Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2049579-The-cabin-in-the-woods
by stacy
Rated: 18+ · Novel · Entertainment · #2049579
A woman's DIY adventure. Making a home from nothing but sweat equity and determination.

I don't know who decided to put a four foot mirror across from our shower, but I'd like to push him ( as I'm quite sure it is a HIM) off a cliff! Every day when I exit, dripping wet from my daily scrub and struggle to wrap myself in a large towel, I'm greeted with a full frontal view of my five foot ten, 190 pound body. It's not that I don't love and appreciate everything that it has been through and allowed me to do, I totally do! I just don't want to see it in it's stark "thereness" right away in the morning. But as I stand here this morning, I find myself taking stock, not of my many physical imperfections, but of my life in general. I'm pretty much the same as every other forty something woman around here. I have a husband, two kids and a dog. For the most part, my life is pretty satisfying, I love my children, fun loving, sweet sensitive and creative. they are my world. Period. Our dog is a sweet, chubby bulldog boxer mix that we rescued from an unfriendly home, we've fallen in love with his charm as well as his big flat head. My husband, everyone calls him Bluto...now there's a different subject altogether. He's a true man's man. Burly, hairy, hard working, drinking, smoking, man. He loves the company of men, and for him, the party never ends. And if it does, it's usually my fault...just ask him.

My husband is the bread winner in our little family, and we've always kept our money separate. I've always kept at least a part time job to take care of the things that the kids and I want or need, so I never have to defend my spending, unless I run into trouble. I think everyone should have a ration of spendable cash that is theirs alone, so I never really got too upset about our agreement.

Our current home that was built in 1910. It's a charming little white frame house that we have put a considerable amount of time and effort , not to mention money, in. It is a lovely, little home with a big back porch and sprawling yard perfect for entertaining and lounging with friends. I love this place, as it is where I spent a good portion of my childhood. It is filled with the fondest of memories that comes from being reared before the technological revolution. From summers spent running through the garden hose to winters sledding down Pete's hill with all of the other kids in our little town. Many of my comrades have grown to buy surrounding homes and raise their own families right here. When one of the older folks pass away, there's usually another young couple coming of age to snatch up their house and make it their own, resulting in a lot of well lived homes. The thing about old houses is, their maintenance is considerable. Our monthly utility bills are higher than our mortgage, we've done all we can within our budget to work toward a better end, but to no avail, at least not much of one. I've been trying to convince the hubs that we need to build I nice new, low maintenance home. Something that can be paid off in a reasonable amount of time and be easy for us to handle as we head into our retirement years, which for him at least, are not that far off.

I find that, as my children are enjoying their teenage years, I'm wondering what's next for me? Will my husband suddenly want to go with me to dinner on Friday nights? Will he decide that he likes to work in the yard or putter around the garden? Or will I simply become more and more alone as my family continues to grow up? Ugh!

These are the thoughts that occupy my mind as I get myself ready for the evening. We actually have plans tonight, together! A friend of ours just bought the old Eders' place. Forty acres of pond (just a half acre smaller than a lake), wood and a long winding drive that leads to a charming little A frame cabin. When we were kids, we used to sneak down that old dirt lane and skinny dip. Our mom was livid when she finally found out, as Mr. Eders was a lawyer in the city who used the place as a weekend retreat. The house itself need considerable revamping; new windows, insulation, and roofing. The final result will be stunning, if not expensive. So we were all going gather up with our coolers and grills to enjoy his new acquisition.

Freshly showered and ready to go, I step out into the garage, my husbands own personal dwelling, and see that not only has he not packed the cooler, he still hasn't gotten himself ready. I sent him in to do just that, while I handled packing our covered dish as well as the beverages. Lou, my youngest and only girl, is always there to lend a hand. I'm used to living this way, but do not wish the same for her, so I explain once again, that husbands usually take care of some of the household responsibilities, such as washing the car or packing the cooler. Half an hour later, we're out the door and down the road to spend a relaxing night with some of our best friends.

