Sweetie Darling/Cheers, thanks a lot (part 1 (probably))


I don’t know, somewhere, in this blog is a post about how we discovered an Abbey called Downton.  It was about 6 1/2 or 7 years ago when the blog was new and I had nothing else to write about or put in it and also, we were living in remote Alaska where things like Internet and shops were unknown.  At that time I believe Internet was in existence in the village, actually, and we were pirating it from across the marshland or bay, probably, and pre-loading Netflix episodes of Lady Mary Crawley while we made dinner and looked at our fabulous view of Lake Iliamna.

But those days are past and we can neither recover nor fully remember them, and so we move on to greener or at least funnier (sic) pastures called Absolutely Fabulous and Gilmore girls (no ‘The’ and lower-case ‘g’ as per A Year in the Life–look it up).  This video, below, correctly expresses all the funny I have hoped to convey over the course of my life but, not being a comedienne, was unable to.  So I leave it to the professionals, like Jennifer Saunders and, in part 2 of this blog entry, Lauren Graham/Lorelai Gilmore.  I think Jennifer Saunders is simply hilarious and she is simply hilarious because she is all (or at least many) of the things I love in a person: humble, intelligent, kind-hearted, supportive of friends and realistic about family, interested in learning and interested in other people and not afraid to take what she’s been given (by God, from birth, etc.) and make what she can of it. She is also articulate and generous when it comes to compliments.

In this interview–all of which is worth stopping whatever you are supposed to be doing and watching–at around minute-marker 34, she gives an account of the time she (almost) misplaced their baby, going so far as to quetsion whether or not said baby had actually been born.  I am, as many of you know, no prude when it comes to parenting because I have never been an official parent (no matter what you say, step-parenting, albeit complex and rewarding, does not involve the same collection of sacrificial emotions as the other kind of parenting, and that is just the way it is).  So to laugh at what can only be a sleep-deprived moment in this woman’s life is to show solidarity as a human being, not a form of mockery of mothers.  But even so, Saunders doesn’t seem to leave any room for that sort of uppityness.

But if you’ve already begun watching this slightly saucy, very endorphin-inducing (through hearty side-splitting laughter) video, you may as well either just keep watching or, if you’re pressed for time, kick over to minute 40 and watch to the end.  Because unless you’re interested in all the French and Saunders skits, the Absolutely Fabulous stories and the Interesting Youth (not a comedy sketch title, just a period in the comedienne’s life), there’s really nothing here that can’t be summed in the last 6 minutes.  But who am I kidding?   Nobody needs to be reminded that life is tough, fashion prevails and we all need each other as much as each other needs us.

So, cheers, (and) thanks a lot.


But will you love the pear trees?

When we decided to put Pilcrow Cottage, our Snohomish home of two years, up for sale, the first order of worry for my sister was the care of the two-year-old pear trees.  She wanted to know (and was rather insistent about knowing):  What will you do with them?  Will you take them with you? Will you leave them here? Will they, the new owners, love them?

We turned these questions over in our heads (or, at least, I did), asking whether we ought to take money or love: what if the best owner turns out to be someone who can’t offer as much?  What if the higher-offer people had plans to tear down the house and build seventeen more? What-what-what…if?

It turns out these questions were answered to satisfaction in a matter of days, a matter of minutes, really, once we got the offer (many, actually, but that comes later) and once the future owners were free to tour the property in our presence.  It turns out they love gardens, fruit trees, old houses (a must, as Pilcrow was built 1915), and the charm of the original single-pane windows.   But we didn’t know that when we accepted the offer, and we really weren’t prepared to answer my sister’s questions until after we signed the papers and sealed the deal (preliminary deal, but still).  So it was with faith that we chose the highest and best and not the heartfelt or sentimental; we trusted that the trees, the gardens, the greenhouse, the porch and its new rail were going to a couple who really, really wanted to live here and–here’s the most important detail–were willing to pay for it.

For as I mentioned above, we had several offers.  Seven in three days, as a matter of fact, and our agent began telling people after the first evening: highest and best will be accepted.  And so, having been out of town the day we would have legally had to review them, we sat down with the stack on a Wednesday evening and began the elimination process.  In reality, this really proved no difficulty whatsoever, as ‘highest and best’ meant little to four of the seven.  While inventory in Snohomish is low, their offers did not have to be.  As Maureen, our agent, said: “Don’t insult me.”  There you go.  The top three, however, understood that to make inroads and forge paths, one must come prepared.  A pickaxe and a heavy pair of boots, yes.  A jar of lemonade and a rocking chair, no.

So when the future owners of this little blue cottage stepped up and told us they would pay 20K over asking price we knew we had a deal.  We didn’t ask whether the pear trees would make it, but we had a hunch.  Anyone who was willing to make it worth our while financially had to know that the yield of the fields was included in the added Ks.  And they were right.  Since then, we  have tended to our little trees and flowers and gardens as though they were still our own, weeding the beds, watering, pruning, intending to leave Pilcrow in good condition before handing it over to the couple who saw a good thing and refused to insult us over it.

We are closing the deal in the next few days and will miss a great many things about this little historic home, such as the fruit trees and the way the garage doors make the south side of the house look like a barn, or all the workspace in the nice, cool basement.  But despite all this, we know it is our time to move.  We knew this when we put it on the market,  that our days as owners of this cottage were coming to an end.  But what we learned between Listing Day and Now is that we were right to ask for–and accept–highest and best, and equally right to defend the fate of our pear trees.   For it truly was ‘the fruits of our labor’ that led us to receive such an abundant offer: we put sweat and tears and money and blood into our home, and we have come to realize that a developer would never pay top price to rip down a house, nor would a careless or irresponsible person pay more in order to trash it.   Quality costs; it has a price, and if we want it, we must pay for it.  Otherwise we sell ourselves short.  And if we don’t ask others to pay top price for the goods we value, we shouldn’t be selling them at all.