Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I Didn't Tell You About August

August will be history in just a few hours.  I talked about many of the high points of the month here on the blog, but I wanted a few more memories to go down in history....
  • Not to be forgotten was Ada and Tim's 50th wedding anniversary party!  You don't get to attend one of those everyday and it was a treat!  Such wonderful friends.... I wish I could convince them to move to Virginia!

  • After bragging about all of the rain that we had in July that gave us such an awesome mushroom crop, we haven't had a drop of rain the entire month of August.  Once again we're in a bubble where it rains all around us, but misses the neighborhood.  I can water the gardens and lawn, but every day being above 95, and many at 100 and above, is taking its toll on the horse pasture.  
  • Joe lost a dear friend this month.  Jay Hogue was a business partner and friend who passed away in mid August.  At his funeral elegy, a friend commented that he had never heard Jay speak poorly of anyone.  What a rare quality to have in this world where we are all (myself included) so quick to gossip, condemn, jump to conclusions and pigeon-hole people.  
  • Our switch to a new realtor has been a wise choice.  We've had several good showings this month and are hopeful that we've got something in the works.  
  • I haven't mentioned the world's greatest Jack Russell Terrier lately, but he's still plugging along and turned 15 1/2 this month.  Though Mr. Biggs hasn't gotten the paper since retiring from active duty on his 15th birthday, he's still fairly active and is keeping the bed warm at night as usual.  Just for the record..... we're all crazy about the little fellow.  :)
What am I doing today to say farewell to the month of August?
I wish I could say that I'm having my nails done, relaxing by the pool or almost anything other than what I'm shackled to for the next few hours.....

The Dreaded and Long Ignored Stash of Ironing. 

You know it's bad when I bring in a stool.  

Sadly it isn't all caviar and champagne around here!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Naming Game

It's easy to understand why she was named "Cloud."

Dreamaker's Silver Cloud to be precise. 

Although if she keeps up her assault on this alleyway post, she may be renamed "Beaver."


He came with that name, but he's not a bossy Drill Sergeant that's for sure.

 Mild mannered and gentle.  

His registered name is Cimron San Diego Sojourn.  

Say What?! 

 Talk about an odd name for a Tennessee Walking Horse born and bred in Texas.  

I know it would have been awfully predictable, 

but honestly, I'd have been hard pressed not to have called him "Diamond."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Boneheaded Lookers (and their realtor)

I spent a full day in Baton Rouge last week running errands and then hitting the Borders going out of business sale.  My arms are now 2" longer after hauling around the load of books.  Seriously there were so many good titles still available that I had to force myself to sort through my basket and leave some behind.  I "only" bought 14 books!  But I digress.....

It was a perfect day to have someone else do most of the cooking so I stopped at Tony's and bought a few boiled crabs to have for dinner.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I also bought a container of banana pudding!

After piling all of my day's purchases on the kitchen island,  I popped an ear of corn in the microwave, got out my crab claw crackers and some paper towels, opened a Samuel Adams Summer Ale, placed my lovely HUGE crabs on a plate and prepared to enjoy a delicious solo dinner.  (Remember that Joe is still in Virginia)

Then I noticed a car in the parking bay and a rather large woman walking up the front walkway.   She was then joined by a rather large man who turned out to be her husband and another man who turned out to be their realtor.  It was 5:45 pm.

The listing clearly states that the house is occupied and that our realtor needs to pre-approve showings.... yet they were ready to try the lockbox and walk in the front door unannounced!!  After a discussion out on the front porch where I tried to convince them that they needed to come back another time (my beer was getting warm and the bed wasn't made) they whined and wheedled and acted so pathetic and confused that I told them to look around outside while I picked up tumbleweeds of German Shepherd hair and made the bed.

Such a dumb, dumb idea.  I should have stuck to my guns and told them to come back with an appointment.

During their brief tour of the interior of the house, the husband, who had earlier told me that they weren't horse people, asked in all seriousness ....... if the two horses and the larger trailer they had seen while outside were included in the sale of the house!!!!!!!

Can you even imagine??

Did they think I was selling an amusement park?  A dude ranch?  It was all I could do to sound polite as I told him "No"

We've had about a showing a week this month.  Two buyers still want the house as soon as their local houses sell.  AND the couple with whom we had a purchase agreement last spring came back two weeks ago.  We were told that they are reconsidering, have their current house listed and may be ready to actively pursue interim financing.

