Our Retro Bungalow

Our Retro Bungalow
The journal of the making of an old house into a lovely new home.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


I sat myself down and told Mr I was gonna write up a blog post in honor of our 34th wedding anniversary. There's quite a story or two or three or more about the period of time between our engagement and right up through the day of our wedding reception, which was the day after we were sealed for time and eternity in the Oakland temple.

That blog post  turned out to be more along the lines of a draft for a chapter book. There's a lot to tell. And it just wasn't feeling right. With so much time and effort being poured into recounting the events and not wanting to leave out any defining detail that could give readers an adequate vision of what we were faced with just trying to get married 34 years ago, I couldn't bring myself to post something that I felt would be incomplete without more thought and time put into it. So, it looks as if I have myself yet another project.

I'm quite certain I've mentioned my going through and sorting and scanning ALL the photos that we've EVER taken before the wonders of digital photography came to be. The thing is, I was quite the shutterbug back in the days of our children's childhood years. NOT a photographer, just a shutterbug. Yeah. It's pretty much overwhelming. And, if you don't mind, I may as well mention that since scanning and filing the first gazillion images onto our computer I've experienced a level of paranoia that could justify having me committed due to the fears and nightmares I've been experiencing at the thought of our hard drive crashing and all my time and work disappearing into a black hole. I must - absolutely must - purchase more online storage space. Soon. Today.

As if sorting and scanning forty-five gazillion photos isn't enough, I dug out all our old journals and have commenced transcribing them. A couple of years ago, when we lived outback in our trailer, I'd already done several entries, but there are SO MANY MORE to do. Truthfully, I think I may need medication. Mr thinks I may need medication. ADD medication. He's come to the conclusion that the older we get, the more conspicuous my "tendencies" become. Honestly, I don't even think the left side of my brain functions at half capacity anymore. Are there pacemakers for brains? Or shock therapy, maybe? Oh well. I've always wanted to try my hand at watercolor anyway. And it wouldn't surprise me or Mr one bit if in 15 or 20 years I'm running 'round hill and dale dressed in big floppy hats and other eccentric attire complete with an over-sized straw handbag for carrying my little white dog, pet rabbit or a stray raccoon like a certified 'crazy old woman'. Yep. Kinda like these gals...

By the way, have you seen "Practical Magic"? It's a lot of fun, though a little creepy.

But I digress, which, of course, is par for my meandering right mind (right, as in not left).

About those journal entries...

Since a blog post about the opposition, frustration and craziness leading up to our marriage will have to wait until I can finish the manuscript and find a publisher (juhhhst kidding), I thought I'd post one of Dean's journal entries from December 18, 1983, which I recently transcribed to Word. It's his version of our engagement. Please know that I feel just a little silly and sheepish as he was quite obviously "blinded by love" - his written account is unduly flattering of me. Not that I was homely, by any means. Okay. Never mind about that.

An excerpt from Mr's personal journal:
December 18, 1983
As soon as school got out in April of 1982 I decided to stay on in Provo and work for Mega Diamond for the summer. Sheri and I had been conversing often during this time, though our exchange of letters eventually trickled to about one every 2-3 weeks. We called each other once in a while but the flame kind of receded a bit. Anyway, she planned on coming out here in May to live and go to school. I was mildly excited about the prospect, but was a little anxious as I did not know how to feel toward her anymore. I had dated quite a few girls. Well, she came out and we kind of started dating again, but dated others at the same time. I started to become a little jealous as the guys started to congregate around her and began to ask her out. I didn’t know what to feel or what to do. This continued on for several weeks until one day I felt I was really losing her. I didn’t like the feeling at all. I began to pray about it and counsel with the Lord. Finally, one day I saw her from a distance looking more beautiful than I had ever seen her before. She was gorgeous! I knew I was going to marry her then, but how and where were details that needed to be worked out. Of course I knew that I was going to marry her when I first met her at a dance after my mission. That may sound trite, but it’s true. I loved her at that moment.

We planned a trip to go down to Southern California for her aunt’s wedding at which she was going to be a bridesmaid. That was in the end of June. We drove down together, went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, the beach and stayed at her Granny’s place for several days and came back. I had already made my mind up at that time to ask her to marry me and I did, a week later.
Late June, 1982 in Southern California the week before he proposed.

