mi scusi

I’ve been both occupied and preoccupied. Occupied because there is STILL a never-ending stream of tradesmen and contractors moving through the house. Working through this punch list is taking as long as the actual building part. I dare say part of the responsibility for that falls on me; I moved in about a month before the builder’s ready date. But his ready date wasn’t my ready date and I suspect that’s always the case with building projects; no fault, no foul. I like to think that this project would have never reached completion if it wasn’t for the constant supervision of yours truly but I’m sure my builder would take exception to that. What I will say is this: despite cost overruns (capisce? We’re talking big overruns…), despite our impression that the house was wired by some Frankenstein electrician, despite nail pops- well, this house is a dream house. And the builder and I did a mighty fine job. End of story.

Laura from New Jersey asked if all the views are beautiful. Yes, they are. Up close, we have hummers 3 inches from the study window, looking in curiously. At the feeders we have all manner of birds; I’ve counted 9 species already. We see the garden, run rampant with tomatoes. We see the giant rocks, where mama deer cautiously parks her tot while checking out our meadow. We see, on a clear day, 25 miles to Cold Mountain. We have woods, sunny garden, shady garden, small creek. When we go down the mountain to town we drive by our new neighbors and admire their beautiful gardens that pay homage to mama naturale and then we pass the fields where corn is currently being harvested in the most remarkably perfect patterns. Often, just to get to the grocery store 7 miles away we hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway- a far cry from the strip mall and bill board laden 4 lanes of city life. Yes, all our views are beautiful. Why, according to the Bible, here on Mt Pisgah, we have a view to the Promised Land.

I don’t know how this happened to us. I mean, I remember walking in the door after 40 other doors, being stunned by the view as well as the low price  and saying, “this is it. make the offer.” I remember staying up nights drawing a plan for my dream kitchen and the garden tub in the bath surrounded by views. I remember thinking, “If we do this, we are investing years of hard work and independence and saving and I am relinquishing my ability to get up and walk away, all by myself.” And I remember the followup thought: “That’s okay. At almost 60 I’m more than ready to settle down with my husband.” But really, I have no idea what we did to deserve this (let alone an October trip to Tuscany where I will take cooking lessons). I think nothing and we better get busy. Do people get what they deserve? No, I don’t think so. That’s something I don’t understand. For years I worked with people who had gotten themselves, sometimes with ease and sometimes with effort, into ridiculous situations and I would wonder what the hell they were thinking when they started down that path. But I also worked with people who were in life situations and they had absolutely nothing to do with how they got there. Sometimes, good fortune: somebody inherited a ridiculous sum or one time, I counseled a big lottery winner (to no avail. Too much money is not healthy for people). Often, in my line of work, I would see people who were in painful, tough, unhealthy places through little fault of their own. I don’t understand the equity in that. Or, in case you say “life isn’t fair”, I don’t understand the purpose in that. Why take a magnificent force of human energy- wit, humor, heart- and strike it down with, say, cancer?  What a friggin’ rip that is. Today a woman came to pick up moving boxes that I advertised ‘for free’ on Craigslist. She’s moving from this beautiful place because, although it was planned to be their last home before they ended up at an Evergreen or whatever, after 3 short years her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 11 days later. Last winter she was trapped for 4 days alone on the mountain with no power during an ice storm and now she is returning to the place of her childhood. I don’t get that. The whole “higher power” business is lost on me if it is anything more than that we aren’t meant to understand it, just deal with it. Roll with the punches and look forward to something better? I’m having trouble imagining what that would be.

The thing is, despite our good fortune, I’m sorta pissy (understatement). One of my fellow warriors, one of the tough old birds from BCMA is back with the cancer. Fuck. There, I said it. I could say more and I do in my head. That she has this is as counterintuitive as the four light switches that turn nothing on around here. It makes no sense to me.

So, I’m boiling down my tomatoes into the meanest hot sauce ever, looking towards Cold Mountain and considering my frequent flyer miles. I would like to sit with her and cry and laugh. Again.


