Father Was A Perfectionist

tree-houseDiane once told me about how her father built a tree house for her and her sister. I found it interesting because after she told me the story, I could see where her “handyman” skills came from. Diane also mentioned that when she was around and her father was fixing or building something, she would always be his assistant. Her father seemed like the type of guy who could fix or build just about anything around the house.

Diane said that when she asked her father to build the tree house she thought it would be a small task. Well, that small task turned into a major project that lasted for months.  She said that it was probably because her father was a perfectionist and didn’t want much help from people outside his family.

The first thing that they did was look around the property for the right place to put up a tree house. There were lots of trees on the property so that wasn’t an issue. Her father wanted, first and foremost, for the tree house to be in a tree that could safely hold a man made structure. He also wanted something that was close to their main house but far enough for it to feel like a getaway for a kid. He didn’t want it to be too high but he also knew that being high up in a tree was one of the attractive aspects about having a tree house.

After they found a tree that they all agreed on, her father made preparations to completely remove a couple of trees that were around the tree for the tree house. Of course he didn’t bother calling a professional tree service to come out and help him remove the trees. We handled the job himself. He started by cutting all of the limbs down out of the trees. From there, he cut the trees bit by bit, starting from the top, until there were just stumps left. Again, instead of calling professional tree cutters to come out and remove the stumps, Diane’s father went and rented a stump grinder and removed the stumps himself. They took the wood chips from the stumps that he removed and put them around the tree that was going to be used for the tree house.  

The family used the wood from the trees that were cut down for other various projects but most of it ended up being used for firewood and in fire pits.

The next thing Diane’s father did was get together with both her and her sister to decide how the girls wanted the tree house to look. Though their father pressed them for something elaborate, the girls just wanted a little simple clubhouse type of thing. Plus, the process was already taking longer than they wanted so they just kept it simple.

After it was all said and done, Diane, her sister, and father really liked how the tree house turned out. The project took about five months from start to finish but it was worth it. Diane mentioned that her father was sort of apologetic to her and her sister for it taking so long to put up the tree house but he wanted to make sure everything was perfect for them. He also mentioned that it probably would have taken at least half the time if he would have hired a company to come in and cut down the necessary trees. Once the tree house was up though, Diane and her sister didn’t think about how long the project took and played inside for hours and hours.

Everything Was Handled

out-houseDiane also cared and raised her own chickens. I enjoyed eating the things that she made with all the eggs that she got from them. Her omelettes were phenomenal and her eggs benedicts should have been featured in someone’s restaurants. I asked her once why the eggs were so delicious and she told me that it was because the chickens were being cared for by a human and not a large profit generating company. I was curious as to why that would have any effect on the taste of the eggs. She said that, instead of force feeding the chickens and pumping them with unnatural chemicals she let them live naturally. She only gave them food made of organic “food stuff” from around her yard.

Diane was big on reusing or repurposing things… all the way down to the waste from her animals. The waste from her animals were often used as fertilizer for her garden and yard. Because there weren’t any foreign chemicals in the diet of her animals, their waste was the perfect material to use to produce healthy flowers and plants. She would even use the waste to help grow her fruit trees and pecan trees. All the animals were healthy and they in turn helped to keep the grass, plants, and trees healthy.

The eggs weren’t the only food from her animals or yard that were good. Pretty much everything that I ate from her place was very flavorful. Her pies, soups, bread, and salads all had some of the most distinctive flavors. It definitely was a party in your mouth. The pecans from her pecan tree were the best I’ve ever had. I really like pecans so I’ve tried lots, from many places. The apples from her apple tree were crispy and sweet. She would make all types of dressings and sauces with those apples and stock certain stores in town with them. Most of her stuff never stayed on the shelves for long and she found it difficult to keep up with the demand.  

These days, lots of people stay away from milk but back in the day, people weren’t so health conscious. The whole milk that she would get from her cows was also another favorite in the markets. All the bakers wanted her cow’s milk to bake many of their goodies. People would often ask her what she was doing to her cows for them to produce such good milk and basically she always said the same thing…”nothing special, I just don’t add any foreign chemicals to their diets”.

When I started coming around, she was reluctant about having me there but when she saw that I wasn’t going to stop pestering her she became a bit more welcoming. When she realized that I could help out around her place she really saw how I could be of assistance rather than a nuisance. I really didn’t mind helping her do odd things around her house because, like I said before, I wanted to prove to my father that I could go out and make my own money. He was proud that I was helping her out and finding ways to earn money.

I Thought She Was Grumpy

ladyDiane’s Naturally came about because of a grumpy older lady that I knew who used to live near the house that I grew up in. I don’t know if grumpy is the right word to describe how she was. I think a better way to describe her would be “stand offish” but be that as it may, she had a good understanding of how to grow, care for, and cook things.

Diane was her name and she was our neighbor. We lived out in the “sticks” and Diane’s home was the only other house on our road. I didn’t know how old she was but I overheard my parents talking about how she had to be, at the time, between 40 and 50. I really couldn’t tell because I was so young plus she moved around like she was my age. She lived alone and every now and then I saw people stop by her place. For the most part though, she was alone, moving about like she needed no one.

I would stop by Diane’s place from time to time because I thought she was pretty smart. She always gave off the impression that she didn’t want to be bothered but when she allowed you around, it would be guaranteed that you’d learn something.

She was a back to nature buff and said that everything that we needed can be found in the nature that’s around us. Diane seemed to be a bit radical. I probably called her crazy at the time just because I didn’t know how else to describe her passionate eccentric behavior. But whatever she was doing seemed to work for her. No one could argue that. She tended her own garden, which was quite large. She had cows, chickens, goats, and a dog that she cared for. She built stuff and did all of her own repairs.  

As she got more comfortable with me coming around I realized that she had a thriving little business where she sold homemade salves, tinctures, candles, etc. She had her stuff in a couple of stores so she didn’t even have to set up a station at the local farmer’s market if she didn’t want to. She’d just spend the week bottling up her stuff and take it to a few stores in town. I don’t think she had any desire to see her business expand but it seemed like it was naturally happening people really liked what she produced.

To make a little money and to show my father that I could bring home the bacon too, I started helping Diane with many of her projects. What she paid me was way more than I needed and I also benefited from learning from her. Diane is where I got my work ethic from.