Where did we leave off? Oh yeah…
We got to our winter destination in the Rio Grande Valley on October 12 and closed on our new little house on October 17. We have been really busy ever since then. It’s a good thing it’s a very small house and the bus is parked right next door for now.
In February, before the floods.
Before we arrived it started raining again and our little 5 x 8 foot trailer was parked in front of the house. There had been flooding and it looked like it would flood some more. Jim was concerned that the trailer could be flooded from the bottom so we called Doc and asked it he could move it to higher ground. Doc and Jare the ones who dragged it to Texas for us. Turned out it was so flooded he couldn’t get to it with his truck! What to do?
Doc gathered up help in the form of Richie and Ed and they emptied the entire contents of the trailer into the house. In the pouring rain with the water over their rain boots. In the dark. What a great bunch of guys! When we finally got around to unpacking, everything was A-OK and intact with absolutely NO water damage. Talk about gratitude!
We decided right then that that group would be our first dinner party. Entertaining is one of the reasons we got the house in the first place. And now we have space, furniture and dishes we need. We have had two so far, including Thanksgiving, my favorite.
We planned on leaving a lot of stuff in the bus but needed some of the essentials; clothes, pots and pans, computers, cameras, quite a few things actually. So we spent a lot of time schlepping stuff back and forth.
We wanted to do some work on the house and the garden needed lots of attention after the floods wiped out a bunch of stuff. We have our new (to us) little car and the timing couldn’t have been better with that so we started going shopping. For paint, furniture, supplies and garden tools. We ordered a new toaster oven and coffeepot and I bought a food processor. We did move over our cookware from the bus. Jim wanted to get all new stuff, but I figured if it made the cut from our house in Kansas to the bus, it was worthwhile and besides, we both hate shopping. We ordered everything online that we could and blitzkrieg shopped for the rest.
One of the first (and biggest) projects was to raise up the washer and dryer and make room for the kitty litter box below. They have a great setup in the bus where they just push through a cat door into the box under the pantry. The clearance was going to be lower than what they have in the bus too. Some cat people friends were skeptical….
Dryer comes out first
Doc and Jim remove the washer and dryer
One side platform brace built
One side platform brace built
Steel brackets for appliances to sit on while raised
Washer back in
Both back in
Cutting the access panel in the closet
Easy to get to everything now
Closed back up
Again, Doc to the rescue. He loaned Jim his Skilsaw and helped with the heavy lifting and delicate balance of the removal and replacement. Jim was practically doing yoga in the box space to get all the electrical, venting and gas readjusted. When he first looked at it, he saw it was all crimped up and askew with no way to reach up into the cabinet. Then someone suggested that he cut an access panel in the closet wall into the washer closet. Brilliant! That’s what he did and he got it all smoothed out and working. And I am happy to report that the cats are using their box just fine.
The day we went furniture shopping, it was like a military mission. We made a list of all the stores, figured out a route and went for it. I think we hit twelve stores that day and found what worked at about the third one. We actually just looked in books at DGM, where we bought it and it was delivered before Thanksgiving. We scoped out and measured everything and decided on two love seat recliners.
One came first and when we got it in the house we discovered that a second would not fit where we planned. We thought about different arrangements and finally decided to just keep the one and bring our dining chairs over from the bus. The large screened in porch has lots of chairs that can be brought inside. So far, so good.
We painted the whole inside of the house. Well, Jim did. I’m a pretty messy painter. While Jim did the painting, I tackled the garden. The ground was very wet (still is) and things I wanted to pull out came easily. I made several very large brush piles that the owner of the park had hauled away. That is a big help. I got everything cleared out and the trees trimmed up before I planted anything.
The day we took possession
This flame tree isn’t this leafy or green now
We also have resident chickens! A group of six chickens visits daily and they chicken scratch everything. I also discovered that they snip of emerging plants so all the upcoming stuff now has wire cages around to keep the chickens at bay. Carmella is very curious about the chickens and tried to rush them once. What a squawk that was! They are bigger than she is and they have those claws…
Carmella meets the rooster
At the end of each day we would examine each other’s progress before collapsing. It’s a lot of work even with the bus next door. Good thing it’s not any bigger.
A month after we closed, we slept in the house for the first time. Carmella had been going back and forth from the bus to the house but I had to carry Astrid over and deposit her in the house. She quickly found a secure hiding place under the bed drawers which we now call Astrid’s Apartment. She is getting more acclimated and goes into the garden daily. The chickens chase her back onto the porch but Carmella hunkers down and watches them carefully. No eggs yet.
Oh. Another result of the flooding… We bit the bullet and put in a split air conditioning system. The old system had duct work under the house which got flooded twice this summer and the previous owners had to replace it. We worked out a deal on the second flood and went for the split which has no duct work on the ground. The only problem: it was going to take up a whole closet inside. And we only have the one besides cabinets and the bedroom. Again, cutting through the wall and adding an access panel in the bathroom saved most of the hall closet.
Access panel in bath
And the outside unit is raised up to avoid any future flooding. Adolpho and Sonny got it done in two days and it works great. When we told them that a tattoo artist painted our bus, Adolpho showed us his tattoos.
Random scenes from around the house:
We still have several projects to complete and there are plenty of unhung pictures and loose ends to be tied up. Come on over anyway! It’s starting to feel like home. We are also making time for music on the porch, happy hours, lap swimming, visiting and just enjoying life. We are grateful.
And one of the high points of the year? Getting Astrid back.
She says Merry Christmas.