Part Two

Where did we leave off?

We have this beautiful barn. We have water, we have electricity, we have a driveable/parkable gravel driveway and parking area. We even have a small cess-pit (don’t freak out my city friends… its not illegal and perfectly bio-friendly) to dump our tanks. 

A few days before we were to move the trailer to our property, I woke up in a state in the middle of the night. I hadn’t checked the clearance of the lowest part of the lean-to. We have vents and A/C units and skylights up there. It’s not all flat with a rubber roof! Was the low point high enough to clear all the crap? Especially since we had one more bit of gravel spread out to even it all out.

We went out the next day and measured from the bottom of the barn: where the walls actually end because they assume that is where the level of the floor will be. It was not 12’6″. It was not 13′. It was not even 12′. it was 11’11”.

Yikes. 7″ too short to accommodate my trailer. Trying not to panic, we thought of our options. We could move gravel from the area under each of the gable ends. Yikes, that is a lot of work. We are in our 60s and in not perfect shape!  We could cut a notch in the first gable end and worry about the second end at a later date. Okay – that is a better option, cuz Bryan is a handy guy! EXCEPT… All of Bryan’s tools are in SA as well as all of our ladders. 

We called our builder to see if we could borrow a few tools and a ladder. He said sure! And we did. That Thursday Bryan cut out a notch in the north end so that we could drive in. 

Great! The next day, we left for a quick trip to SA to visit family and to get my Jeep.

When we returned on Tuesday to move the trailer through the now 13’4″ tall notch we were afraid for the steep gravel incline but excited to finally get onto the property. 

The gravel driveway was loose because we hadn’t had a lot of traffic on it yet. And it had just rained and was still muddy under the gravel. The previous night, our truck (F-350 Diesel) had a hard time dragging the bumper hitch trailer up the steep incline. We lost traction several times and it was very scary.  Bryan had been worried for weeks about this, because of the loose gravel and the loss of traction. Even though it is a 4 wheel drive! I countered each time that with a 5th wheel configuration, there will be more weight on the back axle so it shouldn’t be a problem. I didn’t have any evidence to back this claim up except common sense.  We asked around and the overall prevailing advice we got was “just don’t stop” once we started the way up. 

Armed with that, we headed out from the RV park. If you have never prepped a trailer you’ve been living in for travel – it takes a bit of time…. Before we were living in it for a longer period, we could break it down in about 30 minutes. But all the breakables (dishes, etc) needed to be stowed and foodstuffs stashed so as not to spill. 

We rounded the corner of 142 and EE, the nearest intersection to us and on the east side of our property to afford a better angle of entry. Both of our blood pressures went up. We stopped talking and just started breathing. He turned into our driveway.

Bryan didn’t stop. It was slow and steady. But we got up the drive!!! HOW? WHY?

Apparently, the one more day of dry weather tightened the dirt under the gravel a bit more and it was as I suspected. 10K lbs of weight on that rear axel helped keep the tires on the gravel. In truth, the bumper trailer with the Jeep actually lightened the load off the front wheels and caused them not to purchase good traction.

So, we were up. (I actually teared up for a moment!) 

And now to get it under the notch. The gravel guy was here and helped too. We lined it up… and pulled in….. to hear: SCCCRRRAAAAAPPPPPEEEEE! Oh no! Mistake #2.

and sure enough, we were not scraping the ac unit, but we were impacting the skylight over our shower. so. we. stopped.

We put down the legs and got hooked up. I contacted the barn company, and they will be coming back to take off the gable ends. But that won’t be for a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, we are moving rocks… Missouri GROWS rocks, putting up our mailbox – without a posthole digger (storage), and did I mention FedEx found us today?


Now Appearing in Myrtle, MO

An activity like this is NOT for the feint of heart.

It has been an eventful couple of weeks. I don’t think I’ve posted anything since mid-August and for that, I’m sorry, but I’ve been back and forth & to and fro!

The foundation is done, finally. We broke ground early August and were so excited to get going. I had not yet heard from the people who we were getting to build our barn, which was unusual. We needed to be out of the RV Park by the end of September and that barn was integral to our plans! Knowing their timeline was 6-8 weeks, and I turned in the signed contract 2 weeks prior, we would just make that deadline. So, I called. I’m glad I did. Apparently, after having many calls with them to determine what my needs were and telling them I would be returning their contract, signed, the next day, I sent them the unsigned copy by mistake and they thought I was wasting their time. 

