lisamoniquekent

Finding Home

Ours to borrow for awhile.

Good evening from lovely summery Vermont. We are just back from spending the weekend in our new home in Brunswick, Maine. It is lovely. Every time I sat down on either the open back porch facing the forest or the side screened in porch facing the blossoming shrubbery, I got so lost in birdsong and other nature sounds that I couldn’t read my book. We met many friendly neighbors with all kinds of talents. One is a flower wizard and she told me what to get rid of in our five beds, so I started right in and got one bed weeded and tidy. The only thing I saved was a patch of lavender. Now it’s ready for peonies, sweet William, and other assorted pink beauties. Next time we go, I’ll start on the second bed. Unfortunately, this one has no redeeming qualities; everything goes.

The house is very quiet. I would define it as spacious and gracious. We didn’t bring any furniture so we made do with our beach chairs and a folding table that the prior owner left behind. I got to place my new dishes onto one of the many beautiful book shelves that are staying with the house. Two of us can work in the kitchen at the same time; that’s new. This new Soft Landing is everything I could wish for. So many things could have gone wrong or not happened at all with this idea of moving to the ocean. This dream of mine could have stayed a dream. But everything has gone and is going right. If you are dreaming, please don’t give up. Mine took forty years to come to fruition. Maybe your wait will be much shorter. And perhaps there will be a rose bush in full bloom waiting for you too.

We have much to do in the next month and a half, with the big chore of packing up our condo. To borrow from Anne Lamott, we’ll go box by box instead of bird by bird. And that’s the way we’ll be ready when the mover comes at the end of July. This is a magical time for me, and I’m soaking it up because I know that life is hard and upredictable. On my next trip over, I’ll take some photos of the flowers and the views and the sweet country road that is ours to borrow for awhile.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

We have a moving date.

Good morning from beautiful, warm Vermont. This weather is what feels best on my body, hot, hot, hot! After I blogged last week, several of you gave me your condolences on the death of our son Worthy. Thank you. Worthy’s twin Caroline also died then, and before that, Serena’s twin Nathaniel. This was a bad, dark time in my life, and when I think back on it, my belief in “God’s plan” gets shaky. I see no purpose in this loss of life.

How have I made peace with it? Well, we are born on this earth into many circumstances and situations. And during our lives, most of us encounter the human condition of suffering. It’s unavoidable and often random. We can ask God to shoulder the burden or we can plow through on our own. Either way, the suffering occurs and bad things continue to happen. I prefer to ask for help.

I do believe that God can stop and/or remediate tragedies; that’s one of the reasons why I pray. I don’t understand why he doesn’t do this more often. More succinctly, I often get confused and angry when He doesn’t intervene. And yet, so many of our tragedies are caused by our own human hands. We have the skills to save ourselves.

That’s enough philosophy for this round. Let me bring you up to speed on Maine. We have a moving date, the last weekend of July. And I will continue to work for the college on a month-to-month, part-time basis, which is just fine with me. I’ll have time to explore my new digs while making a good income. Our closing may happen at the end of this week. Imagine my excitement in all this!

Yesterday a friend brought me twenty boxes and today I will start packing up my books. I mentioned to Tim that I didn’t have all that much to pack, and he just smiled. He has a good sense of conservation, that sense of how much of an item goes into a certain space. I think it’s called conservation…That’s going way back to my fourth grade science class; thank you Mr. Collins!

That’s it for me. I hope to have been inside of and explored our home by the next time I blog. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Being his mom.

Good morning from cool and cloudy Vermont. June with its thousand things! Summer weather, pretty pansies in my Radio Flyer wagon, bright red geraniums in one of my dad’s sap buckets. My birthday, the closing on our home at 115 Echo, vacation in Maine, a final resolution to my work situation. Can you stand the excitement of June?

This past Friday, after I and my five colleagues gave a major presentation to the community on our developing equitable hiring practices, I resigned from the college’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. It’s the first of the letting gos, with several more to come. I am at peace with my goodbyes thus far.

