Changes

Ariel and Mommy on the stoop

My husband and I recently reflected that the last seven years have been years of transition. Graduate school, job changes, cross-country moves, the death of a parent, and having a baby . . .

In 2019 it feels like we’ve landed—working at the same place, living together and in the same city in which we work. We rented for a year, hoping to finish the tiny cabin. Life, it’s no surprise, was a constant juggling act. The daycares were full, so Chuck and I alternated our teaching schedules and had students watch Ariel a few hours each week when our schedules overlapped. It was a wonderful first year as a full-time professor, and let’s just say I survived.

The cabin, among the other demands of family and work, has begun to feel like an albatross. Four years ago Chuck was driving 100 miles a day to work, and we hoped to quickly build a cabin where he could stay during the week. The two of us would rough it until we worked out the solar/water kinks. The stakes were low then, and the two of us were up for the adventure. We underestimated the task, not to mention unforeseen challenges such as Chuck falling off a ladder. With his late diagnosis of a torn bicep tendon, surgery, and months of physical therapy, we never regained our momentum, especially after I became pregnant.

In addition, these rainy years have not been kind to the low-lying delta—our land is at best muddy but more often resembles a rice paddy. It’s not exactly the pastoral scene I’d hoped for. The tiny cabin was supposed to encourage us to spend more time outside. Contending with water is bad enough without the entourage of mosquitoes that follows wherever we go. After Ariel was born we designed an addition for the cabin, but we wondered how wise it would be to sink more money into a precarious plot of land.

And let’s face it, the energy and mobility of a toddler can hardly be contained in such a space without a safe place to play outside. Had the cabin already been finished, had we been living there with our routines in place, we might have figured out how to make it work.

Ariel playing with chalk May 2019

Exploring our option felt like more of a maelstrom than a whirlwind, but to cut the saga short: we found a house we really love and bought it. We wrestled with the decision, and I’m still making peace with it. We want to finish the cabin. We want to cultivate that part us—living in the woods, being completely self-sufficient. But the decision to simply buy a house, I’ll admit, has brought relief. Ariel now spends hours outside each day playing in the back yard and making chalk drawings in the shade of our carport. We’ve also brought our three cats who’d been staying with a family member, so now we’re all back together under one roof.

Since the blog has been sporadic, the news probably feels sudden when measured against the last few posts. But the inner journey has felt long and winding, if not dizzyingly circular. I’m still measuring what building the cabin has taught me, and I’m searching for how to live by those principles.

Future cabin updates will continue to appear here, but the overall blog will now be about new adventures.

Ariel with a white cat summer 2019

3 thoughts on “Changes

  1. Hi, Paulette, I’m so glad to be a new follower of your blog. So glad to hear that things have stabilized and that your new house is providing joy in ways that you perhaps had not planned. 🙂 I think many of us can relate to the desire to be more self-sufficient, be closer to nature—and thanks for sharing that this pursuit can have unexpected challenges.

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