Searching for a new home

cabinFrom my previous posts you know about the construction and destruction of the neighborhood where I now live. I have engaged a realtor, an old friend of mine, and am actively engaged in finding a new place to live.

This is a daunting task in many ways. First and foremost is the fact that I will soon be 70 years old. It’s not easy pulling up stakes at my age. I have lived at my present location for 15 years, which is the longest I have lived at one place in my lifetime. Being a Navy brat, my family moved a lot. I have lived in Florida, Texas, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York. I have lived here in Virginia since the 11th grade. In the time I have lived in Virginia I moved 7 or 8 times. I am hoping this move will be my final move. I plan on dying where I move next.

All my friends, family, doctors, church, everyone I know, live in the Hampton Roads area. Ideally I would like to find a place to live in this area. The only problem with that is that I have grown to hate this area. I have a bit of a nomad still in me, and 50+ years in the same area is having its toll on me. Add to that the relentless development, construction, traffic, and just total urbanization of the area is distasteful to me. I want some country, not endless condos, new homes, shopping malls, etc.

I am trying to find a place where I am not elbow-to-elbow with people, I want some peace and quiet. I want to be able to look out on my back yard and see a deer, or a fox, or a racoon once in a while. I used to be able to do that here, but not any more. Plus, the cost of housing in this area if very high. You really can’t get much for what I am able to afford. If I find a house that I like, I find I don’t like the neighborhood, or if I find a nice location, there is something about the house I don’t like.

I also have a medium size dog, which adds to the difficulty of finding the right home. I would like to have a fenced yard for my dog, but I don’t want too big a yard because I will not be able to maintain it by myself for much longer. Plus I don’t need a house with a lot of square footage to take care of since it is just me and my dog. When I have found a home that suits my needs and that I can afford, it is usually too far from the church that I attend, and in which I am very active, to be able to commute to daily.

When I look at properties in the western part of the state, outside of Hampton Roads, homes are much more affordable and you can get so much more for your money. But then I would have to give up attending the church I have attended for so many years, and be distanced from my friends and family.

So as you can see, I have a lot of decisions to make. I have to prioritize what is most important in my life. And the decisions I make will be ones that will affect every aspect of what time I have left in this world. I have a great Realtor and she has been very helpful and supportive. I told her I would be finicky about where I would live. It has been tougher so far than I thought it would be, but it has also helped me to set some priorities about what is most important.

So the quest continues. I haven’t given up yet, I have placed it all in the hands of God. I will find somewhere to move to, somewhere where I can find a little peace and quiet, and hopefully escape the relentless encroachment of progress, at least for a little while. Pray for me or wish me luck, or both.

Memorial Day and other things

Life can change so quickly. “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.” First thing, Memorial Day. Memorial Day is one of the holidays I have trouble with. It is such a sad day yet it is also a day to be proud. A day to be proud of the fine young men and women who serve our country yet be sad at the terrible loss of those same fine young men and women. Sometimes the loss is justified and sometimes the loss in needless, yet never meaningless. I fought in Vietnam and it stands out for me as one of the most needless, tragic wars in American history. So many fine young Americans sacrificed for no noble cause. They fought and died because they loved their country and each other. For no other reason, only that the lessons learned from that tragic war could possibly prevent something like that from ever happening again. Unfortunately, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that those lessons learned at such a terrible cost were ignored.

As for the riding high in April, shot down in May, I found out that my beautiful Golden Retriever Max has cancer. It is malignant and involves the liver. It is not operable but is treatable with chemo. He has been prescribed Prednisone and another Chemo drug. The Chemo drug is very expensive but that is not a consideration. The Vet told me that the median life expectancy with treatment is 18 months. Max will be 12 years old this November. I pray that he and I will have at least a couple more years together. He is my constant companion and one of my main sources of joy in this life. It is always so hard to say goodbye but I wouldn’t have missed our time together for anything. I love you Max.

