Houses, Home, and Culdesacs

4 08 2016

It’s been over a year since that day J and I crammed some of my belongings into his truck and I moved out of our house. Not for lover’s quarrel but for higher education. After six months in a house with several very nice dudes, my friend and classmate N offered me a room at her house.

Thus began the saga of Big K, Little K, and Momma N. Over the last 9 months, we formed a weird little family, and it was amazing. Just having someone to talk to that was going through the same things made the grind easier to bear. We were able to rant about our days, laugh at the ridiculousness, and celebrate our victories. Couch parties and copious amounts of tea and editing each other’s papers long into the night – that’s what got me through grad school.

roomies

Well, that and a fiesty little red-head, 5 years old and full of sugar and sass. Sometimes, she would creep into my room to climb into bed with me, rooting around in my pillows until she found my old teddy. She would join me on walks, and shared my afternoon snacks, and drew me beautiful pictures. I know she hated how much we were always on our computers, but she did a great job of giving us study breaks. As an extra bonus, she helped me catch up on all my Disney movies!

IMG_3955

Little K: sugar and spice and everything nice

Last Friday, I had to drive away from my new little family. They said their farewells even before J showed up with his truck. I’d been so excited to finally get to move back in with J that the shock of my sorrow took me by surprise. I had been focusing on wedding plans and my summer job and pretending to prepare for the coming school year. It conveniently slipped my mind that moving back to J’s house meant leaving my girls behind.

I sobbed.

It’s a funny thing, the concept of “home”. I’ve lived in lots of houses, in different states, with different people. And for the last 5 years, J has been my home. But I also found a home with these two, and I felt a little less orphaned thanks to them. We had community in our little culdesac, where neighborhood kids knocked on the door to sell raffle tickets for little league and ask if Little K could come play. I discovered a sense of being “neighborly” reminiscent of the ’50s. I had my local haunts and my favorite parking spot at the grocery store, and a sense of knowing my way around in our little section of town. There’s a sense of belonging that comes along with all this.

 

I’ve now been at J’s house for a week. We’re still playing tetris with our belongings, trying to make everything fit, but it’s coming together. Just yesterday, I had a small epiphany that made me feel much better: I have a home and community here, too.

J is still my home, and hopefully always will be. It’s also a wonderful feeling to live in just one place again, instead of two. I love getting to wake up to J’s handsome face each morning, and tucking Simba into bed each night. We’re all blissfully back under one roof. And our little street has a nice, friendly feel, similar to my former culdesac. The houses are close together, and everyone seems to be outside at some point, offering a wave and hello. Simba has become acquainted with the other mutts of the street, and our neighbor we share a driveway with asked me yesterday if I could haul her trash can up today after it was emptied, so it wouldn’t blow away. There’s all sorts of neighborly-ness going on.

My heart still aches for my girls, but I do get to see Momma N this weekend. I didn’t move across the country, I’m just an hour away – we’ll have lunch next week when I’m in the ‘Couve for other things. Plus: SnapChat. Boom.

So despite still struggling with our housing situation, and anxiously awaiting the day we’ll have a place to call our own, I don’t lack for a home or a community. That makes me feel better, and gives me that sense of belonging I’ve craved. I no longer have a suitcase on standby for the weekend, and I feel much less nomadic. We live in a super rad town that I’m excited to get to know better. My hard-won friends are still just down the river, and in 36 days, J and I get to say I Do.

Life goes on. Thankfully, I have two awesome ladies that I got to share it with for a little while. Grad school would have been a very different experience were it not for them, and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to adopt them for a little while.





#tbt to Texas

9 04 2015

Since I’m super “hip” and “down with it”, I’m posting a hashtag today: #tbt. Hopefully this will convince you of my “hip-ness” and increase my “street cred”. (Is it working?!)

J and I took a nice trip down to Texas a few weeks back for lots of “throw back” – tons of trekking up and down memory lane!!

J has never been to Austin, so we jumped at the chance for a reunion with my college buddies. We took off work for a full week and I began mapping our course across the massive state. The goal: see as many friends and family as humanly possible.

