First and without question, leaving California was The Right Thing To Do.
Our house is on a street only one block long, which means it’s pretty quiet most of the time. There’s a tall blackberry bush in the backyard, as well as a creek three houses away, with the same kind of hedges bordering its banks. I’ve already baked a cobbler and muffins using these luscious berries, and more treats are coming.
Other discoveries are the community convenience store with killer grinders; a historic neighborhood of restored turn-of-the-century houses adjacent to mine, and easy freeway access. I’ve also discovered a yoga studio I love, as well as a hairdresser and massage therapist.
Finding a great supermarket has been trouble free, too. (The Walmart is okay but the Win Co across the street is way better.) In fact, the 10-minute drive there is one I look forward to, taking me down a winding road with sloping meadows, grazing horses and an old-timey octagonal house, painted forest green and three stories high.
Surprisingly, this small town—a tad under 40,000 folks—is also a foodie’s paradise.
The weekly Growers’ Market (called a farmers’ market in California) has more than 80 booths, and Thai, Lebanese and Japanese restaurants are nearby. Tucked in a strip mall one town over is an itty-bitty Italian kitchen so good that folks have been known to come from San Francisco, a six-hour drive, to check it out. There’s also a terrific diner downtown, where the Hubster and I have had breakfast a few times. (The tab for our first visit stunned us in the best of ways: the grand total was $12.90.)
The dogs are content as well.
At our old house, Hank ran laps all day in the yard, and barked incessantly at every noise he heard just outside the fence. Here, he curls up on the cedar deck, taking in the sun and cocking his head at the wind. Sadie does the same, her brow relaxed, and front paws crossed.
I now know that only those who are fiercely determined to move should do so.
In fact, the process was so brutal that it has made my Top 10 List of Most Challenging Life Adventures.
Unlike the skedaddling I did in my 20s, which involved a few suitcases and cardboard boxes from a local grocery
store, this required a professional moving company. Three men and one large van transported furniture for a dining
and living room, master bedroom and two good-sized offices, as well as all the accoutrements. (A tiny sampling:
the almost as-tall-as-me bulletin board, Christmas decorations, vintage floor lamps, Pyrex collection and at
least two dozen boxes of books).
There were other big issues prior to leaving.
Mainly, because we needed a large down payment on an Oregon home to get a low mortgage, we had to first sell our California place at the best possible price.
To do that, we embarked on a remodel that took close to three years. (Another tiny sampling: upgrades to the bathrooms and kitchen; new flooring in nearly every room, and having both inside and outside of the house painted.) Also, because of the terms of our buyer’s lender, the house had to be tented for termites before closing. This meant packing and sealing our food and medicine in two dozen special bags, and then finding another place to live (the dogs, too)
for three anxious days.
During this renovation period, we also drove to Oregon to look at houses—four times, 600 miles each way. Sometimes, we did it in one day.
Except for the final visit, when we found our house, these trips always ended in crushing disappointment; places
that looked great online were very different in person. We called these “run for the car” houses, and we looked at
more than a dozen.
I don’t know how I managed, except that early on, I decided there wasn’t going to be any turning back. I also learned to take one bite of the elephant at a time.
Now that we’re here, we’re doing a lot to make our house our home.
I adore my teal blue kitchen—the 1960s gas stove with Bakelite knobs sold me right away—and with more wall space than before, our many framed pictures are now hung precisely how I’ve always wanted. My Pyrex collection is on full display in the largest dining area I’ve ever had, and our entertainment cabinet and the Hubster’s rocking chair fit perfectly in the living room.
There’s still plenty of work to be done, because there always is when settling into a new place.
We’re getting there. Most of all, we’re happy to be doing it right here.