We’ve passed a watermark in our lives: we’ve been in the Santa Fe house for one year now.

I know. Time seriously flies, right?

So today I’m officially retiring the “Big Move” and “Big Switch” labels. It seems right. That part of our lives is over now. We switched; we moved. We’re here now. One year ago on August 14, we pulled our U-Haul truck into this driveway, moved stuff out of the Jeep and into the front seat of the truck. David climbed in and he, Zip and I drove into town to close on the house, just a hair before the 4:30 courthouse cut-off. With house keys in hand, which we pretty much had to wrest out of our dim-witted realtor’s hand – it’s a long story – we returned to the house, having made only a quick stop for a frozen pizza and beer. We unpacked the bed and ate the pizza watching the sunset.

In commemoration, I took this photo. I spent the evening reading on the patio anyway. I’m so blessed to have this kind of view.

(Um, no – this is still the old point and shoot camera. I’m working on it, okay? I did have this idea that I’d take an anniversary family photo with the new camera on the tripod, but I had significant learning curve still to overcome and David was scruffy and studying and it was hot out and the the animals wouldn’t have liked it and, and, and…)

David and I spent a lot of the weekend talking about how our lives have changed in this last year. It’s good to have watermarks like this, to measure the high and low tides of our lives. By the end of this week, he will have completed the first of three years of schooling. Completed with flying colors, I should add.

It’s another watermark that I have the new camera. Moving here really got me going on photography. I’ve been throwing all my Santa Fe photos into a “Santa Fe” subfolder under “House” – which is an artifact of moving in. Most of them are named by date. Like a careless banking programmer, however, they’re labeled with month and day. Now that I’ve wrapped the year, I need to sort them into year groupings, to avoid duplication. Fortunately it appears I didn’t get it together (read: I spent all my time unpacking) to start taking pictures by date until 9_17.

Gives me a bit of breathing room.

Now we commence the second year, of school, of the new place. I know what to expect from the plants and the weather. We have a pattern to follow now, a high tide line.

That was just the first year of the rest of our lives.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

I had this teacher of Taoist philosophy who insisted that, if you were working with the Tao, then things would feel easy.

It’s like the joke about the Rabbi, the Priest and the Taoist approaching the raging river. The Priest kneels down and prays to God for safe passage across the river. The Rabbi divides the water and walks through. The Taoist steps into the current and gestures for it to keep going in the same direction.

Okay, it’s not a FUNNY joke.

But it does illustrate a principle that, while some religious philosophies seek to control or change the world, Taoists try to find which way things are already going and ride that wave. So, the corollary to this is, if what you’re trying to do is really difficult, you’re fighting the current. If you’ve found the current, things are easy. Just float along in your inner tube and drink your beer.

I’m not sure if I agree with this or not.

There are certainly good examples in our lives of things falling into place, not the least of which our recent serendipitous switch to moving to Santa Fe instead of Victoria. That was certainly the case of knocking on some doors and seeing which one opened. And every-damn-thing fell into place. It was truly amazing to watch.

I have long been accused of taking the easy way. Of cruising.

I was a naturally good student, so rarely studied. I read books in class because I could always answer the question the teacher’s asked, no matter how they tried to catch me out. I could get A’s without trying, so why try? In college I had to try harder, but I didn’t kill myself by any stretch, to my advisor’s dismay. My PhD advisor was even sharper in his disapproval, often castigating me for not pushing myself, for doing just enough to get by.

So, I can see it. I’m not a hard worker. I’m a grasshopper by nature and generally at peace with that.

But with this ruthless revision — the one you’re undoubtedly sick of hearing about — I’m trying really hard to take the time to do it right. I’m working HARD at it. And feeling a bit sulky about it, to tell the truth. I want to see if it’s true, that if you put in all that effort that all the theys want you to put in, will it really result in a hugely better product?

I’m at this point in the book where I got stuck when I was drafting it. It’s about 80% of the way through. I solved the problem then by jumping in the river and letting the current take me. Turns out we meandered past some neat scenery, but ended up in a stagnant pool.