I'll close this with a photo of a dragonfly who was on the cypress picket fence the other day.... I recently learned that dragonflies are a symbol of luck in China.  So fingers crossed, candles lit, lucky rabbits foot stroked and whatever else you can do.... maybe we'll have a sale before fall.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Day of School

Carter began his Kindergarten experience back in the mid 80's, and nonstop for the past 25+ years, at least one of the four sons has been headed off somewhere to start cramming their brains full of knowledge in August.

Every year I'd get out there and snap some photos on the driveway.  The crape myrtles by the parking bay bloom in August and so there was usually a backdrop of watermelon colored blossoms that remained constant though the four boys grew and changed.  

Backpacks in hand and often laden with bags of school supplies, they took a moment to pose before heading down the driveway to climb aboard the bus or getting behind the wheel of their car.  Bless their hearts, they were pretty patient even when they were leaving for college or in the throes of those cranky teenaged years in high school!  

With Clark's graduation from college last spring, our unbroken streak of educating the young has come to an end and so I almost didn't have a first day of school photo that I could share with you.

That's ALMOST!  

Clark proved to be quite capable of carrying on family traditions when he informed fiancee Raeanna that "first day of school pictures" might be something that they would like to have 50 years from now.  

And since she's becoming part of the family.......

He lined her up on their front porch last week

and then got the requisite getting in the car shots as she headed off to her first day of classes.....

 at Medical School!!!  

What an adventure! 

 Med School is spoken of as a rigorous, demanding experience but there's not a doubt in my mind that she's just the one to take on the challenge and finish still smiling and at the top of her class.  

Isn't the future Doctor/future Daughter-in-Law pretty darn sweet to let me brag about her on the blog?

Oh, I'm so excited for her!!!   

(Good work, Clark!  On both the photos and on finding such a lovely young lady!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Building The House .... Time Lapse Video

One reason for taking regular photos of the house has been our plan to have a time lapse taken from several spots showing start to finish.

So ..... 

Drumroll please!!  Here's the first time lapse video of the construction!

Sadly I can take no credit for this since Joe was the one who put it all together yesterday.   

Enjoy and stay tuned for more...

PS If you have your sound on you'll hear good old Louisiana boy Jerry Lee Lewis singing about Virginia.  Quite appropriate, don't you think?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Time To Lay in The Hay For Winter

Before Joe left for Virginia, one of the chores we needed to get out of the way was driving over to Larry's to pick up our first load of hay for the winter.

We met Larry about 10 years ago and have been fortunate enough to have become personal friends as well as his customers. 

We'll use about 185 bales between now and April.  There's no point in not buying our full amount in hopes that the house will sell and thereby chancing that the horses won't have enough hay to get them through the winter.  

Larry's hay is always sold out by late winter, but with the drought in Texas and North Louisiana, he'll be selling every bale sooner than normal.  We don't want to take advantage of his friendship by asking him to hold hay for us, so it's best to just bite the bullet and fill up the hay stall as if we'll be here all winter.
When Joe and I were newlyweds, the old guy who rented the place next door to us taught me how to drive his hay raker and I helped him a few times in the fields.  We were just cutting pastures and turning long weedy grass into hay;  Larry's hay however is a whole different ballgame!  

No horses or cattle graze in these fields;  the land is managed strictly for hay production.  There's a lot of testing, analyzing, fertilizing, irrigating etc that goes into producing a top quality bale!

We were able to pick up this first load out in the field.  I'm using the royal "we" here since I just drove the truck and trailer along and Joe did all of the loading.

Picking them up in the field as opposed to the storage barns saves fifty cents per bale.... it's $5.00/bale out there, but I can't help load since I'm driving.  A shame isn't it?!  :)

Now that we aren't as young as we once were, we space out our purchases over several weeks and three loads so that the old muscles can recover!   Joe does the bulk of the work even when we unload at home and I'm amazed and grateful for his ability to still throw them up and stack seven bales high.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Main Floor Progress (Week 15)

I was pretty shocked when I opened these photos from Joe and saw how much progress had been made..... house wrap, waterproofing started on the basement, and more walls on the main floor! 

Starting from farther away in the front.... the above photo is take from near the edge of the road.  It's a small gravel lane with only six houses past ours.  If we'd have had our druthers, we'd have pushed the house back but the lay of the land wouldn't let us go farther out on the point without major hillside reworking.

 Those who excel at those "what's different" photos will note that the portapotty has changed color and has migrated to the front yard!  What can I say?  I'm hundreds of miles away and poring over every photo dozens of times!!!!

