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!

I Understand Why People Hate Timeshares

As faithful readers may have noticed, Lee and I bought into a timeshare, after swearing we’d never do that. But, we reasoned that by paying into it, we would be more likely to take the time out of our schedules to go travel, and it would be like having a second (okay, third) home without having to maintain it ourselves.

We (or I) have enjoyed visiting various spots, like North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Utah. We also had a fun trip within Texas through the system. I have no complaints about the facilities or staff, and was really impressed by how careful they were when I went to Utah and managed to avoid humans and their diseases.

But, it turns out that the resorts and amenities are a small part of the operations, which really seem to be focused on aggressively pursuing late payments and trying to get people to default on their loans. If a payment isn’t received immediately, debt collection calls start. I’ve never had debt collection calls from anywhere, ever before!

It turns out that our problem is that Lee prefers to make payments by postal mail, using the coupon books provided by the company and personal checks. That’s a legitimate way to pay, and I used to pay for things that way, too. This does make us dependent on the US Postal Service to get our payments to the company on time. Payments sent a week before due date were a few days late a couple of times since we got the timeshare. As soon as I realized the calls were legit, I always paid the bills by credit card. They kindly took the checks, too, once they arrived. I guess it applied to principal.

But then, around Christmas/New Year’s, I kept getting calls and calls. It seems that they didn’t get TWO payments. Lee swore he’d paid them. Well, ha! He had sent the payments all right, but they got RETURNED to us for sending them to the wrong address (the address on the payment coupons). Well, changing your address and not forwarding mail to the new one sure is a way to get lots of late fees.

Thanks a lot, postal service

I called their debt servicing folks, and a lady gave me two entirely different addresses to send payments to. She said she never heard of the one on our coupons. Uh huh. Too bad, so sad.

I sent their email address proof that we DID make the payments and that the postal service had returned them. I asked that they not report me as not paying my bills.

So, beware. Timeshares can be fun and simplify travel, but I’d pay cash up front if I ever did it again, which I won’t.

Horror stories of your own are welcome!

Putting a Dream on Hold

I just did something that both made me sad and and reminded me to be grateful for what I have. This morning (way overdressed for the task), I took down the signs that we’d put up over at the church to direct people to our businesses. I’d had a lot of hopes for the church building, which is still The Hermit Haus in my heart, but plans change and pandemics get in the way.

Even the sky looks bummed out (it rained hard right after this).

What Happened?

Well, long-time readers will know that the Hearts, Homes and Hands business moved to the stately Pope Residence across the street, so the sign for that was confusing (and it had the old phone number). That’s all good! I’m so proud of how well we’re doing and how many people we are able to help, not to mention providing jobs in the community. That’s a winner!

The hermit says goodbye to the door he guarded.

Our Hermit Haus Redevelopment business has wound down, though the real estate work Lee and I do with Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is doing fine. His office is over at the Pope Residence, too, so I put our little hermit by his door. Aww.

He now gets to guard a new door and a fancy air conditioner!

And I had to face it, with all the things going on with the HHH business, as well as some other stuff that’s going on, business-wise, I knew I would not have the time or energy to do something fun with the Hermit Haus for now. Mandi is going to be working in a pharmacy as soon as she finishes her class, and with me still working full time in Austin, when would we be at the building?

No more sign directing people to the basement, either. But, my garden turned out nice and was pretty all summer.

We’ve had one wedding there recently, because one of our team members’ family lost their venue at the last minute. And we had Master Naturalist classes (hybrid Zoom/in person) there last month. So, it gets used, but we aren’t able to really have a business. That dream has to wait.

Yay, we have a sign.

So I decided to admit the dream is over, at least for now, and take those signs down today. The good news is that now we have a sign for HHH at our actual office, which, along with the new address numbers, makes it a lot easier for people to find the office (since we still aren’t bringing in visitors, it’s mainly for people doing job interviews, which there are a LOT of).

