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.