The Oleanders of San Leon

The Oleanders of San Leon


Author: Andy Upchurch



Did you ever think you would build your own house even though you have absolutely no skills in architecture or building? One determined man named Andy Upchurch shares his exciting experience with readers from start to finish as he takes us through the process of building his own house. An oleander is a flowering bush the author writes and you will find them in a rural area named San Leon. So, the author decided to use this flower as the name of his house that yes, you guessed it, that he built in San Leon. Explaining to the reader how you clear the path, mow the area and deal with the mosquitoes, you learn how he began his long project. But, first he allows the reader to get to know Andy the person by telling us about his childhood, his love for the piano, music, wind and the water. Practicing the piano was something he did but like any kid he would rather be outside. But, the piano would bring him more than just the ability to be part of music programs in school it would provide an outlet for him to have fun, make money and even create his own band. The second think that shaped his life is the wind. HE loved sailing and the water. In college he sailed with friends he loved sailing around the waters in Dallas and the fund they had was priceless. His music career was off to a great start and he was playing 12 to 14 times a week and saving money. But, a harsh reality set in and he realized that he needed a job where he could earn a real salary and make something of himself and have some stability. Why not a new career in software development and off to business school? With his feet firmly on solid ground his decision made but his love of the water equally as great he entered business school and bought a boat. Creating his own band at the Hoagie Ranch boosted his music career. Living on a boat which he named the Manana and just how he manages to live in a confined space on this boat you will have to learn when you read pages 37-40. The story continues with the author moving to Texas and describing his relationship with his boat and living on the water. Continuing with learning the rules of safety he even buys a Jet Ski, which he uses for fishing and exploring different places that a sailboat was too shallow for. But, before he tells us about how he built his house he continues with more adventures that you need to read for yourself and then shares how he lived on the boat for five years. When he realized he needed more room is when he began drawing his new home on paper. He wanted the house to have one large room to have multiple purposes. How about an all in one living room, bedroom, kitchen and enclosed bathroom. The way he describes it in detail on pages 64-65 and then he explains that you might say this is his practice house. Then, he would build a bigger one. But, once again he flashes back to his college years and his trip to Bermuda and seeing Chuck Berry and actually playing on stage with his band with Chuck Berry. Now, that must have been quite an honor and definitely quite exciting. Taking care of the cottage was first and then how do you build a house?


Persistent and definitely on a mission to get the job started and done the author meets with several bankers, is turned down by some and then receives an acceptance and is ready to move on with his project. Architect chosen, materials needed, and the land needing to be cleared he decided to settle in San Leon. Listen to his inner most thoughts and words as he beings clearing the land, his lawn mower at the heart of the project and hoping that the large amount of trees and jungle would begin to disappear. But, next time bring the Calamine lotion with you and put on bug repellent to avoid those nasty mosquitoes. The challenge was clearing all of the oleander bushes and just how he does it you can read on pages 96- 100. Forming his own construction company helped to organize him and allowed him to see where he needed to improve and where he might need some help. Realizing he formed the company to build his two houses he would offer: services in plumbing, roofing, landscaping, electric and much more. As you read Chapters 7-9 you can feel his excitement, the progress can be noted in the illustrations and the additional help he received from Chris and his carpenter named Gilberto.


Next, he tells how he went shopping for showers fully loaded with an MP3 player and sound system and much more. But, loan officers have no sense of human and he would lose the money and the loan if he did not complete the house on time. But, in the spirit of a true loan officer she wished him luck but hoped he’d finish in time before losing what he started and damaging his credit. The author really enjoys fishing and being on the water and you can enjoy his trips too when you read chapter 13 but let’s find out what caused his color conniptions in Chapter 14. As he contemplates the finishes, the wood and the many different colors and textures for the walls, and more. With the help of several other men he just might get it all done and in time. So, how does this all come together and does he finish on time? Wait until you see the kitchen and bathroom on pages 249-250. You won’t believe what this novice was able to accomplish. A checklist of all that needed to be done and the rest read the press release on page 259 and decide if you would have liked to have been invited to the party. The Oleanders of San Leon to learn just how this house turned out and what he was able to accomplish you need to read Chapter 16. But, Hurricane Ike struck the Oleanders and everyone in its vicinity and how he and his family handled what happened will remind you of what we just went through last week with Hurricane Sandy. The rebuilding and the rest you need to read and you have to give this author tons of respect and credit for wanting to accomplish something that most would have given up on at the first turn. Read the appendix and learn about the Flora and Fauna and learn about the mystery that comes with his house. Mistakes were made, measurements were off but one thing that held fast was his spirit of adventure and his determination to get it done.

Fran Lewis: reviewer


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