I spent some time writing my book this morning. No matter how much I wish to diversify it, I can only speak from my experience. It would be wrong to give voice to any one else’s, especially someone from the BIPOC community. As a writer, I keep learning and am continually humbled. Meanwhile, Stella Ramone’s experiences as a letter correspondent continue. You are going to like this woman.

If you are in the vicinity and happen to have good-sized moving boxes to pass on, please let me know. June and July are packing months.

Today my husband and I plan to plant a coral berry bush at my mom’s in memory of our son Worthy, who died in the fall of 1998. The lilac we chose for his grave back then has succumbed, and we are replacing it with something the birds will like. I would have loved being his mom.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Nine colorful house dresses.

Good morning from partially sunny and quite windy Vermont. A reader commented last week that soon I’ll be saying “Good morning from Maine.” How fun! You can be sure I’ll add something about the tides. Apparently low and high tide occur at almost the same time up and down the coast. I didn’t know that. Imagine all the learning I’ll experience in my new state.

Regarding my job status, there is a roadblock. The union is questioning my ability to contract out after I retire. If I am continuing with my duties when I leave, that means that my position may not get filled and could potentially be lost to the union. So I wait as these matters either get worked out or they don’t. Remember, I have an updated resume and cover letter in hand. I’m ready either way. Meanwhile, things continue to move well as we approach June and our tentative closing date. The house is out of my hands as well. Isn’t this the perfect exercise in mindfulness?

Vermont is inching towards a release from the mask mandate. Most of the people in my tribe are vaccinated, and it’s a heady feeling of freedom not wearing a mask when we are together, especially when I see my mom. What will I do with all my masks? I think I’ll continue to carry one in my handbag for a long time, but the others? Like the white one with the flip flops, my two navy NVU masks, my blue and white one with the little dog on it. So many of them were made and sent to me by dear friends. I’ll gather them all together, wash and dry them, and tuck them into a storage container for the next pandemic, which hopefully will never happen.

Friday afternoon I visited a new store in Johnson, affiliated to the addiction recovery center Jenna’s Promise. I urge you to check out their website and support them. Anyway, I found a new print for our Brunswick home. It’s a wide and narrow picture in pastels of a woman sitting in the sand looking up at her nine colorful house dresses as they hang on the line in front of the sea. Just the ticket.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

The Business of Waiting

Good morning from lovely Vermont. I’m up in our bedroom reading chair with our dog sprawled across my lap. It’s difficult to tap the right keys but for his comfort I’m suffering the inconvenience. I was just thinking about how barky he’ll be at our new house. How whenever anyone comes to the door he’ll make this god-awful racket and push his menacing face into the screen. He’s not menacing and actually very sweet, but you wouldn’t know that coming up to him. Thank goodness he is so small. I need a plan. Like, when there’s a knock at the door I’ll throw his leash on and put him in the porch. I don’t want to miss the welcoming committee. I don’t want to miss the cookies!

All seems to be going well with the purchase of 115 Echo Road. We are waiting for the appraisal, and unfortunately there’s a delay because of the current wacky market. The longer I wait for the closing, the more anxious I get that something could go horribly wrong. And this is where the turkey meets the mat (or something like that). I must practice mindfulness to stay in the present and patience to let the process unfold as it should. It’s true; a million things could go wrong. And they haven’t. I’m in the business of waiting.

This week at work I meet with my boss to determine my status after we move to Maine. I’ll be happy to have this resolved. There are forms I need to sign this month if I’m to retire. I’m okay with either scenario, continuing as an employee or contracting out. I like the idea of contracting out because I can set my own hours and days. I like the idea of continuing as an employee because I can continue all my benefits. I hope we are both inspired to come up with the best solution for both the college and my family. I’ll tell you about it next week.

