Leaving Snowgoose Way

98565909-01-altI bought a house in Meridian, Idaho five years ago, 2009 – rather a risky time to buy a home as the trajectory of the economy continued to descend. It was an out of character move that confounded many of my friends.  Not only for the location, but for the three car garage that was an astounding acquisition.  At approximately 825 square feet, it could easily be an apartment.

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Before I painted the walls.

Nonetheless, I stubbornly forged ahead, established a five-year plan to stay in the house, practice my handywoman skills, hope for an improved economy, and then sell.  I planned to use the money from the sale to buy a small cottage on the Washington coast.

As the economic downturn continued into a recession, near depression status, and the housing market bottomed out lower than expected, my five years turned to a ten-year plan. At times I wondered if I would ever get out of the house, perhaps stuck for a long time, and simply hoped to break even.

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Yes, I painted the wall blue!

However, surprisingly, at the five-year mark an improved, robust market began to emerge.  I was ready to sell and live in something smaller with less maintenance.  I wanted to use my time and money to travel, spend time with friends and family.

The process began with clearing everything out of the house to refurbish it with fresh paint and carpet.  Potential buyers could see the house clean and empty. Part of the task list involved finding a  home for ten-year old Miss Cleo cat, a stressful and sad situation that thankfully ended well.  After that ordeal, I vowed at some point in time to either foster older cats or try to take them on as pets.

During my five years on Snowgoose Way, I packed the time with people and new activities. One daughter lived with me for a couple of years, and the other came and went as she finished college.   Snowgoose saw several friends come and go as they transitioned to new lives. I hosted parties, and had family dinners over the holidays. My older daughter brought friends from college one summer, and they practiced acroyoga yoga in the yard.30843_10150201499000557_7159893_n

Locally I joined a community garden group that started behind the back of a church, and later moved to a large plot in Kleiner Park.  I learned how to grow food and enjoyed eating freshly picked cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers, kale, red potatoes.  The first year I spent hours in the garden.  After work, I headed to Kleiner park to water and weed in the hot evening summer air.  Each night the broad horizon graced the sky with extraordinary shows of spectacular sunsets.

I had dreams of playing the piano again and for the first year practiced each day for at least 20 minutes, but that discipline fell by the wayside.  Instead, at a friend’s urging, I rekindle a long time dream of learning to play the banjo. The house endured endless hours of practice.

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Returned to a lovely beige color.

I remained in the house during the painting so I could attend to yard projects.  Daily I would arrive home and find walls that I had painted with my unique colors turned to lovely neutral beige.  Gradually I felt my personality leave the house. A good friend suggested I spend solitary time in the house to say goodbye, and while I smiled at the suggestion, inwardly I scoffed.  It turned out she was right.   Alone in a quiet house, I paused to enjoy the empty, simple, clutter free existence, honor the memories, and gave thanks for five years of beautiful shelter.

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Reflections, last Saturday in Kauai

SAM_2773Saturday, November 16, after a luxurious swim/snorkel beach time,  our team split into two groups with a larger faction taking the Napali coastline cruise.

The remaining four, Nancy, Pat, Susan and myself toured the Kauai coffee plantation, and shopped a bit.SAM_2779

Later, we checked out Poipu beach where a  large sea turtle had crawled ashore to rest.   Earlier in the week, we had the opportunity to swim with a turtle which was a thrilling experience.

We treated ourselves to a happy hour hors d’oeuvres, fluffy, sugary mango drinks and then chased a gorgeous sunset.SAM_2785

By  9:26 pm our time three of our team has already departed.  Rick, Kate, Nancy, Paul lounged at the kitchen table, and Susan and Pat  kitchen visiting.  Maria and Barb on the couch discussed  books.  I rallied and stayed up late Saturday evening to play a competitive  game of dominoes with Maria, Nancy, and Pat.

The end of a Habitat build always sneaks up.  Months and weeks before the build the anticipation grows daily as preparation for the gathering begins.  At the beginning, the days seem to stretch out in front of us.  We wonder what the workload will be and hope that we can provide a useful, skilled dent in the build process.

Then suddenly our build time is over and members of our team begin to peel out.  While our electronic age allows connection with family and friends back home, I still experienced moments where I nearly forgot I had another life in Idaho.20131112_132641 (1)

Kauai:  I am going to miss looking out the back window, seeing the mountains and on some days the rain clouds draping down the hills.  And from the front yard the view of the ocean.  I struggled at times with the tropical heat and sun, though I had some reprieve with clouds, cool evenings, and even a rainy day.   However, in 2 weeks, I grew accustomed to the lush green of the land, open space, fresh air and being close to the ocean.  I enjoyed snorkeling and swimming in the ocean.  I brought my banjo with me and played publicly which is living a long time dream.

