Why Yes, We Still Buy and Sell Houses: Ross

One of the things we’re learning lately in our real estate business is that it is not easy to quickly buy or sell property, even a cash sale! Way back on April 10, I wrote about selling the Ross Avenue Victorian house in Cameron to two fellow renovators. We finally closed on the deal yesterday.

The house when we first saw it. We since trimmed bushes back.

When we bought the house, it took three months to close “as soon as possible” but that’s nothing! This one took five months! The buyers could be excused for getting anxious about it. We knew it would take a bit longer than usual, because we were only selling part of the land we originally purchased. The buyers got the house and the lot behind it, where the garage is.

The other side.

We kept the lot across the street, which is pretty straightforward. We’ve had a big sickly tree removed that was threatening to crash down either on this lot or the poor man next door, so it’s in better shape now.

The lot across the street, me with blue hair, and scary tree.

We also kept the middle of the block, and that’s what took a while. We had to survey the property, have plans drawn up to subdivide the property, and get the plans approved by various entities, including the City Council. So, Lee has been quite busy working on all this stuff and getting our ducks in a row (probably whistling ducks, Cameron’s favorite fowl). It all went well, but took a lot of time. Then, of course, one entity or another “forgot” to do some of the things they needed to do, and title underwriters kept asking for one thing, then another, and then another. All this required a lot of patience on our part, the title company representative (Kimberly has been so helpful), and the buyers.

This is NOT EXACT. I am NOT a surveyor. But you get the idea of how we divided the property. You can even see the shadow of the tree that is no longer there, from Google Maps.

All the time since we bought the property, we have had to keep maintaining the property, of course, mowing all that grass, keeping it looking presentable for the Code Inspectors, etc. We did get something good, though: my tack room was originally the workshop on the part of the land we kept!

Kathleen of 2020 in the lots we kept. The building at right with the white window frame is my tack room.

I have had to keep quiet about all this, since we were not wanting to say we’d succeeded until money changed hands! Things have just been going so wrong this year that we didn’t want to risk it. But Hermits’ Rest Enterprises has now sold a house and has a mini-subdivision of three houses plotted out for the future. Hooray.

We were just a little giddy after the closing, at least Kimberly and I were! Lee looks relieved.

I just can’t wait to see what the new owners can do with the house. They do amazing work.

More on this house and our former plans for it

A NEW Project to Distract Ourselves (March 2020)

This Old Ross House, Part 2 (March 2020)

We Have a Date (June 2020)

Ross Is Ours! Kathleen Is Overjoyed (June 2020)

Checking in on the Ross House (June 2020)

You’re Doing the Best You Can

A couple of folks in my circle need to hear this.

YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN

Yep. You may have screwed up. You may not meet others’ expectations. You may not be able to do all the things for all the people (or animals) you wish you could.

Here’s Dusty doing the best he can do jump this huge (to him) pole.

I think you’re fine. I’m glad you’re trying. I know you’ll keep doing your best. Thanks.

Mabel did her best picking up her feet and enduring painful body work today.

We all are challenged and fall short sometimes. But like Tarrin told me today about our horses, making someone’s life a little better is success. (She helped my horses today on what was a hard day for her, so I really appreciate it. She did so much good today.) We can all show we care and help out someone who is struggling.

Here’s the face of someone whose life is great now.

You? I bet you’ve done some good recently. Bring up those memories when disappointments try to bring you down. You matter to me, even if I don’t know you.

Blessed be.

Visitors and Visiting

Our house has a lot of comings and goings for a hermitage, but we’re glad that caregivers can come help out Lee’s brother while Kathleen’s still confined to her hospital bed. I get my dose of visiting by hanging out with the horses and getting them to do some exercises before it’s too hot. Luckily I usually have a little break between meetings.

I’d rather stand here and look pretty.

It’s really great just to be with the little herd and check in on them. Mabel was especially friendly today and kept hinting that she wanted different places scratched. That warms my heart.

Feeling pretty. I can hardly believe those legs hold her up.

Later in the day, I went to give the chickens more water. I noticed they were all inside the henhouse, because it’s so hot. I filled the water trough, and when I looked at it, it was splashing, though no hens were near. The water was almost alive.

