Family Kudos

I just wanted to say how happy I am with the amazing job our little family team has been doing as we work together to build our Hearts, Homes and Hands (HHH) business over the past year plus. We each have contributed time, effort, and sweat to the endeavor. And it’s been quite a learning process! No doubt it will continue to be.

I rarely get to share decorative plants, so here are some I saw walking around our Austin neighborhood.

I encourage all the readers of this blog to also follow the HHH blog, which features lots of writing on elder care and health issues, along with business updates. That’s where you hear more from our chief hermit, Lee, too.

My contribution is helpful, but minimal, since I have another full-time job at the moment. I do the blog, maintain the Facebook page and LinkedIn, and write some newspaper articles. And I help with renovating our buildings by selecting materials and such.

On the other hand, Kathleen, Lee, and Chris have been working so, so hard that it’s been hard on their mental and physical health. Still they’ve kept going, and it shows by how much the business has grown!

Lee has become quite the financial analyst for a writer, or for anyone. He helps us see where we’ve been and where we’re going. His attention to detail awes me.

I’ve mentioned Chris and his work many times here, since I enjoy sharing rehab updates. His ability to design structures and then build them has been amazing to watch. The stairs! The crown molding! My bathroom! The ceilings! I can’t wait until he can have a team helping him, which will be a lot easier when the office is done. I’m really grateful for his patience and willingness to do this work.

And wow, Kathleen has done a yeoman’s job of getting us set up, keeping state-required records, training the initial staff, and recruiting customers. It’s really a job for more than one person, and it’s been hard on her! Many days she just comes home and goes to bed, unable to deal with anything else! I don’t blame her one bit.

I’m glad she’s got enough staff trained to help with the day-to-day operations of our business, because I know she will really be an amazing marketer when her time is less booked. Well, and when the pandemic makes doing things in person a challenge.

That’s the thing, we’ve done darned well to be still going after the past few months. I’m so grateful for all our talented family members, and for the great staff that is providing the much-needed personal assistance service to this county. Kudos to all.

Speaking of Shiny Things

The fun with mirrors didn’t stop all day today, plus Chris finished the stairs, which are ready for the rails to get fabricated. The shiny wood is complemented by shiny metal trim that will be darned sturdy.

All the sides and edges are finished.

Chris was saying this staircase is his most impressive creation. I must agree. This is one hand-made object with so many parts!

The real and fake wood look good together.

Every time I climb these shiny stairs I’ll think of all the work that went into them and the horrible staircase they replaced.

Shiny!

Since we were on a mirror kick, I brought over my Ann Allen original mirrors that I’ve been carrying around for years (since 1998). They are really happy things that I knew would look great in my office bathroom.

Why have only one mirror?

I’ll smile every time I wash my hands from now on! They will go great with the other art I plan to put in the room. So glad I know so many creative people.

I really need to change out those light bulbs.

And Tubby got put to work today. He makes a good mask drying rack! It’s nice to be able to use the office a little bit.

A Desk Is Born

Next week, the refinishing of the floor in my new office will start. That means I’ll need a desk. Chris really wanted to make one, as I e mentioned before. We both wanted to re-use old materials for it. We found doors we wanted to use as the desk top and sides among ones we had to remove in the renovation.

The future desk doors

But, we didn’t find suitable framing stuff, even when we looked at various antique shops. Then, one day, Chris was at our friend Mike’s woodworking shop, borrowing a saw. He noticed some old pipe, and asked Mike what it was. It turns out it was the old gas lines that got removed when we were working on the Hermit Haus.

Parts of the pipe he didn’t use.

Mike hadn’t wanted them to go to waste, so he took them home. He was happy to give them to Chris for the desk project!

So, today was welding day. I’ve never watched anyone build with metal before, so I hung around and watched Chris as he worked. Numerous dogs helped until sparks started flying.

Everyone was happy while he was just selecting pipe to use.

We did the work under the shady roof over our shipping container (future tack room and stalls for horses). Alfred dug himself a nice hole to sit in.

Happy Alfred

First, Chris cut all the pieces from the old pipe. It was really exact. He marked the cuts with a soapstone marker. Interesting!

I kept watching the little fires that came up, ready to throw my cup of water on them. But it was fine.

After that, Chris put on his helmet and put everything together. It didn’t take long at all! It was like magic! I enjoyed seeing how he leveled the legs and attached all the parts securely.

The highlight was when he put the old door on the rustic frame. Wow. So cool. It will look amazing with the big piece of glass on top.

The door fits!

I even got to practice sitting at my desk. What a fun thing to do on a Sunday!

It seems to work!

Thanks to Chris for his willingness to make this one-of-a-kind example of using what you have!

Wilson to the Rescue

Chris is at the stage in the Pope renovation that he is putting up trim in high places. He’s also cutting lots of crazy angles.

Angles

I’d wondered how he was managing to hold the boards up while he nailed them, especially the long ones. That’s when he introduced me to his rather quiet new helper.

Hold it right there!

Meet Wilson. He holds the trim just right as Chris nails the other end down. How do I know his name?

Oh, I see.

He has a name tag. That’s very helpful, since he’s the tall and silent type. Very patient, too.

A little scruffy, isn’t he?

He looks a lot like Chris, too. I’m really glad that man has a sense of humor. It must make doing all this alone a lot easier.

There’s Always Something to Be Grateful For

Yes, today’s word is gratitude. You knew that one was coming, right. Those of us working on our attitudes are told by all our self-help books, tapes to keep gratitude journals, because it actually makes us feel better at a brain chemistry level. I know my spouse does it every day and it’s been really good for him.

