Friday, May 29, 2009

The Pool Is Taking Shape

They are really moving along with the pool. I've been watching the stone guys. If you've ever watched Rock Solid on TV...these guys are as good at laying stone, just not as funny.

Anyway, they are doing an amazing job. One of them has an artist's heart. When he came out here, his first question was whether or not he could use our native rock for the waterfall. I've watched him and he's pretty fascinating. He takes a look all around the rock piles first. Then he chooses a rock then turns it in all directions looking at all the faces. After he gets it to the pool...which sometimes takes heavy equipment (which we've already established...I love!!), he washes it out completely, does some chipping if he thinks it needs it, and places it in different directions in the waterfall. There are rejected rocks all behind the pool right now..he only chooses what looks best to his artist's eye. The waterfall is very rustic and beautiful. Much more beautiful than I imagined. It's all very Hill-Country Texas.

So, all of the stone on my pool (waterfall and jumping rocks) came from our land; I love the sound of that! Isn't it amazing that people pay big bucks, for what they have found free for the picking right on the ground here? We have enough stone to make walls, steps to go down to the pool, and benches on our land...and still there are plenty of rocks left. Our rocks runneth over!

This week they will pour the walkway around the pool, and pour the deck. Our pool guy told me that they would start the plaster next week, and once that is finished complete the waterfall. I think we're swimming by the end of June!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Not A Sissy, I'm a Texas Woman...

I grew up in East Texas so I learned from my environment to be an East Texas kind of woman. An ET woman can give you a hard time about whatever you need to be given a hard time about, but usually won't, unless it's about her children. She will just complain to her friends so that it gets back to you. ET women know how to cook, my goodness! They can whip up a complete meal in a black iron skillet that smells so good it will make the whole neighborhood hungry. ET women generally sew, craft, and love to shop, shop, shop! ET women would NEVER, I mean NEVER go out of the house with their hair undone, without makeup, and in unmatched clothes. ET women do womanly work around the house...they don't generally take out the trash. Many of them still iron. My best friend even mentioned her ironing on FB recently. ET women are used to being somewhat taken care of by ET men. Okay..I know I've ticked off a few ET women out there...but remember, I'm one of you, so I know what goes on.. (and of course, I'm speaking, or rather writing, in generalizations).

When I moved to Central Texas at the age of 42, it was culture shock for me in so many ways. The shock that really sent me into a tailspin was that Central Texas women were not like ET women! What?? Weren't all women sort of alike?? I just wondered where the women were who were like me. I couldn't seem to find a woman who cooked, I never met anyone in my town with a sewing machine (I have a very nice sewing machine, AND an embroidery machine, and my sister's serger in my sewing room...YES, ET women have rooms that designated for SEWING!) These women liked to hunt! I met more women who had killed a deer than women who had ever crocheted anything. They drank beer for goodness sake! One of them I met did drywall, and laid floors..on the side. But, I instantly liked and admired these women. They were smart and tough, and still managed to have a feminine side.

Okay, I had to get to the bottom of this. I began asking questions. CT women thought I was just as odd as I thought they were. They really didn't know that ET women were different from them, either. They seemed shocked at my discovery, but they understood when I explained. Then, the answer came. I read True Women by Janice Woods Windle, and figured it all out. The book is about the women who helped settle Texas. You've been to CT and you know it's rocky, hilly, hot, cactus-y, snakey, and full of scorpions. You know there isn't a flat piece of land with enough dirt to plant a seed, much less a tree, and if you manage to plant something and it comes up, a deer eats it. It's tough here, and I cannot even imagine being one of those women who fought Indians. But, these women raised families here, grew and hunted their food, and settled before air-conditioning existed. They had better be tough, and they had better not expect to have someone take care of them. My CT sisters were the offspring of these women! They learned how to be women from their environment just like I had.