I had planned an elaborate treasure hunt for her to go to several different places and get clues for each succeeding place to go. It was great, if I do say so myself! I had her go to a pizza parlor and pick up a pizza that had a note in it. I had her go to a telephone booth where I called her to go to another place. She was running all over the place. Finally I had her go back home, put on a nice dress and come over to my place. I had a nice candlelight dinner prepared with lasagna and fake champagne. I really played it up. We ate (with my roommates conveniently gone for the evening) and talked quietly. We then proceeded to “rest” and decided to go for a quiet drive (prearranged on my part). We went to Kiwanis Park and things were kind of quiet. We strolled out to a bench and sat there and just when I was about to spring the question on her, a cop came up and shone his spotlight right in our eyes. He told us that it was past curfew and that we would have to leave. Well, not being one to be easily discouraged, we went to another park (Provo River Parkway) and sat on a bench there. Finally I got the courage up to ask her. Finally the words came out and I was stunned. I said them! I actually asked her to marry me! Now there was silence. – a day of silence, it seemed. “Oh I know. She’s trying to think of a way to let me down easy.” “How did I ever get into this?” Her reply was that she would have to ponder it for a while before she gave me an answer. That was on Saturday, July the 3rd. The next day – Sunday was a quiet one for both of us. It was stunning to think that we were on the verge of taking such a big step. I knew what her answer would be, though. We talked it over Sunday afternoon and  she said, 'YES'!
Yes, of course I still have all the clues from the "treasure hunt".

The bench at the Provo River Parkway where he asked me to be his wife.

Allow me to continue with this thought: I love that he asked me - that he pursued me. I've heard a plethora of stories of young women (and old) suggesting, and even proposing (!), marriage to a suitor. I can't help thinking that when this is the case it is because that type of women (eh hem...controlling) sees what she wants and aims to secure her will so that said suitor doesn't get away and set his sights on some other gal.That was not my style. I believed in and wanted the sweet, old-fashioned kind of love story. I still do. Have I ever told you about the time I'd hinted to my high school boyfriend that maybe he should come to my bedroom window sometime in the night and serenade me?

And he did.
 Ah, gee wiz. I can't even believe I told you that. How embarrassing. But..ya know...it substantiates my claim to being a long-time, sentimental romantic. Okay. I know what you're thinking.
But I learned something valuable from that. 
I learned that it's rather awkward and is far less meaningful if you have to ask. 
Or hint.
Moving right along...

About a month ago I attended the lovely backyard wedding reception of a dear friend's step-daughter. Dean wasn't able to get home from his 9 to 5 in time to accompany me. As I was entering the party area I passed a few guests who were on their way out. One of them, a male acquaintance of both Mr and me, commented on how great Our Retro Bungalow has turned out. He then proceeded to carry on a brief conversation about the stunning fact that the whole project - the tearing down, design, construction, and us living in a trailer in the back yard for 15 months - did not end our marriage. He went on to tell about his experiences in contracting and how he knew of more than a few couples that called it quits because of disagreements over selections of flooring, exterior color schemes and even entry doors. And these were couples whose homes were built by hired contractors, not themselves. He was about the thousandth person that has expressed amazement at the survival of our marriage and our relationship while we worked together building Retro Bungalow. It's sad to me that so many folks don't believe in marriages that lasting, that strong anymore.

Dean and I both know and have always been committed to what's of foremost value and it's definitely not any of the countless details of a house. It most certainly is our belief and faith in God and His plan for us. It is our belief and faith in each other and our partnership with our Creator. Another reason, perhaps, I can't help believing our happiness and our vows were not compromised over the course of the crazy, three year long house demolition/home construction project we took on, is a point I've already illustrated in this piece. While I am extremely right brained, he is extremely left. He sometimes must remind me that my car runs on - and will eventually run out of - gasoline. I remind him that slow dancing in the kitchen once in a while is essential to keeping our eternal alliance endearing and impenetrable. Some might contend that such extreme opposites would work together about as well as oil and water, but I'm here to tell you that, for us, it is balance - balance and understanding.

To commemorate our 34th year as husband and wife I ordered  custom, heirloom quality "portraiture" of Mr & Me in the form of classic silhouettes. They are lovely! And Etsy is FABULOUS.

