Monday, October 05, 2015

Musings from Sage Creek

I received an email this morning from the administrator of a website I used to contribute to, saying that the content is being updated.  I had completely forgotten that for a year I had written a monthly column.  I wrote this nearly six years ago and thought it an interesting back note to where Ian and I are today.

Musings from Sage Creek

November 2009

I have been retired for six months now, and one year ago at this time, I didn’t know that I would be retired at all. There had been rumors of staff reductions, but when the early buy-out incentives were announced, I applied and was declined. Rumors flew, people were leaving right and left, so I reapplied and waited to hear. I finally was confirmed and was emailed a copy of my contract the second week of June. I signed it on June 17th on my last day of work, and just like that, my employment was severed. I had entered, or rather, was catapulted into a new stage of my life.

I wasn’t sure what I would do with all the time that had previously been filled with employment. Every work day for me had been 11 hours long, including my lunch and commute. I would have an extra 55 hours each week, and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how living every minute of every day with Ian was going to pan out. I had done everything I could do to get us ready for living on reduced income. I felt we were ready there, but I wasn’t sure if my head was ready.

I’m reminded of how I felt when I discovered I was pregnant for the first time. It was my first marriage, and I had only been married a little over a year. Starting a family hadn’t even been discussed, and then suddenly failed birth control left me facing something I was not prepared for. I was thinking about this the other day as I took my dogs for a walk. I had no idea what being a mother would be like. My parents had been older so I grew up with older people, not young families and children. I didn’t know how to be a mother, but I can tell you that I have loved being a mother, even if I was a little unorthodox. My children have provided the greatest highs and lows in my life and I’m so glad my life took that route.

Retirement has also been satisfying. We’ve returned to cooking meals from scratch and sharing the cooking. We expanded our garden this past summer and are now planning two more raised beds and are pouring over the Peaceful Valley Farm Supply catalog. I thought I’d have time to read a lot, but I find I’m really too busy for that. Though I still haven’t established a routine, I am able to spend several hours a day in my weaving studio. I cannot imagine how I ever had time to work.

My ex-husband was a Marine stationed in the Philippines. My father-in-law, a Navy captain, brought his ship into Subic Bay, so we’d get down to visit him each week. One special week, we took his captain’s gig out into Olongapo Bay to snorkel. On the return ride to the ship, one of his sailors asked me if I’d like to drive the boat. He explained how to site using a point of reference on the horizon. I was thrilled. After some moments, the sailor asked me I thought I was steering straight, and I allowed that I thought I was. He suggested that I look at the wake for proof. Following the boat was the darndest snaking trail of churned-up white water.

Many times I’ve thought about that day, believing that my life was directed and on-course, but it was probably more like I was chasing Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen. Looking back now I realize that though I thought I was going straight, my life has been much closer to the snaking white wake, trailing behind me revealing where I have actually gone.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome to Bend

I sat with our confused dogs on the front porch while the movers loaded our things onto this bobtail truck.  The driveway was too steep with a sharp bend to permit the truck to come down to the house.
The semi-truck backed all the way down Fetlock at the juncture with Quarterhorse to our driveway.  It took them several trips before everything was transferred, part of the reason this move is so expensive.  

I had to leave for a visit with my neurosurgeon.  It's been two years since I broke my neck and so I was very pleased with a normal neurological exam and subsequent release.  As we were saying goodbye I commented that I was pretty luck.  He made a wry face and said "You were VERY lucky."  

We spent the night at Carol and Harry's.  And so Tuesday morning, the 29th, two years later to the day from my accident, I drove into town at 7:30 to pick Maddie up from the vet where she was being boarded.  I got back to Red Rock Road and Hwy 395 at 9:00 where Ian and I planned to meet up.  We had the truck overhauled a couple weeks ago and that 21-year-old truck performed splendidly.  He drove the lead so Buster had him all to himself.  I drove up with a bewildered Sammi, though once she realized that her cat was with her, she settled down.  As did the cat.  We had to made a few more stops than usual.  A dog' farts are a compelling reason to stop :)  Even so, we managed to arrive in Bend about 5:00.  

