An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

We Wouldn’t Sell to Just Anyone

We own a beautiful old Victorian house in Cameron that we’ve been making various plans as to what to do with. Kathleen wanted to live there, but that won’t work. We thought about making it part of the personal assistance service, but COVID happened and we downsized our plans.

My favorite view of the Ross house, looking into the dining room.

Lately, as Cameron is getting more popular, there’s been more interest in it. We didn’t want to sell this wonderful place to someone who wouldn’t know how to finish its renovation.

This has to be preserved and improved on!

But, when folks approached us who have fixed up many old houses and whose skills we’ve seen for ourselves, Lee decided to let them look around the Ross house.

The glory of the doors

This afternoon, we had a grand time going through the place and it’s surroundings. The wife owns an antique mall, so she and I both got really distracted by lamp fixings, pieces of stained glass, old letters, and mirrors. I could see dollar signs going off in her eyes.

This is the grate to a heater we found. Dragons!

We also enjoyed the garden area, where I helped her see the good bones and the icky plants that have to go. It was a pleasure to show the place to someone who appreciates it as much as I do.

What a view off the front porch.

Lee told them they could have the lit the house is on and the one next door, but that we want to keep the land behind the house and across the street. Happily, they didn’t want all that land to maintain anyway!

Random shopping cart in a garage

We parted ways with the couple saying they’d let us know tomorrow what they thought. Well, I’m the time it took for me to go on a walk with the young folks, Lee got a call saying they want it. They know as well as we do that the house is in good shape for its age.

NOTE: This does not mean the house is sold, just that we showed it and they are interested. No deal is done until money exchanges hands, as we are aware. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Old wallpaper in the attic. Our friends want to make it a primary suite, like we did.

We will miss the house, if the sale goes through, but since we are keeping the adjacent lots to build new houses on (yes! A plan!) we won’t be far away and will remain friends. This is just great! I just love buying and showing properties to good people.

There are many possibilities for this fixture!

When a House Comes Down the Road: The Pool House Saga

Where to start on this tale? It’s a log one. Once upon a time, during the Pandemic Years, there was a house down the road from us. Suddenly, the house up and moved one lot down. It’s like I blinked and the house was moved. That seemed weird, but people do weird things. Over a period of months, the house got all fixed up and looked very cute.

Then, one day, where the house used to stand, there appeared a different house, one of those pre-built ones that aren’t a mobile home, but are more like a large portable building. It was pretty cute, too. A lady who raises dogs lived in the renovated old house, we found out.

Cute little house just sitting there.

We noticed that no one was living in the new house, and instead folks were living in a nice RV on the property, along with a ridiculously cute pony. At the same time, our family had been talking for a while about having a pool house on the other side of the pool, where Kathleen and her spouse could stay when they are in town, and otherwise where people can change and dry off from the pool. The talk had died off as other stuff happened in the past few months.

The cute pony did not come with the house. The lady with the dogs got it.

But, the nephew didn’t give up. He talked to the owners and found out that they’d decided they didn’t want to turn the building into a house after all. We looked at it and realized this little building is the exact right size for a pool house. It’s not big enough for full-time life, but perfect for occasional use. Talks ensued. And ensued. At one point, we gave up when the company that owned the loan didn’t want to take our money. But, yay, Lee and the nephew were patient and the move was scheduled!

Removing the supporting cement blocks

We were happy to find out they could move the building today. That required a lot of fast work, including cutting down part of our gate to make the gate at the entrance to our ranch, since we needed a 2-foot opening. It’s a good thing we know someone with a welding machine that happens to be on our property.

The pieces of wood are where the entry keypad and edge of the gate used to be. They will go back. You can see that they DID roll over it.

The other concern we had for moving the house was weather. Rain kept threatening, so we just hoped it would hold off long enough to get the house in, but then show up and rain like crazy (we need it).