A few of our friends have parked their campers along the edge of the yard and are beginning to grill. Country music is streaming out of someone's old pick up truck, and there no less than fifteen kids running around with fishing poles. This is a pretty typical scene around here, and I wouldn't trade it for glitz nor glam. The night rolls steadily along, and by the time the sun goes down, we've all been fed, and most of the younger kids have retired to one of the campers. We are a drinking crew, that's for sure, no one gets out of hand(usually) but once in a while, a heated debate breaks out. Tonight's topic seems to be money. Who makes it, who spends it, who understands it, and so on. Now, as you may have guessed, this isn't an affluent group, we're blue collar people, and, for the most part, we do well enough. Some of the wives are homemakers, so this discussion usually puts a few backs up. I, however, don't let it get to me, my husband knows that he makes more, but I do more. That's how it's always been with us, so I find myself fading out of the conversation, looking around for Lou, just to check on her. I find her pouring over her tackle box, comparing lures with some of the other kids.

"If we ever get divorced, I'm leaving her the house, cause I know she can't afford it." The unmistakable voice of my husband says. I have heard this sentiment one time too many.
"Yeah, cause nothing says 'I love you' like a good financial screwin." I say as I casually get up to go to the restroom. I feel like Fred Flintstone grumbling under my breath the whole way up to the house. But, by the time I return, the subject has been changed, and I let it go.

The night wears on, and I'm ready to head home. We pack everything up, and start for the house when I notice that Bluto is entirely too bright, chatty even. This is not his usual going home demeanor, so I know something's up. We only live about five minutes away, and it's well after midnight when we start to unload. I'm ready for my pj's, and Lou is all but asleep on her feet.

"I think I'm gonna head back down, I promised Jason I'd come back."
Oh boy, I think. That's just what you need. I give my usual "Whatever you need to do." And just like an errant teenager, he gleefully pecks my cheek, tells me goodnight, and heads back to the party, which by now is down to the die hard drinkers. Just once, I'd like to come home with a man who isn't bombed, one who will help me unpack, and maybe have a little snuggle time afterward. I dutifully get everything back in it's place and tuck the kids into bed. My oldest, Shawn has been at work all evening and is in bed with a movie, and Lou was asleep before her head hit the pillow. I sit down with a cup of hot tea (weak and sweet, just how I like it)and read a few chapters of a book on JFK. When I can no longer hold my eyes open, I climb into bed, alone.

The following morning dawns bright and beautiful! It's Saturday, and I rise to make the coffee and plan my day Everyone will be heading back down to Jason's new place to join those who camped out, but that will be closer to evening. I like to get the mowing done on For the weekend and do a load or two of laundry. Lou likes to use the rider on the large half, so I will be using the push mower on the house side. When drinking, I know my limit, so I 'm great this morning, ready to tackle the day. I feel a wonderful satisfaction in chores of all sorts, I love to see the transformation from grubby to sparkling, unruly to neat, I love to cook from scratch and see the gratitude of my family while they enjoy my labors. Obie, our bulldog, stretches broadly then heads to the back door for his morning constitutional. As I'm latching on to his cable, I notice that Bluto's truck is still running. And, more importantly, he is still in it! I peer in the window and see that his head is cocked at an odd angle, I tap on the window lightly. Nothing. With my heart in my throat, I rap a bit harder, still nothing. Pulling hard on the old handle, I say his name, just sure that he's met his end, when he jumps and we both let out a yelp. Now this would normally be funny, until you consider the fact that he's a grown man who couldn't make it into the house because he drank too much. Disgusted, I return to the porch, retrieve the dog, and continue on with my morning work.

My husband basically lives in our garage. He has a desk that he sits at to watch TV, and smoke. He has our old computer, incase he decides to...compute. He has a fan for when it's hot, and a small heater for when it's cold. He only comes into the house to eat end sleep, both are done in his recliner. This is where he ends up spending the whole day. I push the lawn mower out right in front of him, and back in when I'm finished. I load the battery in the weed eater and blower across from him, and try to imagine just sitting around watching him take care of things if the tables were turned. I simply cannot. Back when we were first married, when this sort of behavior was the exception, and not the norm, I would have dosed out the cold shoulder, or maybe a good guilt trip. After fourteen years, I have realized that the only person affected by either of those, is me. So I simply go on about my business as though we are only roommates, not husband and wife. That seems to be what we've become.