We hung them in the little hallway that leads to our bedroom and I have started stitching a wonderful quote that I love and will have framed to hang below our black and white likenesses. Actually, with all the other things I have going on, so far I've only managed to map it out on graph paper. Stitching will commence when I wrap up a couple of other things. Hopefully soon. It'd sure be handy to have an extra set of eyes, arms and hands to accomplish all the projects that're bumpin' 'round and into each other in my cluttered head. But little good that'd do me, I suppose, if I'm only flyin' around on half a brain.

Here's to 34 years of goodness and absolute fidelity!
(that's "FAKE CHAMPAGNE" btw - insert laughing emoticon here)

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jus' Truss Me

I'm currently working on a huge and daunting project:
the sorting and digitizing of endless albums and boxes
of photographs
of our family since 1981, the year Mr & Me met.
And I'm behind in this week's journaling.
I've got to work on both those things this evening.
And probably make a meal.
Mr'd sure appreciate that.
So, this post will be short on words.
And if you know me at all,
you know that ain't exactly one of my natural inclinations.
This intro is proof.
Like you even need proof.
let's go already...

At the end of last post
(actually, the post before last)
I wrote about and posted photos of the finished 
framed walls of the workshop.
next came putting the housewrap on,
then installing the windows, and then
getting it sheeted with 
Smartside's 4'x9' 7/16 non-groove panels. 

And then...
came the trusses.
Which we put up 'a mono'.
1. Putting a 70,000 lb crane with outriggers on our driveway
would have been a disaster, cracking and crushing the concrete.

2. Saved us somewhere in the ballpark of $500 and $700.

3. We're just crazy like that.

4. My pacin' and prayin' is a force to be reckoned with.

5. It makes a pretty awesome story.

And truss me...
there are stories.

The end gables were the hardest and scariest, 
being fully sheeted, 38 feet long, 9 feet high
at the top of the rake, 
and weighing in at 450 to 500 pounds.
But Mr is a genius.
And confident.
And determined.
And that always adds up to success.
But still I pray.
And pace.
Unless I'm supporting a truss on a 2x6x12, 
waiting for that truss 
to be hoisted into position. 
"Honey, when we lift, you run. Okay?"
"Yep. Got it."
Pacin' just ain't practical when 
you're holding a truss up on a long 2x6.

We had some great help here and there from a couple of our children,
a couple of our sons-in-law,
our daughter, Aubrey's, boyfriend, Shad,
and even a wonderful neighbor, friend and fellow ward (congregation) member, 
Jay Mackley.
It took us 2 weeks of off and on work to get the job completed.
And boy, let me tell you...
we're GLAD it's completed.

Mr worked on the diagonal and lateral bracing 
and the strong backs and kickers all of last week.
He and I got the east and west facia (not shown) up last Tuesday evening.
Tomorrow we hope to get the barge rafters up after he gets home from work
and before dark.
The days are growing shorter, summer is waning.
Next comes the sheeting of the roof.
Another adventure awaits.

Thank you for stoppin' by
Our Retro Bungalow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Meaningful Decor: Show Me a Sign

I know.
I know that I've gone on and on about my dear great-grandparents
humble little farm out on a country road in southern Arkansas
and how I cherish the memories I have
 of those old folks and that time and that place 
to the point of ad nauseam.
here I go again...

