Seasonal Greetings

Yesterday was US Thanksgiving. I didn’t blog, because, thanks to still being sick, all my energy was taken up with cooking. I’m glad to report, that with some help and good cheer, the meal came out great and everyone in our little ranch community had fun.

Lee could not help, as he had a giant dog on his lap. (Joke)

It rained all day again. We aren’t getting much each day, but it’s helping. Between the dismal weather and my throbbing sinuses, I didn’t want to be out much, anyway.

Dismal

Today I’ve felt a little better, so I went to the Red House to remove fall decor and make it look Christmas-like, since that’s the thing people do nowadays. I discovered the new wardrobe had arrived for the second bedroom. It’s rather large. Some rearranging will be needed.

There are now king sized pillows on the big bed, too, though I need to exchange one of the shams’ pillow for the new ones. New ones are pretty lumpy and would be better for shams, but I got too tired to switch them out. Darned cold. In fact, I fell asleep after writing the previous sentence. I’m tired

Otherwise it’s looking subtly like winter holidays are coming. Or perhaps it’s kitschy. I did my best. Maybe we have a guest this weekend. Still wanting a couple of “test guests” before going all out.

So far, the best suggestion I’ve gotten is to leave a few books out. That’s a good idea. I can leave some of the novels I’ve read and a couple of Texas books.

Fake books don’t count.

Time to go home and rest and drink plenty of fluids. I’m thankful for you readers and friends. You make my life richer.

The Red House – Almost There!

I spent most of the weekend working with my family on getting our vacation rental ready for a trial run this weekend. We still have some things to get done, but I tell you what, if you want a pillow, I can give you one (unfortunately, there were NO king-size pillows where we shopped, so I’ve ordered some for the back bedroom). I’m really happy with how this project has come along, after many delays waiting to close on the property so we could really work. So many people have helped out, too. It takes a village, or at least a small town.

Living room is ready to hang out in.

The place will be called The Red House on Fannin, for a good reason. It’s a red house on Fannin Avenue. Visit the link above to like its brand-new Facebook page. Then you can see if we ever actually have anyone rent the place! There will be a website soon; I am working on it!

Logo and catchy catch-phrase

The only real issue is that we have not yet uncovered the dishes and flatware we plan to use in the house among all the boxes labeled “kitchen” from my Austin house. By “we” I mean my dear spouse, who is looking for them every day. I can’t even lift the over-packed boxes, so I’m no help whatsoever. He is one step closer to Heaven, as my friend Janet van Sickler used to say. If we don’t find them by Saturday, guests may need to use substitutes. It’s a “soft opening,” anyway, and we hope the first couple of renters will help us out by telling us what else we forgot or could do more differently. As many of these things as I’ve stayed at, I’m sure there’s more we forgot! Oh, like the refrigerator that has to be moved from one building to another. That’s a hard one. But it will happen (and may have even happened today, for all I know).

Ignore the caulk gun.

I did manage to put up No Smoking signs and we have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. That makes me feel good. The HVAC system, washer and dryer, dishwasher and microwave all work, too. Yay. The leaky bathroom sink leaks no more, as well. All systems almost Go!

We don’t want you to run out of hand sanitizer!

Lee kindly put up all the curtains, which was made harder by the fact that Lowe’s sells ONE curtain per package. I guess that new trend had bypassed me, since I thought there should be two. My big job was to put on all the sheets. If there is a hell, it will include putting sheets on bunk beds. I also built the clothes rod for the front bedroom, which has the bunk bed and trundle, because it lacks a closet. What were they thinking in the 1930s? Oh, and by the way, the living room sofa is also a bed, so this place can sleep more folks than you’d think!

Killer bed. The colors came out weird. The room is navy and gray.

Anyhow, we’re pleased with how it has come out and look forward to using it for movie nights, ourselves (those fancy houses in town can get cable and good Wi-Fi). And no doubt it will be used by grandchildren and other family of our own (no, no grandchildren for me as far as I know). It’s really comfortable and cozy, and should be pleasant to stay in.

This bedroom came out great, thanks to donated furnishings.

Proud of our teamwork on this one!

Tired of Prickles

I’m really over cockleburs. My fingers are about to give up from extraction of these sticky things from horse tails and manes. I know someone else who’s sick of burs.

Like my ‘fro?

I got over a dozen burs out of Apache’s mane and almost as many from his tail. It’s easier getting them out of tails. I think they are out of good grass, so they’re in the weeds.

Looking fine.

