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Home at Last, Part 2

My previous post was about physical aspects of settling into our new home. This post is about finding connections as we make this town our home.

After living in Austin for 35 years, I was burned out on the big city and looked forward to small-town life. We chose Kerrville because it met our needs in many ways–geography, scenery, affordability, schools, health care, the arts (theater for husband, art and music for me), a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We knew it would be more socially and politically conservative than Austin–almost anywhere in Texas would be–but we also knew there are people who share our views and we would find them.

The connections made so far (some of them overlap, as do many of the people):

    • UU Church of the Hill Country. Good minister, friendly people, small, attractive space, many activities in addition to Sunday services. Choir practice starts this week and I’m giving it a try. Like so many activities in this older community, rehearsals are in the afternoon. As long as Gary is here at 3:15 when granddaughter comes home, I can do it. She also likes the RE program because it’s small and not overwhelming.
    • Chicks with Sticks Knitting group: this is at the Baptist Church, and though I probably don’t share the religious views of some of these ladies, they have welcomed me and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, with lots of laughter, monthly lunches at a restaurant, and two hours a week of dedicated knitting time. They do charity knitting, so I’ve been making winter hats for an organization that fills backpacks for school kids.

Some of the hats I’ve made this summer for kids’ backpacks, one not quite finished.

  • Hill Country Chorale: after years of singing with the First UU choir and Panoramic Voices in Austin, and mostly giving it up the last two years because of late rehearsals on school nights, I really needed to get back to serious singing. After a reception and two rehearsals, I am happy.

    Note I wrote after the first runthrough.

  • Now that school has started I will try to participate in some small way–probably just through PTO or helping in the classroom. Last year I got a little overwhelmed with being on the PTA board, but I also made some wonderful friends. School involvement is so important.

    T-shirts: I used to be a Travis Heights Thunderbird; now I’m a Tally Eagle (if that’s what that is). And a singer.

  • Even though I haven’t participated much yet, I’ve joined the Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center, the Riverside Nature Center, and have attended some Democratic women’s events.
  • Next week I’m going to the Women2Women fundraiser for the Hill Country Crisis Center, where Lara Logan will be the speaker.
  • We’ve attended a couple of theater productions. A woman in our church is very involved with the Hill Country Arts Center, which includes theater and art. Yesterday she gave him a tour of their facility. Now that he’s feeling better he is curious about the theater community here.
  • I’ve attended one session of the Hill Country Poets. Although the critiquing aspect isn’t as rigorous as I’m accustomed to, they are friendly and welcoming, and I like the leader very much. They meet in the Unity Church, another community I’m interested in learning more about.
  • Neighbors:one brought me some irises when she split her bulbs. The guy next door lent us a ladder and trimmed some branches.* The other next-door neighbor shares his lawn guy with us. I met an across-the-street neighbor at a yoga class, and she brought us brownies the other day. After we moved in, a man across the street helped us connect the washer. Walking the dog has allowed us to meet some interesting folks, including theater people. The owner of the house behind us came over to apologize when they were doing some roofing over the summer, and his mom, who occupies the house, visited us soon after. A woman on another street, whose daughter is the same age as our granddaughter, is becoming a good friend. I’ve made several friends via people I know in Austin. We feel so welcome, and nobody asks if/where we go to church or for whom we voted.
  • In every activity, there is a connection to something else. Yoga/neighbor. Church/nature center/chorale/theater. Acupuncturist/yoga/chiropractor/computer guy. I ran into a knitting friend in a thrift store the other day. We’ve been here less than four months. I’m going to have to start wearing makeup to the grocery store!

Because of Gary’s back and hip issues we have done less exploring of the area than we would like, but we’ve visited some of the surrounding communities. We look forward to seeing more of the Guadalupe River. We’re close enough to San Antonio to take advantage of museums and culture there, if we can tear ourselves away from everything going on here. We’ll take granddaughter to the S.A. Zoo and museums when it gets cooler.

I had planned on only parts 1 and 2, but this is long, so Part 3 will be about my personal journey in this new place.

* A few days later I made a big batch of soup and took some over to him. He flat would not take it. He’s been friendly and a good neighbor, but he would not accept my small offering to thank him for his help. This still puzzles me.

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Home at Last, Part 1

I didn’t expect to be mostly settled in our new home when school started, but it worked out that way. I’m thrilled with what we’ve accomplished in three months.

Granddaughter is launched into fifth grade. I walk her to school every morning and meet her at the corner in the afternoon. The first week or so, the dog kept pulling back to the school after she left us and I had to reassure him she would come out again. Strangely, when it’s time to go meet her at 3, he’s not interested in leaving the house.

As hoped, this is my dream house, and it’s bringing out my inner gardener, decorator and domestic goddess.

Here’s a rundown of a summer of hard work:

  • All boxes unpacked and disposed of. (Except for some in the garage that will be stored indefinitely.) Thanks to the Kerrville Garage Sale Facebook page, where I kept posting “free moving boxes,” all the boxes were scooped up over the summer.
  • Studio set up and in use. I love the space–I can sit at the work table and watch hummingbirds on the plants near the entrance, and the light is wonderful.

