About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....
 

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Myrtle and Madge

September 23, 2022

I have been posting lately about our project of working on an old wood shop to have a place to stay so we can be closer by to help a family member that lives an hour away. 

Long ago different members of Charles's family purchased some wooded land around a lake.  This was during the time that Jim Walter's homes were popular.  Jim Walter started a business around 1946 and would build the shell of a wooden home so the owner could do the finishing.  The only requirement was the customer had to own land.  

When lots and land were a decent price, Charles's family got together and decided to purchase lots, his parents, Aunt and Uncle, Cousins, and Charles all got plots of land in the woods. The plan was to build to have a place at the lake or to retire.  Many years have gone by and many members of the family have passed away but some of the family members are still holding on to the wooded land and Charles and I are too. 

What I post about is always real, the good the bad, and the ugly because this is real life. 

The old woodshop above.  Some curtains I hung temporarily to close when we finish working. Still much clean up to do.

I mentioned in other posts that our family member Madge has been needing some help for the past few years. Madge lives on one of the lots.  We are all getting older now and it is not easy to do things as we once did. We need to help Madge with the things that she cannot do by herself and we need to go there more often.  The terrain is very hilly and I have yet to find a level spot anywhere around that is level to stand.    

Down the hill from Madge is an old workshop that needed fixing up anyway, so Charles and I are working on this place so we can have a place to stay up there when we need to do repairs or help out.  

We have three little dogs we call our girls so we don't want to go to help Madge and intrude with three dogs.  Our little dog Katherine is a senior dog and she does not need a lot of stress, Elizabeth is also senior but two years behind Katherine and then there is Bernadette the youngest.   

If we have our own place to stay we will all be more comfortable and not have to get back on the highway to drive back home after it gets dark like we have been doing. This will be easier on us and I really like it up there by the lake, there is a beautiful view of the lake around the workshop, especially in the winter when the leaves are off the trees.    

From The late 1970s till the mid-1990, this small building was used as a small woodshop.  We do not need a lot of space to sleep and wash up or cook a meal so we decided to fix it up for that purpose. 

Over the years, the little shop gradually became a storage place for items no longer wanted as many old buildings do. It seemed that whenever someone passed away and the family didn't know what to do with the leftover junk it was put into this woodshop until there was no space left to put anything and it was all junk! 

We decided to invest our money into fixing up this little place, but, it was not only full of junk but also spiders and bugs from years of sitting.  We did not know where to start or if we were physically able to do this.  It took many months to clean it out driving back and forth two hours each trip.  Our son and daughter-in-law came up twice to help us haul some things away and that was a big help. 

There is another shed up on the hill and we cleaned that out too and for that was more stuff to haul away. What a relief that was for it to be gone. After that was done, Charles repaired the roof. 

I got sick twice, once from a tick bite from walking around the building area and heat exhaustion when we ripped out the inside of the building.  Charles was very exhausted too but we only hire someone to do something that we cannot do. 

Once it was empty, we tore out all the inside walls down to the frame, cleaned it out really well, and then insulated the small building, just Charles and myself. We are on a budget and have paid for everything as we go because this is how to stay out of debt.  Staying out of debt is a patience thing, save the money and then purchase what we need so nothing is owed.  

We know there will come a time, as we are getting older,  when we will not be able to physically do these things and will have to hire help,  we will do this as long as we can, save our money for when we do need help. 

The building does have electricity but is not plumbed for water.  We are fixing it to be functional without the use of electricity or plumbing.  The power does go off in this area easily with a storm and can be out for quite a while.  

We have told Madge that when it is finished, she can go down there to stay if the power goes out because we will have it fixed to be a comfortable place to stay without power.  We are using power to do the build. It has wall plugs around the walls so we have left them for the family that comes after we have departed this world. 

This is a Crepe Myrtle Tree and common to see around this part of the country.  When they are in bloom they are beautiful. 

We have thought a lot about names for the tiny house/home and we came up with the name "Myrtle".  There is a Crepe Myrtle growing by the tiny house and we will be going up to visit Madge so we thought it would go well with, "We are going up to Myrtle's to see Madge".   

I use the word "up" a lot because from the time we leave home we are going to a higher elevation and when we get there we drive up a hill and Madge's house is further uphill.  

So now, the official name for the Tiny House is "Myrtle".  

We still have much to do to get Myrtle ready to stay overnight but we are getting closer.

We finally got the filthy old not running air conditioner out of the window. Charles is happy now that I have quit asking, can we get the window unit out of the window?