Stop 1: Wichita Falls, to see my family. My mother was not pleased that I only gave her a day and a half, but she did alright. My big Broski drove down from Kansas with my insanely fabulous niece (she obviously inherited her auntie’s brilliance), my middle sister B took off work (oh yo, oh yo!), and my Daddy waxed his mustache – party time!

Though our visit was super short, we made the most of it. I spent every second with my little Hopey, hugged my Momma every time she was within reach, snuggled my niece as much as an 18-month-old will allow, and punched my brother every time he walked by. A perfect day and a half. Even both grandparents made an appearance for some pulled pork, super tight hugs, and catching up.

big sister little sisiter, dallas tx

Cruising around with my little Hope-ster!

I could write a whole post on Hope alone. She crawled into my covers each morning to snuggle, did some impressive living room yoga with me, showed me her wicked dance moves to “Let It Go”, and generally refused to be more than a foot away from me at all times.

Then there was Boop, my niece. She’s quiet and intense, watching everything with her wide-eyed, innocent intelligence. Then she’d jump in to play or dance or chase the bubbles and we would finally be rewarded with her delightful giggles.

My little mop-head, watching the family madness, waiting for her chance to jump in the middle of it all…

After soaking up the family time like a parched sponge, it was time to move on to Stop 2: Dallas. One of my closest BFF’s from college, Little L, was putting us up for the night and road-tripping with us to Austin for the big reunion. We squeezed in a visit to my first college friend and old roomie, who introduced us to her 2-week-old bebe. Much has changed since our shenanigans in the dorms freshman year! I almost wept at the sight of her beautiful family. But AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!

And off to Austin we went! My sweet bestie, KDub (yes, everyone in this post is a bestie), now lives in North Austin and gives the best hugs – how I missed all these faces! We ladies shut the boys out in the living room, cranked up the throw-back jams, and set up shop getting ready for our big night out on the town. Oh, such memories – how many times have we done this together over the years? Once upon a time, this was our weekend routine! When did I learn to get ready on my own, without their expert assistance and advice?!

Finally gorgeous, we caught the monorail downtown and had our first big-city experience with Uber to get to the restaurant where we were meeting the gang for dinner. We were first, and as folks started trickling in, my blood pressure steadily climbed. Friends I hadn’t seen for YEARS walked in that door. Pals that were once my friend-family, that saw me through my college years, that transitioned me into adulthood – they were suddenly all there again. By some miracle, I managed to smile my biggest smile, instead of cry like a baby in a corner.

How time has changed us! Marriages and babies and careers had somehow happened. We’re all strangely older, though our 23-year-old selves came out to play with us all back together, like no time at all has passed. It was simply incredible having all these people in one room together, laughing, celebrating, reuniting.

friends reunited, Austin TX

My life would be all the better if I saw more of these amazing people – now married AND expecting!

besties reunited, tearing up sxsw, austin tx

Two of my best friends in the whole world. ❤

And the group is now complete! A window to my early 20’s…

After dinner, we headed downtown. (Crazy.) South By Southwest (SXSW), the mega music, film and tech fest, was still raging, so people were EVERYWHERE. We didn’t care – MUST.DANCE.NOW. We found the first club with no cover and the booty-shaking began! (Aw, just like old times again!)

girlfriends reunited, SXSW 2015 austin tx

Added Ash to the mix during a dance break, but photo-bombed by S (and B’s eyebrow) ….

group reunited at SXSW 2015, austin tx

More of the group, this time getting photo-bombed by ME!!

After such a great night with such great people, it seemed like the trip should be over, time to pack it up and go back home to real life.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

The trip, in fact, was only half over! More friends need to be seen! We recovered the next day with amazing breakfast by KDub, then hopped in the car with MAsh to continue south. MDawg took us through San Marcos, home of Texas State University, where I spent some of the best years of my life. We took J on a little trip down (my) memory lane, gasping at the massive changes, sighing at the sights that remained the same. Then we roamed back through the hill country to Canyon Lake, to Ash’s mom’s house, where we relaxed the day away. Towards evening, we loaded back in the car, destined for the awesome historic town of Gruene!

