When we returned from India several years ago, we began dreaming of more such richly lengthy travels. That realization began our planning more seriously about some version of “retirement”… knowing that neither of us would ever do that in any sort of usual way. But we both know our energies are slower & the math pointed to the fact that five years later I would be 80, so the time to travel is soon… is now.

Whether we return to the subcontinent which we have come to love, or return to our explorations in Europe… or to venture further, perhaps into Africa & South America, remains to be determined, but we have taken the challenge seriously.

Multitudes of poignant, poetic moments lace throughout these months spent inside the hard work; first, of contemplation, then the process, the actual laborious processes, of preparing to leave Soundcliff… our home – his of 33 years & mine for most of 26. The home we’ve worked on together so deeply to contain us, to entertain us & to explain us.

We also worked here, as two completely individual creative lives: One a writer, filmmaker & facilitator, working in an office off the living area or up the slope in a specially built lovely separate “writer’s cabin” close to the drive. The other a visual artist, jeweler & bell designer, who has occupied a generous studio space at garden level… with immediate access to the garden which is also his passion.

We had shopped condos a couple of years ago year & followed an impulse to imagine living in an imaginary eighth floor home on the east side of the last building possible in the new village named Point Ruston. The building – now called Rainier Condominiums – was a foundational hole on a generous lot. We viewed drawings & film projections of a dream which brought us back later. We hiked up the steel fire stairs with Brandon, our realtor, in the raw hull of a building without yet an elevator. Without yet solid walls, but filled with bare steel studs which only barely began to sketch the space which we ultimately decided to buy.

We began to take the notion of moving more seriously, especially after my declaration that I was not going to plant a garden next year. I had fallen several times with enough minor injury to suggest I pay better attention to my fables as well as my foibles. It felt good to admit that I was no longer having fun in the soil, albeit with a bit of embarrassing disappointment.

Stephen had a connection with a young Vashon realtor, whom I also liked & we began learning what selling a special property involves. Sophia DeGroen Stendahl soon had us grooming & staging the house for the photographer, requiring the moving of all sorts of extraneous paraphernalia to present the space well. After all, we were selling the house, not our collections… even though we needed to move much of it back in soon afterwards so that we could continue to live in it again. That was good practice for the eventual serious editing to come. We both have way too many possessions!

Success in these processes has become our current achievement. All has changed very quickly & happily, rather more smoothly than expected as our work shifted into higher gear. You see, there was a couple who had leased a house on the Island while they searched for the right home for themselves… That home turned out to be Soundcliff, which was never actually listed & shown only twice… the market is still very active because of the rare bucolic qualities of Vashon and urban pandemic jitters.

We cleared from this…
& this…
To this…
The bedroom sported a custom bed platform which allowed us to sit up into the view to read or write while observing the magical views of water, mountain & weather… Ultimately, we salvaged the big drawers to use in the dressing room of the condo.
As the “bones” of the house were revealed, some bits of its “skin” became more evident… like the painted “sky” ceiling of the kitchen, the patina on the old fir floor of the living room & the painted mosaic kitchen floor by Galen Garwood.
The well-worn couch, which held memories of many conversations over cocktails, cuddles & naps, was one of the last pieces of furniture to find a new home… leaking down feathers all the way.

There is no way to describe the months of wild emotional processes & simply difficult labor which it took to get us through it all & out the door the last time. Whew!

We do, however, look forward to being invited back for a visit when Elizabeth & Keith have put their new notions on Soundcliff .

Our life continues as “adventure, not predicament” in a new venue…which we’re calling Huitieme Ciel. More to come.

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