What made me happy was sunlight comes in the window now and we can open the window!  Yay :). (well as soon as Charles gets the screens made which he is actually working on here at home as I am typing this blog post)

We have been taking Tylenol and groaning a lot but we are moving along. It may look like we don't know what we are doing but we do have a plan.

Charles and I could not lift a whole 4x8 foot sheet up to the ceiling so we cut it into sections and we have boards for trim that will box it in.  It will look very nice and I will show you when we finish. 

Behind that new beadboard is a completely cleaned wall and new insulation. The little building is only 9 & 1/2 feet wide by 19 feet 1inch long inside to inside walls.  

Since I took this picture we have removed those lights in the ceiling and are 3/4 the way with the ceiling. 

If Charles and I can do this, I hope it can be an example to show you that you can do things that you might think you cannot.  Charles has arthritis, psoriasis and a few other issues that are quite painful.  I will be needing my fourth pacemaker within the next 11 months according to last weeks heart check up and I didn't tell the doctor what I have been doing when he asked me what I do. I told him I am a writer and have a blog :).  I have menieres disease and putting in a ceiling is quite an experience with this issue, I won't go into all the other things we have. Just try and laugh about it but make sure to wear poise.  Never ever give up! 

We don't need to put off doing something just because it is hard to do, if we do that it will never get done and it will be so worth it when it is finished.

I want to tell you a story from my childhood of our little cabin by the lake.   

Our new home in Memphis Tennessee on the right and our car.  I lived in the city of Memphis for part of my life.  My grandparents lived in rural Mississippi and I loved the old days visiting my Aunts and Uncles and the ones with electricity and without electricity and running water.  This is what taught me how to live either way.  Our move to Alabama was like further back in time but this story is about our cabin at the lake. 

My many adventures during the 1950s were at a little cabin by a lake in Northern Mississippi outside of Holly Springs. We lived in Memphis Tennessee during this time and we had a small two-room cabin close to a lake in North Mississippi outside of Holly Springs.  

Our cabin...

This was a time when hunting and fishing were not a sport but for food. My father would go hunting and what he brought back would be for meals. We ate quite a bit of fish when I was growing up, we fished in the spillway of the lake.  

All of the roads were dirt except the two-lane highway that got us to that area.  My brother and I didn't need our shoes when we went to the cabin, we had dirty feet from running around those dirt roads and swimming in the lake.

There was a dirt road nearby our cabin but we did not know what was down that road.  We did know that an old man rode a wagon with a horse pulling it in and out of the road. One day my brother and I decided to go exploring down the road that we always wondered about.  

We slowly walked down that mysterious road not knowing what we would find.  I was especially afraid of bears during that time of my life so we carried sticks.   I could see smoke ahead coming from a smoke stack on top of a tin roof and could hear the sound of chickens and a cow.  

As we got closer we could see an old unpainted wooden house and a chicken yard off to the left of that house.  The house had a porch across the front. There was no electricity or running water down that road during that time, we didn't pay any attention to that because of our age but I knew later that they lived without electricity and running water.   A nice grandmotherly lady came out of the creaky screen door, I guess sensing someone was around. Maybe it was the chickens or animals that gave us away, but she knew even though we were quiet.   

 She had a cotton dress and apron as most women wore at home during that time.  She said, "Come here chillins", so I can see ya. She asked our names and made a sound, "humph" as she picked up the bottom of her apron wiping her hands. "Would you like some cake"?  Yes Please.  "I'll bring it out, come sit here on the porch".  

She brought us two slices of cake on a pretty plate with flowers and handed us a fork, I think that she was happy to have company. 

The cake was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, it smelled wonderful. That was the best-tasting cake I had ever eaten in my life and to this day I have never forgotten the taste of that cake.  It must have been the fresh eggs, home-churned butter, and the good flour that we had long ago. 

I have tried many times to make that cake as I thought it should be to taste like her cake and have come close but I would need to churn some butter and gather the eggs and get the same flour which is not sold anymore to get the same fresh ingredients to get that taste. 

I mentioned this to my brother only last year and asked did he remember and he said yes and that he had never forgotten that day nor the cake either.  He also said the man's name was Mr. Frank. 

I wish children today could make memories as we did long ago. 

I will be back with more.. Grandma Donna

 

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Comments (31)

Andrea

November 15, 2022 8:07 PM
I think we can all taste the cake in our imaginations! I think I will bake one tomorrow and try out your boiled chocolate frosting. Thank you for the lovely memory as it takes us all back to things like that.

