Sanctuary 2.0: Princess to Pioneer

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Once upon a time, I lived in a land far, far away. A land of fairy tales populated by peasants and kings, bears and wolves, composers and poets. A land filled with beautiful things: lacquer boxes with miniature paintings, Orenburg shawls, intricate samovars, khokhloma kitchenwarematryoshkas, faberge eggs, and gzhel. In this magical land, I had a magical romance. Or maybe it wasn’t so magical but only felt like it was because I was in my early twenties and still believed love was the most important force in the world and still believed in its power to strike down all adversity and sorrow. But then I became too old for fairy tales and my Russian prince and I and our 12 gzhel statues moved to America where we were commoners with common lives and common problems that love could not vanquish. And then we didn’t have love anymore and so we parted ways. The gzhel cow, the gzhel pig, and all their fragile blue and white friends were relegated to a storage bin, packed away with the other memories of a life gone by, or perhaps a life that never was, to be pulled out and examined once or twice a year when nostalgia for the emotional intensity and naivete of young adulthood grew unbearable. But as time marched on, those ancient images and emotions were no longer strong enough to push through the haze of present day concerns, and the value in toting physical representations of memories from place to place was lost. It was then that the gzhel barnyard animals met their tragic end in a dumpster in a grimy alley in Denver, Colorado, far from their snowy origins. Except one. A rooster. The rooster refused to be tossed aside. He scratched and clung on, crowing for attention, urging my former self to allow one piece of who she was to remain, no matter how far down in the bin he had to be and no matter how much other detritus hid his existence. Just don’t let go. There’s more to come.

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Fifteen and a Half Weeks in the Mountains: What Makes a House a Home?

I’ve lived in a lot of housing units in my life. 31 now, to be exact, if you count living somewhere as a stay of at least one month. Even if you think the threshold should be three months, I’m still at 26. And all but two of those were after high school. So it’s no surprise I’ve never felt much of a connection to the places I’ve lived. They never were much more in my mind than just what I called them – housing units. Or domiciles, quarters, lodging, a roof, a pad. “Home” is not a status I’d confer on any of them.

This number 31 on the top of a hill hasn’t reached “home” status yet either, but only emotionally speaking. Acquiring a new property is like dating. You see it once and it’s gorgeous and you become infatuated; you see it a few more times and realize it’s something you want to get to know better; and then your feelings grow from infatuation into something deeper, so you decide to make the relationship exclusive, but even then, a long time might pass before you really fall in love. Although I suppose the analogy kinds of breaks down at the end there because in the case of buying a house, you’re really getting married and moving in together before you fall in love. So I guess this was an impetuous wedding in a chapel in Vegas, although my partner would beg to differ given the months of extra special frustration associated with acquiring a mortgage and insurance for a property in an area prone to wildfires. But true love can’t be far behind the fascination we both still very much have with this house and property. Here’s why. Continue reading →