Nov 24, 2015

Have You Read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you read this book?  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon has been out for a while now but I somehow missed it. A friend that taught for many years gave it to was a Tuesday* gift so it was especially precious to me. She told me that I was one of the few people she knew that would like and understand what it was all about. I took that as a complement.

See, this book is about a very unusual child that attends a school for children with special needs. His name is Christopher John Francis Boone and if he were a real person he would tell you that he knows all the countries in the world (and their capitals) and all the prime numbers up to 7507.  His personality has very sharp edges with likes and dislikes that rule his life. He will not be touched by anyone, not even his parents, he screams when he is afraid or in a place with too many people and he does not like the colors yellow and brown. I don't remember why the yellow but I do know that he didn't like brown because it was the color of poop. And there you have the essence of the whole book...quirky funny sad and frightening in it's complicated simplicity.

The story revolves around the untimely death of the neighbors dog by stabbing and Christopher's need to write a story. He sets out to solve the mystery of the dead dog while documenting the journey that quest takes him on.

As I read the book I began to see that looking out of Christopher's eyes must not have been easy. He does now see shades of gray and for him, true is true and a lie is a lie. He is very hard to live with for that very reason. He just does not understand the nuances of life.
People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell old people that they are old and you are not allowed to tell people if they smell funny or if a grown-up has made a fart. And you are not allowed to say, "I don't like you," unless that person has been horrible to you.
If you have ever been in the classroom for very long, you have know children that didn't fit any description. They were who they were. Teachers that couldn't embrace the difference were and are in for a very long and hard time in a career that requires them to teach the child not what they want the child to be.

I think I loved the quote from the book about life comparing it to prime numbers.
Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them. 
I cannot imagine anyone not loving the humor and beautiful words in The Curious Incident.... The old saying "Out of the mouths of babe" came to mind as I followed Christopher on his journey to find a way to live in a world he truly didn't understand. In the end, I had the feeling that this type of person is the one we need. The giant intellect that hides behind the unusual personality will take us to great places.

Did Mark Haddon know someone like this or is he himself part of this character? I could look it up I suppose but, in the end, I would rather not know. He has done such a beautiful job of capturing the child without damaging the image of anyone that lives in that world. I think he has given a gift to us all.

Have a wonderful day.


*Tuesday gifts are those given for no reason at all. They are a lovely way of telling someone you know that you are thinking of them.

Nov 20, 2015

Small Space Living "As Seen On TV"

Ok, I admit it...I love HGTV. I watch at least one show almost every morning before I even get out of bed. Give me my TV and a cup of coffee and I am a happy woman.

The episodes featuring small space living are all the rage right now. In Oregon builders are taking up the challenge and a lot of houses are appearing in the Portland area. My question here is "How small is too small?"
What 100 square feet looks like.
See, I think that 100 square feet is ridiculously small. That is a 10x10 room and I think that a bedroom needs to be bigger than that. But believe it or not some people are content to live in a place like that. Their needs are very little and they must feel safe with the walls very near.

We live in a space that is 12 ft wide and approximately 35 feet long with an add on that is about 8 ft wide and 18 feet long. I really believe that this is the minimum that I am willing to live in for an extended period of time. The add on was just put on last year and I absolutely love it.

Here is what ours looks like:
This bedroom and the Arizona room (below) are now one big room.

Our bedroom is very comfortable. We also have a TV in this room.

The bathroom is small, clean and perfect for us.

Kitchen backsplash was updated last year. We are replacing our
dishwasher that sits near the sink and stove.

This niche over the dining table had glass doors. We
removed them and painted the interior. The wall have all been repainted too.

My husband built the front porch where we dine most days. 
We are very lucky that we have three outdoor spaces.
This is at the side and we have another in the back.
The exterior of our park model (below) is not good. We
will replace windows this year. I want it to look
like this one (above) featured on HGTV

This small space even has room for my computer and a
printer. The stool serves as extra seating when we have guests.
 Have a wonderful day. If you have a question just put it in the comments section. I will help you if I can. See Snowbird Questions: Why Would You Ever Do That? for other questions and links to previous posts.


Nov 16, 2015

Snowbird Questions: Why Would You Ever Do That?

Our friends in Arizona are very precious. We
could not wait to begin this part of our life.
Writing about our retirement and what is has and will mean to us has raised a lot of questions with my followers. I suppose being a snowbird is puzzling to many people. How do you manage two houses? Where do you go? How long do you stay?  And so it goes.

There are so many choices these day for people that want to leave the cold in the winter. I want to talk about RV resort living today.

A question I received yesterday went like this:
Would love to be an AZ snowbird, but we can't wrap our brain [around] paying for lot rental for the six months we wouldn't be living there. We would be interested in any thoughts/advice about this. (We don't have an RV so would love to buy an older park model in a senior park.)
Normally when people come to a RV resort like the one we live in, they will rent a park model or come in an RV.  Usually they end up buying a park model.

Many of the units available now are old and can be snatched up in March or April at bargain basement prices. The reason for this is that the rent for the next year will be coming due and paying the rent is costly. If people are going to sell and haven't found a buyer during the snowbird season, this is when they need to sell fast. It is a money matter.

