The Renaud traveling imperial caravan is on its way through Texas. Our final destination is San Antonio by way of Houston.
We started Monday off in Texarkana, Texas, where we had stayed the night before in a hotel. Before we took off on the rest of our trip, we wanted to get a quick photo in front of the town’s famous post office which straddles the Texas-Arkansas border.
Then it was time to head down to my old hometown Bullard, which is a small town south of Tylerin northeast Texas. I lived there in the mid 1980s when I was in kindergarten, first grade, and part of second grade. I have a lot of memories from that time and since it was on our way to Houston, i thought it would be fun to stop by and show the girls our old house.
Here’s the house. The subsequent owners made some changes, the most notable of which is a second story above the garage. Otherwise the house looks much like I remember it, though the yard seems a little more wild.
Once upon a time, my dad built us a treehouse in the backyard. It no longer exists, but I looked for it just in case.
This sandy spot is the remains of a place in the yard I always called “the beach.”
The best part of our stop was dropping in on one of our neighbors from the old days (and surprising him). We had a great time swapping stories and visiting.
Wednesday we shaved Joseph’s head, following our family’s Bolivian tradition. We did it outside to avoid making a big mess in our rental home. Joseph was a pretty good sport about it and held his head fairly still. Keep reading to see a video.
This is day five of the Renaud Empire in exile. Or maybe we could call it Operation Expand Our Borders. Or maybe we could just say day five of “vacation” in the “Renaud Empire Southeast.”
However you look at it, things are going fairly well.
The girls like the rental home. It’s bigger than our own place, with lots of room to play. I have seen them use a hall closet as if it were a little playhouse. Yesterday Jadzia and Ludi were out in the fenced backyard playing by themselves. Jadzia found an empty birds nest on the ground under some shrubs, which she thought was really cool.
We have visited the nearby park twice. It’s just a quick walk, and the girls really love it.
At this point, our main inconveniences have been:
Getting Channel 9 (KETC) on the TV. We don’t watch a lot of live TV, but when we do it is usually PBS. But KETC just wouldn’t come in. Yesterday I had a breakthrough and I hope we have figured it out. (it involved rearranging all the living room furniture).
No Internet for a week. AT&T can’t get us going any faster than that. My old dialup took less than an hour to start, and Charter can get you going the same day. But AT&T still has by far the best price for broadband, so I guess I’ll wait.
missing kitchen tools. We’ve bought a few and pretty much have most of the essentials now.
As far as the Renaud Empire headquarters home goes, we are in waiting mode. We have been meeting with the contractor and an architect, and hope to have plans ready soon. Ferguson has to review them before they will let us even begin demolition. It could be 2-3 weeks away, which is frustrating. But we’ve got to keep our eyes on the end result, which will be a greatly improved house. That keeps us motivated.
I pulled up to our house this morning and found my insurance adjuster around the back. He was climbing what remained of our tree, snapping photos of the broken kitchen. Our tree guys had cleared away much of the oak yesterday and liberated our home of its trunk.
We pored over every detail. “How many windows did your sunroom have? Your house had hardwood floors throughout, right? How old is your roof?” He used debris and other evidence to figure out the dimensions of the sunroom, the number of windows, etc. I was surprised to learn our house had a shell of 4 inch cinder blocks, with plaster applied directly to the blocks. The brick was a veneer around the outside of that.
My contractor arrived and we went through the house. The adjuster took careful note of cracks in the walls. He found new cracks in the living/dining room, and certainly the massive cracks on the south wall of the girls’ room were substantially worse.
We opened the basement window and clambered down. (The adjuster complimented me on being limber. First time for everything) Same story down below: some suspicious new cracks. At a minimum the entire south wall and cinderblock foundation must be replaced.
But there’s the catch: At a minimum. There is a possibility they may decide to total the house, and we would build the entire thing anew.
The adjuster will give his assessment to State Farm and we will have to wait to find out what they decide. It could be a number of days before we know. If they total it, then we’ll need to move out all the furniture, etc. But if not, we can leave most of it in the front of the house.
One part of me is excited by the prospect of a new house. But it’s too early and honestly I don’t know what to think. I know there is a long road ahead. We will be displaced at least three months, but probably more like six. Will it affect our vacation plans? Will it be a giant headache?
There’s so much uncertainty. We are thinking and praying. And waiting.
Here’s a short video highlighting the damage done to our house.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: a huge tornado-producing storm swept across St. Louis. North County was hit particularly hard. Our giant oak tree in the backyard fell on our house. The sun room was destroyed, and much of the kitchen is collapsed.
The important thing is that we are all safe and sound. Yoli and the kids were home alone and I was at work, but they took shelter in the basement and were protected. Our neighbors helped them get out of the basement through a window.