My grandmother, Nancy Milam, was a CT woman in the 1800's, so I did have some of that CT blood in my veins. Maybe, I thought, that's why I admired these women so much. I decided wanted to find a way to enjoy both parts of my female heritage..after all, I still love being an ET woman, but I wanted to "get in touch" with my CT woman side. So, I just started trying it out. I helped my husband lay floors, I found ways to plant in spite of the deer. I occasionally go to the store (in the country, not it town...haven't arrived there yet) without makeup. I starting hauling rocks and my husband bought me my own girl-sized pick-axe so that I could actually dig a dig a little, pick out rocks, dig a little, etc. What I learned is that it's not either or. We can do it all, all of us, and now I think of myself as an ETCT woman. Women are a beautiful creation of God, and I for one love being a Texas woman from whichever location.

By the way, my boss is an ET woman, and she recently bought an embroidery machine.....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Hope It's the John Deere......

My husband went to price utility vehicles at Kubota and John Deere today.

To you, that just sounds like a common, everyday statement. To me, it's pure music! You see, I have the heart of a farmer. From the time I can remember my daydreams until now, I've dreamed of farming and ranching. Of course, there was also the dream of being a dancer, but I knew I didn't have enough killer-instinct to bring that dream about in any big way. In part, I took care of that dream in college.

My ideal childhood would have been growing up in a vineyard, having cows, horses, chickens, gardens and orchards. My family moved a lot. I went to first grade in three different states, and moved a couple of times each school year until we settled in a small Texas town when I was in the sixth grade. Although my childhood was enriched by that travel in many ways - I saw every major landmark across the southern US, I learned how to fit in as the "new kid", I experienced changes, if only small changes, in American culture, we even spent a summer in Europe for my Dad's work - I wonder if my dream had something to do with all the moving and desiring roots?

Whether or not that's the case, I remember when I was in the third grade and we were living in Mississippi. I used my own money, and bought some plastic flowers at the dime store and planted them in our yard! I have literally thought about farming, gardening, and ranching at every stage in my life.

God is faithful! I am about to see that dream (in cows and horses yet) come to life!

My husband often makes the statement that with me, everything starts with an outfit. I don't deny that because I really hope we get the John Deere since they have a cute line of women's shirts, jackets and hats! Okay, so I'm a girly-farmer. Keep watching, I'm sure I'll be posting pictures.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Sweetest Love Letter Ever Written

My father was born late in life to my grandparents, and I was born late in life to my father. So, my grandparents were adults in the 1800's. My dad used to talk about going to Camp Ben Muccullough in Driftwood, TX to listen to Civil War vets tell war stories. My grandmother is the great, great niece of Ben Milam, Alamo-era hero. We love Texas, we love being Texan and Texas history is rich in my family. In the course of looking for information about the past, a family member gave me a copy of this letter written by my grandfather to my grandmother. The copy of the original is too hard to read to post, but here is the text. I wonder when we lost our gentility?

Leander, Williamson Co. TX
September 1, 1894

Dear Nancy,
We stopped at Leander, don’t know how long we will stay here. I am going to church tomorrow. Was invited to a musical entertainment last night but it was raining so I couldn’t go. It seems like there is no pleasure here for me anyway. How can there be, as I won’t be with the one I love so dearly. I dreamed last night that I was with you at the meeting. We were talking of going up on Barton and that I had the pleasure of listening to each loving word from your sweet lips, and oh how sad I feel to know that it is only a dream and not reality. And this dream has caused me to reflect on the so happy days passed when I have been permitted to enjoy the cheerful company of your sweet self, whom I desire above all things to pleasure. Believe me, dear Nancy, my love for you is growing daily. Your beloved image is ever ?? (this line was on a fold and is worn off) May I entreat the favor of an early reply which dear Nancy will be anxiously awaited by your truly faithful and devoted admirer.

Johnny P.
Leander, Williamson County

Why The Hazards of Curly Hair?

My curly hair has become sort of a metaphor for my life. When I was young, I used to try desperately to straighten it. It was the 60s. All the cool girls had straight hair. I would iron it (this was back before flat irons..I’m talking Black and Decker iron it), roll it on emptied orange juice cans and get it somewhat straight. I’d be looking pretty cool with my smooth hair, and then would step out into the Texas humidity, and boi-oi-oing…it would curl and frizz right back up. 

It was painful. Just like my life. I desperately love God and want to serve him every moment. I want to be that person that others look at and say, I want what she’s got. Sometimes, I have that together, and I start looking pretty Christ-like. Then, I step out into life…the world’s humidity, and boi-oi-oing, I look like my frazzled hair. So it goes.. and even though I know I’m forgiven, I don’t look very cool.

