And So It Goes….

Hook rd
Home Sweet Home – Our Vermont gravel road

A very musically talented friend of mine recently posted a beautiful choral rendition of Billy Joel’s “And so it goes” tune on her Facebook page.  The song is a tribute to unrequited love, and an affirmation to try again. While this blog post has little to do with this heartbreaking theme, I thought the title of the song was appropriate for my current blog post.  And, upon reflection, perhaps I do see some parallels to my current situation embedded in the lyrics of this song!  My love affair with a self-imposed nomadic life-style has temporarily come to a halt, albeit with the promise of a new beginning in the spring!  If you’ve never heard The King’s Singers version of this melody, here’s a link.  Enjoy!

Since the End of September

We’ve been back in the east since the last week in September.  If you’ve been following me, you know my last post ended with our arrival in New Hampshire.  Our first priority was getting the Airstream settled into its winter home at my son, Leif’s, house in southern New Hampshire.  While there, we spent some time helping him and his wife with some remodeling projects.  It was so much fun to be with them once again, and lending a helping hand.

Jim laying strip flooring
Jim and I assisted in laying some birch strip flooring in two of the upstairs bedrooms – very rewarding work!

One of the highlights of the visit was assisting my daughter-in-law, Jeannie, with a dinner party she was hosting for some of her co-workers.  The dinner guests were almost all immigrants to our country representing several different parts of the world – from Belarus to Syria to Sri Lanka.  We enjoyed visiting with this very culturally diverse and intelligent group.  Chatting with these folks was both refreshing and eye-opening.  What if we all developed a more universal mindset – one that preserves the uniqueness of our individual nations, but also recognizes that we are all citizens of the Earth and, as such, dependent on one another.  I consider everyone on Earth to have dual citizenship – to your native country and to the global community.  If only we could all feel this way, and not lapse into self-indulgence and isolationism.  What a world we could envision!  Okay – enough philosophizing for now…..

Back in Vermont

Inevitably, we had to break ourselves away from southern New Hampshire and come home to Vermont.  Why in the world did we choose to return to Vermont for the winter, you ask?  I’m still trying to answer this very same question!

Truthfully, “re-entering” into a sedentary life, and facing the decision-making process we ultimately must focus on, was a bit unsettling for me.  I did not adjust well!  We came east and decided to hunker down for the winter at home for two main reasons – 1.) take care of some medical concerns, and 2.) make some potentially life-altering, but necessary decisions. The medical reason is by far the easiest to deal with – although that has been fraught with its own stress-inducing moments!

Those darn medical appointments!

I have experienced deteriorating vision for a couple of years now due to premature cataracts.  While the diagnosis came just before we were heading off on our nomadic adventure, I was assured that it would probably be 20 years or more before I would actually need surgery.  Well, it turns out that I’m one of the few who experience a more rapid decline of eyesight – and so it goes!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be facing cataract surgery in my early 60’s.  Due to a few setbacks, my surgery is not scheduled until March, assuming all goes well with testing over the next month.  The positive spin on all of this – I will be glasses free, at least for distance, for the first time since the 3rd grade, and everything should be completed in time for our next summer adventure.

Decisions, decisions!

Our other major challenge this winter is to make some critical decisions regarding our property here in Vermont.  For some full-time RVer’s, there was no question they would sell everything before hitting the road, and their RV is their full-time home.  For others, that path is not so cut and dry.  In essence, they become part-time RVer’s with a physical home base.  We know folks who are in both worlds – some who live full-time in their RV, some who will always have a sticks and brick abode, and others who postpone the decision to liquidate their property in order to be sure that the nomadic lifestyle suits them.  We fit into the later group.  We decided to hit the road, knowing we would have to return at some point and face the music – and so it goes!

Rver’s who decide to keep a home base have varied personal reasons for choosing this route.  There are plenty of articles out there on this subject.  Two main arguments include:

  • Keeping a place close to family and maintaining the security of having a place to fall back on, a place for storing stuff and working on hobbies, crafts, etc.
  • Using the property as a source of income

For us, we were not ready to make a decision to sell or rent, initially.  We knew that if we waited until all the projects were done, and the time was right to sell – that the time would never be right.  That’s just how we operate.  (or at least how one-half of the duo operates, which impacts both of us!)  It’s expensive to keep a home that you are rarely using – insurance, maintenance, utilities and taxes – all add up over the course of a year. Even though we work while traveling, it’s difficult to produce enough income to cover the cost of a property we are not living in full-time.  Especially if that property is in a cold, northern climate, which has its own unique challenges.  Add to that the stress of worrying about everything while you are away – and well, you get my point.

If one is retired and has a sufficient pension or retirement income that allows for travel and maintaining a property, then the decision is a little easier.  If you don’t fit into that category, then keeping a home base becomes more problematic.  Since we have not retired from pension-generating jobs, and are not ready to dip into our retirement savings, we have some soul-searching to do and some decisions to make moving forward.