When I called, the woman who I spoke to, let’s call her Jennifer, said she gets so many people “kicking tires” and that my email ended up in the spam folder. (wow). But, at this point, I had 4 weeks to get a barn built and I was in for a pound (as they say). So, I talked her into a 4-week timeframe and sent her the correct file. She did say, “weather permitting” a lot. In addition, I told her that I would be sending her an email outlining everything we spoke about, and asked if she would respond to that email please, to ensure she didn’t have me in the Spam filter. She said yes.  

So, we were off. The next thing I needed to be sure of if the barn was late we could stay a bit longer. The park owners (who live at the park year-round) said yes! So, we were golden. 

One of the requirements of the barn was the lowest height clearance on the lean-to. This could not be lower than 12.5 feet. Jennifer and I spoke about this verbally in June and she amended the contract to reflect not the clearance but a change in roof pitch. (Mistake 1).

Seriously, “weather permitting” was what she said! So, color me surprised when we received a call from them around August 28.  Due to Hurricane Harvey, they couldn’t send crews to South Texas and could they deliver our barn in about a week? Well, yes! Our electricity (which they needed) wasn’t in yet, and we needed to arrange for a generator.

Our anniversary was the next Wednesday, and we celebrated with lunch with some San Antonio friends in the area (Rick and Janice Frankenburger) and dinner with Janette Ralston, my BFF living near St. Louis now. What was awesome was that all three of these folks were at our wedding! Janette actually played the piano and sang! (Have I mentioned she is a fabulous soprano?) 

Bryan and I rushed back home after Janette treated us to a fabulous dinner in Lake of the Ozarks. 

We met the construction crew on Sept 4 (Labor Day) and showed them where our property was located. They started bright and early on Sept 5 and finished on Sept 6. Our builder, Scott Stevens, saved the day by delivering a generator (which we wouldn’t have needed if our schedule hadn’t been accelerated!) and the quick-crete on Tuesday morning. 

In the next few days, the foundation was framed up and poured. Next the stem walls and footings were poured. Woolsey well service also finished up installing our water well pump and tank in the barn.  

Scott finished up the wall footings last week, where we would have a 4.5-foot space under the house. Not really a basement but a place that is accessible for our equipment (AC, etc.). 

This shot shows the two wall foundations. The inner one is for the outside walls, the outside one is the edge of our porches.

Last week, the concrete was cured enough to start to fill the porch cavity with gravel. We did move the 5er onto our property on Sept 26 and I found religion all over again while dragging our 5er up a steep gravel driveway. It was very stressful.  

This has gone on long enough, and in part two, I will explain this picture:

Mistake #1

Home plans and other things

I suppose I am connected with a lot of you via FaceBook. That’s fine. You can stop reading now. 

Or should you? Some of this you know, some you don’t.

One thing that I have had such an issue with in the past is copyright infringement. At USAA, right after I was hired, I was charged with creating multimedia graphics with photos, art and music without infringing copyrights. I had no idea what all that was about except to say that I knew creations were legally protected from intellectual theft. I learned in a hurry. (Ask me about when I told the CEO of USAA at the time – “no, you can’t use that Rockwell painting with music.” I guess that was the first time I was labeled a trouble-maker! LOL)

Bryan and I had the plans for a beautiful antebellum house drawn up but since our builder had an accident and I had performed the most egregious math error, we cannot build that.  Better to lose the money already invested than to start a build that will never be finished! Time to down size. So many of the builders we interviewed said, “just draw something up on a napkin” or “show me the TYPE of house you like on the internet” and we could go from there. so, we pulled a few pictures we liked and accepted a bid last week from a builder to build a house from a photo on the internet. I felt weird about sharing this information with you guys because I almost felt as if I were stealing someone’s intellectual property. I know though, dormers, porches, front doors, they are all common to homes. Its in the way you put them together. 

Our builder called last Friday to tell me that he was having trouble getting the material list together so was just going to order the plans. Hurrah! I can share now! The house is 2420 sq.ft. with 1320 of porches! And for all of you people who kept asking if the master bedroom is downstairs – YES. We will be meeting with him tomorrow to lay it out!

Nice farm house! This is the front, and it will be facing North.


