Saturday, March 25, 2017

Aiming for the $100 a Day Road Trip Part One, Health Care In American And More....

So, after I wrote about my hundred dollar road trip goal, I have had some questions and comments about how it works. Since I am just now doing serious planning for my May road trip, I though I would share a $45 a night option I discovered , as well as how I drastically reduce gas prices. Since I usually plan a road trip just a month and a half or so out (other than destinations), you all will get to follow along with my first monthlong road trip in over a year.  

First, though, you all know I have to talk about today's news. As I write this Friday evening,  I assume we have all at least heard some of the news of the day. The Republican health plan (I won't stoop to the level of Republicans and name it after our President) is DOA. The Speaker of the House is so wimpy, he has declared Obamacare the law of the land, rather than try for a better alternative.

The kicker of course in all of this is the Republican Congress itself. As a liberal Democrat, I cannot take one ounce of credit for this. The administration did this to itself, with no help from the so called liberals. In fact, the party is so divided that I (who follow the news and have read the bill) have no idea who sunk it worse-the alt-right/Freedom party types, the moderate conservatives or the American Voters. Personally. I'm going with the voters.

I mean, rabid comments on this blog to the contrary, the law would have increased insurance fees for seniors up to one hundred percent (again, yes, I read this portion) by allowing insurers to charge up to seven times the going rate for seniors. They would have left 20 million people covered under the ACA uninsured. And while they would have kept in place some protections for those with previous conditions, they would have allowed insurers to charge up to ten times the rate. And let's not forget foot in mouth disease. Iphones indeed.

The bottom line is that the voters made it clear that if this bill passed, those representatives would be out of a job, many of them in 2018. Now, I am not one of those folks who think that the ACA is perfect. I have issues, especially with the idea that twenty somethings should pay a hefty fee for insurance so that they can carry the rest of us. As with many parents of twenty somethings, my college student/full time employee had to be subsidized by me to afford said insurance, defeating the purpose.

I also know that the evidence is there that the only way to make major changes to health care is to concentrate on equal delivery for all, and lowering costs. Make health care more efficient and equitable and costs will go down eventually. Most every other civilized country knows this. THE UNITED STATES IS 37TH IN DELIVERING HEALTH CARE IN THE WORD. OMAN HAS BETTER HEALTH CARE!  The fact that the King of Jordan flies to New York for health care has much, much less to do with quality of care and much, much more to do with the pampering experience of a hospital VIP suite, or the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed.

I guess my personal bottom line is that while I am grateful (and unsurprised) at today's events, my hope is that instead of going into a corner and praying for an "explosion", our representatives have the moral wherewithal to make moderate changes where it is needed in the current bill. Obama care was the law of the land, and I have heard nothing but complaining about it for eight years. You would think that somehow, sometime, somewhere, conservatives would have sat in a back room, done the math, worked the work, and have had a serious, workable plan that serves all ready to.

You would have thought...

Back on the road trip front, and about those hotel alternatives. Since I was spending the longest amount of time (a week) in the Corpus Christie area, I concentrated on that first. Road trip sleeping is very flexible, and I can always driver a longer time or a shorter time, but the week's vacation was my starting point.

Now, Airbnb is a little newer to me than to many I expect, and I am still learning as I go. In Corpus Christie I learned that I can rent a small gate house or mother in law apartment for 45 bucks a night, and if I were willing to just have a room and bath in someones house I can go as low as $19 (this is the kind of thing I would do in a city I knew little about, to get the local "input").  At at goal of $100 a day, with this kind of price for where to lay my head, I have no doubt I will keep to the budget in Corpus. Now on to those road trip overnights and beautiful downtown San Antonio.4

This weekend, my local Kroger affiliate has four times fuel points, so it's time to go shopping. Along with my groceries, I buy gift cards to places I shop (not just for gas), buy the gift cards when I have four times the fuel points, and save tons of money all around. Last week I had seventy cents of a gallon of gas. This way I will have gas cards to use along the way and fuel points to keep the gas down further-if I'm lucky, around a buck a gallon.

In other end of week news, I still have no oven but the part is on order. I've plowed through the first three Catherine Coulter FBI books (yep, I binge read as well). I started knitting a beautiful poncho/shawl for a gift next year-which I'll share in a bit, as the recipient doesn't drop in here. Immigration and Sanctuary ministry is supporting a woman in sanctuary and visiting detainees. I am attempting to meet my goal of writing every day. And last but not least, I've spent an extraordinary amount of time sunning outside in almost eighty degree weather here in Denver in March. In fact, I'm so spoiled by this weather, that it dropped to the fifties today and I've been complaining all day.  What can I say, give me the heat!!  I may have to look at snowbirding after all.

