May You Live In Interesting Times

According to Google, that quote, “May you live in interesting times,” is an English translation of an old Chinese proverb which is as much a blessing as a curse. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last month an a half—living in interesting times.

The day after the last event for The A List, we headed for Arizona to empty and pack up the Tucson house in advance of an early May closing. It was a daunting undertaking. While I was off on tour, Bill and the dogs had lived though a construction siege while the hardwood floors in a flood-damaged upstairs bedroom and the hard wood portions of the downstairs were sanded and refinished. While in Tucson we made the decision to bite the bullet and complete the job by installing hardwood flooring in the carpeted portion of downstairs. That meant that when the moving truck arrived with all the goods from the Tucson house, they mostly had to be unloaded into the garage because the downstairs rooms weren’t ready.

Eventually the furniture and rugs came inside. Boxes of dishes, pots and pans, and books are still in the garage. You’ve heard of one day at a time? We’re talking one box at a time. A few things are still AWOL. Hardware pieces for our platform bed and the electronic piano have yet to surface. Bill’s an engineer. He managed to find and install substitute hardware. And some of my genuine treasures, like my Founder’s Award from the Tucson Festival of Books and a wonderful Chinese bowl have yet to surface. They may be in the bottom of the glassware boxes from the library in Tucson, but right now there’s nowhere to put that extra glassware and those boxes have yet to be sorted.

The biggest problem was the art. We love art. We’ve had art in both our houses. There’ are the pictures Bill has painted over the years, and along the way we’ve collected many works from our favorite Sedona-based painter and friend, M.L. Coleman. But here’s the problem, how do you fold the art from two 4000 square foot houses into one? Fortunately, our interior designer, Jim Hunt, who also happens to be Beau’s and Mel’s interior designer, was a man with a plan. “You have high ceilings,” he said. “We’ll just stack ‘em.”

So for the past week, while I was doing copy-editing on Sins of the Fathers, we were also undergoing a major art installation, and stack them we have! When our grandson Colt came over to visit last week he said, “Grandma, it looks like an art gallery exploded inside your house!” And it does.

The one living room wall is like a travelogue of our married lives. An M.L Coleman Grand Canyon sits atop the pyramid. The first trip we took after we married was to the Grand Canyon in honor of my parents’ 50th anniversary. There’s an oil painting of Ascona, Switzerland, a village on Lago Maggiore, where we stayed in the mid-nineties while taking European delivery of Bill’s Porsche. There’s the painting of the Alps Bill painted on the balcony of our room at the Palace Hotel in Lucerne after a Rhine River cruise, and another view of the Alps that he painted from our room in St. Johann, Austra. There he was painting while I did the editorial letter corrections on Kiss of the Bees. There’s a Coleman painting of poppy fields from northern Italy and another from Tuscany with San Gimignano showing in the distance. I love the painting, but my reaction is colored by the unfortunate fact that San Gimignano is where my purse was stolen from an Internet Cafe while we were on a Rick Steves tour of Italy. In other words, if you come to our house, don’t expect us to haul out our slide projector. We’ll just seat you in the living room and give you the tour.

I’m sitting in my chair in the family room to write this. There used to be three pictures hanging in this room. Now there are eight—and I don’t even have to turn my head. There’s lots of glass—windows and sliding doors–in the house which limits wall space. So now there’s art hanging in the stairwell leading upstairs.

Our house used to be on the cold side—with lots of glass art. Now, with paintings on the walls, it’s more warm and cozy. It’s art that we love, and art we can live with.

And for right now, while I need to buckle down and get to work on the next book, all those boxes of books will have to stay right where they are—in the garage.

Interesting times, indeed!

14 thoughts on “May You Live In Interesting Times

  1. Boxes don’t go anywhere, so one box at a time works fine! Enjoy the process of discovery, retrieval, and fitting in. Also, the extras make great Christmas and birthday gifts for those who have admired them. Keep it in the family so you can visit but not live with it.

  2. Maybe you need to leave the art there when you go back to Tucson, with the exception of a few pieces, and find more art to fill the house in Tucson. I love Colt’s comment about the art gallery exploding!

  3. We relocated last summer from California to Surprise Az. I speak from experience “There is NO expiration date on emptying BOXES. Once I found my silverware ( in a box marked pillows it only took 3 months) I just started to take my time.
    The pictures are also a problem I have a lot of prints put away they are not oils but they mean a lot to my husband of 49 years and myself. Don’t forget bathrooms that are not used for long hot showers it a great place for so of the second favorite pictures. I re-read 4 of Beau Books this week getting ready for his new one coming out..I started with the bird of prey and then read the 3 following books.. It was nice reading about him again.. He was The first book I read from you b
    Way back in the day…
    When we moved I found that our kids didn’t want anything from the past.. It was thanks anyway but I really cannot use it. So what do we do with 49 years + of memories . I decided not to worry I will be gone so if it goes to Goodwill so be it..
    I hope you enjoy living in Pacific Northwest year around.. Have a great day see you next week..

    • The reason it’s called Surprise is that it was so small and insignificant you were surprised there was anything there! In the early ’60s, when I was a teenager, my buddies and I would go out Grand Avenue through Surprise and turn off into the desert to go shooting. There was absolutely NOTHING there.

  4. I’ve been surprised that my girls aren’t interested in family heirlooms that I have. They grew up with a different mind set.

    My ancestors came to Iowa from Sweden in the 1870’s. My great grandmother was known for having all sorts of extra stuff to pass on to newcomers. That’s why she never threw anything away.

    I am donating things to various charities that can use them.

  5. loved the remarks about the art, ‘if you come to our house, we won’t pull out the slide projector…just seat you in the living room and look at the art’

  6. Of 9 couples dining out, 7 said they tried to give their china, crystal and sterling to family but were refused. One offered to put it on eBay for them.
    Rule here…don’t leave the house without something you want.

  7. When we sold the Tucson winter house and were on our way back to the Shoreline house anything that did not fit in the car stayed in Tucson. Best decision ever. The new owners are remodeling the Tucson house now, basically taking it down to the studs. The only things left there from our residence are the statues, Navajo pottery and art work.

  8. I believe surrounding yourself with the the people and things you love can enhance your enjoyment of life. Not everyone feels that way. Some feel it is too much work and it is better to be unencumbered. Those of us who grew up with those who experienced the Great Depression also learned to conserve and perhaps hang on to more than we really need to.
    I have been giving to my grandchildren whatever they show an interest in. They seem to be thrilled. My grandson is fascinated by an old desk calculator. My granddaughter likes my jewelry. Better for me to give them things now, rather than later.
    Judy, please share a few photos of your walls someday, if it is safe to do so.
    Can’t wait for your next book!

  9. I’ve never heard why you needed to sell the Arizona house. Was it because it is hard to support two houses?

  10. I understand to a small degree, trying to find places for treasures but yet still be a home. I have things I inherited from my parents that are from various places that I was to put up, but also need to have them protected from little hands (grandchildren). My parents were missionaries and I was their oldest, they gave me some of the most unique & smallest of their collection, and then I have things I have added to those collections.

  11. I am awed by your self inflicted daily charge to to blog as well as start or work on your next book. I struggle to get a 500 word weekly article written for my column. You inspire!

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