For 4 and a half years now, I’ve done my best to convince J that Texas can be quite beautiful, charming, even incredible at times. This trip finally proved me right. The bluebonnets carpeted the roadsides this far south, and the recent rains had turned the fields a lush emerald. We drove the back way, along the Guadalupe River, past limestone cliffs and tumbling hills and a zillion tube rentals and campgrounds. It’s easy to imagine the zoo this place turns into during the summer! Even J was impressed.

Once we arrived, I felt like a proud mamma, showing off her babies to a stranger. Gruene was one of my favorite places to go when I lived in this neck of the woods – the creaky wooden sidewalks, the historic buildings full of gimmicky wares, the best food around served in the remarkable grist mill renovated into a restaurant – and Grune Hall. The oldest dance hall in the state of Texas. All the greats have played on that stage, from Willy Nelson to Merle Haggard to Lyle Lovett to The King, GEORGE STRAIT! I wish I could have snuggled up to J for a twirl around the uneven dance floor, but not this night. We whisked next door to the Grist Mill instead, meeting the fabulous M again and my dears SB and G.

The last stop on our grand journey was east of San Antonio: SB and G’s house. (I like it to call it The Estate.) We stayed up that night as late as we possibly could, trying to catch up on the months gone by since our last visit. (Despite the fact that SB and I chat regularly…) The next day, we had a relaxing morning in their amazing house with their adorable pups, before finally setting out to hike the hill country. Mud, sweat, sunburn, and lunch later, we plopped back down in their living room to recover.

government-canyons san antonio tx

My crew up ahead in the lovely oaks and aromatic mountain laurels. I was busy getting sun burnt.

* * * * * *

For the last 5 1/2 years, I’ve been working on making the PNW my home. It’s not hard – the mountains, the rivers, the coast, the changing seasons: all sing to me and made me fall in love long ago. Even my mother has come to terms with the fact that I will likely never move back to my birth state of Texas. (Ok, she pretends to have come to terms with it…)

Strangely, most folks from Texas do not understand this and will fight to the death trying to prove that Texas is the GREATEST state ever in the whole entire world and I am obviously completely insane and utterly stupid to not only leave, but not want to come back. Think I’m exaggerating? Then you aren’t from Texas.

And yet, I return to the great country state as often as possible. Why? Roots. Family. Memories. Bar-b-que. Friends that became family.

I wish I could find the words to relay how important these folks were to me, and the depth of my gratitude for getting to spend even one evening with them again. It was like living in a #tbt post but better.

Now I’m all the more motivated to visit them all again!!

😀





A Place To Call Home

20 10 2012

I had this long, drawn-out, mushy post written about the meaning of “home”. When I was first writing it, typing furiously to try to finish it on my lunch break, I couldn’t help but be impressed with myself for digging deep and really showing off my philosophical side.

Thankfully, I didn’t finish it on my lunch break, I re-read it just now, and I made it about 3 paragraphs in before selecting all and hitting delete. What a load of crap! I have many homes, and the meaning of the word has changed for me as I’ve grown old and wise and blah blah blah big yawn zzzzzzzzzzz. Gross.

So here’s what this post is really about: I’m feeling all mushy and nostalgic because I’m ditching yet another “home”. That’s right – we’re moving. Packing up and getting the hell out of Dodge. Moving on to greener pastures. Hitching up the mule train for the great beyond. Something like that.

wagon train to Oregon

We are moving almost to Oregon. Let’s hope we don’t die of dysentery, drown fording the river, or get shot by Indians on the way…(photo from 32finearts.com)

The truth of the matter is that I’m freaking out about it. Well, let me rephrase that: I’m freaking out in general. We just have so much going on at once!! We leave for Peru in a little over a week. The movers come on Friday (more on this in a moment). We drive from our house in Twisp to Seattle, fly to Peru, have an ridiculous awesome time for four weeks, fly back to Seattle, then drive to our new house in Trout Lake, WA. We’ll be homeless for a month!! World travelers with address unknown!! Just the thought gets my gypsy blood a-pumping! So we’re trying to plan our humungo trip, prep for the move, figure out where we’re going to live, decide what to do with all our stuff while we’re busy gallivanting around South America, and find someone to baby-sit Spartacus and the houseplants for a month. And once we leave for Peru, we leave the Methow for good….