So, now I’m consciously directing it. Thinking thinking thinking. With lots of second guessing. And it’s making me tired. I know that sounds silly, but I’ve been doing this writing a couple hours every day/working full-time career-type job all day deal for years now and this push is draining me. Sleeping 11 hours a night draining.

Which makes me worry that I’m fighting the current.

Maybe its my Catholic ancestors, whispering in my ear that I should confess, purge and pray. Maybe its the Pagan ones before that, telling me to sacrifice to the spirit of the river.

Maybe I should just get back to work.

Yes, My Hat Is Black

My life now is about negotiations.

I find myself becoming a shark. A surprising development, but there you are. We’ve all always known I’m not an especially nice person, but lately I find myself becoming downright mean.


And still: I don’t regret it. Sometimes I think you have to be a bit mean, to fight for your own interests. Because there sure seem to be plenty of people out there who will take you for what they can if you let them.

Quick Summary: (nod to Marin)

We offered on Puerto Court, they countered, very high. We countered with a firm offer. If they won’t take it, then we’re offering on Glorieta, which is lovely and wonderful also. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’ll have to skim the last few posts here, here and here.) Seems the people selling Puerto bought it just a year ago, lost the job and had to move. The house has been empty and on the market since December. The seller’s agent and even our agent feel bad for the sellers and seem to think we should make up more of the price difference.

Hence me feeling mean.

I’m sorry the market slumped. EVERYBODY is sorry. We lost about $100K of value off our house and that’s a sorry thing. But it doesn’t hurt us so much because we still have a lot of equity in our house. Which was a house we could easily afford. I’m sorry that things went badly for this other couple, but I really don’t feel we should agree to a less than ideal financial decision for us, to make things up to them.

Call me mean, indeed.

So, that’s where we stand. Hopefully the Puerto folks will be smart and take the offer. I really do feel it’s generous, given all we have to do to fix up the house.

Stay tuned…

A bit of my melodrama:

You must pay the rent!

I can’t pay the rent!

You MUST pay the rent!

I CAN’T pay the rent!

Where is my hero in dusty chaps and a silver Prius? Oh wait, I’m the bad guy!

And the Winner Is… (the real, for sure, one)*

6 Puerto Court!!!
I know. NONE of you voted for it.
Because it’s a bit shabby in the current pics. I understand. Really, I do. This is all about the potential.

Actually, these pics are from the last time it sold, before it was abandoned for nearly a year and left to languish. And be invaded by mice.

I should mention that the whole “get rid of the mice smell” thing is in the offer.

But after that, some paint, some landscaping and some love ought to shine it up again.
Oh, and a refrigerator.
Who takes a refrigerator when they move?? Taking votes now on THE refrigerator to buy. And yes, in three to four years, we’ll likely leave it behind. After all, who takes a refrigerator when they move? Yeah.

No, you’re not seeing double. This is the master bedroom. The great room kiva fireplace has saltillo tile, the master kiva fireplace has carpet. (Soiled, nasty, soon to go.) They’ve done funky things with the shades in this pic, but the view above? Right out these windows, too.
I’m fantasizing about one of those four-poster beds right now. Oh yeah. A collection for my birthday, maybe? Only 29 shopping days left!

Okay, I know it’s fatuous to show a picture of the master walk-in closet.
But lookee!!

I’ve ALWAYS wanted one. Always, always, always. I’m like the woman in Broadcast News who converted her guest room into a closet. Only I didn’t. Still, I understand the urge.

SO ready to fill those nooks. Once the mouse-smell is gone. Did I mention the mouse smell? No no no.

And master bath. Needs work, alas. No, Felicia, I didn’t get the house with the fab tub. There is a tub, but it’s beensie. WHAT are they thinking?? But, the bath is huge and we’re thinking remodel dollars here. I’m seeing tile surround. I’m seeing sunken tub. I’m seeing glassed-in shower. Ask me again in two years, k?

Guest bath. Decent, eh? No good pics of guest bedrooms. Very blah. We’ll work on them. But come visit anyway!!