Moving the house onto the trailer

Luckily, today was just cloudy. We got the call that the house movers were here, and of course your intrepid blogger grabbed her phone to record it all. Let me tell you, it was truly interesting. They have some amazing high-tech equipment that makes picking up a building and moving it a real breeze. Of course, we had our helping team there and were all prepared to do some of the work. I’m so proud of all the lifting of rocks they did (not my son’s favorite task).

Watch the little machine guide the house onto the trailer.

They had a little vehicle that was remote controlled. It could push the big house like it was just a sack of groceries. To get it off its foundation, it pushed the house straight onto a really fancy trailer that also can go up and down and even sideways, as I found out later. The house was on the trailer in no time!

It took it about 15 minutes to get down the road to our house. I enjoyed taking pictures of it as it came, plus I got some wildflower photos while I waited. Yes, people think I am a strange plant lady, but it’s okay. I had fun. And it was cool to see a house going down our road.

The scariest part of the whole trip was making the turn into our driveway. It’s a good thing that boards were put over the places where the gate had been cut off, because wheels went right over it. And at one point, everything was tilting. The trailer fixed it! It was really cool to watch.

The guys had taken down part of the fence, but there was no way the truck would make it in. No problem. The little machine pushed the house onto some wheels, and off it went.

Lowering the house off the trailer.

The guy controlling it was so good. He got the building exactly where we’d put the cones to mark the front boundaries. Wow. Suddenly, there it was!

Once it was in place, everyone got to work setting blocks down for it to sit on. The house movers had a set of lasers to help level the house, so it is accurate and straight.

We still have to put a few more supports in, but by gosh, there’s a pool house out there now! Of course, the dogs had to inspect it. They liked the free couch that came with the house the best, I think.

The general idea of a floor plan for the inside is set. Now the team will have to get onto making it usable. The plan is to make it quite rustic, like a guest cabin. We will paint it to match our house and garage, and plan to use some of the leftover stone from the exterior of our main house as accents. It will all look pretty darned coordinated.

Moment of nature. Oak blossoms.

Obviously, this will all take a while, but first the tack room needed to get taken care of. Today the ceiling got finished and the team made the larger loft smaller, so it will be more useful for what we need. All the insulation is out, so it’s looking more like a real tack room. I’m so pleased. I’m not sure when they plan to do electricity or anything, but it’s insulated and sound!

While all this excitement was going on the horses and chickens wanted attention. Drew informed me he really didn’t want any more horsey Pepto-Bismol, and since he seems fine now, I’ve decided to stop forcing it on him. He is still getting three soupy meals a day and the rest of his medicines, however.

I do not want your pink disgusting stuff. I’m outa here. Notice Drew looks sort of orange. He has been rolling in sand.

And the chickens let me know quite loudly that something was amiss in the hen house. I went over to see, and yep, it was yet another rat snake trying to take advantage of the free food. Sigh. They are such good snakes when they are eating mice and rats. But, this one had to go.

MMM, eggs. If only I knew to flee after I eat eggs.

What a day, right? And I managed to write some scintillating content on project schedule baselines in between exciting moments. I’m all tired again, that’s for sure, even after a relaxing evening last night with friends and family. It’s so nice to see both the pool and the hot tub in use and the grill fired up. Living one day at a time is working out so far.

So, who thought we’d be driving a house into our back yard today? Not me, as recently as last week.

Celebrating a Real Estate Win

So, yesterday wasn’t all bad. The Bobcat Lair house sale finally went through and funded. That was such a relief. The way things have been going lately, I was not going to believe it was real until a check was in our hands. So, our friends and former real estate partners, Carol and Russell, drove up from Austin and brought us the check.

It’s real! Carol gives Lee the check, with happy mariachis looking on.

We met at the El Charro restaurant in Cameron, where we had delicious food and celebratory margaritas (for many of us). Other than those of us who are professional writers boring those who are not, a good time was had by all. This was really a long time coming, and we still can’t believe we sold the house for its asking price.

