Dusty and Mindy Move to Colorado in a Dodge Van with Lily and Me


“What the fuck? This isn’t our car. It smells weird. I don’t like this, I don’t like this at all. I might lie on my back and pee in the air. This is awful. I’m scared.”

“It’s OK, Dusty. She’s here. We’re all here. Our beds are here. It’s all fine.”

“How can you be so sanguine, Mindy?”

“Well, first it’s my nature. Second, I think if she’s here we’re fine. If she comes back when she leaves us, we’re fine. I don’t worry about every little thing like SOME dogs I know. She always takes care of us.”


“It’s OK Dusty,” I tell him from the front seat. “We’re going home. You can quit pacing and breathing hard.”


“See? I told you, Dusty. Lily isn’t worried.”

“Yeah but she’s a wild animal. We’re pets.”

“There is that. But really, Dusty, learn to keep it under control a bit. You’ll have a happier life.”

“You’re probably right, Mindy, but when I start getting scared, it’s a fast and slippery slope all the way to terror.”

“Lie down, Dusty,” I say.

“Do what she said. I have a feeling this time home is a long ways away.” Mindy closed her soft, sweet beautiful eyes and as a model for Dusty, went to sleep.



Last Year…

I wrote “today’s” post last year and at the time I was at a conference and I was looking at homes in Colorado springs. I found one I liked and would have bought if I’d been able to. It was very well priced and in my first-choice town. I loved it. I would have enjoyed living in the house. However, I couldn’t really make an offer with no money down and a house not yet on the market. It was a dismaying moment because I knew prices in Colorado Springs were going to rise when summer came (they did) and that this house would sell. It did.

All part of the process that resulted in my moving to Heaven, the San Luis Valley and into the little house at the top of this post.

I love it here, but I have friends in Colorado Springs. Moving here I had to start completely from scratch. If you have never done that it’s similar to and different from starting a new school in the middle of 9th grade. It took me months to get ready to go out and meet people. That was a long period of self-discovery. Now, I have accomplished that and have met people I like very much — and I know it’s mutual. It’s very sweet but, at the same time, it’s still stressful. I’m shy and in the midst of so much change, a person is challenged with rediscovering and even redefining one’s identity, like in the witness protection program?

Anyway, as is the case with wishes, some come true exactly as they’re wished. Some com true in ways we could never have imagined. Some don’t come true at all.

Here’s last years post:

Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain, by Krista on March 21, 2014. Have you ever tossed a coin or two into a fountain and made a wish? Did it come true?



That really is it. I stopped doing this when I was a kid. “If wishes were horses, everyone would ride.” Wishes and nickles and close your eyes tight and make a wish and blow out the candles and what did you wish for? Don’t tell or it won’t come true. The best use of a wish is the clarification of desire and direction.

Yesterday I looked at houses. My retirement income is going to be small so I’m looking at houses only slightly above the bottom of the barrel. That’s OK. I’ve never (since home ownership began) lived in a “nice” house. They’ve both been odd houses other people wouldn’t want that needed some work.

Yesterday I “made a wish.” Anyway, it felt like it. I filed for retirement. For real. I almost felt like I had closed my eyes and was blowing out the candles on a birthday cake as I filled in the little blanks on the two forms. Perhaps I held my breath. But the “haggis is in the fire” the “Rubicon is crossed” there’s “no turning back” and a million other appropriate clichés.

So…my wishes are mixed. I wish I hadn’t been pushed to this decision. I wish I had a slightly larger income (but I can find a job teaching part time here, maybe). I wish I hadn’t had to make this decision alone — but we really make all decisions alone except maybe pregnancy, and I have good friends and allies and was lucky to meet a realtor yesterday who’s motivated to help me find a home and I have choices. And there is this. We all have knowledge inside about our biological selves and I’m 62. This decision, this moment, is more the result of that than anything else. I made it because I COULD. It’s an option I didn’t have last year or the year before. There’s a twilight zone in which a person is too old to find new work and too young to retire. All a person can do is put the bit between their teeth and GO as long as he has to, steering the way between obstacles, loading up the cart if he has to (I had to) to keep a life together. It takes courage when the options change to stop and look around when everything has depended on hard running. “What if I COULD change my life? What if I COULD have more time for things and people I love?”

A little voice whispers, “You can.” Terrifying, disorienting savior of a little voice.

Yesterday I looked at a little house. It is in the part of town where Italian immigrants lived back in the day. Against the porch leaned an old concrete statue of St. Frankie. I IMG_1029straightened him. I’m not Catholic but I like St. Frankie and all the other statues who are there to remind us to have some faith, hope and compassion. I don’t think there can be too many of these. The house was very pretty inside. I could imagine a Calabrian couple, happy to have their own home, maintaining it with the particular fastidious of which I’m familiar and fond. The house had been cared for all it’s 100+ years. I wish, hope that maybe I’ll be able to live there.


Halloween 1980 — Moving to The Dalton

Daily Prompt Trick or Trick It’s Halloween, and you just ran out of candy. If the neighborhood kids (or anyone else, really) were to truly scare you, what trick would they have to subject you to?

