Creating an Urban Homestead

Posts tagged “The Okey Dokey Ranch

You Ought to Be in Pictures


Picture Party – Images by Christine Prichard

We hosted a multiple photo session bonanza at The Okey Dokey Ranch last week. Foul weather forced us into the garage; we had hoped to do an outdoor shoot. But we managed to get some fun and unique images anyway. Flash was a wonderful assistant, right-hand man and post-production whiz. Marley and Avery even got into the spirit by entertaining young and old while we shot, and shot, and shot.

A big thank you to the families, and especially the children we photographed–you were the best!

I’m posting some of my favorites here. Don’t you just love the sepia and hand-colored versions?

Funds raised from this shoot were donated to Alabama Waldorf School.


Life is But a Dream—or Maybe Just a Big Bowl of Soup

Nothing like the holidays to bring back memories of holidays past. Former lives within this life haunt me—so many moments and people that are now gone forever. They are real in my mind but elusive as a dream.

Life is so much more fluid than I ever knew. My mind keeps bumping into the people of the past as I cherish time spent with people of the present.

“Their souls are in the halls of my mind,” says Flash of his dearly departed. I know what he means. (more…)


No whining, Mr. Crabbedy

Call it blending of the minds, the synergy of creative forces, or just plain bad hearing, but Flash and I came up with a nearly perfect way to describe Avery’s less-than-charming side.

In a word: “crabbedy.”

As I was getting breakfast ready under a fog of Benadryl and lack of sleep, Avery asked me one of his standard morning questions: “Am I staying for nap today at school?” Unfortunately for him, the answer was “yes.” So I cringed, waiting for the whining, pleading, and stomping onslaught to begin.

“I HATE NAP!!!!!” Avery screamed, only the preamble to a verbal tirade that I endure on a daily basis. Why he does this, I’m not sure. It is rare, if ever, that I give into this type of behavior.

To be fair, I know nap time is hard for Avery. He rarely falls asleep anymore and is forced to lay on his cot for at least an hour while much of the rest of the class sleeps. This is very difficult for a boy of Avery’s energy level, and I feel for him. I’m amazed that they can even get him to lie down, really. (more…)


Patterns

So much has happened at The Okey Dokey Ranch in the past month, it is hard to know where to begin.

Suffice it to say, the long-awaited arrival of Flash has more or less taken place. He keeps saying things like “when I get here,” as if he hasn’t moved in yet.  (I don’t think he considers himself “here” until the house is arranged to his liking; we’re not there quite yet, I am told.) Yet it seems like he’s here to me.  Much of his stuff is here.  And he’s rearranged so much of our living space, I feel disoriented in my own home.  Yet grateful.  Things had gotten pretty chaotic around here.  And this guy has the perfect combination of obsession and organizational skills to tackle things like building shelving and rearranging furniture and CDs until things make more sense.  (more…)


Spirit phones and homegrown tomatoes

Sometimes malaise sneaks up on me, and other times it follows a more predictable path. As cliché as it might sound, today’s bout of blues definitely seems related to the fast-approaching 2nd anniversary of Mike’s death (Sept 13).

I’ve found no good way defend myself against the pain. It comes uninvited.

I am haunted by a past that is gone and a future that no longer exists. It began in the relative quiet of Labor Day after Flash, CC, and her kitten Casey departed from The Okey Dokey Ranch after spending a raucous and rainy but fun Saturday and Sunday here.

This afternoon, Marley went to Tannehill State Park with her friend Bella, which left me alone with Avery. The boy has been quite wild all weekend—a draining surprise after he acted disarmingly docile and charming Friday afternoon after school. By Monday afternoon I was, shall we say, finding it difficult to appreciate Avery being anywhere near me. I really just wanted to be alone with my thoughts. (more…)


Down under The Okey Dokey Ranch

If you want to fail miserably, try raising two children by yourself. It doesn’t take long to realize that no one is capable of succeeding at this endeavor. I somehow allow myself to forget this from time to time. Indeed, it’s probably how I remain sane.

But reality always returns, and it stings. Rediscovering life as a single parent is a trying and lonely affair–especially after a travel-induced period of giddy denial filled with grandparents and cousins who gladly watch your children while you chum with old friends.

But now we are home and it is back to reality again. Manning The Okey Dokey Ranch with the help of only a seven year old (no matter how precocious) and a five year old can get downright depressing in short order.

Although Marley started school two days after our return from Minnesota, Avery did not. So I had to bring him on all of my home renovating errands–a major drag for both of us.

Combine that with absolutely no freedom to exercise or adults to talk to and, voila! You have the perfect ingredients for a mental breakdown. I spend most of a sunny Saturday in bed crying.

But miraculously, Sunday was a glorious day, despite heavy rains.

Marley and I made a batch of muscadine jelly. I made a chicken dinner. And Flash stayed overnight, tipping the household vibe into positive territory.

The boys joust in the man cave.

The boys joust in the man cave.

He set up a “painting zone” in the basement, now under heavy construction (click here to see the vid of Flash doing his thing), which will eventually house his personal space and occasionally his daughter CC and along with them our newly-formed household.

The fabled blended family.

Anyway, Flash thought it would be fun for the kids to paint the floors and walls before he completed the rooms. So fun that he joined them. He started painting words on the walls and saying that he was “channeling,” which made me flash back to a time nearly two years ago when me, my mother and my dear friend Suzanne Kilpatrick painted similar words on the walls of the basement following Mike’s accidental death in the man-cave.

