Sunday, May 09, 2004
Hello All,It is hard to believe that three months have passed now since we have moved...the days have just flown by with us hitting the ground running on most of them. We are truly in spring with all that that brings; mosquitoes and gnats and snakes included! We even had a visiting snake in an attic eave hiding all snug in the insulation. I have chased a few snakes with the lawn tractor and one off the front porch with a water hose and even had one make its way across my foot as Dave and I stood outside discussing one of the projects on our unending to do list (ladies, I'll have you know that I did NOT scream, no matter what Dave may say!). None of these snakes have to date been venomous which is lucky, but we are sure those ditches have a few moccasins in them, so we venture there with great caution.
The amaryllis bulbs have finished blooming and some of them have been transplanted out of the ditches and into gardens where they can be more easily enjoyed. Many more remain in the ditches peeking out from the fern and hurricane lilies and other plantings too numerous to name as yet. I will slowly move those ditch residing amaryllis up onto the bank tops throughout the coming weeks. A gorgeous hydrangea has begun to bloom out front; funny but I never realized how beautiful a plant they were until I have watched this one come back to life this spring. I took a few cuttings and hope to successfully root them and would love to plant them all around the edges of the yard. A lovely honeysuckle vine was discovered in the front ditch two weeks ago and has been trained around a trellis to allow it to share its blooms with who sit on the front porch and visit.
We are beginning to see evidence of the early landscaping as areas of the property start to reveal their until now secret plantings. Caladium are now popping up and I've been told they hadn't come up for the past several years so perhaps my turning over the old soil has allowed them to grow again. The sad azaleas that required such extensive pruning are beginning to show new growth on previously sun deprived branches. And although we we were warned that we would be completely shading in by the pecan trees, our removing as many of the low hanging branches as possible have allowed us to have dappled sunlight all through the front and back yards.
The potatoes have been harvested and sent away to make Lays chips; the fields lie empty for the time being. Luckily we've had enough rain so far that the ever present winds from the coast have not created a dust storm...yet. The cover crop should go in over the next week or so and we are praying that this continues. I miss the green of the potato plants and am anxious to see the cover crop begin to grow. The dogs have gotten curious about the fields now that they are nothing but an expanse of brown and we have to remind them that those are out of bounds....the few potatoes left behind by the harvesting do tend to lure them out there from time to time though.
The shed has arrived so work on the house has been postponed until David has his work shop organized...then the major carpentry work will begin in earnest. The eaves which are located in Hunter's little room and our room are unfinished, with the insulation exposed. Although we have been using them for storage even so, the discovery of a five foot long rat snake curled up and shedding his skin in one of them has made me eager for the hanging of plywood and trim pieces.
Now while snakes don't really scare me too badly since we had one for a pet for almost 6 years however, he was kept in an aquarium and not to be found slithering his way through the storage areas of our house. After discovering our little visitor, a thorough search of the outside led to the discovery that a nice sized gap was left near the roof of what is Hunter's room and apparently Mr. Rat Snake made his merry way in through it and took up residence inside our house ...that little roof hole will be a priority to have repaired! But in the meantime, each eave smells of the moth balls that have been spread on the floors....although the moth balls won't kill our snake, they will make it less likely he'll feel as welcome in our eaves!
Our cats are loving the country life; mice and snakes and other critters abound and they spend hours hunting. So far, they haven't brought anything live home to share and that is just fine with me....I don't mind seeing a dead mouse or two, it's the live ones I have issues with. Roxie, a beautiful Calico that was apparently left behind during a move by another family in the old neighborhood who subsequently decided to adopt us two years ago (cat lovers will know that we Had No Say in this adoption whatsoever), appeared very timid for the first month we were here....she rarely ventured down the staircase and spent most of her time in Hunter's room. But, it has now become obvious that she sensed that snake in the eave because as soon as he was removed, she began to explore the house and outside in earnest. It is reassuring to say the least that her protective instinct is so great....and needless to say, if she now hangs out in any one place in this house for an extended period of time, David is sent in to investigate...........immediately!
Work on the upstairs has made a start; Nikki and Dallas decided that they wanted to change rooms. Dallas had the larger of the two and as he is less a "pack rat" then his sister, his room looked very empty while Nikki's looked over stuffed! Friday was spent moving them and actually placing furniture and wall hangings in the right places instead of haphazardly putting things someplace until a later date. The new bedroom arrangements will work better for all three children; Hunter and Nikki share a personality style - both need little sleep and read or watch T.V. late into the evening.
Dallas on the other hand, hits the bed about 10 p.m. each night....and as Hunter's room is reached by walking through what is now Nikki's room, the two night owls will not bother each other as much as one night owl and a morning person did!
It is amazing how a little change can make such a huge difference....both rooms look infinitely better and now need only to be given a fresh coat of pain on the walls and the trim. Although Nikki talked about a bright purple (yuck!) earlier, she has now decided that it "wouldn't fit the old feeling of this house" and she will settle for a light blue or lavender color. A believer in letting the children have a great deal of say over how they decorate their rooms, I am relieved that she has come to this conclusion on her own. (At one time in the old house, her room was a different color on each wall - a deep scarlet on one, a deep purple on another, a deep blue on the third wall and a mustard color on the fourth (which David said looked like baby diaper fillings...I secretly agreed! - four walls of lavender or light blue sound wonderful to me!). Her request to paint the 90 plus year old floor boards was denied! Loudly.....!
Nikki also voluntarily placed quite a bit of her belongings into one of the eaves instead of crowding up all the surface areas as she has been known to do in the past (she was able to enter the eaves with peace of mind as she was never told about the earlier resident rat snake!).
