Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crazy Kind of Joy

We're in our third month of living here on Ellsworth and we love it here!  Even one of Bennett's friends commented he likes this house better "because the other one was all broken up." Yes, well, that comes with singlehandedly renovating a 100-year-old house on a tight budget.

At any rate, I've suffered the first carpet stain and neither the kids or the dog caused it--simply a leak where the printer sat until I installed it.  Oxi-Clean is good but not quite good enough for printer ink.

We enjoyed Christmas immensely--the long central hallway along with the swords and shields set the kids got from Santa inspired many jousting tournaments along with guttural yells and screams of delights.  Bennett plastered himself at the back door while Evelyn grinned like a goofball at the front door and on some signal, they charged straight at each other from either end of the house.  I was laughing too hard to take pictures!

Atticus has settled in well to town living, making friends with the black dog next door--Shadow.  I discovered something interesting about him since we don't have grass and the spring rains are making a lovely muddy mess of our yard.  He does not like to get his feet muddy!  He loves snow and he tolerates rain, but mud--uh-uh.  We've had to go two lots over and let him use the back drop-off area at the butcher shop to do his morning routine!

One special challenge has been the driveway.  The next-door neighbor has a connection with a guy who has been plowing our driveway--what a Godsend!  Then there's just the little bit around the truck and the walkways to finish up.  We used sand to de-ice the drive but I'll tell ya--until you get the sand down, it's dang slippery!  I have fallen so many times this winter!  No wonder I'm having knee trouble!

We are looking forward to having the yard done--sometime this summer by the local Master Gardeners!  It'll be a contest between my yard and the gal next door.  We both want easy-care and we both would like to have lilies line the driveway--that could look pretty cool!  I just got my first plant for outdoors--a friend bought me a pot of jonquils for my birthday!  They're even my birth flower!  It was a pleasant surprise . . . .

This is it for today--I'll try to plan regular posts to keep people updated on Habitat living.  I am so thankful and so happy to be here.  I wrote an article for The Post & Mail on the progress of our little Habitat neighborhood over here and, to quote myself, said that paying my mortgage has "crazy kind of joy" attached to it.  Who would've thought, huh?

For today, love and cheers--


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Catch up! Catch up and mustard!

That's what Bennett and I used to say when he'd ride his bike and I'd walk the dogs and one of us got behind--just a little endearing humor between mom and son--ANYway . . . .

Thanks to all of you who've stopped by to read my blog!  It's been a nice way to share what's happening; however, I got caught up in what's happening and haven't posted for . . . awhile.

Today I'd like to catch you all up to speed, especially those who can't drive by every day like I do.

The kids had an opportunity to take a ride on a Cessna 4-seater and these pictures were taken.  You'll see the house and I am throwing one of the Whitley County courthouse in because (1) it's a beautiful courthouse, (2) it's a cool shot, and (3) how many of us get to see our courthouse from the sky? 

As to the house pictures, Dottie and I were waiting to see the little plane fly overhead.  Chris was showing me how to cut out the windows using the sawzall (love sawzalls . . .) and I heard this mosquito sound--I abandoned Chris and ran for my camera! Of course, the pictures I took look like I a black dot, but it's the idea that my kids were up there taking pictures of me taking pictures of them from down here!

Our house is the second one in from left.  It's like seeing the blueprint in real-life!  Thanks to their dad for help with the pictures and the neat opportunity for the kids.

Stay tuned!  I'm going to try to play a little more catch-up here in the next few days!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barking Dogs

And it's not just Atticus.  I have a bruise on my right shoulder. A blister on my thumb.  I can barely use my right hand.  My right ankle is swollen.  My lower back aches.  My hamstrings are contracted.  Two toes on my left foot are kinked.  My feet feel like bricks.

And I feel goooooooooooooooooooooood!

The framing went up so fast--thanks to the eager work of a lot of ladies and some excellent crew leaders.  Then sheeting was thrown up and nailed down while interior walls went vertical and drywall blocking went horizontal.  Evelyn's room was nailed together, partly, "with love" and with "Lady Wildcat Pride" by the Whitko Lady Wildcats!  She was thrilled to learn a team of high school girls finished putting her room together.

I, personally, got to sawzall three windows out.  (Oh my, do I love power tools.)  Let me tell you, a sawzall jiggles everything--even parts you didn't know you had!  And I got to fire a Remington concrete nailer to secure a number of walls to the slab.  Nothing like the smell of gunpowder on a cool morning . . . . I even got to yell, "Fire in the hole!"  But forgot a few times to the surprise and temporary deafness of those around me.

As all the volunteers can attest, we are working with some terrific professionals--Chris, Steven, Jory, and Joe--have been so patient to explain and re-explain; answer numerous questions; loan tools; watch us slowly do work they could do so much faster, I'm sure; and fix some of the mistakes we made.  They are ensuring the houses we, as unskilled or somewhat-skilled workers, are assembling are solid and secure.

