When Life Happens

Our one week vacation over the Christmas holiday went by way too soon, and now we were back to the realities of life. We were in the thick of winter in Colorado. Fortunately, the climate in Pueblo West is much milder than in other parts of the state. It’s actually located in what’s nicknamed the banana belt of Colorado. But regardless, it’s still colder, and of course, snowier than Phoenix, Arizona.

By the afternoon, the sun usually melts most of the snow on the road,

Winter 2011 – Our RV was nestled on the side of our new home. We began to enjoy living in this newly built house and finally understood why our customers loved the floorplan. After selling our large custom home, we decided to build our “bread and butter” floorplan for ourselves. Sure, I had spent plenty of time in this floorplan at the model home, but I had not personally lived in it.

Our poor RV covered in snow. She wants to go to south.

As well as selling our custom home in 2010, we also sold the model home. We were still in the throws of surviving the Great Recession, and although we managed to keep building homes here and there, it was a scary time financially. Building one home at a time was a far cry from juggling the usual six at a time.

In our small community, we were considered a mid-sized volume builder. There were no national builders for us to compete against. I loved my job and quite often worked seven days a week, but that all changed when the economy changed. Nonetheless, we were one of the lucky ones still able to hang on with a couple of new custom home builds contracted for the year. A lot of home builders had closed shop along with many of the subcontractors. It was a challenging time to work in the construction industry.

The phone call we all dread

April 2011 – The phone rang. It was my sister. Mom had been in and out of the hospital the past year, but this time my sister wasn’t sure how much time mom had left. Her COPD was winning! After the recent hospital stay, mom was admitted to a rehab center, and her survival was questionable. I immediately booked a flight from Denver to Chicago for a ten-day visit.

My brother arrived a few days earlier than me allowing him a little one on one time with mom, and then he left before me so I too could have some one on one time with her. Dad was doing as well as could be expected and was grateful to have his three children nearby to help him through this difficult time.

My mom and dad, aka Oma and Opa, in their early 80s.

A week after my return to Colorado, my mom passed away. Those precious conversations are forever etched in my memories. I’ll always miss her!

I feel so grateful to have had ten days to sit with mom and just talk. Not everyone is as fortunate. Mom repeatedly encouraged me (and Al) to “Hop in that RV and LIVE … enjoy life while young and healthy … life is short. Who needs a house when you have an RV … a house on wheels. Go live, explore, have fun.”

She absolutely loved the RV lifestyle and when they had to call RVing quits due to health reasons, she was pissed. “Damn cigarettes!” she’d say.

Life goes on

With the arrival of spring and the snow long gone, our new home was in dire need of landscaping. And I was in dire need of a project to keep my mind and hands occupied as I worked through my grief.

There are very few subjects that Al and I have difficulty working through together. We’re a pretty good team and have worked together from the moment we met during our airline careers as Pilot and Flight Attendant. Then years later, we ran a home-building business together. We rarely fight with the exception of backing up an RV or doing yard work. Then, all bets are off!

Al having fun with the Bobcat. So this is what it took for him to enjoy yard work? Boys and their toys!
While Al dumps the gravel with the Bobcat, I rake it out. Team work!

Unfortunately, Al’s dad put a bitter taste in his mouth when it comes to yard work. His dad didn’t just want Al to mow the yard but also wanted it done a certain way including alternating directions from one week to another. I’m sure that’s the short version of the story, and we’ll leave it at that. I guess, we all carry around negative experiences from our childhood, and when it comes to landscaping and general yard maintenance, Al prefers to hire it out. End of subject.

But with our finances in less than stellar circumstances and my go-to landscaper out of business, what’s a gal to do? I know, bribe the husband with a Bobcat rental. A week later, we had just enough landscaping around the house completed to make it look presentable until I could come up with a plan for the rest of the property, and the bonus was a husband who didn’t complain once about landscaping the yard ourselves. That’s a win in my book!

Ah, but what about that neglected RV on the side of the house? We really should plan a trip, but that’ll have to wait until work allows us to sneak away. I’m just glad we’re still working!

Our crew swinging trusses at one of our job sites.

22 thoughts on “When Life Happens

    1. Thank you Sue. She was indeed an incredible and strong woman. I don’t think I could’ve survived some of the things she endured growing up in a war-torn country (Germany).

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  1. Ingrid, None of us ever want to get that call about one of our parents. You are lucky you were able to spend that time with her. She sounds like she was a very wise woman. Just thinking about raking all those rocks makes my back hurt! Looking forward to the rest of your RV series and hoping you will share how to make a blog into a book.

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    1. Yes, I’m very fortunate to have had that time with my mother. I sure wish I had listened to her more often 😏 There are times I miss perennial gardening, but when I think about the work, I don’t miss it as much 🌷

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  2. I’m glad yo got to spend time with your mother like that. I had to smile when I read what you said about yard work being one of the few things that can make you argue with your husband. I get on brilliantly with mine – until it comes to home decorating!

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    1. Oh yeah, redecorating? As long as he doesn’t have to paint, he’s more than happy to help out in that department. 😁 I was very fortunate to have been able to spend that time with my mother, time I will always treasure.

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  3. Ingrid, I’ll bet your Mom would be delighted to know the extent to which you embraced the adventurous RV lifestyle she encouraged. As for the boys and their toys, I understand completely. Alan has a sub-compact tractor with a backhoe, loader bucket, plow blade and mower deck. The two of them are inseparable.

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    1. I like to think mom is looking down and smiling. She loved RVing! When Al had an ATV, he talked about adding all kinds of gear … snowblade, tow winch, etc. Boys and their toys! He did have lots of fun with it while he owned it. Fortunately, when it was time to sell some of those toys, he was ready.

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    1. Thank you! I’m grateful I haven’t had to deal with losses during these current times. My heart goes out to all those that have not been as fortunate. Fingers crossed for better times soon!

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  4. Ingrid,
    I built homes for twenty years and my Bobcat was my most prized possession. Big fun, and I always found a reason to play on it. I remember 2010…that’s when I hung it up. Your Mom had great advice, and you were blessed to have ten days of one on one. Not everyone gets that time…Have a great week. Joe

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    1. We managed to keep the business going until 2013 but it sure was a struggle. We built for 15 years and I loved it … well except for those last years. I should’ve gotten Al a Bobcat!

      Yes, I was blessed to have that time with my mom. I didn’t with my dad and still struggle with that. ❀

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  5. Great idea to preserve blog posts in your “Blog to Book” series, Ingrid. I enjoyed this post about your home-building business and marvel at all the different kinds of homes you two have shared.

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    1. I’m hoping to complete our six-week road trip series by March and then get it printed. I want to see how the book turns out before I share the four-month trip which eventually leads us to live in the RV full-time. Within a 3-year time frame, we went from living in 4,500 sq. ft. to 300 sq. ft. 😡

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  6. If you need some Colorado Snow pictures just to keep you properly focused I can send any time from Pagosa Springs. But we may be seeing you this next week for a brief shot of warmth.

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    1. You guys still in Pagosa? I wasn’t sure if you took the little trailer on a TX adventure or went back to CO for snow adventures. Our evenings should start warming up for happy hour. Let us know when you’re back at Pioneer and we’ll visit over a glass of wine … chairs socially distanced, of course. 😎

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