And now, I'm off to my pillows and fourth Catherine Coulter of the week. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to Traveling-Why I'm Not On the RV Band Wagon

For many retirees, an RV is a major part of their post retirement lives. Some folks downsize completely and "full time" into a fifth wheel or other type of RV. Now, not every retiree goes into an RV full time. My personal experience is that there are pretty much three types of folks who have RV's (if the reality is different, I'm sure my RVing friends will share). I have some friends with small RV's or campers who only travel on weekends or long weekends.

Then of course, there are those folks who go for very long vacations (as long as a couple months or more) multiple times a year. Most people I know personal who own any type of recreational vehicle fall into this group. And finally of course, I have an acquaintance or two who live full time pretty much in their vehicle and have a tiny house or a room with their kids for those few times when they leave their RV's.

Now, at the beginning of retirement, I looked at a variety of options, including an RV. I considered getting a tiny apartment and spending all my time traveling. I also considered simply jumping in an RV and not worrying about a place to live (even with no way to park it). I mean, as an inveterate traveler, I have literally thousands and thousands and thousands of miles under my belt. This would have seemed like a perfect retirement situation, but I was not ready to jump on that proverbial band wagon.

Years later, and post move, I am gearing up again to do some road tripping. I missed my second big train trip last year due to illness. My daughter is gong to grad school and graduating and after I puppy sit for two weeks I'm spending three weeks roaming around the Republic of Texas, and I'm looking at various fall leaf options, just for starters. After revisiting the RV option, I've decided that it still is not for me.

I say this even though I know that almost all of my friends and fellow bloggers who RV are thrilled and have gotten much reward out of doing so. Truthfully, the primary reason that I don't RV are twofold-the way I travel, and the homebody in me in retirement.

The truth is that while I drive through a great many parks as part of my travels, my final destinations are almost always more urban.  There certainly are exceptions. Last fall I went to South Dakota for a week-where my entire time was spent in small towns doing the tourist thing. For the most part however, I end up in cities. Cities where I prefer to stay as far in town as possible-which in my experience kind of negates the RV thing. For example, last summer I drove to Seattle. My route there took me through the Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Moab is home to camping and off roading and biking, as well as a couple national parks. RV Parks and camping sites abound.  The only thing is, the next two stops on this cross country trip were downtown Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle. All cities, and all places where I wanted to stay "in walking distance". I guess at this point in my life, I appreciate the man made, at least as much as the nature made.

Of course those are not the only travel reasons holding me back. I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I drive fast. And I like to drive fast. While I am not cranky, I am certainly one of those people driving eighty up the hill and at least chortling on occasion as I pass the RV towing a car going 20. The bottom like is that I LOVE TO DRIVE. And I simply see driving as something different than RVing.

There are certainly other more mundane reasons why RVing is not for me. At this point in my life doing anything more than the very absolute basic maintenance myself is beyond me. I appreciate the finer things in life like getting a massage at the hotel. And last but not least I am a homebody with many hobbies and passions that are not as portable.

I didn't factor the money differential into my decision. I would have if I had felt that RV calling to me more loudly. At this point though, I honestly have no idea if RV road tripping is cheaper or not cheaper than driving (factoring in all costs, including the vehicle). Some bloggers seem to think it is, and some do not (talking about travel here, not a permanent lifestyle). I can tell you what I budget for a day for road trip travel, but someone with an RV would need to do the math including the vehicle depreciation, I suppose.  I can tell you that I budget $100 a day for a car road trip, but have done it for much much less, often as low as $50. This budget includes lodging (I'm adventurous in this area), gas, food, and basic attractions. It does not include the extra double check I have done before I head out, nor does it include insurance or the cost of road services like AAA as I would be paying those out. I'll be sharing the cost of my road trip through Texas Hill Country and the gulf coast in my to give an idea of how I meet those prices.

I do understand the attraction of the RV lifestyle, and especially the ability to socialize with others is something that those of us to drive in cars and stay in hotels have to work on a bit more. My solutions to meet people are varied, such as choosing to stay in hostels with group rooms or hotels like the Hilton Garden Inns, which tend to have little happy hours and a get together in the afternoon in the lobby as part of their daily promotions.