The last thing is it looks like I will be moving very soon. Long story, but at least I pray this will be my forever home as I am 66 years old and don’t want to ever have to move again. So it is one of the biggest decisions of my life where to move too. I don’t need anything big or nice, just somewhere where Max and I can have some peace and quiet in our final years. Not trying to sound maudlin, just a little overwhelmed right now.

That’s about it for now. May God Bless whoever reads this. May you cherish every day and everyone in your life.

Summer is almost over

Fall is two days away and I am looking forward to the change of season. Fall is probably my favorite season. Pleasant weather coupled with the changing of the leaves and Halloween are at the top of the list of what makes Fall great.
Not much exciting happening around here. Most of my time has been spent shooting, Twittering, reading, and shooting video with my new camera. I have found that I enjoy shooting video as much as I do taking still shots. I bought some video editing software and have been adding titles and stitching together multiple snippets of video.
I really think our new minister is working out well. I have enjoyed his sermons and at the last ministers cabinet he had some great ideas for outreach and ministry that I think will help our church to grow. He has been emailing me with videos that he wants to use during Sunday services and his choices have been excellent.
I went to a gun show in Hampton yesterday and even though I hadn’t planned on it I bought a rifle. It was not an expensive one though because I really have to watch our finances a lot closer now that Teresa and I are both retired. The rifle is a Saiga 7.62X39mm modified version of an AK-47. The rifle is manufactured by the world famous Izhmash armory of Russia. I called my son Jason yesterday and invited him to go shoot my new rifle next weekend. Should be a lot of fun.
That’s all folks. Off to church in a bit.

Heading to Hawaii

We have not been on a long vacation since our last trip to Key West Florida several years ago. I have always wanted to go to Alaska but Teresa is not taken with Alaska like I am. So we decided to compromise and take our next vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Actually, I am almost as excited about going to Hawaii as I would have been about going to Alaska. I was able to find plane tickets at a really good price so I  jumped on them. We will be staying on the west side of the Big Island for 4 days and then we will spend 3 night on the east side of the island.

One of the places we will be staying at is a converted Shell service station that is now a Zen Buddhist Bed &  Breakfast. It is run by a Japanese lady named Akiko. We will be staying in the Mango Tree cottage which is is the middle of a rain forest. The other place we will be staying sounds as exciting as Akiko’s. I want to see Volcano National Park as well as the botanical gardens. There are many other places that will be on our list and we expect this to be the best vacation of our lives.

In other news, I have  just returned from the optometrist where I have been fitted with a pair of multi-focus contact lens. I hope to be able to do away with my reading glasses for good but it may take another visit or so to get the prescription right.

Summer is here and I will be getting the pool ready to use. We have already had a couple of 90 degree plus days so it will be nice to have a pool to jump into. I have given up trying to mow the back yard and have contracted to have the back yard mowed and trimmed for 35 dollars. As we anticipate moving soon it did not make financial sense to buy a riding mower and the people that do the yard do a great job.

There is a lot more I could say but I will save it for another day.

I almost forgot, we got snow!

I have always loved snow and really hate that we so seldom get any significant snow here in SE Virginia. So I was thrilled when we finally got some real snow this year. As usual the snow came in March. It was not a lot of snow, maybe an inch or two, but it did cover everything and stayed around for a couple of days. I think it may have been the first snow our dog Max has ever seen, and he really loved it. I took a few pictures of the snow so that I could look back fondly on that day, escpecially during the years when we don’t get any. It seems if we want to see any real snow on a regular basis we are going to have to leave this area. In fact, that is what we plan to do by the end of this year. Looking at New Mexico right now, hopefully the northern part of the state.