Our escrow in Reno closed today, and since we had sold our parcel a month ago, we are no longer tax payers in Nevada.  After 40 years in a state I had never planned to live in to begin with, I have moved on.

This is the sunrise that greeted us this morning.  The next stage of this adventure has begun.  Welcome to Bend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ready to Move On

Maddie knows something is up and being the skittish cat that she is, she was hiding for long stretches of time.  She came out of hiding on Saturday so we wrapped her in a towel and stuffed her in her crate.  She was most unaccommodating but is now at kitty camp.  It's been much easier to pack since we don't have to worry about leaving doors open.
Sunday was the last of our Red Rock valley farmers markets and the weather was perfect.  I have a loyal fan base here and it's going to take me a while after we move to find a sales outlet.  That actually might be a good thing since I will have time to build up my inventory.  

I took these photos with my iPhone and accessed them through the iCloud.  For some reason only the left half of the photo displays unless you click for big.  I'm still trying to work out how to take photos with iPhone and use them in Blogger.  It's difficult to get these two to work together, but the pictures from my phone are better than the pictures from my point-and-shoot. 
The kids cracked me up.  They made a complex game out of the stones around this old fire pit, assigning points to how many stones they could negotiate in a step and more.  They were very serious about the maneuvers and scores as I heard them evaluating their moves.  I thought - who needs an expensive climbing wall?!!
These two little guys found endless amusement sword fighting with sticks.  Nervous moms kept a watch on them though there seemed to be an equal amount of running involved.  Running with sticks is against all the safety rules!

This is the house we're buying in Oregon and where we should be living a month from now.  The people that Ian worked with in the Union are taking us to lunch today.  The movers will be here the next two days to pack up everything in the house though the moving van isn't coming until Monday.  We're still trying to figure out how we'll camp out here during those days.  We sign our papers on Friday at the title company and escrow closes next Wednesday.  It's been a whirlwind from start to finish, beginning June 20th and ending September 30th!

This is one of my favorite things about the yard, a reading area next to a water feature.  I have to drive in to Reno on Monday to see my neurosurgeon and we're staying with our friends Carol and Harry that night.  I'll drive in first thing the next morning to collect Maddie.

Tuesday, September 29th marks the second anniversary of my broken neck.  Two years later, on this 29th I will be driving to Bend with a cat and a dog in my car, ever thankful for the recovery I have experienced.   We had Ian's truck serviced and he'll have the other dog.  I'm ready for the next step in this adventure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Getting Closer

I started this project last week and for the first three towels I used the lilac yarn which has been back ordered from Webs since May.  I've made "tidepools" until now with blue weft and like this for a change.
Meanwhile, this is the day for the last two inspections - well and septic.  The rest of the inspections were last Friday.  The place was swarming with inspectors.  Two different inspectors performing two different inspections were under the house at the same time.  They came scrambling out of the crawl space hole, laughing at their reaction to a gopher snake they had encountered.
The well guys were checking for volume and quality.  That report takes about a week to come back.  Meanwhile, we learned today that our house appraised "at sales value."  Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
The septic company expected problems since we've never had it pumped and didn't know exactly where it is.  But the excavation went off without a hitch but the pumping truck wasn't scheduled until after 12:00 so they're waiting in their truck for the other truck since they're have to fill in the hole afterwards.
I had planned to pack while these inspections were going on but after four boxes I ran out of tape so wove off the towels instead.
I've learned that if I weave a half inch of plain weave and then tie the warp ends in an overhand knot, I don't have to zigzag across the end of prevent raveling.  Plus the zigzag edge gets pretty wonky in the wash and is hard to hem.  I'm washing these now so I can hem them tomorrow.  But for now, I just got a phone call from a neighbor who is coming over at 2:00 to buy towels.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Counting Down

I took a lot of photos in the studio today, hoping they will help me orient my equipment and help me create a new studio in the new house.  I won't have any more space than here, just different.

