Did you start singing Todd Rundgren’s Hello It’s Me when you read that post title? I hope you did. Isn’t it such a great song? Big thanks to the Sex and the City Reboot, And Just Like That for reminding me of how much I loved that song. Have you watched it yet? If not, I suggest you get on it. Better yet, I suggest you start with the original series, followed by both movies and then watch the reboot. That’s what we did and it was just magical watching it all again.
So anywho, hi friends. Been a minute, huh? It’s only been one year and four months since I’ve written a post. I know, pathetic, right? So what happened? Life. You know how it goes. It’s funny because about a year or so after my daughter was born, I realized that when people asked how we were, my answer was consistently “busy.” I realized busy was our new normal. And then I bought a building, opened a store, started an AirBnB, bought another building, working on a new store and well that took “busy” to a whole other level. So, what got put on the backburner? This blog. I’ve told myself for months that I need to dedicate one day a week to this little piece of the internets, but has that happened? Nope, not until today. And why did it probably happen today? Well, because about four weeks ago I broke my leg.
And since I seem to insist on going over the top in just about everything, my first broken bone was no exception. Two plates and 14 screws later, I’m in a boot for quite a while and non-weight bearing on that leg for at least a few more weeks. And how did this happen? I was going to feed cattle, the wind caught a gate I was going to close and instead of just walking to the gate (like a normal person), I decided to do some sort of little jog/shuffle/who in the hell knows, slid wrong and boom, leg broken. But as I told my aunt while we were sitting in the ER, what this really was was a “Jenna Needs to Slow Her Ass Down Accident.” I was going a hundred miles an hour that morning with a long list of things I was hell bent on checking off and the good Lord decided he was going to teach me a lesson about slowing my ass down. And he did. Lesson learned. And you know what happened? You find out that the lists will still be there to check off tomorrow and most importantly, just how many people are in your corner and will come to your rescue. My girls at Local Depot have taken care of anything and everything there. My aunt has deemed herself the AirBnB manager and both her and Grunt have taken care of countless other things having to do with Local Depot and the new store we were working on when all this happened. Not to mention, getting me anything I could ever need. And the Circus went into full nurse mode, taking care of whatever I needed and getting real pissed when her Dad doesn’t put my meds back beside the labels she made to organize them all. I hope everyone has a village like mine. Because they are truly the best and I can’t imagine what this past month would have been like without them.
So what’s happened during this year+ blogging hiatus? A lot. More than I can even begin to write about and some I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write about. Not without a whole lot of whiskey in me and a box of tissues anyway.
I have no idea where to start, so I’ll start with the easy stuff I guess. Local Depot is still going strong. At the beginning of 2021, I became full owner of the store. The vendors we have at LD are absolutely amazing. I am so lucky to have them there. From the beginning, my goal with LD has always been to bring something good home to the people of Dunlap and my vendors help me do that everyday.
This is a shot of the storefront from around Valentines Day. We asked all of the kindergarteners from the local elementary school to color a heart with their name on it for our windows. Isn’t it the most precious thing you ever saw? If you want to see more from Local Depot, you can follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.
The AirBnB above Local Depot is all finished and has been on AirBnB since around June of last year.
We call it the Loft at Local Depot. It’s all “studio style” complete with a king bed, two bunk beds, a living area, full kitchen and of course, bathroom.
We’ve been fortunate to host some great guests! And while it is definitely something you have to work at, I will say that it has been less stressful than I thought it would be. You can see more of the Loft here.
And then I bought another building last year!
This is totally a picture of a picture because I don’t have a single picture of the exterior of this building on my phone. So this building is home to the Bouffant Beauty Salon on the left, where the one and only Anna Faye Heard has been doing hair for 60 years. The building was originally two separate buildings. In older pictures you can even see the different rooflines. There is only one door between the two buildings on the inside. The Bouffant will be staying right where it is, but the back part of the other side is now home to Grow in Grace Dance Studio (so proud of my Zoe girl!) and the other part is where we’re putting in another store – Johnson’s 7.
