Tag Archive: HOME


Declare Independence

This is the first of what I hope to be weekly posts. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but I think I need to set aside the time weekly to process and plan, so I might as well do that here. In this space.

Today I signed the papers that both bind me further to the bank, yet release me from any debt or obligation owed to my ex-husband. Though we have one child yet to finish raising together, the other child will be going off to school and has not required much coordination between us anyway. Today, I signed the papers on a refinance that allowed me to finally buy him out, and claim this house as my own. I can stop pretending he will one day agree that he doesn’t actually deserve to be paid anything for the home he left in a shambles after forcing me to cohabitate with him for years after he exited the relationship – years he was unemployed and only wandering out from his room periodically to monitor my parenting, and caring for the children while I worked…as well as oh-so-generously “allowing” me to leave the house by myself at a set time every week. And I can reclaim this worn-out old house that I have recently fallen in love with for the first time. Because those memories don’t live here anymore. They visit every once in awhile. Like today, when I read an issue of “Blackout” zine in which the author recounted an abusive relationship and the emotional fallout she articulated was gutwrenchingly familiar.

But I don’t want to write about the past. It’s important to acknowledge that, yes. It’s a monumental day. For not only am I finally able to pay him off, I am also able to take a little money out to rejuvenate the house and to prepare it for it’s transition.

I ordered the cinder blocks first. Like, as soon as I had definitive word that we were closing, I ordered the cinder blocks. LOTS and LOTS of cinder blocks. I knew I wanted five beds, so I calculated and recalculated and oh my freaking god that’s a lot of cinder blocks. Cinder blocks and a ladder and a bag of sand.

And I spent my whole weekend constructing beds like I was playing with giant legos. I stacked one bed, then another…then stopped.

Right now, the yard is overgrown and lush. I have a lot of winter plants that are going to seed, and I intend to harvest the seeds, so I don’t want to disturb the beds right now. Also, I really just kind of like having jungle yard. I hope to always have a somewhat loosely-tamed wild yard. So, today I stopped and sat down on my mom-throne in my spot under the oak tree…and surveyed. And imagined. And decided to, instead of making the beds in the middle of the yard like they are now, build them on the perimeter-ish – a few feet in from fence line, garage, and walkway – in a u-shape. This would leave the very sunniest part of the middle of the yard open for other things.

Because, while I really like the practicality of the cinder blocks – they do look a little industrial. I know they will age and stain, but with the blocks in a u-shape, I can slope dirt down from the tops of the beds and plant flowers or herbs or…really anything. Covering the majority of the cinder and creating more space.

Also – it leaves more space for the dog to run.

Also – I have this grand idea of creating a seating area in the middle of the yard shaped like or with all of the colors of an artichoke – various shades of green along the border and pinks and purples and yellows in the center.

I also have this idea that I’m going to use appliances. I already have the toilet garden (which will likely become the two-toilet garden when I replace the other toilet. I’d love to use a bathtub or sink somehow as a water feature.

But those ideas are all for phase 2. Phase 1 is the cinder block border garden. Mulch around the edges and lawn in the center. Still working on getting the trees cut down and the fence replaced.

I’ve decided I want the laundry line to be visible from the fence, because yay clotheslines! But I might end up putting up a barrier that hides some of it. Ultimately – long term goal is to build a big porch on the back of the house and make a sliding door entry into the master bedroom, which will eventually be converted into a studio apartment (with said lovely porch.) But that, again, is phase 2…or 3…or actually 4 or 5.

So I am focused. Every day this weekend I woke up early and sore from the previous day’s work. It feels good. It feels real. It feels like declaring independence.

Now my work week begins. I’m not going to hold myself to these early wake-up times, but I am hoping to haul at least some blocks every day to continue to build beds. I want them all built by next Monday, when D will be coming over to magically convert a bunch of pallets and odds and ends into a chicken palace. At that point, I’ll be able to get more ladies and my goal of supplying all of my neighbors with fresh eggs on the regular can be achieved. As it is, I’m definitely not buying eggs in the grocery store for myself anymore. Or lettuce. I’m hoping to say that about a lot more vegetables this summer.

So, next weekend is that…and soil, as I’m ordering a truckload. I’m going to lay all of the twigs and mulchy leaves that are all over my yard in those beds first – mixed with a fair amount of compost and chicken poop – and pile fresh soil and more scraps over all of it. And then I can plant. I’ll be getting a later start than I had hoped, but I still have plenty of growing I can do and so many other things to maintain.

Go Slow

**

Took a sick day today, as I spent most of the work day yesterday feeling poorly & wanted to give myself time to recover. Feeling better, but still tired – in that in between sick and well in which I feel guilty for not being at work but also feeling thankful that I have sick time that allows me to recover fully before returning, as so many don’t.

So I got some rest. Planted violets and jasmine in already-upturned dirt. Tended to the plants and the chickens and the cats and the dog. Sat still. Felt the air without needing to shroud myself in blankets to stave off the chills.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a small renovation plan for my house. I have lots of feelings about this, and transience, and I might have already expressed these thoughts, but my memory is poor and anyway I’m still processing, so I might repeat myself.

I have a lot of feelings about “settling” in Texas. I feel that the reason I ended up and ultimately stayed here was due more to a number of bad decisions. Therefore, I have always resisted calling myself a Texan. If people ask me where I’m from, I still say Chicago – even though I’ve lived in Texas more than half my life.

And this house – the setting of so many truly heartbreaking moments, and at the same time a symbol of my own determination to provide stability for my children when everything else in my life was falling apart. And I have had to fight for this house at times. Our struggles have been fewer than many, but greater than some. And it seems, for now at least, I’ve “won.” And I’m getting to reward myself by lining my next with little feathers to ensure I stay warm through the winter and cool through the summer.

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I was expressing concern about my ability to do a good job with some of the DIY projects I have planned, like tiling my floor. I was thinking about hiring someone to do the work for me – and I still might. I’m still deciding. My friend responded “Anyone can do good work on anything if they just go slow.”

So…what am I rushing for? Shouldn’t I let the joy of learning something new and doing a good job be one of the benefits of this project?

I mean, for crying out loud, I kept one entire whole human being alive into adulthood so far. It took 18 years to do that, but I think I can probably apply the patience and skill it took to do that to a perfectly acceptable tile job. One slab at a time.

**I just realized I’m totally guilty of the dreaded VERTICAL VIDEO SYNDROME.