Big move now scheduled for August 14. Taking visitor reservations after that. We promise quiet, big skies, sunsets and coyotes yipping at night. You provide the rest.


*Oops, actually not! See later posts for news that Glorieta won with a last-minute nose across the line!

Our Eight Lovely Finalists

1 Azul Place.

Pros: Most bedrooms, great rain catchment system with drip irrigation. Lovely office. Decent views, with more view potential. Trombe walls. Nice guest suite set-up. Kiva fireplace and patio access in master. Sunken master bath tub.
Cons: On private well which may have issues. Possible offer already.

6 Puerto Court.

Pros: Nice view, fenced yard, walled patio, trombe walls, kiva fireplace in master and patio/yard acess. Empty now for immediate move-in.

Cons: small bath tubs. Views aren’t perfectly framed. Needs a refrigerator. Not as glamourous.

4 Glorieta Road.

Pros: Fabulous views. Best asking price. Really lovely inside. Fantastic walled garden with grape arbor pergola.

Cons: Not in the best sunset-watching position. No fenced yard for the dog and proximity to wild wash could mean danger for the pets. Smaller.

4 Cibola Circle.

Pros: Most traditionally “Santa Fe.” Pretty mountain environment with gorgeous patio. Cozy and lovely, close to town.

Con: Highest per square foot cost. Small. No tub in master. No views. Propane heat. Some highway noise.

4 Camino San Lucas.

Pros: New, perfectly framed views. Gorgeous design. Premium lot.

Cons: Not quite finished. NO internet yet???

Ooops. Now I’m out of time. The remaining ones are:

1 Montana Court

30 Azul Loop

15 Monte Alto

Input?? Votes???

Under Contract

Oh yeah.

I totally buried the lead on my last post. Blogger’s privilege. Somehow, the bigger the news, the more I want to de-emphasize it. Don’t make the gods jealous and all that.

So, yes, I absolutely told you about my suitcase caroming down the escalator and miraculously killing NO toddlers and only casually mentioned selling our house.

Which we have. Under contract. Sweet words indeed.

The bad news side of our good news is that they all wanted to move in RIGHT AWAY. Being the flexible types that we are, we (read: me) TOTALLY REARRANGED our plan. And we’re leaving for Santa Fe tomorrow to house hunt. My job? The one I get paid to do? I’ll work in the car while David and my mother drive. Yes, of course she’s coming along. House-shopping and Santa Fe are at the high end of her top-ten list — it would be cruel to keep her away. Plus she’s a delight to have along. I give thanks every day that David thinks so, too. And no, I’m not just saying that because she reads my blog.

Just so you can feel sorry for me: I figure I get to spend eight nights in July at home. Isn’t that sad? My home that I’m about to sell. To Californians! At least they’re moving here to be in the UW English Department, which means they love/read/write books. This gives me a lovely sense of continuity. And they love the fish pond, so are unlikely to fill it in.

I know. I know. I shouldn’t care. Here I am, pretending that I don’t.

La la la.


Okay, yes, I’m punchy. See me after another week of house-hunting and a work-trip to Nashville.

Maybe Marin has a point, that not only is it not necessary to blog every day, but that it also might be a really bad idea some days.

But hey — stay tuned for more house-hunting pics! Wheee….

Gallantly Streaming

Normally I’m not what you’d call patriotic.

You know what I mean — I’m just not into the patriotic thing. I hang a flag on 4th of July, but not really any other time. I know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner and even the other verses of America the Beautiful, but that’s more being a lyrics nerd. I’ve never felt like I should buy an American car nor do I check if products are American made. I don’t have much patience for people who reduce discussions of the US to “love it or leave it” terms.

When we planned to move to Canada, it had nothing to do with my approval or disapproval of the American government. That’s not why we were going and my feeling towards the country of my birth and citizenship had nothing to do with anything. And we didn’t change our minds for those reasons.

So it surprises me to find that I’m feeling something about keeping our money in the country.

Never mind that we really felt like the Canadians tried to take us for all we’re worth. Never mind that they acted like our money was no good and that we deserved additional credit penalties on our mortgage, just for being Americans. There’s something else.