It’s All Fine, Change Happens

With so much changing every day in my life, change has become my new normal. And I’m finally getting better at it, I think. I think of plans and schedules as things that might or might not happen. I think of work teams as temporary. Pets, friends, and colleagues are to be enjoyed in the present. Yep, focusing on today really makes things easier. All is well, today, especially since we got the first significant rain of the month today.

How are YOU holding up? Are things too steady or too changeable?

I’m in My Office!

The good news came this morning that our renovation of the first floor of the Pope Residence has passed inspection. I hear the sturdiness of the stairs impressed the inspectors, as it should have. I stayed the heck out of the way, as befits the role of the silent partner: you have to stay silent!

That’s the inspector truck on the side of the road. Hey, maybe we can take the permit out of the window!

I’m very proud of the work everyone has done on the project, especially Chris, whose patience I tested (and continue to test) frequently.

Desk with computer and red lamp. I’m in business!

Today I brought the rest of the stuff over that makes an office work as an office. And as I set the desk up, Chris did a few more things for me. He hung up the amber hanging lamp, and it really livens up that corner, I think.

The cozy corner now has its mood lamp.

The stained glass windows I brought from the ranch house also got hung, and they really look cool in the window, and will bring a little privacy while letting in light from the stairway area.

Eduardo and the spider plant got their hangers today, so the window looks rather jungly. That area isn’t quite done, because my sister gave me a stained glass window similar to the other ones, which we’re going to put at the top of the outside window as soon as we get another hook.

The jungle.

The other to-do item is the glass for the interior window. Chris is going to put plywood up there until the real glass is ordered and arrives. Glass is the last big item on the list for this place. My window and shelving will let this office have a more spacious look, since the glassware collection won’t be on all the surfaces anymore!

Back to work. I’m sure glad my phone works as a hotspot, because we can’t figure out the WiFi password!

Delays Are Minor Disappointments – Still Having Fun

Because I think I annoyed my family by reacting with a sad-face emoji to the news that the inspection of the new office building won’t be until Monday, let me say that I am ever-so-cheerful about how things are going, and am enjoying doing the things I can do. I also extra appreciative of how hard everyone is working and how helpful we’ve all been to each other.

That said, I’m still in the dungeon working away at the ole Agile Transformation and such. On lunch break, though, I went over to the shiny new office (which sure has a lot of spider webs to get rid of), and got to watch Chris put my desk together, so it’s all one piece now.

We still need to add the glass cover (very important to protect the delicate crackle job) and the keyboard drawer, for my typing pleasure. But, that can be done this weekend or Monday. I’ll use the small piece of glass on my current desk until the custom piece is made.

Look, it’s art.

And while he had the drill in hand, Chris was kind enough to hang my art on the walls. That really helps the place look more finished! I have the cool glass hanging lamp I want installed, but it needs more chain, then all that’s left is the stained glass and shelves. These things take time! I’m honestly not trying to get it all done at once. I can work now, once we get the approval, and that’s what dounts.

I seem to have put most of the stuff in this one corner. Hmm.

It’s just nice to have something that makes me happy to focus on, if you know what I mean!

I’m glad my painting of Carlton climbing the fence fit in above the coat rack. I won’t have the view of Lee’s door, once the glass goes in the “window” there.

There’s lots to look forward to the rest of today. Trixie’s coming, so my hope is that Apache gets a clean bill of health, as well as Fiona. Hee haw!

Fun or Else

Starting today, I’m gonna have fun all day long OR ELSE. That means, even at work! So what if I had Zoom meetings at 10,11,12,1,3, and 4 today? Fun times shall occur at 2 pm. It’s 2:30. I’m blogging. Thankfully, I consider blogging fun.

To start that fun off right, I made myself Zoom backgrounds so it will look like I’m in my new office. And I wore a cheerful shirt, plus lipstick!

Now, doesn’t that make meetings fun? Sure!

