The Home Stretch

It is June 2015, a month that, on paper,  appears to be mild-mannered; a month during which we should be gradually moving into my most favorite of seasons: summer. But this appearance of casualness on the month of June’s part is a fat lie. Underneath its soothing, floriferous veneer, there is nothing at all sedate about this month of June. This June does not clutch an iced drink with languid fingers.  No, this year June is life in fast-forward. It is the roaring fiery furnace of an early summer. It has come out fighting with weather in the mid 80’s and a garden that is so confused it thinks August is on its way out. I guess that is nothing if not poetic.  Things are coming to a boil in the Little Cunning Plan house.

It’s like this: We have 12 months before lift off. Twelve. Months. Crap. That was fast.

Typical Scottish weather at Newark Castle

We are seriously freaking out just a little. A shit lot of things have to come together in the next year in order for us to gracefully leave the dock for this trip. Please recall that due to Suddenly-We-Feel-Old Syndrome, we’ve moved up our departure date by an entire year.  I would like to feel excited about that, but what I really feel is overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done to dismantle a life and create a new one. I’d make a list here, but why should you be overwhelmed, too? Things like writing Last Will and Testaments come to mind. Still, ready or not, it has begun.


Life in the fast lane started while I was away in Scotland playing tourist with my mom. (And please enjoy these photos from our trip because, why not?) Mike disconnected the land line for my fax machine (for my business) and our home phone.  He didn’t cancel the number, he just lived without that land line for awhile, trying it out for size because we’ve had the same home phone number for 25 years and he felt weird about canceling the line. Our son Andrew has never had a different home phone number in his life. Mike finally cancelled the account completely and we have, of course, not missed it. The small pain we felt was an emotional attachment to something that gave us a perceived feeling of permanence. Now we can multiply this process by 1000ish to get some idea of what is in store for us as we disconnect ourselves in the coming year from the life we have been living for decades. Ugh. I guess if it were easy everyone would do it? So they say.

Orchard House, on the estate where we lived for 2 glorious weeks.

Claire and Dan are coming home from Scotland for the summer so in getting their room ready, I was forced to reckon with clearing out a chest of drawers and the buffet. This produced several boxes of stuff for the estate sale. It was a dandy good feeling with only minor qualms as I included a big box of professional books that I used to keep in my office. Some of them are out of print now, that’s how long I’ve been around. Whatever. Out they go. However, when it came to the box of momentos from Claire’s birth 30 years ago, I was stuck. Didn’t even open it. I’ll have to do it, but not this particular minute. That box is seriously different than a lousy phone number. It remains in the middle of the floor, unmolested.

By January I am going to have to seriously consider retiring because I will need that time to focus on getting the house in order. Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard it was going to be to retire? I’ve been toying with the idea of retiring from my long career as a psychotherapist for the last 2 years. But when you’ve done something for 28 years, it’s not that easy to just walk away. Just when I think I’ve had enough, I decide to keep my hand in the game a little while longer because I’m still having a little fun with it. And also because we need the money.  Now I’m having to get serious about quitting. So July will see the end of accepting new insurance clients. Oy vey. It’s scary. I can hardly cotton it. I have worked since I was 16 years old. Please tell me I’ll be glad to be free of my private practice. And that we can make it without the money.

Scotland is like a postcard around every corner.

To avoid complete meltdown we do have a bit of a sketched out plan of attack. We’ll have our cruise in July, then in August we’ll begin clearing out the house and have a big estate sale. Or two. Our tentative plan is keep our house. Decision making about what to keep will be easier. We will also be able to store some stuff here, which will save us from having to rent storage space.  I am breathing a huge sigh of relief that we have decided to keep the house because this is a great property, a good investment, and offers us a bit of security in terms of a ready-made place to live on land if we decide we hate it out there. (Unlikely, but who knows?) I like to hedge my bets, not being much of a gambler by nature.

Rooftops as seen from the tower at Yorkminster, which is in York, England.

Our one fly in the ointment is our dog, Skippy. Skippy hates the boat and is 12 years old. He is not a spring chicken but he is still very healthy and has a lot of living yet to do. We were hoping Andrew could have him up in Bellingham, but no one wants to rent to someone with a dog. This is a shame because Andrew loves little Skippers and would like to have him. I am depending on Providence to offer a solution to this at the right time.

