Lighting Out For The Territory

“But I reckon I better light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it.  I been there before.”

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn


While I wasn’t looking, someone snuck up behind me and bought my house.  Well, not exactly “bought” yet, but all contingencies are removed and the closing date is set for October 3.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  My realtor told me that our place is “special”, a euphemism for “old run down house with wonderful horse facilities.” She said it might take a year to sell, and that the right buyer would come along—someone who wasn’t too house proud, but who wanted to “live the dream,” as I did seventeen years ago.  Someone who had always wanted a horse of her own and had waited a very long time to get one—or two or three or maybe even four.  Someone, in short, just like me.  And let’s face it folks—how many people are out there who are just like me?  Apparently quite a few.  The house sold in ten weeks for close to the asking price. And there are back up buyers, who just didn’t get back to see it for a second showing in time.

For seventeen years, I put off having friends and family visit. I had no dinner parties because we were embarrassed.  The house was a mess.  The carpet was old, and pet worn and smelly, the roof leaked, the kitchen was hideous, the “powder room” was a disgrace with orange and brown tiles left over from the 1970’s. But my children, my dogs and my horses were blissfully happy with the place.  It was home. When my friend Catherine passed away in late 2012, she left me a little bit of money, which I used wisely for a new paint job, new carpet and curtains, a stunning garage renovation (after all, it belongs to my dogs!), a bathroom facelift and some nice hardware for the newly painted cabinets in the kitchen.  Friends began to visit.  They said, “We love your place.”  As I walked around the vacuumed soft carpet and outside among the newly trimmed hedges, pruned eucalyptus, reseeded pastures and freshly dragged arena, I said to myself, “They are right.  I love this place.”

But there was sadness here for me as well—the tack room with photos of children long grown and horses long passed lining the walls, the empty bedrooms, and the dogs dearly departing, one by one.  And the cost of maintenance in drought stricken energy gridlocked southern California was a daily reminder of the fact that in March of this year, I retired from my full time job so that I could experience a little more life, and a little less death.  It was a good decision, and one I don’t regret, but a reduction in cost of living was a necessary corollary.  So the house went on the market, and here we are.  I need to find a place to live and I don’t have much time.  My youngest son, and eighty nine year old father are still here in San Diego, but I yearn for the open spaces and big skies of the west.  New Mexico, with its spectacular sunsets and mix of cultures has indeed been the Land of Enchantment for me.

It’s not clear yet, but I may, like Huck, be soon lighting out for the territories.  I hope you will all come and visit.  Wish me good luck!

Lighting Out for the Territories

“But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally, she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it.  I been there before.”

Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain


As usual, I really should be asleep.  But there’s a load of laundry still in the dryer, and I haven’t packed yet.  We’ve got to leave for the airport in five hours.  I’m late, also as usual.  At 7:30 am Pacific time, my husband and I and our two sons will board a plane to Miami, where we will meet my father.  On Friday we will head out for Guayaquil, Ecuador where we will be joined by my sister and her family as we board the National Geographic ship Endeavor for a seven day tour of the Galapagos Islands.  My daughter is interviewing for residency programs—sadly she cannot join us.

The Galapagos was my eighty seven year old father’s idea.  As a plastic surgeon of some renown, he has traveled the world to operate, to teach, and to inspire.  But he has never been to the Galapagos, and this trip is on his “bucket list.”  Last January my husband and I traveled to Tanzania which was the trip of a life time for me, and the subject of another blog entry yet to come.  When we returned from Africa, my father said wistfully, “I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands.”  I said, “Dad, you’re 86.  If not now, when?”  After less than a moment’s consideration, he agreed. So off we go to cross the equator just as 2012 becomes 2013, most assuredly a better year for all of us.

For my birthday, I bought myself a new underwater waterproof camera, a compact Canon Powershot D20 point and shoot.  As an ex-competitive swimmer, I prefer being on TOP of the water, not underneath it, but I will overcome my claustrophobia and fear of large predators against whom I have no defense in the name of art, and don that snorkel gear.   And I will be taking the Canon D60 with a moderately good telephoto lens that I bought to take to Africa last year.  All batteries are charged.  As much as I hate the grey screen of my first generation Nook (truth be told, I love “real” books—always have, always will, but I’ll sacrifice in the name of luggage weight requirements!)  I’ve got several books loaded and ready to go.  Detailed (and I do mean detailed!) instructions are written out for my house/animal sitter which include the name of every veterinarian west of the Mississippi.  I am hoping that the clothes just fall into the suitcase by themselves.

My writing may be a bit sparse for the next two weeks, but once again, as I travel, I entreat my friends to write their own stories and send them to me at .   I do plan to have email access most of the time, and I know that most of my readers are also writers, so write on!  I can publish from afar.  And for those of you who are also travelling this time of year, Bon Voyage!