Their little farm was a good walking distance from the nearest neighboring farm
and five and a half miles outside the tiny town of Waldo.
Granny and Papaw Burke never had a television.
They had an old radio in the kitchen, but I do not recall it
ever being turned on and tuned in.
I'm guessing they only used it in the winter months
 when an "ice storm" was imminent.
There was an old black Bakelite telephone on
the little table against the wall between the front bedroom door
and the entrance to the kitchen at the back of the house.
It was rarely called out on and it rarely rang.
Still, somehow, my little sister and I were never, ever bored.
But when Papaw would need to go into town for some
somethin' er other, we jumped at the chance to ride along
in the back of their dusty old four-door.
We'd scootch our backsides forward to the edge of the bench seat behind Papaw,
lay our forearms up on the back of the front seat with our chins rested atop
and watch the gravel road disappear underneath us while
a canopy of tall, age-ed trees zipped past overhead.
You can count on there always bein' a purpose for goin' to town, mind you.
My great-grandparents simply wouldn't consider
burnin' gasoline for no good reason.
We'd most always end up at the place where my Papaw worked
operating the cotton gin during harvest
and sometimes in the store
when the farm wasn't takin' up all his time;
a place the locals called
owned and operated by a man whose name  was
Ervin Franks.
It was a rickety and dimly lit old country store that carried
all sorts of sundries and farm supplies, as well as household goods like
cast iron skillets and a few grocery items.
I do not recall any of the things Papaw purchased on our
laid-back visits there, but I do remember that my sister and I
 always brought back our own, individual little brown sacks of candy.
Just like any other old country store,
there were big glass jars full of various sweets
and although there was lots to choose from
I chose banana "Now and Later"s every time.

Ah, what a sweet memory!

Out of curiosity, I did a little research on Franks.
It closed many years ago.
I talked with my mother, my Aunt, my great-aunt, my second cousin,
and even the current mayor of Waldo who remembers
goin' to Franks all the time when she was growing up.
My aunt thinks she has photos of the place somewhere,
but she hasn't been well and the thought of going through
boxes of old photos is overwhelming for her.
After kindly looking for me, the mayor said
there are no photos of Franks to be found in the town archives.
And no one could agree on  Mr Franks' first name.
I scoured the obituaries and photos from Columbia County cemeteries
and came up with nothing.
I looked at old business records online.
I guess I was just looking for family members that
could tell me a little about the history of that old place.
And I really wanted to know...
was it
A dim little light flickered on in my noggin one morning.
I quickly finished up what I was doing,
went to my computer
and Googled
"Waldo High School 1940, 1950 yearbooks"
And I found these gems...

Of course Mr Franks paid for advertisements
to support the high school yearbooks!

A couple of months ago I came across an Etsy shop that,
 after perusing through, I "favorited".
At the time, Ashley, the shoppes proprietor, was featuring this listing:

And I liked it.
A lot.
it did not fit my self imposed criteria for
items we might add to our home which is:
It must have a practical purpose
It must have meaning.
I'd recently been sorting through oodles of old family photos
my mother had given me and as I studied over the black and white images of
my predecessors, my mind naturally wandered back
again and again to those wonderful childhood memories that
I hold so close to my heart -
including, of course, trips with Papaw to Franks.
Those memories and this listing collided in my consciousness
and an idea was born.
I contacted Ashley via Etsy and asked her if she did custom work.
"Yes!", she replied.
Ashley was AMAZING to work with and I am
SO HAPPY with the BEAUTIFUL custom work she did for me.

Ferns & Ivy
Check out her shop by clicking on the hyperlink below this photo!
You'll LOVE what you find there.
I promise.

So, there ya go.
More meaningful decor here at
Our Retro Bungalow.
Thanks for stoppin' by.
Y'all are sweet as candy
and we're much obliged for your kindness.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Puttin' Up Walls

Puttin' Up Walls.
I'll be the first to admit that over the course of my life
I've put up a few walls here and there.
But let's not dwell on the past.
the walls that have been goin' up around here lately
are not of the of the metaphorical variety -
they're bona fide barriers between inside and out.

Dean has always wanted a workshop.
Due to spending his prime providing for and raising half a dozen children,
he's just now getting around to making his dream happen
 three plus decades later.
Most folks that have observed what's been 
going on aound here recently have stated that 
the man of the house is building himself a
"man cave".
Well, call it what you want,
but really...
 my husband is a natural-born gear-head.
Ever since he was just a wee lad
he's loved working on anything that's 
greasy and runs on gasoline.
My very favorite story about him bein' a young boy
took place when he was 12 years old.

