Long time readers, blog followers know that when my mind starts to wander, things could get interesting. -2° was the high temperature yesterday. What the news calls the "polar vortex" I just call it a normal Midwestern winter. It happens every year. The difference is the tv news has to sell advertising and when they can create a crisis, and can try to scare the public with something like "a polar vortex" that will sell more advertising, more groceries ... still it's just winter and has happened annually for hundreds of years.
I'll get to last night's story later but I will say that I ignored all the warnings to stay inside and not travel anywhere last night as the temps dropped to -7° as I was driving. I know what I can do and can't do in bad weather, no need for the local news to throw out all of these warnings and try to scare me into staying locked up inside the house.
For those interested in my house heating experiment that I wrote about a few posts ago, it's turning out to be very successful in decreasing my "utility footprint", saving me some money and still able to keep fairly warm. In December 2013 with 12" of snow the 2nd week and single digit temps I used 1,495 kilowatts during that month and that was with me at work 5 days per week and gone 8-10 hours per day. During those times away I would turn the heat down or off.
This December, we didn't have the snow but it was just as cold. Actually it was pretty mild, with temperatures in the 30's to 40's range with the temperatures dropping below the 20s the last few days of the month. Even at those temperatures I needed to run the electric baseboard heat at times. My total usage for the the month was 873 kilowatts. A little over half of what I used last December, and only a $20 dent into the $301 credit I have built up after 7 months of billing. (May to May).
With the temperature at 6° outside at 11am, I just turned on my heat for the first time today around 1:30pm. Since this house holds that heat pretty efficiently, I'll turn off the heat when it gets to 65° inside. The house stays pretty comfortable at 60° with the older storm windows taking the brunt of the frozen weather.
During these temps in the teens and single digits I've only allowed the hounds out just long enough for them to dump their tanks, otherwise they would stay outside to the point of freezing their paws and then they would not be able to walk.
After a little over a week of changing Heidi's treatment and getting her off of the Atopica, I would have to say her condition on her paws and rear hucks as being stable. There was a slight decrease of improvement at the start. but I applied some diaper rash cream, more like a paste that has 13% zinc oxide to the red areas where she was starting to lick and chew again. That showed improvement.
I am trying to use that paste as little as possible because I want to see if the change in dog food to a no-grain, all pork diet from Merrick will show any visible signs of improvement. She isn't in any pain, has gained a lot of her energy back since being off the medication and just one paw shows where she has licked it a lot.
So, what about this "mind wandering"?
I wasn't going to complain this year about the cold weather ... and I haven't. It's part of the winter for the place I live, so this year I decided I would live with it and not focus on it.
It took one conversation with a local friend of mine that grew up in San Diego and Hawaii that started me house hunting ... in places that are warm. It's not like I had a lot to do outside in zero temperatures, so I had plenty of time to look on realtor dot com and zillow.
Still, it got me thinking again. Why not finally relocate to somewhere warmer and be able to enjoy outdoor activities year round instead of being locked inside the house during the three months of winter trying to keep warm?
The five main towns I focused on were Casa Grande AZ, Arizona City AZ, Eloy AZ, Alamogordo NM and Las Cruces NM. One area was on a suggestion because a friend had a relative that had moved there and really like it. The NM locations were past interests of mine. Needless to say I have all of those towns plus a few more, added to my iPhone weather app that comes with the phone so I can see and compare the weather of each place.
Between the two realty sites I was able to save different houses of interest. I had made up my mind that I would sell the one I live in and make a complete move west. I even considered moving as soon as I had the house packed up and cleaned, leaving an empty house for sale with a realtor. As usual, the thought of being a home owner raised it's ugly head and it was something I told myself I didn't want if I were to ever move again. I've never been a fan of house repairs or maintenance and cheap enough that I would rather do any of that work myself instead of hiring it out.
So that thought lingered as I scrolled through houses that were mostly trash when comparing them to what I had now, in the same price range. I knew I'd have to spend more to get the same quality I had now. I also knew even with a more expensive house or a newer house ... repair and maintenance ... were and always will be part of home ownership.
The thought of sunshine 300+ days per year and temperatures higher than 30° during the day also sounded great. During this time it was 2° where I was. I factored that in when analyzing my thought process. I remembered how much I liked living here last spring and summer and wrote about those feelings.
Still, maybe it is time to have a change of scenery. I've been retired now for eight months. Things have settled down, a retirement routine has been developed which is nothing different than what I did on weekends or paid holidays off from work. I never see the people I worked with, rarely hear from them so most of the time its the hounds and I.
A list of things to do once spring arrives as far as house upkeep keeps getting longer, just like every year. Winters are hard on houses and maintenance must be done before the next winter if you want to keep your house in good shape. It's like fighting against mother nature as she tries to drag the house away with her. Plus it's time consuming and always seems to be never ending.
The dreaded thought of home ownership was popping up at times while looking at all the houses under sunny skies ... it's something I have said I would not do if I decided to move. What about the hounds? I know from personal experience in my house renting days how hard it was to rent a house with just two hounds that weighed more than the "pet allowance" of 25 pounds. I have a little over 200 pounds of hounds walking around. I don't think condos would like us and even some houses that allows renting with pets ... just smaller than then ones I have.
After a call late afternoon from my old college roommate and friend for forty years, I tell the hounds I'm going on a road trip through dangerous sub-zero weather and I'll be back later ... don't stay up waiting on me ... I take off for a late dinner at Nick's, with a salad, a 12" strom and a few pale ale's.
My friend is also recently retired. His wife chooses to work until she is 70, so traveling is limited for him. He is the hiker that had a tent camping background but all during his younger premarried days.
Our conversation moves to the houses I've been looking at, the locations I am considering, while some of those areas nearby he has hiked many many years ago. Then he said something similar to what I've been say in this post about "home ownership". His house to him was one big albatross. He said if he was single, he would sell it immediately, buy an Airstream type trailer and park it somewhere. Now, he has not done any research on boondocking, state laws for boondocking, nor does he read any rv blogs but he said no matter what he would sell his house and buy a trailer to live in ... something smaller and a way to be more mobile.
He had no idea where he would park it but it would be out west somewhere. That led us to discussing the pros and cons of home ownership, even with ours being paid off, low property taxes and a low cost of living where we live. He lives in a town of of 120,000 people, one small college and a small university, not like me being outside a town of 2,500. By the time it was midnight and we were the only one's at Nicks because the students haven't returned to campus yet, I had decided once again that home ownership is not something I was looking for when changing my location.
As I made the 30 minute drive home watching my outside temperature gauge show -7°, then a -11° by the time I pulled into the driveway ... I thought about houses, the house I have, how everything is comfortable, yet I have the urge to make changes. I wasn't really interested in going through the new procedures (hassle) of purchasing a house by the time I went to bed.
Halfway through my coffee this morning, my mind was going a different direction where houses were not part of the formula. Of course the hounds were but not houses.
I think we've been down this road before.