Thursday, July 24, 2014

69 PR 109 - Then There's The Fireplace Thing

The other day Amber, Beaux Bo and I drove from Burleson to Lake Merritt to meet a chimney sweep. I was all set to pay a few hundred dollars to get the old fireplace cleaned, inspected and get a cap placed on the chimney to prevent future Mud Swallow infestation. The chimney dude showed up right on time, starting the trip out on the right foot. 

The chimney dude, a very nice fellow, went right to his task, spread his drop cloth in front of the fireplace, plugged in his drop light, stooped over and peeked into the fireplace and  ten seconds into his inspection said, "Uh oh!"
I immediately reached for my drugs, then I remember I don't do drugs, so I hollered to Amber, "Bring me a beer!"

To which she said, " You don't have any beer!"

So completely sober and without any relief by drugs, I turned back to the chimney dude and said, "What the heck do you mean by uh oh?"

That's when the trip took a turn for the worse. "Well, you see these here loose bricks in the back of your firebox...." He went on and on and on about how firebox bricks were about $5 a piece and it was going to take about two hundred of them....bla, bla,bla. (He didn't actually say bla bla bla, I just stopped paying attention to his words.)

So, this little quick couple of hundred dollar job just turned into a several thousand dollar three day job. He was very polite during the whole castration process, did I mention he was a very nice fellow.

I was so upset, I hauled off two truckloads of brush. Here's what I learned from this day: 
1. I need to stop getting upset because this    hauling brush is killing me.
2. If I can't stop getting upset, I need to start on some kind of a drug régime, or...

3. Start keeping beer a little closer to the source of agitation.             

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

69 PR 109 - Here We Go


 When we finally closed on our dream house by the lake several weeks ago we were well aware of some obvious repairs, renovations and just some plain ol' scrubbing
that would be necessary before Amber would proclaim it a home. All the flooring would have to be replaced, ceilings and walls repaired and painted, kitchen brought into
  the current decade, bathrooms remodeled and refixtured (at least they were indoor), bay windows replacing sliding glass doors, doors moved from one wall to another and a seventy foot long screened in back porch rescreened.
Future bay window.
Every time the tension would mount over all the expense and work ahead of us, we would simply walk over to the huge sliding glass door (soon to be a huge bay window), hold hands and gaze out at the calming presentation of nature's beauty and we knew it was all worth it.

Last weekend we drove from Burleson to Lake Merritt to meet the TV guy between noon and four o'clock. (Yes  you can still have TV and be one with nature!) The plan was to make the leisurely trip, meet with the TV guy, spend our time relaxing and not do much of anything. Well first the TV dude doesn't show up until 7:30 PM and doesn't finish until midnight.  While waiting for him to show I became a little restless and told Amber I was going outside and do a little piddling. Four hours later I had filled an eighteen foot trailer with limbs I had trimmed off an old Live Oak tree. The huge tree had never been trimmed and it's limbs were hanging all the way to the ground.

Amber came out to check on me and there I stood, pruning saw in hand, drenched in sweat and looking like I had been in a fight with a mountain lion. After making sure all my wounds were superficial, Amber proceeded to scold me, grabbing me by the hand and leading we into the house. "I thought we were just going to relax, you look terrible, get in here and I'll clean up those scratches!" She's such a sweet caring sole.

Now, back to the TV guy. After arriving (3 1/2 hours late) he informed us he would have to install all new wiring. He went up the stairs into the attic and stayed about five seconds. As he stumbled back down the stairs he turned towards me with eyes the size of silver dollars and said, "There's wasp nests and no telling what else in your attic! I ain't going back up there and that's a fact!"

Note black cable on bottom of yellow wall.
I told him he had better figure out something because we had driven two and a half hours to meet him, been waiting all day and he was damn sure going to install the necessary wiring before he left and that was a fact. Well, it took him until midnight but he got all the wiring done. The only thing is the wiring is all stapled to the outside walls of the house with holes drilled through the wall into the rooms the TVs would be in. Black cable on yellow walls, do you think anyone will notice?

