“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What comes after the mountain top? My wife's plan.


We have been thinking for some time now about "post mountain top" life.  I'm getting to the age where keeping the place up is not only becoming more difficult but outright dangerous.  Falling off the roof at 40 and breaking some ribs was inconvenient and painful.   Cutting a tree limb that was up against the roof and having it swing around and knock me flat a couple of weeks ago has reminded me that I can handle much less now than I could then in the way of physical abuse.

My wife is talking more and more about wanting to go live in a condominium in Florida. She likes one the family owns at Palm Coast, and we could buy out the other shares for a modest price as my siblings all live on the west coast and never use it.  There is a Publix there.  They have a Kroger. They have book stores, and theaters that aren't an hour away, and doctors that aren't two hours on the wrong side of the mountains. There are lots of nice little cafes and restaurants. Palm Coast has malls and women's shops. The condominium has a nice swimming pool right on the beach, and a beautiful strip of beach where we could sit in the swinging benchs they have there and watch the sun come up. We could wade and look for shells.  This is all quite alluring.  If things collapse, she figures we will have had a good run in life and we can just go out together. I have always wondered if she was a Roman in a previous incarnation.

This is the beach at night.  Because the whole strip of beach here belongs to the condominium it's usually pretty deserted, which is nice.

My wife says this is how we should spend our "golden years."  Not up here on the mountains working like slaves.  She asks me why we need a huge house, a barn, a shop, and the apartment when there are just two of us.  I don't really look at it that way but I see her point.


The place is two bedroom, two bath, with a kitchen, dining room and living room. It has it's own little laundry room with a washer and dryer.  In short, it's about the size of a nice motel suite.  So if we move down there, it's going to be us and a couple of suit cases.  M has to work for five more years, so by then she says the ferrets will all have passed away,  but we don't talk much about what happens to the dogs. They will still be living,  I think, and I'm not abandoning my dogs.  M says we can give them to her relatives on the other side of the mountain who have plenty of land. I am not so sure I could do that. But five years is a long time.

All other considerations aside,  she's lived up here on this mountain in the middle of the woods with me since August of 1986.   If she wants to live in a town and that's what will make her happy, is it her turn?  It means a complete quantum shift in our life style and life view if we do that, but maybe that is how it needs to be.

Anyway, you can't tell when you get up in the morning if you'll still be around when the sun sets. Five years is a long time.

30 comments:

  1. I'm lost for words. At least you'd be close to me and the range. But like you said, five years is a long time.

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    1. Condos and apartments are death traps in emergencies, especially long term emergencies. I knew I couldn't live up here forever, and we have to have a plan because it will take time to implement it. Much depends on my son.

      Also, I have another plan, which my wife has indicated a tepid interest in. So there are other possibilities.

      And who knows, in five years we may be living in caves....

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    2. better yet - in 5yrs you and your family might be up here living with us.

      SCORE for kymber and jambaloney!!!!

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  2. I didn't know what else to say either, glad Stephen said it first.

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    1. Well, we are all thinking about what comes next, especially those of us who are "old." It's just not possible to see myself living here in my eighties, I couldn't keep everything functional. The older you get, the harder it is to move. I think 65 would be a good age for the last move if that is what we are going to do.

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  3. Harry - i think that you and your wife's plan is a good one, especially the part about the beach. plus you'd be close to Stephen and a few others. we can totally relate to it getting hard to keep up with all of the buildings and whatnot - we are trying to be as self-sufficient as possible for the next 20yrs or so but we won't be able to do it forever. then we'll probably move into our nearest small town (9,000).

    we all need to have plans and backups for backups, but none of us know where we will be in 5 yrs. i think it helps to be flexible.

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. That's essentially how we are looking at it. This has been the ideal retreat for 30 years. Some people do tough it out to the end. I knew an old man who still plowed with mules. The tourists would stop and take his picture when they saw him out plowing. He made it to his late eighties, and then one day he fell dead behind the plow and they found him laying out in the furrow, while his mule patiently stood there. If I could be sure that's how I'd go, quick and clean, I wouldn't think so much of leaving. Then too, I don't want to leave my wife living up here after I am gone. This is absolutely no place for a widow to live unless she is affiliated with a church. We aren't really joiners so we are not members of that social support group. Probably long term that was a mistake on my part but when I was younger I never wanted any help from anyone and so didn't give it much thought.

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  4. as you say - it pays to have more than one plan, you never know what is around the corner..

    and yes, 5 years is a loooong time, stay the course harry!

    your friend,
    jambaloney

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    1. Odds are, statistically, that you'll be the first to go then you need to be sure Kymber will be ok. When you get older that will put a lot of pressure on you. There was a Roman Admiral named Pliny who said "young men never think of death but when you grow older, death becomes a giant in brazen armor, clanking across the field towards you." I never really understood what he meant until the last few years.

