Celebrations

Thankful, 2020

In June of 2019 I was apartment hunting in Austin, Texas, trying to find something affordable closer to the Tech Ridge area where Luke and I were working. Our lease was set to expire in mid-August and we wanted to upgrade to a nicer neighborhood, something that wasn’t right next to a noisy freeway. When I couldn’t find anything in the price range I was looking for, I reached out to an apartment-finder service.

The agent I spoke to took down our information…and then advised us to stay where we were. It was at that moment I realized that not only did I not want to stay in our current apartment, I did not even want to stay in Texas.

Our general situation at the time was stable and upwardly mobile. Luke and I had found decent-paying jobs with plenty of opportunity for advancement. Elizabeth was content with her service industry gig. With three incomes and frugal habits, money wasn’t really a concern. But we had never found our community – our interests and lifestyle did not mesh well with the Texas zeitgeist, even in blue Austin.

I suggested to Luke and Elizabeth that we renew our current apartment lease for one more year and start making plans to move to a different state. They were instantly on board; the only debate was about where to go. The finalists were Colorado or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Colorado won out, because it was closer and because I like sunshine.

We made a list of things we wanted to do and see in Texas before we left. These are the kinds of things that are more fun with a group of friends, but since we had no adventure-sharing friends there, we just did them by ourselves. We explored Palo Duro Canyon, summited Guadalupe Peak, and took a three-day road trip along the Gulf Coast. Our last year in Texas turned out to be the most enjoyable, but it also reinforced our desire to live someplace more compatible with our interests and values.

The kids would not commit to any city without seeing it firsthand, so in May we drove up along the front range of the Rockies to choose our Colorado destination. Our rough-draft plan was to look for a nice neighborhood in the Boulder area. The arrival of Covid was a complication, but we were very careful and wore masks and socially distanced from the locals. Our first stop was in Pueblo, which we liked more than we thought we would. Then we stopped in Colorado Springs, which we liked even better. Then we stopped in Denver, and absolutely fell in love. Then we continued on to Boulder, and to our surprise we didn’t like it at all. Too rich for our working-class blood. Our unanimous and enthusiastic vote was for Denver.

Covid complicated everything. Our Austin jobs were essential and fairly secure, but we couldn’t be sure of finding work in Colorado. We applied for jobs, but no one wanted to look at resumes with an out-of-state address in the middle of a pandemic. The best we got was a few “Get in touch after you get here and we’ll see if we have anything for you” offers. But apartment managers want to see an existing job or a solid job offer before they will offer a lease. It looked like we might have to go the AirBnB route just to get a Denver address so we could find local work.

We reached out to a couple of Denver apartment-finder services. One said they couldn’t help us. The other found a couple of apartment options that do not verify income. On the income line we all put our current Austin incomes, and that was good enough. We opted to sign a short three-month lease on a one-bedroom apartment and then find a better place after we found work.

I’d never in my adult life quit a job without having another job lined up. In July 2020 all three of us did just that. It was one of the leapiest, faithiest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken. In August 2020 we packed our belongings into a UHaul and left Texas behind.

And it all worked out. The apartment was comically tiny for three adults, but otherwise nice. Luke and I found work right away. Elizabeth decided to wait until we’d found a long-term rental and live off her savings in the meantime. Then I found a better job, got Mahogany shipped out, and we nabbed a good deal on a bigger apartment in a better location. We love Denver. It’s a very welcoming culture, full of interesting and friendly people. I don’t think we’ll ever run out of things to do here.

2020 has been an objectively terrible year. But for us it was a marvelous year, full of good changes and adventures. From Elizabeth’s trip to Nepal in January to this first Thanksgiving in Colorado, 2020 has been generous with its blessings. In an apocalyptic year of plague and economic unraveling, we are very thankful to be where we are.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may there be better years ahead.

Categories: Celebrations, environment, Family, Holidays, Life, Road trip, Travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal, Part VI: Paljorling Camp

Emma and Elizabeth stayed with Sabita and Bee Striit from January 15th to the 18th, and then stayed with friends at the Tibetan refugee camp from the 19th to the 28th.

Paljorling camp has a beautiful monastery.

After the girls had settled in, they went into town to get some lunch.

Adorable Emma is adorable.

Apparently the reason why the power lines are such a clusterfuck in Nepal is because when one stops working, they just string a new one up to bypass it instead of searching out the old one and repairing it. Crazy.

This handsome fellow is decorated for a local festival. We can’t find any info on what festival it was, but our best guess is that it was a local version of Kukur Tihar, the Day of the Dog.

Or, as Emma said, “It coulda been a temple dog that had a birthday, for all I know.”

To be continued!

Categories: Animals, Celebrations, Dogs, Family, food, Friends, Holidays, kids, Life, Nepal, Travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Eeyore Statue

I had a busy week and not much time to draw, so here’s a quick sketch of the Eeyore Statue in Eastwoods Park:

For scale:

The plaque reads: “This statue commemorates the original Eeyore’s Birthday Party held in Eastwoods Park in May 1964 and is dedicated to Prof. James Ayers, Lloyd W. Birdwell, Jr. and Jean Craver, whose inspiration began a unique Austin tradition. March 2007.”

Eeyore’s Birthday Party outgrew Eastwoods Park in 1974 and is now celebrated at Pease Park. It’s a big event every year. Costumes, drum circles, drugs, good times.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Celebrations, Weekly Sketch | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal, Part II: The Road to Pokhara

While I wait for Elizabeth to sort out more favorite photos from the 100 bajillion or so she brought back, here are more impressions from the bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara.

One thing that struck Elizabeth about Nepalese culture is that there are corporate logos literally everywhere. She got the impression that many of them aren’t even paid advertising, people just like the designs and paint them on their stuff. One example was this small Shiva shrine, which had Castrol Oil logos on the sides and back:

Another thing was the haphazard way structures there are built anywhere they can be squeezed in, seemingly out of whatever materials are on hand.

Tata freight trucks. Like everything else about Nepal, they are bright and colorful.

Breakfast smoothie on a pit stop.

Snowy Annapurna Massif in the far background, the section of the Himalayas that borders Nepal.

Adorable Elizabeth is adorable.

And finally, they arrived at the home of family friends, Sabita and her son Bee Striit.

By happy coincidence, they arrived on Emma’s 23rd birthday! Sabita was ready with a beautiful Ganesha cake and traditional trimmings.

What a warm and gracious welcome!

More to come!

Categories: Birthdays, Celebrations, Family, food, Friends, Holidays, kids, Life, Love, Nepal, Travel | 2 Comments

Weekly Sketch: Pixel Bernie

I was working on a grasshopper sketch to post today, but yesterday’s win in New Hampshire inspired me to draw this today:

It’s based on the little candidate animations that The Guardian used in 2016 for its election results map:

I’m feeling excited and hopeful today. Remember to vote in your state’s primary, it’s so important this year!

Categories: Artwork, Celebrations, Life, Weekly Sketch | Tags: | Leave a comment

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