The Next Step

When you move across the country from the place you’ve called home for 34 years, you anticipate an adjustment period. Obviously, the surroundings will be different — that much is only to be expected, and in our case was one of the underlying aims of the move — and the newness of it all is a big part of the excitement. There’s business to attend to, however, not the least of which is finding a house that fits your needs. Thanks to the almost dangerously impulsive nature of both John and me, that detail was accomplished within the first month after our arrival.

There was, of course, the rather tortuous interval between our buying this house and ultimately moving into it, but the wait is thankfully over. Two weeks ago we carted all our worldly goods from the rental house to our new home, and have since unpacked almost every box, arranged nearly every piece of furniture and hung almost all the artwork.

Who snuck that glass of white wine in the picture, I wonder?

Who snuck that glass of white wine in the picture, I wonder?

We couldn’t be more thrilled. At least twice a day I exclaim, “I love this house!”

Lest you think I’m not allowing ample time between outbursts, I must point out just how long a day lasts up here. At this time of year, it starts getting light outside around 4:45 a.m. I’ve begun keeping one of those goofy eye masks on my nightstand so I can slip it over my head once the brightness (assisted by Pablo the cat) tries to urge us out of bed so crazy early in the morning.

eye mask

Sunset is as late as sunrise is early. It doesn’t get totally dark until well after 10 p.m.


While we quickly adjusted to just about everything moving to Washington threw at us, we were kind of wary about the one thing that was missing: friends. Thirty-four years is a long time to live in one place and it’s only natural that a lot of friends are made along the way. Leaving them was difficult enough; the prospect of finding new ones sometimes felt out of reach.

It’s not that people in Port Townsend aren’t friendly. They are. But for the first couple months we lived here, we never were able to more than scratch the surface with anyone in particular. Maybe we’re too picky. Or sensitive. Like at a gathering we barged into at the beginning of June, an old-fashioned beefy, porky chili cook-off, of all things (not a likely venue for quasi-vegetarians), one of the other attendees sparked up a conversation with us. When we mentioned we were organic farmers the past 14 years, he replied, “Yeah, well I’ve been gardening since I was a kid.”

Not exactly the same thing. Besides, we didn’t mean it as a competition.

Our failure to hook up with anybody became a running joke between us. After every casual meeting with someone, as we parted ways with them either John or I would whisper to the other, “Will you be our friend?

Then we met Varen and Walter. They bought the house we were renting and the moment we all introduced ourselves, it seemed like we might actually hit it off.

This isn't Varen and Walter.  It's their dogs, Oliver and Ginger.

This is not Varen and Walter. It’s their dogs, Oliver and Ginger.

In fact, the first evening we went out to dinner together, Walter asked me what it was like being a farmer, and wondered if it was difficult.

“I mean, it sounds awfully hard,” he said, “what with the uncertainties of weather and the insects you must have had to deal with.”

He understood. We had found, to my infinite relief, new friend material.

And it continues. The development we moved into is called Cape George, and it’s quite the community. As residents, we were invited to a Summer Solstice party last Friday evening down by the waterfront. (The invitation said to bring “jackets or blankets.” To celebrate summer.) Then yesterday we received an email announcing the first bloom of one of the neighbor’s Giant Lily, asking everyone come view it that evening and bring desserts to share.

“Friendly” doesn’t begin to describe the people who live in Cape George. Everyone waves hello and stops to chat. Several people have come by to introduce themselves. It’s like they’re all Stepford Wives,


except here they’re Stepford Husbands too. Honestly, you can’t take a walk around the neighborhood without two or three people inviting you into their homes.

Should we be nervous?


28 thoughts on “The Next Step

  1. Jo, I know you and John will find many friends! Have you ever considered writing a book? I think you have enough material in your past blogs of Angel Valley Organic Farms…


  2. Happy Anniversary, Jo and John!!!!! Glad to hear you’re doing well! We sure do miss you!!!! xoxo, Renee, Marty and Jacob : )

    • Renee, you’re something else. We miss you too, you can bet on that! Hugs and more hugs to you and the gang.