My usual habit during monotonous tasks, is to listen to an audio book, or simply daydream. Today, given the recent turn of events, I imagine for myself a sweet little cabin surrounded by trees. It's a quaint little abode with all the comforts I enjoy like a cozy little sitting room, a sweet little eat in kitchen, and upstairs bedrooms for the kids(they're fascinated with second story rooms). Okay, scratch the "little" part, I have our extended family over for dinner a lot, we would need a considerable amount of room. I twist and shape my vision until it's just what I would wish, if I had only to make it. Unless Ed McMahon shows up with a giant check, that's not going to happen anytime soon. So my bubble once again pops, and I'm back to real life. This is usually where I start to dream up different ways I could increase my income, which then circles around to another dead end, and sours my mood. Maybe this time I should change direction, instead of enlarging the payout, maybe I could dream up a way to make this fantasy more doable. Genius! At my next opportunity, I scour the internet for the most affordable housing options. So, although I am completely smitten with these new "tiny homes", I don't see myself, along with two teenagers, living in one full time. And so the search continues.

Upon searching "alternative houses", I'm met with a barrage of, um...unique options. Everything from stuffed tires to bags filled with dirt. Interesting,to be sure, but these are not for me. Continuing on, I see several posts on a low cost housing website and I click on the tab, not expecting much. I seeing a ton of posts about pole buildings, they're economical and can be built to live in. Rooms can be placed, or not placed, wherever you desire due to the post and beam construction. I'm so excited, that I take my laptop out to the garage to show my husband who, instantly, rejects the idea, because of whatever reason. I'm not paying attention by this point, because I'm too busy imagining his head being dunked in the toilet by my hand. Fine, I think for the millionth time, I'll just have to show you.

I'm not completely without my resources, as I previously stated, I have a job. Little by slowly, I have put money away to hopefully pay cash for my next car, a slick black Cadillac, that is, when I no longer need a minivan. I have just over eleven thousand dollars stored in my savings account. I wonder if that would buy a small piece of land around here? Undeveloped ground can sell as for as little as three thousand an acre, I'll be looking into that in the near future, for sure!

Back at Jason's place, as it's now officially been dubbed, the local clan has once again gathered. We've been taken out on an old pontoon boat that he's just found floating on the back side of the pond. He's giving a tour of the outlying property, when I spot the loveliest little nook. It's a crescent shaped plot of land covered in large trees, that slopes gently up toward the curving lane. I can see the exact placing of the house. A deep grey, two story barn with a corrugated tin roof, galvanized, I think. Double doors with a little flat awning, flanked by glossy red pots of geranium. A natural stone walk that leads to a small garden of vegetables and herbs and patio of the same. I'm so overcome, that I almost blurt it out! Almost rob myself of the opportunity to see this dream come to pass! For I know that it will be quashed by the same retort that always puts a stop to any suggestions I have about building a new home. So I swallow it down and bide my time, this feels too important to take any chances. I feel, deep down in my gut, that this is the right move, and at the proper time, I will make it.

{indentSummertime used to be a lazystream that I could float along, now, with kids, work, etc., it's like a raging river during a storm! I find myself paddling my but off just trying to get across. We are now in the midst of softball season. I coach a couple teams that Lou plays on, so we keep pretty busy. Our weeks are filled with games, practices, and of course the usual summer stuff... grass, pool etc. During this time of year, I really don't have time to take stock of my personal life, but I still feel the absence of anther half. It would be so nice to come home and find just one job crossed off my list. With so much happening, the summer flies by, and before you know it, fall!

         Jason has given Lou permission to hunt for squirrels on his property, she's only fourteen, so I won't let her go alone. We both don our camoflauge, load and pocket our clips (she with the 17, and me , the 22) We slide them in our pockets and head down the road in our golfcart, guns accross my lap for safe keeping. Now Lou's main wish is to have a UTV, a Mule, Ranger, or something of the sort. As it stands, we have an old cart that backfires when you slow down, I let her drive, she loves it. We stop just behind the cabin and head the rest of the way on foot. Now I haven't ever killed a squirrel, unless you count hitting one with my mini van, so part of me hopes that we have no luck today. I start off toward the tree, with Lou taking point, she's removed the clip from her pocket, and slipped it into place so I do the same. Everything I know about guns, I learned from her, she's gone through the hunters safety course, and took me through it, bit by bit. She's by the book, that one...We make our way steadily through the woods, keeping an eye on the tree limbs for furry movement. Every few steps, we stop and listen for scurrying or scratching. I love this time together. I may not fully understand the allure of killing animals, but I know a bonding experiience, and this is one I will always treasure.

