Do you remember that commercial for the children's toy. They were little people figures with a rounded bottom instead of legs and feet. The bottom was weighted so the person-figure would pop back upright if you pushed it over.
Well, sometimes people wobble. I wobble a lot. Not physically, (due to yoga practice, my balance is pretty good at 68), but decision-wise, I weeble and wobble all over the place.
But before I get into all that, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Whether you are sad or happy, excited or in dread, may you find yourself surrounded by blessings and experience moments that bring smiles and awe.
Let's get you up to date on where I am today.
Last Christmas, due to COVID, I didn't have our traditional holiday pot-luck with friends. And though I missed the fun gathering and seeing folks, I had a great time with my friends, Regis and Cindy. We did a lot of birding and a little biking and kayaking over on the East coast of Florida near Titusville.
So in January when reservations opened up at the Florida State Parks for December, Cindy and I agreed to snatch up a reservation over Christmas time at Oscar Sherer State Park. The park is located near the Gulf Coast, but not on it. The park is south of Tampa and north of Fort Meyer, FL. The park is a conservation of forest and scrub land that is surrounded by urban growth.
Visiting here is a mixture of urban choices of restaurants, shops, and museums while enjoying also the hikes to see the eagles, owls, scrub jays and raccoons that make the area home. And the Legacy Trail, a paved bicycle trail, goes right through the park! We can hop on it to just ride or to go places.
My one Merry Christmas decoration.
When I got here it was so warm, instead of having a campfire, I light a candle and had a solitary happy hour.
Just a couple miles down the road is where I can go strengthen and stretch and get a warm shower, though the showers here are clean and have warm water.
The weeble wooble...
I arrived back in Inverness in late October. I had been living in my six by twelve foot trailer (Lilac) for six months. Then I moved into my 1900 square foot home with cathedral ceilings and two stories. At the same time, the real estate market was going crazy. Houses were on the market for one day. Some had several offers in one day. Some of the offers were over asking price. Another advantage to put my house on the market was that some are buying without even seeing the property, so the fact that my decorating had not been updated for 30 years wasn't going to be a problem.
I decided (and I felt so sure of myself) that I would sell my home. In my neighborhood there are smaller two-bedroom homes. I would sell my big house, wait a year or two, and buy a smaller place in the same neighborhood. I like the location and my neighbors and the construction of the homes here.
Where would I live in the meantime? Lilac! Why not? It was simple living, I had already enjoyed it for six months. I already was committed to living in it for three months this winter because I was renting my house out.
I moved forward and got a quote from a realtor, then on the suggestion of neighbors I just started spreading the word before signing with the realtor. I got an offer (low ball) right away. I refused it,
Then... I started to second guess my decision to sell. Questions came up, obstacles presented themselves. Then my decision wasn't as rock solid as before.
1) What about homesteading? The property tax here is based on what you paid for your property and can't go up more than a certain percentage each year if you are homesteaded. So if I sell and then buy a smaller place for more money than I originally paid for my big place in 2016, then my taxes will be more than I now pay.
2) The price difference between a small two bedroom and the larger four bedroom that I have isn't that much. I was hoping to come out with 40,000 to 50,000 dollars by making the move. That probably wasn't realistic.
3) A realtor in the area told a friend that the boom in the market isn't like the previous boom that depended on banks and loose mortgage rules. These buyers are paying cash. So a bust might be a long time coming if at all. It certainly will not be a big bust, lowering the prices a lot.
4) Clearing out my house, making decisions about what to keep and what to give away, became over-whelming when I looked around. I had already purged a lot and still there was so much. How would I ever get through it all, a desk full of papers, a box full of photos, a shelf full of cleaning supplies, a cabinet full of tools. Everywhere I turned there was more stuff.
5) I would sometimes walk in and go, "ahhhh, I like this place". Sometimes I would walk outside and have a fun conversation with a neighbor, or be invited to a spontaneous happy hour. And I would think, "I really love living here."
I decided not to sell.
I told my friend Angie that used to sell real estate that I had changed my mind. I lamented my indecision. She said that as we age it is harder to make decisions. She has experienced that a lot with her clients over her career.
I shared that information with another friend. She is widowed like me and she said, "Oh, thank you for telling me that! I am horrible at making decisions and sticking with them! I thought it was just me."
Nope, it's me too.
Then my car didn't start again. I have had this periodic problem with my 2011 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van for well over a year. I turn the key and it starts every time, until the one time when it doesn't. It grunts. It isn't the battery (replaced) it isn't the wiring (tightened) it isn't the starter (new one installed). It isn't the battery in the fob either as I have replaced that twice.
On top of that I had been dreaming of having a vehicle that could pull more pounds. I got up the small eastern mountains just fine pulling Lilac, though at times my tachometer would jump and the engine would scream. I had passed the 100,000 mile mark and noticed that some window gaskets were getting cracked and brittle. I needed to upgrade.
Decision made, I was firm. Friends supported the decision, "that's smart," they said.
Then more information came in.
1) Prices of cars and used cars are way up now due to the back log in shipping, shortage in people and parts due to plants having to shut down due to COVID or employees being ill or they often having to stay home at the first sign of illness.
2) As I looked at car choices I began to settle on just getting another van like mine with the stow-n-go seats so I could haul my trike and screen tent and lots of stuff. I would get one with a tow package so it would be more reliable towing more pounds.
3)I went to test drive a 2019 and the interior was cheaply made. It made me love my current van more because it is luxury and quality compared to the newer models.
4) Car Max quoted my van, they would only give me $4000 - $5000 for it. A newer model would cost me over $30,000.
I decided not to sell. Cars run for over 200,000 miles these days, I thought, and I have this one ready to haul all my stuff when I travel.
When I mentioned wanting to keep my van and just fix it up to be better at towing, Keith May gave me a list of things to have the mechanic do. And then he agreed that keeping this vehicle and just fixing it up would be a good idea.
Now I have new tires, new hoses and belts, new heavy-duty shocks in back, and a transmission cooler on order. I also learned I can order the window gaskets on line and my mechanic or a body shop will install them for me.
A lot of my friends and neighbors use this same auto mechanic, Steves Auto Service, in Inverness. He does a good job and doesn't propose things that don't need fixing. Tell Eric I sent you. He was pleased that I decided to keep this van. The thing that concerns him and me is the life of the transmission, but we will cross that bridge later.
You probably don't want to hear about all the fun I have had re-connecting with folks since I have returned home.