Also, weather permitting, our barn will be erected in about 3 weeks! So that is good!

What isn’t cool is the run around that FedEx has given me pertaining to the delivery of my cat’s prescription food. It should have been delivered last Friday. Would you believe, after 8 phone calls, changing the delivery address from our legal physical address (given to us by the Oregon County courthouse) to the address at the RV park, having the package in Jonesboro, AR all week, been out for delivery 2x this week, due yesterday. At 8:30 p.m., the tracking info told me the driver TOOK IT BACK TO JONESBORO. 

Jonesboro is only about 80 miles from my location. Closer than SA to Austin. On Monday I was told that no, I couldn’t pick it up in Jonesboro – I offered. FedEx has 3 offices in West Plains, nope, not there either. I think they were jacking with me. 

At 9:00 last night, this package was shipped to Memphis. Today, it went to St. Louis. Its due to be delivered tomorrow, (8 days after the 1 delivery date), and I have no confidence it will be here. I called FedEx, and opened a complaint ticket. 

The investigator had the audacity to tell me that I gave them an illegal address first. I blew my top. Nope, Nope, Nope. Just because their databases hadn’t caught up yet. And, oh, btw, our local post office would have gladly accepted the package and held it for me. But, no. FedEX tells me “They don’t do that.” s–t-heads.

Merlin sitting with me while I take photos of mushrooms.

After I blew up at the investigator, I asked to speak to someone who could and would help me get my package. And just so you are on the same page as me, this is not vanity food, or a posh toy for my cats. This is food. This is food that they can eat so they won’t DIE. I actually asked them if the mission of PetFlow was to treat our pets like family, would it be alright if FedEx lost heart medication for a family member? Would they pay the vet bills? She said, well, we do have a claims department. (I would rather have my cats healthy than to have to go through claims because Merlin died.)

So, finally, I backed off of having someone deliver it today. The investigator brought in an agent in Springfield, and she tells me I can pick it up from her tomorrow after 8 a.m. Springfield is a bit further than Jonesboro. She was also surprised that the drivers out of Jonesboro 1) wouldn’t leave it with a rural local PO (they do it around Springfield all the time) or 2) Allow me to come and get the package.

I’m not done with this yet, I will be reporting it to PetFlow and following up with FedEx. I want heads.

so. now. I. just. have. to. chill. 

like Merlin.

a moment of zen

(turn up your speakers.)



Driveway and water

The drillers wear big water galoshes while working. This worker stashed his boots where he could get them fast! I thought it was funny!
Bryan photographing the progress of the driveway from on top of the hill toward the road. (it also looks like I need to clean my lens!)

This week brought about huge landscape changes with the driveway being cut in and the ability to move forward. And we struck water yesterday, although about 100 feet deeper than originally anticipated. (I hope it doesn’t break the budget!) 

 The guys who are doing the driveway work said it would take about a day and a half. They started on Monday, and here it is Thursday and they still aren’t finished. Luckily, they bid this out by the project, not by time! 

Oh! and another bit of news. We received the estimate for the new design of the house to be built from our new builder and its something that we can live with! Bryan and I have always loved large wrap around porches. This amenity is one that we loved in the previous plan and one that we didn’t want to do without.  So, our new house is a little farmhouse style, with porches. The heated space is 2420 sq feet with about 1300 sq ft of porch. And you do pay for that porch. But, we will use it and love it. So, we should be pouring the foundation next week! How’s that for progress?

Flora and Fauna

One of the things I was looking forward to was learning which plant is which in  this new place. In order to really care for the place and the land, I believe I need to know what things are! I started photographing the little seedlings and larger plants last February when we came up for a visit in the hopes of figuring all this out. I continued that activity whenever we came back. I am astonished that there are so many wildflowers blooming and so many active butterflies and bees this late in the season (early August). 

Here is a little gallery of some shots, hopefully you will be able to see the captions as some plants and butterflies are identified. Oh, and help a girl out and feel free to comment, maybe ID a plant or two for me, I am finding myself short of patience for the research! And check back often, I will be adding to this gallery!


Baby steps and one big set back…

Last week (our second week here) had us running around, going to Springfield (twice in one week) for some business and getting more acquainted with our new surroundings. 