That’s a lot of logistical crap to nail down. I’m sure you can see why I’m a giant stress-ball. Worst of all, I don’t even have the work to occupy me. I love to pack, but movers are coming to do it all for us. Which I know I’m not allowed to complain about, but…I’m going to anyway. I wouldn’t have so much time to sit and worry about everything – I’m a do-er yet have nothing to do. In fact, I think it’s making me worry more. Strange dudes are going to be all up in my stuff! I know, they could care less about all my crap. But it also means that I don’t get to go through all my crap, and that I don’t get to do my typical ritualistic purging. Oh the tragedy of it all!!

So in order to cope and not drive J up the wall, I slathered on a chocolate mud mask and made a huge spaghetti dinner and I feel much better. Ok, so it wasn’t just me that relieved my stress – J also got us a house, verified that we can store our stuff while we’re gone, asked some friends and family to take care of our living belongings, and gave me a Tylenol and a back rub. Whoever did whatever, I feel fantastic now.

Besides, we’re moving to a really cool place. We’ll live in Trout Lake, which is about 25 miles north of the Columbia river gorge and Hood River, OR. The gorge is world-renown for wind surfing and kite boarding, which I want to try out and see if I can live to tell about it. We’ll be right between Mt Adams, the 2nd tallest mountain in Washington, and Mt Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon. (Both are also active strata volcanoes – I love volcanoes! I’ll have to make a new evacuation plan….) We’ll also be just over an hour out of Portland and about 3 hours from Bend, OR – so close!

Mount Adams, Trout Lake WA

Soon, we’ll live here at the base of Mt Adams. I do love me some volcanoes….

Boooo – insert pouty face here. Yeah, Trout Lake is awesome and I’m sure I’ll love the new place once we get there, but I already love this place. My apply orchard, and my view of Mt McClure all day, and my crazy-cool mountain range…. and my amazingly-awesome Methow pals!! Don’t get me wrong, I like moving, I like new places and new people, I’m excited about this move, I really am. Really. But the Methow Valley is a place like no other, and I really hope we get to come back to visit often. And my Methow besties better not forget about me!!

Leavenworth Oktoberfest

Come visit me ALL THE TIME! And we still have to go on our annual ski trip…and we have to go wine tasting…and we could go – DON’T FORGET ME!!!!

North Cascades from Mt McClure, Twisp WA

This is my current backyard. Hard to beat…

 

I told you I was feeling all nostalgic and gooey. But I guess this just points out that I have come to call this place “home”. And that’s a big deal, in my world. I am super excited for the adventure of a new place, but I’m leaving a little piece of my heart here in the Methow.

Good talk, I feel better. Thanks, yall.

😀





Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

14 02 2012

Well, actually Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles sing a whole song about it, which will now be stuck in my head for next week or so….

Aren’t you excited you haven’t just opened up yet another post about Valentine’s Day?!  I neither love or hate this holiday – I’m indifferent.  My sweetie-peatie sugar bear is good to me all the time, and an unexpected bouquet of wild flowers or surprise pizza after a rough day of work beats anything given out of a sense of obligation just because its February 14th.

Ok, that rant over, here’s the good news: we finally made it to Texas last week and had a great trip!  Lady Winter cooperated this time and we had no problems whatsoever.  Over the pass, night in Seattle, early flight, landed in DFW by 2pm – wam bam thank you ma’am!

We did some touristy stuff in Ft. Worth to give J a feel for the place – it was his first time.  So we visited the Ft Worth Stockyards and Billy Bobs dancehall.  We ate some awesome Mexican food and drank a ZiegenBoch.  It was fun.