         We reach the spot that I have designated as the site of our future home. I try to make a mentel note of the various trees as well as the true slope of the land. I'm coming up with a way to pay for the construction, and it all hinges on the species that have grown the tallesst and straightest. I know next to nothing about trees, so this will take considerable research on my part. I make a mental note of trunks and leaves to look up when I have time, and POP! I sure hope the neighbors are home, because we just hit our first target. Sigh

         School is back on, and once again, order reigns. I am a woman who thrives on a well planned schedule, I'm not a total pain about it, but I feel so much better when I know who is where, and when. I staighten the house, start the laundry and dishwasher, and pull a frozen chicken out of the freezer for supper. I fill the dogs bowl, check his water dish, and toss him a milk bone as I walk out the door(That's the only way to escape without him). It feels good to know that the heat of summer will be giving way to cooler temperatures soon, I ride to work with my window down and th AC cranked up. I sing along with the radio full blast at the top of my lungs, it's just that kind of day.

         Work is good. I have one of those fun, low stress jobs where I work with a couple of other women whom I enjoy immensely. I manage a corporate dining hall for a local company. Not only do we enjoy each others company, we start our work day by sampling the offerings from our catered buffet. Can you say win/win? After I put in around five or six hours at work, I stop by the Library to exchange a few books and movies, and it's back home I go. I empty the dishwasher, flip the laundry, and run the vacuum if necessary. This seemingly boring routine is what I love most about my life. I relish my trips to the grocery store, or any store for that matter; completely revel in cooking, and everything else that comes with taking care of my family. Sometimes I think that I was born in the wrong decade, I would have made a swell housewife in the fifties!

         I'm pretty excited about dinner tonight, the kids love roasted chicken and it makes the entire house smell amazing! I've added homemade stuffing, and pumkin pie. I know, it's not quite the right season for this meal, but I cannot help myself, I'm a total glory whore! I can't wait to soak up the praise along with the "OOOOhs and AAAAhs"! At first they're a little perplexed, and too hot to enjoy such a bounty, but they soon change their tune, as I've bumped up the air conditioner and made it feel like fall inside. I'm looking forward to sitting down to dinner together, as a family.

         The table is set, I've used the linen napkins and my chuncky stoneware dishes. I call everyone in, and soak in their admiration of my creation. Someone's missing though, so I check the garage, and there's no husband. My phone pings with a new text, stopped by to have a few...Damn! I told him we were having a nice family dinner, I try to let it go, as this is not a huge suprise, but it still irks me considerably. To cover the shift in my mood, I add candles to the table and light them, this draws an eye roll from my son, and silly remarks that lift my spirit back to the present. I have learned many such tricks in recent years to make up for the shortcomings that have been developing in our marriage.

{inden}The next morning, I'm scrubbing the tub in the kids bathroom one morning, stewing over the chicken dinner letdown, when Obie lets out a quick bark to let me know that we have company. A check out the window shows Jason bending over to stub a cigarette out in one of my flower pots. He straightens when I open the door and asks if I have a spare paint roller, as they've just broken the last of theirs while painting the drywall they've hungin the new bedroom. I lead him into the garage and ask how the project is going.
"Great, unless count that I'm running out of dough." he says.
"I've got some extra" I tell him. "You should sell me a little chunk of your dirt."
"Sure thing" he says "where should I put it?"
"No, seriousely, I know you don't want a bunch of neighbors, But if you sold a couple of acres off the back side of the pond, you'd never even know I'm there." Now he give me a speculative look that says he's actually considering my offer, and asks me what Bluto will say about that.
"I just want to put up a little place in the trees where we can get away, Anyway, it's my cash we're talking about. Just think it over, no pressure."
"If you're really serious, I can see what I've got" It's at this point that I know I've got him. His purse strings must be stretched to the max, or he wouldn't have brought it up in the first place.
"absolutely! But, can we keep this between us?" It's no secret around here, that my husband and I aren't the tightest couple, so Jason gives me a knowing look and says "Sure, I know where you're coming from."

