Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tales from the Tile-less House

Week  four and we are still camping amid the mess.  Chase rolled the refrigerator into the almost finished utility room, which means that every time I need something out of it, of course I walk right back into the kitchen where it is supposed to be, thanks to 30 years of habit.  Boxes of  last minute packed  stuff  has gone  into the garage or the utility room, so I wander back and forth between the kitchen, garage and utility room to find what we need for improvised meals or to feed the cats and Mari.  The microwave is on a counter where the cat food usually is so it will  be out of Mari’s reach. The toaster oven, which has been a lifesaver, is on the washing machine. Dishes and random items are scattered about hither and yon. And we are still eating on the shaky card table. The bedrooms seem to be stacking up more and more with last minute items that need shelter from the paint.

And then  Bill and I had to move all the boxes Colten and I had so carefully stacked  to get to a cabinet door that is to be reinstalled which was, of course, at the very back of the storage container. So now it is an obstacle course to walk through there.

    Raygena Barrett and Peaches paint the newly textured wall.


Peaches has been in the middle of the whole thing. She climbs the ladders for a better view. She sits somewhere on  the piles of tools and equipment and paint cans to make sure they are safe. So far I have been able to clean her fur of  the telltale signs that she has been helping with the painting and texturing. Fearless, she hangs around when the nails guns, sanders, and air compressors are on. The other cats hide or rush to the door for comfort outside. One night after everyone had gone and Chase had a space heater running  to dry paint in the kitchen, I found Kitty curled up in a cabinet basking in the quiet and the heat.


But the corbels and capitals are up and look beautiful. The new full-length window by the front door is installed and ready to paint. More surfaces are being painted or stained.



But wait! Look! There is tile on a  floor. Israel and Ishmael started on the patio floor today.


So  the fun just continues.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Joys of Remodeling…Not.

Well, we are into week three of the grand remodeling project, and it’s just a joy to experience.



We have managed to either overlook or otherwise track the dust and crud we didn’t catch in the drop cloths or sweep up from scraping the popcorn finish off the ceilings into the bedrooms, the only rooms not being redone. Add that dust to the dust from busting out the Saltillo tile and the everyday dust from the caliche road, and we’ve never been able to write our names on the furniture this well before. And it’s pointless to dust or clean house because every day brings another mess.

Stuff is stacked and boxed everywhere.  I did such a  good a job of packing up the kitchen that we can’t find  things like salt to use for the very basic cooking we are trying to do amid the mess. I packed our George Foreman grill, which would have made making hamburgers much easier under the circumstances. We are sharing our meals in one of the bedrooms on a card table which can’t stand still when we have to cut the steak which we are having quite a bit because it can be grilled outside.  And grilling outside is not always an easy option in our winter weather.


The animals aren’t crazy about the carpet being pulled up and have been spending lots of time  in the rooms where  the carpet is still down. In fact, Mari was so upset one day that she drug her bed out of the kennel and plopped it down in the middle of the living room and made herself comfortable. Cats Minnie and Peaches have managed to get paint all over themselves nosing into what’s been going on. Kitty at least made something positive out of the experience and discovered one of the empty packing boxes is just right for a bed. Mari hides when the automatic nail guns come out.



During the day Bill and I do a lot of  standing around and watching TV. Somehow working on other projects doesn’t seem to happen. We are in a trance while they work. Those of you who have been through this know what I am talking about.

Alex Reyes and Ray Lueras installing the crown molding.

Chase Garlington texturing the walls.

And then there is the backlash against the aqua color Chase Garlington, our contractor/decorator put on the living room cabinets and shelves. My husband isn’t speaking to me, Colten doesn’t really like it, and Caroline is not so sure. Friend Hellen and I like it.

Add to this the changes we seem to keep adding on, one of the side effects of remodeling, I’m told, and I don’t know when the work will be finished. We are beginning to see progress, though, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s kind of like when I get a bad hair cut and Colten asks me, incredulously, if I actually paid someone to make me look that way.  But you know what?  We did pay someone to do this, and we didn’t have to, so it’s time to bite the bullet and appreciate the fact that there are people out there living in cardboard boxes and constant squalor rather than our temporary kind, and I have nothing to complain about.


