Moving into a new home is like trying to figure out a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, one in which some of the pieces are confusingly similar. Even with the books on the bookshelves and the clothes in the closet, there are a whole lot of other things that are still wondering where to go. And what looked like a place with ample storage is less so when you take into account that much of the shelving is too high for much practical use, at least by someone who is just a couple of inches over five feet tall.

Whoever designed the space was a lot taller than that. There are hooks behind the door in the master bath that I need a stepladder to reach. Fortunately, I’m not using that bathroom for showering and such as the master bedroom is slowly becoming my office. The hooks in the other bathroom, I can reach those by standing on my toes. Makes me stretch, so that’s a good thing.

My Christmas cactuses are also having some trouble fitting themselves into the space. They are simultaneously blooming and wilting. They seemed to be undisturbed by the trip here in my backseat and I felt good about putting them in front of a window through which bright sun shines for many hours of many days. It’s a southern exposure, which is what they had in Seattle, so I thought they would be happy there, especially with no trees right outside to filter and block the light.

Encouraged by the buds and the blooms, thinking at first that the purpling and thinning of their leaves were simply signs of adjustment issues, I didn’t fret much about them for the first few weeks. But when they started dropping branches (or whatever you call them on a Christmas cactus), I got concerned. I would be so sorry if I’d carted them halfway across the country to a place where they couldn’t thrive.

There is something poignant about a plant that looks like it’s on its last legs while putting forth exuberant pink blossoms. It turns out that “too much direct sunlight can cause a number of problems such as your Christmas cactus turning purple and wilting, sunburn on the edges of the leaves and an all-round sad, drooping and unhealthy looking plant.” So it seems that those Seattle clouds and the trees filtering the light helped create a perfect environment for them and they flourished there for many years. Here, even on overcast days, the sky is often unrelentingly bright.

They have been moved to my soon-to-be office. It has an eastern exposure so the sun is gone by midday. I think they’re starting to perk up a little. And the truth is, I think I’ll perk up too when I can work at my desk and not at the kitchen island directly across from those southern windows through which all that light streams in at me all afternoon. It’s getting to be time for me to join them in there. Maybe I don’t have to wait until all the puzzle pieces are in place.


  1. You and all your things, esp plants, will find new footing as time goes on and you settle in. Transitions are really hard! My own former resilience is languishing these days and your journey has certainly been “over hill and dale” in grueling ways. It will feel like home in due time. Thank you for having the courage to share your process with us out here.

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  2. Moving and changing the living space in which you are now functioning certainly does present challenges, dear Ruth! I have known you to go through some complicated times before and I have total faith that you will figure out how to deal with these adjustments in time! Sending caring thoughts your way. Ellin

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  3. Finding the arrangement that works for you in a new place often takes time & rearranging. May this process open possibilities as you readjust your lenses to find out what all of this feels like, & what is right for you.
    Much love. Linda

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  4. Ruth, the wilting and perking up of your Christmas cactus plants is a great metaphor for your own process of moving to new space and the growth that will emerge. Sometimes things require a period of dormancy and struggle before fruition can occur. It sucks but is nevertheless a worthwhile process. You will continue to settle in…

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