I also see the advantage for many folks of having all of "your stuff" (dishes, sheets and so on) and the consistency of one bed if you will, when having an RV, although my car holds a great deal.

For me though, my car still calls me. As do beach side hotels, airbnb, hostels, and the cross country train experience. So for now, I'll plot my vacation (Dallas to Fredericksburg to Austin to San Antonio to Houston to the gulf coast and onward), load up the old car and hit the road. The old fashioned way, if you will.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Refrigerator Soup, Birthday Sushi and more.........This Week In Retirement

Just a quick mention that I am temporarily on moderation folks. I hate, hate hate it, but have had some seriously viscous spam so for a week or so. Please be patient with me and I will work on posting comments asap.

I am not a fan of daylight savings time.  Well, check that.  I love having extra daylight in the evening since I normally am not up before nine. But I realize that I am not the average population. And more importantly, it takes me days to adjust, especially when we spring forward. We are all different, and I am one of those folks that the lost hour hits hard. Whether it's daylight or regular time, just pick one and stick with it!

Meanwhile, since I am not alert and responsive today, I've thrown some soup in the ole slow cooker. There was no way I was getting out of bed in time this morning, so I am heading out to church this evening-knowing food is cooking. Our go to soups tend to me minestrone, crab and corn chowder (to die for), and tomato basil. Today's soup is minestrone, because it's easy to make and you can use what you have on hand.

In my darkened kitchen....
Minestrone is one of those recipes that you throw things into, and it generally works out. You can even use canned, frozen and fresh veggies and add them at different times. Today's soup started out with some canned goods (we have an overstuffed pantry, and I don't even know how it got this way. Probably multiple people shopping and not always sharing). Broth, V8 juice, wine, canned tomatoes, two kinds of kidney/navy beans, green beans, small meatballs and mini pasta. I only had to get the meatballs. Thrown together along with Italian seasoning, garlic and onion and this is a meal that takes five minutes to put together and is unbelievable yummy hours later. In our house, with this we have popovers.

Gourmet Cooking tips from a non-cook: Most readers know by now that I do not love to cook, to say the least. However, I do love to eat, I am a true gourmand. And as a result, I have a really good palate in spite of my cooking avoidance. Which is why I say this: Whenever possible, use vegetable broth. It will give soups and stews another layer of flavor that simply using beef stock for beef stew will not. And V8 is an easy way to richen any broth, use the low sodium if you must, but a small can of v8 will thicken the broth, make it flavorful and make any salting unnecessary (we never put extra salt in this house)

In other news this past week, I've begun a seriously large afghan in a log cabin style.  It's almost at the point where I need to leave it at home to work on-it will end up being a good seventy inches square. Since I always get questions as the frugal retiree as to my crafting costs, this afghan uses about $60 of yarn at a full price, and I will have paid about half of that buying my yarn on sale. As this this is for warmth as well as a focal point in my TV room, I find $30 or so to be worth it. On the other hand, I've made a stack of all the various small pieces of fabric I have, so that I can make gifts and such now before I buy more fabric!  

My living room has chocolate furniture, ivory wallks and blue and green accents. The color is really a peach, not pink, may need to retake this picture!p
Even the frugal retiree has some more spendy weeks and such was this one.  Since I needed some in between clothes for the seventy degree weather we've been having since January (with a couple exceptions) I purchased a sweater set in a new color for me (lavender) and a gray tunic all at full price. Then, since in our family every birthday seems to fall in  February/March or September/October (seriously), I took my sister to a local garden store of massive proportions-where I purchased a new fairy garden for her, and a few spring things for myself. I figure I'll add some bunnies in a week or so. My garden is growing by leaps and bounds. And last but not least, I decided my toes needed some blue-dark blue.

I figure to make it more eastery later

Blue.They are very blue!!
And speaking of birthdays, what would a birthday dinner be without sushi-ordered online and delivered to the door. Sushi and chocolate birthday cake, folks I tell ya. Oh, and it would be wrong to leave out the home made miso made by my nephew in his new cooking pans. We do have unique birthdays, that is for sure.

In other news, I've spent a lot of time reading this week-three full mysteries! The bad news is that I did not walk this week. My leg has been weak and hurting. While I prefer to walk in the neighborhood or work out to uTube, I believe it's time to move to silver sneakers and jump in the pool. It's time to limit my walking to the incidental stuff. As I do every week, I've gone to knitting, taken my class on Tuesday, cooked on Thursday and had my regular girl's lunch on Friday.

