Friday, February 20, 2009

Past, Present, Future: The universe unfolds

The Seawalk

Today is one year since my beloved Caleb went to the Rainbow Bridge. Adopted from the Cowichan Valley SPCA in May 2007, he was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma in December of that same year, and died at home in my arms on Feb 20th, 2008. He was an awesome dog, who could make the grumpiest person laugh and the darkest day bright. I miss him still.

Silly Caleb

And so, it seems fitting that on this day I also announce that I have purchased a retirement home in the very area where Caleb and I first met. We will be living just a block from the oceanfront cottage where Caleb, Charley and I stayed for a few days while we got to know each other. The dogs and I will be walking that same seawalk, going to the same off leash park and beach, hiking those same trails with many of the same people and dogs that we met on that first meet-and-greet visit and the second come-to-take-Caleb-home visit.

Hiking and swimming at Swallowfield, near Crofton.

(I think that's my friend Else's dog Archie in centre front)

Charley at Swallowfield

Charley at Osborne Bay off-leash park/beach

And it seems fitting, too, that one of my first commitments to my new community will be to sign on as a volunteer at the very shelter that housed and cared for my sweet boy for seven months before my friend Else talked me into coming to meet him.

Caleb, and Else's dog Hugo

And so, the big news to which Sadie recently alluded: my retirement is now definite, and I have found my retirement home!

A few weeks ago, I handed in notice to my employer and started the process of applying for my pension. Though I am not yet sixty, teaching is not what it used to be and my heart has not been in it for several years now. Financially, I will need to be frugal, but 18 years as a single parent taught me a lot about frugality. My father died in his 60th year, never getting to enjoy retirement. I have far too much living to do to want to work a day longer than necessary. And so this semester will be my last.

Then, just before getting hit by “the bug”, I made another flying trip over to Vancouver Island to have a second look at a house I had seen a couple of weeks earlier. And on second look, I liked it even more. I made a very low offer just to test the waters and even before I arrived back home, my realtor called with the news that my offer had been accepted with only the teeniest adjustment.

The last couple of weeks have entailed a flurry of activity as I made arrangements for home inspections, financing, title searches and insurance, mostly by email in my voiceless state. Subjects were removed, papers were signed, and I take possession on February 28th – in just one week’s time.

The home is a three bedroom rancher on a big-enough yard with a lovely old apple tree out back. I can see ocean and mountains from my yard, and can even fish from the dock just a block or so away. My home is located in the community of Crofton – population 2500, a few streets east and west, a few streets north and south, convenient enough to larger centres for shopping yet remote enough to meet my need for peace and solitude and small town life. Situated on the very picturesque Osborne Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Crofton is only now just beginning to show signs of future expansion, making real estate there both affordable and a sound investment.

From my front yard to the ocean

A good omen?

And what of Martin and the piggies, you may ask? The physical and financial realities of my life had already led me to rule out purchasing acreage for my retirement years, and that is one of the reasons why I have never adopted the pigs that I foster despite loving them to bits. The piggies will go to the sanctuary as soon as Janice can prepare a place for them – unless one of my readers is interested in fostering a family of twelve adorable piggies????? You know you wanna…….

Martin, the alpaca who was abandoned on this property when just a cria, was sometimes fed by tenants and sometimes not, never provided with shelter, and seldom had any other needs taken care of. Because of my concern for his future welfare, I persuaded the landlord to sign him over to me (which he was only too happy to do) so I could ensure that Martin would never go through winters without food or shelter again. Before taking this step, I had carefully put backup plans in place for the time when, inevitably, I would leave this property. But time has a way of changing plans and relationships, and today that plan is no longer a viable option. Other potential homes also seem to have evaporated, but I am confident we will find exactly the right forever home for Martin. If you know of a place for a rather shy but rather nice alpaca to spend the rest of his days (he is about 9-10 years old now, and typically alpacas live to be about 20), please email me using the contact info at the side of this blog.

