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Practicing our best selfie

They say youth is wasted on the young. This may or may not be true, but I do know that the summer vacation of my youth was time well-spent, even if I didn’t fully appreciate it back then. Back then, my summer was a series of long, hot days that stretched into weeks with nothing much to do, which is the best way to grow up. Afternoons were spent tramping through the creek with a dog or two. Or, a chore of watering the horses or chickens quickly turned into an hour or two of squishing barefoot through the muddy Savannah watering hole I created and tended with the aid of a slowly trickling garden hose. Many a day was whiled way, curled up under a tree with a book or just my thoughts to keep me company. I pounded rose-petals to make perfume and picked blackberries until my hands were stained a deep purple.There was always a cat or three around, and of course, plenty of chickens. Summers were King and I reveled in the endlessness of it all. The payment for the independence of adulthood? The agonizing awareness of the passing of time, something we’re all blissfully oblivious to as children. Our (Greg and I) adult summers are a blur of to-do lists, doctor appointments, social obligations and preparations to leave once again. Summer is always a busy time for us, but this year seemed even more so with two major items that took up the majority of our time back in the States- one planned well in advance, the other a bit more last-minute.

First up on the rostrum was a planned surgery on Greg’s nose to fix a very deviated septum and a turbinates reduction (the saucer-shaped air warmers in your nose) officially referred to as a septoplasty. As one can imagine, I have no before and after pics to share – I do try to practice some restraint! So, you’ll have to believe me when I report that Greg’s nose looks as gorgeous as it always has with the added bonus that he can actually  breathe through both the left nostril as well as the right. The surgery has already made a pretty profound difference despite a few more weeks before all the swelling goes down. Though this clearly cut into our summer fun, the surgery was well worth the time devoted to recovering. This is something we’ve been talking about and planning for nearly two years. We had a great Doc and couldn’t be happier with the results. Besides, anyone that knows me well, knows that I wouldn’t trade in my attending the check-up visits for anything. I’ll admit to a heavy dose of morbid fascination as I watched the doc pull what amounted to a horror show out of Greg’s nose using a pair of the longest tweezers possible known to mankind. Like I said, no pics- just use your imagination.

houseWe also bought a house. Actually, we technically bought a condo, but at two stories and 2900 custom-built feet AND a tiny home to boot, it’s really a house. Why would we buy, you ask, when we have at least three more years in Lagos, spend our summers back sailing on Journey, and plan to take off for a year of sailing once we’re “back-back”? (Back-back is Kim and Greg speak for moving back to the States on a more permanent basis). I guess buying a house is kinda like falling in love; just when you’re fed up with the drudgery of the hunt and declare “This love (house) thing just isn’t for me, I’d rather be single (house-less)” you stumble upon the one you stopped looking for and fall in love. That’s what happened to us. Pretty much from the beginning, Greg and I have been on the hunt for “the one” for when we’re back-back. We both agreed that owing a home was something we absolutely wanted; the problem was when, where and what. These are just some of the questions that we’ve grappled with over the past seven years:

Question-set #1: Do we buy now so we can take our stuff out of storage, and have to deal with the expense and hassle of owning a home that we’re not living in, or wait until we move back-back? One of our big concerns has been our items in storage that are not just ‘things’ to us but are family heirlooms and art from our travels around the world…and my kitchen stuff which was pretty much the only stuff I kept when I sold my house and moved to Mongolia seven years ago. Buy a house just to put our stuff in? Absolutely. It’s important stuff because it’s our story and who we are as individuals and as a couple. And when we’re back-back, it will be our reminder of where we’ve been, who we’ve met, and the incredible experiences we’ve had together. [As an aside, I told Greg that I was as happy as a bride on her wedding day when the dumpster showed up and began to be dumped on a regular basis. I’m easily amused.]

Question-set #2: Do we buy in Olympia, or somewhere else, like SE Alaska or Bellingham, or maybe Port Townsend…and what about water-front? We went through a serious flirtation with buying a log cabin in SE Alaska and living somewhat off the grid, but eventually rejected that idea as too…out there. Plus, we wanted to make sure we lived somewhere that didn’t require a water taxi or float plane get to a major airport, though I do still plan to learn to fly when we’re back-back. Idaho was an option for a brief moment until we found out how much the property taxes were- plus, it’s way too conservative for my taste. Somewhere closer to the San Juan Islands made sense with the boat, but the expense of homes and the prospect of driving through Seattle to reach SeaTac made that a trickier sell. We looked at tons of water front homes, but couldn’t find anything we liked under $500,000. We just didn’t want to buy something with a great view, but a property line only five feet off the neighbor’s bathroom window. We figured we already our own movable water front property so we were willing to compromise on that piece.

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Our water front property

Question-set #3: Do we buy something brand new, or a fixer-upper? Better yet, can’t we just buy 10 or 20 acres and build when we get back-back? We didn’t want a cookie-cutter new construction house, but we also wanted something contemporary enough that we didn’t move into an ongoing remodeling project. Buying property was a serious option, but with some new stringent building restrictions in Thurston County based around a protected gopher, we decided not to take the chance that our dream homesite would become the site for a Caddyshack sequel. Ah, what to do.