Grandma Donna

October 18, 2022 7:53 PM
Thank you Marie for your lovely comment. :)

Thank you Sharon for the comment.

Sharon Dominy

October 18, 2022 7:14 PM
Love the story from your childhood. A beautiful memory. Blessings as you fix up your little cabin. Thanks for sharing.

Marie Dybing

September 29, 2022 11:00 PM
Dear Donna thank you for sharing your tiny home a lot of work but so worthwhile.Also thanks for the encouragement to keep going and be positive I think going through life there are always times for various reasons it is easier to take the easy road of sit down and give up, but sitting down and resting then getting on with it is so rewarding and we are always so pleased we did in the end. You never know what you can do if you give up.A blessing of older age is the happy memories we have and we can visit them any time we wish with thankfulness but also make new ones today .With fond love Marie Horsham Australia

Grandma Donna

September 28, 2022 4:01 PM
From Grandma Donna

Hi, Lady Locust, I will never forget the taste of that cake and we will be so happy when we finish Myrtle. :)

Kimberly, Oooooo I bet it gets cold up there! I am happy that you have been reading all of my posts, that is a lot of reading! I am happy about the comment section too. Donna

Kimberly

September 28, 2022 3:48 PM
Hello from North Dakota! Just wanted to stop and say I enjoy your blog so much. I came across it a couple of years ago now and I think I have read every post now. I keep a tab open on my phone so I can catch up whenever I have a chance. I have been very busy the past few weeks so had some catching up to do but was thrilled to see you added a comment section. I look forward to each post and really enjoy all of them.

Lady Locust (JL ????)

September 27, 2022 5:41 PM
Oh I just love that story. I know exactly what you mean. You can probably not only taste that cake, but also hear her voice and see those chickens just as you did back then. How very special. What a wonderful memory.
Also~ Myrtle is coming along quite nicely. You've sure done a lot of work. It does go to show what can be made out of something that appears to be not worth much "just an old shed." Looking forward as I'm sure you are as well, to see the finished product :-)

Grandma Donna

September 26, 2022 4:04 PM
From Donna
Becky sue, I am happy that I was using my looking glass when I typed that post directed to those of you that needed to read this. lol
Sometimes it goes full circle, I say something in my blog that someone needed to read and then they will say something back that I needed to read. I have a stack of laundry to fold that I am behind on because of working up at the Myrtle house and I really didn't want to finish that today but now you have held me accountable because I said don't put off doing things just because it is hard to do. Well, so now I need to finish folding and put it away and be done with it. Lol
A good point on shopping, I rarely purchase anything new and those dollars saved can help to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

Becky Sue

September 26, 2022 2:33 PM
I always enjoy your articles but it is sort of funny how sometimes it is almost like you see into my life. I have a HUGE project to complete and I am a female in my 60s and have no one to help me with it. I start getting overwhelmed with all that I need to do but now you tell me that we don't need to put off doing something just because it is hard to do, that it will never get done if I don't do it, and that it will be so worth it when it is finished. This is so very true! I know I will enjoy the end result as I have been needing to do this for a long time and it is a room that I see every day. Thanks for the encouragement you always provide.

I appreciate too that you always highlight the value of being debt free. I am debt-free and it has been such a blessing, especially during the pandemic. I don't have any credit cards and my house and vehicles are paid off. Everything that I have I own outright. If times get tough I know I have a roof over my head and a vehicle to drive. I also do a lot of canning, preserving, and a little gardening so I always have plenty of food too. Shopping at thrift stores and salvage grocery stores saves a lot of money also.
Well, I'd better get to my big project.

Grandma Donna

September 26, 2022 1:32 PM
From Donna

Teri, I am happy you found your place to turn into a home. Sounds like a lot of roll up your sleeves kinds of jobs.

Sheila, you can call me Donna or Grandma Donna either one. You are another blog reader that has a new beginning and starting new adventures and memories. I wish you well in your new home. Donna

Grandma Donna

September 26, 2022 1:24 PM
From Grandma Donna

Pam, that sounds yummy and a very good memory to have. Our lemon tree will be harvesting in about another six weeks, I cannot wait.

Teri Pittman

September 26, 2022 1:12 PM
I will get to do a lot of this with my new little house. There is so much work to be done, but I tell myself to just do a little every day. I am waiting for a crew to replace some broken glass and a different crew to get the heater working properly. It's all part of making it home.

sheila

September 26, 2022 11:15 AM
hi ????thank you for reminding me of the excitement that comes from exploring the little roads and lanes; my husband and I recently moved to a new part of our state and we will frequently hare off to explore a new road...but it isn't the same as walking, is it? good, just different ????