And so, in May, the dogs and cat and I shall begin the move to our new home. My neighbours here are not happy. My landlord will not be happy. The pigs and alpaca, while stressed initially, will adjust and will be happy because their needs will be carefully considered. And Charley, Sadie, Belle, Oliver, Allie and I shall be very happy.

I have always believed that things come together at the right time and in the right place, and not a moment before. Dissatisfaction with work, an excellent buyer’s market, great interest rates, and a desperate seller of a suitable home near the ocean in a community I have always liked, have come together to provide me with the makings of a new chapter to my life.

And now I know where I will be spreading Caleb’s ashes, which have stood in their urn in my office for so long. Some will stay here in the pasture where he spent each morning and evening with me, and some will go under the big old apple tree in the back yard of our new home to symbolize that he is with us still. He began his life of freedom and unconditional love in a little town called Crofton, and there his spirit shall rest.

Past affects future, and future reflects past. The universe is unfolding as it should.

The long road home

(Caleb, Charley, and - I think - Hugo)


Faith said...

Like a vulture I sweep in and ask if there has been a new renter chosen for your old place yet? I am so very happy you found your retirement home. We are living at the old original and mouldy SAINTS location and have been looking for new digs the last couple of months. My email is Your photos make your current home look so beautiful. I read your blog every day.

Jean said...

Faith, I'll email you seperately. I haven't given notice yet as I'm not positive when I'll move, and there is also a chance the landlord will be selling the place. But if he does want to rent it, I know he would be delighted if I handed him the name of a tenant along with my notice! I figured on letting the rescue community know as soon as I let him know.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Big news, indeed, and lovely that you chose to reveal it on such a significant anniversary. My goodness, that place does look perfect for you. What a great time your crew will have exploring! And knowing you through the journeys of this blog, one doubt I would never have is for the welfare of those who cannot make the move with you. I have complete confidence that you have found, and are finding perfect solutions. Blogging will turn a different corner, and your writing talent will be supplied with new stimulation - expect your readers to follow those adventures right along with you. Congratulations, Jean. I am so happy for you!

Also glad to hear you are on the mend from that awful bug. So much going on, and dealing with that must have been the ultimate frustration.

Anonymous said...

We are also looking forward to your move and having a new member of our hiking group. There are so many hiking trails you still haven't seen. Mary is waiting impatiently for you to be her neighbour and Liz wants to introduce you to her writers group.

Faith I wish you the best of luck in obtaining Jean's place.


Kate said...

I'm so sorry again for your Caleb, Jean, but I'm positive that with you he had, all the love he could ever had wished for in the short time he had. There is always a reason for things, and you seem to have come full circle, its almost as if Caleb is taking you home.
Congrats on your new place, I know you can't wait to get there, I will keep my ears open for Martin.

Janice Gillett said...

I think Caleb picked the spot too. ;o))

Congratulations Jean!!!

See you tomorrow!

Jim Cook said...

Congratulations Jean on your pending retirement and move to what certainly must be paradise. Misty is doing well since her wild adventure in October, and says hello.
I have been enjoying your writing and photography!
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Jean, wishing you all the best on your upcoming retirement, and congratulations on purchasing what sounds like the perfect home in the perfect spot! I'm very happy for you!


shihtzustaff said...

good luck! It looks like a great place for you. I am sure you will miss the piggies and Martin. Enjoy your retirement!

Anonymous said...

Hi what a change..but what a retirement you will have over in Crofton.
I wish you and your crew all the best..and we hope to see you again here on the mainland..keep in touch.

mike said...

we are so happy for you Jean!
promise you keep blogging though as your blogs are how I start my day!

so what do the puppy gang think of moving? It looks gorgeous there and there will be tons of new spots to sniff.


dp said...

I totally missed this post somehow, and so I got confused when reading your most recent post. Congratulations! Crofton is a great town, and I love low-ball offers that work out.

I wish that I could offer to take Martin, but I don't think that an alpaca would fit in around here. But if push comes to shove, let me know.