A couple of neat things happened this weekend, too.  My dad turned 74 on Saturday and wanted to spend his birthday working on my house.  If you know my dad, he's not so handy with a hammer, though he's excellent at many other things.  I learned most of my construction skills from my mom--she's the one we would find under the sink fixing the plumbing or would walk in covered with sawdust.  She also has the scars to show a few times of careless cutting with a utility knife.  At any rate, Dad (I'm so proud!) pounded a number of 12- and 8-penny nails in to install the blocking for the drywall.  He even pounded his first toenail in!  That was especially exciting because I taught him how to do it. :)  He never once resorted  to the screw gun.  So, as it was his birthday, Dottie put together a little surprise.  After lunch, she presented a cake to him and we all sang, "Happy Birthday!"  This is one he'll NEVER forget.

Finally, the kids had a most unique opportunity Saturday morning to take a plane ride on a small, Cessna--a 4-seater.  They flew over the homesite and got some shots they'll never get again--me, in the middle of a roofless house--it's so cool.  Once I figure out how to post photos, I'll be sharing those. 

Have a great week, folks.  Rest up as roofing starts Wednesday.  (I love roofing.)  The crew is setting trusses Monday and Tuesday.  Dottie has given strict instructions to obey Chris if we're onsite at all while they're working with the trusses.  Dottie knows the most dangerous periods of a construction schedule and this is one of them. 

Thanks so much for your help.  To those who provided the meals and snacks--YUM!  And many thanks!


The term "barking dogs" came from Cockney rhyming slang which, one theory purports, came from thieves who would disguise their discussions by using rhyming words.  For example, "head" rhymes with "loaf of bread," thus, the phrase, "use your loaf."  "Feet" rhymes with "dog meat," thus, "my dogs are sore," or "my dogs are barking," and thus, the title of this post.  Just a little etymology lesson for those who are interested!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The sound of a Women Build . . .

 . . . thock, thock, thock, thockthockthockthock, THOCK, thock, thock, thock, thock--

Okay, Ladies, this wall is ready to go up! Thock, thock, thock, thockthockthockthock-thock,

THOCK thockthockthock . . .

After a few hours' delay, waiting for a storm to blow over, we pounded through 2 x 6's, headers, cripples, and sills, using 20-penny nails.  It hadn't even occurred to me this would be hand-built.  That's right--no air nailers or auto screw guns.

With every "thock!", the energy and heart of the person swinging the hammer was imbued in the lumber that framed this house.  There they raised the first wall where I'll wash my son's monster truck t-shirts and his favorite camo cutoffs; where I'll scrub the mud stains out of my daughter's blouses.  Then the wall with the window to my daughter's room where she'll get to have my old dollhouse for her own.  Then the kitchen--I pretended to wash dishes while looking out over my front yard.  Then they surrounded my living room with a front door and three more windows.

I had to leave early for a previous obligation but, of course, had to stop by for a look once the day was finished.  The team had walled up four rooms! Wow!   

Thank you all and in the words of a wise four-year-old, "Girls Rock!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!

Hello to all who grace my blog with your reading.  Thank you for coming--

I'd driven around every mobile home park in the vicinity of Columbia City, South Whitley, and Coesse.  I'd looked at foreclosed homes still filled with the previous residents' furniture and family pictures.  I'd toured homes that, were I a professional flipper, might have had some promise. 

Then I called the bank to see about a loan.

As a stay-at-home mom, facing divorce, I had no income and only one potential prospect for some freelance technical writing.

The very nice gal on the other end of the line said (much nicer than this) there was no way I could get a loan until I'd been working steadily for two years.  Oh, okay then.

So I called the least expensive apartment managers in town.  A one-bedroom above a furniture store was available but they didn't take pets. The rent was $300 and I had . . . .$0.00.

On a lark, believing they were just for really desperate people, I called Habitat for Humanity of Whitley County.  I talked to April, a well-spoken, knowledgable, and empathetic gal with a pleasant voice and a nice sense of humor.  Especially when it dawned on me I was technically homeless, we had a good laugh.  My laugh was more out of astonishment than anything else but I left their office feeling like maybe I'd get somewhere.  Maybe I could find a home for my kids and get to keep my dog.

Nearly six months later, here I am with my name on a sign stuck in the dirt of my soon-to-be front yard. 

Tomorrow we start framing things up, after a storm is supposed to blow through, and thus will begin the most dramatic portion of this journey toward homeownership.

I'll keep you posted and would love to hear from you.  A terribly inadequate thank-you is extended to all the crew and volunteers who have played, and continue to play, a part in this experience.  You have no idea--goodness, I have no idea, how much it all really means.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Love and cheers,