House or Home

Maery’s Morning
I almost ended up with one less horse this morning. Something frightened Luke and Murphy when they were going out the back of the barn and they turned and ran back in. Luke went in his stall. Murphy went out the front door into the open yard. He crashed around hysterically in the dark with Java chasing him.

I called Java and locked her in the barn after Luke had already ran back out the back door. I tried to let Murphy in through the gate in the fence but the snow wouldn’t allow me to open it wide enough. Then I tried to coax Murphy toward me so I could throw a lead line around his neck. He was still too busy being hysterical, and Luke was adding to the entertainment by running the fence line on the inside.

You know you’ve been at this horse thing for awhile when a scene like this just makes you stand back and wait for the horse to wear itself out. Murphy took off at one point toward the back of our neighbor’s place and I was thinking, “Hmmm… one less horse to take care of or try to sell,” but he came back. I was getting bored with it and I still had stalls to clean so I got grain, put it on the ground and threw the lead line around Murphy’s neck when he stopped to eat. Just another fun-filled morning…

What is Home?
When someone comments about how beautiful the land I live on is or how lucky I am, I’m not quite sure what to say.

Sometimes I feel like I’m frantically trying to get as many photos of the horses and Java where we live now, as my life is now. I want to remember this place, this life. I want to enjoy it as much as possible before it’s gone. And then I try not to think about that, but I still do.

The place where I’ve been skijoring with Java has townhouses nearby, and a few are for sale. The taxes there are terribly high just for the privilege of living near a park and a not so scenic park at that, mainly consisting of dead and scrubby oaks. These are the townhouses.

Row upon row of sameness. And there are rules to ensure you do not ruin their uniformity. It’s like something out of “Stepford Wives” only worse. No individuality or creativity allowed here! And there are rules about the breed and weight and number of the dogs you are allowed to have. Can you imagine?! Most townhomes are like this, even the stand alone ones. Yuck!

I’ve looked at townhomes because of my age and my injuries and people tell me that would be the best thing for me. It would be nice not to have to cut the grass, remove snow, or do external maintenance. But not so nice to not be able to have a garden, a fenced in yard for Java, or even a clothesline. Even if I found a townhouse that was located in reach of an actual pretty park, it couldn’t make up for what you can’t have or do.

I drive by a lot of places for sale — townhomes, houses on 1-5 acres, farms, houses in the suburbs, houses in small towns, and houses in cities. I drive by, and I try to imagine myself living there — going to the nearby grocery store, taking Java for a walk through the neighborhood, playing frisbee with Java in the backyard, sitting inside drinking coffee and looking out the window, sitting at my computer writing my novel, leaving for work, coming home from work, having my friends over, baking bread in the kitchen, etc.

I consider whether the house is close to my friends. Would someone be able to stay and take care of Java while I was in Ireland? How far away are activities and places I like to go to, like the library and artist/writer meetup places? Are there parks nearby that are good places to take a dog? Are there affordable horse boarding facilities close by and trails?

Is the yard fenced in or could it be fenced in? Does the house have hardwood floors or could wood floors be installed? Is the exterior maintenance free? Is there a place to park the horse trailer? Are there an abundance of trees? Is it the sort of place where I’d see wildlife from time to time? Is there a vegetable garden or could there be a vegetable garden? Is there a nice place to sit outside? Is it a safe looking area? Is there a nice view from inside? What kind of people do the neighbors appear to be — down-to-earth people like me or suburbanite, grass-obsessed, leaf-blowing, my-yard-is-better-than-your-yard, Stepford kind of people?

I can’t seriously look for a house yet as I don’t know when our house will sell. I’m just trying to imagine it, trying to make myself get used to the idea of living somewhere else. But more than just getting used to the idea of living somewhere else is getting used to the idea of living somewhere else alone and somewhere unfamiliar. Because yes, I’m alone now but it doesn’t feel as alone because it’s my home. It’s familiar. And the horses fill my mornings and evenings and days with things I need to do and things to watch and feel.

Seeing the stark emptiness and stillness of this new imaginary house usually leads me to picturing taking in dogs that need a home (sorry, I just can’t imagine taking in a stray human). I start to imagine things like starting up a service of taking in pets for women who need to go into a shelter, to help out until they can get back on their feet. It sounds good in theory but also sounds like too much to take on for a woman that works full time.

Maybe I could work to get the local humane society to partner up with the shelters and do temporary emergency housing. It’s not like I brilliantly came up with this idea. A program called PAWS (Pets and Women’s Shelters), which was launched by the American Humane organization, already got the ball rolling on this. They have a program to help shelters add this service to their existing program. The two women’s shelters in our area, one of which I used to volunteer at, do not help women keep their pets at the shelter or put them in temporary housing, and I think they should.

So how does my mind leap from trying to figure out where I’m going to live to trying to figure out where pets of abused women are going to live?

Well, there is just never a dull moment in my brain. It is constantly searching for what will make a new house a home. And what can make a single life, not be a lonely life.

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9 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing about the Pets and Women’s Shelters Program. I created the program for American Humane and really enjoy when others appreciate the program.
    Allie Phillips
    Vice President, Public Policy
    American Humane
    Washington, DC

  2. Animals are such a huge part of your life, I can’t imagine you not being around or working with them. Now if your could just get paid for it!

    Great post, you have much to ponder over.

    Have a great day filled with promised blessings!!!

  3. That’s a beautiful photo of your horses. The more you write, the more I think that you need to be near your animals.

    Life is so confusing and overwhelming sometimes but perhaps you’ll actually feel better when this limbo period ends. Just a thought…

  4. Come here. Come here. Come here. :o)

    The small-ish town at the bottom of our canyon is dog friendly, horse friendly, etc. A friend lives in this great community, almost commune-like, that has gardens and such. Very close to trails and horse boarding. BUT, I believe there is a waiting list to get in. :o(

    And, you are very right about the kinds of rules condo communities put in place. Ick x 1,000.

  5. All this mind racing sounds like anxiety, and with good reason…dontcha hate that.
    And you just don’t strike me as a townhouse kind of girl…or condo for that matter. : )

  6. Anonymous – Thank you for coming up with the PAWS program! I had to leave behind a dog and give away my horse 20 years ago when I left my abusive husband. I wish there had been a program to help me out.

    Nezzie – Yes, I wish jobs working with animals paid better. I’d take one in a heartbeat if I could afford to.

    KB – I dread having to move but do believe in some ways, it will ease the pain. Too many memories here.

    Roxanne – I wish. You just have to find me employment.

    Lynn – I’m not an Uptown girl either. Just a hayseed.

    Bob – Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re right about the gifts, better yet, that I discover what to do with them.

  7. Maery–
    One of the best ways to get you out of your head is to think about someone else and their struggles. That is a really cool sounding program!

    As for the boring townhouses- one of the coolest homes I’ve been in to this day is a boring townhouse down by Chaska. The owner is an artist, and she’s managed to make it absolutely BURST with personality and energy and color. The unexpected is everywhere– the tops of her kitchen cupboards hold her collection of what looks like nearly 100 birdhouses, and this is only a smidge of what’s going on in this completely unexpectedly COOL home! It’s amazing! (and it’s what you make it.)

  8. Sue – You’ll have to tell me more about that. A lot of the townhouses I’ve looked at online are wonderful inside, nicer than the houses I’ve looked at. It’s really the lack of a yard that bothers me. I’ve never even seen one with potted plants or raised beds for veggies. It’s the gardening and Java running and wanting to be surrounded by trees thing.

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