And finally, my discussion of the past week would be less than honest if I did not say that I have spent some serious time researching the health care bill alternative. That's right, blog critics. I actually READ the legislation and critiques rather than the headlines. Unfortunately, it is not better-and those who suffer the most will be folks our age and those making less than $20,000 annually. It is still true that almost 20 million people will be without health insurance.

To those conservatives and Republicans reading, I say simply this: find me a medical group-any medical group-who thinks this plan is acceptable, never mind a good idea. There is none. Not a single medical group, even Anthem, which made record profits last year but left states because they "made less money", thinks the new plan is a bad idea. This is no longer a Republican Vs Non republican issue folks, at least it should be. 

And finally, one fun thing (albeit political), not done by me this week, just observed. We have a senator here in Colorado who ran as his own man, beholden to no one, in a mainly liberal state who voted for the Democrats by over six points. This particular Senator has voted the Trump party line (and as a result will probably lose on re-election). More importantly, as have others, he has refused to hold town halls, and implied that the folks who crashed his phones four times during the DeVos hearings were paid rabble rousers. A young woman made this sign, and did a Go Fund Me page to raise the 18 thousand dollars needed for a full page Sunday ad. She raised 18 thousand dollars, all in increments of less than $50 (some as low as five) in less than 24 hours. So goes the resistance.

The coming week is projected to be seventy to eighty degrees again-I see plenty of outside reading time, and perhaps a day trip in my future! And now, to go taste that minestrone.......

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Retirement Playlist?...And a Kindle Tip

This morning the American Hospital Association came out against the new health care bill, asking congress to protect patients as well as the elderly, ill, and infirm (the new bill does just the opposite. Hopefully the politicians will listen to the experts, but these days who knows.

Now, about that Kindle tip!!!! Recently I learned a Kindle secret!  Since most libraries don't renew kindle books, and we don't always get our books read in the two or three weeks allotted, it can be frustrating. Well, there is a solution, depending on what you are "reading on". Most kindle books are downloaded through Amazon. If you have the ability to put your device on "airplane mode", Amazon (or whomever) will not be able to pull the book back. And there you have it: How to get extra reading time on your kindle!

One of the many, many mystery authors I read is John Sandford. His series of Prey books rarely get old or repeat themselves, and the characters have stood the test of time. In 2005, I was taking a Scandinavian cruise-Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki.  Along with the cruising in the land of the midnight sun, there were a few inland trips requiring long boring bus rides, during which I read my mystery. And then my husband read, and then my 16 year old son read. Let's just say the book was a topic of discussion.

Our talks were not about the plot, but rather the sub plot of this book (which I promise will give nothing else a way). You see, in the sub plot of this particular mystery novel, the wife of our protagonist had given him an MP3 player, along with a $100 credit. Enough to purchase 100 rock songs. And so, along with tracking brutal serial killers, Lucas and his cohorts spend their "down time" trying to agree on the best 100 songs of rock. The eventual list contains two versions of a single song (Knocking on Heaven's Door) and has nary a Beatles song in sight.

What has all this got to do with me?  When it comes to technology, I am trying to enter the new era. Looking ahead, I have a long Texas road trip in May, and a train trip in August/September, as well as all the normal short weekend getaways. I don't know about other travelers, but my road trips take me into some true radio dead zones. Either that, or places I have to scramble and scan to find a non-country non-farming radio station. I do take books on tape, but find that I prefer music as I drive. I also prefer to walk alone, with music.

Traditionally, "in house", I either have an itunes play list on my laptop, I listen to Pandora (and spend time doing thumbs up or down), or once in awhile the music on my cable channels. None of which are very mobile except for Pandora (and that uses data), and I've not been too successful and making disc play lists. So, my daughter has given me an old Ipod so that I can download music and take it with me. I am hoping that I can also do audible books.

But what to put on my Ipod, at least for starters. When it comes to music I am eclectic. Rock, blues, classical, bluegrass, the list goes on. My itunes downloads are in the hundreds. So, should I make multiple play lists, or should I put Layla, White Bird, and The Hungarian Dances all in a row?  Decisions, decisions!

