Sunday, May 25, 2014

We're never too old for big dreams of little houses.

The sign on the front door says "Welcome Friends." So come on in!

The house that Papa built

When we bought our (first) house in the spring of 2009, one of our main dreams had always been to build a playhouse in our back yard. We had always wanted to do that for our daughter when she was little, but since we lived in a rented duplex throughout her growing-up years, we were not able to do that. We were always were kind of sad that we missed out on that opportunity.

Well, in 2004, God presented us with a second chance when our daughter became Mommy to a little bundle of joy, unbounded energy and imagination--London.

London had just turned five when we moved into our house in the spring of 2009--the perfect age for a play house, and we started working on first-things-first right away, like drainage issues that resulted in a mosquito ranch in our back yard. Then, just four months after we moved in, my precious Daddy passed away unexpectedly, and my Mom was in fairly advanced stages of Alzheimer's, deaf, and could not live on her own in the middle of nowhere, three hours away from anyone in her family, so house projects were put on hold for the next few years while we focused on taking care of lots of details with Mom and the farm she and Daddy had lived on for so many years.

Building a tiny house

By summer of 2013, Harold finally got started on this dream project. And I had been poring over Pinterest for ideas. Harold had already been working on the drainage issues that comes with a house located at the bottom of a very, very steep hill. That problem somewhat in hand, and after months of studying, planning, drawing, and saving our pennies, Harold got his building permit from the City, and away we went.
In the beginning was just four stakes, stuck in the ground.

I should say , "Away he went." He literally built this thing single-handedly, except for the light stuff like "interior design," painting, and the tall stuff like roofing and shingling. The sheer volume of manual, physical labor this involved boggles the mind. Everything was manually carried to the building site....and we live on a hill, remember? You can figure out the rest. The summer of 2013 was very, very hot, and very, very dry, which didn't make it easier. But he stuck with it.

The dirt taken out came in handy to fix some other drainage issues along the side of the "big house."

There's a porch!

From this angle you can see the steep grade down to the street from which all the materials had to be carried!

One of my favorite shots, through the early morning fog.

Papa's little helper.

This is starting to look like a house!

Daddy (Nathan) nails on and weathers in the roofing for the winter months until we get it shingled in the spring.

Now it's painted the color London picked out, and the shutters are up.

I did the painting (London helped with that on the inside!) and made or bought the furnishings, mostly at thrift stores, garage sales, and the like. And we had a couple of younger guys help with the tall stuff. But I have been taking photos of the whole process, saving them up so I could share from start to finish. It's now almost finished. Just a few more minor details to go, like hooking up the electricity, installing and hooking up the doorbell, putting up the railing and loft ladder handles, and extending the width of the loft a bit so two giggly girls could fit up there instead of one. A flagstone pathway and a step from the yard onto the front porch, building a drop-down table attached to the wall to serve as dining, art, and homework headquarters, and it's a wrap!

London loves to paint!

Every day after school London checks out the progress. Found the perfect door at Habitat Re-Store.

A kid can dream some big dreams up in that loft!

A Moreau Heights Chargers t-shirt-turned-flag waves in the brisk autumn air.

London LOVES getting mail in her mailbox. After all, she does have an address!
 And now, fall has arrived, and the building must wait out the winter months. Until finally, in the spring...

Another Spring, and the Finish is in Sight!

We hired Justin Duren to put on the shingles and install the wood flooring. He did an awesome job!

Wood flooring purchased at Habitat Re-Store. Darker wood downstairs, light wood in the loft.

The loft will be wider when it is finished, but for now, it's quite comfortable. The bed is four pillows sewn into a comforter, ala Pinterest!

Her fridge / pantry when it was just a bookshelf at the Habitat Re-Store last summer.

You'd never know it used to be a bookshelf!

Real dishes. Real food. Even a place for cold drinks & foods.

No fridge is complete without artwork on the doors.

Ewok loves playing in London's house.

Pictures of London's pets, and one of her with Mommy and Daddy. Still lots of decorating to do.

Flameless candles add a soft, cheery glow after dark.

There will be lights. But for now, flameless candles work fine!

The view from her bedroom loft.
The ladder to the loft. This corner, as London has dubbed it, is the "Library." There will be books!

Some landscaping underway to replace the grass killed by all the construction work.
The little house on the hill.
There are two tiny hummingbird feeders in hanging plants...

...and it only took about five minutes for them to find this one.

Furnishing a tiny house

Since she's too old now for "pretend" food and cooking utensils, I told London she would be have real food and cooking equipment in her house. I converted a bookshelf purchased from our local Habitat for Humanity Restore to her "fridge." It actually serves a dual purpose: Fridge and pantry. A small cooler at the bottom holds her cold food and drinks, and her snackies and dishes are stored up top. I have an induction cooktop that I use in the house, and when we get her countertop / table space built, she can bring that out, plug it in, and cook real food on it, with adult supervision, of course. Since we have our picnic table and grill right outside her house, she can throw a few shrimps (or hot dogs) on the barbie, and serve up her culinary creations to the whole family. The flag out front is her beloved school mascot, the Moreau Heights Chargers, made from a sweatshirt. Her mailbox gets real mail in it. She's amazed at how the postman can find her mailbox when she gets mail. (wink)

Sure, London is now over ten years old, and growing up fast. But we think she will still get lots of great use out of it, even as a teenager, when it could still be a neat place to spend time reading, doing homework, or watching movies on the laptop. Oh, and I'm making a Nana-sized sleeping bag for my "bed" on the downstairs floor for sleepovers.

