2020s, adventure, nature, photography, travel, Virginia

Goodbye, Arizona

You might be aware that Jim and I have spent the last eight months preparing to cross the country by heading east to Virginia. My family prods me to make a post chronicling the adventure before we forget. Are we nuts? Some people think so. I can’t complain I’m bored!

September 2021. I daydreamed of living on a high hill overlooking a gorgeous view. For the past few years, we vaguely discussed returning to Virginia. Daughters and sons bore babies, four under the age of four. My son relocated to South Carolina, and his son is a toddler. Five grandsons. That’s the reason for moving back to the east coast. A new generation to watch grow up. Jim said to me, “Yes, let’s go.” So began our adventure.

October 2021. Taking advantage of the housing market, we sold our townhouse far above what we paid for it. In two days. Yes, crazy! Three estate sales later, ninety percent of our stuff was gone. I loved discovering what truly mattered to me. Donating/selling the clutter was like downing a detox drink. Clear and absolved, we tucked away our emotional treasures in a storage unit.

November 2021. The closing arrived a day before Thanksgiving. Where will we live until the end of my teaching contract? Jim happened upon an excellent 2003 Monarch Class A motor home. Should we pay cash for it and sell it at the end of May? Or, rent an apartment for several months? With a dog, that’s hard. Rent rates are astronomical here. We chose to purchase the motor home. We happened upon a great RV resort on a hill overlooking Sedona Red Rocks. An effortless solution.

December, January, and February. I needed a job before we could buy a house. How many times did we love a potential house only to give it up because I did not have a contract to prove I’d pay the mortgage? Researching towns. Researching areas. Shrinking the region of southern Virginia, until one day, I got a job offer at a high school in Lynchburg. I found a house on the edge of a neighboring town on a quiet cul-de-sac abutting a hilly cow field with the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding us.

Jim and I learned a lot about ourselves. We wanted acreage for a garden. We wanted trees and a view and a fireplace and a garage. After compromises, we bought a house with more square footage than we’re used to. It sits in the middle of half an acre. We’ll have to plant some trees and bushes and flowers. That’s fine by me. Jim gets his garden. I get the location at the edge of town with a view.

March 2022 We bought the house unseen! That’s crazy. We used live-time technology to walk around the grounds. We found a marvelous real estate agent, employed an inspector, and Jim’s son did the final walk-through making sure all was in order. Emotionally, it was painful to rely on others to ensure we were not buying a lemon. What about the town? The neighborhood? My mind was in Virginia while my body was carrying out the responsibilities of my workday. Split time is painful. Anticipation sucks. I kept my complaints to myself, for the most part.

Backyard view on top of the cow field courtesy of Jim.

It is not a fancy house. It is an affordable house that reminds me of my rural Illinois hometown. Bedford, Virginia is in the Southwest part of Virginia between the cities of Lynchburg and Roanoke (Virginia Tech University). I like it because the interior is redone with fresh paint, flooring, bathrooms, and windows. It’s waiting for our personal stamp. We bought a new fridge and washer and dryer. It makes me happy to enter my new home with the three appliances I use constantly. A house gift of sorts…

April 16. Supposed to have shoulder replacement surgery. The doctor canceled. I’ll have to take my bad shoulder with me.

April 28. Our four-year anniversary! I am grateful for Jim’s adventurous spirit and hard work ethic. How did you pack, store, unpack, arrange and make it all happen at age 72?

April 27. We sold the RV to a couple who saw our advertisement the day before. Yes, after one day, we sold the motor home 2k more than we bought it for. Crazy!

April 29. I moved into my daughter’s apartment (Vanessa and Milly) and slept on a blowup mattress. It was satisfying to discover we three girls had a harmonious time.

April 29. Jim escorted Ruby the golden retriever and the Uhaul while towing the VW Beetle. He set up the house while I completed the school year. Three weeks is my limit away from him. I don’t like being apart for that long. But, why make a mortgage payment and rent an RV lot?

May 27. It’s the girls’ turn to do the Rt. 40, 2,000-mile journey. Vanessa’s new job is the innkeeper at the Glass House Winery and B&B outside of Charlottesville. She starts on June 1st. I have a side job starting on June 1st, too, for a week grading AP history papers. We will leave Friday and arrive, we hope, by Monday evening.

Country roads take me home…

Stay tuned for new photos and posts after we settle in. Settle in? Did I tell you we’re going to South Africa on June 26? Jim’s daughter and family live by the Kruger National Park. Let’s go see the big 5!

Crazy? You bet.

2020s, In My Opinion, inspiration, photography

IMO: Middle of the Night Reflections

Today is my birthday. I’m 59. It’s 2:15 in the morning, and I can’t sleep. This post is a year in review, of sorts. Quickly, though–I still have to get up in the morning and teach. And celebrate being 59.

Blogging: In years past, on the 13th day of the month I’d host a “Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club” post. I miss that, talking to friends about the film industry. Many times the post generated over 100 comments. As it stands, I have lost the thrill of watching movies on a regular basis. A favorite hobby run dry. Why? Covid broke the habit of going to the movies, for one reason. Streaming changed the way I find entertainment. I seem to watch TV series more. I loved watching: Timeless, Jamestown, Poldark, Astrid, and the Tudor trio series The Spanish Princess, The White Princess, and The White Queen. As far as films go, I will report that The Power of the Dog, The Courier, The Green Knight, Belfast, Dune were winners for me.

