Why I am here

This blog was started to connect with and keep family and friends up to date on life in Texas as I know it. A place to share my love for this area through photography, history, and stories of this adventure Shaun and I call life.... and what an adventure it is!
Warning: Some or all of this blog may contain nuts or stories of nuts, proceed with caution
Love to y'all

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanks Giving

Hi all!
I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was amazing!  We all have so much to be thankful for. 

This year we have been reminded of how quickly life can change and how important it is to tell the people you care about just how special they are, not just at the holidays, but every day of the year.  TODAY is a good time to start! 
GO! GO ahead and tell the person in the next room or on the other end of the phone how much they mean to you!  Don't just assume they know, tell them!  Go ahead I will wait.......




See, didn't that feel good?  You just made a difference in someones life and in your own  {{hugs}} pretty warm and fuzzy huh?

We take SO very much for granted every day. We think our world will never change, that bad things couldn't possily happen to us and to ours.  THEN something happens that makes us put on the brakes and reevaluate our life and our perspective on who and what is important.
This year we have seen both of our families faced with the scariest diagnosis' ever, CANCER. We have watched our loved ones endure surgery, the chemo, and the radiation, and thank the Lord have been able to share the good news of cancer free with them.

It has been enlightening to see people put aside differences and come together to lend support when our loved ones needed it the most. It must be empowering to these survivors to know that they have survived these horrific treatments and in the end received that "cancer free" diagnosis. To know that after having endured all of that there is nothing they can't handle.    They won the fight of their life!!! 
At our Thanksgiving table this year, we discussed how very lucky blessed we are to still have these family members in our life.  NOTE~~This is NOT luck this is a blessing.   We have all taken something differant away from the experience. Respect for family, for friends, but most importantly respect for life itself.   

This year brought true meaning to the words
*Happy * Thanks * Giving *

We are so HAPPY to have such amazing families and friends, such an incredible support network

We give THANKS for our many blessings and for tough women who refused to give up!  For the husbands, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers who stood by each other when the going got tough

AND it is time to start GIVING back to the people around us everyday.  Not just the holidays...EVERY DAY

Love to all of you

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Hi all!
Here is a quick construction update.  There is a lot going on but not much visible progress.  This is the part of the building process that makes me nuts.  In the beginning you see tons of progress.  It seems like the house is built in days.  THEN the finish work starts and things slow down......to a crawl.    SO many details. 
Don't get me wrong I love the shopping that goes along with this part of it (surprise) but not the wait.
The fixtures and appliances have been chosen and ordered, cabinetry is designed ordered and almost complete for installation in a couple weeks.  The granite is chosen and we are on the granite installers schedule since he is very busy and if we don't schedule now it could be  months.    All of the tile and hardwood has been chosen and the measurements taken to get that ordered.  Paint colors and trim styles chosen.  NOW we wait and pray that it will all come together and looks okay.  

In the mean time this is what has happened since our last update.
The drywall tape and texture is complete and ready for cabinetry and paint!
See the hole in the wall?  That is the back of the built in entertainment center.  That hole has a little door in the guest closet so everything can be accessed and hooked up without using the top 12 ballet moves!  Genius!
The retaining walls in the front are complete!

The retaining walls in the back are almost finished and looking good!
hmmmm do we leave the ski slope/slide or put in stairs? decisions..... decisions.....
Thank you for the aerial view Kathy and Nathan.  Love it!

I will keep you updated as we progress.

Today I am thankful for patience.  Something that I am truly lacking in, have prayed for and have been sent many lessons in an attempt to teach me.  NOT my strong suit but I am working on it!

What are you thankful for today?

Love and miss y'all

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Barbed wire

I have become consumed with barbed wire!  There seems to be more and more shots of this barbed marvel showing up in my photographs all the time.

It is simply amazing to me! It rusts beautifully, catches the light perfectly and is a very large part of my family history. 
                              Barbed Wire in Texas and Arizona

I love the history, the nostalgia of barbed wire, of how it changed the lives of the people who helped tame and document the west.  The wars that were fought over it and with it. 

My Great Grandfather Andrew Speelmon was a large part of the changes taking place during that time of turmoil.  He and his two brothers lived on a ranch in Eastern Montana where they raised horses for the army.   They were photographed by L A Huffman, a  post photographer at nearby Fort Keogh. Fort Keogh was a military post established shortly after the Custer incident in 1876 to provide a military presence in eastern Montana.   Later those and many other photos would be published in a book called Before Barbed Wire.
The most amazing thing to me about this book's photographs is that they were of such incredible quality considering they were taken in the late 1870's with such crude and complicated equipment.  Not just still, posed photo's.... action photo's!  Clear, detailed action photos...amazing!
Remember my post  "The Piano, November 11"?  This is the photo I remember sitting on top of my grandmother's piano. It was published in the book Before Barbed Wire

This is a hand colored copy of Andrew Speelmon, my Great Grandfather,  "Saddling A Wild Horse"
I grew up with the black and white version, so was surprised to see the hand colored version.  This was hand colored by L A Huffman himself.   My mom and Aunt still have the B & W photographs that were given to the family by L A Huffman.  What a treasure!

