It’s been a while.. we’ve been “investing in infrastructure” since we last met. Lee coined that phrase when I told him that people probably thought our business was going under. The woodworking has been on the minimal side. He said, “let’s tell them we’ve been investing in infrastructure."
“Infrastructure” to include approximately eleven cats. For all the cat lovers, or those that are just cat-curious, due to following this cat shit show (literally); we have managed to get ten of our feline friends spayed or neutered, and have found homes for four of them. I know you are doing the math..yes, that leaves us with seven.
I brought Littlest Dave’s siblings home, all five of them, after their vet appointment, over my husband’s objections. They were being bad at the shop- causing mayhem like a little troop of destroyers. Littlest Dave was our first, our OG, we had to nurse her back to health at the tender age of four weeks. We found her in a corner of our wood shop covered in fleas, sawdust, and near death. Due to this she lived at our house from the beginning; we nicknamed her “The Terror” and “Bloodbath”. Our scars are fading, but the flashbacks are still vivid. She’s been much better since she has friends to take her angst out on. The others are little lover babies.
For an involuntary cat owner, Lee looks supper cute with all of them. Click on the pictures and they revolve.
LD’s kitten siblings are Cat Stevens, Elton Paw-n, Conway Kitty, and Ziggy Furdust. Elton Paw-n went to a wonderful home, as hard as it was for me to let him go, but it was one of those magic moments because the new family was perfect for him. The Mom, Momma Dave, still lives at the shop (happily). Although, she does like to bite Kendell and sit in her lab and sink her claws into her thighs.
I tried to bring Momma Dave home, over my husband’s objections, but she got “stress colitis,” which in layman terms means she had projectile diarrhea (all over our upstairs). Back to the shop she went.
We had a second pregnant Momma move into the shop (without our permission); we really need to amp up security. We named her Momma Black Mom-ba. She’s a stealthy little snake. She had three kittens (that we found) and they were feral with a capitol F. I brought them home after their vet appointment, over my husband’s objections. I thought I would never catch them again if not. Their names are Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Loretta Lynn. My friend Lynnsey, a beautiful hero, took them to join her other barn cats. The update she gave me is that they are basically serial killers who want no human interaction whatsoever. When they were at my house they hid in a closet and only came out in the cover of darkness.
I’m still trying to catch a black fluffy male we’ve named Bull Daddy, he’s elusive.
When we got MBM spayed, I took her to the shop after, and that’s where she lives. I’ve nicknamed her Daddy’s Girl because she loves Lee. Love might be pushing it. In reality, she just likes to sit in his lap by the wood stove.
Side note, Kendell and I are SEVERELY allergic to cats. We take Zyrtec everyday. So, when you say, how can you have cats in your shop? People are allergic? We are living this. I’m very sorry, but they moved in without our permission and we couldn’t stomach taking them to the shelter. Sometimes in life, things land on your doorstep, in our case quite literally, and you do the best you can.
Around the same time Durham Downtown Cat Colony began, a beagle mix jumped onto the porch of the shop, like that was the place he had been searching for, and I scooped him up. We already had a nine year old white German Shepherd named Scout, so Boo Radley “Brad” came to be. He is a terrible dog. He has to wear a GPS on his collar, that we have to pay a monthly plan for, like a cell phone! When he gets out of our yard he takes off like he’s headed for Florida. He has chewed much of the dry wall off one wall in our bedroom, which we were remodeling before we started working at the shop. He chewed one side of a cabinet, as far as he could reach, it’s gone. Not to mention, the many shoes…. And our favorite- sometimes he just stares at us and barks until we relent and hold him like a baby. He’s such a sweet little guy. He came to us in bad shape, like all of them! He’s so happy to be with us, it’s adorable, and we do love him. But sometimes we hold each other and cry.
But let’s be real, all of these animals have cost us a small fortune, and we had to put an end to it, as much as possible. Kendell bought the little white house behind us, i.e. the place where all the cats were coming from. We were fed up. This all started because the tenants had two cats that weren’t spayed/neutered. Not to mention, one of those tenants allegedly started a fire at the apartments across the street.
The awesome thing about that purchase is that we have our friend Brittani renting it, she’s opened her pet grooming salon, Rebel Rebel Grooming Salon. Another infrastructure to invest in.. Although she and a group of friends did the bulk of the work. They took the ceiling out and Lee helped them redo it for a more open feel. The house is tiny, doing so really added something. #downtownbrandenburg #onedayatatime #investingininfastructure #rebelrebel #builddurham
We got the driftwood tree up, which let me tell you- that was a struggle. The tree is huge and its weight equals that of three small cows. Lee thought he would make the base himself, his talents are vast, but this task ended up being beyond his scope. We asked Chris Stallings, who is one of our artists, to build us a base; it turned out perfect. I had to help Lee lift the tree into the base, and we had to sand, chisel, and beat it into submission. Lee built the shelves around it and used recycled copper pipes for supports. He ruined my iron and iron board cover when he used them to steam the trim pieces to allow for the curves in the shelves. He has a lot of ingenuity, I’ll give him that.
The above picture is to show the before of the corner where the tree is, but it also shows what Downtown looked like the time the apartments across the street caught fire!
