THE SCENE: 4:00 AM on the first night spent in the Creek House. Tonja and Scooter are walking through the backyard…taking care of business.
THE TEMPERATURE: 38 degrees…a blizzard by South Alabama standards…
Because I have empathy for helpless creatures, I pulled myself out of a deep sleep so that I could take Scooter out for a comfort break.

We have no fence yet. This is a source of extreme irritation to me. Why do we not have a fence when we have been building this house since February and every one involved knew we must have a fence? The builder was not responsible…and the architect was not responsible. I was not responsible…and Alex was not responsible. That leaves one other adult who was responsible. Or irresponsible, as the case may be. The logistics and other preparations for the hot tub, which this person was also responsible for, were all seen to with much haste. The fence fell by the wayside. But, I’m not bitter…much. Because, without a fence, Scooter, who was born to run, will. And, he won’t stop until he’s exhausted. And he may be 14 years old, but he has not slowed much. So…he has to be taken out on a leash for the time being. He has to be taken out on a leash into the deep, dark woods that is our backyard. And, especially in the middle of the night, and most all other times, actually…if Alex is not able…I am the designated leash holder.

OK, back to our story. This was the first night, and Scooter was already freaked out about being in a new place. Nothing smelled familiar to him. By the time, he and Alex were able to come over…it was already dark. So he couldn’t even see where he was. I went to get him, and out we went. Of course, if you are a dog, you must be sure every inch of a new place has been sniffed before you feel comfortable enough to ‘let go’. So, every inch was sniffed, with me following behind…going round and round the trees because he kept getting tangled up and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get him to go back around. And it was cold. And, I am not sure there are not bears back there yet myself. Finally, he was reassured,nature took over, and we could go back in. However, instead of following in a straight line close behind me, as any smart dog would do…he veered off to the left. I turned around just in time to see him walk right into the POOL!

OH! MY! GOODNESS! His little eyes about bugged out of his head, and his little paws were paddling for all he was worth. I was not about to jump in and get him. It was COLD…and it was the deep end! So I pulled on the leash, to aid his paddling. When he got to the edge, I had to lean down and haul him out of the pool…causing much water to adhere itself to my body…and it was COLD! Of course, what is a dog going to do when he is wet? Right…shake…and shake…and shake…all over me…because I was still holding on to the leash.

We got inside and I called Alex to get up! “Bring towels,” I yelled. “Why?” he asked. Not the best time for him to go questioning his mother. “Just get towels…lots!” I yelled again. “Where are the towels?” he asked. And, I realized right then that I had no idea where the towels were. Only that they were in a box and the box was in the house…somewhere. Luckily, we found Alex’s new set of towels for his bathroom. New…never been washed…not very absorbent.

Once Alex woke up well, he saw the water on the floor. “Mamma, get that water off the floor! Daddy said water will ruin them! Get it up! Wipe it up!” he cried. And, that posed a dilemma, my friends…the dog or the floor. The wet, old, smelly, cold dog…or the brand new, gleaming hardwood floors. The dog won. Quickly throwing towels over the wet floor, I started rubbing Scooter to dry him off and warm him up. Alex could still be heard, yelling, “Get the water off the floor…Don’t let Daddy know they got wet. They are going to be ruined!” This is where I yelled back, “Just get yourself out of bed and come help me.” And he did. He took over the dog drying duty while I went to work on the floor. I knew there was not enough water to ruin them, but Alex was about to have a coronary!

And we spent the next 30 minutes or so, furiously rubbing the dog. Bless his heart, he was still just a shivering. Finally, he crawled over to the rug and lay down and drifted off to sleep…still shivering occasionally. Alex and I sat for a few minutes on the couch, then he went back to bed. I went to the couch, and spent the next hour gazing at the trees, watching the sky turn from black to grey and finally to a cloudy white. I never did see the sun that day, and it stayed cold and damp all day.

But, it was in those moments alone, in the studio, everyone safe and sleeping, dry and warm, that I realized there will be as many memories to be made here as there were in our previous home. The place is not important…it really isn’t…it’s the people who we surround ourselves with that cause a place to feel homey. It is the everyday accidents and regular living that takes place, that causes a building to become a holder of memories. It is the love and care and concern for each other (and the dog), that causes a place to become warm and cozy and safe and welcoming. It is the living that turns a house into a home.