Ft Worth Stockyards, Texas

Historic Texas

Over the next several days, we relaxed and enjoyed just being off work.  My mom and I chatted up a storm (as though we don’t talk at least once a week on the phone).  Thankfully my brother had brought his XBox, so they were happily occupied.

One day we jumped the border into Oklahoma and went to the casino.  I’m sad to say I came out with less than I went in with.  Maybe it was all the free Dr Pepper, but I just turn into a wild child!  The bright lights and exciting sounds of the slot machines lure me in.  Don’t worry, I don’t stay at the same machine if I’ve lost 50 without a win.  I know my limits.  No gambling addiction here!  I finally started winning towards the end, but it wasn’t enough to make up for my initial losing, so I had a net loss of $200.  Oops, forgot the period: $2.00.  So what if I was playing the penny machines?!  Don’t judge me!  And I still got all the free popcorn I could eat, so there.  Losing 50 cents at a time still hurts.

The weather cleared up and we took a little trip out to the ranch.  I’ve been so excited to show J my world – the different landscape, different flora and fauna, different everything.  He’s now been introduced to mesquite trees, briars, red clay, oil wells and a foraging armadillo.  Being true rednecks, we of course brought an arsenal with us, hoping to track down a few wild hogs to shoot.  They’re taking over out there, running off the deer – bad news for our deer lease.  Sadly the only thing anyone shot was the can I killed when Dad showed me his fancy 6-shot revolver.

The second time we went out there, Dad put us to work.  The briars are really trying to take over, which is no bueno when you need grass for cattle.  Briars are basically just a long vine that reminds me of the blackberry brambles we have up here in Washington.  I’ve never gotten close enough to the blackberries for a comparison, but the briars of Texas are covered in these vicious thorns that make them the biggest pain in the rear to clear.  It had rained the night before (gasp! rain?!) so we couldn’t resort to the usual clearing method of setting everything on fire.  My family is a bunch of pyros who will burn anything given the slightest reason.

To keep up the redneck-ness, we went two-stepping the very same night.  We couldn’t go to Texas and not show J a real-life honky-tonk!  Truthfully, I think he was more amazed at the 75-cent drink special than at the dancing. But we had a great time spinning around the dance floor.  I even got him out on the floor for the Cotton-Eyed Joe before my brother or dad could warn him otherwise.

It might be February to the rest of the world, but this trip also happened to be my family Christmas.  My mom even kept the tree up.  So Saturday we opened presents, giggled in our pjs, and cooked a big lunch.  Well, Dad did most of the cooking, watching the ribs out on the grill.  Then the entire family came over to eat, visit, and laugh.  Just wonderful.  The party included both grandparents, aunts, uncles, my cousin and her new baby, and my uncle from Houston whom I haven’t seen in years – a party indeed!  We stuffed our faces with bar-b-que, beans, potato salad, and coleslaw.  The living room chatter lasted well into the afternoon.  I basked in it.  🙂

Before flying out on Sunday, we managed to squeeze in one last visit.  Two of my besties from college drove over to meet us for brunch.  It was a mini reunion full of reminiscing and catching up.  I really miss my ladies.  And J got to meet some of my old pals.

You know, I have a hard time defining “home.”  I mean, I live in Washington.  Sometimes I say I’m from Oregon – that’s the last place I moved from.  My high school years were in Kansas and I did a stint in Colorado.  But there’s something about Texas…something that gets in your blood and pumps through your veins, no matter where you relocate to.  I may never live in Texas again (don’t tell my momma) but I’ll always be a Texan.  Like they say, born and bred.  So even though I came home with a sad face and a lovely case of poison ivy, happy to be back in my mountains with the snow and cold, my heart belongs to Texas.

heart of Texas

Deep in the Heart (decalzone.com)





Working for a Living

28 04 2011

My fabulous employer allowed me to keep my job when I moved, since everything I do is internet based.  Working from home can be….challenging.  I think a lot of people have a very romanticized view of what its like.  You’re probably wrong.  Thankfully, you have me to adjust your perspective. Your welcome.

