Helen Hiebert is one of my oldest friends in Portland (not that she is old—our friendship is!). We met because we had a friend in common who makes paper, and so does Helen—in fact, she teaches, lectures and exhibits her work internationally, and is the author of the books Playing With Paper, Papermaking with Plants, The Papermaker’s Companion, and Paper Illuminated. Helen is the vice president of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists and a regular contributor to Hand Papermaking Newsletter. Visit her website at http://www.helenhiebertstudio.com.
On the Relocation Road
By Helen Hiebert
My family and I moved to a resort town in Colorado (not exactly the country) in August. It isn’t something we really planned on doing, and although I like the idea of living on the land, I was not sure that it is something I would be well suited for. This is due to the fact that I am an artist, and running my own business keeps me busy enough (not to mention the family: two kids, a husband and a puppy).
We’d been living in Portland, Oregon, for the past 14 years and both of our children (and puppy) were born there. My husband Ted got a job offer in Avon, Colorado (where Beaver Creek Ski Vacation Resort is located), late last spring, and after weighing the pros and cons, it seemed like we should try it for two reasons:
- We’d debated between Colorado and Oregon when we left New York City in the 1990s in search of a place to start our family.
- It seemed like a good idea for one of us to have a stable income and benefits (Ted has been a freelance writer).
So, after a whirlwind visit in June (when we visited a few towns and saw a few schools) we decided to move.
Many decisions followed: Should we sell or rent our house in Portland? (We sold it.) Which school should we send our kids to? (We chose a charter school with an expeditionary learning philosophy, which has been okay so far, although different states have different learning standards, which has proven a challenge for our kids.) Where should we live? Ted moved out a month before we did and found a nice rental house in Eagle Vail (10 miles west of Vail and 2 miles east of Beaver Creek) that is within walking distance of the kids’ school.
So we’re settled, for now at least. But there is still the dilemma of when and where to buy a home here. That is, if we can afford to. Our rent here is double what our Portland mortgage, and homes in our price range are 10 to 30 miles away, which is another school district! But aside from the high rent, there are many perks to staying here: our rent actually includes most of our utilities (which can be steep in the winter; think “heat”); we don’t have a yard to tend to (no pitchforks in sight!); the kids can walk to school; so far we’ve managed with just one car (though there have been several conflicts); and we live between two of the nation’s premiere ski resorts!
In order to thrive here (while socking away a bit of money to help the kids go to college, pay for our retirement, etc.), I need to pull my weight in income. Thankfully, I’ve had a few projects lined up this year, including my newest book, Playing With Paper, which will be in stores January 1, 2013. I also travel to teach and lecture, which worked out pretty well when Ted was freelancing. Now that he has a full-time job, this has proven more difficult to coordinate with the kid’s schedules, especially since the Denver airport is two hours away.
A woman who was entering my information into the kids’ school database sent me a fan email after looking me up online. We got together, and she ended up offering to share her studio space with me in an old schoolhouse in Red Cliff (elevation 8,600 ft.; population 266). Talk about serendipity! We’ve split the space down the middle, literally. I cut out the carpet on my side so that I can get the floor wet. It is a bit awkward adjusting to a new space (I really liked my detached garage space in Portland), but I trust that things will continue to work out. I just have to be patient and let them unfold as they will.