In order to prepare ourselves for whatever decision we ultimately reach, there are some projects to complete, some minor remodeling/face-lifting that needs finished, and, here’s the scary part, some major cleaning up and out of all the STUFF we’ve accumulated over the past 18 years.  So, that brings us to our other main reason for coming back to Vermont this winter.

Some fall photos of garden and indoor plants!

House Renovation and Projects

The weather was good when we first returned in early October so we prioritized outdoor projects and got to work.  Some of the outdoor work includes:

  • Finishing the cedar shingle roof on our garden shed and grading the soil around the perimeter
  • Painting the walls and ceiling on our back porch and installing two new porch lights. I did this completely on my own, and am proud of my electrical wiring accomplishment 😊
  • Weeding the front perennial garden, transplanting and removing plants as needed
  • Continuing with completing the detached garage/workshop siding – working on the north side now. I pre-stained boards and Jim did most of the rest of this work, including installing a window on the second floor.  He has started to work his way up the wall with siding, but then winter reared its ugly head (and I DO mean ugly!).  It’s been the coldest winter we’ve ever experienced in Vermont.  This put a halt to siding work until better weather.
  • Completing an actual set of stairs to the second floor of the garage instead of using a ladder 😊 Way to go Jim – how did we live without these!
  • Fixing some minor issues with the chimney (with some challenging weather issues that made for a very slippery roof!)

Eventually, we had to move completely indoors.  We’ve been tackling some minor remodeling and painting projects.  These include:

  • Scraping off the awful “popcorn” ceiling we inherited with the house in the living room, dining room and kitchen. We have completed the largest room, the living room, as of this writing.
  • Painting over the “fake” paneling that we also inherited with the house, in the living room. Along with this, we needed to  improve some of the existing trim.
  • Cleaning out and painting the pantry closet in the laundry room.
  • Sorting out all our STUFF and reducing/eliminating the clutter that has accumulated over the years. This is by far the most time-consuming and difficult task.

What else?

It may seem like the above-mentioned task list is keeping us in constant motion.  And, for the most part, that is true.  We have actually found some time for other endeavors.  As is usually the case, I have added more to my list than Jim.  I have always been the one with more outside interests – so to speak.  These time-consuming additional activities include:

  • Working a full-time, seasonal job during the months of Nov/Dec in New Hampshire (for a major outdoor clothing and gear retailer). That significantly cut into my time for home projects until January.  It did however pay some bills!
  • Writing a couple of articles, one that was published so far, in a popular RVer’s magazine.
  • Participating in two online photography classes – one that is on demand, and the other that is an intensive, live streaming class.
  • Applying for potential jobs for the summer season. I’m happy to report that we had multiple options (and still more pouring in), and I have accepted a much-sought-after position that will keep us on the East coast this summer.  Nice to have a plan mapped out so I can concentrate on other things.
  • Researching other potential streams of income – you cannot imagine all the creative ideas I’ve entertained! Some may just come to fruition at some point in the near future….
  • Listing items that need attention regarding the Airstream before our next trip
  • Taking endless walks along my back country roads

Jim has been steadily getting many of the projects completed, but has also found time to enjoy some other fun activities.

  • Starting a new cedar strip canoe. He generally putters about with this project in the evenings.
  • Playing pick-up ice hockey at the community rink in town 2 -3 nights/days per week.

We’ve both enjoyed the time we’ve had this winter to visit with family and friends – some of whom are experiencing their own transitions and changes – in different ways from us, but changes nonetheless.  Can’t wait to see what the future holds!

And So It Goes…….

Hockey day with family and friends over holidays!

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Enjoying my front garden once again during a balmy October morning

6 Comments on “And So It Goes….

  1. And so what was the decision on what you plan to do with the house, short term anyway?

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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    • Well……you noticed that I was non-committal 😉 We are proceeding as if to sell, and will make the ultimate decision further on towards spring. That’s the best I can do!

      Like

  2. Standing applause for your comments about engaging immigrant residents and the world community. These experiences interacting with others who are “different” can broaden your diversity horizon as many Vermonter’s discovered during the Montpelier open state house meetings which occurred prior to passing our “civil unions” legislation which ultimately was expanded to include gay marriage.

    Recently at a “Big Box building supplier” across the river in NH i had an interesting encounter with a very blue collar employee who related his military experience in Thailand where he spent his off duty time with a local resident exploring the unique features of the countryside. We both agreed those experiences can be life changing if we only are open to making them available.

    Stewart

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    • Thanks Stewart – talking with these young adults at an informal dinner was just such a great moment for me. You never know when a moment in time will capture your heart and bring such inspiration and hope for the future.

      Like

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