Pam

September 26, 2022 3:35 AM
I am so impressed with the work the two of you have done!! I also loved your little story at the end, what a precious memory. I remember my Gran making lemon curd on a Summers evening and giving my sister and I big a spoonful out of the old Farm kitchen window, it was still warm. and tasted divine, I have never forgotten.
Blessings, Pam in Norway

Mrs. Laura Lane

September 25, 2022 10:40 PM
Oh, you inspire me in so many ways. I'm a bit younger, in my fifties, but health problems have held me back. I can see that I need to push through as much as I can. I'm not getting any younger!
Blessings,
Laura

Joy

September 25, 2022 7:00 PM
I am so glad to see that you are allowing comments here as it is fun to read other's comments. I love Myrtle! I am excited for you and Charles. I think it is wonderful to have this to work on and look forward to. May God bless your life, family, and adventures!

Darlene Roudebush from Ohio

September 25, 2022 8:25 AM
Oh, Granma Donna, let me clarify my comment. When Tom and I were helping my parents drywall, we were in our 20's. If we were to attempt it now in our 60's it would be done totally differently. Then, we had someone at each end of the T, now I know we could not lift an entire sheet. It was hard enough then, now we would do as you and Charles did, cut the sheet into sections. And I do remember being sore and tired back then!

I do think Myrtle is coming along beautifully. I love the beadboard, so clean looking. I really like the look of beadboard.

Sara

September 25, 2022 4:31 AM
G Donna, you always make me think that I can do more! One of the thins that has been bothering me about my home is that the wooden floors in the kitchen and dining area really need to be refinished. I really don't want to spend the money right now but am wondering if I couldn't sand them down and add a finish myself. I have refinished furniture before and know how to sand and add the finish. The two areas are also not very big. It would not be professional level, but it would almost certainly look better than now and help to protect the wood. I will think about doing that come spring. I never really thought about adding sheetrock myself. This is a very big job you took on!

Grandma Donna

September 24, 2022 9:18 PM
From Grandma Donna

Gillian, the main thing about mistakes is we don't beat ourselves over them but learn from them. We can always start over again and many of us need a lot of start over's before we get it right. I think there was a lesson for you in your most recent start over. :) If we keep it real, most all of us can admit we have many start overs.

Debby, I think we all would love to read the story about the apple cobbler. :)

Mandy, I have not been up that way in so many years that I cannot even remember how long now. I am not surprised though there are still dirt roads around that area.

Kathrine, thank you for your kind comment.

Lana, your Grands will have many good memories when they are grown. I am happy for you that you have the place to make them.

Darlene, thank you for sharing your memories about the ice cubes. Using the T's sure helped us get the ceiling up or what part is up so far. There is no way we would have gotten this up in one sheet. There had to be some sore muscles when you all finished with your ceiling, I know Charles and I are still very sore and we still have much to do.

Thank you all for your comments, Donna

Gillian from Tasmania

September 24, 2022 7:21 PM
Hello,
Thank you for your post about the Myrtle. As I was reading there was one sentence that almost jumped off the screen at me! You said, " Staying out of debt is a patience thing, save the money and then purchase what we need so nothing is owed. " I think you have touched on something here that has now disappeared from society - patience and saving. We have recently paid off our mortgage (after two years of heavy budgeting and doing without, but no sooner did we do that, we re-borrowed to pay for a family holiday - ??? I didn't want to disappoint our teenagers by saying, well, we need to save up for the airfares first (air travel in Australia is very expensive). Oh how I am regretting that. It would have been a golden opportunity to teach them patience. Moving forward, we will save our spending money for the trip at Christmas, and I aim to be more resolute in saving before spending.! Thanks GDonna for the the reminder.

Debby in Kansas

September 24, 2022 2:06 PM
I love what you're doing with your little cabin! Your story was so sweet! My mom told me a similar story, but in the Ozarks and with apple cobbler. She was a young newlywed.

Be careful of those ticks, nasty things! Tuck your pants into your socks and wear boots.

Mandy

September 24, 2022 7:33 AM
What a great memory about the nice woman and the cake. I grew up an hour east of Memphis and I know exactly where Holly Springs is. Mississippi still has many dirt roads to this day.

