Moving again….

This year started out with events I would not have imagined six months ago: a house sale and a move. Last June, I followed my heart home to Wyoming’s sagebrush country, selling my Santa Fe house and moving to a house on “the rim,” as it’s called in Cody, above the Shoshone River. (Click the link at “a house” to see the “after” photos of the house. It did not look like that when I bought it!)

The Cody house needed some love–I’ve never bought one that didn’t–and it was too big for me. But it was in a great location, and I figured I would spend a few years fixing it up, and eventually trade it for a little cottage in the historic neighborhoods around downtown (which, of course, would need fixing up, because that’s how I roll–and how I earn an income from my real estate deals).

Only the universe had other ideas. Just before Thanksgiving, a stranger knocked on my door and asked if I would ever consider selling my house. I said I’d talk to my friend Yuliya Martsul, who is also one of the smartest real estate people I know, and see what she thought the place was worth. I showed them around and then I called Yuliya.

Six days later, I accepted an all-cash offer on the house at a price that paid me back for the work I had put into it, and covered my move. The closing date was–gulp!–mid-January.

My Cody house lit up for Winter Solstice.

Which gave me seven weeks to thoughtfully downsize, pack, search for a smaller place in Cody, and move. Piece of cake, right? After all, this would be my sixth move in ten years, so I’ve had plenty of practice.

“Right-sizing” from 2,200 square feet to something smaller and packing was the easy part. Finding another place to live in Cody proved impossible.

So I pivoted–flexibility is my middle name since I stumbled into this side-gig of buying unloved properties and re-storying them–I would move into the cottage in Montrose, in western Colorado, that I had bought for my winter writing retreat earlier last fall. (Have I confused you yet?)

My sweet Montrose cottage, built in 1938

My plan was simple: Winnow my stuff down to what would comfortably fit into the 672 square foot cottage–five rooms, counting the bathroom–and store what I couldn’t bear to part with. I’d look for a Cody place come spring, I thought, when the real estate market might be less insane.

Okay. Except that I would be moving from far northwestern Wyoming to far western Colorado, eleven hours south, in January, on a route that’s pretty much off the map for movers. Fortunately, Rick Cook of Cody’s Cook Moving & Storage, who has moved me twice before, figured out how to fit me and my not-very-much stuff on one of his trucks headed for Las Vegas, Nevada. (Thank you, Rick, and ace mover/driver Phil!)

The only hitch was that I would have to move January 7th, a week earlier than I had planned. Which gave me just six weeks to get ready. And to finish some projects in the house that I hadn’t bothered to with, thinking I had lots of time.

Packing, packing, packing….

So between giving away some furniture and lots of books, downsizing my files, and packing, packing, packing, I was up on a ladder on my front porch replacing the tacky front porch lights with much cooler and more efficient ones that didn’t blind people coming up the walk. And finishing the cabinets in the kitchen, replacing a couple of really ugly bathroom faucets, and the like.

Cool front porch lights that are downward-aiming to preserve the view of the stars.

And I spent a week of that six in Montrose overseeing foundation work on my cottage, which had plumbing issues before I bought it, resulting in part of the beautiful stacked sandstone foundation under the oldest part of the cottage collapsing. Fixing that involved jacking up one side of the cottage and digging out the cellar, which fortunately I did not have to do myself!

My Montrose cottage getting a partial new foundation.

It’s no wonder that I was a little insane by the time the week of January 7th rolled around. And wouldn’t you know, that was the week when Wyoming’s way-too-balmy-and-dry winter delivered a real northern Rockies blizzard, dropping a foot of much-needed but very inconvenient snow with sub-zero temperatures and howling winds. Fun stuff.

Thanks to last-minute help from my dear friends Connie and Jay Moody and the careful loading skills of Phil and his crew, my belongings were out of the house by closing on the afternoon of the 7th. My neighbor Bill helped me load my huge Christmas cactus, Arabella, into my truck, and Jay and Connie kindly housed me, the truck, and Arabella until the roads cleared enough for me to head south two days later.

Phil’s big truck pulled up to load my stuff, despite snow and howling wind.

Where the Guy welcomed me (and Arabella) into his comfortable farmhouse an hour’s drive from my cottage until Phil arrived with my stuff on a sunny Tuesday morning not quite two weeks ago.

Are you dizzy yet? I’ll save the details of the renovation I’ve done on the cottage in the past twelve days for another post.

Suffice it to say that I’m settled, my stuff is all out of boxes and stowed away, and I am happily exploring my new surroundings–I have a river to walk here, too–and I’m back to work on the new book. Whew!

My snug office in the cottage, with Arabella, who is covered with buds and ready to bloom again, for company.