15 responses to “mi scusi

  1. You are indeed a lucky bird. The homestead is truly lovely. I am sorry about your friend. It sucks. I lost a dear friend – from 2nd grade – with whom I reunited when I discovered we both were living in Houston, very close by. Life is like that. Then, last fall, boom. Brain tumor out of nowhere. She had recently retired from the law firm where she was a paralegal forever and working a new career she loved. She died in December, just before Christmas. Still stings.

  2. I am very sorry for your friends illness. I hope you find peace in the shadow of Cold Mountain.

  3. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no reasons for anything. The universe does not conspire behind our backs to teach us. Life just is what it is. Things happen, shit too. Some of it is so damned good, like that view out your windows that takes your breath way and makes you glad in every cell of your body. And some of it so painful, it leaves you reeling like you’ve been kicked in the stomach. Still, there is no reason for any of it. It just is what it is.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I hope your FFMiles help you to go and be with her – as I am sure your very presence will be consoling and enheartening. Is that a word? If you are unable to go to her, invite her to your home, and the views alone will console her.

    Methinks you are in an Italian state of mind – and if I were planning that trip – I would be too.

    One of my neighbors is remodeling a room and she can’t leave until they are done, because every single day they do something wrong if she is not there watching their every move. I could not remodel a home without murder or suicide committed by me or someone else.

  5. I love the views; I love your contentment with your new place. I will be staying put–living in the house my husband & I bought in 1980. To be settled in a place–that’s a good feeling.

  6. I feel a sense of peace when I read your words. That comes from deep within you, even if you don’t always feel it. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Sending love.

  7. Sometimes I think the feeling of “belonging” to a place is highly overrated although it could be simply my life. Moving so often as a child and as an adult… I don’t really remember where I felt I truly belonged… except those four years of college in Oklahoma. I never really felt at home in Mississippi either. Perhaps this house, this home will, in time come to be my belonging place. If not, that’s ok too. This life is only temporary and there is a better place.

    I am sorry about your friend. Cancer is such a beast, it does not care who you are or how you’ve lived life. It does, however, put all other inconsequential things into perspective…..

  8. I can only imagine how you are feeling right now. The peace and contentment and your cautious query: What did I do to deserve this amazing opportunity to live out my life in a little piece of Paradise with the love of my life?

    And at the same time, wanting to rail against the Universe (or God, or whatever you choose to call it) because of the cruelty of recurrent cancer in your friend’s life, and all the other sadness in this world.

    I don’t think our frail human minds can begin to understand the universe. But I believe with all my heart that life is miraculous, and that the kindness and joy and altruism that occurs every day is the important thing. xoxo

  9. You know how I answer these questions of course. Romans 8:28. Romans 8:28. ROMANS 8:28! It all turns out well in the end. But, even this dyed in the wool Baptist has her moments like when a 17 year old girl is facing losing the only dad she has ever known due to brain tumors that are probably a result of the radiation he had when he was a child and overcame leukemia. For Pete’s sake, how much does one man have to take? I mean, who will walk her down the aisle? Who will dance with her at her wedding? And then, it turns out all miraculous when he beats the cancer and we don’t wait for the wedding to start dancing. I know all endings aren’t that good when we can witness them and see with our own eyes, but I think no matter how they end here on this earth, we still end up dancing.

  10. PS I want to sit in that green chair on that red deck and look at that mountain for hours. If you put a flower behind your ear, will the hummingbirds buzz your head?

  11. I’m so sorry. Your views are healing though and that red sauce looks viciously good.

  12. I am so sorry for your friend’s bad news.
    I am convinced after years of teaching and fathering, that, next to family ties, there is no closeness like the that between true girl friends.
    It transcends what we guys call friendship by logarithmic leaps and bounds.
    So I know you feel her pain and uncertainity much as she does.

  13. Beautiful writing, Vicki.

    God moves in a mysterious way.~Cowper

    Prayers for courage for you and your dear friend.

  14. “I have a switch in my house that does absolutely nothing so I flip it on and off every once in a while. Until I got a letter from a woman in Germany saying cut it out.”

    (not an exact quote and I don’t know the comedian it comes from but I thought of you immediately…)


  15. I totally agree with Robin, “It just is what it is.” The only thing we can change is our response to whatever “it” is. I do love your place. Our view is of the forest, but we need walk only a short distance to see the mountain view.

    Sorry about your friend. You are so right. It never makes any sense.

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