Leaving the Mountain, to Reach New Heights

My last blog post was six years ago and I just reread it this morning. Sometimes when you look back on old writing you can’t help but cringe a little at what your younger self wrote. In this case though, seeking a better balance between creating and consuming still resonated with me and was a good reminder as we approach the start of 2024.

I never intended to stop writing on this blog six years ago. It just kind of happened as life got busy, available time got short, and health got broken. In 2018, my wife and I were finally ready to move our family from the small mountain coal mining town we had called home for 7 years. There were things I loved about living there: The way we could have a foot of snow in late October and just a few miles away there was only rain. How in summer time I could watch a severe thunderstorm approaching on the radar image from the weather app on my phone, only to then have the storm split around the mountains that ran parallel to each other and our little town nestled between them barely saw any precipitation at all. The proximity to many of Pennsylvania’s beautiful state parks. The cost of living was also quite a bit cheaper than just a couple of counties away.

The things I didn’t like eventually outweighed what I did like though: How far we lived from our families, the school district, and how far away we lived from most of my work. So in 2018, we sold our house…and then continued to live in it for six more months paying rent to the new owners. The new house we bought was a disaster scene. I filled two 30 yard dumpsters with all of the garbage that was left behind by the previous owners. It needed a new roof, new well, new septic, new electric, new windows, and new plumbing. And those were just the REALLY big items. All new appliances, paint, new bathroom…to say this was a project house is an understatement. I firmly believe that God’s hand was at work in guiding the older couple who bought our house from us to be the buyers. They didn’t need to move in for six months and we had nowhere else to go for six months while I (with a lot of help from family and professional contractors) rebuilt our new house. This all made the second half of 2018 a challenging year. Most days of the week, I would go to work and then drive to the new house and work a few hours before driving over an hour home and finishing up any computer work from my job for the day before repeating the whole thing the next day.

The payoff of all that work was more than worth the cost. We are closer to family. I am more centralized to my work which means I am home with my family more. Our kids are in a better school district. All good things. There are times when I still miss the beauty of the mountains but I don’t regret leaving them at all. There’s been a lot of new opportunities that have come about from relocating. However 2019 would prove to be even more challenging than 2018. That is a story for another time though.

It wouldn’t feel right to not mention a little fur ball that showed up at the house. While working on the house one day in October, a tiny kitten came out of the weeds and approached me. She was there every day from that point on, following me wherever I went and even began riding around on my shoulder while I worked on the house. Every night when I was done working, I would put her outside and every day when I came back, she was back inside the house somehow. I even put her outside one time and then quick ran back in the house to try and see where she was getting in. And she was already there. It was like something from a cartoon. Eventually, I just stopped putting her back outside. I’ve always enjoyed cats but I’ve got a bond with this cat like no other animal I’ve ever had. I’ve often thought that God brought Katniss (the kids named her) to the house to help keep me sane while I worked too much and slept not enough for those six months. I’ve actually had to push her off my shoulders twice while writing this post.

I eventually learned from a neighbor how Katniss came to be here. The neighbor was in a town about 10 miles away and while stopped at a red light, she ran into the road and climbed up inside the engine compartment. He was unable to get her out so just decided to keep driving! She obviously survived the ordeal (while being quite afraid of vehicles from then on!) and came to us. She even survived a hawk trying to take her away just by shear chance of being on the opposite side of a potted plant when the hawk swooped down to try and pick her up off our back porch.