With the arrival of the new shed (and the somber burning of the old one!) David's toys (RC cars and all the corresponding paraphernalia) were finally removed from the laundry room. I spent two days cleaning the walls, mudding and caulking the trim and the lovely old window (one of only four that are "old") and then got it ready for the painting.... we decided to remove some of the plastic tile paneling from a portion of the room to give it a cleaner look. We had never really been able to figure out why the paneling had been placed so randomly throughout the small room, and had just came to assume that at one time all the walls have been covered with it but some had fallen down through the years (remember, it was once the bathroom for this 90 plus year old house). We soon discovered though that the arrangement was strategically placed............to hide four huge holes in the walls!
Close investigation into these holes revealed nests from various critters and even a corpse or two (not human thankfully, just a lizard or two or three)....A screw driver and a vacuum soon cleared the holes and stuffing them with newspaper, we mudded them up and applied some paint to await the real overhaul of that room at a later date.
It is now heaven to do laundry (well, sort of!) without tables hitting me in the backside every time I move; shelving around the room has provided much needed storage for bug sprays and sun blocks and spa chemicals and has enabled me to hang up dress clothes and cut down on the need to iron.....that alone is bliss!
As you've probably come to realize, every new project becomes an adventure or a hunt for treasures. The farmer who owns the barn has given us permission to use an old mule stall to store plywood and lumber that David has collected to do his future carpentry work. After checking the safety of that stall's structure, David gave us a cautious "okay" to enter despite the clear evidence of termites enjoying a previous feasting there....he plans on shoring up some of the loft area but feels that it is safe enough for the time being.
The farmer told us to keep anything that interested us and it has been a great adventure clearing out that stall...we have found moonshine bottles, old canning jars, vases, and some antique tools. The most interesting discovery was two sets of fire log holders (can't think of the right term for them at the moment). The scroll work is lovely and although they are covered with rust and corrosion, we hope that some light sand blasting will bring them back to beauty. Although the previous owners of this old house took out the chimney as it was beyond repair and we have no fireplace, I will find a place to display these wonderful items somewhere, if for nothing other than the history of them.
(4/10/2008 - I remembered shortly after sending this out that the fire log holders were andirons! They are now shown off in our outdoor fire pit along with a handmade iron spit from my dad)
Taking a day off of restoration last week, I spent time on the computer preparing graduation announcements and invitations for Dallas...that was tough day. When Nikki graduated, he was only a sophomore and Hunter still only six years old....It seemed that Dallas' graduation was a long time off and many years of parenting remained, but suddenly graduation is only days away. Nikki and I spent last evening putting together his scrapbook and had a time laughing at all the wonderful photos and his early artwork. It has hit me over and over again these past months that he will never truly live here with us but will be a visitor in almost every sense of the word. Although he will be leaving high school and his Aunt's house permanently at graduation, he will only be home a week or two before leaving to work at an overnight camp for the summer months, again returning on Fridays and leaving on Sundays....some parts of this new life we lead are sadder than others.
His final band concert was last Monday and was bittersweet for many reasons...as Drum Major, he conducts the band and is quite good at it...he throws in interesting moves to make his conducting appear to be a part of the show and was awarded Best Drum Major in Class and Second Overall at competition...seeing him conduct that band for the last time was sad.
It was a typical Dallas event in that after marching out looking suave and handsome and pulled together in his tuxedo, the audience was treated to his shirt tail hanging out below the jacket as he turned to face the band and raised his arms to conduct it! It was hard to keep from laughing out loud seeing that, it was just SO Dallas....! When time came to lead the band out of the auditorium, he made it last as long as possible by leading the 80 plus members in figure eights and circles, known to band members as the "snake", slowly making his way out the door. The grin on his face was a beautiful sight and let me know that he is ready for this chapter of his life to end and the new one to begin....A parent really can't ask for more now can they?
His college plans have changed ...again....he has decided to attend my college (Brewton Parker College in Georgia) and will be leaving home on August 12th to begin his freshman year. As this is a four hour drive, he will not be able to come home every weekend...empty nesting is really staring us in the face now.
Dallas plans on becoming a high school or college band director...being Drum Major gave him the knowledge that as much as he likes to perform, teaching is what he is called to do. Like many high school music directors, he will be able to perform during summers and school breaks, giving him the best of both worlds. Now, if he can just remember to go to class without his mom or his Aunt Karen reminding him, we'll be set.
Nikki is out of school for the summer, officially a college sophomore...after a slow start due to difficulty in algebra (takes after her mother there!) she finally got enough credits to qualify as a second year student. She will be home for another week and then off to Camp where she will serve as the Art Director for the summer (Dallas will join her a week later.)
She bought her first car last month and spends most of her time scooter-pooping about town with friends. It is nice to see her have some free time since while in school and working at the restaurant she is normally too busy to just be a young person. She has plans to move out next summer and get an apartment in town with most of the other college students in town. She talks of finding an apartment in one of the old homes in town; funny how she dreaded moving into this one but now talks of how charming and "homey" an old house feels.
Hunter is ready for school to let out and each morning counts the days down. We are a bit concerned about the lack of children around and hope to make some friends for him in church and be able to schedule play dates. Most of the children he attends school with will be in daycare for the summer. He has only complained once or twice about the lack of companionship and fills his evenings with learning to skateboard on the road and learning to ride his bike well. He and the dogs have a fun time together, but I fear it will all get old soon enough when school lets out. We may hit the beach more than I care to this summer just to cut down on his computer game time.
David and I are looking forward to a McLeod Family Reunion in South Carolina that will take place the end of June. It will be our own min vacations as Hunter will be with Dallas and Nikki at camp for the week....hopefully, we'll see many of you in Sumter!