We have gone from no action to craziness.  I invited our buyers, Jennifer and Travis, to come out to the farmers market in our valley and they did just that this past Sunday.  I noticed a Blue Heeler mix on leash and commented on it when the woman said - actually, I think we're your buyer.  They took me completely off guard and I was so happy to see them, and I introduced them to as many people as I could.  They had to leave early but Jennifer said she is going to be out for the inspection this Friday so I told we'd talk more then.  I'm so happy to pass on the information I wish that someone had shared with us when we moved in.  She had no clue that none of the utilities come from Nevada - power is from a California cooperative and phone/DSL are out of Idaho.

Yesterday was my last book group meeting.  I have facilitated this group since the library opened in 2005, first as an employee and then after I retired, as a volunteer.  Friendships have grown through the books we've read and the conversations about them.  I am at a loss of words to express how much I will miss this group of ladies.  They make me see books in a different way and they make me laugh.  They gave me a wonderful send-off and a generous Kindle gift card!

Meanwhile, while I was in town for book club, both our Oregon mortgage banker Mike and real estate broker Ken called.  Mike is working to get us a 4.25% or less interest rate and Ken said our inspection is Monday, can one of the boys come by near the end.  I texted them and they've got it covered.

 I should be packing my studio but instead I put a warp on today because I really need weaving to help me settle down.  The back beam has to come off to move it so I'll weave as far as I get and then cut the rest off.  The movers will be here two weeks from tomorrow to pack up the house. The dogs will be fine but our kitty will not, so I'm going to drive up to Bend with her on the 22nd and put her in a kennel that Ian and I saw when we picked up cats with DIL Missy during our July visit - that is the first available date. That's what I mean - craziness.  Moving in not for sissies!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Snap! Just like that.

I finished this commission and got it in the mail on Monday.  It turns out that is going to be the last thing I weave in this house.  I got a call from our realtor that day five minutes before lunchroom duty, letting me know that our contingent offer had received a full price, non-contingent offer on her house over the weekend and they would be sending us papers to sign.

 Let me go back and put this all in order.  We came home from visiting our kids in Bend, Oregon on June 5th.  After we got home, we decided to put our house on the market and move there ourselves.  My oldest son Josh moved there six years ago, his younger brother moved there two years and ago and now that he's married, he and his wife are thinking about starting a family.  We already have two grandsons there, and in spite of also having two grandkids here, we decided since we always take vacations in Oregon, it's time we become residents.

We listed our house and on the first day we had two showings, Jennifer in the morning and Pamela in the afternoon.  The next day Pamela made an offer contingent on the sale of her house.  The offer was good for 45 days and we ended up extending it to the end of August.  And then about a week ago Jennifer also made a contingent offer based on the sale of her house and increased the price by $5,000 which caused Pamela to withdraw her offer.  And now Jennifer's house is sold and we have to get a move on because escrow is set to close on or before September 30th.

Because I was anxious and needed something to do I accept this library sub job through the end of this week, and then extended it to the end of next week since they are interviewing next week and expect to hire by Friday.  The arm twisters were the kids themselves.  So many of them would plaintively ask me - Are you going to stay?  I've requested a substitute for next week.  Otherwise, I accepted those days and I will honor them.  I can't leave for Bend until after the 8th anyway so it's just three more days.  I need to buy a house and then come back and pack.

I'm looking forward to getting up there, locating a house and starting our new lives.  I wanted to be there before school started so I can finally see the boys' games and concerts.  We're one step closer.  Nothing, nothing, nothing was happening and then snap!  Just like that we're counting down the days.  I am counting down to no more 50 minute drives to everything.  I've lived in Reno for 40 years and am leaving behind a lot of friends and memories, and now I'm going to make new ones.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Books Books Books

I got a call from the school district library services office on Monday asking if I could work this week, so I ended up subbing Tuesday-Friday.  The new librarian was supposed to start on Monday the 31st.  However, Thursday I was in the middle of a class visit when the secretary popped in to see if I could work this coming week.  She needed to know as she was leaving and wouldn't be in on Friday.  Yikes - I might even make a social security quarter this month!

