The bank produced a copy of the deed. Moving must now be accepted as inevitible.

We’ve been in Prineville for eleven years. I want to understand the rhythms of Paul’s and my lives together, so I decided to look at our path, year-by-year, and note the defining points.

1992-93: Paul takes a trip around the United States with his buddy. I go to college for a semester in Costa Rica. We meet at the end of our trips. We move to Black Butte to work for the summer. In the fall, I continue school at George Fox. Paul starts school at Mt. Hood Community College, living with Donald in Gresham and restoring antiques for a side job. We meet in Portland to talk all night in the cafes, drinking tea and discussing poetry and life and our future. We decide to be adventurous and travel and wait to have kids. We read A Severe Mercy and Emily Dickinson. Paul reads Walden and I read Celebration of Discipline.

1994: I graduate with a BA in writing and literature. I travel in Europe with my sister for a month. Paul works a variety of jobs and attends college. We marry in August. We honeymoon for two weeks by camping in the back of a little truck all over the northwest — all the way to Glacier, Montana. Paul starts reading the writings of John Muir.

1995: I write for the Newberg Graphic for a pittance while Paul continues college. We have no furniture but our bikes in the living room. We take naps in the sun in front of the sliding glass door of our apartment — like cats. I bike to work. Paul bikes to school. After tiring of working for so little I go back to school to get a teaching degree. Bad idea. The debt will haunt us for the next umpteen years. We move to Portland to live in a studio apartment with my aunt and uncle and Donald.

Paul sea kayaks for a month in the Sea of Cortes. He also snowshoes for a couple of weeks in the Bitterroot Mountains.

1996: Paul graduates with a BS in biology. Decides to get his masters in teaching. Now our bad idea has doubled — no, it has squared when you consider the interest we will pay. We move to Forest Grove for my first teaching job in Hillsboro, teaching ESL and language arts. I travel to Canada with my family. I don’t realize that I’m pregnant. I come back and take temp jobs at KOIN 6 during the summer. I discover I’m pregnant. I have no idea how drastically my life will change with this baby. I plan to have the baby and return to work after the allowed time off.

About six months I realize there’s only one way that baby’s coming out. It hits me that I can’t back out of the deal. I never regret it but I’m just showing my lack of forethought.

1997: Elsa is born on Spring Break in March. I take the rest of the year off and decide not to go back to work. Paul graduates with his M.A.T. and gets a job in Umatilla. We briefly move to my parent’s place before moving to an apartment in Umatilla.

1998: We buy a house in Hermiston and move into it.

My grandparents fly all their kids, spouses, and grandkids and spouses to Chile. My grandparents were missionaries in Chile for ten years. We’re there for two weeks.

During the summer, Paul works for a youth corps — exploring the sloughs, marshes, rivers and refuges of the area. At Christmas break, Greta is born.

After several attempts and hundreds of dollars, Paul dances around the passing test score for teaching biology in Oregon until he gives up in disgust. His scores are accepted in every other state but Oregon. Later, multiple kids testify that he’s the best teacher they ever had — but testimonies don’t count for sh–  in the public school system.

We have to rent the house because it doesn’t sell.

1999: We move to Texas to work for a children’s service as home parents. We return to Oregon six months later. We hated the job and missed the northwest. We move to Central Oregon (poverty with a view) because Paul’s always loved it. We live with his parents while he looks for work.

2000: We ring in the New Millenium at my aunt’s and uncle’s house in California with a terrific party. Then, we return to Central Oregon. Miraculously, Paul finds work as a teacher in January at Mt. Bachelor Academy — a private, emotional-growth school for wealthy, troubled teens. Paul teaches biology, P.E., and art. We rent a little house in Prineville and Paul catches the shuttle to get to school — it’s a half-hour to summit the Ochoco Mountains where the school is located.

2001: Our renters move out of the Hermiston house and our meager salary is strapped with a house payment, a school payment, and a rent payment. We buy a flooded trailer in a trailer park for a few thousand bucks and Paul remodels the interior. We move there. I work part-time up at the school for awhile.

2002: Paul decides to try public school again because of the pay increase. We sell the trailer (It’s the only real estate we’ve made money on). We move to La Center, Washington. Paul teaches in Battle Ground as a physical science teacher.