Just like that, I find myself embarking on a whole new chapter. It's invigorating! It's also terifying...My savings is now down to about $1100.00, and I'm resonsible for a piece of land. My first step, will be clearing out some of the trees, as the property is too dense to build on. The last time I tried to fire up a chainsaw, I knicked my shin, and I still couldn't make it run. Instead, I start researching trees on the internet, and find a local timber buyer to give me an estimate. My whole plan hinges on how much I can sell, and the amount they're willing to pay. My heart is pounding, I close my eyes and take a few calming breaths. Realax, I tell myself, This will need to be done no matter what I decide to do with property. The two acres I now lay claim to closely resemble a jungle, so this is actually a necessary move. My muscles start to release and I feel much calmer now. I cannot let fear be my guide any longer! So I log on to the place that fuels my creatuivity...Pinterest! I again search low cost housing, and come up with more earth huts, and cord wood builings. Log cabin kits are next, but the cost can be considerable depending on the size. I keep scrolling, and that's when I see it: A picture perfect dwelling made of charcoal grey steel with a galvanized tin roof! Double french doors and paned windows complete the total package. I'm instantly smitten, and grab my phone to take a quick picture. I click on the link, and am disappointed by the floor plan. Lot;s of small rooms and two seperate floors. Looks expensive, and I start to lose heart, but I read on anyway. This is a post and beam builing which allows the placement of rooms to the builders discretion. To keep the cost of the build as low as possible, I'm trying to avoid too many walls, walls cost money, obviousley. This is just what I'm looking for! I print out a picture of the outside that I like, as well as the ad from the company that sells the pole barn kits. I dig out an old leftover folder from the last school year and file them inside. I also add a few sheets of loose leaf paper, and voila, I now have a "House file". I stash the newly filled folder under the pack of paper that I keep next to the printer. I feel a little sneaky at this point, but I need to think of this as a back up plan. Chances are, things will improve, and we can live in this new home together. And if not, well then, I'm covered.

         Along with the end of summer comes a lot of extra work around the house. I plant a small garden each year, and now have corn to freeze, and tomatoes to can. I realize that this way of life isn't exactly the norm these days, but in our area, it's still pretty common. It's also not unusual to see the neighborhood kids outside at all hours of the day playing ball, riding bikes, sledding when there's snow, and doing anything else they can dream up. Like I said, our little town hasn't change much since I grew up here. The kids help load the discarded corn stalks onto my husbands old truck and drive them out to our neighbors property to be composted. When they return, I notice that, behind the wheel is my fourteen year old daughter, smiling like the cat that ate the canary. My son, Shawn has pulled over to let her drive the last little way back to the house, and the pride he feels for her is evident as he razzes her about her driving skills with a huge grin of his own. Have I mentioned how much I love these kids?

         Shawn gets ready to head off to his job for the evening, and Bluto is most likely working late tonight, as he puts in an ungodly amount of time at work. Lou and I are on our own for dinner, and she requests breakfast, one of her favorites, biscuit and gravy. She wants to learn how to make it like I do, including the homemade sugar bicuits. I take her through it step by step, having her do all the work. It's hard for me to just watch, but I find it's the best way to teach cooking lessons. I notice her small hands as she browns the ground pork, and adds salt and pepper like it's a delicacy rather than a staple. I marvel at the simplest tasks done by my children, it just doesn't seem right to see them doing grown up things like cooking. They were just babies last week, weren't they? My husband pulls in the drive as we're loading our plates. I add a setting for him and we end up eating in the living room watching our recorded shows from the evening before. The kids call it having a "carpet picnic". When they were small, I didn't have much money, so instead of going out to eat on the weekends, I would make their favorite supper, and we would eat it on beach towels in the living room while watching their favorite video. It become a tradition that's as much fun for me as for them. Bluto fills his plate and joins in on our video. It's an actual video tape that wobbles a bit in the beginning because it's been played so many times. He teases "Sis" that she probably knows this one by heart.

