I fell asleep with no problems whatsoever, got caught up in some intense dreaming until just before 11:00 and woke up feeling rested and refreshed. I think I’m back in step now; I’ll just have to avoid the urge to nap after dinner. As soon as I can, I’m buying a treadmill. It’s something everyone in the house can use and I’ll definitely get my use out of it. Hopefully, some new work I’ve been offered will come through soon...

A cynical feeling I had yesterday has lifted. Wonder what the hell that was? I always listen to these inner messages, but I thing that sometimes they’re just left over funk from other situations. Perhaps yesterday’s was just the last dregs of my recent illness, I don’t know, but today I feel better about the things that are going on in my life. And I should be. Nothing’s sucking right now. More precisely, everything is incredibly wonderful!

We just signed and turned in our final two-year lease with our landlord. We started leasing from him in August 2000; a nice little house over on Virginia Avenue, where our yard was visited by box turtles, rabbits, deer and fox and where we liked to sit on the front porch on summer nights, watching the fireflies.

In 2004 we moved into our current house, a new, beautiful 2800-sf place even more in the country, but in a private, seven-house development. Fireflies are hard to come by out here, but because we’re nestled between Boomer lake and two large ponds, we get plenty of mosquitoes. And the only wildlife I’ve seen here are rabbits and stray cats. There are a lot of birds, but I no longer see my beloved cardinals, a breed that used to nest in the cedar grove across Virginia Avenue from our last house. You have to understand that in California there are no cardinals or fireflies, even in the Santa Ynez Valley where I grew up on a ranch. These simple things make me happy. Anyway, we’re now contracted to stay in this house until July 29, 2009.

I remember one warm summer night in particular when Nettl and I sat on the front porch of the Virginia house and contemplated buying it. We talked about the picket fence we would put up, the room we’d build above the garage, and the French doors we’d install off of the living room. Staying in Stillwater didn’t seem like such a bad idea back then, or after we moved into this house and thought about staying here. After all, when you’re with the one you love and have family and friends, one place is as good as another. Then we went to Vienna—a second trip for both of us. As we sat in one of our favorite cafes, we realized that Oklahoma would never be an option. Never was, really. There was no going back to the small-town mindset to which we’d adapted due to wanting to raise out kids in a relatively safe and homespun area.

So now we begin preparing for life as a couple, sans kids and elderly parents. This stage of my life is drawing to a close and, although I had a difficult time adjusting to raising a second family in my 50s, I find I’m already hurting. Next school term it’ll just be the girls, and the year after that it’ll just be Heather, then, the evitable will happen: they’ll all be out. This family phase of my life didn’t last very long, but I’m so happy I got to experience it. And I guess I’ll be able to look forward to the kids coming home with their new families when that time comes, but for now, I’m still planning menus, closing toilet lids, wiping fingerprints off of the fridge door and wondering who drank my apple juice.