Actually, the living part was a rat snake who had been cooling off in the water. It was no doubt quite surprised by the sudden bath. It slid out and headed to the edge of the chicken yard, then climbed the chain-link fence by going in and out of the links.

I’m outa here!

It ended up behind the tin that used to make shade for the chickens before the hen house went up. It seems as if the snake was visiting for the water, not eggs, as I got six, including one just plopped on the ground! This heat must be hard on snakes and other cold-blooded creatures.

I left my visitor, since it was time to go check on Kathleen. Her recovery process is neither quick nor easy! I brought her some little gifts that had come in the mail, plus a pair of new glasses she had ordered. And magazines! All invalids need reading material. Let’s hope she hits all her goals and gets to come home soon.

We miss Kathleen.

Spider spray is going to be generously applied around the outside of the house!

I need more visitors to run my soft little head.

More Painting, but Mostly Indoors

The guys finished trimming out the shipping containers today. There were a few clouds in the sky, which helped.

Vlassic and Lee approved.

Looks good! Yep!

I, too, painted. Kathleen set up a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Foundation today, sponsored by our personal assistance service, Hearts, Homes, and Hands. For a donation (small) participants got to paint either a seashell or a dolphin.

Paint and refreshments!

This was the kind of stuff we’d hoped to do before the pandemic. There was a great mix of clients, caregivers and their families in attendance. All the paintings were fun and individualistic. I enjoyed doing mine, with all those techniques I learned painting my weird turtles.

Some of the art. Fun was had.

Kathleen says we’re going to do more of these in the future. I love to have fun for a good cause. I’m proud of the team at HHH. Our new admin, Toni, is doing great. I’m enjoying being the silent partner and cheering our company on. It’s three years old now. Time flies when a virus attacks.

Meanwhile, I’m using up that leftover yarn.

I spent most of today working like crazy, which helped me not think about some family health scares. When not working, I crocheted. I think Drew understands that it was just too hot on this summer solstice to work together. I’ll try to get up early to work with him!

On the Road to Comfy

Two of our many projects are moving quickly toward a better state. The in-law suite, which will actually be occupied by my elderly and a bit unsteady brother-in-law, is rapidly approaching a livable and comfy state.

Simple and clean

The room that was our first office/bedroom for Lee, which is in the back of our garage, is looking great, especially when I don’t show the other side of the room, where there’s still papers, books, amps and such that are Lee’s. I’m looking to see if any more of my stuff got put there. All the horse stuff is in the tack room, though.

In progress

The room now has a doorway to get to the bathroom and new kitchen area. Everything has been painted, new light fixtures are in, and the fridge is in place (and cleaned off from where the chickens used to roost on it). That was a lot of work.

Nice fridge!

The recycled granite is ready for cabinets that will hold the sink, microwave, etc.

I didn’t know we had a granite saw. Maybe that was already there.

The nephew went to get cabinets today. They need to go in, and I assume some flooring. Then it will be livable, even though the outside wall still needs insulation, which will happen when the pool house gets its insulation blown in.

We already had this bathroom with a handicap-friendly shower. It’s getting a bench.

I’m very pleased at how nice this looks. Speaking of nice! They put a desk in the tack room, which looks very nice with my temporary chairs. I’m hoping to get my furniture in there soon, now that it’s pretty clean.

Sure, the chandelier look better than the fly trap, but this is good.

I tried to clean all the lids to the horse food, but one I can’t get the oily stuff off. I’ll get a more intense cleaner, I guess. I’ll get there. And it wasn’t even too hot today!

I practiced this game today. That proves it wasn’t too hot.

Now to sit by myself again. I’d feel lonely around here, but I was so surrounded by people in my 9 meetings today that I’m actually okay that everyone has other stuff to do!

Me at work. I dressed nice to get me through things. Like my sparkly tooth?

The Flower Fairy Goes Art Walking

What a pleasant Saturday! I started the day fairly early for me, so I could go work with the horses before it got over 100° F. I ended up hanging horse signs up in the tack room, rearranging my horse playground and round pen, working with Drew (who now wants to nip me while we trot right, so that got dealt with) and working with Apache, who rode all the way over to the edge of the woods today. He is now comfortable in most of the front pasture.

My spotted buddies

As a reward, I gave him a nice cool bath with my new horse bathing attachment. We finally have the hose available to where that works out. Apache was displeased that I made him stand around to dry while I cleaned his saddle and bridle, but they look good now.