Let's face it, hasn't every woman always dreamed of a little "house" of her own from the time she was a little girl. I'm pretty sure I'm having as much fun, if not more, spending time in there as London. Since we did everything ourselves, and bought a lot of things at the Habitat Restore or other thrift stores, the total cost for the project ended up being much less than the ready-made sheds you buy at your local big box lumber yard stores or places specializing in "outbuildings." And, even if I say so myself, it is built MUCH better than those are. I know, I've been in them many, many times, tape measure, pencil and paper in hand. As our building inspector said when he came to make his first inspection of the foundation work: "This thing ain't goin' NOWHERE!" Wait until he sees it finished!

Oh, and lest you think it will go to waste when she is all grown up and no longer spends time there, it's going to become the prettiest little garden / potting shed! The perfect place to start and nurture seedlings for spring planting!

Kind of fitting, wouldn't you say?

London's house.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Crossing the finish line --- Eldon, MO

                   Eldon High School                       
                       Class of '69

Well, it's time I wrapped up this School daze trip. Last time I wrote, I had gone to Independence, MO, for just a little over four short months, the last of my sophomore year. But we weren't done moving yet.

While we were living in Independence, Daddy was working in Kansas City at some kind of big metal working place in Kansas City where he met a co-worker who took a shine to him. After a few months, this nice man told Daddy that he and his family owned a conglomerate of about three farms, consisting of a little over 1,200 acres, right smack in the middle of Missouri, and they would like to offer Daddy the position of manager of those farms. A farmer. Well, why not? He had tried everything else, and was good at it!

That summer after school was out, we drove down to High Point, MO, to find the 5-W Farms. Pretty appropriate. There were five of us. Winklers. Well, the farm was kind of "run down" because it had been awhile since anyone had worked it. And the house? Well, when I tell you we brought buckets of soapy water and BROOMS into the house to scrub down all the walls and ceilings before we could even paint and start on any floors, would that give you a pretty good idea of what it was like? But we were back in the country. And we were all together. And living life on a farm with cows, pigs, and a pond right outside the back door where I could fish.....pure heaven!

Now, since we were right on the dividing line between the Eldon and California school districts, we were told by both schools that we could take our pick which one we wanted to go to. We drove to both towns and looked over both schools. Since the Eldon school looked newer and more modern, and the drive was just a tiny bit less carsick-inducing, that's the one we picked. Our little sister was still in elementary school, so she went to High Point Elementary.

My favorite classes my junior year were, bar none, shorthand and typing. I absolutely loved them because both of them involved a lot of the same kind of manual dexterity used to play a musical instrument. I excelled at both, even if I do say so myself. In fact, I passed my shorthand teacher's own shorthand speed and she would work with me individually to groom me to take the tests given to qualify for "certified" speeds. Same with typing. I still have all the little "speed" pins I won from the Gregg Shorthand Company, plus one pin that my teacher bought for me herself for my highest speed achievement. Dorky, I know, but I worked darn hard for those pins, so I'm keeping them.

Little did I know those two skills would be primarily the main skills required for the jobs I have held most of my "career" life. They have served me well.

But more move! No, not a change of schools. But we left the farm and moved closer to Eldon, so my brother and I remained at Eldon High School, and our little sister changed to Eldon Elementary School. So I got to go TWO WHOLE YEARS at one school, and good old Eldon High School is where I got my diploma. And at graduation, I also got a pleasant surprise. With all that moving around, it never occurred to me to track anything like a G.P.A., but the last week of school, the counselor called me into his office....which was a short trip, actually, because I ended up working in his office as a secretary part-time at the recommendation of my typing and shorthand teacher. He told me that I would be graduating in the Top Ten of the class. Number seven, to be precise. I was flabbergasted.

Senior Banquet Date....
My (younger) Uncle
Yeah, I was wild.

So there you have it. My whole School Daze career. For a quick recap:
  1. First Grade - West Plains, MO
  2. Second Grade (1st part) - Columbia, MO
  3. Second Grade (2nd part) - Alton, MO
  4. Third, Fourth, half of Fifth Grade - Plato, MO
  5. Fifth Grade (2nd part) - Back to Alton, MO
  6. Sixth Grade (1st part) - Couch, MO
  7. Sixth Grade (2nd part) - Cloverdale, CA
  8. Seventh Grade - Cotter, AR
  9. Eighth, Ninth, half of Tenth Grade - Mtn. Home, AR
  10. Tenth Grade (2nd part) - Independence, MO
  11. AND NOW, YOU'RE HERE....Eleventh and Twelfth Grades - Eldon, MO
Yup, that's eleven schools in twelve years. Whew!

But I do get lots of class reunion invitations! And I have a lot of great classmates.