Monday, August 14, 2017

Decisions, part 1

One year ago, I sought your advice in this post. I needed help figuring out the rest of my life; specifically, where to spend it. My thinking was that seven miles south of nowhere was probably not a good place to retire safely or successfully. You came through for me with dozens of great suggestions that might meet my relocation criteria, and I spent the next six months dutifully researching all of them.

I tried to picture myself living back east but couldn’t get beyond the population density and humidity. I tried to picture myself in Texas, but there was that humidity thing again. Eastern Washington and Oregon began to rise to the top of the list, but western Colorado rose higher.

I zeroed in on a few areas, and all roads led to Grand Junction and some of the smaller towns nearby. I monitored the weather there throughout the winter. It seemed similar enough to the 7MSN's that I started thinking I could live there. Did you know that Grand Junction is the fifth safest place in the U.S. when it comes to natural disasters? Call me a sissy, but avoiding tornadoes, forest fires, and earthquakes was a key relocation criterion. 

In practical terms, Grand Junction is only 450 miles and one state over, so moving there might be slightly less stressful than to a place farther away. As I continued trying to picture myself a Coloradan, I set up Google alerts to follow the area news and learn more about what I might be getting myself into. I even checked out rentals on Airbnb to see where I could stay on a reconnaissance trip come summer.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, a presidential election happened and I haven’t been able to step away from the news since, no matter how hard I try. In the middle of nowhere, it's very easy to pretend that the swirling chaos in our country doesn't affect me, though it certainly does ... it's just easy to pretend otherwise when cows and snakes are your neighbors, not batshit crazy people. I have never been as grateful for my isolation as I am now. When I find myself literally screaming at the screen when the person in the White House speaks, I can turn it off, walk into the pasture, and throw my arms around a donkey. We all have coping mechanisms and this is mine. That it happens every single day for the same reason leaves me without words.

Anyway, by early spring, I had a plan. I would visit Grand Junction during the summer, affirm it was the place for me, buy land, then come back and put the 7MSN on the market. I would stay here until it sold, knowing that it could be a few months or a few years. When it did sell, the animals and I would move to our new land and live in a trailer or something while I had a house and barn built for us. Piece of cake.

But then I started down the worst-case-scenario path. I spent hours on Zillow, looking at pricing and sales trends for New Mexico horse properties. What if I couldn’t sell the 7MSN at a price I deemed fair? What if I couldn’t find a buyer at all? I’d be stuck with land in another state that I couldn’t use.

The less risky approach would be to sell the ranch before I buy land elsewhere. But how would that work? Where would I live until I found or built a new place? Since the new place I was envisioning is exactly like the old place – except on a paved road and maybe a little closer to a town – did moving even make sense anymore? The 7MSN holds my heart and soul; I feel safe here, and it feels more like home than any place I've ever lived. Every time I thought about trying to move away from it, my head would explode and I’d become a walking blob of sleep-deprived stress.

I circled back to my original premise – that seven miles south of nowhere isn’t a good place to live for the rest of my life – and tried to rethink it.

I’ve lived here for 12 years, and I’ve gotten damned good at it. I’ve learned the secrets and tricks to keep the place humming along, and while it may not always be easy, it’s do-able, usually fun, extremely satisfying, and always an adventure. Except for the road thing, the 7MSN has proven to be the perfect place for my animals and for me. 

So for now, I’m not going to mess all that up just because I’m worried about eventually being too old to take care of this place. I'm staying put, right where I belong. Maybe when I’m too old to live here, I’m too old to live. I’m ok with that.

With that enormous decision out of the way, I can focus on other important stuff, like what I want to do in retirement … which starts in 141 days, but who’s counting? More on that part of the decision in the next post.


There's no place like home.

38 comments:

  1. I admire your thought process and your decision to stay where you love. We DID move at retirement, about the same distance you were considering, but within the same state, Tennessee. I now feel like this is my dream home and they are dragging me outta here feet first. At 69 and 72 we are both healthy and active and realize how lucky we are. You are already living your dream and retirement will only improve your life, it is the best thing that ever happened to us! And now, you can just get on with your life, decision made, yippee skippee.

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  2. sound decision! I had bet with myself you would stay in 7 MSN! Am I seeing cushion crochet selling for the future?

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  3. Anne Boleyn8/14/17, 4:56 AM

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️!!!!!

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  4. you remind me of ME... I think and think and plan and plan and circle and circle just like you did. and for what it is worth, I agree with your decision.... love the photo

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  5. Congrats on your upcoming retirement! It will come very fast. Harley took the plunge last January and is loving it. I'm following your story with interest and hope that you keep blogging even if you do (at one point) move away. Hugs to your furry feathery critters and you.

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  6. You can't leave a place that holds your heart. Someday in the future is well...someday in the far away future if you decide it's too much for you. You're wise to live your life where you are the happiest and most comfortable. And the upside is you already have your house and barn and land etc. I also don't think you can find more beautiful skies anywhere else.