Me trying to wrestle the check out of Lee’s hands. Harvey was hoping it was food.

We went back to the ranch for some celebratory prosecco and to ogle the check, which was the largest one we had ever seen (mainly because we didn’t have a mortgage on the house, so there was no payoff to a mortgage company).

We were very impressed, though Russell was more impressed with the prosecco.

I’m so relieved to be able to breathe a little easier, no longer having to pay two sets of utilities and property taxes. We now have some retirement income, too. I’m feeling such relief. And I am grateful for Carol’s and Anita’s help with getting the house sold, too. They both put in a lot of work! It’s so good to have friends to help you along the way.

A toast to old friends.

A bonus to the evening was that Carol and Russell delivered a lovely gift. Carol had re-painted my old metal dining set, which I’ve had since the first house I bought with the kids’ dad (so it’s at least 30 years old). It’s now red, the color of a red crayon, just like I wanted. That made me so happy!

They look brand new!

I can assure you that my gratitude for tomorrow will be for having figured out a way to have funds for my later years, for having loyal long-time friends, and for having family that wants to be with me for holidays. We are very fortunate. That I will not forget.

Projects? We Always Have Projects

There always seems to be some house or another than needs to be worked on in our little community. The focus right now is on Anita’s retirement house, Pickle’s Pink Palace. I’ve probably mentioned that a few things have come up, so she isn’t in there yet (she’s in my office, right where I am typing).

Yes, it needs some work.

The crew (the nephew and his helper, Marcus) have already taken down some walls, made some openings, and come to the conclusion that the whole place needs rewiring and insulation on the outer walls (there is NO insulation).

On the other side of that tar paper is the brick. No insulation.

But the place actually looks a lot better already, thanks to painting the walls a neutral color and removing the old cabinets and scary appliances (the stove is not scary, just dusty, and the fridge holds beverages for the crew). The biggest eyesore, a heater that took up the best wall in the living room, is also gone. The hole it left is much more attractive.

The heater hole is exactly the size of a full-length mirror, and I tried to look at myself in it.

An electrician and a spray-foam technician have already been scheduled, so that will be taken care of soon and the walls can go back up.

The kitchen also had no insulation, but at least the cabinets are gone.

Then will come more painting, flooring, cabinets, and the all-important HVAC installation. And oh yes, new windows and roof.

The garage, which is on the other side of the wall that’s been removed, will be the main bedroom and bathroom.

Much landscape cleanup has been accomplished, but there are a lot of nandina plants and other nuisances to get rid of. I hope we can save some of this beautiful little “weed,” though.

Tahitian wedding veil. Tiny blossoms.

There are a few very large, very old trees that were planted when the house was built in 1955. They are in their old age, but we hope to pamper them a few more years. The oak and pecans make Anita look even tinier!

We’re all extremely excited to get this house livable. We know it has a good vibe from back when we bought it. Anita is going to make it so true to its lineage, and so livable as well.

Want to see “before” pictures? This post from 2019 has some!

Anticipation of Positive…Stuff

Well, why not? Thinking about good outcomes is way more comforting than listing the major stressors you’re dealing with all at the same time, I think. So here I am anticipating better hair.

The older I get, the more I look like a bunny. Oh well, I declare it to be cute.

I’m also anticipating a nice meal with a friend this evening, and the sale of the Bobcat Lair, which is going more slowly than we’d hoped. The professional photos are up now, though. Check them out!

Ooh. We are in an upward transitioning community.

But, for me, the big anticipation is that Pool of Dreams! Dudes showed up today with bullnose tile for the edges of the pool, and the pretty tile for the waterfall.

Limestone with much character!

I couldn’t see the fancy tile, because they hid it to protect it. That’s probably a good idea.

The pretty stuff is under the black plastic.

They also took away all the forms around the gunite, so it’s ready to get pretty. I can’t wait to get home to see it tomorrow (I’m in Austin for the hair thing.)

Just getting started.