We looked at a big old house in Thayer with the thought of buying it and moving it. This beautiful old Victorian (wrap around porches) was built in 1908 but updated about 13 years ago by adding a bathroom downstairs and updating the kitchen to the tune of $100K. I had never stood in a $100K kitchen before. This one was pretty spectacular! Even at the reduced price they wanted ($175K), to move it would be another 100K. So, that was a bit beyond our budget. This house was quite the house at 6100 sq ft. And this wasn’t all. There is a second house on the lot that was going as part of the deal.

But, as I said, it was a bit beyond our budget. 

Wait… “Why?” You ask?

We received a phone call while we were driving here from the guy who we wanted to build for us. He backed out – again. Not sure if it was his health or if our plans were too much for him to handle. (I am not assuming, he said he wasn’t sure if he could handle it!) So, while we were waiting to meet with the next guy on our list we decided to research this option.

We met with the drive way guy (last month) who approved the placement of our new driveway. We called the Mills Bros who will be installing the driveway and called the utility (Mo-1Call) to mark the utilities. There is only one utility out there, Windstream Communications with FO and Tel – cool – looks like I’ll have FO (could this be Fiber optics?) out in the boonies! They marked it the day after I called, but as of today, our driveway isn’t done. I’ve got 2 20ft culvert pipes waiting on them. 

Last week, while going over our budget yet again, Bryan found a huge error. Remember – I am not really a number’s gal. … “I just stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.” Any hoo – suffice to say – this error was not in our favor and we decided to ditch the plans we had designed for us. No to the Oak Alley look alike… just too much moola. In the most secret part of my heart, I think I am pretty relieved. It really was too much house, weighing in at 3200 sq ft. We were supposed to be downsizing.  We had met with this new builder last week and he had our plans to work up a price, but I called him last weekend and said, “Save yourself the effort – it’s off the table due to an error in calculating our budget.” Luckily, I had caught him before he dove into it, so the timing was on our side. 

Yesterday, we dove back into the design phase and came up with something we both like. At around 2400 sq ft, it fits the bill and if he comes back with the numbers he alluded to today, we can do it with room to spare. (Like how I did that little play on words?)

Anyway, we took him to the property today and we discussed where to put the house. And get this: if he comes back with a budget we can live with, he can break ground next week! Woot!!

We just bearly got back to the Chipmunk Crossing park (our home away from home) when I received a call from Shane, the guy who will drill our well. He wanted to meet to place the well! Well! That is good news. So, we headed back out and found an excellent spot for the well head. Water is everywhere under ground, and he feels we will hit a good source at about 320ft. Wow. 

So, next week, I will be writing checks and getting all started. We may not be in the 5th wheel as long as I thought. Good thing, too, as Bryan and I can get a little testy with each other. 


Packing up is hard to do…

My plan this week was to start packing. A room a day. But this week, well, we were stuck in that amber again. Before the house sale and our house cooling party, we successfully broke our inertia and started on doing smaller items. We even took a load up to West Plains! But this week…  

Monday was already booked. We had already taken the maiden voyage in the RV and found a few things to correct. One of the big things was that the kitchen slider would get wonky going in and out and in trying to solve the problem with the service manager on the phone, it became stuck OUT. We finally got it back in, and took that bad boy into the service department on Monday.

Tuesday, we cleared and cleaned out the attic (all 3 accesses) and started packing upstairs. I also listed the armoire for sale. If you cared – you’d buy it!!  And the house had its Lender’s Appraisal…

One of the things we had to do was to transfer about 2TB of data from an external drive to a new drive. OMG… for some reason, it wouldn’t stay mounted. 2 gigs at a time… suffice to say, we finished with that task today (Sunday if you are counting.) 

Wednesday, I found too many boxes of papers  – our finances from 2001… and the shredding begins. Packed more and more upstairs.  I really enjoyed going through my old sketch book (1 did survive the fire), and Lauren’s sketch books. I think I gave her a sketch book first when she was 11 or so. It was great to see how she progressed through the years. 

Just getting through all the papers and historical documents.. took until Friday. So much for a room a day! 

But today, I did empty the china cabinet AND a few of the shelves in the kitchen china cabinet. I should finish that tomorrow!

All this while, we waited for the county clerk to call. But she didn’t. I finally made the call to her on Friday, and she gave us the street address so we can call MO-DOT to get approved and permitted for a new drive way.