Something that has to do with the US Customs agents saying “Welcome Home,” when we come back into the country.

Certainly setting up a US mortgage feels like beyond easy at this point.

I participated in a webinar for work today on a new project. It’s for state efforts funded by the stimulus act, which requires a certain amount of the materials used to be American. We’d be evaluating the requests for waivers from the requirements, say if the widget needed can only be obtained from Japan. The examples of what we might look for naturally lead to the ways that an applicant might slant the research to show there’s no equivalent American product, whether from laziness or a vested interest in something else.

It made me think. Who would be the person who would deliberately not buy American? Probably no one. It’s more about the change in thinking, to deliberately seek out the American equivalent, if it exists. To go to some extra pain and expense to do so.

For a while my mom was resolved to buy nothing from China. After a while, she was forced to give up. In great frustration. It simply couldn’t be done, unless she went without. I suppose she could have done so, but that wasn’t really the point. She still makes the effort.

I suppose that’s what the Big Switch comes to. We wouldn’t have made the choice deliberately to keep our money in country, but now that we are, I feel good about it. So many budget cuts around us. It feels good to spend our money into something that will, in turn, give back to us.

Welcome Home.

The Big Switch?

Those of you who regularly read this blog know I’ve been in Santa Fe for work this last week, posting pretty pictures. This one is the last dregs of sunset from our little patio on the hill at Fort Marcy.

The other thing that’s been going on the last week is the Dealing with the Canadians. We’ve been trying to get the finances in place for the Big Move to Victoria, which is mainly about paying for the house we’ve nearly bought.

Which has been a major Pain in the Ass. Yes, this is the blog post of Many Capital Letters.

The pressure to sell our current house has been so great because the Canadians have been insisting on 35% down payment. Yes, a lot of money. This doesn’t even get us an amazing interest rate or monthly payment either, because they tack on extra points for Americans. Oh, and Americans can’t have amortizations of any longer than 25 years.
After a while, we began to feel like a particularly juicy American fish on an uncomfortable hook.
Our Victorian real estate agent has been great, but everyone else? Not so much. I started shopping around other mortgage brokers. Three never bothered to call me back. One said that, oh yes, we’d never do better than 35% down as Americans buying in Canada. Only one took the mission and he’s taken fully three weeks to not give us anything yet.
So there I was in Santa Fe, thinking how beautiful it is and how much we’ve always loved it. And talking on the phone with David about the Victoria PITA and how it just feels like the stars are not aligning for it. And I said, say, is there a good school here in Santa Fe? He looked it up. There is and it’s an Ivy League shool in the acupuncture community. Plus, it was only a few blocks away from where I was working. My colleagues and I swung by there at lunchtime. The facilities are the best of any I’d seen on the tours with David. The campus president was there, alert, attentive, produced an orientation and application packet immediately and there are openings for the Fall session.

David called and talked to him and likes this school even better than the Victoria one.

Our daughter, Lauren, the mortgage broker, looked up rates in Santa Fe and found us a stellar 10% down deal with her company.

Plus, her guy, Damion, is a mortgage broker licensed in New Mexico, so he can do the deal for us. Not only can we get a much better financial deal, they can benefit from the commission. MUCH better than feeding the Canadians their extortionate interest rates.

So this is what it feels like when the stars do start to align in your favor.
Unless the Canadians come up with a really stellar deal for us in the next few days, we’re moving to Santa Fe instead.
Which will be SO MUCH EASIER.
David and I spent a great deal of time in a school of thought that had you pursue your goals regardless of the obstacles. The greater the resistance, the more you were to screw up your will to break through. We could make Victoria happen; there’s no doubt of that. But we’ve come to believe over time that going with the flow of things can be its own reward. And when something is easy and drops in your lap, that’s something to be celebrated.
We’re feeling really good about this. After all the pressure, that’s something else to celebrate.
On the drive home, I saw a fleet of dragonflies at a rest area. They must have been hunting a hatch of some small insect. Easily three dozen enormous dragonflies filled the air over my head. It was magical and surreal. It felt like a good omen.