The on site constructions managers supplied patient, supportive instructions as they assigned work tasks to our team. I appreciated learning to use a variety of SAM_2786power tools, exercise math and measurement skills as we finished the trim on one house.

 As in my prior builds,  I leave our two-week Kauai, Hawaii Global Village experience feeling that I belong to a big family.  I plan to continue with Habitat for Humanity and advocate for decent, affordable housing.  SAM_2702

Time Warp – Friday November 15 already!

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Nearly full moon at the beach Mahalo dinner.

The now predictable flow of traffic and chorus of roosters at 4 am signal another incredible day in Kauai.  I dozed until 5:30 and then followed the rich smell of freshly brewed coffee to the kitchen where the usual early morning folks, Barb, Susan, Joe, Ann and Rick have gathered.

Usually I remain in my room for a bit, but this morning ventured out to the living room to blog where a code of silence exists until about, well, 5:30 am when Ms Nancy enters the room (in all fairness, she honored the quiet time successfully this morning.)

Today is Friday, our last build day and the week has flown by in a blur of building, island touring, snorkeling, eating, sharing photos, laughing, and our ukulele/banjo jam session.

Ms Nancy receiving instructions.

Ms Nancy receiving instructions.

Last night, Thursday, was the Mahalo gathering at the beach with Kauai Affiliate staff, construction managers, families and our team. For our last workday, we split our team again between the rehab home to finish detail work while others travel to the Anahola work site to work on the roof.photo (32)

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The majority of our group will leave the warm, moist, tropical Kauai environment and plunge into winter, so we cling to the warmth.  However, a few will return to sunny states such as Arizona and Texas.

Time feels suspended. The rhythm of the island has tucked and lulled us all into a soothing existence.  Our skin is soft and hair fluffy from the moisture and big smiles are the order of the day as we anticipate the fun of attending a traditional Hawaiian Luau this evening.

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Habitat for Humanity Build in Kauai, Hawaii

Habitat for Humanity Global Village build Guatemala, 2012

Habitat for Humanity Global Village build Guatemala,

I enjoy travel and particularly the final preparatory moments.  On the edge of another adventure  with a Habitat for Humanity two-week build in Kauai, Hawaii.  New territory for me as I have not visited Hawaii, though many of my friends travel quite frequently to the sunny state.

While I pay tedious attention to pack proper clothing for the work site, I often lose track of the details of the build location. The benefit of a team build is I am not the leader. Other wonderful folks made the arrangements for housing, food and scheduled fun time.  The absent-minded behavior will ultimately produced charming moments filled with surprise as I see new territory for the first time.  I pay my money, show up, work and have a fabulous time.

Habitat builds contain layers of encounters as team members are from all over the United States and other countries.  Not only do you meet new people on the team, but further interact with the local community beyond a tourist level helping build homes

I know one member on the team, Nancy, from a previous Global Village Build in Guatemala.   We remained friends and in fact Nancy recruited me to the Kauai build.  In the Guatemala picture, Nancy is located on the far right.

Over the years I learned to travel light and found that I wear less than half the clothing I transport, but that is not the case this trip.  My suitcase contains too many clothes, especially for a sunny environment.

Last weekend I purchased a few cute summer dresses at winter prices – $2.00 each.  Then I scored on a super-duper high-end swim suit designed to hold my fifty something body in place at another terrifically low price.  For those that know me, I am not a shopper and venturing out with me risks a stressful, miserable experience.   To land the few clothing items needed, in addition to  the work clothes, signified another sparkly Habitat trip begins.   So why do I still have a plethora of shirts and pants?  No answers here, simply abandoning myself to the over-packed suitcase phenomena.

And joining me is a travel Deering GoodTime Banjo, packed with bubble wrap in a cushy bag.  Highly recommended by my banjo buddies as a lighter  instrument to take on trips that still maintains a terrific sound.  A conversation with a United Flight staff soothed lingering worries I had about the banjo possibly ending up underneath the plane, assured me it will fit in the overhead and they will assist to find it a safe spot.

Interesting to traveling on October 31, Halloween, – I just spotted superman walking through the terminal.

Guatemala Habitat for Humanity Build, Fall 2010

Guatemala Habitat for Humanity Build