Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Loss

I am mourning the loss of a beautiful view. For the 4 years we have been here at OakMeadow I have be able to sit in my rocking chair and look across a 2 acre field to the trees along the creek. It is a lovely, restful view but the owners of the property have started to build their house. Now I will look out and see a house. I'm sure it will be a beautiful house but there is no comparison to a field and trees. I think I shall move my rocking chair to the opposite corner so I won't so often be reminded of the lost view.

This brings me to think about all the ugliness we inflict upon ourselves. We cut down a couple of trees to put in another strip shopping center. Like the world needs another gas station, nail salon, dry cleaners... We pave over acres for malls and movies and big box stores. All that was pretty is paved over. There's always money for cutting down and paving over but precious little for preserving or for parks and trails. We are like Esau who sold his inheritance for a mess of pottage.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Economy

I spent $58 to fill up my van with gasoline and $132 at WalMart for groceries. There were some extras--replacement for garden hose, big bag of birdseed for the feeders--but there usually is something extra. We can afford $50+ for gasoline, $100+ for groceries, $750 to fill the propane tank but it must be a real challenge for people in the $40-50,000 range in addition to housing and children and near impossible if there is an income interuption such as job loss or medical problems.

OTOH, I see people who can least afford it making one foolish decision after another. Buying junk food from vending machines, smoking, lottery tickets, doing as little as possible at work, not getting an education, credit cards and payday loans. But it is not just lower income folks, the middle and upper middle income groups can be just as foolish-->You want it??-->just put it on a credit card. Bigger house-->no problem-->bigger mortgage. Live right up to the limit. Assume everything is going to be rosy--you or your spouse will never get sick or lose a job so there's no need to save for a rainy day. The idea of saving up for something, well, it just would never occur.

There's several sides to today's economy. Yes, food and energy costs are up but for a long time many Americans have had really unrealistic expectations of what they can afford.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hot, hot , hot

It is baking hot outside. It is always hot in July, August, and September but it seems worse than usual this year because of the lack of rain, because it turned very hot by the first of June, and because it doesn't cool down much at night. It was 80 degrees before the sun came up this morning. The water level in the stupid (man-made) lakes is way down. What a waste of water and electricity. I look outside and wonder how the trees and shrubs survive; quite a few of them wouldn't if it werren't for Joe watering them. I wish there were a way to drain water from our shower, sinks, and washer to our trees.

I wonder if we will have a hurricane this year; we haven't had one since 2005 when Katrina took out New Orleans and was followed by Rita. According to Global Warming, hurricanes will be both more frequent and more severe. They are probably right but even if not, because of the tremendous build up of population along the coast, subsidence, and the draining of the coastal marshes, the damage caused by any hurricane is increased by several orders of magnitude. Joe and I are just incredulous at all the houses along the West End of Galveston Island.

My portable clothesline came and I was pleasanttly surprised that it was fully assembles and I only had to unfold it and set it up. Although I plan to use it in the garage (because the stupid subdivision won't let us have outside clotheslines), I refer to it as my solar clothes drier. My next solar projects are a solar charger for my scooter and a solar oven.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I don't think that I will ever retire unless I become physically unable to work or if the job market for hospital pharmacists dries up. The future is, of course, unknowable so I may not be able to continue but I will make my plans to continue. There are two main reasons for continuing to work--one financial and one personal. The financial is simple: It takes a lot of money to maintain a comfortable, interesting life; it has been my experience that having money seldoms makes a situation worse. The second reason is that I flat find staying home boring. I can enjoy being at home for several days at a time but after that I want to go somewhere and do something. I enjoy homemaking to an extent but not as a total life.

Deciding not to retire has a couple of benefits. First of all, I don't have to feel pressured to live ultra-frugally both now (in order to retire later) and in the future when I would ber living on a fixed, limited income. Now this is not to say that I will not continue to save for a rainy day but it does replace the negative pressure with a more positive knowledge that the rainy day fund is there if needed. Another benefit is that not retiring encourages good practices of both mental and physical health. Lastly, not retiring gives "permission" to enjoy the here and now as long as debt is not incurred and the rainy day fund continues to grow.

I know this is not an option for people who do hard manual labor or who have physical disabilities that cannot be accomodated in the workplace. It is also not a good plan for those who have jobs they find boring or who work in unpleasant situations. And finally, it is not for those who find homemaking the calling of their lifetime.