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  7. as I sit here reading blogs, I can hear the idiot on TV and forgot to comment about your screaming. I don't scream but hubby screams enough for both of us and the TV goes day and night with him screaming at the TV and then telling me what I have already heard...

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  8. Any way to get your road improved? Maybe some rural road grant??
    We live a top a very steep hillside and when we get ice or snow it is a problem. We talked about moving....but oh the view we have! So this year we decided just to budget for paying for ice removal if it happens. Thankfully it's not often.
    Congratulations on the retirement. Fun to see what comes next for you. Lisa G in TN.

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  9. I live alone, too. I own my own home and the mowing and snow removal, etc. seem to be getting more difficult as ai age. I will also be eligible for retirement in less than 2 months. What I have to keep telling myself is that, like you, when I can no longer,keep my home humming along, maybe I will find a solution that is more acceptable at that time. But, to dwell on that NOW is preventing me from living a satisfying life in my home now! I think that people who are responsible tend to dwell on what might happen and try to prepare for this but rob themselves of enjoying life in the present. I certainly understand your thought process and agree with you! Enjoy living in the present!

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  10. I totally get it. As you get older all you need is a network of friends who will keep in touch and a neighbor to call in an emergency - and you already have that! I bet you have many many sunrises ahead at your beautiful ranch.

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  11. Congratulations on sorting out what you want and need for now. Hardest thing in the world to do.We agree that where you are suits you and the crew. And that New Mexico light and beauty cannot be beat.

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  12. Life decisions: *groan*! I completely identify with your thought process and planning, as well as your decision. It's not a "final" decision, you know. You can always revisit and rethink, and Grand Junction sounds like a great possibility to continue to hold if it seems time again one day in the future to plan a migration. And, as others have said, retirement is the BEST!

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  13. Have you ever looked into getting the road to your place paved? Talked to County folks who might be able to help out or direct you to the right channels. Having quick access is one thing; having equally quick egress is crucial! Might be worth your time to see what the possibilities are for both you and the County.
    Both Grand Junction and Canon City are considered Banana Belt regions of Colorado ... however ... Canon City is on the Eastern side of the Continental Divide and that was another plus for me besides the factors you stated ... avoiding tornadoes, forest fires [however, it wasn't that long ago that the huge fire destroyed the Royal Gorge Bridge Park and that has been restored better then ever! It's just too damned expensive to go in there, but one can buy a Pass, if they want!] And, I moved from mid-California to get away from the earthquakes -- however, with all the fracking in OK, earthquakes are happening all around us! I have actually felt one here in Canon City that followed I-25 ... I couldn't believe it! That happened last year.
    Whatever you plan will work for as long as you need it to! Hugs from CO ... Marcia

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  14. So glad you made it around the circle right back where you are supposed to be. I always go with the philosophy that whatever will happen will at the right place at the right time. And just for the future planning...there are some great folks living in the Grand Junction area, so it's a great second choice. Happy for you.

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  15. Northern AB gal8/14/17, 8:48 AM

    Congratulations on your upcoming retirement! I think your decision to stay put is probably the best one for you right now. There are so many pluses to staying where you are, although you might need another 4x4 to deal with the roads. lol. If you have been comfortable living 7 miles from nowhere for this long I'm not sure you would enjoy living in a more populated area, people can be a real PITA sometimes.
    As someone who used to enjoy watching politics, on both sides of the border, I have to say that I have stepped away from the newsfeeds and feel much better for it. What will be, will be, and nothing I do will change that no matter how much I scream at the TV. So my advice, turn off the TV and social media and get out and enjoy that special place you call home.

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  16. Your heart is at the 7MSN; the heart wants what the heart wants.

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  17. In my own town, and within my own circle of friends, this scary administration is making us define the things that are important to us: family, home, our animals, our national parks, the ocean, all of our treasured land. I am following your moving and retirement process with interest as it is also mirroring my stage of life. Thanks for sharing with us and hope your decision to stay at the 7MSN for now calms your heart.

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  18. Whew! I almost had a heart attack :-o.

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  19. I admire your sound decision making and, of course, following your heart. Enjoy your life and congrats on your upcoming retirement!!

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  20. good decision making. staying where you are and happy. Perhaps you could build a small place somewhere on your property for someone to rent in exchange for caretaking of you and the place.

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  21. This post makes me happy. (well, commiserating on the excruciating political situation doesn't but...) I'm doing a similar thing - running a one-woman farmette - here on the humid, hurricane prone east coast. Knowing you're out there coping - hell, thriving, is super inspiring. So - selfishly, thanks. 7MSN means more than you may realize :D

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  22. You might find someone on work away that can help with your retirement plans. Might take a few hits and misses before it all gels. I have a few good real life friends who have used it. and returned to sopme of their favorite home away from homes

    https://www.workaway.info/

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  23. I love that you are staying where you are, there is no reason to act now on an uncertain future. Later, so many options may be open to you, and for now you can stay in your beautiful location and enjoy the sunrise (and turn off the tv when it gets to be too much, I know I have...).