Below is a closer photo of the front.  
Aren't the little square windows neat?

It's a monster from the back!  
The deep porch will wrap around the back; you can see the footings for it.  
The open area where the ladder is will be the chimney.  Lower level is the outdoor fireplace and upper/main floor fireplace will be inside the den with the flues sharing the same chimney structure.  

Come inside!  
Here's the den. 
The fireplace will fill the center section and flanking it are two pairs of glass french doors to go out onto the upper porch.  For a sense of scale the french doors will be almost 9' tall!   

And here's a corner of our bedroom.

Picture window, glass doorway to the upper porch and a bedside window.

Joe has nothing but good things to say about the people who are building for us, not only our contractor but the individual craftsmen and workers.

The other word from Joe is that rooms are seeming smaller now that they are getting walled in, except for the kitchen which still appears huge.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family Travels

It's been a while since I did a family oriented post so I'll intersperse some photos while we catch up with the various family vagabonds. 
  • Joe and I are perfecting our long distance relationship.  Since early June, he's been going back and forth from LA to VA every two weeks.   Our VA rental home has become his bachelor pad.  It's a perfect home to rent while we're building.  

Joe went back to VA two days ago, so we'll be burning up the phone lines for the next two weeks trying to stay in touch.  After only 48 hours, he's already out of the loop and is forgetting what home is like ......  Last night he asked, "Is it still hot there?"   Duuuuhhhhh!  What kind of question is that?  Is the Pope a Catholic?  This is August in Louisiana!  It's in the high 90's.  It's always in the 90's (or worse) in August.    Two days of being in cooler weather has gone to his head!

Tomorrow I'll post some new photos of the house on the hill!
  • Carter sounds as though he'll have some good tales to tell about his third summer spent as a flyfishing guide at a lodge in Alaska.  He has pay phone access once a week when he goes into the village to pick up the new group of clients.  We keep telling him how glad we are that he isn't suffering through the 100+ degree days in Little Rock.                                                                 Here's a photo that he took while in Alaska last year.....
  • The "When Brothers Meet Brothers" clause was put into effect for the first time in quite a while when Asher flew to San Francisco on business.  The B-M-B clause is that Joe and I will pay for a dinner out whenever two or more of the brothers get together in the same city.  There have been a few times when major detours were taken in order to claim the free meal so it's been a success in fostering visits between the far flung brood.
               Here are the west coast and east coast sons at their all expenses paid dinner!
  • Since Joe flew into the New Orleans airport two weeks ago, we took advantage of being in New Orleans and caught up with Clark and Raeanna by taking them out to dinner at Vincents on St. Charles Avenue.  Apparently as soon as they waved goodbye to us from their porch, they picked up their already packed suitcases (probably hidden under the bed!) and left (at 10pm) to drive through the night 16 hours to Key West!   No mention was made of this imminent journey during our dinner because they wanted to surprise us with this photo sent the next day.....
    Yep,  we were most definitely surprised that the couple we had just dined with was now 1,000 miles away instead of 90!       
    Does anybody think there is a touch of his mother in that young man???  And isn't it nice that Raeanna seems to have a bit of traveler in her too in order to fit in with this crazy group?
    • The day after seeing the unexpected Key West photos,  I received an email with a few photos from Owen and Kathleen who had taken a long weekend away from the city to drive up to Crater Lake and Lava Beds National Parks.  Here's Kathleen looking like she's posing in front of a green screen or fake mural, but Crater Lake really is that blue and surreal looking.

    So the Bay Area duo has been to Oregon and Northern CA; the New Orleans couple has been to the farthest reaches of Florida; the Arkansas son is in Alaska; the NYC son was in San Francisco and my Louisiana husband is becoming a Virginian!!   

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Equine Love Bites

    These two are acting like they've known each other for years.

    When I look out in the pasture, I'm as likely to see them scratching and nibbling on each other as grazing

    You can see how tall Sarge is in this first photo.  Though Cloud is a nice average height, it looks like I'm on a Shetland pony when we ride together.

    Sorry for the grainy look, but I shot these from far away with my phone when I was out getting the mail.

    With such a strong red manly fellow around to scratch her shoulders, Ms. Cloud isn't missing her Arkansas mare friends too much!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    House Progress: Main Floor Walls (Week 14)

    The Virginia house is taking shape.  Joe has been here in Louisiana for about 10 days now and will be returning to VA soon.  

