June 16, 2015

The Vicissitudes of 2014

Apart from my blog last week, I haven't written MandiCrocker since December 2013.  Zoinks!  I didn't realize it had been that long. I found myself using all of the energy I had to just be present in my own life, struggling like a mothertrucker to find some sense of balance.  Needless to say, I didn't care to broadcast a crazed thought process of undying and wavering scales.  So where the h-e-double hockey hell have I been?  In the words of the great Johnny Cash, "I've been everywhere, man" ... And in more ways than eighty!  

Let's see...

My childhood best friend Bananske Alien came to Mazama to work at the store through the winter. Albeit not her birth name, Bananske Alien is her given 'Friendship Name,' acquired through me as divinely inspired by Mr. Potato Head and thus the name shall remain until the dawn of time.  She decided to stay on longer and is still currently in Mazama!  Funny how that happens around here in such gorgeous country...

I spent my first winter in Mazama!  

It's so beautiful it's overwhelming sometimes.

I also found myself hanging out with this 'dude' a lot.  His name is Lliam.

I thought to myself, "Oh, I'm not staying long.  He'll be fun company til I leave."

"It'll be fun but it's a shame I'm going to break his heart."

In March, I drove down the coast & took a trip back to L.A. to see my friends & family.  The scenery was gorgeous.  That's a whole other blog, man. A whole other blog.

But I WILL tell you I got to go to the Walking Dead Q&A panel while I was there.  
*swoon, swoon* 

Then Spring came to Mazama.  Lliam & I went for lots of long walks... on the prairies?  He kept surprising me by being more than just some dude.  He wasn't who I thought he was at all.  That was super annoying.

I got to visit and hold some newborn baby lambs!  

And he just kept hanging out with me!!!  I was like, "You know I'm leaving after summer, right?  I mean, I don't want to hurt your feelings by saying this but you know I'm going to hurt your feelings, right?"

He was all, "Yeah.  But I'd rather karaoke with you in this sexy silky shirt & man sunglasses for right now than not be with you at all. I'd be missing out."  Oh brother!  By the way, did you know we were understudies for the movie 'American Hustle?'  Pretty awesome like that.

In the meantime, I fell in love with his little healer Sadie. This is Sadie with Ginger, the Mazama Ambassador.  I was like, "I'm not sure about this unexpected guy-person and his feelings. But damn, if I don't love his dog."

Early Spring, I moved out of the rental and stayed in this adorable tiny cabin on my aunt's property. It's amazing how little you truly need!

It was also a great challenge for a baker & cook!  We had a plug-in electric stove top and a grill. I have never eaten so many brats in my life.

BUT if you were ever wondering if you can grill a lasagna?  Honey, you can done throw on a lasagna AND a mixed berry crisp!  WHAAAAAAT.

It was turning out to be a beautiful late Spring and early Summer.  

Lliam started working in Okanogan, which is about an hour way.  He would camp during the week when he was working full-time and come home on his weekends.  

It was rough but we got used to it! 
I spent my days off hiking and grilling.

When I first moved to Mazama, my aunt mentioned that I should buy this house. I laughed at her heartily because I had zero savings and only rich people can afford to buy houses.  It wasn't in my realm of possibility.  Well, the price continued to drop on this foreclosed property.  After being in Mazama a year, I wasn't sure what was next.  It also happened to be across the street from Lliam. Seriously. So I wasn't even sure I wanted to have that discussion yet. I wasn't even sure HE would want that. Wasn't I planning on leaving Mazama???  

For poodelies & hee-haws, I decided to talk to a real estate agent to see what I would need to do to buy a house, where I would need to be financially, etc. Specifically speaking for when I was 65 and maybe had $25 to put down.  They told me to talk to a mortgage broker.  The mortgage broker told me that there are lots of loans out there for people like me that require nothing down.  Nothing down!??? I really had a chance they told me.  


"Well, if you change your mind?... I'm the first in line... a loan that's free... Take a chance on me...."
I put in the world's lowest bid... JUST BECAUSE I COULD.  I had no idea what was happening or had no idea what I really wanted but it was an opportunity that presented itself.  Why not say yes and let the universe work it out, no?  

"I'm just putting in a bid on a house across the street from the guy whose heart I'm going to break when I leave Mazama at the end of the summer-- oooh, a pretty waterfall!"  

I auditioned for a play and was cast as 'Feste' in Shakepeare's 'Twelfth Night.'  Soon I was driving 45 miles a day, back & forth, between Twisp.

It was a blast!  I hadn't done any acting since I left Los Angeles so in many ways it felt like 'coming home.'  Awww...   I was also working full-time at the incredibly busy bakery and still getting up at three in the morning.  Plus, dealing with the house inspections, loans, trying to find tax documents from 2,000 miles away that were still in storage in Chicago because I was never planning on staying in Mazama, etc.   It felt like all hell had broken loose... 