Katherine Minaker

September 23, 2022 10:10 PM
My goodness you both do get a lot of work done! That cabin will be so lovely and peaceful to stay in when finished. I love following you and your life and stories. Like a letter from "home" it is. Grateful for all that you share.

Lana

September 23, 2022 6:49 PM
We have been blessed to own a house on a lake in partnership for the last 23 years. Our children grew up running up and down the path to the lake and enjoying our time away for 4 weeks every year. Now we own 8 weeks and our grandchildren come to visit there as well as just the two of us enjoying time away to rest there. I am imagining that delicious cake!

Darlene Roudebush from Ohio

September 23, 2022 3:42 PM
Myrtle is really coming along well. The "T" you made to hold up the sheets are what my Dad made when we helped my parents put up drywall sheets as the built their home after a fire. Two of us would hold up the drywall with the T's and Dad would screw them in. I can tell you that drywall sheets are very heavy! You and Charles are wise to cut your sheets into manageable sections. I wish Dad had thought of that. But I think he was trying to get it all done as fast as possible. I look forward to seeing the project as it progresses.

What a great memory you shared. I remember the taste of "ice cubes". They were the foil wrapped squares of chocolate that would melt in your mouth...and fingers. I have found them at times now, but they do not taste the same at all and do not melt. The wonderful taste of the chocolate melting on my tongue, sublime. I have tried expensive chocolate at times, hoping to find one that will be like the ice cubes of old, only to be disappointed. It seems that I will only have that taste in my memories.

Grandma Donna

September 23, 2022 12:27 PM
From Grandma Donna
Kathy, you are right about the older Jim Walter homes. Many years ago Madge built on to the Jim Walter Home and the build on has not held up well but the original part of her house is solid. As you put it, it does have good bones.

Rebecca, those are very good memories of Pop's place, thank you for sharing that with us.


Paula, I do think Mrs. Frank was happy to share her cake. Their old house down that dirt road has been another part in my life that gave me the understanding that home is where we live and we use what we have been provided to the best of our ability. Home cooked meals, a place to sleep and bathe and try to grow what we can with any space we have.

Kathy T

September 23, 2022 12:02 PM
My in-laws have an old Jim Walter home on a lot here in TX. It was 2 bedroom, with open kitchen/living area and a fireplace. When my father-in-law passed, everyone was telling my mother-in-law that she should raze it and get a mobile home. She wouldn't hear of it. She had the whole thing renovated and put in another bath and a nice big covered porch. For such an old house, it had "good bones" and looks great now. Even these new homes are probably not as well built as those old pre-fab Jim Walter's!

Grandma Donna

September 23, 2022 10:51 AM
From Grandma Donna
Thank you for your comments Galadriel, Rebecca and Paula. Galadriel, you make a very good point that Mrs. Frank never dreamed that her act of simple hospitality would be such a treasured memory. This shows us that people are watching and listening to us and we never know how it will affect someone.
We could be at home, work or the grocery store, most anywhere that someone else can see or hear us. Our kindness, no matter how small could be that one thing that another person will remember, it could be a child or an adult so it is important to show kindness and love for another, from the expression on our face or a slice of cake, most anything will do as long as it is done with love.

Galadriel

September 23, 2022 10:20 AM
Thank you for the beautiful story, and how special that your brother remembered too. I bet Mrs Frank never dreamed that her act of simple hospitality would be such a treasured memory.

Rebecca

September 23, 2022 7:46 AM
One of my favourite memories is toasting bread on a long fork in a huge pot bellied stove at my Pops place. There was a huge claw foot bath, and an outside toilet (full of spiders!) as well as sheep down the back, and kangaroos jumping across the fields. We loved to play around the woodpile, chasing lizards, and helping to bring in the wood. There was no hot water, and one electric light. The mornings were freezing, and I will always remember the crunch of frost on the ground as we ran to use the toilet, and then head back inside to the wonderful huge stove to warm back up again.

Paula Alexandra Santos

September 23, 2022 5:06 AM
Hi, Grandma Donna! :)
I'm glad your work at Myrtle's is getting along and I can't wait to see the end result. Just by taking out that AC unit from the window and dreesing it with the lace curtain, makes a ton of difference!
You two are always an inspiration to me and sometimes when I'm procrastinating, I remember you and get to work. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
I loved to read your childhood story and I too remember some foods I ate when I was a kid and that today I can't find anywhere or don't taste the same. It's a pitty that today quality is being substituted by convenience and ease.
And I bet Mrs. Frank was delighted to see you there and share her cake with you, chillins! ;)
Have a blessed weekend, you two!
 
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