  3. Jo, check for batteries in the back of the female Stepfords. I miss you guys every time I drive by coming home from tennis! Reece

    • Good idea Reece! Oh, and we miss you too. That’s the only downside to this move — we had to leave too many of our favorite folks!

  4. Thanks for the update Jo. Love your new home. don’t be surprised if some of us Texas meander up there to get out of the summer heat! We just hit 100 today for the first time. Of course we’d like see you and John too! Sounds like a wonderful community and it won’t be long until you feel right at home with all the new people.

    Happy for you and your new life but missing your presence here in Lago Vista/Jonestown.


    • Thanks Pat — we miss you too! I’d heard from another friend it hit 100 down there. Eek. Hang in there, and enjoy the air-conditioning!

  5. Surely sounds like a normal community and one to emerge yourselves in. Before you know it, you’ll be inviting folks over for a huge potatoe in the garden. Miss you both plus the great veggies. Bob and. Page Massey

    • Or maybe a potato that looks like Abraham Lincoln? We’ll work on that. We miss you and Bob too, Page. Hope all’s well!

  6. Been thinking of you two a lot today as I harvested many herbs and some nice eggplant. WE MISS YOU!!! And I get jealous, thinking about the fine weather that you must be experiencing these days. I grew up with those long, long summer days (in northern Montana AND Seattle) and miss so many things about the Northwest. Not that I don’t love it here as well – I know me…if I moved up there I’d be thinking about here…

    Glad that you’re moved in and getting settled. Just know that you are seriously missed down here – each time I drive past your driveway I think “Oh, darn!”

    Take care of your sweet selves…..Margy

  7. Really enjoying following your adventures in your new home. So nice that your neighbors want to get to know you. Maybe they heard you grow great vegetables & want to make sure they are on the receiving end of your possible surplus! I want you to know I miss your tomatoes…I made a tomato pie the other day & had to use ..gasp… HEB tomatoes. 😦 All the best to you! Cathy

    • Yikes — store bought tomatoes! Even though it’s going to be difficult in this part of the world, we’re determined to grow some tomatoes up here. I simply can’t take those grocery store maters. You might want to pay a visit to the Cedar Park Farmers Market some Saturday — I’m sure the farmers are bringing in tomatoes by the truckload right now. Yummm. Thanks oodles for the note, and we wish you all the best (including more tomato pies!)

  8. OMG! I needed a good laugh this morning. This helped to set the tone for the day.

    Thanks, Jo!!! And look out for weirdos!!!

    • Oh wouldn’t that be snazzy! Thanks Gaines — and yes, we’re feeling like this is a good beginning indeed.

  9. Hi Jo and John, Your new home looks beautiful and so full of the northern light. It sounds like you have blended so well, so quickly. I admire that. After many adventurous, somewhat impulsive moves of my own, I am aware of some of the pitfalls. Anyway, just last night you popped into my head, and I was wondering how you were doing. I am so glad to hear it is working out for you both. I still miss you and your vegetables, especially on Wednesdays. Take good care, Lisa

    • Thank you Lisa! Being this impulsive can certainly bring some pitfalls (and even pratfalls!) but so far, so good. Believe me, though, we miss our Wednesdays at the farm stand and most definitely miss seeing you. Hope you’re having a lovely summer!

  10. I feel like I take a mini-vacation with each new entry of your blog! Makes we want to pack up and move, too . . . but then, the kids would likely find us.

    • Great advice Jill. We’re invited to a neighbor’s place for dessert tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me soon, send help.

  11. Hey there Jo, it’s Jo your newer neighbor you visited with Leslie. Found your blog and you are too funny.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Stepfordesque alusions, the neighbors seem to be genuinely nice people and, as Marty the island hermit said with a big smile, “there’s a lot of characters around here”.
    When can we meet Pablo? Our kitties say meow.

    • Hi Jo! Marty is obviously a wise, wise hermit. There are characters indeed in these parts and they’re crazy nice. For people like us who’d had no neighbors at all for many years, however, that proved a tad disconcerting at first. There must be ulterior motives, right? Wrong. The folks here are the greatest and we’re tickled to be amongst them. Alas, Pablo doesn’t share our enthusiasm. He’s a shy little guy, unlike your friendly felines. Still, he whispers a tentative meow in return.

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