I’ve been having a clawing feeling to get back to writing my book. It’s time. But first I’m working in the garage, breaking down boxes and getting things organized for an easy load into the moving van. Should winter tires go in first or last? What about the dresser with all the nails and screws in it? Will I finally find that container with all the girls’ blocks in it? Yes, our garage is always an adventure. Thank goodness our living space is calm and predictable.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

I have Maine Brain.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. I write with excitement. Last Friday Tim and I headed to Maine to look at a house and some property around the Brunswick-Bath-Harpswell area. My brother and sister-in-law were ready to give us the weekend as we all explored the area in their van. First up Saturday morning was a house for sale in Brunswick, part of a co-housing community on 95 acres just outside of the city of Brunswick.

We arrived promptly at 9:45 AM, Tim with trepidation because he thought this place wouldn’t have enough privacy, and I with the full-on anticipation of loving it immediately. We walked through the two-car garage into the mudroom and into beautiful and peaceful home. Light poured from the living room windows. The kitchen cabinet doors were made of green, swirly blown glass. A built in office awaited me. There was a separate section of the house just for Serena. A front porch, a screened in porch–I checked all of my boxes. Tim seemed as interested as I, but there was no opportunity to talk privately. We walked to the community center for an interview. Two community members answered our questions, checking us out as we did the same. Then we went back to the house for another look, even while another couple waited patiently for their turn with the realtor.

After leaving 2 Echo, we stopped to talk with a developer close by, and then broke for lunch downtown. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking at various areas in Harpswell and Brunswick, checking out land for sale and houses listed on the MLS. We arrived back at Nick and Amanda’s after 4 PM. Tim and I settled into their large screened-in porch to talk in private.

“I love this house, everything about it and the community. I can see myself living there for the rest of my life. But none of that matters if you don’t feel the same. We’ve got to be in this equally,” I said. Not long after we started talking, Tim said he was all in; even his privacy concerns were addressed by the private backyard and our interview with the community members. All in–we were all in!

Late that night, with the help of our new tiger kitten realtor, we got our bid in. I wrote a letter to the owner explaining how much this meant to us, how we would be good caretakers, how I’d been dreaming of this moment ever since I saw the ocean at 19. How I wrote a book called Peace Cottage about a woman starting over and moving to the coast. How I was a librarian and a writer and could provide assistance writing the biographies of elders. Tim added his comments. And then we waited. We heard there were multiple offers. Sunday went by. Then Monday morning. My stomach ached with anxiety and nerves, even though we had all done our very best with the bid.

At 12:30 PM Nick and Amanda called. The house was ours. Over a full cash offer, the owner chose us because of our letter and the fact that I was a librarian. His wife, who had passed away, was a librarian as well. Our tentative closing date is June 11th. Amazing isn’t it?

So now we have an address in Maine, The Kents at Soft Landing, 115 Echo Road, Brunswick. I’m sure my address labels will look lovely. We are making lists, I’ve started packing non-essentials, and I have Maine Brain. I couldn’t be happier. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Seeking out my grounding places.

Good morning from partially sunny Vermont. This weekend I’ve been plagued by my anxiety disorder. With new supervisory duties at work and with no home address known yet in Maine, I’m full of worry and stomach distress. In a few minutes I’ll go visit my mom, now that I can join vaccinated households. Perhaps I’ll go for a walk on the rail trail. There may be Trillium and Dutchman Breetches in the side woods.

To settle myself, I curled up on the couch and read Peace Cottage, something I haven’t done since I approved the last draft. You know what? That’s a darn good story. Perhaps this afternoon I’ll sit out on the porch and read Vinehart Farm, another quick read.

I forget sometimes that I’m an author. I forget that I have this whole other book I’m in the middle of writing, a book I think you’ll like also. Perhaps I’ll write more today. Meanwhile, I must breathe through my anxiousness and travel through this day inch by inch, seeking out my grounding places. My husband. My dog. My mom.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

I think you need a PhD.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. Happy Easter! I watched a beautiful service online and then visited my dad’s grave. I figure he must have played guitar at over sixty Easter masses. He sure loved his alleluias. Today I’ll search out some Easter hymns on Spotify. I love my alleluias too.

