2008. Bring it on.

In the style of 2007, the year has ended and the new one begun with a flurry of change ….

* The house in Salida fell through. The appraisal came back as $20K than the agreed selling price. And that’s 20K that I don’t really have, especially for a 105 year old house that needs 2 new furnaces and may have some plumbing issues. So, I had to back out of the deal. Turns out that was a good thing for reasons soon to be revealed …

* I went to visit my folks over Xmas break. We had a fun time playing tourist in Charleston and Savannah. I got meet and hang out with her and her great friends in Atlanta.

* I also came out to my parents about Habiba, and I couldn’t have asked for better support. They were the poster parents for coming out: “You are old enough to make those choices for yourself. We just want you to be happy. In our minds, this is a positive thing because we know how much disappointment you’ve suffered in past relationships and we are happy that you have found someone to share things with. We look forward to meeting her.” Go, Mom and Dad!

* I got back to Boulder, and feeling free and strong from my parents’ endorsement, I had a week of feeling wonderfully close with Habiba, more in love than ever. We have even started making long term plans together. And then …

* Friday, she went in to a doc for a second opinion on this sinus infection that has been plaguing her for two months. They gave her a CAT scan and found a rather extensive growth throughout her sinus cavities on the right side and had begun to erode some of the bone in her face. Today, she had the biopsy. It is malignant. They are scheduling use to go in for more tests to see just what kind of cancer it is and how far it has spread.

We are choosing to stay hopeful. She is young (43). She is otherwise in great shape. And I’ve seen a number of friends and acquaintances go through successful cancer treatments in the past few years. It’s amazing what they can treat now. And, frankly, she is the most adoring partner I have ever known–everything I used to wish for but didn’t believe I could find–and I ain’t done with lovin’ on her.

More news as it arrives ….

Your thoughts and prayers are very welcome. Now, we’re off for a good night’s rest.

Peace and love, friends.

Grace

This whole Salida house buying thing has just been quite an education in grace. Not only did this place fall in my lap when I was only daydreaming about a house in Salida and not even looking. Not only is the place perfect for my needs. Not only did I not have to compete with any other offers and my soon-to-be neighbors are friends of mine. But my bank called today–the very day that I had decided to lock in whatever rate was available–to let me know that they are running a one-day special: 1/4% off market rate with no points.

In fact, when I woke up this morning, I thought to myself, “Dear God, what an incredibly easy and lucky thing this has been. I wonder what good thing will happen today.”

Hey, Universe, if I haven’t said it lately, then a big THANK YOU. You are truly amazing.

Late breaking edit: Apparently, my credit union’s contract with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac doesn’t allow the purchase of a duplex as a second home. It would have to be bought as an investment property. They were still going to offer me the low rate but the closing costs would have nearly tripled (which would have eaten up the equivalent to about 13 years of the savings that the lower rate would have given me). So, back to my mortgage broker with the normal interest rate. It’s not a bad deal, I’m just pissed for all the run around and having my emotions messed with. Grrrrrrr.

I win! I win!

The little house in the country is mine! It’s a 105 year old, cottage-style duplex near downtown Salida. It’s in need of no immediate repairs (although the floor in the back of the house is going to need some help at some point because the locusts are managing to grow their way up through the floor boards).

It was built just after 1900 as housing for workers during the railroad boom. (Salida used to be a major link in the Denver and Rio Grande railways.) The two-bedroom side would have housed a family and the one-bedroom side would have been used by multiple, single men rotating through their shifts. It is two blocks from Colorado’s largest historic district (beating out Leadville by about a block). It is 3 blocks from the Arkansas River and some of the best river rafting in Colorado. It is a 20 minute drive to Monarch, the only ski area in Colorado that doesn’t need to make any of its snow. It is about 30 minutes from where Christo and Jean Claude’s new art installation will be. It is within 45 minutes of 5 natural hot springs. (In fact, the local public pool is fed from a hot spring.) It has been rated in the top 100 art towns in the US for its many galleries and local artists. And it is nestled in a big valley that is ringed by some of the most beautiful and mountainous scenery you could ever hope to see.

I’ll keep the duplex as a fully furnished vacation rental for a while and let it help pay for itself. And when it isn’t occupied, it’ll be my 2nd home.

cut for pictures of my private paradise

Happy Birthday

I have been horribly remiss this summer and fall with passing along birthday wishes to my friends. Although these moments in their lives have not gone unnoticed by me, they have gone unacknowledged. Let me turn that trend around today, only one day late …

Happy Birthday, !