If you have a chance look at the L A Huffman website  http://lahuffman.com/index.htm  His skills were amazing, a true artist. 

I recently found two, out of print first editions of  Before Barbed Wire  online and have purchased them for my boys for Christmas.  (No, they don't read my blog)  I hope that they cherish and pass on this incredible memory to future generations.  Memories that were made before paved roads, digital cameras, and before barbed wire.

Today I am thankful for my boys, Robert and Jeremy.  Generations before them would be so proud of the men they have become.  Men with a sense of history, the importance of hard work and of family.

What are you thankful for today?

Love and Miss all of you


Monday, November 14, 2011

Taming the Red

Happy Monday all!

It's another pretty day in East Texas.  The wind is blowing, a sign of the storm on its way.  They are predicting 1 to 2 inches of rain.
We spent the weekend starting the retaining walls in the front of the house.  They delivered 42,922 pounds of stone Saturday morning.  That is 891  6, 7, & 8" stones that will create some very much needed retaining walls.

We had rain a couple weeks ago and this is what it looked like all around us
                                  Oh yuk!
I am standing on the porch of the guest house to take this picture.  We are going to need a moat or an ark, not sure which at this point
The beginning of our new retaining walls in the front of the house.  Maybe this will help with the hillside washing away when it rains this week. 
The first course is the most time consuming.  BUT after everything is level and even the rest goes pretty fast.

See Shaun down at the end making sure everything is perfect?  Hi Shaun!
See the places where it curves in?  That is our stairway and path down to the front door.  It is going to be so beautiful when it is completed.  Once this wall is complete we can create the landscape beds, bring in the dirt we need and start planting. 
I can't wait to plant something in this red dirt!  It is supposed to be awesome to grow things in, but mostly I just want to cover it up and keep it from coming in on everything!
I do think the dogs will actually miss it.  They LOVE to play and roll in it.
Jeremy's lab Molly runs to the pond if we aren't watching and as soon as she is wet she rolls and rolls in the red dirt. What a silly girl
She is a little irritated with  me in this picture because I made her come get a bath before her dad picked her up.
Today I am thankful that Molly gets to go home after she gets this dirty! ha!

The tape and texture guys came today and are working away on the inside of the house.  We are still looking at a mid January move in date.  Exciting!

Love and miss all of you 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Piano

On our recent trip to Colorado we stayed at my Mom and Bill's house for a couple of days. What a treat to find out that one of their good friends daughter Maria was coming over that first morning of our visit to practice on the piano.  She is a very gifted music student. 
While I was in the back room listening to her play I couldn't help but think of  how pleased my Grandmother would be to hear the music and see such young talented hands play her piano. 
I have very fond memories of my Grandma trying to teach me to play, but remember taking more of an interest in the pictures sitting on top of the piano (imagine that) than in the piano itself.  For me then, it wasn't about learning to play, it was about sitting next to my Grandma on that bench, smelling her perfumed powder, while she hummed and tried patiently to explain what key did what while pointing to a red leaflet of sheet music called "Teaching Little Fingers to Play".  That red leaflet of sheet music is still in the piano bench.  What a sweet memory.

Some of the best memories are made from the simplist things.

A little about the piano itself.  This is what my mom wrote
 "The piano is a Kimball and was made in Chicago. It was shipped to Baker on the Milwaukee Railroad in 1912-14 to Grandma and Grandpa Speelmon. The shipping tag is still on the back but I can't move the heavy thing out to see for sure. Either way it will soon be 100 years old. Mom didn't have it at her house until she moved into the trailer down by their house.
I brought it to Vernal the summer Kirby graduated. We still have it tuned every year and it is in excellent condition after Bill refinished it.
We are so glad Maria can come and play it because it is so good for it to "really be played" which Bill and I are not good at."

One hundred years, can you imagine what this piano has been a part of?  I can see people gathered around it to celebrate and hear Christmas music, happy birthday wishes, sing alongs, church hymns, songs of war and sadness, songs of joy and hope, soothing melodies that comfort the soul.  Generations of children learning to play or simply just "playing" on Grandma's piano.  
The piano I remember as a child held a place of honor in my Grandmother Isabelle Speelmon North's home in Baker, Montana.   A photo of her father, my great grandfather, always sat on top it.  

The refinish/restoration work that Bill did on the piano is amazing.  He is so very talented, his attention to detail and hard work is incredible.  Thank you so much Bill for preserving a piece of our family history and one of my favorite memories. Love you

Thank you Maria for your talent and your kindness to my Mom and Bill.  My Grandmother would be so touched to hear her mother's piano played so beautifully.

Some of the fondest memories are made from the simplist things.

Today I am thankful for the memories of my grandmother.  What an incredible, strong, amazing woman.
Last night I participated in an Alzhiemers Memory walk in honor of my Grandmother, Shaun's Grandma Davis and Bobbi's mother Genola.  It was so very touching to see people sharing memories of the people they love, the people who have been touched by this cruel disease. 
Love and miss you all

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall in Texas

Hello world!
Sorry I have been away for a while. I have been a little (to put it mildly) under the weather for the last 10 days,  I am finally feeling human today.