Meanwhile, what would be on your play list, should you have one?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Politics of the Wealthy-Why Your Health Insurance Will Rise Under Trump

As always when I write about current events, feel free to leave calm, un-insulting, intelligent responses and I will answer in the same way. Do realize however that I don't consider "but poor people can just go to the emergency room" to be an intelligent considered response.

Unsurprisingly, the administration yesterday released their new health plan, tentatively known as the American Health Care act. Now, we know that this health care bill is going to be thrown around, altered, punched, ridered, and the Good Lord only knows what else. Even so, the bottom line is that Republicans promised that they would make things more affordable and give greater access.

The question of course is to whom, and a quick look at the bill as it is becomes well, frighteningly enlightening.  First of all, the bill will leave between eleven and twenty million people uninsured, most of them earning under $16,000 a year. The ACA expanded medicaid to cover these folks and the current administration would put them out to pasture. Apparently there is such a disconnect that one senator figured that not having a phone would enable families living in poverty to afford health care. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Boomers and retirees will see our health care jump as much as 18 percent folks. That's eighteen percent (this figure is from the AARP institute and could be much higher once the Congressional Budget Office evaluates). This is because the ACA gave us tax breaks and refused to allow insurance agencies to charge us more than three times as much as younger folks.

People who are sick or have pre-existing conditions will have insurance in theory but will pay much more and perhaps find care unaffordable.  Why?  Because republicans will guarantee insurance, but they will not enforce what part of care insurance companies will pay for those ill or with pre-existing conditions. By doing the math, my friend with breast cancer will still not be able to afford treatment.

By now I'm sure, some of my republican readers are saying "quit complaining, where's the good stuff". And there is a tiny bit of good stuff-mainly for those with a bunch of money or just entering the workforce. in theory, younger folks could get cheaper rates, as the original goal of the ACA was to make the kids pay for the boomers (I am the first to admit as the parent of a hard working millennial, that this is inherently unfair on some level). Really healthy Americans (the ones with no history of family illness or personal illness) would pay slightly less. And finally of course, wealth Americans will pay less taxes. That's right, the top one percent will get cheaper health care, pay less taxes and get more tax breaks.

Insurance companies will (surprise) get greater tax breaks, because of course, Insurance companies are not making enough money. Never mind that Anthem (who withdrew because there were "too many sick people getting care" had the best year ever last year. We must make sure insurance companies make money, and lots of it.

The bottom line? This is insurance for the healthy and the wealthy, with few exceptions. For most of us, health care will be more costly and more rationed. Period. There is no question.

Now, I am someone who knows a teeny, teeny tiny bit more than the average user when it comes to health care and it's cost and delivery (A degree in hospital administration and working with non profit health cares for years has led to a little automatic osmosis).  I know absolutely nothing about medicine itself, in fact, I recall years ago telling my sister in law who is now getting a doctorate in nursing that they must be able to do a whole body blood transplant because I saw it on St Elsewhere). I do however know a few things about the other side.

Put simply, health care is made up of many parts. There is who pays for it. There is who delivers it, there is the cost of delivery, and the method of delivery. I would suggest that Americans (partly due to unreasonable fear of socialism) worry a great deal more than they should about the first (who pays for it) and the second, when concentration should be on the latter two. To be clear, other countries don't have better health care than us (which almost all do) because of how it's paid for or the fact that it's delivered by the governments. Other countries provide better health care because they lower health care costs (remember that 45 total dollar cost  mammogram and breast sonogram I had in Germany?) and because they deliver it in an even fashion, over the board.

The fact is, that health care costs us more in taxes and in costs when everyone is not insured. When a mother has to take her child to the emergency room for a shot, said shot costs almost four times what it would cost at doctor's office.  While said mom may have been able to afford said shot at the doctor's office, she probably won't be able to afford her emergency room bill-which means one of two things: either the cost of our procedures go up to accommodate that unpaid bill, or our taxes go up to accommodate for tax breaks for insurance companies and hospitals.

I am not an expert on health care, but I encourage all my readers to research the topic beyond the CNN and FOX headlines, and find the true facts.  Look at what the congressional budget office says on costs and numbered of uninsured for a start. Whatever your conclusion, realize that we all pay (in shared illnesses, financially and many other ways) when there is not insurance for all.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Personal Space in Retirement-Do You Have Your "Sweet Spot"?

