More than 20 years ago, a 70-year-old gentleman reiterated his familiar advice to his son and daughter-in-law: you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. That had always been his motto in life, and he had accomplished a great deal. In 1948, he and his brother founded Pacific Window Cleaning in Seattle. The Kessler brothers became known as “the best in the business,” cleaning all varieties of windows: high-rise buildings, hospitals, office parks and storefronts.
In time, the business grew to include hard-working sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons of Bob and Jim, who now clean 1,000,000 windows every year. The son of Bob who received the advice from his dad in the late 1990s was Mark Kessler. Having severely injured his ankle in a work accident, Mark was unable to do much of anything in between the eight complicated surgeries to repair the shattered ankle. Mark and Marge had purchased property in Mazama and were in a dilemma about their plans to build a house on it now that Mark was injured. He had the time, but not the capacity to be a carpenter.
Bob said, “Let me be your hands.” You tell me what to do and together we’ll build that house. Build they did, all week long. Sometimes when Bob couldn’t lift a wall into place, Jack Davelaar — another older neighborhood gentleman — would come and help while Mark gave instructions. A lumber delivery driver coming upon this activity once said, “What? Two old guys and a guy on crutches building this place?”
Every weekend Marge and four children and sundry other friends and relatives who were available drove over the pass to put sweat equity into what became the family gathering place. The home was not a cabin, but a full-fledged 3,200-square-foot, two-story house. Proudly, they finished the handsome home, barn and acres of grounds around it.
For years, they did the part-time shuffle, schlepping over the mountains after work on Friday, dreading the departure on Sunday. Like so many in the valley, they dreamed of the day that they could stay permanently under the shadow of the North Cascade Watchers.
The day finally came when they made the move and as Marge says, “The Mazama project changed the course of their family.” They cherished what they all accomplished together and enjoyed every minute in the home that everyone had a hand in building.
Like a river flowing downstream, life is constantly changing. A few years ago, Mark left the cold and snow of Mazama winter to golf in Palm Springs for three weeks. It happened to be one of the coldest, snowiest winters the valley had experienced in a while. Mark made the mistake of sending Marge a photo of him and his buddies sipping margaritas under the azure California sky, drenched in sunlight.
Shoveling another foot of new-fallen snow, Marge vowed that it was time to look at another change. She did not want to spend another frigid, snowbound winter in Mazama. So, they became snowbirds, spending two or three months in Arizona during the dark days of Methow winter, returning to enjoy the spectacular spring, summer, fall and early winter in Mazama.
However, the draw to go south permanently grew stronger. Family discussions finally reached a consensus that, yes, everyone was okay with selling the property after Mark and Marge had lived there full-time for 11 years.
Last week, we visited the Kesslers in their sparkling new desert home, tucked up against the White Tank Mountains in Verrado (Buckeye), Arizona. Gorgeously decorated and awaiting completion of a pool that promises to be magnificent, they are settled into a new place they now call home.
With a steady dose of sunshine, two nearby golf courses, hiking trails, and an easy plane flight for friends and family visitors, they are “happy campers.” In fact, Marge describes moving into the new neighborhood akin to going to summer camp. Retirees from all over have settled there and everyone is seeking to meet the new people who make up their fledgling community.
Mark plans to plant two fruit trees as, try as he might, he could never get them to grow in Mazama. He checks Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe webcam thermometer in Winthrop regularly to then savor the Arizona warmth even more.
But, Marge gestures and shares that “their hearts will always be in Mazama.” New west side part-timers are now experiencing the weekend/holiday trek and making the Kessler home theirs. The tree swing still hangs on the big tree in the backyard, a memory of the happy times the Kessler clan spent there.
Mazama event coming up: Methow Valley Ski for Women before the Super Bowl on (Sunday) Feb. 2. Women and girls of all ages and skiing abilities are encouraged to participate by donation with proceeds benefiting Room One. Trail fees waived by Methow Trails. Costumes are not required, but encouraged. Details on Methow Trails website. Join in the fun!