So stay tuned. One of these days I will have the end results to share with you. And you can decide if the aqua cabinets look good or not.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

E.T. Ford Celebrates 90 Years


Thirty years ago when we moved to Muleshoe we bought land for our house from E.T. Ford. On January First  E.T. celebrated his 90th birthday. He was actually born at 2 pm on January 2, 1921, five miles northeast of Boyd, Texas, but New Year’s Day seemed a fitting day to begin working toward his 91st birthday party.

E.T. has had quite a life in those 90 years. And the amazing thing about it is that he can quote not only dates and years, but the time of day something happened. Heck, I can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone 50, 60, 70 years ago.

But I digress. He also remembered that his class of thirteen seniors graduated from Boyd High School in 1938 and his high school coach helped him get a scholarship to play football and basketball for Decatur Baptist College. But  the Depression hit and he left school to work. In Boyd during high school he had worked at a bank before and after school, earning a whopping $1.50 a week for sweeping in the morning and posting checks in the afternoon. Bank president R. E. Petty helped him find a job with Citizens National Bank in Lubbock as a teller. As luck would have it, it was during this job that he met his future wife, Chris, who came to the bank with deposits from Swift and Company.

About this time E.T. was made aware that he was about to be drafted, so he joined the Navy. Naturally, with typical military common sense thinking, after all his banking experience they had him sorting nuts and bolts. That was just not his cup of tea, so when he heard the Navy was looking for weathermen, or aerologists as they were called then, he applied, was accepted, married Chris in February of 1943, and served at the Naval Air Station in Grand Prairie until he was assigned to the  USS Howard W. Gilmore AS-16, an auxiliary supply ship for submarines. He was 30 years old.

The job of  his sub tender, as it was called,  was to supply submarines with diesel and torpedoes. One of their missions sent the ship from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Islands, back to Pearl and on to Brisbane, Australia, where they joined an armada at New Guinea and then on to Subic Bay in the Philippines. It was March 3, 1945. He was the only weatherman on the ship, and he forecasted a hurricane. The hurricane did hit and his ship weathered it well as they knew to prepare by facing into the oncoming winds and dropping anchor. Other ships whose commanders were skeptical did not prepare and wound up blown on the shore. E. T. said he was awarded a commendation for it, but for some reason it was not included in his service record.

After spending his entire naval career in the Pacific Theater he was discharged on October 5, 1945, in San Diego. Chris was living in Orange at the time taking care of her ailing mother. E.T. tried to work in Lubbock again, but thanks to the war, tellers were now all women and the job didn’t pay much, so he found a job at the Dallas Grand Avenue State Bank, which also didn’t pay much. He decided he could better than that and was accepted into the University of Texas. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in architectural engineering.

E.T. went to work for Robert E. McKee in El Paso, a building contractor with offices in several cities. E.T.’s  job was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he designed buildings to be used in atomic bomb test sites in Nevada. After five months of commuting from El Paso to Santa Fe with Chris holding down the house in El Paso, they were offered a farm by her father in Morton. He had had a good year and assured E.T. that “ you can’t help but get rich farming!” So they moved, bought a cow, two pigs, chickens, and equipment and gave it a try. I asked E.T. if the animals were so they could be self-sufficient on the farm. Yes, he told me, but when I asked if it worked, he laughed and said no. But he did make 150 bales of cotton that year.

He stayed with the farming for one more year, leased some land in Lazbuddie for three years, made some money, bought a farm, but had trouble sleeping knowing he had all that debt at the bank. At this point he and Chris built and moved into a house on the Plainview highway, and he drove to the farm. But that house began his move into the house-building market, which of course allowed him to ease back into his natural trade.

It took until 1968 for him to go broke farming, and building became his main source of income. More houses, the original Muleshoe nursing home, churches, and houses followed. Then came the the Country Club Edition and houses there. This was also the area where part of the land was in the 100-year flood plain, making it a bit more costly, so E.T. donated it to the city. It is now the Roger Miller Little League Ball Park. So everybody benefitted.

E.T.’s dad was Ethelbret Timmons. E.T. is Everette Theron. E.T.’s son is Eldon Trevor, and to continue the tradition is Trevor’s son, Elloit Taylor.