Once the plunge to buy something is taken, the new owner pays the year's rent immediately. It will probably be over $4500. That works out to a little less than $390 a month.The justification for paying rental for 12 months when we only stay 6 or 7 is one that stops people in their tracks. It does seem to those people like a waste of money. The purchase for the park model may be minimal but the rent is not.

The life here in Tucson offers so many beautiful experiences.
It is all relative I think. We come south because it is very good for our physical and mental health. It is not a choice in our particular case. When we weigh the cost of buying a condo or renting compared with the cost for owning a park model, it seems to be a win-win situation. If there is any extra cost in that choice, we still feel it is worth it. A RV resort offers a lot of amenities that condo units don't. It also offers a community of people that become very good friends.

But above all, for people that are waiting, waiting, waiting, I can only say that as you age time is not on your side. Your health my suffer because you cannot be as active when the weather is bad. So...Tic Toc! Do what you can afford and enjoy life. Don't wait until the grandchildren are grown or the cat/dog dies. Don't wait for prices to fall because the likelihood of that happening are nil now. After all, if you wait too long, you will miss your chance.
Pickle Ball is a hot game in our park.
The courts are used every day. We actually
need more than we have.

So that is what I think. Please add to the conversation if you would like. And of course, I always welcome your questions.


The articles you see below are ones I have written. I think you will find more information if you check them out. You can also click on the labels below.

Nov 14, 2015

How Does It FEEL to be a Snowbird?

I have always wondered if I could really describe what it feels like to be a "snowbird". I am not talking about a person that owns a second home or travels all winter. I am talking people that fly south every winter to the same landing area. They are very like the Sandhill Cranes that have followed the same flight path since the beginning of time.

Our Arizona home!
It is a pattern repeated every year by thousands of retired people around the world. They all begin to get restless as the weather changes. That "other" home calls their name. I talk about this often here on this blog.

Unlike people that go on vacation to the same place every year, we go home to the same place. There is a lot of difference. I suppose you need to do it before you will ever understand. It really isn't about the climate or the fancy frills but describing what is it about is very difficult.

Oddly enough, the people that fly south often talk about how young they feel when the come to their winter home and how they miss all their warm weather friends when they fly back north in the spring. They are more isolated. It is just not the same.

So when we arrive here in the fall, we all gather together in the middle of the streets or near someone's home to catch up on all the news. We know each other's children and even grandchildren in some cases. It is like a family reunion only without the squabbles. When we want privacy, we just go inside our park model or condo. Everyone has a respect for personal space, at least there I live.

We hug a lot. There is something so wonderful about the human touch that keeps us happy. Even the very elderly get a lot of attention. I talked with a lady with a walker the other day. She was getting out her Christmas decorations and we chatted over a flower growing beside the road. Being alone does not need to happen.

There is something about being around age-mates that keeps us feeling youthful. We all move at about the same pace and share a common bond. We dance and play cards. I work in my tiny flower beds and my friends golf. Some read and others write. I suppose that is why we find each other interesting.

It might be cooler this winter or warmer or windier or even rainy. We don't really care. Home is home...we snowbirds are just very lucky in that we happen to have two place that are equally as welcoming. I like that.

Stay tuned. The 2015-6 season has just begun. The birds will be flying in by the hundreds. They will come from Canada and all corners of the United States. I am very excited about that.

Have a wonderful day.


Nov 9, 2015

The Hoarder's Dilemma

We just made our journey from Oregon to Arizona. Several days on the road with my husband driving gave me time to think about things. For example, I am always a little anxious when we return to a house that has not been lived in for 6 months. Is it dirty? Did I leave such a mess of clutter so we won't be able to get in the door? And so on. Clutter stuck as I let it pass through my mind. I began wondering about people that are hoarders and how they can live in such chaos.

In the best seller book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing the reader is asked to decide about their possessions. Do they love that flower pot an arrangement from the florist came in 15 years ago? And does the flower pot love being dusty and on the top shelf behind the can of nuts Aunt Phillipa sent a year later? If the answer is no and no, then out it goes.

I, for example, cannot keep clothes that don't fit or are obviously out of date. I get rid of dead plants and useless kitchen tools. I really hate rancid nuts.

Bottom line: I AM NOT A HOARDER!

But there are those that might not agree. I know people that live with very little around them. They don't want to feel closed in and live a very minimalist lifestyle. To them, I must seem like a keeper of useless things.

See, I do tend to keep things with memories. I have a wine bottle from Spain in the shape of a flamenco dancer that the wine evaporated out of 10 years ago. I have boxes full of awful jewelry that I wore to proms and weddings. I keep freezer wire baskets and clay pots and business cards and moss. When my minimalist friends walk into my house I am sure they cringe.

So I sympathize with the person that keeps gum wrappers and pieces of string. There is really is no accounting for what we treasure. I don't know if there is a cure for hoarding. I certainly hope so. All of us fight an inner hoarder I suppose.

It is just a thought (as I traveled).


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