I know what you’re thinking, I can see the vision you have:  me in my pj’s, curled up in my recliner, cup of cocoa in hand, no make-up, glasses, hair like a tornado hit in my sleep, signing in at 8:15 so people think I’m “working,” snoozing for a bit longer.  I laugh in your face!  I knew you would think that, and you are SO wrong!  I don’t even own a recliner!

Its funny the changes that have occurred, due to the fact that I will very possibly see not one single person besides Justin for the entire day.  Sweat pants and a pony-tail?  Jeans and that t-shirt I’ve had since junior high?  Not a chance!  I’ve pulled things from my closet that have never met.  “Hi denim skirt, I’m a suit jacket, nice to meet you.  Have you met pink tights yet?”  Its almost like I play dress up with my own clothes.  And I love most of what I’ve put together so far!  Dresses, tights, boots, tank tops, shorts, jackets….  I don’t like “fashion” per se, but I love clothes.  My hair hasn’t been straightened in weeks, and I’m getting used to working with the curls.  I always held the lofty assumption that I don’t care what people think of me, but isn’t it interesting what has changed since there’s no one around to judge except me…

Much to the disappointment of those who doubt me, I have done well on the discipline front.  After donning the day’s fabulous threads, I sit in my corner office with my coffee and get to work.  Of course I get up every once in a while to stretch my legs, grab a snack, check the day’s activities in the orchard, grab a drink to wash down the snack…no one can sit at a desk for 9 hours not moving, and I have just as much to do no matter where my desk sits.   However, I can’t run to Lone Pine with Nicole, I can’t gossip with Paul, and I can’t discuss silly puppy antics with Meghan by the drink cooler while trying to decide which flavor of LifeWater I want.  Truth be told, I think I’m getting more work done since I have less distractions.  Oh, how I miss my delightful distractions.  I also work through lunch most days since all lunch requires is a quick dig through the fridge or cabinets, whip up something, and take it back to my cozy cubby.  Some days I take my lunch to do errands, like the grocery store or post office, just to leave the house.  My latest lunchtime get-away is working out.  Billy Blanks and I bust it up in my living room like we’re out to save the world.  I just ordered a new pilates DVD from Amazon that I’m stoked to try.  Nothing like sweating up a storm in the middle of the work day.  Talk about blowing some steam!

Then there’s my window.  Its wonderful to look up from a tedious project or frustrating client issue to check out what’s

Lucky Bamboo and Window View

Babs, Jr, my lucky bamboo, and part of my window view

going on in my 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 -foot piece of the world.  I’ve started noticing familiar vehicles, zooming back and forth each day.  Moxie, the landlord’s dog, trots up each day to roam around the pasture across the road for a bit.  Those birds must be more fun to chase, or the grass full of more exciting smells.  I feel like the mailman is an old friend, pausing each day in his green jeep cherokee to fill the box.  I’ve caught myself almost waving, knowing he probably can’t see me anyway.  Mt McClure gazes down from his cloudy peaks, keeping me company.  Little birdies have been playing in the grass this last week, just having a blast, pecking around, tossing twigs and leaves, chattering away to one another.  I envy their carefree antics in the sunshine.

There are a few interruptions to my day that really stand out.  (I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re probably the only interruptions…)  Since I have no one to disturb and can have my music playing all day, I don’t always notice what song is playing.  Until one of my favorites come on.  Shakira!! My hips don’t lie, either!  Aye-aye-yi-yi!!  Oh boy!  A few spins in my chair, a little pounding on the desk, maybe a stomp or two…its glorious.  Back to work.  Then the phone rings!  Alright!  Who could it be??  Who cares!  Hi, how are you?!  A coworker, an old friend, even my bored brother – a human voice on the other end of the line.  Sweet, sweet voice.

And then , finally, the door opens and Justin walks in, home from his own daily grind.  Its usually 5:30 or 6.  I realize I’m starving, and my projects of the day are all abandoned in favor of my favorite distraction.  Just another day, living the dream, concluded as usual.  🙂








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