I’ve been enjoying the new job, but it’s making me tired, trying to learn so many things. At least I know the software! So forgive me if all I can muster up are some pictures of my latest ranch office updates. I have matching linen curtains and some art from the Bobcat house up. I like being around my needlepoint and Mom’s embroidery.

I’ll work on being more coherent tomorrow.

Staging the House

Poor Carol has had to work so hard staging the Bobcat Lair to sell. And Anita has done an incredible amount of hard cleaning and packing. But, wow, it looks so different!

The den (Anita’s living area), where you used to just walk down a narrow path.

Removing a zillion books and doo-dads that Anita and I love has made the house look all modern and spacious. It’s weird.

The mirrors are finally up in this bathroom. It’s so beautiful.

Yeah, barely looks like my house, but it should sell fast, we hope. I mean, heck, it has a wine room!

I needed that yesterday.

So, if you know a rich person who wants to live in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood in Austin with amazing neighbors, I can hook you up. Enjoy some more pictures. The professional guy comes today, and of course, it’s raining.

What? We Have a Pool?

Apparently, we do have a pool, and it’s right behind the Bobcat Lair house in Austin. I’ve lived here part time for four years and owned the house for six, but I’d never really seen it, just glimpsed it through trees.

Look, Ma, there’s a cement pond! (as they would say on the Beverley Hillbillies)

I discovered this (just kidding, I did know there was a pool there; I simply had never seen it up close) last night when my friend Carol, from back in the Hermit Haus Redevelopment days, came over to visit. She brought some delicious food, we pulled out the good wine, and we had a lot of laughs catching up. The recent goings-on in Cameron led to much laughter.

The infinity area, with scenic view.

Now, when we had most recently walked Pickle, the neighbors informed Anita and me that the pool had indeed re-opened after a year of slumber and intense renovation. I wanted to check it out, since some of the neighbors had done most of the renovating themselves, including the lovely plantings around it, and I wanted to see it up close and in person.

You can see the moon. Once it got dark, it was really pretty. The pool edges look so nice now.

We mentioned it to Carol, and she also wanted to see it. Why, she had even brought her bathing attire along with her in case she could go swimming at the Y near her house at some point in the day. So, I donned my fabulous modest bathing suit and grabbed the towel I bought two years ago and hadn’t used yet to join her for a dip. Even though it was 8:30 pm and Carol only had fancy sandals to wear, we slipped between the houses and went down.

A cozy spot to dine, or take notes, which someone forgot about.

We were very impressed with the resurfaced pool (even though I had never seen the old version), the painted areas, and the cleaned-up limestone. The lighting is also lovely, and explains why it’s never really dark outside my bedroom window.

It’s all so clean and fancy!

It turns out the pool doesn’t close until 10, so we enjoyed the water (even Anita, who had hiccups the entire time, dipped her feet in) for quite a while. I sure wish we had made time to use this neighborhood feature before, but I figure I’ll get the most out of it while I can this summer. (Excuses include losing the key for a couple of years, being exhausted every night, and COVID.)

Don’t make me take my socks off. Our house is just to the right of the one you see behind Anita.

I really appreciate the hard work people in this neighborhood are doing to improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood. They are spending their own money, since the HOA is not inclined to do more than mow and trim.

Carol checks out the plants. That’s our house, at right. Pretty close.

Sigh, actually hanging out with your old friends is fun. Thanks to all the people who worked so hard on the COVID vaccine, too!

Fun Times in Downtown Cameron

Times are getting more exciting here in little Cameron, Texas, and it’s not just because Anita will move here soon. Lots of new businesses and jobs have been coming in, and the upcoming relocation of some of the County offices to the old hospital will be freeing up some cool places for investors to come in and start new businesses. We all have our favorite “dream shops” we want to see, but which buildings are right for what?

