Thursday, January 31, 2013

Driving Past South Fork Ranch

Yesterday we drove into town to pay the property taxes. They weren't due yet. In fact I had until today which was a good twenty-fours left. So I paid them early, thankfully and gladly, grateful that they are not included as part of our mortgage payment.
It makes me stop and think about the math. We've been out here over twenty years and in that time our taxes have quadrupled. I keep telling myself that we are lucky. If taxes were added to our mortgage payment I'm not sure we could manage the payment. It is hard to set aside that amount every month for the inevitable invoice that comes due.
But that makes it easier to keep tabs on how much they increase over time. Still, it is a small price to pay for the freedom and beauty we enjoy every day of the year.

So anyhow, on the way into town I passed by South Fork Ranch, and stopped to take a new picture of the view from Parker Road. Next time I'll get a pic of the front but they had street construction going on.

South Fork Ranch from Parker Road
Thirty years ago my friend from Florida came up and we drove over to South Fork after visiting at Miss Jeannie's horse ranch. We found out it cost $4.00 each just to go into the house, so we stood outside at the gate and took pictures of each another instead. I'll have to dig those out and scan them in.

Okay, on the way back home I decided to stop in at Target and fill up the wagon with supplies, you know. And when I parked and went inside, I noticed how unusually dark it was in the store. I asked the guy by the door why. When I noticed that the entire shelf that usually holds the specialty cheese and ready made containers of deli food was totally empty and he was wiping it down.

He told me that their power went off the night before and didn't come back completely on.

"Well, wouldn't the food spoil? I asked.

"Yep. That's why we had to throw all this out. Meat and everything. All we've got is what came in on the truck this morning." He seemed sad about the whole thing. And so was I.

I couldn't begin to imagine the cost of the lost merchandise and then I thought about all the hungry people in town and why didn't they hold a free barbecue or something. But the lawsuits would rule that out just in case someone were to get sick. So they tossed out a fortune in meat, dairy, deli and more. It was sobering.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Morning Has Broken

Another day to enjoy a moist beautiful sunrise. Thank You! It is truly a blessing to have another brand new day to start off. And a gorgeous one as an added bonus. I'll always remember my friend Phyllis who, when asked how she was, would always reply, "Brand new".

I admired that about her and it made me think about having a fresh, clean slate to start off the day. No more worries about yesterday. No fears about tomorrow. Just a brand new day to make the best of whatever it brings.

The horses in the field behind the tractor were running happily in formation, four of them, tails held high. Their dogs were trailing along behind enjoying the crisp, cool morning.

The temperature has dropped back down from its unusual range in the 70s this week to a chilly 40 degrees this morning. It gives the dogs a spring in their step and a frisky nature on their run through the back yard.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Play Misty For Me

Sunrise, January 24, 2013
Early morning fog came as a surprise to those of us expecting weather in the 70s today. The moisture in the air provided a gorgeous sunrise.

It was delightfully cool, rather than cold outside as the dew gathered strength and dripped quietly down from the roof onto the porch.

I headed out early and picked up the bare necessities, Fudgsicles, Half-n-half, and those irresistable breakfast essentials, raspberry filled donuts. Of course the obligatory gallon of milk was tucked among the purchases; all the better for gluging down with a couple of those donuts.

My appearance at the front door frightened a small covey of birds that had surrounded the bird feeder. Teetering away with a flurry of wings, they took cover under the deck behind the trellis.

The house next door finally saw some advancement after a couple of weeks of inactivity. This past weekend they came and installed the remaining pieces of missing siding at the top of the east facing wall.

After a long dry spell, we had two days of rain over the last couple of weeks, which most certainly found its way down behind the partially completed siding. Progress is hard to determine with the exterior mostly finished. They will start the finish out of the inside now.

It's given a whole new dimension to the sunset. This photo was the view in 2009.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Heating the House in the Old Days

Englander Wood Burning Stove
This is the wood burning fireplace that we bought and installed when we first built the house. The brick work was completed by my Dad and Jim whose efforts over several days laying the brick turned our frigid house into a habitable place. The Englander model has come in handy during the many occasions when we've lost power out here in the rural area north east of Dallas. Sometimes it's off for hours at a time.

During the early days before we had interior walls, insulation, proper wiring or central heat, we depended on this old fashioned method of keeping warm. I'll never forget the time the water in the dog's bowl froze in the kitchen. That year, we learned to leave a faucet dripping slowly after replacing a hose in the washing machine that froze and burst. Although we savor the fond memories of wearing three pair of socks and two sweatsuits under a coat, we don't miss the old days when we put groceries into the refrigerator to keep them from freezing.

Thank goodness for plastic tarps and a staple gun, we were able to partition off the living room from the incomplete second floor. Before that, most of the heat from our small space heaters we had running on long extension cords escaped easily through the attic vents. Until we were able to install ceilings and walls in that area, we were trying to heat the outdoors.

My Dad, who was visiting us from the sunny state of Florida was good natured about our predicament when staying with us in the winter of 1990, the first year after we moved into the "construction zone" that we call our house. His comments when the three of us huddled together inches from the space heaters that did little more than heat our shins was unforgettable.

"It's not cold," he said, his breath forming clouds of wispy smoke, "it's brisk."

We still laugh about his understatement that day. When we get an ice storm, snow or freezing rain, we quote him with words forced from chattering teeth, "It's not cold, it's brisk".

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Last Day of 2012 was a tough one

Some days are more memorable than others for a variety of reasons. New Year's Eve is one that stands out for many. This one stands out for me and will be remembered as one of the toughest days of the year. Today I said goodbye to a dear friend.

Fritz in 2007
Fritz came to live across the street when Aunt Louise moved in with Mom. She, Fritz and Sugar (a cat) had been living in Fort Worth until 2005, the year Aunt Helen passed. The year brought many changes for his owner, Louise, and for her younger sister, my Mom, who was about to retire at 80 years of age. Her retirement party at the school had already been  scheduled for the day after we lost Helen at 94. It was a bittersweet day.

Fritz was welcomed into the family by his step-brother Max, a 10 pound Dachshund, an only child prior to that. For the first time in his life, Fritz enjoyed the pleasures of having a fenced yard rather than being restricted to the leash. He discovered the pleasure of chasing squirrels, armadillos and even skunks that happened into his new rural setting. The neighbor's cat became a manner of getting exercise, running down the ramp to chase the trespasser off the porch. What a joy that was!

Fritz in March 2012
Fritz was adopted from an animal shelter in 1999, so his exact heritage is unknown, but from the looks of him, his ancestry included both the noble beagle and Bassett hound.

He transformed over the years from a frightened, abused cast-off who barked in fear at visitors, into a loving and joyous bundle of doggie kisses; a playful dog who lit up when his Uncle Jim would visit. He learned the source of much ear scratching and belly rubbing emanated from the man he once feared.

We will remember him, as we do our own, who have crossed over in the many years that have passed: with love and affection and a natural sense of loss balanced precariously at the moment by the memories of the joy he once brought to us all. He will be missed most by the human he knew as his Mom for 14 short years, Miss Louise Trapp, age 92.

RIP Fritz Trapp
April 21, 1998 - December 31, 2012