Will begin this letter with a mea culpa.  The editor points out that I did not go through proper editorial channels as I brought the previous letter to a close; I went off on an unauthorized mystical-hippy tangent.  The last part of the letter was not sanctioned.  The editor is absolved.  Any silliness is my own.

A new metric on Marston Hill Road:  inches per hour.  It is all about Chuckles Kubota's 27HP bashing, digging and plowing through 2 to 3 feet of snow, building a road to the barn, out to rescue items not seen since last fall.  He was frozen to the ground, packed in solid; took me half an hour to rock him and bucket-bounce him out to where we could really begin to move and clear space.  Now we are about a third of the way to the barn.  I must admit that on all the days the ground was clear I considered what I would finally want from the barn for moving, but I am a phenom at procrastination.  We battle our way forward through the dense-white with clear conscience.  I like driving Chuckles, and soon I won't have him anymore, ever, to putt-putt around on.  Go for the fumes!  Tear the hearts out of the drifts.

Our realtor, Betty, visited.  She is the one we went through when we bought this place ten years ago.  A very nice lady.  She would like it if I had the place ready to show when we leave for Tacoma.  Her reasoning is sound:  mortgage rates are going up, and the house subsequently becomes worth less.  I initially managed a lot of enthusiasm for the idea, planning how quickly I could achieve this ready-to-show feat, and then realized I simply couldn't.  I don't have the wherewithal to juggle 2 major projects at once; though they be linked they remain quite separate.  We have reverted to plan A, the one where I come back here from Tacoma when the melt is on - April/May, and do all the stuff to get it ready without big time-pressure.  We are going to take a hit selling here no matter what.  The rent-to-own idea gathered no interest, but several warnings of legal complications.  We need to just get out from under here and move on.  Transcontinental landlords suffer much and die miserably.  Leave some money on the table.  It was done for us in Tacoma; we can pass the largesse on.

We all read about the real estate market with interest.  There are regional scores reported, like a sport, but it is an ongoing national debacle that has ruined many a family.  The rapacious greed of the marketers that convinced a nation that anyone could own a house, even if he didn't have the money, has inflicted a lot of damage to ordinary people.  We know this from reading, but until you get into the fray with your own cash on the line you don't quite realize the whims and vagaries of what passes for an orderly market.  It is a shambles.  The comps (comparable sales) that we are seeing here range from $109k to $179k.  An insane wobble; a very disorderly market.

Spoke with Betty about marketing this place around the greenhouse, gardens, orchard.  "Won't fly," she says.  The people who are buying now are young professional couples who don't have time or inclination to garden.  Wouldn't know how to fix anything at all and aren't interested in finding out.  They want bright, light, airy and trouble-free; they want to see Jenn-air and Wolf in the kitchen, and probably an illegal alien riding by on a John Deere across their mass of perfect lawn.  Sad to think of.  I imagined a family with a few kids and dogs and goats and everybody out digging in the ground.  I saw them coming here glad to connect and in 10 years time still eating the asparagus and berries I have planted.  May not happen.  I should get over it.

No tractor work today.  It is 18f out with 30 to 40 mph winds; chill factor is -1.  Chuckles won't start; I imagine the diesel fuel has jellied-up and he now dozes in a coldblooded slumber.  The next few days will be above freezing at their highs.  Chuckles will come back like a lizard on a hot rock.

Today was summer - 45f and sun with no wind.  T-shirts.  Got the road all done, barn to street.  Picking Pat up in an hour and a half in Portland; she has done her time and can come home with a clean conscience.  Tomorrow I will possibly start looking around in the barn to see how much of what is out there I really, really will need in Tacoma. 
                                                                                ()()()()()()()()()

Couple, or three, weeks later, and Pat is back and in harness packing the kitchen, having recovered from the utter wilderness of Californiesque suburbia.  Z has been in and out, her work ongoing with the troop transport folk but always with a layoff looming.  She goes out in the morn at 0500, from here, flying at 0700 to Germany.  And we  tentatively plan to have the beeg truck loaded with our own field of dreams stuffed into the box-on-wheels Wednesday next and then pull with all our might for Tacoma, arriving about the Ides of March -  Behold the Ides of March! - wasn't t that what they told Caesar?  We will pull with two dogs and a cat in a Honda, needing to average at least 650 miles per day to keep up with our stuff.  It should be the sort of adventure that would shatter a less mature relationship.  My plan is to spend 3  to 4 weeks there with all my natural, and unnatural, kin and then return to Marston Hill Road for the cleanup.  No one has evinced the slightest interest in my rent to buy, etc., bonhomie-ideas, so we will sell.  What we will get for this place is a guess.  It will be less than we paid, $135k in 2000, but we shall market aggressively and sell at what the market will bear.  It is best to be clear of all.

Mover-Phil visited today and says I have about 6 feet left at the end of the truck and should hook more stuff out of the barn to haul.  We visited Z's storage locker where all her stuff has lived the past few years since she left NYC; he says it will all fit nicely with our own.  Did manage two loads from the barn via Chuckles before it snowed again and the pass was closed.  Will try another in the next couple days; there are still things there to get: oak rockers, welders, O2 and acetylene tanks, work tables.  I am sure I can fill up six more feet.  It will lessen the load on Rosie when I head West in May.

And that is all the news that's fit to print.  We remain well and in good health.  Pat is continually amazed that at 73 she can be undertaking such an adventure without qualms.  I tell her it is the advantage of having a good man.  We may be crazy, but we are active.

from all of us to all of you - amf.  don and pat.

bob - if you want more machines you better get your ass over here in April or May!  Found another old Orton & Berry catalogue...

The editor passes on the letter, but says she feels somewhat violated by the relationship I have with Chuckles.  She worries I will miss him more than I value her - not a chance.