Health: I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Do you want the list of issues and surgeries and hospitalizations and relapses? Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time. I confess I hate it when I’m in another doctor’s office, and they want to review my health conditions. In the end, I feel like a walking timebomb. What happened to the athlete from twenty years ago? How can living an active life of hard work and activity cause one’s body to break down? When I start to feel sorry for myself, I only have to consider all the people who are suffering from diseases I don’t have or are completely immobile. I believe “a body in motion, stays in motion” so I move. I will share when I was 17 riding my bicycle, I was hit in the back by a truck at an intersection. That began a lifetime of pain. Add a bad gene pool combined with too many hours at the computer–that recipe will ruin anyone’s body. But I’m not giving up. I am back at the gym, moving, stretching, building muscles. It feels good to do the right thing. I must.

Grief: Mom’s been gone for a year and a half. Blunt force trauma for me. A turning point. Juncture. Crossroads. Pick your synonym. Watching her die of cancer was too painful. People die every day. It was her turn. I get it. Anyway, time is softening the blow. The result of her loss caused me to return to the Catholic church. My mind took a break from religion a few years back because I was mad. Now I don’t care about my thoughts on religion. I just need to go to mass. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Grief is the ambivalence of pain and numbness. Grieving is the absence of rational thought. It’s thrashing about in a pool of overwhelming feelings. These days, I just talk to her. We are all on journeys with beginnings and ends. It’s all okay.

Writing: So that book. I have been too numb to be creative. I am normally a goal-oriented, follow-through kind of gal, so I suspect I will finish it. I’ve only the final chapter to write before the editing begins. Since it’s about WW2, my new goal is to complete it before the 80th anniversary. My self-pity shrinks when I think about the destruction and the lost souls during the war. I feel a personal debt is owed to the men and women who served. I love what my flag symbolizes. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

The Move: Sometimes you just gotta change it up. Stir the pot. Clean the slate. The changes in my head, heart, and soul instigated the crazy move from Arizona to Virginia. It’s happening in stages. Stage one — sell the house. Stage two — get a job in Virginia and finish out the current contract. We wait. Jim and I are happy in our motor home with our big sky and beautiful view. We listen to music, get buzzed, and sleep heavily.

I have an interview for a job today! What a nice birthday present if I got the job, yes? It is to teach German to eighth-graders. I am not fluent, but I have a fun time getting them to love learning Deutsch. In my current position, I have four preps and report to three departments. My Master’s degrees are in history and English. German was a minor because I had the lofty goal of earning a Ph.D. That did not happen. However, for seventeen years now, I teach English Composition courses as an online adjunct for a community college in Virginia. I rationalize I achieved the lofty goal. At 59, I’m too young to retire. I will continue to teach because I can. And, I like to earn money and spend it on trips. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Love: I’m feeling it a lot lately. My list of what I’m grateful for keeps growing like my love for my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. My dog. I want to live. I want to see and celebrate my 60th birthday in style doing something crazy cool around all those I love. I love my blogging friends, too. Who knew you would all be more real to me than the people I pass on the street?

I don’t care. And I care greatly. I am a work in progress. I thought being 59 meant I would have it all figured out. I know nothing. There’s bliss in that.

2020s, adventure, family, Five Shots of..., five shots...., glamping, nature, photography, travel

Dear Friends,

Ruby on board at Sunroad Resort Marina, San Diego

Some summer breaks are uneventful for weeks at a time before an international trip happens. Weeks go by waiting for the big bang of adventure far, far away. Other summers, little trips happen–two days here, five days there–throughout the whole summer. This was my 2021 summer. You might recall a recent post at the beginning of June when Jim and I went to Cerritos Beach outside of Todos Santos, Mexico for a week. That was a great kick off to the summer.

Nothing eventful occurred until the end of June when I had rotator cup surgery which required three screws and nine sutures. Ouch.

Covid had kept our family members away from each other. A joy, then, to reunite with my daughter-in-law and grandson who stayed for a ten day visit. Whenever friends and family visit, we become tourists which is important. Seeing one’s neighborhood through the eyes of others is a perspective that keeps me grateful. Jim took his daughter on the Williams, AZ train to the Grand Canyon. We revisted Montezuma’s Castle, an ancient Anasazi monument in Camp Verde, AZ.

Ben and the Gene Autry Cowboy
Anna, Ben & Montezuma’s Castle

My son visited for a weekend. It had been a long time, so I tried something special and booked two nights at a Phoenix resort, so I could visit with my grandchildren and two sons at a fun location. We spent the days in the pool and had a blast.

My son, Paul, the accountant
San Diego skyline

Jim and I reconnected after the kids left, and we took Ruby with us to San Diego. We tried staying in a sailboat for a few nights at the harbor. What a fun glamping experience.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Atop a ridge overlooking San Diego on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other was a somber final resting place for veterans. It felt like visiting Arlington National Cemetery with manicured grounds and white marble headstones symetrically placed over many acres.

Ruby and Jim

Always ready to fish, Jim and Ruby spend the mornings in the ocean.

A Pacific Croaker
Inside the sailboat

It was pristine and quiet in the marina. Our boat was just right for two adults and a dog.

Ocean Beach, San Diego

After exploring several beaches on the coast, we headed back home to our Arizona desert. The water followed us as monsoons hit the Phoenix area with great force. Up north where we live, it has rained for days now. Our drought-suffering region needs it.

Crimped and tired, Ruby.

Now I’m done with summer adventures. The school year starts up on August 2. I did not write much in July. I’m hoping to spend the remaining week getting a chapter out of the way. Thinking kind thoughts of you all.

Love & Friendship,

Cindy