Smoke & Charm (Farm)

Our soon-to-be charming little farmhouse!

Last night, a dear friend reached out to say “Happy Holidays!” and also casually mentioned they had been hoping to see a post from me but hadn’t. And, no, they haven’t because it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Actually, “a while” is a bit of an understatement. It’s been more like seven months, as my last post was back in May. I replied, “Happy Holidays to you too!” and then followed that with my typical “I’m still in transition; posts to come!” excuse. But, I woke up this morning and asked myself why am I waiting? Why is writing always the first thing I put on the back burner? So what if I’m in transition? Why do I believe the betwixt and between of life is irrelevant or too boring to write about? So, on this snowy New England Christmas Eve, I’m dusting off my blog to recap the past several months of changes that are currently reshaping my life.

Over the summer, I was so exhausted from work that I spent all my free time sleeping in or outside soaking up the sun either on the deck grilling or hiking with the pup. So, I just didn’t blog at all because of it. During this time, I also found myself at the emotional crossroads between staying where I was or making a major life change. Weighing out my priorities, defining my long-term goals, and deciding where and how I wanted to manifest those things in my life definitely distracted me from writing my usual recipe posts. Then in September, we finally decided to reinitiate our move (that the pandemic had put on hold) back to Western Massachusetts. We placed our home on the market, I requested a work transfer, and our property sold in three weeks. We scrambled to pack up our lives, find a monthly rental, and prepare our little fur herd for the transitions ahead of us. It was a whirlwind of cardboard boxes, moving stress, and closing dates.

On our final day at Kyecha, we were at the house cleaning, gathering the pets, and the last of our things when one of Dixon’s toys went flying through the kitchen window (as the grass was getting trimmed for the last time) and shattered glass exploded everywhere! Not kidding. Having a window repaired in a home you no longer own is interesting, and we were very fortunate to have such an amazing realtor! Moving out of Tara was just one crazy little thing like that after another, but somehow we got it done. After closing, Amy, the cats, and a UHaul van stuffed full of a few living essentials took off for Connecticut. I spent the next ten days living out of a hotel room in Delaware with the pup because, of course, I got Jury Duty. I also had to finish out my last days at the Christiana TJs. Needless to say, I was pretty damn exhausted, as we all were, by the time Dixon and I finally made it up to our temporary apartment in Enfield. Dixon and I were both so happy to be out of that hotel room and finally see Ames and the kitties! Happy reunion aside, the apartment just didn’t feel like home the first time we walked in, and, honestly, it still doesn’t.

The white walls of the apartment lack the vibrant color and earthy art I’m used to; there were lawn chairs in the living room in front of the tv when I first arrived (which I promptly started brainstorming how to get rid of). My spices are limited to the basics and I don’t have any of my cast iron. Most everything is still in storage. We are sleeping on a mattress on the floor (with an excellent memory foam topper), have a nearly busted twin bed set up in the living room as our sofa now, and the small kitchen bar, with its Goodwill stool set, has become Amy’s home office. The few days I had off between TJ shifts I utilized to add a few homey touches to the apartment. At Target, I found a few colorful pillows, a storage unit for clothes, a welcome mat, and a few indoor hanging plants to help liven the place up a bit. As soon as we got settled inside a bit, Dixon and I explored the surrounding neighborhood, a nearby wildlife refuge, Robinson State Park, and hiked several new trails. Since then, we’ve all been doing our best to adapt to and make the best of our new surroundings. The cats and Dixon have adjusted to the smaller space better than I anticipated and we’ve only had a few minor behavioral issues, which are mostly due to Idgy and Dixon missing the freedom of our backyard. In all honesty, I miss grilling and smoking and sitting around the firepit watching them running around in the grass too. But, as they say, there’s little else to do except to keep on keeping on.

Behind the scene of settling into the apartment, Amy and I were constantly house hunting. After losing two bids, we decided to hit up a bunch of open houses the weekend before I started at the Hadley TJs. The last house we decided to see was in Holyoke on the border of Easthampton. As we pulled up to the property, the first thing I saw was a chicken coop decorated with Pride colors. I don’t remember it, but Amy said I squealed. The house is a small, historic center cape built in the 1700s sitting on a 2.5 acre goat farm surrounded by conservation land on the corner of two semi-busy streets. It feels like the middle of nowhere, but there’s a nice neighborhood close by, and it’s only 11 minutes to downtown. I fell head over heels in love with the place and immediately started daydreaming about everything I wanted my future homestead to be. Amy, however, needed more time.

Pride Coop!

Right after we left the farm’s open house, we stopped by the new River Valley Co-Op in Easthampton. Back when we lived in Mass the first time, we frequently shopped at the Co-Op in Northampton and I was thrilled to know the local grocery was thriving enough to add a second location. The entrance to the co-op boasted several BLM signs and a Trans Philly Pride flag whipped in the crisp breeze. I was so overwhelmed with a sense of belonging and welcome and safety that I cried in the car before we got out. Then, as I walked around the Co-Op shopping with Amy alongside other Queer couples I knew I was finally back on the right path and finally back in a more inclusive area.

Originally, we thought we would be able to close on the farm Jan 3rd, but that was not to be, as our closing date keeps getting pushed back, and so, as of this moment, we are scheduled to move to the farm on January 15th, but it won’t surprise me if it gets pushed back again. Right now, I feel very impatient wanting to get settled and unpacked and into a routine. I’m also super excited to have chickens and gardens waiting on me to plant and nurture and harvest next season. Who knows? Maybe we’ll add a few goats or a Mini Jersey cow even. The farm presents so many possibilities, but for now, I gotta wait. At least we have Christmas dinner (and streaming the new Matrix movie) with our oldest friends to look forward to in the meantime.

Adjusting to apartment life, living without the majority of my stuff, resigning from TJs and starting a new position at River Valley, making an offer on a farm, waiting on a close date, and catching up with dear friends just about wraps up what the heck’s been going on in my life lately. Transitioning is a challenge; moving isn’t easy, and change is always stressful to some degree, but I will try to hold on to writing time and post regularly. A special “THANK YOU!” to the sweet friend who indirectly reminded me of all this!

But, just in case it takes a while for me to get back to posting, Happy Holidays to you from me and my little fur herd!

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