Somewhere around the 90s, I decided to accept my hair and let it curl for all it’s worth. And somewhere during that time, I also came to know that I’m accepted and loved with all my shortcomings. I still so want to please Him, but I know that when I don’t, he’s ready to forgive me and let me climb back into His lap, curly hair, shortcomings, and all.

There Can't Really Be That Many Rocks!

There is a new piece of machinery on my land. It's very large and has a punch/saw piece with diamond blades (see top picture). Imagine how much that cost! Anyway, you can't dig holes where there is no dirt. We truly are on solid rock. That machine has to come in here and hammer, hammer, hammer at the shelf of rock, breaking it up into smaller pieces that another piece of machinery hauls off. We're collecting quite a rock pile. The pool builder is planning on using that for landscape, and fill. Although my pool builder lives out here, he said that he's never seen rock this hard. I'm guessing that's not a good thing in terms of completion time!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Choose Happy

The first day back at school after being off for 8 days (not really totally off, I did go into work some this week), is hard! I have foyer duty in the mornings and it’s my favorite time of the day. As they come in, I love to tease with the kids and watch their reactions. Today I very enthusiastically told them good morning, and how happy I was to see them, and isn’t it wonderful to be back in school?!! There was not a lot of agreement with me….except from some of the parents!

One teacher came in and said, “They told me out there to try to sneak by you, because you were way too happy to be back.” Now, I do love my job, but it's not that I am thrilled to be there every morning at 6:30 (yes, a.m.) I just think life is much easier if you can possibly find a positive way to spin something. If you can’t change the situation, change your attitude about the situation is the way my very optimistic husband says it.

One of my all-time favorite quotations is by Helen Keller. She said: “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” Isn’t that true? If you’re not expecting something better, why would you strive for something better?

Life is really hard and I think we can get sort of negative just naturally by living it. One of my prayers is that as I get older I will get happier, more positive, and more fun to be around. I just don't think it will happen without prayer.

So, until I feel happy, I just fake it...really, then pretty soon my feelings change. An insincere smile is better than a sincere frown any day, right? But, if I smile at you, it's probably sincere...most of the time anyway!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lazy Summer Days....

I feel them coming on....they started the pool today! There is heavy machinery on my land again, which if you've read this , you know I love! The excavation is underway and it's pretty exciting around here. If you enlarge the picture(by clicking on it...instructions for my mom), you can see the red lines that outline where the pool will be.

Both my daughter and my sister have decided that this is where they are vacationing this summer (even though my sister lives down the road). My sister and I are planning the pool opening party. We've already bought lanterns for the trees, I'm doing lots of planters of flowers, and she's catering (my sister is an excellent cook). Any pool party ideas out there?

Did I mention that Martha had a pool at Turkey Hill???

By the starts back on Thursday instead of Monday. I am happy to say that things didn't get as bad as expected. We're blessed
Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sounds of Progress

I love construction. I am a fan of large, loud machinery. My husband, who knows me well, bought me a tractor charm for my James Avery bracelet. So I really love it when there is large, loud machinery at my house doing construction, as it is happening right now. It's the sound of progress!

We are doing some major work to our land, and that involves putting in a road. The road is part of what we're (I'm) calling Phase II to turn our land into a Texas hill-country version of Martha's Turkey Hill. My husband just rolls his eyes when I say that. (I never understood why she sold Turkey Hill. It seemed like the perfect place to me. Beautiful home, beautiful gardens, party barn, chickens...all the things I really want on my land.)

Anyway, the road is almost done. You can see part of it in the top part of the photo. For the first time, we can walk all of our 5 acres without stumbling over rocks, or ducking under trees. I have to say that even in it's very raw state, it's beautiful to me. There are hills and views of hills, beautiful boulders, and lots of large oak and elm trees that we would never have been able to see before we committed to the first part of Phase II..clearing about a million cedar trees. Anyone need cedar mulch? We could mulch Texas right now.

When we bought this land, we just felt like it was a good deal for the money. We had no idea that it would turn into something we love so much. God has truly blessed us with this land. I'll be posting progress pictures.