Amber and I stood outside and watched the TV guy drive off in a cloud of dust. We turned to the trailer loaded with tree limbs, I would have to unload later that morning, and Amber said, "Maybe someone will steal it tonight." We walked to the house, stopped and looked at the black cable stretched around the yellow walls, shook our heads, walked inside the house, holding hands we stopped in front of the glass door, looked out at the lights reflecting off the calm lake waters and all was well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

69 PR 109


Welcome to our dream! I can't tell you how to get there and neither can most GPS devises. The address is 69 PR 109, that's 69 Private Road 109, and it's located on Lake Merritt, a small private lake near Goldthwaite, Texas. Now before we get into this story, I would invite you to read an earlier story on my blog page, "Okay, Hears The Deal", to get caught up on the details and history as to how this dream came about.
Amber and I love our little yellow lake house. Yep, it's yellow and if it was anywhere other than on a lake I would never dream of having a house of yellow. But, there's something about being on the shores of a quaint little lake surrounded by nature's quiet pastures that makes yellow more acceptable. Anyway, it's much easier to tell folks, "It's the only yellow house on the lake!", when trying to give them directions.

This dream house is also an old house, used for the most part on weekends, vacations and holidays. When Amber and I first saw the house our vision was enhanced by the natural beauty of its serene surroundings and the childlike dreams of what it could be. It's not that we were completely blind as to the work and cost that might be involved in making this lake house a home on the lake, it's just that we didn't care.

Anyway, we have all seen the movies where folks take an old dilapidated farm house or an old cottage in the woods and after a couple of hours (movie time) they transform it into a dream come true. This may not be a movie (yet), but Amber and I are committed to this change in our life and we would like to share it with you, the good and the bad. We'll share it all (pending Amber's approval) complete with photos.

Here we go!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Two is Getting Closer

Her's a short paragraph from one of the possible stories in my second book, A Gathering Of Words - I've Been Thinkin'. If things go well the book should be available around Labor Day.

I was somewhere between being a kid and not being a kid as I sat in the company of nature resting in the once powerful arms of a great fallen Oak. I settled back, filled my lungs with the country's virgin air and slowly scanned the quiet beauty of an undisturbed natural world. I had been here many times before, but never alone, never so lonely. I lowered my head and closed my eyes in an attempt to chase the confusion from my mind. My eyes finally open and as I look to the ground I wondered, "Have other's been here or am I the first?" Yesterday was filled with something I thought had been love and those I thought were friends forever had moved on to another chapter. There had come a time to move on and somehow, I had missed it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Okay, Here's The Deal

It all began back in 1915 when Frank Merritt, the Chief Engineer for the Atchison Topeka And Santa Fe Railroad, was charged with the task of building a holding reservoir for water to supply steam engines on the nearby railway line, which ran 3.5 miles west of the lake at Bozar, just north of Goldthwaite, Texas. The lake would become know as Lake Merritt even though on some maps it is still shown as Brown's Creek, the creek that feeds into the lake. After the demise of the steam engine, the lake was sold to a private group of investors who purchased the lake as a recreational project, the Mills County Hunting And Fishing Club, whose members still own the lake and the surrounding land today.

Then back in the mid to late 1950's a young feller from Brownwood, Texas (yep, that's me) and his family began coming to Lake Merritt to join their kinfolks for the Burkett Reunion. My aunt and uncle, Della and Don Geeslin were members and owned a cabin on the lake and graciously provided an ideal place for the reunion. As a young kid I fell in love with Lake Merritt and the fishing, hunting, swimming, and skiing. My cousins Linda Gayle, Kent and Mark Geeslin along with our Mother's older sister La Juana's kids Mickey, Debby and David Ivy, would spend countless hours on and in the lake. The reunions continued at Lake Merritt on into the 70's and my cousins and I continued to attend along with our kids until the day came that there was no longer a Burkett Reunion, I'm not sure of the date.

I remember growing up and hearing my Dad speak of owning a place out in the country on a lake like Merritt sometime in the future. I also remember the delight of hearing of his dreams and hoping it would happen soon. It never happened for my Dad.

I too have had a dream since leaving home of having a place in the country, preferably on a lake or creek. I have dreamed of being back on Lake Merritt or a place of equal charm and serenity. I have always spoke openly of my wishes to anyone having a few minutes to listen.

Now retired and enjoying the gifts of shared family love and time, I have half heartedly spent a little time looking for a perfect piece of country to invest in. I love my family, my friends and the fun times associated with our present home and yes I love The Creek, even though it be of the man made variety. But I have grown tired of being faced with the real possibility of having a complete melt down just going out to purchase a loaf of bread.