When we chose our current home, it was a joint decision. The investors wanted us to be long term, invested tenants (who would improve the property). So there were an awful lot of criteria in this selection. Although I could live with a step into the house, everything else had to be one level for me. Unlike a Golden Girl scenario with bedroom and shared space everywhere else, we wanted as much individual space as we each could get. This meant basically a single floor for each person and a shared kitchen and two living spaces.  There were a lot of other requirements including large front windows.

Notice my room is turquoise of course!

By dividing this space we have both ended up with completely separate areas. Her space includes an almost double sized living room (big enough to include an art studio), full bath, large office and large bedroom. My space includes a bedroom, guest room, office and bathroom and our shared space includes a very large kitchen, guest bath and two living spaces. Rarely do we invade each others space unless I need the laundry/storage room (downstairs) or she needs the storage closet/pantry (in my apartment). Never is one offended by the other disappearing. 

Part of dividing that shared space meant taking two rooms on both sides of the large kitchen (one with a fireplace, one narrow room going out to our patio and pergola) and creating two living spaces rather than say, a dining room and living room. The long narrow living room leading out to the patio became the dog room (notice the blankets) and the "TV" room for lack of a better word. The other space has two large comfy chairs, and a dining room table in it's smallest position. This has become a so called "quiet" room and leads to my private space, and the back living room leads downstairs to a separate apartment. The end result is that one living area has been designated as hers and one as mine.

An unusual configuration, with the table in the center, but it works for us and we are missing a large entrance alcove, so this table sometimes gets used as a staging area! My living room.

A never clean kitchen which divides the area and could hold a large dining room table. Note the wood above the fridge where the movers tried to fit a too large refrigerator in the alcove-they measured wrong. It's on my short list of that which must be dealt with by a handyman.
  This in no way means that I don't watch TV or that we don't interact. The rooms are on two different sides of the kitchen (with the TV room having the open counter or breakfast nook area). We watch TV together and separately, and because of the configuration we can even hear each other and talk to each other-and I can hear the TV depending on it's loudness. And in fact, we both have our own little couch corners when we are watching TV together.

Our dog friendly, patio friendly TV watching room. Notice how the dogs each have their own blankets and the floor shows evidence of yard dragged in the house!!

Our favorite spaces are in different places because of our "sweet spots".  My chair, the place I would rather sit than anywhere else, is next to the window in the front room-the room that has the fireplace and the dining room table and two big chairs (for those who remember my dilemma, we finally named it the fireplace room as there aren't enough books in this room to call it a library). For a long time, my chair was a large blue chair and a half. In fact there are more pictures on this blog of my dog sitting in said chair than of anything else. 

A chair so loved, it has followed me three places!
These days my chair is a recliner-smaller, but needed because of leg deterioration. I recently grabbed this at a Sears sale, while I look for a nice leather chair that has the handles to lower the legs. My leg is now so weak that I cannot kick down a regular recliner on my own. More importantly, be it this chair or the leather one for which I am searching, this is my "spot".  And much of the time, it shows, at least during the day.   

A place holder for a nice leather recliner, as soon as I find one I love!
 This chair often has a basket or two sitting on the table next to it. While I have a desk in my sewing room, this is where I generally sit to knit, read, draw, play or work on my tablet, or daydream. Invariably, you are liable to see a basket on my table with notebooks and pens and other necessities of life, a basket on the floor of knitting or pictures, a quilt and a pillow to lean against or lean my tablet or kindle on-at least until I get myself this puppy (Yes, I have discovered that I really can watch shows on my tablet or laptop, as long as it is not something that requires a wide screen). I am not a person who puts everything away every night, so be it in this room, the living room or elsewhere, I have baskets and bins-for art projects, knitting, library books and just general accumulations. 

On the other hand my sister's "chair", is an old, quality lazy boy that she has had for years. She has her chair in this area because of the large windows behind her, because it is an area that she can also spread out in, and because it is at the top of the stairs that lead to her "apartment". This works for us. We watch television together, we watch separately. There are also times when she is sitting in her chair reading or sewing, and I am sitting in my chair. It works for us.

Today, my area looks even more "lived in" than usual. This is because I could no longer avoid the creeping crud, aka the cold from you know where. Everyone else had bronchitis and severe colds-weeks ago. I thought I had missed it but no such luck. So while I am not a NyQuil advertisement, I have a stuffy nose, achy, constant cough, can't get comfortable cold-for which there is no cure.