Once the horses were eating I went after Dusty. I still can’t get to Mabel, but I will get her tied down tomorrow and work on it. At least I got a good sunset ride on Apache in between.

Another Topic

We are working on furnishing the vacation rental. That’s been both fun and challenging. The sofa did NOT want to go in.

Almost in

But we now have a king bed in the main room, a trundle bunk in the other, plus the sofa bed. I’m hoping for visitors as well as paying guests!

We still need much of the kitchen stuff, linens, a wardrobe for the small bedroom, more pictures and some curtains. We’re close!

We have a farm animal theme.

More later, but we should start accepting guests in a couple of weeks. I’m sure grateful to the guys from Denio’s Furniture and our team of helpers for putting stuff together and moving stuff for us!

Meanwhile. It may rain again tomorrow!

Vacation Rental in Cameron?

Are you one of the hordes of people who’ve been looking for a comfortable, rustic retreat to stay in for a few days while you do business, visit family, or vacation in Cameron, Texas? Do you have more visitors than space in your home when there are big events like football weekends, Steaks Stein & Wine, or livestock events? Look no further, because we here at the Hermits’ Rest Enterprises (that’s me and Lee and our family helpers) have something you might be interested in coming soon!

It’s got a hermit! Pumpkin has already fallen over. I need to put a brick in it.

We’ve acquired one of the most charming homes on one of the prettiest lots in the area, colloquially known as the Red House. It is convenient to the airport, schools, and the town, but off the main road. Family friends owned it until they needed to sell, so we did one of our famous quick cash purchases. That’s a joke, because just like the one we just sold, this one took a lot longer than we anticipated. So, I’ve been sitting on my photos for a while now!

The Red House

We have repainted the interior, removed all carpets, added fresh window coverings, and will soon have some new appliances to put in the cute blue and white kitchen. The house has good heat and air conditioning and is on a shady lot.

Obviously not staged yet!

We can imagine lots of fun being had on the porches and in the amazing screened-in garage, which will soon be a recreation area. We can also imagine small conferences and meetings being held on the big table in the large dining room. The previous owners did a great job fixing this house up for the occupant, and then they cleaned the heck out of it before they left. That’s unusual for a house we purchase, but then, they are great folks.

This garage is so cute.

While the house has only two bedrooms and one bathroom, it will sleep a family or small group, with a king bed in the main bedroom, a bunk with trundle in the front bedroom, and a sleeper sofa in the living room. We haven’t put the furnishings in yet. That’s next!

There will be more than a stool in the main bedroom. But look at the floors!

We will list the house once it’s furnished. I’m glad I had a lot of kitchen stuff from my other house that’s in good shape and usable, and that we have some nice furnishings and decor. I can’t wait to get the house ready to rent!

Huge back porch built for relaxing. That’s the garage at left.

We will keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, use the comments or Facebook messenger to ask questions.

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)

Meet Kendall Sue Bruns!

Huh? Who?

Many of you may remember when I previously blogged for our real estate company, Hermit Haus Redevelopment. Since we ended that venture, Lee and I have continued to buy, renovate, and sell or rent property. It was Lee’s official retirement job until he took on the money duties at Hearts, Homes, and Hands, the personal assistance service Kathleen runs.

But we still do the real estate, since that’s how Lee makes his living. All that is to explain why we had a survey drawn up to subdivide a property in Cameron so we can build stuff. Today we went to get the “six original copies” notarized at the lawyers’ office. That when we noticed this:

That ain’t my name.

This entire document was drawn up listing me as a good patriarchal piece of chattel known as Kendall Sue Bruns. Bruns (pronounced broonz) is Lee’s surname. Much hilarity ensued as Lee and Liz, my friend who happens to be the notary in the office, began hooting about my new name and telling me it fits. We had to fix my name many places. Sigh.

I sort of like the name Kendall Sue. It sounds quite ethnic if you have my heritage. I guess it’s good that I like it, since Liz plans to call me that from now on.

My name is Kendall Sue. How do you do?

I actually look like my Aunt Joyce with my hair this short. Or one of her daughters. Maybe cousin Jan and I are identical cousins now.

By the way, my office is no longer too hot so I feel less heatsick. Felix the great temporarily fixed it. And the exterminator (also great) sprayed all around the house to kill all black widows, kissing bugs, and scorpions extra dead. In honor of that, I have no Creature of the Day today.

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 its surroundings. The woman of the team 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 lot 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 partners saying they’d let us know tomorrow what they thought. Well, in 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.

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