A month or so ago, while promoting my book back home in Brownwood, I had a nice visit with my cousin Linda Gayle and one of her daughters, Shelley. I asked how the old lake (Merritt) was surviving in the drought conditions and they replied it was hanging in there but was about ten feet low. Half kidding I said if any of the lake folks get disheartened and decide to sell their piece of paradise, let me know.

Several weeks passed when I received a text from Shelley along with a photo she said she had just taken of someone sticking a for sale sign into the ground there at Lake Merritt with a phone number written on it. I immediately called the number and when the gentleman answered the phone I said that I was in the Ft Worth area and I understood he had his lake house for sale.

There was a pause, then a laugh and he said, "Who is this really and where are you?"

I told him again I was in Ft Worth and he again said, "Who is this, where are you hiding, you couldn't be in Ft Worth because I just put the damn sign in the ground forty-five seconds ago!"

I finally convinced him I was telling the truth and that some of my kinfolks had just walked by and took a picture of him and the sign. I asked if we could come look at the house and arrangements were made.  Of course I loved the place but, if this is possible, I believe Amber loved it more even considering the work it would take to make this lake house a home.

After weeks of offers and counter offers along with anticipation and the reality of potential disappointment, there was a hand shake, mounds of paperwork, an exchange of currency and a dream of a couple of generations came true.

Our dream consists of  a yellow (yellow looks better on a lake) lake house with a screened back porch that runs the length of the house on the lake side. It comes complete with a fishing pier, a nice work shop (for Amber), some of the grandest of trees and the crowning jewel, the lake itself. There are no paved roads within five miles of the house and folks get around on carts, four-wheelers or the old fashion method, walking. Goldthwaite, a beautiful town on its own, with a population of 1900 folks or so is about five miles away. Brownwood, my home town, is thirty minutes away. Mullin, the final resting place for my parents and many other loved ones, is about ten to fifteen minutes away.

So, that's what's been going on lately. There is a lot of work to be done, it looks like we will eventually sell our Burleson home of twenty-six years and thousands of hours of loving memories. It looks like 69 PR (Private Road) 109 with be home. I can't wait to share it with as many family members and friends as we possibly can. I will have to draw you a map, I don't think GPS understands "Turn right at the old fallen Mesquite Tree."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Good Day For Railroaders In Temple, Texas

It's always great to get back to Temple, Texas. We had a good day at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum, saw and visited with some old friends, signed books and met some new and interesting friends. It's a good place to be, railroad buff or not. The Museum now has a fresh supply of my book, A Gathering Of Words - A Train Of Thought complete with my signature. Drop by and tell Cynthia and the fine folks at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum I sent you by (Maybe they will still let you in).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Working On The Railroad" Family Day - Temple, Texas

I am pleased to announce I will be coming back to Temple, Texas on June 7th for the Railroad Family Day. I will be doing a little reading, answering questions and signing my book A Train Of Thought. We will be at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum from 11 am until 2 pm. I spent some of the best years of my railroad career in Temple and I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new friends. Spread the word, let's see how many folks we can get into old Santa Fe Depot in Temple, Texas.
Following is a press release with details of the event:

Working on the Railroad Family Day at the Railroad & Heritage Museum

(Temple, TX) –

Want to know about what goes on behind the scenes to keep the railroads running? Here’s your chance to find out! The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is hosting a “Working on the Railroad” Family Day on Saturday, June 7th from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. From everything to the tools and machinery, to the folks who actually work on the railroad, you’ll get the chance to see some of the things that go into keeping the railroad on track and on time. Visitors will also have the change to ride the museum’s barrel train and kid-friendly handcars.

Author and retired railroad worker, Terry Beck will be on hand to chat with visitors about his nearly 40 years working for the Santa Fe Railroad and to sign his book, “A Gathering of Words – A Train of Thought.” His book captures memories of an earlier time on the glorious Santa Fe. Besides his own exploits and lessons, the book is filled with recollections of some of the rich and colorful characters he encountered, including tributes to beloved mentors and colleagues.

The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum hosts a free Family Day event on the first Saturday of each month. Attendance at the event is free. Regular admission charges apply to view the rest of the museum. The museum is located in the Santa Fe Depot at 315 West Avenue B in downtown Temple. The museum is open 10am – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday.

For more information about this and upcoming Family Days at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, please call 254.298.5172 or