Since I have no time to weaving right now I thought I'd catch up on my book recommendations.  I have only included the ones I really liked.  And now I'm all caught up.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore.  This read like a cross between Fannie Flagg and Anne Rivers Siddons - a good Southern tale. It takes place in a small town and focuses on the preacher's famly, a preacher with feet of clay, and more about his daughters and the women who carry this story. The ending was a little tidy, tying up loose ends a little too neatly for my taste, which is why I couldn't give this four stars. It's a fantastic debut work - very entertaining.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.   My bookclub chose this book and we lean toward literary works, so this felt like a spoof on our tastes, with so many of the book clubs and book discussions developing throughout. The anatomy of a book club, its expectations, a reader's response to a book made this great fun to read and fun to talk about.

Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos.  This is the slowest reading of Kallos' three books and the jumping around in time made it hard for me to get sucked in, however, the writing is beautiful and even, slowly developing and revealing more about Charles with every chapter. While there are many threads, this is his story. He was an only child but his parents were so absorbed in their hateful marriage that they treated him as an afterthought. He drifted through an indifferent childhood, which developed into a pot-smoking bar-tending adulthood. It wasn't until he met and fell in love with his wife that he actually showed volition. I was really frustrated with Charles and kept hoping for a dramatic character change, but instead I changed in my appreciation for him as I understood the things he had endured in his lonely friendless life. I wanted him to grow a spine and do something dramatic and when I closed the book, I realized that his teaching career and the kindness and love he showed for his autistic son was sufficient and a lot more than many men manage to accomplish.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.  If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, then you are in for another treat here.   McLain has written another fictionalized biography, this time of Beryl Markham, most well known as a woman pioneer in aviation.  It's just about the same time period as her first book but this time the setting is Kenya and it's about Markham's skills as a trainer of thoroughbred race horses and the lifestyle that goes with it.  Karen Blixen, aka Isak Dinesen, and Denys Hatton Finch are part of Beryl's circle of friends.  I gave this 5 stars.

Made in the U.S.A. by Bellie Letts.   We have the "coming of age" genre and I see an emerging genre for abandoned children - I'm calling it Boxcar Children after Gertrude Warner's series. I'd place Janet Fitch's White Oleander in that category, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and now this one. The reality is that most abandoned children don't have a happy-ever-after ending so this little fantasy was a pleasure to read. I knew that Billie Letts had passed away so was stunned when I recently visited an indie bookstore in Bandon, Oregon to find this on the bookshelf. I was sorry to close the book.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman.   I have only read Dove Keepers for my book group and am otherwise unfamiliar with this author. I'm glad I took the opportunity to read this through NetGalley. You know how Dove Keepers is going to end because it's like the Titanic - the boat sinks. I had no idea where this story was headed. I understood that it was fictionalized memoir of Camille Pizzarro, but it really wasn't his story but his mother Rachel's. The setting is early 19th century on St. Thomas where the Jews have just been given freedom by the Danish king and is a multi-layered recounting of this group who wound their way after the Inquisition from Spain to Portugal, to France, to Barbados, then to St. Thomas. It's a history of that period as well as a story of prejudice from without and within, of loyalties, secrets and forbidden love. I always love it when I enjoy a work of fiction and learn something new at the same time and this book provided both  for me.

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  Diffenbach tackled the foster care system in her thoughtful first book and has returned with a second equally thoughtful book on the subject of immigration and all the laws and lunacy that surrounds it. She also puts a face of the untold agony, suffering and loneliness that is unwarranted and unmerited, thanks to the self-serving actions of politicians in our nation's capitol. I struggled initially with Letty's irresponsibility and was skeptical of her turn-around, but then I've seen that in sobriety in real life and had to give her that. It's not any one person's story, but an ensemble cast though Alex was my favorite.  What a kid.  The romance seemed out of character and a little too convenient which is why this is a 4-star book, not quite a 5.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  I struggled a little in the beginning with the French names and setting, but once I cleared that I sailed into this book. My first thought was - physician, heal thyself! This poor damaged bookseller could put the perfect book in anyone's hands but his own, and then we learn his misery is the self-inflected, the product of hurt and pride. He refused to use his first name as he drifted through those twilight years, and I noticed one of the first changes in his awakening was acknowledging his first name, Jean. I'm calling this a book fantasy, short of serious literature and much much more than a romance. Imagine a literary apothecary on a barge! With cats!! The one silly thing that niggled at my mind was - where were the cat boxes??  I loved this book.