And then all hell really broke loose.

The biggest fire in the history of Washington State also decided to debut last summer. The Carlton Complex Fire, amongst many others, broke out down valley.  Despite only having to deal with multiple power & water & cell tower outages, I am grateful to say Mazama didn't see much.  We were one of the only stores open thanks to a ginormous generator, so we were still fairly and dumbfoundingly busy.  Many folks lost their homes down valley.  Our little show almost didn't go on.  It was an insane summer.  I am so grateful that it is over and we've all got our fingers crossed that we manage to avoid fire season chaos this year.  

But if you were wondering if it is possible to grill breakfast sandwiches by headlamp, the answer is an enthusiastic yes!

In the midst of the chaose, this guy-person was constantly trying to ruin my nervous breakdown.

On a more unbearable smoky day in Mazama, Lliam, Sadie & I drove up Harts Pass to see if we could get out of the smoke. Sadie found a puddle, as she always does. And she wouldn't get out of it. I'm not even a dog lover which is a sacrilege around here; I grew up with cats.  But this Small Dog has wormed her way into my affections and covered them with muddy water and smelly doggy kisses. 

This was the same summer Rudy, a man in his eighties with a heart condition that has a penchant for falling asleep at the wheel, stalking the bakery ladies and demanding quiche by 7am, decided it would be a good time to give his old plane a whirl.  One crash could have burned down the rest of the remaining valley last summer-- truly.  But it was pretty cool to see an old fighter pilot doing what he loved.  From the joy of it alone, doing loop de loo's in the air, he probably added another five years to his life.  So I guess I better stay on top of that quiche!

I was TIRED.  I tried to hike when I could.

But despite almost loosing my mind, Lliam was the perfect compliment.  I thought he'd resent my time away during the play, or my fatigue or lack of cooked meals or having to go to bed early, or memorizing lines, finding costumes, the emotional rollercoaster that is escrow, etc.  Instead, he kept surprising me when I needed it most.  He didn't dote on me and his life didn't revolve around taking care of me... He was just... a partner.


Summer FINALLY wound down.  And in some act of the gods (the old and the new), I got the house.


My employers at the store let me work six days a week for two months to cover closing costs on the house.  I was so incredibly grateful.

While the rest of the community was entirely drained & trying to rebuild what they could, I thought after two months of working six days a week, I should definitely do a show during the holidays!!!  
I was exhausted and miserable.  I think I didn't really understand how tired I was until March of 2015.

I moved into the house.  Lliam did a TON of work on it for us.  
And we spent our first real Christmas in it together.

We also cut down our own tree and I had my first snowmobile experience!  Soooo much fun!!!  That's me on the snowmobile looking all 'Highway to the Dangerzone.'

In January of this year, that dude proposed. He wormed his way into my affections and covered them with calloused, mechanic man hands, garden horse pucky and the love of true friendship. I've never been so relieved, felt so comforted or happy to find someone that gets me.  He laughs at me.  With me.  At me laughing at him.  It's really nice.  

It was a crazy year in a million different ways but I won't forget it's lessons.  Life is never perfect no matter how pretty the pictures.  How I feel the day I'm watching a waterfall is invariably different than seeing just the perfection in a picture.  Life is lived. It's messy. We think. We feel. It's constant.  I have no idea what's next but I trust that if I stay in gratitude--for the beauty & for the lessons, to see the day & the people around me for what they are rather than what they are not, I won't need to worry about the rest.  It just sort of happens.  Like that annoying guy-person I'm marrying.

Join me next week as I take you on a tour around The Compound!  This blog is about to get a whole lot more homestead-y, y'all!  I even began canning! YEE-HAW!  

Much love,


Susan said...

I was hoping you would do an update blog at some point! Following on Instagram just wasn't answering all of the questions I had. :)
Glad everything is working out so well for you. Obviously we don't know each other but you seem so genuinely happy all of the time, and your blog posts and pictures always make me smile.

Anonymous said...

I recently read a quote that I thought was a light/humorous way of looking at life. It said "Life is a test, it is only a test. If this were real, you would be directed where to go and what to do".
It's admirable how you have just rolled with the punches and didn't let your "plan" cause you to miss out on some amazing things.
I love the house! Very cool. The sign should have read "under new mandagement".

MandiCrocker said...

So sorry, you guys! I've tried multiple times to post responses to your very supportive & encouraging messages and my iphone just doesn't want to do it! Anyway... Susan, thank you so much! I feel very lucky for what has manifested itself in my life. I appreciate the support so much! And Anonymous, your mandagement comment took a second but then I fell in love with it! That's totally something I would say. So... it's takes a dork to appreciate one. ;)

Thanks so much you guys! :)