As a result, I have grabbed a blanket for coverage. Next to me is a large basket of family photos and other things I am working on for immigration and my genealogy, my daily basket (notebooks, chapstick, pens, glasses, lotion and so on), my knitting bag, a table with two drinks and snacks,  and various medicines and the Sunday paper. To say I am settled in would be an understatement! 

I am a firm believer that we all need our own place or space, no matter how small our homes or apartments or trailers may be. Sometimes that space is a corner in a bedroom that has been sacrificed for an office or studio, sometimes it is a chair, sometimes it's a garage corner. We also need our own corner, whether it is his and hers recliners or designated ends of sofas-corners where we can have our own pillows, leave coffee cups as needed and know that reading material or sweaters will be where we left them. Heck, our dogs both have their own blankets, showing their semi-reserved spots on our sofas. And whileO both my husband and I had lots of personal space in Germany, in DC we lived in a small brownstone duplex (Our choice, the price of "urban village" living). We ended up putting hubbies office in a dedicated corner of our bedroom and a small screened in porch was semi insulated so that I could sew and write three quarters of the year. Creativity at it's best.

Fortunately in my current living arrangement,  am blessed to have both personal space and my own little corners-and believe me, on a regular day in my home, you would know which one was mine. What about you, do you have a favorite chair or corner? Do others in your home?  Does your pet have one as well? Are you a put everything away every night type, or are you an "I'll leave the book sitting in my chair until I return" type?  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Is a Tiny House in Your Future?

Like many retirees, I see myself rightsizing one more time. While I love living where I am, I see myself going smaller, flatter and easier.  In a perfect world this is a small first floor condo or an apartment rental close to one or both of my offspring. In fact, I've looked at many patio homes-all of which seem to be pricier than a 3000 square foot home. There are a great many options out there for right sizing, or going single level, in my case.

One of those options would seem to be a Tiny House. As I think anyone who watches TV or reads the news can see, the Tiny house movement is flourishing. There must be at least five shows on TV about Tiny house building, decorating or purchasing. At first glance it might seem like many of the tiny house folks are young couples or early empty-nesters. The truth is, almost a full thirty percent of Tiny House owners are seniors.

I can see why. Depending on property laws and zoning guidelines, for some seniors this can be an alternate to the mother in law or grandma suite or room. A smaller tiny house can be an "in law apartment" in the back yard. For retirees with small homes but yard or driveway space, a smaller tiny home can be a studio, office or workspace, or even space for a live in caregiver. Tiny houses will fit many places, and there are other advantages. No mortgage is required, and tiny houses range from about 23 thousand dollars for a build your own unit, up to around forty thousand or so. In theory at least, with a large vehicle, changing locations is less of a big deal. Also in theory, I suppose, you could move and follow kids or grand kids or move someplace for half the year.

Other reasons for buying a tiny house in retirement can be having less stuff, lower utility bills and generally a much, much lower cost in terms of where you are with those major costs like home improvement and maintenance. Some people also buy a tiny house now to use later, and make money from the rent, increasing their bottom line.

Tiny houses come in all types, from the basic to the boutique. My church is building a tiny house village for the homeless in our parking lot, with the most basic model possible, so that each house fits in the parking place assigned (and with shared shower, toilet and dining and social facilities). On the other hand, some tiny homes are fully appointed, if you will. And homes can range from just under 200 square feet up to 400 square feet and even more. The variety, style, decor and location can very widely. For every person and taste, I suppose there is a tiny home. 

As the tiny house movement grows and we age, new uses and designs are popping up all the time for tinny homes. There are retirement villages that have tiny homes. A company has recently designed a MEDcottage for seniors who have limited mobility or need assistance or care. We are also seeing more one level tiny homes and other accessories that retirees consider an advantage.  

Up to now I have not considered a tiny house. Most tiny houses with decent floor space seem to be lofts and that's not for me, for obvious reasons. I would need a single level shotgun style which would of course take up more space, I'd be looking at closer to 600 square feet. While I am not a hoarder, I have two hobbies which take up space by nature-I need a dedicated sewing space, for example. At least for now, my grown kids do not live in places where I could reside, meaning I would have to rent space or buy land-not somethi ng I want to do. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ultimately opposed to a nice tiny house. But it would have to be set in place already, all on one level, with at least some grass and the ability to rent at least to start to see if it is really "for me". Downsizing is not in my immediate future, to say the least, so I have time to look, see and explore whether a tiny house would actually work for me-on any level at all.

What about you-where are you on small square footage living. Would a tiny house work for you?