Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the once and future shop

Sometime after the first of the year, 'for sale' signs appeared on the fence of the property across the street from the country house. It's an old auto body shop that did little business. For the 4 years we have lived here we would see him there occasionally but mostly he was retired and then he died.

We were a little concerned since rumor had it that there was a guy interested who wanted to use it to store stuff. 'Junk it up', I believe was the expression the neighbor used. And another guy interested who wanted to put trailers on it and rent them out. Neither option was something we wanted across the street.

We toyed with the idea of buying it if it was still on the market by summer.

But then the decision by my daughter and her husband to sell their house this year gained momentum and they were feeling us out about selling too and well, I've covered all that.

Anyway, about the time that we decided we would, albeit reluctantly, put the city property on the market with them and with the knowledge that we would have to subsequently move the shop, that property became very appealing.

One Sunday, mid-March, I stood on our driveway gazing at it across the street and I felt with certainty that this was the place, we should do it, but we were closing in on finishing the fabrication we had in the shop in Houston and were leaving the next day.

So, last month, finished with the work and with the time to consider other things and learning that the price had been reduced, Marc called the realtor and expressed an interest only to be told that it had sold the day before.

My heart just sank.

The following week when the widow came to mow, Marc talked to her and told her that if the guy couldn't get financing, that we would be very interested. And a week later than that, last Saturday, he called the realtor again to tell her we wanted our offer on the table in case the contract fell through. And got her voice mail.

I could just not let it go. I tore off a scrap of paper, wrote down the address with a note that this was 'our new shop', and put it in my wallet.

Yesterday mid-morning, the phone rang. It was the realtor and the guy had just backed out of the deal and did we still want it and when could we get there?

By noon we were sitting in the realtor's office signing papers. We close next Wednesday.

Talking with the realtor, there had been several contracts tendered that the widow had rejected and a couple more out there wanting to offer a contract, none of which bode well for the adjacent neighbors us included.

Once we returned home, we were sort of shell shocked. It was like we were propelled into this big decision. But it felt right, still feels right. We got it for a good price and it's on an acre and a half and it's right across the street.

I see solar panels on the roof, a big raised garden, fruit trees, maybe a labyrinth of flower beds.

I mention the acre and a half because when we were looking to get out of the city, I wanted about two acres but the house and property we both liked was only a half acre. Which, believe me, has turned out to be plenty to take care of, but now I feel like it's complete.

I have a lot less anxiety now about putting the city property on the market since we have a place to move the shop. Still have to figure out the logistics of getting and delivering glass, but that's doable.

Monday, April 14, 2014


All the pink roses, and one red, seem to have exploded in the last couple of days. The pink ones generally bloom twice a year while the red ones, which are just starting to open, will bloom all summer.

I thought this bush in the back yard was in full bloom last week but now it has twice as many blooms.

This red climber only had one or two open a few days ago.

Pretty in pink, one of several in the front yard.

This one is different from the other pink roses, it blooms mostly just in the spring. Poor thing is crowded by the althea next to it so it was hard to get a good picture.

This old climber blooms twice a year and is way up in the crepe myrtle and the lower branches of the oak.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ch ch ch changes...

Change is essential to life, is it not? To live is to change. Without change we become stagnant, stuck in a rut, start to decline eventually.

I resist change. We all do, I think, to one degree or another. Moving out of the city was a long drawn out process and we are still not completely out. Still have the city house. Still go there to work two or three days a week, when we have work and are doing fabrication, which is really three or four days a week when you account for the travel there and back.

And our kids are there, the boy and his wife in the house, the girl and her family in the one next door.

The girl and her family want to sell, need to sell, are going to sell this year. That house is tiny and there are six adult size people living there with one bathroom, 4 of whom are teenagers. There's no place for any of them to escape the pressure.

When they bought that place from us we made a casual verbal agreement to both sell at the same time to maximize our profit, the idea being that one large plot is more valuable than two smaller ones but that was supposed to be several years down the road yet.

So we've been resisting.

Because selling means moving the shop and wherever we move it, all the options have negatives that have to be solved. It means months of disruption. Not only for us but for the boy and wife.

But, the thing is, this land is getting ridiculously valuable and to get the big bucks, we need to sell together.

I've sort of felt out a couple of realtors in the area. We have a figure in mind, the offer we would have a hard time refusing, that we will, albeit reluctantly, sell for and it may not be out of the realm of possibility. It's high but we have a good location and no deed restrictions and people we know in the real estate market that we casually mention it to start salivating.

That someone might actually give us a contract, that's a little scary to me and I do not look forward to moving the shop regardless of where we move it to and if we stay and our daughter sells we will have a new neighbor to have to acclimate to the noise of the compressor when we work.  No way to tell how successful that will be.

More troubling than moving the shop is that the family will be scattered. We are all here, close together. We may not see everybody every time we come in but they are there. The boy and his wife in the house, the girl and her family next door.

That's a hard thing to leave behind.

But leave it behind we must.  We've decided to put the property on the market in May for a very high price.

This is me contemplating all the full size art and fabrication we need to finish before summer in case the property sells right away.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

garden, blooms, and work

Since our little excursion last Thursday I have been busy. I puttered around in the yard all day on Friday, just being outside, getting some bedding plants I got from the local nursery earlier in the day. Saturday, Marc tilled compost in the big garden and then I set about to get it planted. I dug up all the tomatoes he had already planted, put some of them in pots (the determinates) and some back in the garden. I got all the tomatoes in, all the different peppers except the jalapenos, got the eggplants and cucumbers in also. And then I ran out of room.