Fall is glorious in East Texas!
I wanted to share a few fall pics that I have taken around the new house.
On the pond
Sweet Gum tree leaves  BEAUTIFUL

The most exciting part of these pictures is that this pond will be the view from our new sun room and kitchen!  I can't wait to sit on the window seat in the sun room with a cup of tea and enjoy these views from inside the new house.  Exciting!

The house is coming along well.  The drywall  is finished and the tape and texture guys should be here the end of the week.  Then Shaun and I will start trimming and laying the tile and hardwood floors.

Yesterday afternoon we got a very much  needed rain.  It poured! It was so nice to see it rain that hard.  EVERYTHING needed it.  You know that red dirt I love?  well....it makes the most amazing red mud (insert sarcasm) that sticks to everything and then stains what it has stuck to, i.e. socks, shoes, dogs, cars etc.  The dogs had two baths yesterday just so they could come inside.  Mind you, I am not complaining...just very anxious to get our grass in and cover up all of that "pretty" red dirt.

How is your "thankful" challenge coming along?   In case you missed it... I challenge you to find something each day that you are thankful for.  It's easy,  just finish this sentence   Today I am thankful for..........

Today I am thankful for the rain and the beautiful red mud that came with it! Because it's our red dirt and it's what colors our world for now. 

Love and miss all of you

Thursday, November 3, 2011

pity party

Something to think about............

Today I have a serious cold/flu SO I was hosting a little (ok a big) pity party for myself when I remembered my "be thankful" challenge.   WHAT was I thinking?!  I am  blessed with so much and I am choosing to whine about a cold!
Shame on me!
Today I am thankful for a warm house, soft bed and the time I have to recover without having to get back to work.  

What are you thankful for today?

Love and miss all of you

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Hi all!
The drywall hangers showed up around noon and WE HAVE CEILINGS!

The rain gutter guys came back today and the gutters are fixed and PERFECT!

Shaun has spent his day on the equipment getting the front of the house prepared for retaining walls and drainage. With 2 pieces of equipment at his disposal he is in "man heaven". 

Things are progressing here.  I will continue to keep you updated.

Today I am thankful I got to tell my sister in law Stacey Happy Birthday. I am very thankful SHE IS A SURVIVOR!
Love you Stacey, and Happy Birthday!

We are enjoying an amazing fall day here.  The clouds are starting to form and with any luck we will see some rain.

Love and miss all of you

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

Hi all and Happy November!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Fall in East Texas is spectacular!  Mums are everywhere in full bloom, the days are warm and the nights are cool.  Perfect!

Construction update
Last week the insulators came and went.    Not really very picture worthy.  Shaun has been doing alot of work on the backhoe connecting sewer and water lines and generally playing in the dirt.  He loves it!
We were scheduled next week for the guys to start hanging the drywall so we were going to do some work outsidewhile we waited.  Woohoo! they called Monday and asked if they could come early.  No arguments here for sure.  They will be here tomorrow and this pile of drywall aka sheet rock will turn into walls.  It will be SO exciting to have walls!
There is a stack in every room just waiting for some really strong guys to hang it on the walls and ceilings. Isn't it pretty??  Should take them the better part of the week.

I have been sick the last couple days and have taken a few naps during the day.  When I woke up today I realized napping during the construction process might not be such a good idea.  See I chose the colors for the rain gutters last week.  The guys were here to install them when I laid down for a nap but Shaun was out there so I figured all would be well....  This is what I woke up to
At first I wasn't sure how to approach the matter.  Had Shaun chosen this for a reason?  had I not made myself clear? white on white...clay on clay? So I walked around the house to see what the other 9 downspouts looked like.  AND to my surprise they all looked the same..........oh my Shaun what have you done?....
I decided the best way to approach the situation without offending someone (Shaun) would be to say,  "do they do all of their gutters like that"  and with a straight face Shaun said "No I told them to do it like that"  OK NOW what am I supposed to say....hmmm   Shaun finally broke and told me what happened but not before he made me suffer trying to come up with something neutral to say.  {{sigh}}
Come to find out the gutter company had received a bunch of the wrong color elbows and since we are expecting rain tomorrow and the new elbows won't be in until Friday Shaun had them put them up like that so the red dirt wouldn't splash up and stain the siding.  WHEW!    I am so thrilled I will not have to sneak out in the middle of the night with a screw gun and ladder and change all the gutters, hoping that Shaun will never notice.  Next time I am just going to say...what have you done?  He is probably used to it by now anyway.  Between him and the boys it's a sentence we use quite often around here.

November seems to be the time of year we focus on what we have to be thankful for, so over the next 30 days I am going to share some of the things I am thankful for and challenge you to do the same.   
Start each day with "Today I am thankful for.............."
I hope it makes you think how fortunate you are to have what you do in your life.

Today I am thankful for a husband who has a lot of common sense, no color sense but A LOT of common sense ha ha!

Love and miss you