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Finding Balance in the New Year

Finding Balance in the New Year

After a beautiful holiday, we go back to work on our little cabin on Spokane Court this weekend. It’s become a kind of art project for us,  but we’ve made some concessions along the way. Originally, we planned to live there for a year while we remodeled the Panhandle Creek cabin where we live, but we’ve decided to finish this Spokane cabin and sell it in the spring. Then we can put those funds directly into the construction of our Panhandle Creek Bed & Breakfast. We’ll live in a construction zone for several months, but ultimately, it will allow us to keep costs down and get to our end-goal sooner.

Still, this is a labor of love. We’re creating something beautiful. When we bought the cabin a year ago, it was a summer weekend residence. It didn’t have year-round water or a heat source other than the wood stove. It had been built in the 70s and the interior was sheathed in dark fake paneling and orange floral wallpaper. I’m still scraping the paper off the walls, but we’re sheet-rocking, putting in double-pane windows, a gas fireplace, on-demand hot water, and electric baseboard heaters. We’ll change the floor and cupboards and update the bathroom. The big change will come in the spring when we add a second bathroom and a cistern system that will allow the cabin to be used year-round. Once we get a little further along, I’ll share some pictures of the inside.

We have a lot of work to do before first thaw. In addition to the Spokane cabin, we plan to break ground on the BnB addition to our Panhandle Creek cabin. That will involve adding a garage with a handicap accessible suite upstairs and extending the front of our cabin toward the creek another 10 feet. The inside of our home will be reconfigured dramatically, but I’ll share more about that another time. Suffice it to say, it will be intense!

The biggest challenge in all this will be to find balance in the middle of major transition. This is a difficult one for me. I’ve never been especially good at walking the middle road. I’m passionate and all-in with everything I do. One thing I have learned, is time and energy are limited resources. I can’t pull all-nighters like I used to. I have pared down many of my responsibilities – like Writing for Peace – in order to concentrate on a few things more effectively – my family, my own writing, and developing a BnB/literary home here in the mountains I love.

My husband (who knows my passions well) and I have come up with a simple strategy to help us accomplish our goals while still allowing us to be present for family. The plan is to alternate construction weekends with family/friend/relaxation weekends. We hope this balance will allow time to refuel, while still making progress on our projects.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

On another note, my short essay, “Nobody Knows,” appears in Volume VI of Hive Avenue Journal this morning. You can find it on page 63, but I hope you’ll take time to read all of the wonderful work included in this journal. My thanks to Sam Hyatt, Nonfiction Editor, and Damia Walker, Managing Editor.

I hope your first week of the New Year was happy and productive. Thanks for spending a bit of it with me here.

Copyright © 2022 Carmel Mawle. All rights reserved.


A Christmas Goodbye

A Christmas Goodbye

Decking the halls of our Panhandle Creek cabin.

After our separate Thanksgivings, our family hopes to be together for a string of December holiday celebrations. Mom will help us finish decorating the tree this weekend and we’ll celebrate our small cabin Christmas on the 18th with four generations. On Winter Solstice, we’re having a special reading at Mom’s Independent Living Facility, with readings by members of our writing group, other residents, and two special guest readers, Vicki Lindner and Sandra McGarry. Christmas Eve we’ll enjoy a quiet celebration in town with Mom, then the next morning we’ll see what Santa brought the grandkids. All of this depends, of course, on continued health. With the bugs circulating through schools and the community-at-large, we’ll take precautions where reasonable and hope for the best.

This Christmas will be bittersweet. If all goes according to plan, it will be the last year we enjoy Craig’s stonework. When we moved here five years ago, the previous owners had placed an old woodstove on tiles nearly in the middle of the floor. One of our first improvements was to purchase a stove that could be placed closer to the wall. Craig researched the codes and built the beautiful stone hearth and surround, and the pine mantle above it. I love those rocks, and I hope we can keep at least some of them, but next year the stove will move to new living quarters over the garage.

In the spring, we hope to break ground on our bed and breakfast. A longtime dream, the addition will dramatically change the configuration of our livingroom, while adding two gorgeous guest spaces with views of the creek and the valley. In this room, we’ll add a new stone fireplace, along with room for my piano.

In our family, we have always appreciated the extra goodness that comes with building, or baking, or creating with our own hands. When the grandkids ask for my carrot cake for their birthdays, or Craig’s homemade bread for sandwiches, it’s because these things taste a little better when they’re made with love. We’re excited about the changes, and look forward to being able to share our mountain B&B with friends and family. Like everything we apply ourselves to, these changes will be made with love. But now, working at the table while snow falls on the forest around us, I am looking through the white lights of our tree to the woodstove on Craig’s beautiful hearth. I’m grateful for him and the many ways he shows his love.


Copyright © 2022 Carmel Mawle. All rights reserved.