Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live in a house with my horses. I’ve designed such houses for as long as I can remember.  Most of the houses were Spanish in design-California Spanish, adobe or stone, red tile roofs, red tile floors. My favorite was an open square with a huge  courtyard- 60’x120′- perfect dressage ring in the middle. It often had a blue splashing fountain in the middle that one had to maneuver around. The ground was compacted clay with a deep bed of soft shavings to fall in. Messy in the winter rains, but what the hell.

One of the sixty foot  sides of the square was the barn- stalls, feed room, tack room-all the stalls opened both to the outside and to the courtyard so the horses could hang their heads over the doors and watch schooling. I always had the idea they learned from watching. The land, of course, meandered  on for miles through sweet-smelling clover pastures and singing hills with bridle paths.

One of the hundred and twenty-foot sides was a ten foot high tile wall covered with ivy and  capped with tile.  The other long side was house. Living room, library, bedrooms and  baths. The other short side was utility.

A child’s dream. To happen, of course,  when my father struck oil.

Forty years later along came Kauai.

How the land ownership came about is a story in itself, but for now, it did. Four strange acres. What wasn’t under water when it rained was straight up and down. But as I explored I found vistas so secret and beautiful, I fell in love. My Spanish horcienda was out of the question, so a different vision blossomed.  But now, a married grown up,  two people were involved.  What was Bill going to say  about living in a barn?   I sketched. I dreamed.  A long racing barn.  Two stalls at one end for horses, rooms for humans at the other. A hundred foot ‘covered walk’ down the entire front  so with the horses’ heads poked over their doors and human heads munching at the other, we could watch each other graze. I dropped my vision in Bill’s lap and ran.

“Wait’ll you see that covered walk,” he said.

I had a go.

With a little outside help, we began a big  do-it-yourselfer. I learned to be a roofer, but Bill said, “After a coffee break, I have to retrain her.”

Three years and one hurricane later we moved in. No doors, no windows, one light bulb on a long cord, and a romantic mosquito net covered hand-crafted four-poster to sleep in. We moved in in September and Bill was diagnosed with incurable cancer in October.

He died here two years later. July 5, 1985. On July 12, 1985, on a stunningly still and beautiful blue, cloudless, breathless  Kauai afternoon he scribbled DUX  in the sky for me.

So it wasn’t the end of the story. It was the beginning. Creat’a’life on Kauai? You betcha.


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