My clean tack. Hard to see but it’s there.

Then, since Apache’s bath had cooled me off, I took pictures of how nice things are looking around here.

After all that I was too hot to do much, so I swam in the pool while it was still cool. I think that thing is my lifesaver.

After I rested a bit, Lee said he wanted to go to the first Art Walk in Cameron, which was held in the remodeled building that used to be Bea’s Kitchen. Wow, they’ve done a great job with the place. Here’s the restored signage.

Big words!

The interior is gorgeous, and they made really cool light fixtures that allow you to see the ceiling tiles. And upstairs, there are beautiful new windows. It’s gonna be so cool.

The Art Walk was so much fun. Anita, Lee and I all had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones. the artists were all very interesting people, too. One woman lives in Maysfield, down the road from us and makes interesting jewelry. The rest were painters. Each was different in focus, ranging from sweet watercolors to cleverly subtle social commentary. I got a watercolor and was happy to learn the artist gives classes!

It’s a marsh.

Lee and I both really liked the work of one of the artists, Randy Robinson. We learned he only started painting not that long ago. His work had movement and great light, because he studied Rembrandt’s style in Europe. I got to talking to his daughter and learned they live in nearby Milano and have lots in common with our family. All the stuff you usually don’t think you’ll find. What luck!

Then, when I was off with Anita, Lee secretly got the painting I loved the most, which was of a horse in the night, spooked (says the brochure) by finding a human lying in her field. It really captures the wildness and bemusement. And you just want to pet that muzzle.

I love that it’s off center, too, from the viewpoint of someone on the ground. Yeah. I wore a flower fairy dress. It has pansies with faces, and Alice in Wonderland.

We talked more later, and I kept thinking he seemed familiar. We started talking about plants, and then it all became clear. He’d joined the Master Naturalist group during my presidency and come to a few online meetings. I introduced him to Carolyn Henderson, our current president, and we hope he starts coming to meetings.

Me and Randy and Night Dreamer

Well what a coincidence! We are all friends now. I’m so happy to keep meeting like-minded folks out here. Like anywhere, diversity’s out there and it makes for a stronger community.

Happy to be here

In addition to the Art Walk, the model railroad across the street was open one last time before it moves elsewhere. All the tiny buildings were set out where you could really look at them, and there were folks explaining which modern places the models of 1930s life depicted.

Anita looks at the back of St Monica’s church

The details on the buildings are quite charming. There are prisoners at the jail, a wedding at one church, and a nun at the Catholic Church. My favorite is a woman hanging laundry.

It will be fun to see the rebuilt model of old Cameron!

As if this wasn’t enough fun, we even tried a new restaurant. Yes, it’s Mexican but it’s different Mexican! I had chicken in Mole sauce. I hope Veracruz lasts.

Fed the horses of course. Look at the moon!

Information Rather Than Advice: Again

Another thing they used to say in La Leche League was that we preferred to give information rather than advice. I’ve talked about this before, but I have feelings about it. So here I am again.

When we were helping women with their babies, we’d let them know what we knew, what the current research says, and what our friends had experienced with their babies. Women would listen to all the information, then make up their own minds about what would work for their families. We had run into so many mother-baby pairs that we knew what is best for one might not be the best for another.

A mother-baby pair where the baby is the mother’s size

And you know, people seemed to like that approach. Lecturing and saying “you should” often makes people shut right down. People tend to dislike hearing that they are wrong, and often spend a lot of time justifying their own actions rather than taking in new ideas and considering them.

Goldie likes it when I read her a bedtime story

I’ve chosen to take that approach and apply it to potential “arguments” and conversations. Ooh, and I also apply it to exchanges on social media. I find my own self shutting down when I mention an issue I’m having only to find half the world telling me what I should do. It feels like people are ordering me around, even though I know perfectly well that, in their minds, they are giving suggestions! Thus, I try to answer anyone’s questions to make it clear that I’m just giving one data point, not my authoritative expert declaration.

See, now she’s all snoozy.

As I recently read, the older you get the more you realize you aren’t an expert at anything! You know you have more to learn. The more you know the more you realize you don’t know, or something like that.

