Today marks a decade since I moved to Hooterville! Can you believe it? So much has happened since the day my brothers drove the truck full of my things and stuff up the highway and the curving roads while I followed with a howling and indignant Audrey. It was a long drive.

It was a big adjustment, going from city life to country life, and it was hard at first. But now I wouldn’t move back to San Francisco, even if I were the zillionaire such a move would require. I love living in the woods, with the loudest sound the wind in the trees and bird songs. And the San Francisco I knew and loved is gone.

A lot has changed in the past ten years. I lost no fewer than three beloved cats: the exquisite June (Audrey’s sister); ancient, scrappy little Henry Etta, who I brought with me from Oakhampton; and the irreplaceable Roscoe (Clyde’s brother). It’s no coincidence that my current feline line up of Audrey, Clyde, and Dodge are not allowed outside. That’s where the monsters are, and I am avoiding them like the plague they are.

During the time I have been here, my sister lost her beloved Schatzi, our last link to our mother, and her sweet cat Ramona. She still has Ramona’s sister, the beautiful Harriet, going strong at 18 years old. Along the way, we trekked to Colusa to rescue her dog Star, whom Megan ending up adopting, who was later joined by the inimitable Stella. Star is always so happy to see me that I am secretly convinced that she remembers I was there with Megan on the day she was saved and her perfect life began.

My sister moved away from the property we both lived on to the one where our brother lives. Things were never quite the same. My former landlord moved away without letting me know, and I moved a few months later. I love my new, beautiful, and let’s face it, improved house, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my quirky old place, despite all its eccentricities, even though I am much happier at the new place. It still seems like a dream after five months of living there.

My brother adopted his adorable and fierce mini cat, Scout, and fell in love with his lovely girlfriend Rio. He is happier with her than I have ever seen him. And she makes up for our lack of reproducing by having four adult kids and three small grandchildren.

Wells were dug at the family estate, and an epic garden and orchard, now an acre in size, were built and fenced (and then electrified to bear proof it) on the inhospitable pygmy soil. It is now a thing of beauty and a wonder to behold.

Erica and Jessica moved away following a family tragedy, and I miss them every day. The good news is that they are in the process of moving a little closer, to Portland, so I’m hoping to see them at least once a year. I miss them.

I finally got divorced after a long separation. I believe that now John and I have been apart longer than we were married. But he still means a great deal to me and I will always love him. We are in touch nearly every day. I am trying to support him as best I can through cancer treatments for one of his beloved cats. And if he called me at 2 am and needed bail, help burying a body, or a ride somewhere I’d grab my keys and be out the door. I don’t consider our relationship to be a failure.

I got a new (to me) car, which carries me to the Big Town nearly every day. I estimate I drive 250 miles a week, just to work and back. I also have a less new job, of nearly five years’ standing, which I acquired when the business my partner and I built and poured all our time, dedication, and money into disappeared, taking my livelihood and career with it. It was hard to recover from that devastation, and in some ways I am still working on it, but I am grateful I found this job when I needed it. Before the job, I had the jobette, which is sadly long gone now, but the friendships I made there remain.

I wonder what the next ten years will bring? Whatever it is, it will be unexpected. Some of it will be great, some of it will be horrible, and through it all, I will have my family and my friends.

A YEAR AGO: A sleepover with Jessica.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My fifth anniversary in beautiful Hooterville.

TEN YEARS AGO: I think you know.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Getting a call from the dry cleaner. Now I live where there is no dry cleaner.

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