Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaving New Hampshire, and Texas

Upper Village, Hillsboro, NH

Yesterday morning Chris took a 9am flight to San Antonio.  Rather than roll us all out of bed at 6am to drive him there, as if I even could, I suggested he drive himself to the airport.  Chris and I had a wee bit of coffee and a short time together, and he drove off before the sun came up, which these days could be nearly any time before 8:00 am, sassafrassin' Daylight Savings Time.  Dad and I made plans to drive to Manchester later to retrieve the Jeep.

He was not particularly pleased to be traveling with two gigantic fifty-pound suitcases, and two carry-ons.  Chris is a man who can leave for a week packed with one small suitcase that fits in the overhead compartment.  This is something I think he has to do to strike a balance for the Universe, because when I leave for a week it is with two fifty-pound bags.  Or maybe I'm the one striking the balance, because he so woefully underpacks.  Life's great mysteries.

Scaling Mount Everest at the NH Audubon Society

Back in early September, Chris drove from Texas to New Hampshire in the heavily-loaded Jeep.  He made record time until he came to Vermont, where bridges wiped out by flooding from Hurricane Irene took away all of his gains.  The Jeep did really well on the drive, but its much-abused shocks and its engine have had their share of little mechanical issues.   We will not be taking it back to Texas.  It will serve us better waiting here for the next time we want to fly out for an extended visit.  Hence Chris, and his fifty-pound bags. 

As I write, my children have turned two of our big suitcases into pillowed and portable forts.  Later today, once they've been vacated, I'll be working on packing those bags.  I'll be packing things I don't normally pack, like scooters, and planning to ship some things that couldn't travel in luggage, like a microscope.  At least one of the 4 suitcases we're taking home will be full of craft supplies and books.  If they don't all fit into one, Quinn's stroller will get to relocate to New Hampshire sooner than Quinn, and I'll pack another bag.  Sorry, stroller.  You'll learn to love the winters.

A wry Griffin in front of the grape arbor
We all have mixed emotions about leaving this time.  The boys seem to be 100% excited to return to Texas, and 100% sad to be leaving New England.  I am so thoroughly enjoying myself right now - fall has always been my favorite season - that I can scarcely imagine returning to the unseasonably warm afternoons and blazing sunshine of McKinney. Of course, they're not unseasonable for Texas, they're right on track.  Only unseasonable to my expectations of Autumn.  Chris had no choice but to return, he had a meeting in San Antonio and then he'll fly home to Dallas on Wednesday, where we will join him on Saturday.

We are planning to move ahead with selling the house in McKinney.  Before he left in September, Chris did a walk-through with our realtor and made an outline of what needs to be done.  Some of it will be done, like staining the fence.  Some of it will not be done, like replacing all of the floors (puh-lease).  Once we are able to put the house on the market, our plan is to return to New Hampshire while it is being shown.   We have an outline, but we do not have a timeline.

"Keene Pumpkin Festival" or "Holy Yellow Tree, Batman!"

One of my friends in Texas is a homeschooling Mom to three boys.  As you may imagine, there are as many reasons for choosing to homeschool as there are homeschooling families.  When asked why she does it, Brianna responds, "I want my sons to have a chance to make their avocation their vocation".  I understood the gist of what she was saying, but I'd be lying if I pretended I didn't look up avocation when I went home.  You know, just to get the nuances right.

With apples from Grandpa's trees.

av·o·ca·tion noun
1. something a person does in addition to a principal occupation, especially for pleasure; hobby: Our doctor's avocation is painting.  2. a person's regular occupation, calling, or vocation. 3. Archaic. diversion or distraction.

Making the best of wherever we are in life, making lemonade out of lemons is a laudable personal philosophy and one we all need in our toolbox.  (Or shall I say, in our knitting bag - why should men get all the action imagery?)  The trick is to have the discernment to know when we've crossed from creatively working with our present realities, to accepting our present realities as immutable fact.

I've collected quite a few old address labels over the past 41 years.  Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and now Texas.  (Be forewarned, in order to capture my innate personal glamour more correctly, my future memoir may also include some less well-documented moves I made to Paris, Scotland, Nepal and Manhattan.  Not to say New Hampshire, Nebraska and Texas aren't glamorous.  But they're not.)  

I've made a home for myself in every place I've ever lived, but I've learned that New England is my spiritual home.  I am lucky to have married a native Texan who feels just the same way.  Now we want our everyday home and our spiritual home to be the same place.

Another native Texan
In moving back to New England, we will incur some losses.  We'll lose daily contact with some beloved friends and family we have in Texas.  Quinn will deal with the loss of the only home he has ever known, and Griffin says he will lose the "the home I've grown up in!".  Yes, he did refer to having grown-up as a 'fait accompli'.  He's 8.