After 4 years as a Master Naturalist, I know I don’t know much at all about the nature of Texas. But I’m happy.

I got to thinking about this when I was reading a book (Getting along with Horses: an Evolution in Understanding) by Crissy McDonald, the spouse of Mark Rashid. She talked about mentioning sharing a photo of a horse that was hobbled (a way to keep them from wandering off when you don’t have a fence). Now, she knew what she was doing, the horse had been trained to be comfortable with the hobbles, etc. But people on social media just started yelling at her that she was abusing animals…before asking her pertinent things like what the horse’s experience with this was, how was she using the technique, etc. There was no effort to be curious about what she shared.

Sigh. Been there myself! Seen it happen to others so many times. I know that there are people who increase their self esteem by putting others down to build themselves up. I know there are people who honestly believe they are experts on most things. There are folks who just love to argue/debate. There are people who just don’t know much social etiquette. Like Crissy, I do my best to send good thoughts to people like that and simply not engage. You’re not going to teach these “experts” anything. They don’t want YOUR lecture any more than you want theirs, right?

Buy the way, I’m done with cat butts for a while. I gave 8 of them to Dorothy tonight.

So, treasure those around you who are willing to pass out information and let you decide for yourself how to use that information in your unique situation.

Wait, one more cat butt! Meow!

Consider, after reading all my information, using the techniques of just offering up things you know, experiences you’ve had, or opinions, not getting all invested in whether your input is acted on. Perhaps the other person has something going on that makes your information inapplicable, and that’s no reflection on you (or me).

Well, I got that off my chest. Two rants in a row. Whew.

Sometimes Ranch Life Is a Bit too Much

Like today. I was awakened in the night by a familiar odor. Someone had been skunked. That someone was Penney.

I was just helping Goldie

And more stink arrived in the form of Goldie. I tried to sleep but Penney kept pushing, which she does when she is scared. I ended up with my legs off the bed, which gave me sore knees when I woke up.

I’ll spare you the carcass

After only a little coffee I was told to remove the skunk from the side yard, where most of it lay. Other parts were scattered around, as if a large animal had gotten to Goldie is a large animal.

Suspicious hole

As I went to get a shovel, I noted a large hole under the pool equipment base. Oh goodness. The skunk was trying to build a burrow in the yard where the dogs live. Skunks aren’t bright, cute as they are. It was doomed.

This was all over the yard.

Anyway, the skunk is now turtle food in the pond, and I got over my nausea from looking at its innards. The hole is gone, too, since this morning, Lee and the nephew created a new walkway from the back of our under-construction garage apartment, the garage side door, and our main path. It also made the pool equipment area look better.

After the skunk thing, I cleaned my giant closet and the kitchen, which had turned into a housefly buffet. I’ve now kept up with the dirty dishes stacked near the dishwasher for 6 hours and emptied the dishwasher twice. Lee has washed the stinky sheets. Yay.

This young lass had her own skunk adventure over at Sara’s but has bathed herself. Good dog.

I was tired of ranching and chores so I helped Sara film Aragorn on this dressage work, now that he is all shod. He did great. While I was there, I found a new (to me) plant, a swan flower. It is beautiful, and nothing like any other flower around here!

Swan flower

I wrote an article for the Master Naturalist blog with more details. I was surprised to see this one is the northernmost sighting of this plant, which is only found in Texas. How about that! This has been the highlight of the day and was a nice break.

When I got home, we got a hay delivery of square bales for the horses this winter. I did my best to help, but I really suck at lifting hay bales. The young man who brought it, though, was damned good at throwing it, and the nephew was good at stacking it. I counted.

The young woman who also lifted many bales.

Half the hay went to our house and half to Sara’s. Sara was much more helpful than me. But I wish I had a video of the tossing. They were amazing at it. Nice hay kids! Whew.

I was hot and the day wasn’t half over. This ranching can be hard and keeping your cool can be hard. I tried to cool off by the pool, but no. Neighbors dropped by to ask if we’d seen the obscene stuff painted on the bridge over Walker’s Creek next to our property. They had all sorts of theories that some teens who’ve been riding up and down the road in a “gator” (motorized golf cart utility vehicle).

That proves it wasn’t ME.

