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It’s hard to even wrap my head around the struggle. What is breaking me most? The loss of my pets, my slightly neurotic big old dog and my seemingly immortal tiny, cuddly cat? The guilt that I wasn’t there to save them because I moved out over a decade ago?

The loss of my past? Of the things I had saved in that house for my daughter? For when I had a steady place to call home that I could take them to? Of the things that I treasured there, kept there because they seemed safe?

The loss of that cozy little house that felt like home for 18 years? Which means the loss of the concept of home, a concept which I have struggled to understand for most of my life?

The loss of the sheltering cottonwood trees and the 10 foot tall lilacs? Of the greenhouse that my ex built for me, from glass-fronted doors salvaged from a long gone saloon? Of the vague trickle of the creek and the scream of a fox on a summer night?

The loss of my daughter’s childhood? The wall above her bed where she tacked concert tickets? The journal by her bedside where, at ten years old, she recorded the exact time of her grandmother’s death? The little back deck where she would call for the bats at twilight and laugh when they would come to flit around her head?

So many losses that I don’t even know where to start to grieve. And yet, grieving I am, though neither day nor night will stand still enough to allow it. While, I fear if either did, it would swallow me whole.

I went to what was once my house today. When the National Guardsman tried to stop me, I just said “No.” And he said “Okay.”

I will write more later. I am sifting through my feelings as I am sifting through the ashes. A hot spot here, a smoldering branch there. Lost love covered in clean snow. A charred ring box containing a Tibetan orb, the gentle chime it makes still as clear as it was on the long ago Christmas that my Mother gave it to me.

And most shattering, the bones of my best boy, Roscoe, in the spot in front of the fireplace where his bed always lay. I feel more like he was taken by the smoke, which is a whisper of comfort. I do not think I could survive had we found them by the front or back door. No trace of my Dusty, but he was so small that I don’t know if we will be able to find anything.

I am raw. Shocked. Enraged. Despairing. Lost.

My Roscoe, the best boy.

Daily gratitudes:
Horses neck high in the tall grass
Nice bank tellers
A new rum
Catfish
Self-control

It’s a far cry from sweet Anna’s gorgeous shots at Bear Lake (one of my favorite RMNP hikes) but it is my first indication of Fall in these little acres at the foot of the Wet Mountains. The aspen tree outside the kitchen window is as resistant to Winter as I am. But Fall, now, Fall is another story. My favorite season used to be Summer. Warm, sunny, beautiful thunderstorms, travel. Summer even in Colorado now is too hot and too dry. I’m more comfortable in North Carolina summers — perhaps the born-and-raised-there quality emerges when I’m back home — even with their extreme heat and humidity.

Spring here is temperamental (by the way, who knew that temperamental had an “a” in it? Not me, until just now.). These last few years, Spring has been full of false hope, vanished mountains, broken branches, and back-aching snow shoveling escapades. That said, I now consider it my favorite season. I love watching green emerge from stark brown and white, and the promise of newness that is always fulfilled. Fall comes in a close second. It becomes just crisp enough to leave the bedroom windows open wide and to feel comfortable snuggling under the covers in the morning. Having it be sufficiently cold for me is bliss, although my “sufficiently cold” is MKL’s “absolutely freezing”. And there’s a huge selection of apples at the market, which always remind me of apple picking in Washington State when I was 14.

As for Winter, well, that season might be getting milder. But tell that to the me that slid off the road two years ago, miraculously missing a tree and a lamppost, and then saying to my husband (in a phone call immediately after that incident where Jesus clearly took the wheel) that I was going to buy a boat and never have to put up with this crap again and his only choice was to be on board if he wanted to stay married. I had calmed down by the end of that working shift, and the boat is and will forever remain a pipe dream. Funny how a dream-come-true can be so dependent on circumstances.

So here I am, continuing to unpack and get slightly sunburned in our Indian summer (is that now a politically incorrect term?), accompanied by a full complement of late summer sun during the day and a panoply of stars at night. And one lone aspen leaf, resting on the deck.