May this next year be full of happiness, friendship, and wealth. I’m glad you are in my life and in the world. Your ongoing pursuit of integrity and depth continues to inspire and uplift me.

Little House in the Valley

Remember the little town I stayed in this summer while I was finishing my thesis and recuperating? Well, I picked it because I had a suspicion that I might like to live there some day. And the more I was there, the more I fell in love with the place and, of course, made friends. And when I got back to Boulder, I just hated how frenzied and crowded it felt. Neither my positive feelings about my little town nor my negative feelings about city living have worn off.

Well, “some day” is starting to look closer to reality. I made friends with the landlords of the place I rented there. We’ve gotten together when I’ve gone back and when they’ve come here. And last time we met, I told them that if they ever wanted to sell their little rental property, they should let me know.

Last week, they sent out an email to their friends, asking for interest in purchasing the place. They are going to collect offers for the next couple of weeks and then decide. Apparently, there is quite a lot interest and my offer is going to be only one of what sounds like many.

I’m working on magic on my end with my credit union and my mortgage broker. On one hand, I gotta be crazy to buy a second home that I won’t be able to live in full-time or even seriously part-time for years to come. On the other hand, looking out into the future, this town is where I wanna end up, and I really like this little 100 year old house so close to downtown but not in the fray, and housing values (and costs) are going up there (contrary to national trends due to some recent positive publicity) so I might be able to quickly build equity, and I could offset the mortgage payments with a little income by keeping it as a vacation rental for a while, so ….

It would be a shame for something like financial fears or burdens to get in the way of something like this. And, as my dad pointed out, it all seems so perfect that it must be ordained!

So, please wish me luck! I’ll submit my offer sometime in the next week and should know by the end of the month if it’ll be my little house in the valley.

Resting Place

In October, Habiba and I did the rounds of Boulder art studios during their “Open Studios” weekends. I found a potter whose work I liked. One of my favorite pieces was a blue, salt-fired jar, with a totem of movable ceramic fishes on a pole that came up from the lid. But I couldn’t figure out where I would put it in the house where I could enjoy it, and I can’t justify purchasing something that I wouldn’t have some sort of relationship with.

But, last week, I had the idea to see if she’ll make me an urn for Doo’s ashes–one like her fish jar but with a little floppy-eared, brown dog on top. She said yes! She even asked for pictures of Doo so that she could try to make the dog look as much like him as possible. I’m going over to her studio tomorrow to talk about a style and shape and I’d like.

Tax Collectors and Preachers

I mostly enjoyed my weekend at the abbey. I loved the remoteness and hard beauty of the land. I loved the chanting of the Psalms at Vespers and Compline. But the preaching, not so much.

I woke up early on Sunday morning and figured I’d check out mass since I dig ritual and it had been years since I had sat through a Catholic Mass. I’m good with all of the up and down, bow and straighten, genuflect and sign of the cross stuff. I even do some of it because I like the way it feels. But when it came time for the homily (sermon), I rankled.

The priest chose to talk about a story in Luke which concerned a pharisee and a tax collector and the differences in how the two pray. As a lead-in, he had told an amusing anecdote about overhearing part of a cell phone conversation and then proceeded to teach that context is important to understanding what you hear. So, to better understand the parable, he said, it is important to know that, between the pharisee and tax collector, the latter was, in principle, the lesser of two individuals because the tax collector exploits his own people. (How this is not also true of pharisee in Jesus’ time and place, I’m not clear.)

Now, if you’ve studied the socialist perspective on history and theology, you’ll immediately know why I rankled. Continue reading

Thanks, friends

Your prayers and well-wishing are working.

I’m feeling calmer today. Still understandably sad in the little Doo-shaped hole in my heart (like, for example, when I sat on the floor to put on my socks and shoes and he wasn’t there to play the “knock the sock off your head” game). But also pretty peaceful (like, after noticing that the sock game had become a rare occurrence because he was so constantly anxious and confused that he couldn’t keep track of where I was and having a sock draped over his head wasn’t helping).

I find myself excited about the future, dabbling in my dreams of a Ph.D. in religious studies (the program I want to go to has been undergoing some really wonderful changes and is looking better all the time) and of building/renovating a house in Salida (it would have a living green roof with a little belfry sticking up that would be used only for meditation in order to preserve the power of the silence of the space and would have 360 degree views of the mountains all around).

OK, those dreams are a bit conflicting, I know. But I’m enjoying holding open the possibilities.

In the meantime, I’ve written the Benedictine abbey, asking for retreat this weekend to re-ground myself in the comforting emptiness that is so present in me right now. As life breathes, I have been doing a lot of exhaling in the last year. And I feel an inhale coming on.