Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to participate in Halloween Bingo this year. A whole lot of things are going on, and that situation might get more intense over the next two months. I will still try to read and block out my squares, but . . . .
Feel free to skip the rest of this post. And please don't feel obligated to respond. As stated in the title, this is just personal rambling. However, I do value your input, because I know all of you are uninvolved in the situation and have no biases. It's amazing how valuable unbiased opinions are!
So, taking a deep breath and putting it all into words. . . . .
I first considered the idea of moving about two years ago, but the arguments in favor of staying far outweighed the advantages to leaving. Part of that is just plain inertia: It's easier to stay put than to pack up and move. That's not going to change.
If I were to move, I'd have a shit ton of stuff to transfer. Not just household goods, which is normal. In my case, however, there are tools and equipment, plus the inventory of rocks and wood which are not easily packed, are very heavy, and are in some cases (mostly the wood) dirty. Again, this plays into the inertia equation - it's much easier to stay. So this point is not arguable. It is what it is.
If I were to move, I would almost certainly have to put up with cold weather in winter. I don't do cold weather at all. It's been over 30 years since I drove in snow. And I HATE snow. I love sunshine, which I have in abundance here in Arizona. I love wearing sandals virtually year round. I don't own any cold weather clothes. I don't like rain and gloom. We get very little rain here, and when we do it's almost all in the form of sudden storms. I like getting the rain because it brings out the flowers and helps the plants thrive. I don't like days and days and days of gloom. The cold and the gloom of Indiana were one reason we left and came here 33 years ago.
And yes, the location I'd move to has cold winters and some snow, lots of rain and gloom, very moderate summers without the high temperatures I'm used to.
So those two issues -- the cost of moving the amount of stuff I have, and the change in weather -- are not negotiable. They are fixed. The advantage is to stay, and it's a huge advantage to overcome.
Next issue: I have no family here or anywhere close. I'm essentially estranged from my brother and sister who are both in the Chicago area, over 2000 miles away. The reasons for the estrangement are many, and both of them have their own complex lives anyway. My daughter and her family are in New Jersey, almost 3000 miles away. My son and his family are in the Seattle area, which is roughly 1500 miles away. There's no one, not even cousins, nieces, or in-laws any closer.
I will turn 70 next month, so this is a huge consideration.
The Midwest holds absolutely no attraction for me at all. The brutal weather is the killer. I can't even imagine dealing with sub-zero (F) temperatures and snow up to my eyebrows. And with no, shall we say, "welcoming" family there, it would make no sense anyway.
The East Coast likewise doesn't entice me in the least. The weather isn't much better -- hurricanes vs tornadoes is pretty much a draw -- and there's nothing much in terms of other amenities that I like, with one exception: Cape May, New Jersey. I love the artsy-fartsy atmosphere of the old resort area. But on the other hand, Cape May is terribly expensive and very seasonal and very subject to the aforementioned bad weather. Cape May is not a viable option.
That leaves the Pacific Northwest, where my son lives. Whidbey Island in particular.
The past few weeks since returning from my visit there, I've been browsing through the real estate listings, sort of out of idle curiosity but sort of with the idea in the back of my head that this might be the future. I have no idea what my Arizona property is worth or how the market is doing these days, and that's part of the equation.
I just replaced the water heater and water softener. The washer is going to be due for replacement soon, too, but I think it will last a little while yet. The patio awnings suffered some slight damage in the recent storms, but I think they, too, are okay for a while. The roof and air conditioning are good. There is some weathering damage to the exterior, and I have no idea what the cost of that repair would be.
The interior is fine except that the carpeting shows the effects of numerous dogs and twelve years of occupancy. There are some minor areas where a coat of paint would help, but they are small. There are no holes in the walls or anything like that. BF is pickier about this sort of thing than I am, but it's not his house.
The little house -- my studio -- is in about the same shape. The roof is new and the appliances work, though the a/c system is original 1987 mobile home vintage. It still works, however! Some of the exterior needs repair just from weather wear and tear, and there is some damage on the interior that was there when I bought the place. The little house was considered "derelict" when I bought it, and I made all the necessary repairs to bring it back to livable condition. Zoning prevents using it as a rental; it's zoned for "indigent family member," commonly a mother-in-law or whatever. It works terrific as my studio for sewing and rock processing.
The third building on the property is the workshop, which is roughly 50' by 20' with a covered patio of about the same size. This is where the larger tools (lathe, table saw, band saw) are kept. The hand tools and auto tools and so on are stored there, too. There are built-in shelves as well as two large work benches and other shelves that I brought in. The workshop has water and electricity and was originally intended to have a half-bath (toilet & sink) installed, but that was never completed.
I list these structures not to get some estimate of value but to explain why the idea of moving from here into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath "neighborhood" house isn't practical, at least not for me. There are houses like that available at a reasonable price, but . . . . . .
We're back to the inertia issue. Moving all the contents of house, studio, and workshop is a major consideration, because . . . . . . . .
The contents of house, studio, and workshop are how I supplement my meager social security income. I could not live on SS alone here or Whidbey Island.
And here's where other issues come into play.
Whidbey Island has a thriving arts & crafts community, and there is a conscious effort to maintain that.
The northern part of the island -- from the circled "20" on the map down to about the label "Oak Harbor" -- is dominated by the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island base. Oak Harbor is very much a military town, and all the usual amenities are there: the Walmart, the McDonald's, and so on. South of Oak Harbor, however, none of the chain retailers exist. None of the fast food franchises, none of the big box stores, not even the chain supermarkets.
THERE IS ALSO THIS THRIVING ARTS & CRAFTS COMMUNITY
Mom and Pop restaurants and shops. Antique shops. Galleries and studios.
This is Coupeville, captured in 1997 or so for the film Practical Magic. The building on the left with the oval "Open" sign is the Jan McGregor Studio, where I bought a package of silk fabric samples on a visit in 2013.
In the center, with the couple descending the steps, is a very expensive but very popular ice cream shop.
And there's Sandra Bullock across the street, heading toward her organics and incense and magic shop. That's Coupeville.
The rest of the towns are just like Coupeville - Langley and Clinton and Freeland and Greenbank. There are art shows all summer. There are farmer's markets all summer.
I don't have anything like that here. The art shows I'm able to do require more and more and more physical labor, and there are no other outlets. No galleries or gift shops, no farmer's markets. And there's no community support.
There are, therefore, economic reasons to move, but then there is something else to take into consideration, a real unknowable factor.
The lack of a true arts community here in this part of Arizona has, I think, contributed to my lack of enthusiasm about it. That in turn has contributed to my lack of production and even my reluctance to participate in some events. Would it be any different if I moved? Would I suddenly get my mojo back just being in a supportive environment? And at my age, would I be able to establish myself in a new market?
My local artists' group -- such as it is -- has been on its annual hiatus since May. Our first meeting of the 2018-19 season is a week from tomorrow. Our first show is 7 October, less than five weeks away. Maybe I'll get a better sense of how things are going here after the meeting, after the first show.
Our big event, the annual Studio Tour, is the first week-end in November. I've been very active in promoting that event since I resurrected it in 2007 after the other sponsoring organization abruptly dropped it. I love the Studio Tour and I love (almost) always being Studio #1. I love setting up my displays in the front garden under the big mesquite tree with the view of Superstition Mountain. I would miss that terribly.
But then I found this --
It made me cry.
I could, I suppose, sit here like a kid with the Sears Christmas Catalogue "Wishbook" and think of all the things I want and want to do. I could lament a lot of lost opportunities.
Or I could . . . . you know . . . . do something.