…give me daily prompt like this one would do it! Seriously? You want a REAL answer to this in a PUBLIC place?  As for fear — I’ll tell you about fear. You really want that? There’s nothing funny about it. For the last five — six — years I’ve been intermittently frightened and with reason, but before that? Oh baby. I’m not a person who likes scary movies or scary stories. I’ve had a scary life. You want details?

SO, instead, a little post about moving into new places on Hallowe’en. Not in the least scary, sorry…

Three times now I’ve moved into a new place around Hallowe’en. The first to my first apartment as a single woman. It was an upstairs apartment in a duplex near Washington Park in Denver; it dated from the turn of the century. It was never meant to be an apartment, but the upstairs to the downstairs. It had no heat unless the guy downstairs turned it on and I opened the door leading downstairs. The apartment saw many adventures, perhaps typical adventures of the newly-single 20 something. I moved from there in spring to an efficiency in the Bat Guano Arms in Capital Hill. Though the place was not “me” (meaning it was modern and convenient) I had a happy six months there but around the middle of October, 1979, I saw my dream apartment in The Dalton.

My lease to Bat Guano Arms was over on October 31 so I planned to move into The Dalton on the first of November. (If you follow the link, my apartment is what they now call “The Canterbury” and you can see actual photos of it…not as it was when I lived there, but… My rent was $145/month.) I had a VW Bug, Blue and helpers with their cars. My best friend — let’s call her Windy — and a guy from work who wanted to do me and felt helping me move was a decent payment on that opportunity. My dream apartment in Denver was a lot like my little dream house here in Monte Vista.

You don’t have a lot of stuff when you live in an efficiency apartment. All I had of any mass was my dad’s desk — which I managed to fit into the back of my bug. Don’t ask me how, but it had become a “thing” with me to prove that anything a semi-truck could do my VW could do…in more trips, of course.

The night was Denver fall — chilly but not terribly cold, with the oblique light of an autumn sunset. At a certain point we found ourselves in a store near a favorite bookstore. Was it a drugstore? I don’t know, but I think so.  It had a lunch counter, surprising to us. A German couple ran the store. They asked us to sit down. They served us cider and an assortment of canapes. The moment was disorienting enough to change the character of the evening. From then on, it seemed enchanted.

The sky went from orange/purple to black half-moon night as we took the last furniture into my new apartment. I had no bed yet, so I slept in the old place, knowing I would have a bed the next day — a futon for which I’d “mortgaged” my car. I would pick it and the frame up the next day and bring them back in my Bug (two trips).  I loved living there and nothing less than the chance to live and work in China could have shifted me out.



You Ain’t From These Parts

Welcome, Stranger Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor? 

– The thing is, I’m the stranger.
– You ARE! So Gus, how are you going to “blend” in once you get your house and you live there?
– I have managed that in the past by simply taking my time and sticking to myself for the most part. The thing is, you put yourself out there too much and you will rub people the wrong way without even trying. The best thing is to just do your own thing and wait until something that pertains to you comes by. I don’t do a lot of the things most people do. I don’t go to church, I am not married, I don’t have kids or grandkids. I don’t watch any sports, football, in particular brings people together. People tend to think that when you DON’T do what they do that you 1) look down on them for doing it, or, 2) they think you don’t know any better and they try to convert you. I don’t look down on anyone and I’m very unlikely to be converted to something I’ve examined and rejected. It usually takes a while for people to understand that whatever they do is fine by me, but I don’t want to join them. This is especially true of church, I’m afraid. And, this move I won’t be (immediately? ever?) working at a job so I won’t be meeting people there. I’m going to be a pretty solitary soul for a while in my new town and that’s OK.
– Won’t you be lonely?
– Yeah, I will be, sometimes, but it’s OK. I’ve waited a long time for the chance to  paint and write — even just to take a real walk. Maybe just walking will ultimately restore my ability to hike; I don’t know. Walking dogs is a good way to meet people. I’ll finally be able to do the things I need to do for me…well, I don’t want to write about all that. While all that’s going on, I’ll get a feel for the town.
– But you’re from California. You know how people in Colorado feel about California!
– I know. The thing is, I’m not “from” California.
– To these people you will be.
– I know. I’ve already experienced some of that even with people I know. I’ll admit, it annoys me. Until someone has lived in California, they have NO idea what it’s really like. People have their “ideas” about it and that’s it. The reality is far different. Like my real estate agent/friend. She harps on about anti-freeze and oil and doesn’t listen when I say, “I know. I’ve been living in a place that gets into the teens in winter.” She just answers, “There’s no winter in California.”
– She really said that?
– Yeah. I’m sure she knows better, but in my case she just thinks “San Diego” and… Yeah.
– More to the point, I spent thirty years in California. I’ve spent the other thirty-two in Colorado and Nebraska. OH well…
– California is easy street, right? All oranges and movie stars and sex on the beach.
– Absolutely.
– No one’s going to believe you’re moving to the San Luis Valley because life in California was too hard and too expensive.
– Nope.
– What are you going to do about that?
– Get a Colorado drivers license, new plates for my car — maybe a new car — and fade into the woodwork with my brushes, my paint, my lap top. Otherwise, I have to set up my life here — unpack — breathe. It will just take time.