 He'd traded his saved-up allowance on the purchase of an old
lawn mower motor from a neighbor. 
Although the old motor hadn't worked for quite some time,
he was confident in his investment.
After dissecting, analyzing, cleaning, reassembling
and refueling the deceased conglomeration of metals and hoses and grease
he was thrilled to discover that he'd fixed it!
It ran!
And for months after he'd mosey out to the garage every now and then
and fire it up just to hear and watch it run.
I can't think of anything more dull than that.
But then, I can't think of anything more winsome either.
Clear as day I readily picture him
standing over his Franken-motor
as it puffs out hot, gray exhaust while simultaneously potential is
being cultivated inside that boy.
It's no surprise he grew up and earned a degree in
mechanical engineering and over the course of his career
has worked in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries.
He even earned an MBA in his 30's and did several years in management,
but decided he wanted back into the science of industry.
He missed the nuts and bolts of engineering.
The walls of his workshop have been slowly going up
and before y'all know it
he'll have vehicles atop the hydraulic life and
engines dangling from a cherry picker.

So, here we go...

He dug trenches for the footings with his trusty ornage tractor.
We had a hard time keeping the grandchildren and the dawg outta
those trenches...
Really, we didn't even try keeping them out.
There was fun to be had and cool, damp earth
to lie on in those long, deep furrows!
The fun didn't last nearly long enough, though,
because there were forms for footings that needed to be built.

Then the footings were poured.


After the footings had cured,
we had a crew come in to form and pour the foundation walls.

Then there was lots and LOTS of tractor work to be done
to get ready for the concrete slab.

Next came all the rock that goes under the slab that needed to be distributed.
And screeded.
Jus' so ya know...
"screeding" is a cuss word in my book.
Not that I mind helping, but screeding...
I hope I don't ever have the opportunity to help screed
a gravel base again in my life time.
That is all.
Except that I was a very good sport about it.
Honest, I was.
Moving right along...
It was finally time to call in our favorite concrete crew.
Craig Robinson is the best concrete contractor you'll find in these parts
and he's in high demand,
but I believe he always fits us in in a timely fashion whenever we call for his
crew because he thinks highly of my husband and everything we've
accomplished here on Fruitland Drive.
I'm pretty sure it helps, too, that we pay him promptly.

Then we took a break.
But not really.
After the shop floor and approach were done
we went to work on tearing out and replacing the
old flagstone retaining wall that runs across the front
of Retro Bungalow.
The original retaining wall had been there since the 1950's.
Scott Randall, whose father, Percy, built the original house,
told us of his recollection when, as a small boy,
 he made the trip with his dad all the way to Arizona
in one of the old family farm trucks to go
pick up the flagstone that the old wall was built out of.

I'll spare y'all the blow by blow details,
but boy-howdy, let me tell you this...
Dean was surprised to find a very large footing
beneath that old flagstone wall and it was a
booger to get out and haul away in hefty size chunks.

I don't recall how many trips we made to
Recycled Earth,
but I do remember that for some reason they were having a
"special" and we were able to unload ALL of that old concrete
footing for FREE!
We sure do appreciate those folks and the purpose of their worthy enterprise.
Saving us a hefty chunk of cash was a very nice bonus.

After what seemed like endless cleanup and prep work...

we finally got busy setting the first (bottom) course
of the new retaining wall.
The first course was difficult and time consuming,
but once we got to setting the next six courses,
it was easy-peasy.
Except that I discovered I have triceps and obliques
and other muscles I'd never been acutely aware of before.
All that hard work was worth it.
We are very pleased with how our new retaining wall turned out...

It wasn't long before our lumber order for framing the workshop
showed up from from Wheelwright.
Other than getting some help from moi and our sons to lift the
unwieldy frame walls he'd built
up and onto the foundation walls,
Dean framed his workshop himself in about one week
including a few days of working his regular 9 to 5.
The man amazes me, I tell ya.
 sometimes he just gets me so undone with
worry because he will not wait for or ask for help
and all I have to resort to is pacin' an' prayin' hard.
For example:
he installed the 40 foot double header that weighs between
4 to 5 hundred pounds
and sits
(with some help from his trusty orange tractor)
Oh, my WORD
And I'll just tell ya right now that I was irritated.
And I may have even mumbled under my breath something like
"the man's a stubborn, crazy-fool"
because I was scared outta my head that beam would fall on him.
But it didn't.
Because praying works.
And because the man's as strong as he is stubborn.

That's all for now.
Won't be long til the trusses go up.
Which means, of course,  there'll be more pacin' and prayin'.
And I'll do my best not to mumble any scolding words under my breath.

Thanks for stoppin' by
have a fabulous day, y'all.