      I'm not about to croak or anything, and five years is a long time. Who knows. Maybe if M goes first I'll live it out here and then have myself buried in a huge mound, with all my goods. They can dig me up in a thousand years and say I was a great and mighty King! I already have a good site, up on the mountain where my ferrets tombs are.

      I need to email you with a couple of questions about how folders work in Windows. Been meaning to but have been juggling a lot just now.

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  5. My take is this...I don't think you will be happy after a year in condo hell. Been there, done that. What about those HOA rules? In a place like that there are big restrictions I am sure. What about the hardware Harry?

    Can you downsize, yet stay out in the country?
    Say it ain't so. --Troy

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    1. I'm not sure I would be happy after a day in a Condo. There's not much room. And as you point out, I'm not used to people telling me what to do. But it seems to be what my wife has her heart set on. I do have another plan we have discussed that I like a lot better, but that will have to wait til another post.

      She wants out of the country. My wife wants all those things that Palm Coast has to offer. More than two grocery stores, A Walmart, and one decent cafe which is about what we have in that line now. We've had good times when we went down there for a week or so, but I am not sure about living there. For one thing, it gets hot as Hades, takes your breath away.

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    2. No doubt love is a very powerful motivator in the decision making process. But I have to admit, the idea that you might have to sell your books and gun collection nearly brings a tear to my eye. --T

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  6. Hardware, you'll need a room just to house that! Troy knows of what he speaks regarding condo living. Bleh. Hard for us feral types to do. Could you keep the apartment for you two and lease the main house to a young family? Perhaps to keep wife smiling, you could buy the condo and spend winters there? The apartment would be ready and waiting for your return to the mountains in the best seasons.
    Food for thought.
    JF

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    1. I'm so used to living up here in the woods that I think having kids around would drive me crazy. I don't think the place would stand up too well without someone living in it through the winter. Even if I blew out the pipes with compressed air, you get freeze up in the joints and the pipes break. A log home is a lot like a boat, you have to maintain it constantly. I have log buildings, and cedar shake roofs. You can imagine what that is like. Very romantic and "cozy" when we first moved here, but if I could have seen the future this place would look absolutely nothing like it does now. I'd have metal roofs, and instead of three stories my house would be one. No apartment at all, a bigger barn and shop. Hindsight is 100%.

      My wife knows I don't really get along well with people and one of the issues we have with her plan is being in such close proximity to others. She says we can just pay the condo fees and keep to ourselves. I don't know.

      To be honest, the whole thing is kind of frightening. On the other hand, my alternative history for our final move is more palatable, if I can get her to accept it. I'll have to do a post on that tomorrow and see what people think.

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    2. As far as the guns and ammo, I'll have to sell them. Can't take my tools, my books, my furniture, my other vehicles. I'm not kidding, the condo is furnished so it would be essentially leaving everything here or getting rid of it. If my son was living here, that would be fine and I wouldn't have to sell anything. But I can't count on that right now.

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    3. Ok then, a young couple not planning on having children and they would stay the winter to keep the place from freezing up and the wild things from moving in!
      JF

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    4. Julie, that might work if you found the right people. Doing that would be a hard chore though, and if you made the wrong choice you'd be shipwrecked.

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  7. We did the opposite - we moved to our smallholding / farmhouse to retire, and get out of the busy / hectic city life. Peace and quiet, not hustle and bustle... ;)

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    1. Dani, if my son hadn't moved away, or if my daughter had married a local and lived here, it wouldn't be such an issue for us. But as things are, I just don't know if ten years from now I could even get down to the laundry room, let alone mow the meadow and all.

      I always saw us living here for the rest of our lives. But I've had some very minor health issues in the last couple of years that made me wonder how practical that really is.

      I'm glad it's working out for you and your husband. What would you do if you were in your sixties or seventies and he passed away. Would you be able to stay there? I am just wondering because that's my number one concern on this issue right now.

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  8. Harry - jam and i had discussions prior to coming here full-time and one of the discussions matches your concerns - what would the other one of us do if something happened to one of us??? it is a very serious question that some folk don't really think about, or plan for. a lot of our neighbours here are in relief-care, nursing, house-care and working in our 2 beautiful pensioners homes in our near town. so that has always been our plan. if something happens to one of us, the other decides whether or not to stick it out here by getting some move-in help - or we go to the near town. we know that if we both make it to our 70's or so - then we'll both go together to the town. i think it is incredibly important that you and your wife are having this discussion - but then of course i am just trying to get you to move here - bahahahahah!

    your friend,
    kymber
    (i'll be interested in learning about your alternate plan!)

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    1. My kids did try to move up to your country,and I paid the immigration lawyer in Vancouver $6,000 to get them the equivalent of green cards, but he took our money and they had to leave when their student visas expired. I doubt the government there would let us come live though we can visit.