There will be some positive losses, too.  Our real estate portfolio will go from 3 to 2 homes, a much more manageable number.  We will lose the need to pay astronomical electric bills from April to September.  We will purge a lot of our unwanted belongings in the process of the move.  I will effortlessly lose 20 pounds, and our dog will lose her ability to shed buckets of hair every hour.  Don't question me, I'm manifesting here.

Of course there will also be gains, but I'll save those for another post. 

So today I'll start the packing that will take us from New Hampshire to Texas.  When I return to Texas on Saturday, I will sit down in a chair with some yarn and and some needles, possibly for as long as 3 days.  I will come to terms with the imminent chaos, and then I'll start packing again for Points Unknown, New England.

Does anyone have a lot of cardboard boxes?

Old County Lane, the road we grew up on.

Best -


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Leaving Maine

       Chris took a business trip to San Antonio the week before we had scheduled ourselves to depart for New Hampshire, and that event signaled the close of what felt like our neverending vacation in Maine.  He came home from the airport, we celebrated his birthday with friends, then Dad packed up his big red truck and headed out, the first to leave.  Chris and I moved into winding-down mode and with that came all of the reflective thoughts that leaving our Maine life seems to bring out in us. I made lists for what had to leave, what could stay, and began the first of what must have been 25 different loads of laundry.The kids carried on as they always do, maybe whining a little bit more because we were preoccupied with packing  Quinn would say, "1st we're going to New Hampshire, then we're going home to TEXAS!".  He always says Texas in capital letters.

Chris and I have a long history of taking our coffee together in the morning.  It gives us a half hour or so to come together before the day gets away from us.  We just chat and fix our ideas of what we need or hope to do in the day.  The children now understand that coffee time is our time, Mom & Dad time that we take every day.  Because we've been so firm about this,  they only interrupt us every 3 minutes, which is quite generous as their normal Interrupting Mom & Dad setting is notched at 45 seconds.  It is quite peaceful, you can really get a lot of words strung together in an extra 2 minutes of kid-free silence.  I know, we're the envy of parents everywhere.   What can I say?  We are paragons of parental discipline.

When we chat in Maine, we are usually talking about what we love about Maine, and about the house that we built there.  I am often talking about how nourished I feel stepping out my front door into nature, being around tall trees, wild meadows and the easy beauty of ocean views around every turn.  Chris is often talking about....well, wait.  I think Chris is mostly nodding along.   I'm also talking about the dozens of small seredipitous events that led to the Maine house becoming what it is, something that so clearly has become greater than the sum of its parts.  It is a house with a clear and inviting energy, sitting on a piece of remarkable land that has been appreciated and used by men and women, native and european, for many thousands of years.  I relax completely when I'm there, and so does Chris.

We are also talking about what we love about our lives in Texas.  Our dear friends there, the home that we've made in the house we live in, being near my mother-in-law, and the way that you can pretty much always find something to do outside the house.  9 times out of 10 it involves visiting some form of retail establishment, but if you've ever lived through a Texas August or a New England February, you do not knock anything that keeps you from being stuck indoors with your children for weeks on end, even if it's a trip to Target. 

We don't really know which way we're headed at the moment.  We know when Chris is returning to Texas, but we do not have a date for the boys and I.  We know we want to put the Texas house on the market, but we do not have a firm timeline.  We know that Chris has been approached about a new job focused 50% on the Northeast, and the rest on the east coast, but we don't have a timeline for that, either.  We do not know when we will see our Maine house again, or who will be living in it this winter.

So, we're in limbo, in New Hampshire.  But you won't hear me complaining,  I complain very little, I am trying not to go nuts from the uncertainty.  Fall in New Hampshire is such a breath of fresh air. 

If you also don't live here any longer, maybe you have also forgotten that wherever you go, leaves are falling. They're twirling above you, 20' above the ground, 10' above the ground, across the ground, in whirling dervishes on the sidewalk.  The drop in front of you and behind you when you walk, hit you on the head, and make surprisingly loud noises as they clatter down branches in an otherwise quiet forest.  Squirrels sound like small bears when they run across the crunchy leaves, more than once my heart rate has spiked thinking I wasn't alone in the woods.  [Sidenote - if I ever find the devil that produced that beeping Sasquatch audio book I watched 14 times in the first grade, I'm going to tie him to Peter Benchley, throw them in my father's root cellar with a cask of red wine and brick them both in.]

