Dollar,  writing



Parika Lake TrailThis last year has seen a lot of changes. Some good, some bad, some just different. It has brought me growth and at the same time held me back.

So with that rather vague introduction, let me break down some of what has been going on in my life for the last 13 months.


At the end of Jul 2017, we experienced devastating changes: we lost Dollar, our quarter horse. We had “The Big Guy” for more than two decades. He was part of our family through the good and bad. However, a sudden and unexpected colic quickly escalated and we had to say goodbye. He was 28 years old and had a good life, but it was one of the hardest days of our lives.

That last paragraph was actually very hard to write. Even more than a year later, I don’t want to go through old photos because it brings back a lot of emotions. We loved him and were happy to have had him as part of our life, but that phone call informing us Dollar was unwell sparked a series of changes that are still being played out today.

Dollar had been a significant reason we kept living where we were. He had some health issues (but never colic before that day) that kept us from wanting to subject him to a move. Plus he had a number of friends there (horses are quite social).  So we stayed put for longer than we had originally intended.

After we took care of all the things you have to deal with after a loss, we began divesting ourselves of even more things. As I have blogged about before, we had already been working to minimize our lives, this simply accelerated that process.

We also resumed working in earnest on fixing up our house to sell it. We had started scraping ceilings and refinishing kitchen cabints, but still had a lot to do. As a result, evenings and weekends were poured into home improvements. This also meant that I was spending far less time on writing or artwork. I just didn’t have the free time or energy. The lack of writing weighed heavily on me and just added to everything else that was going on.

The work moved slowly. Too slowly. We found that trying to do the home improvements around furniture and while living in the space was taking a toll. We also thought that trying to sell the house with two cats in residence would be difficult, so we made a plans for more changes. With a goal of having the house listed before the end of March, we immediately started looking for an apartment.

The hunt for a new place to live had excitement as well.  My wife, having seen the 590 square foot home in IKEA, thought we could really downsize. I was less certain (quite uncertain in fact that we could go that small). This led to a compromise on a place that was 1031 square feet (plus we knew we would need a storage unit). Queue up a sleet and snow storm and we found the perfect February day for us to move out of our four bedroom, two-story house (with full walkout basement) into a second floor, two bedroom apartment.

Local moves are the worst

We paid someone to move all of our heavy and bulky items while we moved the small things. (I tipped them well for the work done in the bad weather.)

Since we were just over 30 miles away, and we were going to the house every evening and weekend to do work, we just slowly moved all of our things out of the house and into the apartment. This is actually a terrible way to do it because you always have boxes and things scattered around and you can never find anything and you make 8 million trips. I put 5k miles on the truck in just a couple of months.

During this time, or actually, just before the move, I also did Planet Comicon. The 2018 year was a bit more stressful for me than it should have been. I was paying a mortgage and rent and really wanted to get the house done, but we had to spend the weekend selling books and maps. I don’t regret doing the show, but I wish I had mentally been able to enjoy it more. A big thank you to anyone who bought books from me at Planet!

Estimates are wrong

One never really knows just how much effort something will take. I am pretty handy with things, but we found many of the changes we were making singled threaded through me. Even with taking a week off work to work on the house, the weeks slipped by and we missed our target a couple of times.

The work was hard as well. We rent scaffolding, we painted (oh, we painted), he had tile and carpet word done (by someone else) and we painted. And we cleaned. And we fixed drywall. Did I mention painting the ceilings after we flattened them? In all, it took us until the end of April before we were done and ready to have the place listed.

In the middle of that, we had more changes. The people in the apartment below us were smoking inside and that smoke was coming up into our apartment. Unfortunately, proving it is harder than it should be and this led us to do another move. In June we moved into a townhouse in the same complex (instead of months to move, we had three days to haul all of our things a couple hundred yards). We used the same movers as before, but they had to move a more this time because we didn’t have weeks to carry things.


Today, our house is sold (we had an offer within days of the listing, but closing took a couple of months). We have finally settled down and have a good routine and even managed to get in a relaxing vacation in Colorado. It had been a few years, but we spent a week in Estes Park and did some hiking in RMNP. Only 36 miles this go, but we had not been training for the distance so it was a respectable effort in my book (I would have liked to do 50+ miles, but we averaged more than 9 miles on each of the 4 days we hiked).

Even more important, I am back to having time to write. I am again working on the new series, set in the same world that Stephenie lives in, but with other characters in the northeast. The main character’s name is Kadia. She’s living in an occupied country and has to figure out what she wants to do about that. I’m not promising any completion dates at this point because I don’t want something to come along and derail me.

Future changes

What does the future bring? Well, that is always hard to predict. I am doing Planet again next year and hope to have more maps to sell. The table will be bigger than in years past.

I am trying to do more art in general. It was another passion I had growing up and it is another creative outlet. We’ll have to see if I can find the time to hone that skill a little more in the coming months. Maybe I’ll have something besides books and maps to sell at Planet…maybe not.

I also plan to get back to the blog posts. The changes above really derailed me for much of the last year, but now I back and ready to charge forth and conquer.