         . I plod along through my week of work and home chores, but my mind returns repeatedly to the little piece of land not a quarter mile away that holds my most recent dreams. My marriage seems to be holding its own for the time being. Bluto's liver is on it's fall break and I feel a little pang of guilt over my secret. This is an old argument between my husband and myself, weather or not we can afford a new house. I think that the low maintenance of a new home would save money in the long run, he says, that the cost to build would be too devastating to consider. Not very open minded, that one...Perhaps this "project" could cement my point, I just need a way to fund it. I search online for ways to clear land for building, hoping to find that people will clear the trees in exchange for the firewood it would provide. The downfall being that anyone local would likely mention to Bluto that they are working out an agreement with his wife, that won't do. My search reveals a hidden treasure. Timber buyers will pay for standing timber on your property, and depending on the species, the money can be considerable. I find a reputable company through a nearby college exchange, and set up an appointment. I give the address, and we are set to meet the following week. Immediately, my mind reels! I have too many questions to remember, so I make a list of queries to bear in mind, and tuck it in my purse where no one can stumble upon it. I wait for the next week with the patience of a teething toddler.

         This will turn out to be my watershed moment. I would have thought that it my purchase of the land, but no, it's my meeting with the timber buyer that turns out as the pinnacle of my plan. He's bidding the wood at around fifty thousand dollars! My heart is pounding and I want to jump up and down with excitement, but I try to play it cool and be professional. I tuck the written bid in my bag, shake his hand, and only when I return to my car, do I let out an ear splitting "Woo hoo". With this kind of cash, I'm sure I can at least get this building underway, so back to the internet I go. I want to start buying everything from lumber to guest towels, but I reign myself in and

         My actions thus far have proved most satisfying, so I go back to coasting through life. It's my birthday weekend, and we have some fun plans. The weather is hot, and the whole family is planning to gather at our house tomorrow to swim and cookout, as the weather is still quite warm. The preparations have been made, burgers all pattied up, various salads are chilling, and pies are cooling on racks on the back counter. I'm looking forward to the coming of the cooler days, but I'm willing to throw down one more summer party. Lou and I are just getting home from our Friday night dinner with my Mom and her sister, there's an unfamiliar truck in the drive, so we go to the back porch to see who's visiting. It's a friend of Bluto's from work, he's got his wife and their new baby along. I'm completely thrilled! I love babies, so I get my hands on her and continue to snuggle her until they deem the evening over and pack up to leave. My husband has once again skipped supper, and although he was completely precious when he cuddled our tiny visitor, he's now a total staggering wreck. He's here at home, so I don't get too frustrated thinking about his excessive drinking. The kids and I head to bed, leaving him to his own devices, my only request is that he turn out the light and lock up when he's through.

         I wake up early the next morning, the school schedule is deeply ingrained in me already. There's no coffee, so I load the pot and set about my morning routine. The day has dawned warm and sunny, still in my pajamas, I head out to the back porch with my coffee. There's a scattering of beer cans and an empty cigarette pack lying by the teakwood chairs that sit just outside the back door. I will not let this spoil my mood, this is the kind of day that I truly enjoy. There will be kids, laughter, and plenty of eating, I gather up the remnants of last night, and head to the garage to dispose of them. Bluto's once again in his chair, head cocked uncomfortably. I ease through, hoping to leave sleeping dogs lie, and head to the kitchen.

         Since my recent land purchase, I've found a way to settle myself when I get disgusted with my husband, which I clearly am at present. Quietly, so as not to wake the kids, I boot up my laptop, and go into my secret file. I have a scan of the property deed, along with a list of actions to take, as I finish them, I will copy them to the "done" side. I simply don't have the courage or drive to dive in head first and make the necessary changes, so I take it little by bit, and find satisfaction where I can. This morning, I'm feeling a bit more courageous, so I send in a request for a quote to a company that sells pole building kits. I've figured out the dimensions I will need, and checked the box to have a builders quote added. I hit send, and exhale a gust of breath I was not aware I was holding. My funds are holding steady, and If I can get the building, plumbing and electric taken care of, I'll be set! What once felt deceitful now feels glorious, "take that", I say, under my breath. With this little nugget in my gut, I set about the day. We have a small above the ground pool that is usually the center of family gatherings, but with the cooler temperatures in the evening, only the kids are willing to brave it. The rest of us recline under the big shady maple in the back of the yard, bellies are full, and conversation is flowing easily.

