We saw the house in September of 2016. It was a horrible house buying experience including identity theft, having to go through two different lenders but it was so complicated it’s too exhausting to share all the horrible details.

And I won’t even start on the movers and how that turned into a waste of money and a loss of all of the special items and the breakage of so much. And then freelance workers the moving company hired to move our good from the truck to the house didn’t show up.

Never move from sunny Hawaii to gloomy Oshkosh in March when you have a level ten headache and are suicidal. Man, that was bad timing.

Today marks seven years of living in Oshkosh.

We decided to book two nights at a hotel because I did not know when things would arrive. I was so tired of spending money that we opted for the affordable hotel option. How bad could it be? So much worse than you want to know.

I guess my first clue was the front desk clerk snorting coke at the front desk. When I asked about the elevator she said, “If you wanted an elevator you should have went to a better hotel.”

We hauled everything we owned up those stupid stairs I was afraid the brand new car we bought in Milwaukee would be broken into. We actually had the rental and the new car.

My son had the house key because I had the realtor give it to him because he ended up having to help unload all of our broken belongings when the movers flaked.

Before we went to the hotel, we picked up the key and went into the house we had chosen so many months before. Gary fiddled with the ancient thermostat and we left.

The next day we tried with limited success to buy blankets, clothing, and boots. We kept getting told they only had spring merchandise on the shelves. We went back to the slum hotel for night two. Night three we slept in our own home. Amazon.com was exactly on time with the bed we ordered. Spectrum came to install the internet and cable. They came early! Yeah, last good thing to say about them.

Our house was freezing! Turns out Gary turned the thermostat off. The first night we slept there it was 44 degrees. We learned you can’t run the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time.

Did I mention it was windy? It was the windiest March in forever, broke all kinds of records, and tractor trailers went rolling down the streets. Our chimney cap flew off. Gary went down to the cellar to get the power back on. The Dorothy door flew off and tumbled around the yard. I slept in summer clothes huddled under not enough blankets and cried and cried.

Moving is hard. Moving with 24/7 headaches and a fear of driving is even more difficult. Roundabouts are still evil. Fighting with the moving company. So many fights. It’s been seven years of more projects than can really be possible, decorating, finding out what I don’t know, and trying to carve out a life in a place that was just a name of a clothing company before my son and his family moved here.

I am proud to be a member of the Oshkosh Rotary Southwest and the Oshkosh Public Library has truly saved my life in so many ways here. Oshkosh Jazz Festival and the growing music scene here has been a surprising gift. We have delightful resale and consignment shops, and I have lots of beauty in my home because of them. It has truly saved my sanity.

Gary has had prostate removal, a hip and two knees replaced, and cataracts removed. I am doing surgery number three on the eyelids that were so damaged during the 2015 wreck. I really need this to be the last one.

People ask do I like living in Wisconsin. Now that it’s warmer and more functional I love our home. Coconut is a joy. I like the unique-to-me architecture, the character homes, and beautiful church buildings.

I get asked a lot if I miss Hawaii. Every single day something happens and I miss it. The diversity, the food, the beauty, the breathtaking views, the ocean. I have never had to work so hard to find community as here in Oshkosh. But I have found people of value here and ways to make a difference in our new community.

This is the introduction to my first rescue dog book. It seems fitting to end with this. I can honestly say that I would not be alive today if Coconut had not rescued me

My life is full of never statements.

I will never kiss a boy. I will never get married. I will never forgive him for what he did. I will never get married again. Or again. I will never live in the Midwest again. I will never own a dog. I will never, ever write another book.

When a person says he or she will never do something again, some- one typically chimes in with the idiom, “never say never.” Maybe people are prone to changing their minds. I think more often than not in the course of living, things happen. It could be the choices we make or the actions of others that put us on a radically different path than we planned, and those never statements come back to laugh in our faces.

This is a book about never saying never, life happening, and dogs. It’s mostly about dogs. But it’s also a book of stories rooted in my life and my journey to this weird place of being married, living in the Midwest, having a dog, writing about thousands more dogs, and somehow being mostly okay with never somehow becoming forever.