And to paraphrase Lee, I “get” to have a lot of meetings today. But, it’s true. I get to talk to a lot of interesting people. It was work book club day, which meant lots of fun.

Such a nice bunch of blurry people to chat with over lunch!

I did “get” to run over to the new office building, sign in to swear I am not sick, and get some pretty pictures of the completely finished stairs. Ahh.

Fun is how you define it! No wonder I surround myself with things that cheer me up. It makes whatever I’m doing fun. I’m extra glad for the happy keyboard and mouse, since most of my “fun” is typing!

Thanks, happy keyboard

What fun have you been having? Do you define your own fun, like I do?

Bright and Shiny and Cheerful

I do believe I now have my office set up to where it will force me to be cheerful. My pink chair showed up today, and it fit into my reading nook exactly how I’d hoped it would. When I look up from my computer, I will see this screaming pink beacon of comfort, which will look even better when the art is hung and the hanging lamp is hung.

Meanwhile, Chris continues with his finishing touches as we await the go-ahead to actually use the place. The upstairs windows in back no longer stream in light, so that should help the air conditioning bill, though I’ll miss the light.

Just makes you want to take a nap, doesn’t it?

And the white trim along the edges of the stairs is being painted on. That’s the final step to stairway completion. What a journey that has been!

But, the most best accomplishment of the day was that my little black hooks arrived from Amazon, and they worked just great to hold the crystals I bought for my chandelier.

Not too much bling, but enough to give me something to enjoy in a tedious meeting, or to take a break from working.

I somehow have three extra that I can’t figure out how I’d attach, but maybe I’ll figure out something. Or I can put them in the window.

It’s extra shiny when it reflects in the mirror! (Oops, there’s a thing on the mantel that I should have moved. You get the idea, though.)

Other than hanging the pictures and bringing in the stuff for my desk, my work here is complete. I have a place to work that will make ME feel comfortable and focused. No, it’s not minimalist. It’s okay. I think curated clutter is IN. And if it isn’t, I DO happen to know that timeless things that aren’t necessarily trendy are also in fashion. There’s a design trend I can agree with!

Blinded in a Good Way

Lee had been waiting patiently for the rest of the blinds to go up at the Pope Residence, to save on electricity. The new-ish windows aren’t terribly efficient, but not old enough to replace.

Now that the stair rails are done, and the custom sized blinds for the really long windows are in, Lee’s dream can come true. They’re going up.

There are even blinds for the upstairs rooms we haven’t renovated yet.

Sadly for some, I like light, as do my plants. So my shade stays up.

Plus there’s the collection of brass birds, which I don’t want to touch.

Lee and Chris quickly got Kathleen’s shades up, while she was working offsite. I also spotted the snakeskin she recently found, displayed on her light fixture. So cool.

Lee’s office has been amazingly bright and cheerful. No wonder he hasn’t moved much in. It’s also pretty warm in there. Once the blinds are up, it will be a lot more hermitage in mood, and efficient in electricity needed.

Well, I like light. I need my shiny stuff to shine!

My favorite office area, so far.

Blind Weirdness

Here’s something. The blinds for the building were all ordered on the same day, from the same store. They are the same brand and style (real wood, but not fancy).

The push up and down model.

However, there are three different mechanisms for raising and lowering them. Some you just push up and pull down, like in my office. Some have sophisticated buttons you have to press before raising or lowering, like in Lee’s office.

The snazzy buttons.

Others have the traditional string pulls, like in Kathleen’s office. Those may be challenging.

Annoying strings.

More Blinds

Anyway, the whole downstairs is blinded now. Lee is very happy with his dimness.

The reception room now really wants its furniture!

I wanted to see how the blinds looked from outside then I remembered all the sand burs and the fact that the grass is knee high. But I did it, so you can see.

The outside pictures really make it clear that the exterior also needs a lot of work. We will get there! In the meantime, I look forward to enjoying my office from all angles, every day. Next week?

So rustic and cheerful!