I’ve Been Busy

My last post was November and I have lived through my first winter and spring in Maine. However, we did have a casualty.

My senior pup did not take well to such drastic changes and, to my deepest sorrow, we lost him in March. The physical move, the loss of his friends, and the impact of ice and snow on his regular routine had devastating consequences. I told my good friend in California that if I could have again looked into that magic ball at the future, I would have left him with her despite the pain it would have caused me. If that is shocking, then you can’t comprehend the guilt and regret that I carry.

Our evil prince, Kasper the cat, was transported separately to the east coast by a stranger and he was actually the one I was really worried about. He has settled in and seems to have maintained his singular temperament. He has some lingering PTSD whenever he sees my niece who fed him for a few days when he arrived, but that remains the only reminder from his journey. Now we give him the affection we have in abundance and he continues to carry on into old age.

We are now in the end of July and I’ve been busy.

I always felt when I bought a new home, I needed to stay for a year, finding the glitches, figuring out what works for each season. I am almost through that year. We moved in November and it is almost August. I have a feel for the home, have bonded enough to know what I need to heat it and cool it. Strategic curtains, fans, and closed off rooms are key.

I always thought when things settled down, I would again start to write. However, my to-do list continues to grow, not diminish as I had hoped. A lot is aesthetic but there is some installing and heavy lifting yet to complete to improve my life. My family continues to come through with a lot of help as this refugee from an HOA transitions back into the real world of mowing, weeding, painting, and other basic tasks one does on their own property.

The most drastic yet welcome change? The weather is glorious. It snowed big several times and it was something to tackle yet embrace. It rains…sometimes more than once a week. We get thunder and lightening, with the mugginess clearing most of the time. It all acts like, well, real weather. It wasn’t completely unexpected. I was looking forward to it. After all, I grew up in upstate New York. However, after thirty years in the Southern California sunshine, it renews my parched soul. Watching my SoCal born-and-raised daughter, however, running out to stand in rain and snow alike has been the entertaining part. I have to drag her in when lightening rolls through. And she’s an adult now.

As I sit in the darkened living room, enjoying yet another storm rolling through, I am feeling gratitude – for my family, for the move and lifestyle change, despite the guilt of loss. Bailey was certainly a casualty and I will keep him in my heart always.

I’m hoping to write more regularly now but for today, Kasper demands attention. Apparently, with the absence of a small white dog, he is now a lap cat. Who knew?

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A Mind Comes Home

Who am I? Where am I? What day is this? Why is it so cold? Where are my pasta dishes?

The move from California to Maine is complete after six months of soul dragging work. Although, with advanced purging and prepping, the real labor covered almost a year’s time. I tell my friends that if I could have peered into a magic ball for a quick view of the future, I would not be retired, I’d still be shooing rattlesnakes away from the house, and generally kicking the can down the road for another year. It was disruptive, exhausting, and at times overwhelming but I’m glad I didn’t have that option.

When I see posts of friends making similar moves, I get flashbacks of sweating in 103 degrees, moving countless boxes multiple times to gain five more inches of working garage space. I’m always sure to let them know that I feel their pain, and I honestly do. I wish I could have chronicled my experience – the opportunity was right there and easy to share. But I apparently required all the RAM in my head for the the tasks at hand. I found two diary-type drafts when I sat down to write today, both of which seem to confirm that theory. Here is just a glimpse into my frenetic state:

July 4, 2021 – This is sort of an update, kind of a whine, to try to break a bad habit and get back to a balance. While my manual labor continues as we prepare to move an entire household across the country, I find that I have to actually force myself to stop to write. And it’s not just about the blog. I find through all this, I am reverting back to the tendency of keeping things in my head. This is not good. Article ideas are up there swimming around with to-do lists, cat transport needs, dates, and even the bullet journal I started with my daughter in January that lies open on the table staring at me, waiting for something, anything, to be updated or created or checked off. I mean, I have read five books since the last time I noted it in my reading tracker. I have tools – why am I not using them? I retired over two months ago. I wonder if there has been a vacuum created up there and I am unknowingly replacing all the labor laws, charts, and wage sheets that disappeared with whatever presents itself. Getting it out of my head is like a tug-of-war.

July 21, 2021 – The escrow proceeds. The contingent items – inspection, appraisal, scoping the sewer lines – are done. We now face a phase of quiet completely opposite the crazed two weeks prior. All those balls in the air can now be dropped and even left around the house along with dog toys and shoes, our daily life no longer mandated by clean lines and staged rooms. This hyper neatness suits me, although the packed garage seems to state otherwise. With the next couple of weeks moored in the doldrums, I feel like going back out to my already packed boxes and purge even more.

The garage of our new house is still full of boxes – the said pasta dishes are still MIA – but the rug is down, new furniture delivered, and the echoes are gone. A calm has settled in. The moment that happened, basic habits started to return, all mentally shelved with the disruption of clearing a house, driving cross-country with a pet, partial unpacking for apartment living, and managing a second move to a forever home. Most of those personal daily routines like morning rituals, meal prep, and yes, writing, seemed to go deep until my head was cleared of the urgent and immediate. I must truly be home.

After thirty years on the left coast, my brain still needs some re-wiring to be sure. Upon opening my eyes this morning, my first thought was that the 21 degree weather reading was a glitch. I also still automatically reach for a short sleeved t-shirt and then think again. But these are little misfires that will fade along with the SoCal heat. And now that I’ve opened that side door to my writing, I hope to be more prolific as garage boxes begin to decrease, my life fills the walls, my pasta dishes take their rightful place, and this home takes shape.

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Ode to a Tiger

His sweetest photos are taken when he’s sleeping, all curled up and cute. Awake, his eyes show a chilling intelligence and will respond to your questions in cat-speak. Otherwise you get just simple regal disdain.

Kasper was adopted from the county pound at 7 weeks old and came complete with fleas and an eye infection. Our days were filled with my scorched earth approach to carpet and furniture cleaning, along with continuous daily meds – for the cat, not me. I’m sure our uneasy peace was imprinted at that time. After those hurdles, he grew to be a giant fat cat with an attitude. Trips to the Vet resulted in fresh stripes down my arm, war wounds serving as reminder that he would never surrender. My failed attempts to get him into a cat harness showed me just how long he holds a grudge.

He is Garfield to my dog’s Odie. One day I was sitting in the bedroom with my Bailey pup planted nearby, waiting on my every whim, when I caught sight of a disembodied paw reaching out from behind the corner. “Hey,” I said, and the paw pulled back with just as much controlled intention. He would bide his time.

Whenever we go away for a few days and book the pet visitor, we need to pay for our indiscretion upon our return. Somehow I am the usual the target. Just one swat, nails out, while walking past him, when I’m hopping into bed, or any time I am not looking over my shoulder. Punishment administered, we are good again…until the next violation.

Kasper is a healthy 15 yr old and I write this because we will be moving cross-country with this creature. I know when we finally drop him into our new home, there will be absolute hell to pay.


Filed under Memoir