      Everybody gets old unless they die, in which case at least they don't have to worry about getting old.... ;-)

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  9. Harry - That is kinda what my dad did. Sold everything off and bought a trailer in a very well kept park. I know it isn't in Florida and he stayed near me so I could mow his grass and do all his maintenance while he directs me. Yet it is kinda the same thing really. He carefully figured out his residual income and had it all set up so money would never be a problem ever. In fact he kinda over did it and now frequents restaurants with pretty waitresses so he can leave em 100 dollar tips.

    Anyway I digress.

    Two things.

    1. I know he kicks himself constantly missing some of the stuff he left behind, especially large tools. He even went out and bought himself a little tractor and parked it in his driveway.

    2. Five years is a long time away. I doubt we have five years left honestly. Make a deal and agree to no more pets or rescues and tell her each dog deserves to live it's life on the place fully. If they are more than a couple years old as it is the shouldn't last more than seven more tops I would think.

    Just my opinion anyway but I could never abandon an animal I had agreed (even an unspoken agreement) to take care of.

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    1. I'm sure M wouldn't really want to just leave the dogs. But to me, if you have had a long time canine friend and then one day you just give him away and leave, that's abandonment. One of the strange things about self sufficient living (the euphemism for being a survivalist, I guess) is that you live two distinct and parallel lives. One is the normal work/pay the bills/ etc etc life that everybody leaves. The other is getting ready for some sort of unspecified calamity that you really believe is coming. When you start getting to that point in life when the kids are gone, and you are both going to be retired soon, then you have to merge them to a great extent than ever before. I think you may well be right, which is why I am not allowing myself to get too wrapped around the axle with all this. Still, in case nothing does happen, we have to have a plan. I don't want to be like all the Baptists at The Great Awakening, sitting on the hillside saying "well, hell. Now what do we do" if nothing does happen.

      I know I need to stop getting new animals but if dog comes up the trail all worn out and starved, or my daughter calls and has a new ferret in need of a home, I am going to go ahead and have them join the family because I would not be able to say no.

      It will work out. Things always do, just not always the way you expect.

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  10. I forgot to add. It is highly possible your children will be back before five years is finished. Whether they really want to live on the mountain or not. The way things are going.



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    1. I doubt my daughter ever will be. She never really liked the mountains and she does like things you only find in cities, such as "cultural events". She loves art and music, and dance.

      My son might. He is more pragmatic and not so wedded to one lifestyle over the other.

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  11. We think a great deal about what will happen when we can no longer keep up, or when one of us passes. Thus far, we believe that this is the safest place available to us now, and that we might not live too long outside it. I suppose we can close the basement level, and live on the main floor with a kitchen, a masterbedroom, and a full bath on the same floor. We can hire someone, perhaps an adult child to ride the mower around the house, and let some of the land return to forest. We can let the kids do some things here, because after all, they would be protecting the investment of their inheritance.
    We need to keep this place in the event that all our family needs to return here in an emergency.

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    1. I'd like to hang on to my place here too, but I know that it has to be lived in. With this climate and the heavily wooded environment a wooden house will simply fall to pieces without constant maintenance.

      I do have a plan that might let us do that, but it hinges on getting my son to transfer down here and that requires a suitable opening locally with the company he works for.

      It sounds like you have given some thought to the same problems we have. With just a few modifications we could live on one level in this place. I think the crux of the matter is that my wife doesn't want to stay here until we are too old to have a choice.

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  12. Harry, Between a split level house, the high upkeep of your buildings and road issues your place probably isn't viable for too many more years without help.

    I would submit that a variety of options exist between staying at your current place and the condo. My Grandmother lived for a long time in a small 2 bedroom cabin type house on about an acre and a half with a small barn and a couple sheds in a town that was probably 15-20k in population. Cutting the grass was a bit much but that can be hired out easy enough at a modest cost.

    A 3 bedroom 2 bath single level home in a neighborhood near where the Mrs wants to be is another option. You would have some space for preps and independence, avoid the Condo/ HOA drama and still be near all sorts of services, etc.

    Another thought that comes to mind is moving to the condo and getting a little place away from the coast in the hinterboonies of Florida nearby. 5-10 acres shouldn't cost too much. Put a large ready made type shed (they make ones with windows, porches, etc) on it and stick some stuff in the ground or a CONEX or whatever. Set it up as a little cabin. I don't know land prices but the structural part could be done for the price of a decent used car (or selling 3 or so nice guns you don't shoot often). She gets her way, you get a little vacation spot/ insurance policy, win/ win.

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  13. Harry, we own in the 3rd unit of the complex. If we can be of any assistance please feel free to ask. Since i'm new to your blog, where are you from? Thanks, Joe. F.D.N.Y.ret.

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  14. Joe, email me at harryflashman23@gmail.com and the next time we are down there we can have some coffee down on the beach. That's where I'll be every sunrise. I'm thinking if it isn't too cold we may try to go down for Thanksgiving.

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