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  24. I tried to put myself in your shoes. I'm 70 and the idea of being so isolated at my age is scary. Farming is hard work and not for anyone with advanced age living alone. I know, you need a bunk house and a bunch of young cowboys who want to learn how to run a ranch!!

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  25. Will you come and help me make some decisions? I am always amazed at your thoroughness and level headed thinking! Your place serves as a mental refuge for so many in this awful political climate. So thankful you have continued to share it.
    So glad for an update :-)

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  26. Linda,
    You need not come up with excuses, justifications, apologies, or reasons for any decisions you make. It sounds like you are right where you belong, and where-ever you may be, I'll still be your biggest fan!

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  27. An American in Tokyo8/14/17, 8:38 PM

    Ooooo! You are going to retire soon!!
    I'm glad that you came to a decision for now. You can always change your mind later, it's never too late!
    Meanwhile...
    Would you be open to having a blog friend or two visit and do some kind of B&B?!
    I would love to come visit!! ;)

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  28. I always read your posts on my feedly app and for some reason can never comment (ever). I have been following you for years. I understood your thought process when you put out feelers about a place to move to. But I have to say huzzah! huzzah! huzzah! to you staying at 7MSN. My husband and I lost our boy 5 years ago next month. That changed a lot of things for us in an instant. There is no one to inherit from us. I will most likely die before my husband (I'm older). The future changed enormously. We moved recently, 500 miles north of where we were in So. Cal. I can die here. Don't care to change again. No one will want the place when we go. Do not care. We are home. I'm staying home now. If you are home, sounds like you are, then stay. Love and light Carson. <3

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  29. Shoot, almost had you here..I totally understand the whole moving thing.

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  30. I'm glad you're staying - since that is what your heart seems to be telling you to do. 7MSN is such a beautiful place, and I am constantly blown away by your projects and total resilience! Go hug the donkeys and settle in for the next 12+ years! :)

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  31. I'm not even going to read through the other comments..so if somebody says it before me... okay.

    Get some guys and some big equipment there and get that road fixed. Grade, gravel and, roller it ..... even asphalt some of it... I don't care if it is 7 miles... and it may not be and maybe you could even straighten it out some if it is on your own property and shorten the distance, ..but, it would be loads cheaper than moving and less stressful. Just my suggestion.

    hugs, V>

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  32. Boy you had me going on this. Because I am a big day dreamer of where to retire. (June 30, 2021 for me) You do you boo, you do you! Because life is too short to do anything else!

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  33. I loved reading all the comments! I agree totally, it is home and will always seem like home to me.
    Home away from home. I too have decided not to downsize or move. I am near my family and love my home. I know you are at peace with your decision and I believe you made the right one for you. Big hug woman!

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  34. I have been following you for years... cried when Winnona and Hank died... was sad when Deets and Miss June Disappeared.. I love your pictures and sigh every time you post a picture the mountains. I am 60 years old, I do not think I could do a single thing you do at the Ranch. but I cheer today when you post you are staying. But you do what is best for you. Ms. Linda. Much Love, from an old gal from Austin, Texas.

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  35. I am NOT a planner. Yes, I am familiar with that quote. I am 62 tomorrow :) ... and misspent my youth to my delight! I hope to continue. I currently live on 8 wooded acres in what was rural but is fast becoming semi-rural northwest Montana. I intend to go more remote shortly.

    I enjoy my own company and even more - the company of my animal companions. I pay less and less attention to the rest of the world which contributes to my personal happiness and then on to my animal companion's happiness because "if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"!

    So, Cheers to your decision. There is NO place like home - whatever home means to you.

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  36. Congrats on reaching a decision. You have found and made the 7MSN a perfect home for you and your fur/feather babies. I know the road is an issue, but if it was all paved and nice you'd have the issue of 'PEOPLE'! As for the future, with the current idiot running things, God help us all. I'd say 7-11 miles from nowhere is pretty darn perfect. If the need arises, I'm thinking a small mobile home on the back 40 could be situated where you couldn't even see it, and you could have an on-premise helper to do the heavy work. I know a lady in a very isolated valley, still ranching and living independently at 98!

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  37. So here is a thought: Post the 7MSN Ranch on Zillow with a "Make Me Move" Price. We did with our rural home in the mountains east of Albuquerque in 2014 (here was my post https://www.zillow.com/homes/67-Pinion-Heights-Rd,-Sandia-Park,-NM-87047_rb/ ). The appraisal when we refinanced in 2011 was $60K less than we paid for it in 2009 at the height of the housing bubble so we never thought someone would offer us our "Make Me Move" price. We, too, thought as we aged the place might be too much for us and too far away from civilization but we weren't quite ready to actively sell it. Lo and behold, a California trust fund buyer offered us full price (which was $23K more than we paid for it in 2009) and because it was cash, it didn't have to match the appraisal for a bank loan to go through. Soooo...try it, you never know, and you don't have to have it actively listed on the MLS...just post if for free on Zillow, put up your pretty pictures and tell them why you love living there. There are plenty of dreamers out who look at Zillow for their dream house. And some of those dreamers have cash (many from California) and are looking to get lost 7 miles south of nowhere.

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