Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Wholly New World

The Comet Ace is headed from Tacoma to Portland, cruising through the Sound at a speed of 16.7 knots. The Evergreen State oil tanker has been sitting at the Manchester Naval Fuel Dock since 15:50 yesterday. The Carnival cruise ship was docked in Seattle this morning, but is long gone.

I know all this thanks to marinetraffic.com (thanks to my prayer partner for telling me about the website) the perfect place for a nosy neighbor like me to find out who and what is plying the waters between my new home in Manchester/Port Orchard and Seattle.
The Evergreen State in port at the Manchester Fuel Dock
Today I took my first walk to the local library, several blocks downhill. A block southwest Mt. Rainier and the entirety of Blake Island are visible, but turning my attention from the natural world, I saw newly remodeled homes, new homes under construction, derelict homes hidden behind derelict fences, empty lots of grass, and just two homes below mine: a 50 –year-old rusted trailer with an attached lean-to.

This is a neighborhood in transition. And I am now a part of it.

It’s also a neighborhood alive: My next-door neighbor weed-whacked the grass in our drainage ditch before I moved in on a day I just happened to be here bringing a load of belongings in my minivan. He and his wife have two have young children who play and ride plastic John Deere trucks in their yard, making the lovely squealing sounds of childhood, and have a best friend across the street.

The mother of the best friend introduced herself and her son last week with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Right now, two teens are throwing a football in the vacant lot across the street, talking the whole time (one more than the other). Last week, in the vacant lot above me, I saw two pheasants land and browse for food in the tall grass while I was pruning the long-neglected bushes in my garden. The next day, a man mowed the field down in a riding mower.

Male pheasant

Riding mower man 

A couple is walking past the house right now, headed possibly, to the one restaurant or one pub (or maybe Carmen’s Hair Haven) near the waterfront. You don’t have to be at the waterfront to see the water. The Seattle skyline and Cascades are visible to the east from our living room, dining room, my office, the upper deck and lower patio.

Our view with the help of the zoom lens

In the week we’ve lived here the view has been hazy in the mornings, the orange sun lighting the eastern horizon that’s mostly shining water that gradually, like my own blurry eyes, comes into focus to reveal the distant landscape, skyscrapers, and mountain peaks.

The morning sun heats the dining room and each day I step out of bed to find an array of cats (we have five) sprawled across the carpet baking in the sunspots in varying stages of what I call comatoast.

Right now I’m sitting on the second story deck of our rental house with its glass railings, looking over the roofs of neighboring houses at an expansive water view while my husband is camped out overnight, yet again, at our old house, working heroically on the last items of our remodel and move.
Our deck railing and neighbor with kids house
As the sun sets with help from a zoom lens
I join him most days, but I get tired, hungry, cranky, twice as fast as he does. His patience and stamina (thanks to wasabi peanuts and 5 hour energy), determination and drive know no bounds. He’s always been this way, wholly devoted to the project at hand. And now, the project is our livelihood, so it seems even more right and fitting that this time giving his all will be appreciated and rewarded.

A number of people have asked why we’re moving, and I suppose I haven’t been clear enough: We can’t afford to stay.

We need the money. My corporate executive husband could not find a job in his field. My writing retreat income (our sole income) was just over $10,000 for the year. All our resources are committed to our business, and they’re not enough, so we are selling our assets: our home.

It might’ve been a last desperate act, a resignation and giving up the one thing we could call our own.

But it’s not. It’s another bold step into the unknown, into the I-don’t-know-what’s-next-but-let’s-find-out life we’ve been living for almost three years now (when we first made the decision to let go of Cisco before it let go of Kevin). I am betting my life on my husband, and that seems right and fitting, too.

There were moments when I was afraid to trust that much, times when I wanted cosmic insurance, days and years when I wanted the future laid out before me like hopscotch squares so I could know the rhythm and sequence and pattern and follow it and win. I am thankful that the story of order and fear is part of my past and not in my present, and I pray not in my future.

What I do know is that our house—I’m already calling it “my old house” looks incredible—as we’ve hired a crew to do landscaping and refinish our wood floors (things we just couldn’t do ourselves in the timeframe we have) as it heads for the MLS. I am confident it will sell quickly, and I’m asking the universe for a big number. We could use it.
Our rooftop turf in the mist

The landscapers have redefined all our garden beds

Our living room with refinished original oak floor

We have permits in hand for our project house and we’ll be financing that construction with the proceeds from our sale, and my husband will again be using all his creativity and imagination and his hands and arms and drills and saws to bring another derelict property into glory.
Repaired waterfront deckat the project house

landscaping work at the project house

Today I was pruning years of dead branches off the few roses at our rental house and thinking about the love and care it could use as well (maybe that’s why we’re the new renters). Standing under a cloudless sky, Puget Sound and Seattle beyond it in my sight, I thought of a line in a Taize chant “you alone O Lord are holy” and how a former pastor (now my soul sister) changed the line, so that I and everyone at our church learned it this way: “you and all your world are holy.”
Rainbow at our rental house on moving day

Creator and creation: holy. The roses: holy. The Cascades: holy. The home my husband and I transformed: holy. Our relationship transformed by our united purposes and cleaving together as one as never before: Holy.  

First morning in our new house: two bald eagles overhead


  1. Thank you my dear sister for venturing out into the unknown so gracefully. You've set a great example for your baby sister. When it comes time for my move I hope manifestation and pliability will transpire. Heaven knows I'll need to stay calm and just give all my worries about the unknown to our heavenly father. Great blog, enjoyed it immensely. I love you, XO

  2. grundune the groundhogJune 25, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Hi Cathy. Really enjoyed reading about your progress/process. I can almost touch your whole range of feelings. Thanks, Russ