Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I am currently reading At Home in the world: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe, written by Tsh Oxenreider.  It’s a memoir of a family's trip around the world: mom, dad, and three children whose ages (I believe at the time of the trip) are nine, six and four, a daughter and two younger sons.   The family sells their home in Oregon and spends one year traveling the globe; giving the children an education of a lifetime.  

I've been enjoying Tsh's writing so much I looked for her blog, The Art of Simple.  This week on her blog she asked readers to reflect on where they feel at home in the world,  and/or why they've chosen to stay at the place they call home.

As I read her book of adventure, her fears and reflections on life as a  global wanderer, one thing comes to mind over and over:  I could not do this.  As much as I would love to think I would be adventurous enough, in my heart of hearts I doubt it.  I don't dislike travel.  While I've traveled to Mexico enough that I've lost count, (mostly as a youngster when my Hispanic grandparents lived in south Texas), and I traveled abroad once, (a short trip to England to visit our daughter while she was studying there) both of these countries have a familiarity that didn't force me out of my comfort zone.  And although it may have at one time been a dream on my bucket list that we would wait to be empty nesters to embark on such adventures, now that we are empty nesters, one of us retired and the other just a year away,  I'm afraid I've lost my nerve. The world, just in the last eight years since my trip to England, is a vastly different place. 

Now my idea of traveling is to drive our motor home to scenic destinations, where I speak the language if not the dialect, savor local dishes and sites, but always return to my own bed at the end of the day.   The motor home is my comfort zone, the place where I feel is still my home.  My bucket list dream now is to drive our motor home across the country and see as many states as possible.  

At times we think of selling our home, live in the motor home, and dump the increasingly overwhelming upkeep that comes with home and land ownership. Once before in our married life we were homeless.  I was pregnant with our third child, (we have four), and my husband was working about three hours away.  He was working long hours, lots of overtime, which only allowed him to come home on the weekends.  The hotel my husband stayed at allowed the families of the employees who worked for my husband's company to stay for free.  We made the decision to put everything in storage and put the money we would be saving on rent towards a down payment on a home.  We had a great time while living in the hotel.  I delivered our second son while living there.  And I really only missed two things about a conventional home, a yard to plant things in and a kitchen to cook in.  The RV has a kitchen.  

This is the first and only home we've ever owned.  A home we've been in for thirty two years.  We moved in the spring before our oldest started kindergarten.  Our fourth (youngest) child was born the next spring.  At sometime when I wasn't looking that same youngest child carved her name into the banister that overlooks the great room.  And I planted...a lot: cherry trees, two forsythias in memory of my brothers when they passed away, a magnolia tree, and too many perennials to name. 

Our home sits in the center of a rural community which served as the county seat in the 1800's.  Over our time here it's been great fun to learn the local history.  At one time this little community had a school, general store, and a church that is adjacent to our property.  The school no longer stands, the store is falling down, so when the church became available twenty years ago we bought it.  Our oldest daughter was married there in 2008.  

There's so many reasons we've chosen to stay in our home all of these years.  The rural setting, the small town where our children attended school, are just two of the reasons it was a great place to raise a family. Move a blurring fast forward and it's been wonderful to watch our grandchildren play in the same places their parents did.  We've been lucky that all of our children and grandchildren are, at the most, 45 minutes away.  

When we inevitably do leave our home I know what I've planted here over the years are what I will miss the most.  Maybe home will always be where most of my memories are planted.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Hobo's Life

Four years ago all I could think about was how I wanted a little dog.  I wanted something smaller, older, slower, and starved for love. He also had to be good tempered around small grandchildren.  Problem was, my husband was not thinking about dogs whatsoever.  And yet I persisted with my search.  Eventually I found an ad from a rescue center for an adorable little guy about two hours from where we live.  It said he was nine years old, trained, and great with kids.  I sent an email to my husband, one he's kept all this time.  The day we brought him home it was clear to us he was just a little Hobo.  So that’s what we named him.

At first he didn't want anything to do with us.  He'd snap at us and growl when we tried to pick him up.  But we were sure we could love him enough to gain his trust, although we would have to kennel him when the grandchildren were visiting.  When we took him to the vet they told us he was older than nine, more like twelve or thirteen years old.   As for what we thought were just "accidents" in the house and would get better with time.....never did.  It eventually became clear that this dog did not care about using the great outdoors for his restroom.  Inside suited him just fine.  You could have just brought him in from outside and he would hike his leg and pee on the floor.  He became a kitchen dog.  But as my husband said, "In for a penny, in for a pound."

One night while fixing dinner he was circling my husband’s feet.  Paul had just put a ham steak on a platter.  So my husband did what we thought everyone did for their dogs, he gave him the bone as a special treat.  Hobo swallowed it whole.  This was 8:00 p.m.  The local vet met us at his office and took some x-rays.  The only way Hobo could be saved was to drive him into the city and have it surgically removed.  We had no idea there were all night animal hospitals. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”  It was about 4:00 a.m. when we returned home.

Hobo went on all of our RV trips, not just local trips but Colorado, Maryland, and Texas.  To a stranger Hobo looked to be a puppy.  He was a true “babe magnet”, especially on the beach.  We liked to imagine this was just a continuation of the life he led before, but now the accommodations were much better.  My husband would tell great stories of Hobo’s earlier life, in Hobo’s voice of course.  Jumping trains, circus life, war stories, and oh the females he loved and the puppies he fathered!!

After some time Hobo really slowed down.  At first it was hard for him to get used to.  He was bow legged and walked with a bit of a prance.  Sometimes his legs would give him trouble and slide out from underneath him.  Some days he’d be in the yard with us and he would literally bounce, what we would call “frolic”.   The next day he wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.
Then we noticed he was becoming senile.  We would let him out and he would forget how to get back to the front door.   Once I let him out in the middle of the night and later I was army crawling under our deck to retrieve him.  After that his eye sight failed.  He would wander around, find himself in a corner, and not know how to back himself out of it.  He wouldn’t be able to find his food and water bowl until he walked through it a couple of times.  At times we were just sure he was not long for this world, but he would always bounce back.  He’s been this way for about the last year. 

Eventually we put two of those small animal play pens together on our deck and when he needed to do his business we would put him in there and then just hose it off.  One thing Hobo would never do was lay down when he was outside.  Last Thursday when we went to bring him in he was lying down.  He couldn’t stand.  We tried rolling towels up creating a cushion for him to lie on with his legs extended, hoping it would help.   By Monday he was unable to lift his head enough to eat.

My husband said it was like he was in hospice and we were just waiting for him to die.  Neither one of us have ever been faced with this decision before.  Is it really humane to decide when an animal should die?  Really?  We took him in on Tuesday.  Unbeknownst to us until later that evening, it was national pet day.  What a complete kick in the pants.

Now there’s an overwhelming void in our house.  Even the house itself seems to be making noises it didn’t use to make. 

Hobo was an old, grumpy, at times pain in the ass who I believe at most just learned to tolerate us.  But we loved the curmudgeon.  And he was as cute as any dog I've ever seen.  My daughter said we gave him a good retirement home.  At least we brought him in from his life on the road.