I gain weight and battle the doldrums. Paul struggles with job. Ingrid is born. Paul realizes he loves the alternative setting of Mt. Bachelor Academy and, after another brief stint at my parents’ house, we return there. We briefly move in with his brother in Bend before moving to a little cabin next to the school — a little cabin in the Ochoco Mountains. Elsa is five, Greta is three, and Ingrid is three months.

I call TSPC and, amazingly, Paul’s test scores have been considered passing for some time now. Paul gets his teaching license.

2003: Dagne is born. Paul’s old friend, Jason moves to town with his family and we all form a close friendship.

2002-2007: I experiment with a variety of philosophies for homeschooling while Paul works next door at the school. He helps to run Mountain Classroom trips in Eastern California and Interventions on a ranch in Mitchell.  We also travel to Padre Island, Texas via Arizona for a birding expedition. We visit Malheur yearly and teach birding to our girls. Paul cross-country skis. We hike and identify wildflowers. The girls grow up next to a creek and swing from the aspen trees. We observe chicadees and nuthatches from our window. Paul and Jason canoe a stretch of the river each year. We sled in the winter and hunt for fossils in the summer. We lose our dog to a cougar. We observe nesting ospreys each year. We see elk and owls and coyotes on a regular basis. Every night, we admire the stars from our hot tub.

It is the most settled and happy time of our lives. We develop our philosophy about food, cooking, living, spirituality, raising kids, living green, marriage — here is where we solidify our ideas about so much. I begin entertaining ideas again about writing. I sell my first magazine article. Paul is commissioned to do several portraits for the school as well as for private parties. He sells his first art piece in a gallery.

Paul reads books and articles on alternative building. We dream of building an alternative home. We design our home. Paul builds the house while working full time. Our life is dominated by the project for two years.

Paul works with students to create a guide for identifying flowers in the Ochocos. He also designs a cordwood greenhouse and coordinates students in building it.

2007: We move in to our new home, still unfinished. We are offered $50,000 in equity on our home — the bank just calls us and offers it —  but we decide to wait. Paul pulls all-nighters finishing the floors — tiling, grouting, laying wood, finishing the wood floors, etc.

2008: The bubble pops. The economy spins in a downward spiral.

2008-2009: We struggle to hold onto our investment by both of us working full time in the public school system. We barely pay our bills. At the end of the year, both of us are riffed. Mt. Bachelor closes down.

We become closer friends with Heather, who lives around the corner. We host multiple get-togethers with family and friends — dreamlining and hoping for a better future.

2010-2011: Paul and I work several part-time jobs, seeking modifications for the house and solutions for our unemployment. Paul takes the older girls on Mountain Classroom on his way to his grandma’s house in Texas to build a garage. The older girls tour the southern plantations and experience Texas for a month before flying home.

I publish more magazine articles. I fly to New York for a weekend and I’m inspired by the art and the Big Apple.

Paul and I get our passports.

We toy with the idea of leaving on a states’ trip with the kids. I get offered two jobs and I start this blog. I turn down both jobs and leave for Italy instead. I blog about the trip and gain confidence and discipline with writing every week.

I return and get offered the Spanish job. I reluctantly take it and, with mixed feelings, I lose the job.

Today: I’m going to fill out the paperwork to get passports for the kids.

Spring, 2011: A short-sale for the house is negotiated. Paul and Danielle …



  1. Great post! I remember all of those times, all good memories, but definately lots of trials and tribulations. I miss so much of those times, I fear the future, but I know happiness is to come.


  2. Happiness is often found in the simple things when we are unable to fill our lives with things that distract us from our families. I have noticed this pattern in my life and in this post of yours. I have experienced hardship and heartbreak but in the end have been blessed throughout the experience. How many days did I spend crying about not being able to be pregnant, I cannot count? But God in his wisdom when I thought I could not take it anymore blessed me with Max and Nikolai. Imagining what their lives would be like without me is unfathomable. God used my pain to bring them from the depths of despair to a place of joy and peace.

    Your girls do not need anything but you and Paul together. Everything else is dessert. Your family blesses everyone they surround. The pain of having to give up on your house/dream will subside, trust me. And then you will have the opportunity to dream again and be blessed through that dream.

    Love you all.


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