40 thoughts on “Moving again….

    • Thank you, Sarah. I think it is just right for me, and it may be my last project. I said that to a good friend here the other day and she laughed so hard we both almost lost it. But I really think that may be true. We’ll see….

        • Sue, Thank you! I feel like I’m entering my settled era, after spending the last ten years renovating and moving in search of where home is now. And I really love this little cottage. It just feels like my space and my place. My heart is with you as you find your path after your loss. Take your time!

    • What I like most about your recent posts, Susan, is you are completely engaged in life. Your energy oozes from your writing β™₯️

      • Mary, Thank you for that lovely compliment! I think that getting Bless the Birds off my desk and into the world freed a lot of energy and also allowed me to immerse myself in this new path, not knowing where it would take me. πŸ˜‰

    • Julie, I don’t love moving, but I do love houses and bringing them back to life. This cottage is so charming that I think I may have found my nest at last. Love to you and Gerry!

    • I love re-storying houses that need love and tending, and say, jacking up to put a new foundation underneath. It’s so rewarding to see a sweet place come back to life and show off its beauty. Besides, I hate to see a good house go to waste. I hope you’re having a lovely Las Cruces winter!

  • I look forward to seeing more photos of your new abode. The real estate market is indeed crazy. We get offers on our Tucson and Oregon properties, of which we don’t want to sell either. Our son lives in the Oregon one with the cattle and sheep. I’d like to not have to drive between them again this year but guess the well has some questions that must be settled. Some down here too but of a different nature.

    • Rain, I think real estate is the next stock market, for good or ill. It’s not going to get any better as long as the demand for houses far outstrips the supply. If I hadn’t wanted to sell, I would have held tight, but honestly, the house was too big for me in the longer term, so my investor’s instincts said, “take the cash!” May your Tucson and Oregon places remain home as long as you need them to, and may you find a way to ease the long commute between them. Be well!

  • And I thought I was nomadic! Ha. I went from Colorado to Texas, where I’ve managed six moves as a solo in 10 years. We share a love of houses and tend to follow our wanderlust hearts β€” but mine rests now, as I am a caregiver to a mother suffering from dementia. You also know that role all too well. C’est la vie. I am content β€” for now πŸ˜‰β€” in the Texas Hill Country. While I love the house I designed and had built, I still ogle real estate ads. I can’t help myself. You sound happy, and I continue to be impressed by your adventuresome spirit. You are amazing! Here’s to living well. Sending a Texas-sized hug your way. Susan

    • Well, you are nomadic! And you are correct about sharing a love of houses and renovation. My heart goes out to you as you care for your mom. Dementia is a cruel brain-twist, and caregiving can suck up your whole well of being and then some. Remember to take care of you, and if part of that is surfing what a friend describes as “real estate porn,” not to worry. It’s a fairly harmless habit. πŸ˜‰ Much love coming your way from me!

  • Goodness, Susan, how adventurous! we are moving too, back to the NW (Olympia) but i hope to find a place with a solid foundation. In the light, Lara

    • Lara! When are you moving? I hope you find a wonderful place in Oly, though the market there is super-crazy right now. My bro and SIL just downsized from their big house on Tumwater Hill to a smaller place on the West Side. Perhaps I’ll see you in Oly next time I visit! Hugs to you and yours, Susan

  • Another life adventure for an adventureous spirit. Your re-storying of houses is wonderful. Still hoping to cross paths with you while I’m out west in May. And yes, I was spinning while reading the story. Blessings as you settle into the sweet cottage for your winter retreat.

    • Susan, I’ll be in Wyoming in May, as I’m working at Ring Lake Ranch above Dubois from May 14th through early September. Dubois isn’t exactly on your way north from Laramie, but it’s a lovely side trip! Hugs from me. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Michael! I’ll be back this summer to work at Ring Lake Ranch. Next summer, I’ll head for Yellowstone to resume my invasive-species weeding work. So I’m not leaving Wyoming entirely….

  • Greer Chesher says:

    I can barely keep track of you! Now that you’re closer, come visit in Rockville. I have a sweet casita in back under the redrock. Oh, and will you re-story my house!???
    xo Greer

    • Greer, I’m still 500 miles away! Of course, I would love to visit some winter. (I think this sagebrush girl would broil to death there in summer!) As for re-storying your house, I’ve never worked on anyone else’s house. I have to live in a place to hear what it wants. πŸ™‚ Slightly off-topic, have you read my latest, Bless the Birds: Living with Love in a Time of Dying? If not, message me your address and I’ll send you a copy. Hugs and blessings to you!

