It's hard to be a long-distance landlord and luckily the tenants we have renting the house are very mellow and only email with occasional issues (none of which has been costly). They write that they are "growing into the house day by day," using the rhubarb along the edge of the garden to make syrups for elixirs and fancy drinks, harvesting apples from the antique trees around the yard to make pies and apple butter, and to press cider at the amazing year-round CSA they've joined. I think it's interesting that after 14 years at the house I never bothered to pursue these things - but I bet they haven't explored the surrounding woods yet or slept outside in a tent.
Even as an indoor cat, Bindi has proven to be a formidable hunter and is apparently keeping the yearly autumn influx of small critters at bay. "She looks so proud when she's caught something." they write. Soon they'll be bringing her to be fixed at a low-cost spay clinic in Springfield - we have agreed that I will cover vet bills and they will take care of food and liter and day-to-day cat expenses. Whether or not she ever joins us here in New Mexico, it seems that Bindi the stray arrived at the house for a reason and I'm glad she's being well cared for in this co-ownership arrangement. I do miss the companionship of a pet, but am grateful for the utter simplicity of our life here.
The sun continues to shine every single day, though evening and morning temperatures dip into the 30's and last week a short-lived but powerful storm brought hail, rain and high winds that almost blew me off the highway. Sweet scented fall flowers are exploding along the roadsides and from the casita windows we can see the Bosque and the long swath of green and golden-leaved cottonwoods that line and lean over the Rio Grand to catch their reflections. Just before sunset huge flocks of robins, a bird I thought we'd left behind in Massachusetts, come to feast in the nearby juniper trees. I suspect birds spend their days down by the watery Bosque and eat dinner here in Placitas before heading into the sheltered Sandia canyons to roost for the night.
J has been doing some work building custom windowsills and simple kitchen cabinets for a local woman and hopefully soon he'll be helping our landlord renovate a carriage house. The newspaper isn't a very good source of employment but getting out and meeting people seems to be - not only is this a very social, welcoming community but J's punctuality, speed and attention to detail are very much appreciated here, where things tend to be a bit more...laid back. He'll also be selling his altars/puja tables through a gallery in Madrid soon - just in time for the holiday season. Even better, the owners are fast becoming friends. Hopefully all of this will continue to build upon itself.
A few weekends ago our landlords had an Octoberfest party complete with adults wearing leiderhosen, a keg of locally-brewed beer and grilled bratwurst (they even found vegetarian bratwurst for us). There was even an accordion for a few brief minutes...until their teenage son decided it was embarrassing to be seen with it and retreated back to his room with his friends. At one point one of the by-then somewhat inebriated guests (who had arrived with his own bottle of Jagermeister) turned and asked me if "being a vegetarian also meant that I couldn't drink." Huh! Sorry for being such a party pooper! Though J and I had managed to nurse a beer throughout the evening, I guess it was noticeable that we weren't really "drinking." I'm a bit old for peer pressure (and hang overs, for that matter) and simply responded that I can and do still drink...just "not that much." Not that much compared to both him and to the me of the past.
Last weekend the registrar from school had a pot luck "Farm-Warming" party and J met some of my classmates. We ended the evening with songs around a campfire (including one in "kid language" made up by a sweet little girl) which brought back memories of similar nights spent with friends in the hills of Massachusetts. About half way through the evening some of us spotted an enormous, long-tailed fireball streaking across the horizon - similar to the one I saw the night before our friend's wedding in Maine years ago before coming here the first time.
As I suspected there's much to write and never enough time - I'm off to class again for the evening!