Suzanne felt that writing positive, loving words on the walls would help cleanse the space and help us heal. We did this, and about a month later, I knocked down the walls on which we wrote and painted the remaining walls blue. Suzanne also said she saw the corner of the basement eventually becoming the creative hub of the house.

I distinctly remember thinking “never.”

But now it is becoming just that. And somehow, Flash just knew it. So, on that rainy day, I joined him and the kids and painted a bit, too. And finally, things felt like a nice Sunday at home with my family.

Thanks, Flash. I love you more than you could know.

Marley paints the subfloorMarley paints the subfloor
Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.

Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.


Another green renovation (nearly) complete!

It’s been a long, difficult labor, but the house I’ve been renovating at 4022 5th Avenue is 98% finished. And I’m such a proud parent! You have got to see the before and after photos.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

(more…)


New Digs

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Have I talked about how much I love my new office?

I always knew the house at The Okey Dokey Ranch was too small for us from the day we made an offer on it back in 2004. Mike and I always had plans to finish the basement, and later, just before he died, we were about to put an offer on a commercial building to house our businesses in, which would have helped the not-quite-enough-space-in-our-house issue.

So for almost two years after his death, I continued to work in cramped quarters. Marley and Avery shared a bedroom, and things were crowded, but that was the least of my problems.

Enter Flash. He came, assessed, and decided that what I really needed was a new home office. And a slip and slide. (Flash built one at The Asylum last year.) It’s all on video, check it out at:

The Red Mountain Express

Then he announced The Plan: enclose and finish off my screened in back porch and it would become my office. Then Avery could move into my old office and Marley would have her own room.

Instant Nirvana.

“Wow,” I thought, “all this meditating and yoga that I’ve done, and the true secret to happiness is building a new office and giving the kids their own bedrooms. Why have I been wasting my time?”

As soon as the kids and I left for NM, Flash was on it, tearing down the back porch. He spent much of the month of July working long hot days to finish off the space before the kids got home. It took until the final weekend of kid-free living, but he finished construction and I finished painting and we moved everyone’s things to their respective spaces. Between his work ethic and building skills and my color schemes (which I honed trial-and-error from the dozen houses I’ve renovated in the past few years), the room looks downright smashing.

For those who are wondering, my new favorite green paint graces the walls: Independent Gold from Sherwin Williams. I used flat no VOC Harmony Paint. Good stuff. No harmful fumes.

Now the office is a draw for young and old alike. The chaise in the corner next to the three giant picture windows is a magnet for young nappers, wine sippers, and midnight bloggers. I am going to make it my mission to figure out how to make a living sitting in this chair with my laptop.

I told Flash that everyone who comes to visit is drawn to my room. An absolute people magnet. “Just wait until I get my hands on the rest of your house,” he said. But the slip and slide? Alas, I think we’re going to have to wait until next summer to enjoy that. He’s got the basement to tackle now.

Need a project done around your house? Call now and book a few months in advance. This man is in demand.


Bio

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As recently as 2005, I was a gainfully-employed photojournalist making top-scale union wages, living with my husband Michael Prichard, 2 children, one dog, one cat, and several gardens in a 1950’s -era ranch house in Birmingham, Alabama.

We were vegetarian, but ate like royalty; Mike was a genius in the kitchen–ask anyone who ever dined with us.

Then I got laid off and started two businesses with Mike.

In 2007, we were on course to make more money doing media work and renovating houses than we ever did working for the man. Things were looking pretty peachy.

Then Mike electrocuted himself in the grow room (yes THAT kind of grow room), and I was thrust into the world of single parenthood in the blink of an eye. (more…)


The Honeymoon is Over

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Single momdom has hit me square between the eyes today.

Kids home from NM.

Flash has flown the coop, after more or less living at The Okey Dokey for a month while the kids were with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Yet he came by with hugs and kisses as he retrieved his drum (playing with Gene and Zack tonight), his Bluetooth charger, his blue shortie bath towel that he Velcros around his sexy hips when he’s feeling modest. Or chilly.

Guess he’s out of here for a while. Shit. (more…)


Farewell, friends

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“I never thought this day would come,” said Marley, right. Her best friends Veronika and Yan packed up and moved to New York. Their family and ours along with other friends spent the morning in our kitchen packing food, eating, telling stories, while the kids watched a DVD together. Such a sad ending to a Mayberry-like relationship with our sweet neighbors Anton, Lena, Yan and Veronika. They were there during the worst time in my life and I’ll be forever grateful for their love and friendship over the past two years.

(more…)


okey dokey here we come

It feels like (and is) the next big chapter in my life. Flash has built me a beautiful light-filled office on what used to be the back porch, and the kids have seperate rooms to come home to tomorrow.
I came home from a party just now thinking I’d cut the grass and Flash beat me to the punch. He’s already out there slogging away, so I sneaked in the office (which has giant windows overlooking the back 40), grabbed my laptop and brought it into the kitchen to get in a quick blogging entry.
We’ve given my (our) house a name. Flash’s house on southside was given the name “The Asylum” years ago. One night he casually asked what we are going to name my (our) place. I blurted out “The Okey Dokey Ranch.” We both laughed and I promptly forgot about it.
A few days later, Flash said that he really liked the name I gave our house. He had to remind me of the name. Much easier than naming a child. Though I feel like The Okey Dokey in some strange way IS and will be our child. Our big creation together. (more…)