Rain, rain, go away.  Dad and I are going to take the boys off to run some errands, and let Chris work upstairs in peace.  I am happily knitting away on a pair of stranded mittens called Fiddleheads.  The forest floors are covered in ferns here in New Hampshire, so I thought they were an apt choice.

More soon.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Shot of Winter

The view from the Frazier's house, that little white thing is an old lighthouse called The Sparkplug
Quinn has a head cold, which I am surely fighting, and so fatigue is setting in.  I wanted to post some photos of some of our fun before I coax the boys into going to bed at 8.  If it were up to me, I'd be asleep now at 7:20.

We spent the past weekend in Bangor.  We really love the city, but our visit was a little wet.  It rained the entire time, and being in one tiny hotel room with two rambunctious boys is a little trying.  God bless Embassy Suites, may we never stay anywhere else again.  We did have a great visit to the Maine Discovery Center again.  Did you know that Bangor has the oldest operating Symphony in the US?  I'm telling you, I love that town.
The homemade wagon train
Chris flew out at 7am Sunday morning to make the 12 hour trek to San Antonio.  That's how long it takes when your first flight is out of Airport 1964, and you have to make 2 connections through Airport 1978.  Unfortunately for all of us, he missed his flight back on Wednesday morning, which meant he arrived at midnight instead of 4pm.  Dad very generously sacrificed himself to the late night pickup, and both of them were home and in bed here by 2am. 

<><><><> <><><><> <><><><>
Possibly my favorite night here.  Tea, music, and a jigsaw puzzle with Griffin
Bangor has what looks like a highly effective 'Don't Locate Your Business Here' strategy going with their airport policies.  American pulled out because their landing fees are so high.  Two flights out a day on Delta means that no serious company would ever headquarter here.  If it's rabid growth they're concerned about, I think they could leave that fear at the feet of the 'Winter Starts in October' gods, and trust.

Quinn and Griffin have become especially creative at making up games and making new toys during our time here.  As the pictures show, they've appropriated the boxes their Lincoln Logs came in and made them into a sort of wagon train by adding on another contraption from their play tents.  They are having even more fun with a bag of my polyfiberfil.  It turns out it is hilarious to stuff your shirts with the stuff and then bounce bellies with each other.  They're sort of like mini anglo sumo wrestlers. 

It seems that weather everywhere likes to do this, give you a little glimpse of what's coming ahead.  In Texas that means that autumn is on its way when you'll find a couple of sweet 85 degree days in the midst of a week at 105.  In New England it means that winter is coming when we leave the 60s and hover in the high 40s for a day or two.  I must still have thin southern blood.  I'm cold!  But I like it.   I turned the heat on in the afternoon twice this week.  Being a child of New Hampshire, I feel a little decadent heating a house above 60, but I'm spoiling myself and running it at 64 for now.  It will be turned off when we go to bed, and in the low 50's in the living room when I wake up tomorrow.  I bought a fleece jacket.
Looking toward Campobello Island, Canada
from inside the chocolate shop.  It's windy.
We visited Lubec today, it was lovely.  I bought yarn.  I bought chocolate.  Lubec is surrounded on 3 sides by ocean, and so you have stunning views at nearly every turn.  The whitecaps were lovely, and the light was amazing.  You could see different colors of blue and green in patches across the bay.  I've said it before, the light up here is just incredible.  So clear, and so soft.

My camera broke, so all of the pictures I'm taking are with cruddy cell phone cams.  They will have to do for now.

Chocolate?  Or bed?  Hmmmmm.

xxxooo Sarah

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Chris

Smalls Cove as seen at high tide, on my blissfully solo walk

Dear Husband -

On the dirt road to Indian Point
Today on your birthday the boys used every spare minute and ounce of energy they had to bicker with one another.  When they ran out of energy, they sucked mine out through my skull and used it instead.  They bickered for good reasons, for imagined reasons, for boredom.  They yelled at each other for talking, for making funny noises, and for yelling.  They yelled at each other for being loud.  One of them napped, the other refused, and then one of them threw up.

I tell you all this because, despite the lovely walks and beautiful scenery you'll see in this post, you should consider that just possibly your birthday was a happier one for being in San Antonio surrounded by business people.  Sure, they're just as whiny as our children, but you can walk away from their whining and they will not follow you on their scooter, whining all the way.  Or, if they do, you can walk straight into the hotel bar for a cold glass of moxy.

We miss you, and I know we all missed having cake today.  But we'll have one for you on Friday night, and if there is a god in heaven, these children will be well rested for your return, and all we'll have to show for their rotten eggs is this blog post.
Griffin carrying Quinn's vest for me


Your Wife