I haven't been working at the daycare these last couple weeks of summer because the babies are getting older & less needy so the owner can do it on her own again.
It's been nice to not have something to do every single day because I've had time to fit 500 other things in the daycares place (like starting Ali Elizabeth Photography).
One day last week, my mom's cousin Joyce called & said she needed help cleaning. She takes care of her dad's house & her big property and she was swamped. I had nothing else to do, so I agreed.
Joyce is my mom's cousin because she's my grandma's brother's daughter.
Did you catch that?
Anyway, she & my mom are night and day but she is definitely one of my favorite relatives.
Joyce is a country girl & while my momma was a country girl too, Joyce has never left it.
After being raised by my grandparents, alongside my mom, she married a carpenter & they had 2 children to add to the one she had when she was 19.
When the kids were little, she lived in a Teepee with them during winter while their house was being built.
I'm not kidding.
Joyce grows huge, beautiful gardens & cans all summer so they'll have food in the winter. She's worked lots of odd jobs & curses like a sailor. She makes me laugh until I can't breathe & I just love her.
Now, she has 2 sons in their 20's, a daughter who's in her 30's & she's still married to the carpenter.
Her husband is retired now, so they've decided to build another house. Because what else would you do with your time when you're retired?
They bought a big, beautiful piece of land & her husband & two sons are working on building the house.
Meanwhile, they're all living in a barn that's insulated with 3 beds in it, taking outdoor showers & using an outhouse when they need to go to the bathroom.
Mom & I always kind of joked about it & actually I thought I was going to have to resuscitate her when she was talking to Joyce the other night & she told her she was up all night because she was too afraid to go to the bathroom because something might crawl up and bite her butt. But then I saw it.
Joyce & I spent the day cleaning at her dad's house & getting lunch at the small, locally-owned grocery store before we realized we needed a better vacuum & we'd have to go to her house to get it.
It was a gorgeous day & the country roads were wide open.
We pulled up to a gated, wooded entrance with a small carved rock that read, "Box Turtle Ridge" & we were there.
There were Fox Blocks all around the foundation that is going to be the basement & chairs sitting on a grassy area Joyce calls her park.
One of the first things I saw was the shower outside & despite the fact that there's no shower curtain, taking a shower outside underneath the hot sun wouldn't be half bad.
When we walked inside the barn, there was an old, but working stove and a big, beautiful washer & dryer. There were two pretty refrigerators & lots of clothes.
In the next room were 3 beds & a big flat screen TV. In the barn.
We went back outside so I could see the outhouse & talked under the trees where I'm sure it was a good 10 degrees cooler.
I walked back to the car thinking about how much more I really appreciated the small things when I was out in the woods. The sun is a little brighter out there, I think & it's much calmer. There are no cars weaving in & out of each other in a hurry to get somewhere, no cell phones ringing off the hook & out there, you can just be.
I don't think I'll be making jokes about Box Turtle Ridge anymore. It takes a special person like Joyce to be able to live in a barn and spend months waiting on a house to be built while living there, but she's a better person for it, I'm sure.