Grunt always tells me that I have to tell people my “Why” behind all my ideas. There’s a lot of “Whys” behind J7. Like LD, I want J7 to be something good for Dunlap and its people – the hardworking folks like my family who have been in that valley for generations. Johnson’s 7 will be centered around the small town, rural, farm crowd.
A big “Why” though for J7 is my Uncle Lynn. My Uncle Lynn always had so many ideas for Local Depot and what could be done with the Bouffant building. He would sit at the end of the counter at Local Depot, I would be pricing things or stamping bags and he would be spouting off idea after idea. He died this past December. There’s nothing in life that prepares you to be without the one person who always had the answers you needed, who was your safety net and so much more. I don’t think I could put into words how it really feels, but its like the world fell out from under me and I was on an island, completely lost. Earlier this year, it became clear what I should do with the Bouffant building – take all of Uncle Lynn’s ideas and then some and create a store for folks like us. We’ll have freezer beef from our farm available to purchase, as well as all the sauces and rubs to go with it, leather goods, a retro soda and candy section, t-shirts for the rural crowd, cigars (definitely an Uncle Lynn idea) and much more. The goal was to be open by October, but with the broken leg, it may take a little longer. You can follow Johnson’s 7 on Facebook here. And if you’re wondering how we came up with the name, Johnson’s 7, well, Johnson is my family’s last name, my maiden name. The “Johnson” you see in the logo is actually my Pap’s signature, just bolded and an “‘s” added to it. The “7” is what my family used to brand on our cattle. The notch in the 7 nods to how we tag our cattle now – a notch in their ear.
To be completely honest, the past eight months have been the hardest of my entire life. There have been many afternoons leaned up against a headstone waiting for all the answers to come to me that he would have had. There’s been a lot of screaming alone. There have been countless times where I’m plastering on a smile and sunglasses over red, teary eyes in the car rider pickup line. But there have also been times when we know he’s right there. Like when the exact cow you needed goes right into the lot by itself. And sometimes he’s still around causing mischief. Like on the day of his funeral when the cattle were running through the cemetery and when the horse took off galloping down the road and I was sure I’d get a call from the Sheriff saying the horse was crossing the main highway.
But, the show must go on, right? And so, we try to remember all the tricks the Boss taught us and do something that makes him proud.
We made it through another year of sweet corn. As Aunt Sherry and I have both said, I’m glad to see it in the ground and growing, but even more glad when it’s all picked and sold!
These Hereford mamas are still eating right out of our hands…
And Grunt has added a few new ones to the herd as well. Earlier in the spring, we had some friends over to the farm and all the kiddos got up close and personal with the cattle.
And also, in the past year or so….
We had a great 4th of July – my favorite day of the entire year.
Hee Haw returned to Dunlap this year!
The local Cancer Support Network in our town does an annual show of Hee Haw to raise money. Because of COVID, the show wasn’t able to happen for the last couple of years, but this year, we got to do it again! It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.
We took a trip to Savannah last summer and we all had a ball. The Circus discovered virgin Frozen Daiquiris and hasn’t stopped asking for them since.
We went to see Garth in Nashville last summer, but it got rained out….
But we did get to see Eric Church and George Strait in Atlanta last fall, which was amazing. It was also the Circus’ first encounter with Port-A-Potties and let me tell you, it was an experience.
We were visited by both Beetlejuice and Maleficient last Halloween. And y’all – I can’t wait to show you her Halloween costume for this year. Fingers crossed that she sticks with the same character she’s been saying she’ll be for the past few months.
And last Saturday, I successfully made it to the top of the hill to feed the cattle without breaking a bone. Of course, Grunt was the one feeding the cattle, not me. And we took it nice and slow. Like the good Lord intended.
I hope all of you out there are doing well! Please drop me a comment below and let me know what you’re up to!