    But Tom (our patient photographer builder) sent these photos yesterday!

    You can see that we still have our plank though it has moved from the front door to the mud room entry.    We aren't going for the moat and castle effect, it'll just be a while before the front basement wall is backfilled.
    The corner walls that you see going up are for our master bedroom!

    Below is another view of the main floor... the concrete wall in front is the back corner of the garage.  Above the little cutout window in the basement wall is the kitchen.  The  bumpout is for the huge kitchen window. 

    And finally the last of the photos .... Use your imagination with that hole in the floor and you can see the staircase going down to the basement with the foyer on the left. 

    We've had one more showing of the house here in Louisiana this month, but it was just a curious looker who should have been weeded out before the showing so unfortunately nothing will come of it. 

    Our hopes are still that one of the two potential buyers who say they definitely want our house will manage to sell their house and we'll all be able to move forward.  Isn't there someone somewhere who will buy a house and set this chain of events in motion?!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    It's Been a Fun 33 Years....

    A Marriage

    August 5, 1978
    By Michael Blumenthal

    You are holding up a ceiling
    with both arms. It is very heavy,
    but you must hold it up, or else
    it will fall down on you. Your arms
    are tired, terribly tired,
    and, as the day goes on, it feels
    as if either your arms or the ceiling
    will soon collapse.

    But then,
    something wonderful happens:
    a man or a woman,
    walks into the room
    and holds their arms up
    to the ceiling beside you.

    So you finally get
    to take down your arms.
    You feel the relief of respite,
    the blood flowing back
    to your fingers and arms.
    And when your partner’s arms tire,
    you hold up your own           
    to relieve him again.

    And it can go on like this
    for many years
    without the house falling.

    Thanks Joe for holding up the ceiling with me for the last 33 years!

    My heavens but we were young!

    Maybe part of the key to a long marriage is leaving the reception clutching bottles of champagne!  

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Mushroom Mania

    After several years of drought, we've had rain, rain and more rain this summer. 
    (Sorry,  to my Texan friends!)

    In addition to giving us a decent stand of pasture grass for the horses, the daily showers have nurtured a bumper crop of mushrooms!

    I shot all these photos over a 2 day period all within about a 50 yard radius near the barn.  They range from 8" across to quarter sized, meaty to flimsy and delicate.
    When I was in high school it was common for the "hippies" to invade the cow pastures at certain times of the year looking for the hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow on manure in Louisiana fields.  
    I never learned to tell the different varieties apart but so far I haven't noticed Sarge and Cloud zoned out in a trance and I'm hoping that they have enough sense to stay away from any toxic ones!!

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Breaking the Blog Ice

    No, it's not cold enough to freeze down here in Louisiana, but I've allowed the blog to ice over without posting for the past 10 days.

    There has been plenty to blog about both good and bad.... serene peaceful days counterbalanced with some ailments;  funeral services offset with joyful mornings in the garden; loving pets and a few annoying critters;  physical distance between family and dinners with friends; chores done in the Louisiana August heat and languid afternoons in the pool.... it's all been part of the last 10 days.  But somehow I just haven't been able to write.

    Does anyone else who blogs ever have times when it gets progressively harder with each passing day to return to the keyboard and type out what you are seeing, feeling and experiencing?

    Something snagged inside me last week and I allowed the gloom to creep in and get a foothold.

    I'll step into the internet confessional now..... At the beginning of the summer, we hit the one year mark of having the house up for sale.  I've tried hard not to let that anniversary bother me.

    But the truth?  ...... It bothered me.

    It's a royal pain having our house not sell.  It's wearing and it's taxing to the spirit.

    It's as though I've got something that nobody wants..... something that I love and see beauty in.... something that I've poured my heart into for the past quarter of century and now is just a flat one dimensional listing on the MLS.

    We've had about 18 showings spread out over the past 15 months and although the place gets consistently rave reviews it hasn't sold and so we're still here carrying on the daily business of taking care of the house and land.

    Each date on the calendar serves to remind me that I didn't think I'd experience another summer, July Fourth, blueberry season, fig season, start of school etc in Louisiana.  And conversely I didn't think that I'd spend another year NOT experiencing those events for the first time in Virginia.

    There I said it.... whew, I feel better! 

    The blog ice has been broken.... 

    And now it's time to saddle up my pony and keep plugging along down the road until one day I get to that fork that I keep expecting!


    Thanks for listening!