The dutton family in houston, tx life and times of joey, holly, and ivy

I assumed Jose, our live-in Honduran helper, would be eager to help build the chicken house. He is usually eager to help with pretty much anything around the house. But I was very wrong. He was inexplicably irritated with the whole notion of building a chicken house. So much so that it was a problem right from the very start. It would be a couple of months before I finally discovered the reason why. He was mad that we were building a house for chickens and not for him! Whaaaaat?? I also discovered about that same time that he had a new relationship with a woman and was planning to get married. So he had one foot out of the door, and building a chicken house was not really conducive to any of his plans. So we were totally NOT in the same mind, and therefore we clashed from day one on constructing this house for chickens.


On May 15th, Holly bought the schematics, and we began working the next day. I hired a friend of Jose to help us get started. Luis is skilled at carpentry (well, more than Jose and I) and had lots of cool equipment such as a nail gun. So the 3 of us were able to get MUCH work done in one day. Still, it was super hot outside and by 2 o’clock and we were all exhausted. So we called it a day.

Over the next couple of weeks, Jose and I continued to work on the chicken house, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. One day we clashed so hard that we both just dropped our tools and walked away. We didn’t talk again for a few days. We managed to work together again one more time….but this time when we clashed, there was yelling and arguing…and I finally found out what he was ACTUALLY irritated about. He was mad that we were spending money on a chicken house, instead of spending that money to build a better shelter for him. Then I also learned that he had a relationship growing on the side with an American (nationalized) woman who was going to marry him. Luis was actually his future son-in-law (his girlfriend’s daughter’s husband).

One day, after a nasty conflict with Jose, I told him to just pack his junk up and move out. He actually agreed. So on July 28th (day after my birthday) he began moving into a new apartment with his girlfriend. Even THAT went sideways as there was a guy who pulled out a gun ….and police came …and a person arrested. The 29th was spent mostly dealing with the emotional aftermath of that contentious night. But, Sunday the 30th, we completed the move. He was moved out. Honestly, it was weird to me. Having someone live with us for 3 years, and then suddenly he is gone… it was unpleasant. Not a happy ending. It would take some adjusting.

Meanwhile, I finished the chicken house enough so that the hens could walk around in it. It has been slow and boring. And unbearably hot (temps in the upper 90’s, sometimes 107 heat index). Honestly, I didn’t have any motivation or desire to complete it. But, I finally pushed through and got the chicken house done enough that chickens could actually live, eat, and roost. Soon, hopefully, lay eggs, too.

Edmund had two sons – Peter and Hugh. Hugh is my great grandfather, while Peter is the Bush’s great grandfather . The genealogy gets confusing right here become BOTH Hugh and Peter had sons named John. Whaaaat? Why did they do that? I don’t know. But John #1 is my great grandfather, while John #2 is George Bush’s great grandfather. Here is the straight line from GWBush to John Dutton #2, and here’s the straight line from us (Ivy and myself) to Edmund Dutton, our main intersection with the Bush family.

And back in the present day and time, I just made this little map showing where we live in relation to George and Barbara Bush in Houston. They live about 5 miles from our house, and just right down the street from where Holly works (she could probably see their house from one of the upper floors in her building). I drive through there frequently as I go to the YMCA, so it is a familiar territory for me, although it is a very wealthy neighborhood and some of it is gated. Coincidentally, this is the same neighborhood that Lady Gaga rented a house for $10,000 as she stayed and performed during SuperBowl 2017. I wonder if she waved hello to her neighbors George and Barbara?

Okay, so in December of 2016, Holly decided she needed to buy a dog. She wanted another min-pin. I knew from our last min-pin, Fifi, that this particular breed was high-strung, kind of bitchy, and has some serious eating issues (as in eats fast and furious and waaaay too much). So I was not at all enthused with getting another min-pin, although by the end of her time with us (about 6 years, I think) she had become a very nice addition to the family. She, in fact, followed and obeyed me better than any of the other dogs. Still, I strongly urged Holly not to get another min-pin. It’s a LOT of work. But Holly being Holly, she lunged ahead in her headstrong ways and order one. She picked her up in Oklahoma on our way back from visiting family in Arkansas.

Immediately, the difficult process of ramming a square peg in a round hole began. She was a mess and crapped anywhere and everywhere. I was literally picking up poop every single day, and sometimes twice per day. She barked wildly at anything…I mean anything…that walked by the house, flew over ahead, or crept into the yard. She would repeatedly escape from the yard as well, forcing me to have to constantly patch up a new hole she had found/created. The destruction also began as she began chewing and destroying any object within reach of her mouth. She also ate like a starving wild hog. Now I had to monitor food, too, in order to keep her from eating the other dog’s food, as well as overeating (like min-pins do) and getting fat.

It didn’t take long for my stress level to tap out. After about 2 months, I finally had it. I told Holly, “I’m sorry, I just don’t like your dog at all. She’s an asshole!” I was mad that Holly and rammed this creature into our lives with all of its stress and unpleasantly. I seriously wanted to get it out of our house and lives. Of course, Holly responded with the typical defiant/dismissive I’m-not-gonna-change attitude and let the dog remain. However, she did begin to try a little harder to clean up after the dog, as well as take her to obedience classes.

Long story short, Penny has slowly…very very slowly…began to chill out and fit into the home. I found a coping mechanism during this time by tossing out some passive-dismissive snobbery of my own and sending Holly a ‘report’ every time Penny did something bad (which was almost every single day). But my evil plan at sneering Penny away into obscurity backfired as the reports began to get funny. We even invented the flag-phrase ‘dammit penny’ to say the dog has done something bad/annoying again.

But you can also see how Penny has slowly improved. Now, 1 year later, Penny is clearly more mature and obedient. She no longer escapes from the yard. She doesn’t (often) chew things up. She still barks and nips at people, but even that is improving as she is obviously figuring out how to play with humans. She played very well with the neighbor kids last week when they were here. So I guess Penny will be okay in time. It will be take awhile. She actually jumped up on the bed and laid down on my lap for the first time ever a few days ago. Progress!