New Beginnings

It is springtime, finally. My clematis is beginning to bloom and all the trees are filling out with leaves. So far we’ve had two nighttime thunderstorms roll through the city. All the parts of the state that were experiencing drought are now experiencing flash flooding. The wind keeps bringing down tree limbs that have been barely hanging on since last year’s ice storm. No tornadoes yet, though we usually save those up for the month of May. I think I’ve lived here long enough to recognize humidity. It is still a thing I smell before I feel.

My husband was laid off from his long-term job a few months ago. For years we had discussed this possibility, seeing as the oil and gas industry has been schizophrenic as of late. It was to be our ticket out of Oklahoma, this layoff. A way to start over somewhere else, maybe, but without the responsibility of having to decide to quit a stable job for something that was a big, big risk. When you don’t have a job, you don’t have the risk. Or so I thought.

Any change is still a big risk. The kid is finally happy here. Ridiculously happy, I might add. A move to any part of the country will, for her, be dramatic, traumatic, devastating, etc. My husband is fairly easygoing, but as the sole provider of the family for the last four years, he carries a lot of stress these days. He has had to consider moving to a city that he would never live in otherwise, if he has a choice. Which, hopefully, we still have for a while longer. What are the pet laws in other cities? We are not separating our family, dogs included. It is something we didn’t think about before. We never had to. And I have decided to put graduate school on hold. When you are calculating your savings into how many months your mortgage can be paid on time, a master’s degree isn’t a priority.

Yet, I am ready to go. Somewhere. (Almost) Anywhere. It is exciting, and a bit terrifying, to see what happens next. Where will it be? Are we staying? Are we going? Will it be different? Will it be the same? Will everyone be okay?

Until then, we have been going on with our lives as though we will be staying in Oklahoma City. Elle has submitted her high school electives for 9th grade (this fall – can you believe it!?). I planted tomatoes and eggplant and multi-colored bell peppers that I hope to be able to enjoy.  There are no plans for a summer vacation. Maybe a weekend visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, or Dallas. But a vacation anywhere else seems irresponsible, frivolous.

The writing cabin is mostly finished. There are just a few things that need to be done – namely the ceiling panel boards. I spend about 3-5 hours a day in here doing reading assignments and writing short essays. I am currently finishing up a research paper and looking forward to only one more week of school. Since October I have been steady working on Russian trauma, Nazi atrocities, and the black experience in America. It’s all been very depressing, but I’m more than halfway through my degree work.

I have watched baseball games, gymnastics championships, and a show about alien abductions in my cabin. I have also read novels in here, for fun. I have fallen asleep with the windows open and woken up to birds and squirrels chattering away. It’s my favorite place, this cabin. And, if we end up moving, it is definitely coming with us. That’s the only thing we are certain about right now.

I love this little cabin. And I've already had a sparrow family move in to my petunia basket! They're quiet neighbor's, so far, until the kids get hungry. #Scissortail #cabin #tinyhouse #sheshed #writingstudio//

Breaking Ground

A few months ago, my husband and I started talking about renovating certain parts of the house. Namely the unfinished and roomy attic space. We discussed turning it into a game room, a television room, our new master bedroom (which would then mean we needed to install a second bathroom), or my own office space. Two things came from this brainstorming session:

  1. A second bathroom would be really nice, whether we decided to renovate the attic or not.
  2. Renovating an attic into a livable, usable space is really expensive. Too expensive. I’ve seen enough HGTV to know any estimate should be multiplied by, like, three. Time and money. No, thanks.

But then all this talk about actually having my own office space got me thinking about actually having my own office space! While that wasn’t necessarily in the plans to begin with, it has been an ongoing issue in our house. Matt and I have tried sharing the front room with each one of us sitting at desks facing an opposite wall. That worked for him just fine (he’s way more easygoing than I am about most things in general), but I don’t like writing unless I’m alone and the noises from his video games are sometimes very distracting. Then we thought moving me into the bedroom would be a good solution. The newness of that wore off quickly once I realized I had to turn on the white-noise machine to drown out the aforementioned video game noises that traveled easily down the hall. Also, constantly get up to let a dog in or out, or having Elle walk through to get to the kitchen (it’s a two-door room and a closer route).

Then I suddenly noticed how much time I spent in my bedroom. I read in my bedroom. I studied in my bedroom. I researched, I wrote, I tried to decompress in my bedroom. I watched television in my bedroom. Sometimes I even ate in my bedroom. And then, when all that was over and done, I’d go to sleep in my bedroom.

That kind of isolation can make a person nutty. Even me, and I’m the kind of person who really thrives on isolation. Geez, introvert too much? I got really sick of my bedroom.

I told Matt, rather emotionally, that we needed to find a fix. Either we had to buy a new house with a separate room for me or we’d get that ridiculously unaffordable attic office space. I wasn’t even close to joking around.

We agreed on something else instead. It comes to about 1/16th the cost of a basic attic renovation and 1/40th the cost of a new house – one that probably had a crappy lot size, anyway. What did we agree on? A backyard cabin. A she-shed, a writer’s studio, an artist’s loft, a whatever-you-want-to-call-it. A 12×12, 244 square foot space that is mine, a place where I will have the quiet I need to study, to research, to write, to decompress. No dogs, no noise, no interruptions.

A week ago we drove down to Blanchard and put in our order. The construction company is building the cabin this week and we expect it to be delivered sometime over the next two weeks. After that we still have to deal with insulation and drywall, flooring installation, electric and a small heating/air conditioning unit. Then there’s painting and decorating and lighting and landscaping and porch furniture. Porch furniture? Yes, my cabin has a 12×4 porch! Which is where the dogs will hang out, because I’ll be damned if I have to lug a vacuum cleaner from the house to the cabin just to vacuum up even more dog hair.

Up to this point we’ve prepped the cabin site as best we can. There’s really not much more to do except wait for the structure to be placed. So here is a photographic journal of sorts of what we have managed to get done thus far – and by we I mean mostly Matt and his friends, because by the third shovelful of dirt I had thrown out my back, then I went under for an unrelated minor surgery and was out of commission for about 4 weeks. When it comes to physical labor I’m totally useless. But I can pick out paint and flooring, no problem!


Foreman Teddy



Ted and Abbey, just two of our mutts soaking up the view from their soon-to-be porch.


Getting ready to till the ground


Two weekends worth of dirt for my husband, or How I Threw Out My Back



We filled in the uneven spots in our yard in the hopes that grass would grow and give them a nice cover. Ari didn’t approve of that idea, but she did approve of more dirt holes. This dog loves lying in dirt holes.


Helpful advice: These are good sized chunks of rock and do not move easily. Ask your delivery driver to dump a load, move forward, dump another load, more forward, dump another load…you know, so that it’s not all in one unbelievable unmovable pile.



Hahaha, a shovel. To move all that rock. Ain’t happening, but let me introduce you to my optimistic husband with a can-do attitude.


Shovels, buckets, bare hands, and feet. That’s how we moved it. And since I am afraid of shovels (I have an old lady back), I used my bare hands. Totally works.



Ta-da! A full morning’s work.


My flooring selection. I had to think about seasons and coziness and how I go absolutely batshit crazy in the winter when everything is gray. I chose this because it has hints of orange and hints of gray – the cool and the warm, the yin and yang? And it was on SUPER MAJOR sale, which is always a plus.

PS. Does anyone know how to rid my Flickr photos of that embed link?