Daily gratitudes:
Strength
Jet trails at sunset
A shower after getting really dirty
Lingerie
Discoveries

While I am absolutely a warm soul, contrary to appearances, I am rather shy. In living apart from a lot of civilization (neighbors, traffic, coffee shops), I find myself on a pendulum that swings between relishing my isolation and feeling lonesome. To try to find a balance, I go to our little market once a week and take myself to the city, thirty miles distant, once a week, with all the stoplights and fast food joints and cannabis shops and WalMarts anyone could possibly desire. After a few hours, I’ve had enough of bad drivers and long lines and billboards, and I head for home. As soon as I’m free of the city, I feel like I can breathe again and let down some guard that I didn’t even know I had put up. Truck and I cruise down I-25 or kick up dust on a dirt road going the back way, but either way, there is nothing but sky and space and brush, with the plains to the east and the mountains to the west, and always, the clouds.

Off the highway, it takes a few short minutes to plunge into the valley. When I hit the valley, I’m filled with the sense of being cradled by the earth, encased in its hills that still carry a lingering green and welcomed by the art of the clouds as they shift their positions behind the mountains. Turning into my little town, I’m slowed by the dips in the road and have to keep a weather eye for deer, particularly the doe and her twins who’ve been a constant presence this past summer. Here, we wave at each other when we pass, even though I have no idea who I’m waving at and neither do they. But as I take the few turns deeper into the woods, closer to the mountain, it’s like diving into a nest of comfort and quiet, peace and safety. I guess that’s what home is supposed to be.

Daily gratitudes:
Experimental sparkling water
Mysterious barks
My bed
Little Free Libraries
A lovely conversation with E-Bro

This is Avocado – Avo, for short – facing the cold, blustery world of Bellingham, Washington. When he’s not looking out the window, he’s snuggling, cuddling to the point of being so contentedly limp as to slide off a lap, and perfectly happy being resettled, purring as loudly as I’ve ever heard a cat purr. He, along with his brother, (Indiana) Jones, are new to the world of my daughter and her wonderful housemates. Found far away from civilization, in a field on a nearby reservation, they are clearly bonded, and love to be loved. And I love them, and my daughter, and her housemates. I flew out to surprise her for her 20th birthday, which was yesterday, and she was indeed totally surprised. It was just how surprises are supposed to work. I have spent today, when she still had class and other social obligations, watching the wind and rain in the tall cypress in their front yard, snuggling cats, reading, writing, and meeting her marvelous friends. I’m not used to being in a house with more than one other person (or animal, for that matter), so it’s been an amazing sensation, to feel surrounded by lots of people who laugh, love, and respect each other, who have strong feelings and opinions about our world and the future, and who delight in each other’s company. Adventures to follow…

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Bellingham, Washington.

Quote of the day: “Time spent with a cat is never wasted.” — Colette

Daily gratitudes:
Music
Peaceful times
Smart souls
Laughter
My daughter’s love and openness to letting me into her life

Frankenstein was a fairy tale, really, just without the fairies. But that was the word that kept going through my mind as MKL and I ventured out with our realtor for the first time to look for our house together.

We’ve been married over a year and still have not been able to consolidate our two houses into one slice of domestic bliss. I understand the whys and the psychology of it. We both fought hard to rebuild our lives after they fell apart, and buying a house was a huge milestone for each of us, so we are each attached to our respective house. We’re don’t really like each other’s houses or neighborhoods. Neither of us feels like there is room for the other in one or another’s house. I’m told by psychologist friends that this is all not uncommon for “older” people when they marry – that they lives are already more settled and so it is harder to uproot to live together.

But we want to. So we’ve created multiple scenarios (so practical!) that we are working through about what combination of renting or selling our houses will work best. And as part of that, we have begun looking for OUR house. It would be nice to start fresh, with no ghosts (literal or figurative) in a place that we can make our home. We are ready to be away from the Los Angeles-like traffic of the metro area, and the bright lights of the big city.

Our search has started in the foothills, close enough that we can commute in as needed, but on-the-grid enough that we can work from home when possible. We looked at four houses. We loved the location of the first one, overlooking a sweeping valley, with nothing but the sound of the wind in the pines and a random rooster. But not the house, and not the road to the house.

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MKL was in love with the garage of the second house. It was two stories tall, could house at least four cars comfortably, and had water. But the house was full of small rooms and angles, and would never accommodate our vintage pool table, or our aircraft carrier-sized bed.

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The third house was a huge no. You could not enter the house and have the oven door open at the same time. Not that I do that often, but I’d like the option.