This is a wind meter found in Lindisfarne Castle. Could we please have one of these on Galapagos?

This is a wind meter found in Lindisfarne Castle. Could we please have one of these on Galapagos?

If all goes as planned and no big curve balls are thrown our way, we will take the summer next year to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. We are both really looking forward to what will amount to a leisurely shake down cruise. If all goes well during that cruise, we haven’t hit major snags in the plan, broken the boat, or killed each other in our sleep, then we will continue south in the fall of 2016.

I fell in love with this little Norman church outside of York.

You’ll notice how I’ve said ‘if all goes well’, and ‘if no big curve balls are thrown our way’? That because as all good sailors know, plans are written in sand and sometimes the water of life is a complete bitch. And we know it. Still, it’s happening now and I sit in my house on a beautiful summer day when the garden is in full force and think how lucky I’ve been in my life to be able to make these choices.

Restored and decorated in a medieval style in the mid 1800’s by the land owner. It takes your breath away when you go from the plain, almost unadorned exterior to the sumptuous beauty of the interior.



8 thoughts on “The Home Stretch

  1. You are entering not the territory I have been in for a,most 3 years. The difference is we’re staying on Terra Firma, and trying to let our house go while we downsize and buy another. I did retire. It doesn’t feel very good not to work. I have worked since I was 12 years old, with a few years off raising my two girls. So, I feel o,d, tired, and I miss the money as a way of feeling a little powerful to buy what I want and not just what I need. Part of our plan hasn’t materialized yet, our house has not sold. I am sure there is a person out there who will find it and love it like I did, but they haven’t appeared yet! I am doing some spiritual work with a few people, but it is not as valued as psychotherapy which I personally find strange. So, my new life is centered around letting God take care of the big things, and trying to enjoy the free time. God speed to you and Mike, and don’t be too surprised if there are a few bumps a,one the way! Blessings, Carole.

    • I like your attitude about enjoying the free time and understand what you mean about the perceived value of the work. I know there is a buyer out there for your lovely house, too.

    • It really does! And I love Scotland. I would love to spend several months there…in the summer in the winter I fear it would be just like here except more so.

  2. And the countdown begins….

    On retirement, wait until you’ve done it for a couple of months and you’ll never look back. It’s a good thing. I really miss work, but like sailing and traveling much more (even on the not so good days).

    On the phone, look into getting a Google Number. It’s free and you’ll be able to keep the same number regardless of if it rings a cell or land-line. It is perfect for when you are at sea as they transcribe voicemail and send you an email. You can also use it to call the USA from a PC with Wi-Fi (like Skype).

    We enjoyed the pics of Scotland. Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks for the suggestion, Mark. We can look into that. We currently both have Iphones and have used Facetime to good advantage with our daughter in Scotland and while I was away visiting. But both our numbers are associated with our work lives, so perhaps a new one will be a good idea when we get this new life going.

  3. I enjoy your posts so much. It is an exciting turning point in your life, well observed and articulated in your blog. For the first time though I felt a dark side to the story. It appears this great adventure can only mean bad things for your dog of twelve years. How do you justify this in your own mind? Not judging – just interested because I know you to be an empathetic and co,passionate person from your previous entries.

    • Hi Claudia and thanks for the nice comment on the blog. To put your mind at ease, nothing dire is going to happen to Skippy. He has been a part of our family since a wee pup and we wouldn’t think of abandoning him to his fate. Believe me when I say this is something that does keep me up at night, worrying about how to manage both his needs and ours. There is a good possibility that by next year our son Andrew will be in a position to live further out from the university (as he graduates this month and his girlfriend graduates next year). Should this happen then he may be able to find a place that is dog friendly. I know there will be other possibilities for Skip, but ‘bad things’ are not any of them because we just, simply put, couldn’t do anything to him that would be hurtful. He is a good companion and has been loyal for 12 years. I know that other people would have ‘rehomed’ him two years ago in anticipation of just this problem, but we did not want to do that and knew we would be taking risk in keeping him with us. What we didn’t know is that we would fast forward this trip by a year. We have only ever ‘rehomed’ one dog, and she was abandoned on our doorstep and was attacking our other dogs. We keep our dogs until they die of old age. At 12, so far Skippy is very healthy and active and still maniacal about his frisbee. So we are banking on Andrew. And if not, something else will come up. So don’t you lose sleep over Skippy. We’ll take care of him.

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