Thursday, April 30, 2015

Writing Short & Sweet

I haven't had much time at home, or much time to write these days as my husband and I and our small construction crew enter the last month or so of work on our project house. 

I'm not a morning person (an insomniac night owl by nature), and to work at the project house means waking up at 6 a.m. and commuting an hour each way twice a day. As the days grow rapidly longer here in the Pacific Northwest, the blessing of rising at 6 a.m. is watching the drama of the sky and unfolding light of sunrise.

My morning ritual in the year we've lived with our view of Puget Sound and Seattle, has been to look east each morning out toward the water while I eat breakfast, noticing, paying attention, sometimes taking photos, receiving the day with curiosity and gratitude--but not usually before 8 or 9 a.m. if I'm working at home.

Recently I've expanded this spiritual practice to include taking a photo of my early morning view, composing an accompanying haiku, and then posting the result on Facebook to share with my friends.

I'm enjoying the simplicity of the form as I search my mind for the right words and syllables: the 5-7-5 pattern I learned in fourth grade when we studied Japan in Mrs. Schmidt's class. 

Some mornings words come as soon as I set down my camera, other days I ponder during our morning commute while my husband drives. This practice may disappear as the sun will soon rise well before I do, or it may stop when our project house is finished. Who knows what the future holds?

For now, though, I'm enjoying this ritual, this discipline that pulls me out of bed and into contemplation and gratitude first thing each day. Here are the photos & haikus I've written to go with them so far, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Cloudy Haiku

Steel day shot through gray
Rain and thunderstorms forewarn
God's drama, not mine
April 24

Haiku for This Morning

On the horizon
dawn offers its glowing coal
our lives fringed in flame
April 17

Monday Morning Haiku

City silhouette
sun sliding over the Sound
gratitude spilling
April 20

Haiku for the Samish ferry's sea trials 

Empty new ferry

sails round four times; its message:
trust and do the work.
April 28

Another Haiku

This scene brings to mind
doves descending from heaven
I long for God's voice
April 28

The day of April 27th changed so dramatically, I had to write two poems, just a few hours apart: 

Monday Morning Haiku 

Today comes on plain
no dazzling sunrise greets me
just a quiet grace.
April 27

Haiku for this surprising Monday
Gray sky grows brilliant
Earth displays God's handiwork
Preserve this beauty
April 27

My husband & I wrote this silly one together while driving to work. He's noticed that I'm more chipper now that I'm haikuing in the mornings:

Haiku For Morning Haiku

A haiku a day 
Helps keep the grumbles away 
I'm very happy
April 21

Wednesday Haiku 
The new day greets us
shirred with possibilities
What will we become?
April 29

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Be Where Now?

Live in the moment. Be here now. Stay in the present moment.

I want to live that way, but it’s difficult not to jump into the future, especially when our livelihood relies on finding homes to renovate.  We plan to place our project on the market in early June, and we need to make a living, so I’ve been looking for new possibilities.

Our project house from the water in March

For months my real estate searches have been online, theoretical, a casual glance at comparables for the house we’re working on, comps in the neighborhood where we rent a home, other homes in the region that could use TLC.

With the house in Seabeck my interest became serious enough to add it to my list of favorites. Our realtor was on a rare well-deserved vacation when the house was snapped up by someone else.

But Friday April 10, the house came back on the market. Pulse racing, stomach flipping, I called my husband, then our realtor, just home from vacation. A few hours later we were inside and it felt like home.

Even though the front deck and garage roof are rotten, the interior is gently worn and liveable. In less than 24 hours, we submitted an offer, obtained private financing and were told last Monday the bank that owns it was considering our terms.

The house is perfect for us: views of water and mountains, beach access, room for a guest apartment, space for all the tools of our remodeling trade, in our price range, and in need of TLC and vision. The living room windows frame the hills rising from the Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains dusted in snow behind them.

The view from the living room
A short walk leads to the community beach; a two-minute drive to a State Park boat launch. The house is two miles to the Hamlet of Seabeck with its general store, pizza parlor, and coffee shack, and nine miles to the “big city” of Silverdale with Home Depot, Costco, and Trader Joes—the essentials of our current life.

Dreaming about possibilities at the State Park boat launch
Waiting to hear, I moved in my mind. My husband and I talked possibilities: knocking down a kitchen wall to open the view. I researched wood stain, narrowing to three choices to update the cabinets and trim, and I dreamed up a design for the downstairs apartment where I’d once again host writers and creative folks on vacation.

My husband was thrilled with the cavernous RV garage for his tools. He would build floor to ceiling shelves and buy a rolling platform ladder like the ones at Home Depot. 

3 car garage & an RV garage: now that's storage

I started downsizing, donating clothes to the Goodwill, books to our library and friends through Facebook. I wrote my new Airbnb listing for the “Hood Canal Writer’s Hideaway” (though it would be six months or more until the apartment was ready for guests) happy that my 58 old reviews would follow me.

Book giveaway

I was bowled over with vision, unable to sleep. My spirit thrilled with the possibility of discovering a new part of Puget Sound, and of knowing where we’d live for the next two years—the timeframe necessary to avoid capital gains tax on one’s primary residence.

We also spotted a waterfront parcel with utilities and septic installed and expired building permits  three miles from the house. We spent a morning at the County Planning department reviewing files, and hoped to make that our next big project.

View from the undeveloped parcel

It all seemed perfect, that “way had opened” to paraphrase Parker Palmer. Events and opportunities aligned with our intentions and that we were primed for the next right place.

The bad news came Thursday morning. The couple that rescinded their offer rescinded their rescinding, so they leapfrogged past us, back into negotiations with the bank. Our agent has never heard of such a thing, and the listing agent wasn’t forthcoming. (They must’ve offered more money than us.) Whether it’s illegal, we don’t know; whether it’s unethical, we do know.

I was too shocked to be disappointed. I had to stop and think about all I’d “done” in anticipation, to see if any of it had been irrevocable or foolhardy—I hadn’t given notice to our landlord, hadn’t bought gallons of wood stain. I’d only given things away, which I always enjoy.

Then I began telling myself “this or something better,” a bedrock belief as much as it is the title of this blog. I remembered back to a house in Pacifica and a vision of our life there. My husband and I made multiple rejected offers on that house, and that no led us to say yes to Washington.
View from the house in Pacifica that wasn't meant to be

If it’s not this (and I’m not ruling out the possibility the buyers will back out again), it will be something better. I don’t know when, and I don’t know where, but I pray I’ll being attention when it’s revealed. And I pray it’s soon.

I may have been given a hint. I woke Thursday morning from a dream that we’d bought a house in Silverdale—a place I know only for shopping and medical facilities, a place bisected by freeways where I often get lost.

I’ve never considered living or renovating a home there. I remember telling God before I woke up that Silverdale was wrong, it was supposed to be Seabeck.

I forgot about the dream until hours after the bad news. Was it a prophetic dream (it wouldn’t be my first), was Silverdale right, and Seabeck wrong? I’m not certain, but I expanded my real estate search, unsure if I’m looking for a house to live in and fix, or our next project house.

So far, I have no answers, but trust they will come. I’m disappointed, yes, and I could easily worry, second guess or decisions. But we are here now, and I want to be more curious than fearful about the future.

Friday evening we stopped in Silverdale for our weekly Costco and Trader Joe’s shopping, merging onto the freeway we got a green light and this sky. A sign?

The green light in Silverdale