And the fourth house was like a fairytale cottage. Open and bright, sunny yellow walls, 1910 latches, marble countertops in a brand new kitchen, rooms full of windows. But no garage. And not priced so that we could afford to build one. I refer to it now as the Enchanted Cottage, so when we talk about it MKL knows which house I’m referring too. It even had some mule deer grazing in the side yard. Sigh. I am still enamored.

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So our ideal place is a Frankenstein creation of one view, one garage, and one Enchanted Cottage.  I’m just going to keep believing until I make it real.

Quote of the day: “For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” — Stephanie Perkins

Daily gratitudes:
A beautiful day
MKL fixing things when they go wrong
My Skype last night with one of my girls
My catering family
Housecleaning

Save

It’s not a bad thing, but that’s the closest phrase I can find to describe it.

My daughter is in North Carolina. In my hometown. And I’m not there. I guess that shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s actually very cool, and I’m so happy she’s there. She was texting me today from Duke, from the library where my Mother used to work. She stopped by to see one of my parents’ dearest friends. She went to the Chapel, and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. While she had been to Durham several times before my parents died, she was very small then. She and I spent two nights there when we were on the EAR, and I took her everywhere I could think of and told her as many of my memories as I could. Today, she made some of her own memories. She said it felt weird that I wasn’t there. But then, that’s growing up.

She is such a part of me in every way. I told her the first time she travelled without me and just with her Dad, that there is a very thin silver thread that connects our two hearts, and that no matter how far apart we are, that thin silver thread will always be there. It stretches to infinity, and yes, perhaps, beyond. We both remember this always. I felt it so strongly today. Having her, one who is literally a piece of me, in a place that holds and that shaped so much of my spirit, made me feel as if somehow I was there. It certainly made me feel as if I weren’t all here, in my body, in Colorado. It was such a queer feeling. It has yet to entirely subside. But as I say, it’s not a bad thing. Just very curious.

This is a window in my Father’s library – actually, the Divinity School Library, which will always be my Father’s no matter who the librarian may be. This window itself, the glass, the latch, the tree outside – it’s all the same as when I was a little girl. I can remember how much I liked opening and closing these latches. They felt old. And I felt powerful. It seemed like an appropriate image for today, the dusty glass opening onto a bright new world.

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Durham, North Carolina

Quote of the day: “Even when we’re apart, we’ll be looking at the same sky!” — L.J. Smith

Daily gratitudes:
Small clouds that float lower than storm clouds
MKL
When the people in the office across the way wave hello
Peonies
A newly graded alley (I think)

For those of you who haven’t met him, this is Mr. Man. He is my constant companion in what we call the “North House” aka, the Bungalow, and keeps me feeling well-loved and snuggled when MKL is in the “South House”. Some people say he has a big nose, but I think it’s beautiful. As a Maine Coon, which people say is “the dog of cats”, he is a vocal fellow. If he loves you, he will give you headbutts – after smelling your forehead to be sure no imposter is disguising herself as his Mom. Mr. Man, also known as Mr. Boo, has only had one other owner besides me in his whole life. I adopted him when he was 13 as a birthday present to myself three years ago. Yes, he’s 16 now, and has had a few problems with pancreatitis, from which he almost died two years ago. That experience – my helping him get better – was a turning point in our relationship. He finally came to trust me, eight months after I’d adopted him. Now, I don’t think we can imagine our lives without each other, though having had cats before (my first one lived to 20), I know that one day, I will have to do so.  But I hope that’s a long time off.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett

Daily gratitudes:
A successful chainsaw massacre with no loss of limb
An old favorite movie
MKL
Strong arms
True love

 

Another curious and entertaining doorway. I suppose the residents of this little duplex tell visitors to go to the right or the left of the cat.

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San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “If you want to believe in something like Fate, she’s a capricious character. Sometimes she stand there blocking the doorway you were born to pass through, and sometimes she takes you by the hand and leads you through the minute you poke your nose out. And the stars gaze down and keep their counsel.” — John Avide

Daily gratitudes:
Pussy willow
Pie with my sweetie-pie
Stark white seagulls agains barren fields
Intrigue in the early morning
The first blooms of a dwarf weeping cherry tree

 

 

 

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