What we decided was not to buy anything, at least not for a couple more years. But, as fate would have it, Greg was back in the States for a few days in-between conferences and job fairs in February. He just happened to take a quick look at a place we’d seen months earlier, but hadn’t really cared for because of the terrible pictures in the original listing. He walked in and that was it; love at first sight. A quick phone call back to me in Lagos sealed the deal; I could hear in his voice that it was the right place for us, so I told him to buy it, sight unseen. We share .75 acres with a wonderful neighbor and are located down a half-mile private drive. We’re five minutes from Fred Meyer and the freeway, but it sounds and feels like we’re in the countryside. I can run 6.5 miles to the boat, or a multitude of other directions, on mostly paved streets. We wake up to birds singing and are surrounded by tree tops; we call our bedroom the “tree house”. True love.

If you’re interested in seeing the rest, pre moving in, here’s a video tour from the listing- thanks to Jim for making a video for us!

But what about Journey? Yes, we still plan to spend our time predominately on Journey in the summers and take a long sail when we first move back-back. But for now, we have a place for our stuff, and a place to call home-home. Speaking of sailing, we did go out this summer, just not as long as we’d like. Despite our two major events, we had still hoped for at least ten days on the boat, at least, this was the hope when we were back in Lagos planning out our summer. But, between the house, the surgery and the leaks our shipwright and his crew have been chasing the better part of a year, a lot of time on Journey just wasn’t in the stars. In reality, our ten days dwindled to just shy of a handful, but any time on the boat is good downtime, and we enjoyed every  moment. We managed about four days total; a two-night motor in the South Sound with one of Greg’s daughters, her roommate, and her two sisters, the other two tied-up at Swantown.

Even though we weren’t out sailing the other two days, it was helpful to spend a couple of nights sleeping and cooking aboard, and visiting with good friends on the dock. We grilled halibut on the back deck then went on ‘our’ walk to the bench at the end of the point to watch the sunset. We talked and laughed while the resident blue herons slowly flew by, all prehistoric and gangly, squawking their presence into the early evening, and we looked for harbor seals cruising down the fingers of the dock. We schemed and planned the improvements and general repairs we’ll have done on Journey over the next couple years, discussing at length the pros and cons of in-boom masts, a davit system and the kind of kayaks we’d like. We discussed multiple scenarios for our shake-down cruise that will most likely lead us up the Inside Passage for a long summer spent doing some serious sailing in SE Alaska before heading south to Mexico and perhaps beyond. In short, we filled our today with thoughts of tomorrow while enjoying each other’s company and the simplicity that only life on a boat and at the dock can offer.

A final highlight of our summer was the hosting of our annual going away dock-box party, which this year, included a boat renaming ceremony. You see, while Journey’s legal name has been Journey since we purchased her four years ago, the name painted on the side was still her original name, Jasmine. Knowing that there is a detailed procedure when renaming a boat, to ensure safe passage, we planned a ‘de-naming’ followed quickly by a ‘re-naming’. There’s a video below with all the proper incantations, ablutions and offerings we could muster, so I’ll save the thick description. Suffice to say, it was another great going away party AND early celebration of Greg’s 60th birthday. By the way, I am married to an amazing man; who else would agree to have a picture and script of Miss Chicken painted on the back of their 44′ sailboat… I’m a lucky girl!

Here’s a link to the actual ceremony, dutiful conducted by Greg, with copious offerings of bubbly to Neptune by Kim, and attended by friends and family:  https://youtu.be/yU3O_8dA4qs

I’m finishing-up this post from Lagos; we flew back in Tuesday night after a 24-hour layover in Atlanta. The flight was long, but relatively easy and a great flight crew- we are devoted Delta customers. We were met at the arrival gate by an expediter that whisked us and our five bags, at least one of which was brimming with food, through immigration and customs without nary a zipper being opened.

Three of the school drivers met us to take our bags down to the car park for transfer to a school van. The ride to Victoria Island was bumpy, but relatively quick and easy. The campus guards and our personal driver all greeted us warmly, inquiring about our summer and family. We took showers, ate some scrambled eggs and went to bed. Wednesday was all about sleeping in, followed by a day of unpacking and a check of work email- back in the saddle again, sigh. I made shredded chicken tacos and black beans to go with our John Wayne western and we tried out the new microwave popcorn maker Greg ordered from Amazon- works great. I went for my first of many runs around the field this morning; five times around is a mile but if you run the far outside, you can hit two miles in less than ten laps. The power still goes off and on throughout the day, it’s still humid, but there is comfort in the familiar, in the routine. Yes, we miss our house, we miss Journey and we miss family and friends- and while Olympia is home-home, Lagos is home too, at least for the time being. Oh, and if you’re curious about how the decks turned out, check this out! John, you and your team are amazing…simply stunning.

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