Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our Last Check for Property Tax

You can never truly escape taxes, but one tax that I am grateful to see absent from my new year budget is the $3,700 expense for property taxes. That annual bill takes a sizable chunk out of any homeowner's bank account. By my calculations, that's a bit more than $10 a day in my pocket for a year; or over 123 days of good eating on my current per diem rate with Ketchum; or about 150 days at a campground with an ocean view; or six discounted round trips from destinations in Central or South America back to the States to see family. Our last check for property tax is in the mail.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We'll See a New Horizon Everyday

When Ed and I first thought about moving from our long time home of Pittsburgh, PA, we entered information in a program called Places Rated Almanac. We agreed to a location with outdoor activities, warm weather, some cultural activities, good schools, and low taxes. Several regions met our criteria and gave us some ideas for locations to refine our geographic search. Eventually, East Texas won out over the other areas and we set up a home in Whitehouse, TX.

Now, as we plan to live full-time in our RV, our options are unlimited. When the weather gets uncomfortable, we'll be able to move to places where the sun shines. When I long for a relaxing splash in the ocean or gulf, we'll motor along the roads to the beach. If there's an event, we can go. And, when I need the serenity of the mountains, we'll head for the hills.

I know many people who jockey between a winter home and a summer home. That just doesn't suit me. It's like returning to the same vacation spot every year - comfortable but boring. There's so much to see and do that I don't want to see the same horizon everyday. I long for the adventure of new places and experiences awaiting us on our RV road trip.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Casting Responsibility Aside or Following My Dream

"I thought you would be more responsible than that. How can you not have a home for your children to go to especially at the holidays?" That was stinging commentary when I shared with a relative details on Ed's and my plans to live in our bus conversion motor home. Ouch! No support here! And, I suppose that others who have elected this lifestyle heard similar criticism. (If you are a full-time RV'er and experienced this type of non-supportive expression, let me know.)

My Grandmother experienced the same commentary in 1975 as relatives whispered disapproval among themselves when she sold her Pennsylvania home, let go of the Indiana County farm, and packed up for a retirement community in Bradenton, Florida. There was no stopping her and likewise, no stopping me. My children live dispersed across the United States (Greensburg, PA; Lake City, PA; and Fulton, Missouri) - none of which are close to my Whitehouse, TX home. When we gather as a family, we meet at my mother's Greensburg home - a house that she has been tethered to since 1963. We exchange presents, eat too much, and play competitive games of Canasta; then, we all go our separate ways drawn by careers or school.

From my perspective, I have done my duty raising the children and providing for their needs. They were a part of my dream, as was my career with one of the most highly regarded consulting firms in the country and several years in broadcasting. Advancing toward new dreams keeps me stimulated and excited about what each new day will bring. That is why I won't be made to feel my entrenched Catholic guilt to keep a home with the expectation of the kids coming once a year for the forced holiday visit. Let them come to me on the beach of Mexico, the rain forest of Costa Rica, or the mountains of Chile...all more enchanting than a three-bedroom ranch in a suburban neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looking Ahead to 2007

As I removed the outside lights and took the wreath down from the front door, I thought about how our next Christmas would be while living in the RV. Perhaps the wreath could be mounted on the front grill and maybe the lights could go around the windshield. The artificial Christmas tree that I bought at Wal-Mart three seasons ago will be sold in the garage sale, but the tree ornaments will go in storage.

Last night, I packed Suzie and Christopher's "Baby's First Christmas" bulbs in red and green crates along with the delicate beaded-pearl stars and bells that Grandma struggled to make with her arthritic fingers. The brass Cathedral of Learning, the German costumed doll, half a dozen Santas and many more snowmen ornaments now lay cushioned in bubble wrap between cardboard partitions. I cannot part with these special keepsakes.

Ed expressed his sentimental feelings too. He asked me to place some ornaments in a wicker box to have in the coach for next year and the years to come when we are on the road. I selected a Santa that Suzie and I bought at the gift shop of Westminster College's historic chapel in Fulton, MO. Next, I packed one of Grandma's handmade stars; the heart surrounding two doves we bought in a town like the TV set of Mayberry; the bird ornament Suzie gave Ed this year; my Pixie & Dixie mice from my sorority little sis; a skiing snowman; the Lenox ice-fishing Santa that Jason and Lisa gave me in a particularly cold winter at North Park Lake; and the crooked pine tree just like the live one we cut for Christmas 1996. Last, I added the winged angel with yellow hair and holding a red bird, the ornament that I made one afternoon at a shop in Prescott, AZ for Ed. These will be easy to stash and bring warmth to my heart wherever the road will lead.