Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mild winters and cool summer nights

I seem to have spent most of this day researching and thinking about what my next steps might be, where I would like to -- as well as where I might realistically be able to -- move next spring. I'm the first to admit that when I chose to buy this house and move here nearly 3 years ago, I didn't make the choice based on anything resembling reality, and I ignored lots of red flags. Lots of them. I'm not really sure there were really any green flags, other than a bank being willing to loan me the money to buy a cheap little house, and returning to where I was born. And since it is the place I was born and know reasonably well, I saw all the things I'm so uncomfortable with here, saw that I'd never be able to afford this place without a job, but did my usual rosy thing thinking it was all something I could deal with. I guess at that point I hadn't yet fully realized that my mind and body no longer want to deal with things that I don't like, or that cause stress. What's the point?

Since there's no real point in thinking about what I'd really like to do (which involves being footloose and fancy-free, traveling to whatever worldly location appeals on the moment, staying there for as long as the spirit moves me -- a week, a month, a year -- then moving on to the next), I've tried to stay within the bounds of reason. As I've given this subject thought over the past week, I've tried to look realistically at what is truly important to me. The two primary parameters seem to be a more liberal/progressive community and some kind of Buddhist center/group. Weather is the third parameter. Out of tornado alley, for one. Someplace warm and sunny with mild winters, for another. And of course, it all has to be affordable, through the miracle of subsidized housing for seniors.

I've actually found a surprising number of these in Marin and Sonoma Counties in California, prime locations for weather, politics, and Buddhism. Not to mention wine and food and beaches and just about everything else I love. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be rentable from a distance. All have waiting lists, which isn't surprising, but once your name reaches the top of the list you are required to have a personal interview. That would be a bit costly from way out here. If they decide to rent the apartment to you, you have to visit in person again to sign the forms, give them money, the usual stuff.  No surrogates allowed. So, to make any of these work I'd have to go ahead and move to California and wait it out. Nice thought, but unrealistic, given my income. There's really no place I could stay. I think a phone call to at least one of them is in order, just to get the facts and see if there's a way around being there. And see how long the waiting lists are.

Second choice, and the most reasonable one for many reasons, is Asheville, NC. It's a lovely small city about the size of Eugene, OR and with many of the same liberal leanings. I already know a woman who established and leads a meditation group there, and there are other options as well. It's several hours closer to the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, so I could continue to go there for retreats. The apartments all sound lovely. Summers there are a delight. Winters -- I'm not so sure about.

From what I can gather through research, winters there are not much worse than winters here. But for me, it's too cold here in the winter. That opinion may well be colored by living in a drafty old house that's really hard to keep warm, and these newer, smaller, energy-efficient apartments with central heat would not likely pose such a problem. I didn't have much trouble with the cold in Atlanta for 10 years, as I recall -- because of smaller, newer, less drafty apartments with central heat. Winter is really the only red flag that pops up when I consider Asheville, so I think I need to take a little trip up there soon and check out the various apartments, maybe get my name on some waiting lists. And check out the winter weather facts. I've been watching the daily weather there for the last week, and their daily highs seem to run about what the temp is inside my house right now -- 82 degrees. I wouldn't even need to use AC for that, because to me it's pretty comfortable. And nights are cooler than here, which would be perfect.

Asheville is certainly not as appealing as the milder winters and cool summer nights of Marin and Sonoma, but unless a miracle happens, I might as well forget that idea! It would certainly be an easier move, and I wouldn't have to sell all my stuff and start all over. There's a lot to be said for that at my age. It's also easy to drive up and check the places out, unlike California.

So aside from that -- I braved the garden again this afternoon for a half hour or so and made some decent progress. It's still an overgrown mess, but these small increments of time are adding up and making a difference. I had to come back in and swallow a big glass of ice water, splash some cool water on my very red face, but all is well now.

Be well, y'all!

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