I don’t write a gratitude journal, but I’ve been practicing just “noticing” where I am and what is going on, often through the day. This just leads to gratitude welling up in me. Corny as it may seem, I’m often just grateful for the privilege of being here on this earth, able to live and continue to learn every day.

Just noticing where I was. Grateful for the ever-entertaining ducks of Cameron.

Today, I awoke from the first decent sleep I’ve had in a while, looked out at my chickens, who got through a pretty bad storm last night, and was glad to see that my sadness of the past few days had moved on to a new phase. The first song I heard this morning said it well:

Let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day

Raglan Road, Irish folk song

I’m practicing being grateful even for the stumbling blocks and unexpected changes life brings, which I’ll talk about more in the next post. Right now, I just want to share how grateful I am for my support system, including these precious beings, who have really improved their behavior lately.

Two good doggies.
Lee is ready for when we are allowed to open our office and need to wear scrubs!

And I’m grateful for my family and close friends (thanks Anita and Mike) for listening to my vents yesterday. I feel very well cared for, with Chris sharing his stories of similar things in his life, and Lee jumping right into lists for planning our future. With this network of support, I’ll get by.

We all deserve a support network when things get weird, and by gosh, things are weird for everyone right now, and lots of us have other things piling on top of the isolation. If I can EVER be a listening ear for YOU, I’m here. I want to pay forward the kindnesses for which I am so grateful.

Your thoughts are always welcome, friends.

Need Inspiration? Here’s Some!

Now, here’s a thing. Hard times bring out the best and worst of people, right? It seems like a lot of folks are concentrating on the stuff that makes you just shake your head. The economy is more important than the lives of the elderly, having a lifetime supply of paper products is more important than other people having it, the world is just going to fall apart if you don’t have bread NOW. Wipe those thoughts away, right this second!

The UU word for today is inspiration, and that sent me right off into a wonderful frame of mind, where I realize that I am inspired by people near and far, ever single day of the Great Isolation.

Be inspired by our revamped shiplap wall. Lee and Chris worked so hard on it. I later cleaned all those bits of wallpaper off.

My family come first when I think of inspiration. We’re all sticking it out as best as we can. I wish I could be with my kids, but I’m impressed by how well they are handling themselves. I drive by my sister’s house every day and wave, knowing it’s safer to stay distant, but proud of how she’s coping.

Look how light and bright it is in Lee’s office with new window trim.

And then there’s the family I live with. Kathleen has been working herself so hard to get our business going in these hard times, and by golly, she’s succeeding! We have so much business that we have more staff and had to buy a bunch of scrubs for everyone to wear. And all the safety and health precautions keep adding up, but she keeps everyone on track. And I think I’d explode if I had to print as many forms and information as she does. She’s a real inspiration to me and to the rest of us. You just deal with what you get!

Kathleen says I can have these lovely, huge scrubs.

I’m also inspired by Chris, who is keeping our renovation project going with just occasional help from Easton (because Easton is also working for our business). He has so many great ideas and the skills to make them come to life. It’s really awesome to see someone find creativity in physical things and get as much joy out of it as I do with writing and making help systems.

Chris surveying his domain.

In the rest of the world, I see so many ministers out there helping people in new and innovative ways. They inspire me to keep in touch and support the folks who depend on me, as well (shout-out to the Live Oak UU team and so many others). People need spiritual support, and these folks are figuring out ways to provide it.

Bluebonnets on the sidewalk. Inspirational beauty.

And, well, you know this was coming. Every day I’m inspired by Mother Nature, as spring keeps on springing, butterflies and birds are mating, and the grass is so green it hurts my eyes. That’s inspiration to keep on keeping on: just the chance to enjoy one more spring.

I Am So Proud of Our Friends and Family on This Renovation

Wow, the amount of work that’s gone into our office renovation project is immense. Anything to do with money can get my poor spouse upset, and things were getting to him. I am so grateful to Kathleen and Chris, who were also dealing with their own stressful “stuff,” for helping Lee and the team figure out a good way to move forward on our project to bring a very old house back to life. I feel like I owe them something!

This brick has been cleaned so you can see all its colors. Looks so good. What’s that on top? The air conditioning/heating unit!

Now our family and friends are part of the team, and getting stuff DONE. Chris and Cody are supporting each other and leading the charge, while they brought in Easton (Kathleen’s daughter’s boyfriend) and Randy (neighbor at the ranch). These guys are cleaning bricks like crazy , making the walls prettier every day.

Here’s the unit in my office, and one of the doors that we’re going to use for a desk.

This lets Cody concentrate on bringing in specialists, such as our friend Felix, whose team swooped in today and installed a new HVAC system that’s both energy efficient and minimally intrusive. Wow, that’s going to literally be cool!

Working on the tiny hole that goes from the outside unit to the inside one.

Interior decoration helps me get my balance back. I told you earlier how Kathleen and I spent a happy hour or two last night dreaming of rustic chandeliers for our offices (mine with bling, hers without). We also have been figuring out ways to re-use the doors we’ll have to replace by making them our new desks. She’s looking for something cool to set hers on. I’ll probably get something with drawers from IKEA. I need drawers.

Another crazy light fixture. Antlers and bling. I have no idea which of the possibilities I’ll actually get.

We found a giant mirror in the bathroom by my office, which we already know a place for in Lee’s office. When we get it cleaned a bit, we’ll show it to you.

Look at all the pretty shiplap in the empty bathroom. That’s way better than a lot of really dirty stuff.

Most important, though, is that our family, our friends, and the people we are working with are back to having FUN on this project, which is how it should be. I am so grateful to everyone who is pitching in and helping me and Lee.

Lee actually having fun with air conditioning stuff. Felix said to get his hands off his noodle. We laughed so much.

PS: I have some additional photos of the renovation over on the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog, if you want to see more.