So now I have to get the little garden ready and by that I mean pulling out all the lettuce and spinach. The carrots are still growing. The squash and watermelon will go back there. I have no idea where I'm going to put the jalapenos. And I still have beans to plant.

Here's some of the stuff blooming around here:

a garden club member shared her miniature amaryllis with me last year

the mock dogwood is in full bloom

and this rose bush

along with three large clumps of baby blue eyes

and the wildflowers at the back of the property are starting up...larkspur, evening primrose, bluebonnets, and an occasional poppy.

The next couple of weeks I am back to doing full size art work. Right now I'm working on the two windows for the couple in Maryland who live on the Chesapeake Bay. I also have a door panel with a grapes design for a wine room to do. And I have to finish the drawings for the upstairs cabinets for the job which has had all the downstairs stuff installed already.

another heron 

Friday, April 4, 2014

day trip and a selfie

So yesterday, we decided to drive 80 miles (and then 80 miles back) to a nursery out in the middle of fucking nowhere in the hill country because that's where our neighbor Frank of the Bountiful Garden always bought his plants. Of course he was buying them wholesale and reselling them when he had his local nursery business so it made sense for him to drive out there.

The stuff in his garden is always twice as big and twice as plentiful as ours. But then his is in full sun all day and ours is in shade by 3 o'clock in the afternoon and he's been growing food forever and we just started a few years ago, but we are expecting big things from these little plants nonetheless.

Alan, Frank's son, gave us to Schulenburg and turn right, when you get to the big church in Hostyn (which is a blink on the road) turn left and it's on that road. 'That' road is a one lane county road that just goes off into, well, the county.

There was, after a spate of open fields and pasture and an occasional building in the distance, a small sign that said 'greenhouses' and you could get a glimpse of some big structures back there but mostly it just looked like a run-down country house and out buildings at the end of a long drive across a cattle guard, two as it turned out, so we kept going and got deeper and deeper into nowhere. When the road ended at another road, we turned around, back to the greenhouses sign and sure enough, it did have hours on it.

So we followed the drive back to where there were actually 4 large greenhouses behind the house but all the doors were shut and no one was around. Finally, I knocked on the back door and the lady showed us over to the biggest greenhouse, 4 units wide, that was packed with vegetable and herb plants in 4 and 6 packs and in sprouting trays and it was amazing. I didn't think to take a picture until we had left.

We did, however, stop and take some pictures at this church, a Czech Catholic church that was first established in the late 1800s with a huge grotto, and shrines all over the place, to Mary and to certain dignitaries or saints? (one of them looked like it had a relic box in it), the stations of the cross each done with it's own little shrine all made out of the same whatever rocks that they could get, find, or dig up and two canons with cannonballs dedicated to a father and son that fought on different sides of the Civil War. I wish I could say that the grotto and shrines looked pretty neat and were cool folk art but to tell the truth it was all pretty ugly.

Unfortunately I failed to take pictures of anything but the grotto.

there's a dead Jesus laying on a bench in there

Last weekend Marc planted the 10 (surviving) tomato plants I had gotten at the local feed store about three weeks ago. Now I have 3 four packs of heirloom tomatoes to put in. I think with these and the ones already in, that will just about fill the big garden and I still have zucchini, japanese eggplant, cucumbers, green and orange bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and watermelon to plant. And okra, which I haven't acquired yet.

me and my still to plant veggies

The little garden still has carrots, lettuce, and spinach but the spinach is starting to bolt and the lettuce won't be far behind so it's time to pull those out. Even so I'm thinking there's going to be some vegetables planted in the flower beds.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

what I've been doing the last six weeks

We finished one of our jobs this week and the installation was Wednesday. This job consisted of three door panels, a pair between the library and the living room and a single door between the dining room and kitchen.

You might remember we also had a partial installation for another job two weeks ago. That one consisted of two full lite front doors, two cabinet doors and the pantry door. I don't have a picture of the front doors yet.

shop photo of cabinet panels above the refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen

pantry door

We still have the four cabinet panels upstairs to do on that one.

So we have done all the fabrication that we had full size art work for. Now I have to finish the drawings for the rest of the one job and for the two windows for the next job and the one door panel for the one after that. And then I have to do some sketches for the last one.

And then it's another long slog in the shop.

I'm glad to be back to doing drawings because I do that out here, at home. No commuting into the city.

Now, maybe we can get the garden in. Marc got the tomatoes in before we left this time.

So, just so you know, even though I hardly ever respond to comments (and when I do it's via email), I do appreciate all your comments when I post about my work. Well, I appreciate your comments on all my posts but you know what I mean.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Spring has gotten off to a rough start but things are finally starting to emerge, and in some cases, emerge again. Still waiting to see if the star of india, the morning glory bush, and the angel trumpet made it.

All the trees have finally come out...the maple and the water oak first, then the ginkgo followed by the crepe myrtles then the rain tree and the other oak with the tallows and the pecans bringing up the rear.

Poking around looking for green shoots I saw this fellow.

The blue iris and the ground orchids got decimated by the late hard freeze but the bluebonnets, and indian paintbrush, are blooming.

as are the baby blue eyes.

The evening primrose are starting up

as is the mock dogwood.

The azaleas are blooming,

the white iris

and the nun's orchid.

We have not put our spring food garden in yet and it may be minimal this year. Being in the city half of every week doesn't give us much time to deal with it. We will get one job finished this week and then it's back to the doing full size art work. I'll be glad to have a couple of weeks here before starting fabrication again.