When i bought the property, my friend M said, “Let me know what you need and i’ll do whatever would be most helpful.” She offered to help me move boxes into the house but as i explained to her, the house was under 400 square feet…there were never any boxes to move…just things driven over in an suv and only i knew where they were supposed to go anyways. I did however have an uber expensive dog house that i had no idea how to put together. The unassembled pieces were haunting me during my spare time and taking up space that i desperately needed for other things in the shed. M said she was game and we scheduled a day for her to come out and help me assemble a dog house. She drove all the way from the city to get to my property. I wished i could have given her a more thorough tour and let her experience the hill country with the wind chimes and the birds and the rocking chair, but we had work to do so we just got right down to it. I was pretty good with a drill but i could not make sense of the instructions if my life had depended on it. She was also stronger than i when it came to holding the pieces together while the screws went in. Whatever she wasn’t so great at came naturally to me and whatever i couldn’t do if i’d had a gun to my head, she knocked out like a piece of cake. It was really good to see her and i had fun figuring out how to put the dog house together with her. Thank God she was the one in charge of interpreting the instructions! She was pretty insightful about those things and if i had done it, we would have been there way past sundown and maybe on into the next day. Each piece we added to the puzzle, the thing started to look more and more like a house. There was one point when all 4 walls were up and i was sitting inside the little house with Sili, trying to get her used to the idea of being in it. I felt so encouraged that it was coming together and actually starting to look like a house. I felt so grateful to my friend M, because i had a lot of ideas, but i didn’t always have the know how to bring them to fruition, and this was one of those times i’d really gotten myself in over my head with hand written and drawn instructions from a couple who made these up north. I’d been holding onto the pieces for weeks because i knew i wasn’t going to be able to assemble the thing myself. Ikea sends a diagram with written instructions and pieces that have stickers that correspond with the labels in the diagram. This was a different animal entirely. I heard a lot of comments in town like “where’s your husband?” Or “you aint going to be able to keep that place without a man”. Popular belief was that you could homestead if you were a man, you could homestead if you were a couple, but you couldn’t homestead as a woman. This dog house had me in a tight spot where i was fixing to have to admit i couldn’t do something that a man could probably figure out. Although, several friends have since remarked to me that i’m just like a man in my inability to read and make sense of instructions that came with the box. My friend M donated her time, effort, and instruction deciphering skills to help me put this dog house together for Sili and any future sibling that we acquired for her. It was an important lesson for me. It was never about whether i was male or female or what the town folk would think of me if i admitted i couldn’t do something. It was about my skill-set, and hers. Some people are good at certain things and other people excel in different areas. I could never have built that dog house and figured out where the heater and a/c unit needed to sit for it to come together with a water-tight seal without her. Every time i look at it in the yard i remember putting it together with my friend M and how willing she was to give of her time and her effort. When i met her i was working in a psych facility. She volunteered her time to come play the guitar and sing for my patients each month because that was the skill-set she had to change the lives of myself and my patients for the better. I saw the grace of God change lives through her, in the church and out in the community. She was my mentor in many ways and a cherished friend. There was no-one i could talk so openly with about philosophical things and she made me think. She and her husband were two of the very small group of people i hoped to know life-long.