I decided that we needed a parachute ceiling, so I directed Kendell to make one. I should note that I have no actual artistic or creative talent, and I mostly just boss everyone around. We got more signs made, “We’re All Mad Here” was a collaboration between Danthia Gardner and Becky Frazier (Farmhouse Friends). “Think Happy Thoughts” Becky did on her own. We’re always trying to add things to improve the vibe, and make it more magical around here. I can’t brag on Becky enough- her work is impeccable and is a big hit at the store, not only that, she takes the time to do signs for us when we ask.
Kendell also did a Harry Potter Great Hall esque ceiling for Halloween, its still up.
For our next ceiling project, we commissioned Trish Carroll, who sells her crochet in our store, to make six umbrellas. They will hang in the other room. You ask, how do we come up with these ideas? Pinterest mostly!
Kendell has done a lot of painting in the last few months. Her and Lee collaborated to make the awesome “instagram” bull horns on the side of our building.
We are working on restoring a Durham’s Grocery sign that came from Mercer County, where Lee’s from. Our brother-in-law gave it to us. For Christmas I asked Becky to make Lee a sign, to look like the one that was at the entrance of his neighborhood growing up, “Riverview.”
We installed a wood stove, which has made a huge difference, Lee’s woodshop was always so much colder than the rest of the building, and it has provided a place to burn scraps.
Our biggest project has been building a kitchen/office in the back. The existing kitchen and bathroom were taken over by Lee’s woodshop. We had to take two coolers down, and I only watched, but it looked like a struggle. Stay tuned to see more of the finished product.
We opened on June 2nd and it has been a wild ride. We hosted “Downtown Branden-boo” along with other businesses in Downtown, which was a huge success in our view. We also hosted Christmas on Main, which was a season long Downtown celebration for the holidays. We helped with the Soap Box Derby during Riverfest. We have happily allowed Sunny & 75 Ice cream and Farmhouse Daughter Design’s use our parking lot. We were perplexed during Civil War days when reenactors busted into the shop and pretended to rob the place. We had Little Dave himself deliver lunch from the new Little Dave’s to the old Little Dave’s. We saw the American Queen visit our shores. We had a trunk show for Kimberly Phillips. We bought our grandmother’s Teal 2002 Chevy Venture Mini-van, the van has been a ride or die bitch for our family, so many memories, when my Mem wanted to sell it, we were in. So in, we had a professional photo shoot by Brianna Clemons.
The Durham name has made it far and wide in the form of t-shirt, sweatshirt, and hoodie sales. We are floored by this phenomenon. I was in Louisville and saw a complete stranger walking down the street in one of our t-shirts and it made me smile. I’ve had countless texts from people that mentioned a similar experience. Strangers striking up a conversation because they recognize the shirts while on vacation in Florida. The Bull has made it as far as London.
We’ve told our story the best we can. We’ve tried to include you, Brandenburg (and beyond), but sometimes it makes us, me especially, feel vulnerable putting ourselves out there. That’s why I haven’t written this blog in so long. I’m very proud of Kendell for her willingness to do so through her “shop talks,” which have turned her into a local celebrity. I felt more comfortable wearing sunglasses while Kendell was filming us for the video below. This video and the one below it, shows how far we’ve come. We aren’t going anywhere.
Please share, as I’ve promised my sister if we got 2,000 Facebook/Instagram followers I would get a bull head tattoo with her- live. NOT THAT I WANT TO DO THIS AT ALL, but I promised. #firsttattoo
I just wanted to do a public sappy shout out to my husband Lee who has stood by me, and has been the person I’m always searching for in a crowd, for the last eleven years. I say this because my “career” path has been difficult for me. I hesitate to talk about it, because it’s very personal and not exactly relevant, but we want those that follow and support us to have a real picture of our journey.
I quit my job as a Family Resource Coordinator on May 25, 2018. It was an incredibly hard decision as I was walking out of that building for the last time with no job lined up. We really didn’t have the income for me to do that. I want to say thanks to my husband and family for supporting me with this. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I was trying to TRUST that feeling, but I doubted myself for the eight weeks I was unemployed. I’m very thankful for the job opportunity that was offered to me on August 1st, an Assistant County Attorney position in Grayson county. Since then, I’ve picked up another county, Meade.
My previous work environment was extremely toxic and negative for me.
I’m glad I quit my first lawyer job, as working together was not the best for my relationship with my Dad. Furthermore, being an attorney in private practice was not for me, too many variables. If you are suffering from anxiety- you’re not alone.
I’m just as surprised, as I’m sure many of you are, that I’m back working as a lawyer. I don’t know what’s next for me, after this job ends, and that worries me some. As my income has really helped us get things accomplished. I’m a juvenile court prosecutor, and this is an emotionally taxing line of work that I don’t want to do forever. Lee says I should write a book- we’ll see. Doesn’t everyone think they can write a book?!
My sister, Taylor, has 19 days to go on her pregnancy, and to say we are excited to meet Lillian Sue is an understatement. #bossbabe #welcometothetribebabe She will not worry, she will be just fine, she will brave each new season one day at a time. (Thanks Becky).
Another exciting announcement, Lee’s sister Nikki is pregnant with baby number three!