I had no idea there was stuff down the road, but I remembered seeing red stuff when we came back yesterday afternoon. That day teens did indeed go up and down the road endlessly. And I’d seen them earlier messing with cane on the bridge. I thought it was just kids having fun on summer break.

But no.

Nope. There was obscenity, anti trans stuff, cruel stuff about people with mental illness, and the coup de gras (whatever) the flourish of Let’s Go Brandon. Hardly necessary.

So welcoming to their trans neighbor.

And you know what, in today’s society, you hesitate to report vandalism in the community, because you worry some asshole will come shoot you. Nice. Rural living can be beautiful. It can be scary. Here’s a flower.

And yes, I called the sheriff. I just hope my beloved county commissioner will paint over the offensive stuff. I’m not wanting anything it peace and quiet.

Ouch Number Three, Balanced by Kindness

I keep falling down so much I wonder if I need a walker. No, I don’t. Anyone would fall if a large horse knocked them over or, as today, if they fell in a deep hole cleverly hidden by overgrown Bermuda grass.

I had fertilized the back porch plants and was heading around the side of the house to get the front plants. It had rained (yay) so it was slippery. So when I stepped in the hole left from when the dog fence was moved to the front of the house, not only did I fall, but I slid. There went the second pair of pants this week. I managed to sprain my toe! How weird.

I still managed to make some darn good pork fried rice with fresh veggies and eggs.

Other than a headache and the toe thing, I’m fine, though. The holes will be dealt with soon, I’m sure! But, ouch.

Better things did happen, though. I looked up from my Working Horse Central meeting last night to see a beaming fellow wearing one of my straw hats. No way was it coming off, either, because the nephew had gotten all the findings needed to put “stampede strings” in my hats. They are classy, too.

No more flying off my head.

The findings he used are really nice. The slide looks like engraved silver. I’ll look spiffy when I do my next show with Drew and will keep my hat!

Quality workmanship!

After I made my delicious dinner tonight, the nephew said he’d made me some lightweight towel racks. When I went out to see it, I was delighted to see it was the beginnings of one of those games where you throw objects that wrap around the bars. I can’t wait to play. I think we’re also getting a cornhole game, too. How kind! This is gonna be a fun summer! We will have games, swimming, a pool house, and so much more. After ten years, I finally feel home.

What the heck?

I feel so lucky to be putting together a nice fun ranch home. I don’t miss Austin as much as I was for a while. Everyone I’m around here is at least open and honest about whether they like you or not, so you know where you stand. Hmm, apparently ouch number 2 is still hurting. I do miss some of my friends, though and will figure out some way to visit soon.

Here at the ranch, one can relax. Some more than others.

Ouch, More Than One Way

The day started with an ouch and ended with a painful long-term one.

These two are hanging out so I can quickly get them for a lesson tomorrow.

I was planning to go ride with Sara this morning and ran late, but I had Apache clean and saddled in time. We were walking to the mounting block, which is in the portable round pen. As we entered, the stirrup in the right somehow caught in a panel and started following us. That rightfully scared him and he jumped. Jump number 2 landed on my foot. Ouch.

The inner part here used to be next to the outer part.

He got free, though, and said “oof” then stood still. I got up and went over to him and hugged him. He was fine! I got on him and went over to Sara, apologizing for not making it to the gate so Aragorn wouldn’t have to walk near our horses.

The longer grass shows the former outline of the pen.

We regrouped and had a nice calm ride, since Aragorn is working on a hoof issue. I was really proud of my horse and me. In fact, my foot felt fine in my good shoes. It only started hurting when I took the shoe off.

I forgot to put a picture of Harvey on yesterday’s post. Here he is with his favorite pillow.

The other hurt is one I won’t go into detail on, but I found out I’d lost a friend through misunderstandings. For the second time in recent experience, someone got very angry with me due to associating me with someone else. Assumptions were made and even when it turned out they were wrong, I was guilty by association.

The good news is at least this time I know what happened, how it came about, and that there’s not a thing I can do but apologize for things that came across wrong. Sigh. I hate losing friends I really cared about.

On the other hand, I’m no longer in the middle of something I don’t understand and can move on. I’ll just hang out with people who know I’m me, not anyone I’m associated with.

I made my nails cheerful. So there.

These lessons are always painful, even when you’ve made progress on your desire to be liked by people who matter to you.

Ouch.

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