I get my first vaccine tomorrow, as my age band has finally come up. What a relief to know that for me the effects of pandemic are finally coming to a halt. As soon as I’m finished with all my waiting periods, I’ll be off to Maine for a long weekend, to recover and rejuvenate on the beach. There’s something better though. This Wednesday I’ll resume staying over at my Mom’s. We can’t wait to hug each other again.

At work, I’m still waiting to hear what my situation will look like after we move to Maine. It makes the most sense insurance-wise to continue on as an employee, but that might be too great a stretch for the college, having an employee work full-time remotely from Maine. Contracting out will work too for a limited period of time. I’d sure like to get things settled by May, because after that I’ll need to start job hunting in Maine. I picked a moving date of August 26th, the day after my retirement date. The only thing we need to figure out is how to get Liv to college that weekend. Perhaps Tim will stay behind a day or two to move her back into the dorms. Anyway, the planning is fun.

Speaking of planning, I’ve tried to create a Maine board on Pinterest and cannot figure out how this website even works. Everyone raves about Pinterest. It sure seems like it would be handy as a collector of ideas and images, but I think you need a PhD to use it. Darn.

Finally, I just finished Ruby Hamad’s book White Tears Brown Scars. It’s on the white supremacy of white feminism. I encourage you to read it, as it is spot on. And that wraps it up for me this week. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

With most all of us vaccinated.

Good morning from grim and raw Vermont. Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. Had he still been with us, he would have been devastated by the pandemic and Serena’s continued illness, uncertain about our moving to Maine, and overjoyed about seeing his first stand of marsh marigolds. My dad, he loved every season. He was a true man of nature; every day found him outdoors. I can see him so vividly, freshly showered in his long-sleeved white shirt and jean shorts, sitting in the living room, watching the CBS evening news, his crooked legs angled out. I see him again riding his tractor Matthew, orange ear protectors on, one hand on the wheel, the other resting gently on the wheel hub. Alert, probably driving with a song playing in his head. And there is again, in the front pew of St. Teresa’s, playing his Taylor and leading us all in a robust Morning Has Broken. I miss him so.

Today is also the birthday of one of my sisters. I’m so glad she was born. Her thoughtful ways and incredible talents bring a richness and depth to all those who know her. It’s good to have a reason to be happy today. Later, I will drive to my mom’s and sing her a masked Happy Birthday from the deck. And return home with pieces of cake in her honor. Perhaps by my birthday in June we will be able to gather as a family again, with most all of us vaccinated. I sign up here in Vermont tomorrow morning.

Finally, for all those who are following my move to Maine, I was just approved by our college president to continue working remotely from Maine after we move. We still have to work out the details, but it means that I won’t have to look for or start a new job while we are getting settled in our new home and county. Isn’t that something?

That’s it for now. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

File:Marsh Marigold - Caltha palustris, Julie Metz Wetlands, Woodbridge,  Virginia.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

There is no plan B.

Good morning from glorious Vermont; can you hear the blue sky symphony? Now that I’ve seen the robins, spring is here, and it’s so delicious to see. And just when it’s time to take our bird feeder down to keep the bears away, we’ve had a trio of chickadees visit. The feeder is attached to our window. Imagine our delight when they each flew in and grabbed a sunflower seed.

According to the governor, I can register for my vaccine on March 29th. This is the best news since Perseverance’s landing on Mars. I’m desperate for normal and a hug from my mom. I’m sure you can all relate. Of course, the Red Sox head for their season start, and my dad’s radio is all set to broadcast it to me. What I’m saying is this: Things are looking up!

Today, when the weather warms up, I’ll open the garage doors and putz around, breaking down boxes, corralling packing material, labeling bins, and seeing what else I can pass on. I might find some treasures. In case any of you are counting along with me, I have 157 days before early retirement, and a lot less workdays of course. “Are you sure you are doing this thing?” you ask. Yes. we are moving to Maine at the end of August. There is no plan B.

I have nothing philosophical to add or discuss this morning. I haven’t kept up with the news lately and am not reading anything serious. I’m grateful that I have this unstructured, lovely day to explore.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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