We bought 20 more acres from E.T.  a few years ago. E.T. told Bill he dropped the price a bit because he felt like he may have sold the first land to us at too high a price. Bill asked, “Do you want to write me a check?” “Nope,” said E.T…

E.T. retired in 2001 and his beloved Chris died this past August 8th. He spends his time now enjoying Matlock and Maverick reruns, a little football, a few computer games, and occasionally Bloomberg and the weather. He’s also a pretty good day trader, working 26 accounts  for 2-3 hours a day and cashing in his dividends. “I don’t make much money, but I do pretty good,”  he laughed.


Does pretty well, indeed.  From Texas to the Pacific and back again, predicting hurricanes and building bomb test houses. Quite a life and still loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doing the Dishes is a Lost Art

If you read last week, you know we are having some remodeling done to our house. I packed all the wrong things, like a pie pan I use to make cornbread to go with the black-eyed peas we Southerners traditionally eat for good luck on New Year’s Day. So I will just borrow one. I also packed the corn bread recipe, but I think I can remember it. I packed all but a very few dishes,  glasses and silverware for us to use while the work is going on. If all the dishes are packed, there will never be enough for a full dishwashing load before we would need those same plates again, so I decided the easy thing to do would be just wash and dry them as we go. And there won’t be many to wash because cooking will be limited.

As I was doing a batch tonight, I was reminded of all the dishes my mother and I did back in the day.  The TV was in our kitchen, which was built to serve as a family room. So when there was a show on we wanted to watch, we would sit down and enjoy the show until the ads came on. Then we would jump up and she would wash, I would dry until the ads were over, and then we would jump back into our chairs and watch till the next bunch of ads came on when we would jump up and repeat the process. It’s amazing  how much can get done during an ad break, then or now.  It was a good system; it was a relatively painless way to get the dishes out of the way and not miss our shows, all at the same time.

But the beauty of the system was really the time we spent together and the conversations we had. Many times supper was later in the evening because Daddy would be home late from work. By the time we would be ready to do the dishes, he would be showering and going to bed, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson would be coming on. Mother and I were both afflicted with late-night circadian rhythms, and we both liked Johnny Carson, so in the summertime we would many times be doing dishes while watching The Tonight Show. Yes, Virginia, there was a Tonight Show long before Jay Leno hit the tube. And we always enjoyed the show.

Daddy, on the other hand, did not. And of course, he had to get up and go to work the next morning. I can still see him standing at the bedroom door in his boxer shorts and undershirt, grumpy frown on his face, grumbling something about it being time to turn off the TV and  go to sleep. Mother would assure him she would be there in  just a minute, and then we would finish the show anyway.

Hmm. I seem to have digressed. I was going to talk about how simple, really, it is to do the dishes and the fact that if you have children you have built in helpers if you will just get them indoctrinated at an early age and preferably before an automatic dishwasher lodges itself into your kitchen cabinet. I, alas, did not. I too was a victim of the seductiveness of having a dishwasher and thought it was a wonderful timesaver, when in reality it isn’t. Be honest-don’t you basically wash them yourself before loading them? I mean, come on, what’s the point in putting them in the dishwasher? They’re already clean! Yes, I know the theory that its better because the heat and hot water sterilizes them. But do you honestly think you were sicker back in the days when we hand washed them? If anything we were probably healthier back then because our systems were in a position to develop antibodies to stuff that makes us sick now. We have become such a nation of germophobes. But it helps sell dishwashers, so appliance dealers are happy.

I promise, with a little practice and orderly stacking in the dish drainer, the use by the washer of a pair of modern miraculously effective devices called rubber gloves- which also by the way keep your hands from smelling jicky when you scrub the sink with Comet or bleach, not to mention keeping your skin from drying out and away from the gunky food mess that collects in the bottom of the sink- a nice large dish towel, and a TV to watch during the ads, you too can have scintillating conversation with your children and teach them a trade for a summer job all at the same time.

And you just might get to know them better and have a productive and good time doing it.

Please, though, don’t let the water run willy-nilly the whole time you are washing. That would be waste of water, which would undo the good things about doing the dishes.