I called MO-DOT, and FINALLY connected with the local guy who does these things. We will be meeting him later this month at the property. Yay!

Here’s hoping next week will be more productive!





Spring in Southern Missouri

Last week, we travelled to our new “neck of the woods” to start our collection of storage facilities (okay, I am being sarcastic. And click here to see a video of the typical traffic in our new neighborhood.)

As I mentioned in my previous post we met with Jim (our one and only builder, thank God) and the two brothers he likes to work with, the Mills brothers: Andrew and Alan. These two guys will be the ones who do the “land work” – dozing and leveling both our drive way and our barn area and RV parking. In addition, they will be doing our septic work, but I am not sure when that will happen. They are truly a one stop shop!

First things first!

In talking with Andrew and Alan, we discovered that they need permission from the utilities that exist underground (the phone company) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MO-DOT). I assumed that we would use the existing driveway at the top of the hill, but that the driveway also exists in a location on the highway that is at a hairpin curve with a steep drop to the east. Bryan and the Mills didn’t think it would be approved by MO-DOT. So, (in the hopes that there are no stupid questions) I asked, how can we get approved by MO-DOT? The answer is more complicated than it seems.

Call them, but they need a street address. 

  1. How do I get a street address (no home has ever existed on this parcel of land)?
    1. Go to the post office to talk to the post master there.
      1. Answer 1: We’ll ask the carrier, once he returns from his route to call you, and he’ll assign it.
      2. Answer 2: But we’re in the middle of computerizing the addressing system (tied into the 9-1-1 system) so that everyone can have access (to 9-1-1) so you may need to go to the county clerk’s office.

We went to have lunch and waited for the postman to finish his route. At 2, we decided to head over to the county seat and the county clerk’s office, just in case. 

The conversation at the county clerk’s went like this: 

“Hi, we’re the Snows, Bryan and Dawn. We purchased a parcel off of 142 last year and we want to start to build. We were told that we don’t need any permits for the building, is that correct?” “Yes, ma’am.”

“But we do need permission from MO-DOT for our driveway. But we do not have an address to tell them where along the highway we are! That’s why we are here.” “Your postal carrier will probably assign you an address, but it may be in the ‘9-1-1 region,’ so let me check. …. oh, yes, here you are. Is this correct?” (She showed me her computer.)


“… yes, I have your address here, but the system isn’t exact right now, so I need to put in a ticket to make sure its correct. Let me see, you don’t have a residence on it yet? Oh, then, you cannot get the address….” 

My head nearly came off. I took a breath, laughed and said, “Okay, we want to build a house on the parcel we bought, we need no permits as such, but we need to get water, electric and septic. In order to get those things we need to put in a driveway and level the appropriate areas. In order to get a drive way we need approval from MO-DOT but they need an address, but you are telling me you cannot do that because we have no house?” 

It was as if the light went off (again, because it seems as if she understood what we wanted at first.) 

“oh, yes! You want to build. There has never been a house on that parcel?”


“Okay. I’ll call you next week with your address.”


Blogging isn’t part time…

Hello everyone! I bet you are wondering where the other posts are…

They died. All of the content that I worked so hard on over the past 3 years: crashed and burned. As a photography site, photos were the life blood. Sometime last year, they started being “unavailable” even though I saw them in my WordPress media library.  When I started a new blog post last night, I only saw the files, not the thumbnails or previews. So, something crashed… the least frustrating thing I could do was to start fresh. So, I did.

A 50th reunion

My husband, Bryan’s 50th high school reunion was last night. We had such a great time reconnecting with so many people.  Bryan went to an all boys Catholic school LaSalle High School in San Antonio, TX. LaSalle High School was located downtown and run by the Christian Brothers. Since they had sports teams, they also needed cheer leaders. What I found interesting was that they had two sister schools: St. Francis & Blessed Sacrament, both all girl Catholic schools. (For more information on these two schools, read the comments below!) Unfortunately, I don’t know any more about it, but that there were the cheerleaders that were elected by the boys of LaSalle there. In fact, there were cheerleaders there from 1963! This school closed shortly after Bryan graduated.  It was “old fashioned” I suppose.   I was honored to get to take their group photos. Without further ado, here they are.

PS: I will change the titling on the cheerleader photos to reflect the new information… thank you to all who have helped me!