“Suenos de Amor”, ”Dreams of Love”, the old red house needed some work. First, we replaced the missing stones in the foundation to keep the animals out of the basement. Second, we took down the brick chimney and replaced it with a lined cement block chimney. Of course, when the house was built, they staggered the chimney and sat the main house beam on it. The beam never moved when we took down the chimney, but staggering the cement blocks was a trip. Third, we installed a metalbestos chimney in the kitchen. With a woodstove in the cellar and a woodstove in the kitchen it was warm enough downstairs. Of course, you could still see your breath in the mornings upstairs. Mel wrote poetry by the stove in the cellar during the day.
Next to our house was another house with a detached barn from the same period. The town voted to buy the property and build a septic system for the village. When they came to clear the buildings, the old house went quickly and easily. The old post and beam barn was another matter. Assembled and pegged with green hemlock, it had welded itself together over the hundred plus years since it was built. It refused to fall down after the first cut of several strategic joints. They finally had to disassemble it piece by piece.
We had employment opportunites as a teacher in Sitka, Alaska; Fort Collins, Colorado; Claremont, New Hampshire; Bellows Falls. Vermont; and Bradford, Vermont. After much soul searching, we chose Bradford. We bought a house just across the Connecticut River in Piermont, New Hampshire, an easy commute to Bradford High School. The house, built in 1874, was beautiful. Built into a hill with an attached barn, it was a full two stories from the back.
The road from El Paso to Cloudcroft, New Mexico, went north through the desert up the Rio Grande river valley. After many miles we turned east and drove toward the mountains. The road went through a tunnel where the landscape changed from desert to forested mountains. We were always so excited. It was a sylvan song. When it came time to leave everyone was ready except for Mao, our dark brown Burmese cat. He would disappear up the mountain and watch us call, coax, and plead for him to come. Eventually, one of us would find him and carry him to the car. He loved camping!
Mel's pregnancy prompted several readjustments. First we moved to an apartment in an old downtown mansion which was uncomfortably cold. Then we found a very warm apartment in an old but once fashionable building, also down town, a block from Hotel Dieu Hospital. When Mel went to the hospital to have our son, we signaled one another with flashlights after dark. I went to night school and became certified to teach. I took a position at San Elizario High School where I taught English and Spanish. To escape the city we went camping in the mountains in New Mexico with the dog and cat. Our young son sometimes needed help on our hikes.