indent}I have a friend at work that I fill in for from time to time when he's on vacation. His name is Tim, a while back, he found out that he has cancer. It's an aggressive form that has taken over his liver. This is a man that I have worked with for over seven years, and now I find out that the rest of days here are numbered. I cannot accurately describe this feeling, it's as though I've found out that a good friend will be moving away, never to be seen again, only about a hundred times worse. He's close to the age my dad was when he died, just a year and a half ago. He too had cancer, and every step my friend goes through, drags me back to those shaky days with Dad. We were able to gather around and stay close to him for the last few weeks of his life. I will always be grateful for those precious days, sticking together at mom and dad's house, playing cards, doing puzzles, or just sitting around the hospital bed that had been delivered so that he could remain comfortably at home right to the end. As I watch Tim and his family go through much of the same things, I'm drawn back to the day Dad died. I had gone home to get a few things done when I got the call. It was starting to sleet, and My husband drove me back into town in his truck. I said my goodbyes and watched, waving from the front step, as is our family custom, as the hearse took him away. I distinctly remember cradling his head in both of my hands, feeling the last bit of warmth that was my Dad, The sleet was coming down in earnest then, matching my mood perfectly. The kids followed soon after in my son's SUV, and we all stayed to receive the post mortem visitors that come by when you live in a small town. It's truly a blessing as well as a testament to the good of others, when tragedy strikes around here, you want for nothing. The local grocery store was there with trays of cold cuts and cheeses, neighbors came by with dishes, sweets, and loving remarks. Long after the sun went down, the kids and I were ready to head back home, feeling wrung out and hollow. Bluto had walked across the street with my brother in law Dallas to get a beer and hadn't made it back yet. I called to let him know that we were ready, but he said to go on without him. He didn't return until three o'clock the next morning. I know that everyone grieves in their own way, but this was one time that I really needed my husband. More often than not, I swallow pain until I feel ready to deal with it, but this was one time that I didn't want to be alone with it, I needed my husband. When I think back on times like these, I'm astounded that I've stayed with him this long. More than that, I'm ashamed, I cannot believe that I am this woman. If I read about my life, not knowing it was me, I would most certainly ridicule the fool for not doing anything!

         Mid September has made its way into late October. By now the weather is turning cool, it's 45 degrees this morning, and I grudgingly turn on the furnace. Bluto had to work and both kids are still in bed as it's Saturday. I grab a cup of coffee and head to the living room with my laptop, I light a mulled cider candle that casts a warm glow and heavenly scent in the room. I've decorated our home with deep colors, lots of cozy throws and twinkle lights year round. Obie snores softly in his chair and I relish the quiet as I digitally design my new home. For the hundredth time, I sketch, erase, and resketch the floor plan. I'm fairly certain,by now where I want everything, the garage will flow into the kitchen, which is flanked by a utility/laundry room, which is all visible from the great room. I am keeping an eye out for unique pieces that catch my eye...the perfect sink, a cut glass fixture for my walk in closet. I've found a reuse center about 45 miles away that sells high end home improvement pieces at crazy low prices. If I find anything that I love, I can store it in my little sisters garage until I need it. My hope is to buy thing , such as tubs, sinks, etc. with cash ahead of time to keep the end cost down. My fear is that I will build this home, leave my husband, and then end up in some crappy apartment because I can't afford the payment. That would suck in a totally unique way.

         It isn't very often I check my personal email, but before signing off, I decide to do just that. I spot a reply from "Timberland Builders", before I let my imagine come up with anything tio be nervous about, I open it up. The quote is in, the entire structure, with windows and exterior doors will be $14, 850. Add another $8,000 to build. I quickly print the estimate and tuck it into my binder. It looks like my funds will hold out for a while longer. I send out quotes for concrete, plumbing and electrical. I don't want to wait for the replies, I want to know NOW. I'm growing impatient, I want to start buying paint! I steady my zeal with a few deep breaths. I have to watch extra carefully sometimes, I can really get ahead of myself. I remove a piece of paper from the desk drawer, and make a list of "next steps". I don't have just the new build to plan, I also have our current home to get in order.
         Despite my diligence in housekeeping, we have a few problem areas. I think most people refer to those areas as "closets". I need to start at one corner of our house and work my way through, pitching anything that hasn't been used in the last 12 months. I'll make that my Saturday project.
I'm pulled from my reverie by a quick knock on the back door followed by the casual entrance, and verbal "Knock knock" by my mother. She's stopped by on her way back from Walmart, having picked up some treat for the kids.
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