how to get all the painting (trim, doors - THE CATHEDRAL CEILING ROOM) finished.  I tend to exaggerate - that is correct.  But, on my honor, this is truly the best thing that's happened in my whole entire life.  So please, wherever you are, raise a glass.  Isn't life beautiful?