  • Oh Susan! I’m breathless! What a saga!! What I admire most about you is your ability to let go of places you love, and embrace the new ones for what is lovable about them. I still miss your Santa Fe house lol! But every place seems perfect for you. I loved the Cody house for you but I see you have a larger vision!! I’m in the california bungalow I bought 28 years ago and still love it, but maybe I lack imagination! Anyway, if I ever travel to where you are I hope I can find you!! β€οΈπŸ™β€οΈπŸ‘β€οΈπŸ”β€οΈπŸ’ƒβ€ΌοΈ

    • Breathless Carolyn, You are in the bungalow that you bought 28 years ago because it suits you and nourishes you. I have been on a journey of re-storying houses that began of financial necessity and became something of a mission to use my new-found skills to rescue unloved places and then find people to love them. And now, perhaps I have found the place I will stay and root. I am fortunate in that. Big hugs to you!

  • I AM OUT OF BREATH and totally amazed by what you have accomplished in the past few years. You somehow save houses, simplify and beautify them, pack again, winnow, and move, AND write fantastic articles and books.

    I need to touch you for some of your luck. And oh, I was worried about Arabella making the move in the cold, but I see from the photo that she is ensconced and thriving.

    Sending love to you and the Guy! who I adore.

    • Dear Sharon, Arabella and I do not love moving, but we came through this one well. I never buy a house to re-story without making sure there is a good southerly window where Arabella will thrive! And my cottage has a big yard shaded by two huge old cottonwood trees, so I’ve got space for an edible and herb garden, and a native plant garden for pollinators and songbirds. And a front porch for sitting and admiring those garden, plus a side yard that’s entirely private for the fire pit, grape arbor, and hot tub…. I see it all in my mind, but since I’ll be away in Wyoming again this summer, it’ll take a couple of years to make it all happen. The Guy is happy that I’m closer by–who’d have guessed? And we send love to you and Jeff. <3

    • Thanks for reading and for your longtime support, Carolyn! I hope to see you again in person one of these years. And yes, it’s been a more exciting winter already than I was planning, but we know what plans are good for (not much, most of the time!). I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet when my trades-folk and I finish up the first round of renovations at the end of this week. Hugs to you!

  • Wow. I am impressed by your energy, Susan! Montrose always seemed like a nice small town when we visited. There are certainly some beautiful mountains on the western slope. Enjoy!

    • Michelle, Thank you. Montrose is a good town, big enough to have some amenities that towns of 20,000 don’t usually have, small enough to be friendly, and the river running through it gives me marvelous walking. And the landscape: the San Juans to the south, the Uncompahgre Plateau to the west, Cimarron Ridge to the east, and Grand Mesa to the north… plus big sagebrush. It’s my kind of place. πŸ™‚

  • Thank you so much for sharing. I read Bless the Birds last year, little suspecting that I would be remembering some of your stories while in the hospital with my husband. COVID took him this week and I’m reeling. Health issues of the last few years led to his vulnerability to this horrible virus. I was reminded of Richard’s journey with you, in so many ways. I will read it again in the summer and take comfort in what you shared.

    • Sue, I am so sorry for your loss! You must be just bereft and in shock still–my heart goes out to you. Breathe and give yourself all of the time and space you can to find your balance again. Know that love and support are coming to you from all around, and open yourself to help as much as you can. The most important thing is to take care of yourself! Blessings and again, my sympathy.

  • Hey Susan, you’ve been busy. We consider moving from Boise now and again given how the population has grown and everything has become more crowded and more aggressive here. But after 40-plus years in this valley we find it difficult to cut ties to our community of friends. So I’m impressed that you’ve been able to move so fluidly. Perhaps we will see you one of these days. Katherine has been retired a year and I’ve cut way back on my work, so we are traveling a lot — 80 days in the camper last year.

    • Hi, Glenn, It’s good to hear from you! I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to leave Boise. You’ve got a great spot there, and your ties to the community are long and deep. It’s easier for me because I’m solo, and while I’ve been doing the real estate investment thing, I’ve also been testing where I’d like to settle. Which I think is right here in my cottage! Congrats to Katherine on staying with the Statesman for so long, and on retiring. Come visit now that you have more time to travel!

  • I love the whole Susan-Tweit-Moving-Yet-Again story. You are truly amazing as you “move” through all of your never-ending adventures. What an inspiration, girl! Sending wishes for a wonderful 2022 in your sweet sweet cottage.

    • Dear Jeanne, Thank you! I’ve loved my side-gig of re-storying unloved real estate, and it’s given me financial security after Richard’s death left me in a pretty deep hole. But now I think I am ready to settle, and oddly enough, this little cottage feels like it’s just the right size for me. Here’s to a good 2022 for both of us, and our memoirs! Hugs, S/t

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