    The view of the front entry from the studio work table.

  • Most of the art is hung. A few large pieces that will go higher on the walls are waiting for husband to be well enough to hoist pictures up a ladder. (He’s had back problems throughout the summer. We are hoping he’s reaching resolution.)

    Large Hamilton Pool piece and lots of “water” images in living room.

    Foyer has lots of gold and suns. The small sun on the door was 50 cents at a craft store. It’s magnetic, and the door is metal.

    Hallway with gallery of family shots and a strong painting at the end. All track lighting came with the house.

    Some favorite pieces in the dining room.

    Dining room art and piano.

  • New dining table and chairs purchased online, assembled and in use. Plus a glass-topped patio table we used magic to get home from a store in San Antonio on a Sunday afternoon. The box wouldn’t fit in the car. With the help of a sweet Penney’s employee, we unpacked it, removed all the protective packing material, and just squeezed it into the back seat.
  • Granddaughter’s bedroom painted and furnished, with a new desk, bed and headboard. The walls and curtains are violet, so I call her room the “amethyst cave.”
  • Guinea pigs acquired, settled in granddaughter’s bedroom, subsequently moved to husband’s office/guest room because they’re so noisy at night, body-slamming against the cage.
  • Master bedroom cosy and comfortable, with soft sea-foam-green curtains on the window behind the bed (the decor is all blues and greens) and dark curtains on the window that aligns so perfectly with a street light it would keep us awake.

    sea-foam-green sanctuary.

    Quiet reading corner in our bedroom.

  • A two-chamber tumbling composter up and running.
  • A meditation garden with a bench, flower garden and hummingbird feeders. While I meditate the hummingbirds flit around or sit and sip at the feeders.
  • Pool clear, clean and well-maintained. The house was vacant for four months. The chemistry was bad and it took awhile to get it balanced and sparkling. (Now the nights are cooling and the season may end early this year.)

    View from the dining room.

  • A herb garden and container plants around the patio and yard. Next year we’ll have a vegetable garden.

    Our most recent acquisition, from an estate sale. It didn’t take long to find a place for it and fill it up, including part of my kaleidoscope collection.

Of course a house is never finished. There will be tweaks, additions and rearrangements. I want to put in a vegetable garden next year, look into rain-water collection and eventually add a hot tub near the pool.

Part 2 will be about what’s happening socially, spiritually, artistically and all the other ways I’m making this truly home.

Pulling Up

Sometimes you push through. Sometimes you pull back. I’m doing a little of both to get through this slump.

I want to make it clear I recognize the difference between clinical and situational depression, and this is the latter. It’s not unusual to have a letdown after a major life change, even a happy one.

Four months of adrenalin-fueled hard work take a toll. I feel like I’ve aged a couple of years through this move.

But I’m English–stiff upper lip, pull up your socks and carry on. Here’s my plan:

  1. Self-care! Acupuncture. Chiropractor. Naps. I have to stop dinging myself–small cuts, burns and bruises. No falls.
  2. Stop giving myself artificial deadlines. Unpacked boxes, annoying and unsightly as they are, will eventually be gone. We are gradually sorting and hanging art. (Half-awake one night, I imagined the bedroom was full of dark boxes closing in on me.)
  3. Get out: a river walk, a play, a visit to the library or art center, a browse through a thrift shop.
  4. Plant things. I’ve never been much of a gardener. After leaving most of the container plants at the condo, I’m rebuilding–herbs and other container plants for now, but I’m eyeing a spot for a meditation garden, and I’m going to look in thrift and antique shops for a bench.

    Nascent herb garden.

  5. Read. I don’t remember the title of the last book I read. I keep up with periodicals: the New York Times (online), the New Yorker, the local daily, and now that we have cable TV for the first time in 20 years there are overwhelming choices of news and movies. Books are unpacked and I’ve started a fascinating biography of a pioneering Texas women doctor who reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, except her story is true.

    Most of my poetry books are unpacked and shelved. This makes me happy when I walk past it.

  6. Make friends. This is a big challenge. We’ve met a few neighbors and dog-walkers, and I have some connections through Austin friends. I attended a Democratic women’s mixer. I have joined the Arts Center and plan on checking out a knitting group and a poetry group. When the Hill Country Chorale starts rehearsals in September I plan to join. We will soon start attending the local UU church. I must remember it takes time to establish friendships.
  7. Create art, knit. Art is satisfying, knitting is meditative and calming.

Most important of all is gratitude. I am so grateful for the good life we are able to have, that we have the resources (physical, financial, emotional) to care for the granddaughter. When I check out of the grocery story with a full basket, it’s such a relief to pop in the debit card and not worry about whether there’s enough money in the account to cover it.

A well-stocked refrigerator. We moved the other one from the condo so we have overflow in the garage.

Well-stocked pantry as well.

Gratitude, patience, knowing when to push ahead and when to pull back. There are no deadlines.

Our sweet comfort dog. Just because.

 

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