That question is what led to my fun day yesterday. A few people who are members of the Cameron Chamber of Commerce got together, and let by the fearless Melanie, trekked all over the downtown area to look through the buildings that would soon be available and “re-imagine” them. Looking through historic buildings and offices is my idea of fun, which is why I volunteered to tag along and was so grateful for the opportunity to help out in a small way.

We looked at buildings that are still being used, buildings that were full of mold, buildings in great shape, and ones that required some imagination. We all had clipboards to write down our ideas.

I was enthralled by how many county records are in the old buildings.

I liked that some old buildings have cool windows up high with views, which makes me envision loft living. Other places would make great bars, bookstores, restaurants, gaming places (one even used to be a roller rink…could it be again?).

My favorite things, I guess, were seeing how many dang old jails there are in this town. The one we looked at yesterday was really big, and I had NO idea it was there. Ooh, scary.

Old jails make excellent, secure storage.

This jail adds to the ancient hoosegow, old jail museum, jail in the old police station (where someone lives now), PLUS the actual County Jail that is in use. My big idea was to have a “Jails of Cameron” tour, with little jails painted on the sidewalk to lead you from one to another, each with something interesting to see or do. That didn’t go over terribly well.

The jail could be turned into a restaurant, where you eat in cells and people serve you through the little door…right? Sounds romantic to me.

Other people had real ideas, so it will be fun to see what comes of all this! At least I know they aren’t building a subdivision next to my house or anything, because I made Lee buy all that land. I was a visionary, I guess.

PS: It sure was fun to do something with people like this. We couldn’t have a few months ago!

HGTV Tourism

Since we started the day in Montgomery and we’re taking back roads anyway, we decided it might be fun to see what the towns were the Napier family on HGTV do their renovations are actually like. Why not? So, we set out after the memorial visit for Wetumpka, Alabama, where Home Town Takeover is set. It’s only a few miles from Montgomery.

The bridge over the river.

Other people had the same idea as us, it seems. There was no parking and dozens of people roaming the streets. Their downtown is most assuredly revitalized.

Here’s a bunch of people milling around the store that was desperate for customers in the first episode of the show.

It looks like lots of other places have opened since Ben and Erin swooped in, and it no longer matters that the locals all shop at the big box stores right outside of town. There are PLENTY of tourists.

I didn’t get great pictures, because Lee wasn’t about to stop in all the crowds, and he was hungry. So, I got car window photos.

At least they have a sense of humor.

This place disappointed us, because it was made out to be a struggling place, but there are all sorts of stores, banks, nice restaurants and stuff you don’t see. Oh well. They lucked out!

We finally ate in the next town. Lee wanted to relive his youth and eat at a Waffle House on this trip, anyway.
Yep, there it is.

Next, we continued our tour of places touched by the Napier family, and headed to Laurel, Mississippi, where the Home Town show is filmed. There were lots of little towns on the way, though we cheated and took interstate highways for part of the trip.

I can see why Erin likes it there. Laurel is a beautiful town with many interesting homes, large and small. Lee and I enjoyed driving down the tree-lined residential streets and seeing the variety of houses, churches and schools.

The town is also nice, and wasn’t as crowded as Wetumpka. But there was LOTS of parking, so they are ready when throngs arrive.

And we even got to stop the car in Laurel! It was cool to see the shop where Ben does his woodworking on the show. And they park the blue truck outside the building. It’s not like they really drive it around, right?

Awwww

The store was not overdone in a Magnolia way (Chip and Joanna Gaines). It was nice, had things that actually resemble stuff on the show, and was nicely done. Plus, there’s a window into the wood shop!

Cool.

We had time to make it to the edge of Mississippi and stopped in Natchez. We lucked out, and our hotel room looks out on a memorial and the Mississippi River. It was lovely at sunset.

The shiny stuff is the river.

No more HGTV tourism for us. It was fun to see the small towns and what television can do to them! If I wasn’t so tired, this might have been more well written. Let me know if I totally botched a sentence like I did this morning! (Thanks to Barbara for letting me know.) Headed home in the morning.

Go west, hermits!
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