Monday, March 28, 2022

Coming Out of the Cave



When we accepted a four-month housesit in Washington state, we imagined we'd spend time with friends and out in nature: snowshoeing, skiing, hiking. But our winter became a hibernation.

First, though, we did a four-day sit in Manchester, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. I lived in Seattle for three years, but I'd never even heard of Manchester, an unincorporated community next to Port Orchard. 

Mt. Rainier from the back deck

The house had a view of the Seattle skyline in one direction and Mt. Rainier in another. After our epic road trip (which I wrote about here and here and here), it felt like pure bliss to soak in this hot tub.


Usually we get our sits through Trusted Housesitters, but this one had been a personal request from the homeowner, Kim, whom we'd met in Kauai. Our task was to take care of her gorgeous home and two adorable Golden Retrievers.

Cooper and Abbey

While we were there, Dena and Gary--the homeowners of our upcoming sit --came by for an afternoon. We were supposed to meet in person at their house, but because of Covid travel issues, they had to leave earlier than expected for their four months in South Africa. I enjoyed getting to know them in a relaxed way. Usually we meet the hosts a day or two (or hours) before they leave, which can be taxing since they need to orient us to the house and pets while they're packing.

Rocky loves Dave

The house is southeast of Seattle on Cougar Mountain between Renton and Issaquah. Soon after we moved in, a monumental snowstorm hit. This custom home in the woods has plentiful large windows and a fireplace, so it felt like being in a lovely, warm snow globe. That was until the pipes froze and the water pump broke. Also, sweet Rocky was having digestive issues, which meant cleaning up a lot of accidents. Given that they were on the other side of the world, Dena and Gary were very responsive. It took a while, but a new pump was installed, and the cat's gut stabilized, more or less, with the help of probiotics. 

view from the snow globe

Our dear friends Tony, Shannon and Ava, who live in So Cal, happened to be in the area and came for a night, braving the steep, icy roads. 

We were able to get out snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass, and we took a few hikes after the snow melted. But the whole time I wasn't feeling my usual vibrant self. Truth be told, I hadn't felt great for a while but traditional doctors and specialists weren't helping. I wanted someone who'd look at my whole self and who was versed in holistic medicine.

Licorice Fern Creek

I lucked out that there's an integrative practitioner in my network nearby. I learned that I have two issues going on that I'm being treated for with supplements and one pharmaceutical. I was also instructed to rest a lot and not stress myself physically or mentally. So I upped my meditation and also, upon the doc's advice, bought an infrared sauna blanket that I wrap up in like a sleeping bag to sweat out impurities. The thought of being a sweaty mummy made me laugh, but after the first time I was hooked.

elfish, post surgery

And then Dave went to the dermatologist, who said the irritating thing on his nose was basal cell carcinoma and had to come off. The Mohs surgery he underwent took five hours and involved transplanting a piece of ear cartilage onto his nose. The recovery, he was told, would take 4-6 weeks. Given two spots on his face were affected, sleeping wasn't easy. And he had to be extra careful of his nose to make sure the transplant would take, changing bandages and seeing the surgeon weekly. We have lots of reasons to be grateful for being in one place for four months, surrounded by good health care.

check it out here

So, as it's turned out, we spent a lot of time in the house, 
healing--other than going to see a play in downtown Issaquah that Dena and Gary kindly gave us tickets for. We've both read up a storm, and Dave has been studying Spanish. I've written seven chapters of my new book, a memoir about housesitting and nomadic life. Also during this time, my first memoir was released on audiobook. I'm biased, but I think the reader did a great job.

The past two weeks, we were feeling ready to see some friends. The first were Gary and Laurie, old pals of my parents. They are both in their late eighties and inspire me with the way they live, talking walks, enjoying eating out, and being involved in their retirement community--and Laurie, whose art I've always admired, still paints.

Laurie gave me this picture I'd never seen before
(my parents with my sister Ann and me on the right).

We also had lunch with my longtime friend Jennifer and her husband Dwight, and then followed them north to their house in Richmond Beach, which overlooks the Puget Sound. Crazy, but I lived two blocks away years ago, before they were there. Dave and Dwight did car stuff, while Jen and I went on a long walk and fell back into our bond as though it had been days, not years, since we'd seen each other.

We were in a high school musical together.

Dwight in his 1953 Jaguar

To those of you we didn't get to see on this Pacific Northwest trip, we hope to be able to get together another time. Our main focus had to be getting healthy for what's ahead between now and October: eight housesits in three countries. Like the other hibernating creatures, we welcome spring, refreshed. 

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