I was afraid this might happen

Although I have never really owned many firearms I have always enjoyed shooting and target practice. When I was in the Army I got to shoot the M-14 and M-16 rifles and those memories are still strong. The only firearms I have ever owned were a 22 revolver and a Ruger Mini-14 22 rifle. I gave both of those to my brother Jon when I was going through my 2nd divorce and have not owned any firearms until I recently bought my Mossberg 590 12 ga. shotgun. Needless to say I have really enjoyed owning and shooting my Mossberg.

But now I want another firearm. I have no real need for one but the desire to own a pistol has become very compelling. You can get a concealed carry permit in Virginia and I must admit that there have been times where it would have been nice to have had a weapon to protect myself. As a result of this compulsion I have been looking at different pistols and ammunition and I have decided on a Glock pistol firing .40 S&W ammunition. There are three basic models of Glock firing .40 S&W, standard, compact and subcompact. I think I want the standard because I don’t think I will carry it concealed often, if at all. I recently fired a Glock in .40 S&W that my brother Jon owned and I really liked it. It was lighter than a 45 caliber that my brother also had and it seemed to be more accurate.

Glock 22
Glock 22

Fortunately, with Christmas fast approaching, I cannot justify spending the money to buy a Glock. So that will give me some time to consider whether I need or desire a new pistol. But I have a sneaking feeling that before too long I will be compelled by forces beyond my control to add a Glock to my burgeoning firearms collection.

Checking our emergency supplies

I woke up this morning and turned the TV to the Weather channel to see what was happening with Hurricane Gustov. Gustov made landfall as predicted west of New Orleans but fortunately was only a category 3. From what I have seen on the Weather channel coverage New Orleans is faring much better than it did with Hurricane Katrina three years ago. What has me worried is that TS Hanna is now a hurricane and is threatening the East coast. It is not likely to directly influence us as early predictions show it making landfall in Georgia. But you never know with hurricanes so I have been checking our emergency supplies. While I was doing that TS Ike has formed in the middle Atlantic and another potential storm is off the coast of Africa. So as the peak of the hurricane season fast approaches things are really heating up in the Atlantic.

As far as supplies go we are pretty well prepared. I have emergency MRE’s enough for 4 days and other emergency supplies like water, first aid, weather radio, batteries, etc. that should see us through all but the worst hurricane. I bought a backpack a couple of years ago that is packed with emergency supplies that will supplement the existing supplies. If it appears that a hurricane is really going to hit our area I will buy additional supplies from the grocery store so we should be well prepared. I just hope that we will not have to use any of this stuff.

I also hope that no hurricanes impact the Kennedy Space Center as I already have hotel reservations and a plane ticket to go there for the October 8 launch of STS-125. I am really excited about going down there and seeing the shuttle launch. I bought a ticket package that will allow me to tour the KSC facilities and observe the night launch from the Visitor Center there.

TS Hanna
TS Hanna

Vacation plans and other news.

Teresa and I had been planning to drive to Charleston, SC for a short vacation. I vaguely remember Charleston from when our family drove through it many years ago. But we encountered problems with finding someone to take care of Kirk so the Charleston trip is off. Instead we plan on driving down to Hatteras NC for a few days with Kirk. As close as North Carolina and the Outer Banks are to us, it has been a while since we have been down there. We plan on staying somewhere on Hatteras Island, perhaps Salvo or Avalon. The trip is scheduled for the last week of August when the weather should still be warm. I still plan on traveling to Florida to see the space shuttle launch in October but I will be traveling alone. Teresa is not very interested in driving to Florida to see the shuttle launch.

In other news Teresa applied for a job working at Jeb’s Corner Market. We are regular customers at Jeb’s as they have the best prices on meat and poultry in the area. Teresa received a call today asking her if she could start working there tomorrow. I guess Teresa may be getting a little bored with retired living plus I think she wants a little extra spending money. As for me, I am not interested in any kind of part time employment, at least not yet. One other important thing happened on Sunday. Our interim pastor, Stan Peerless, told me that he had accepted a job as a full time pastor for a church in Luray, Virginia. I am glad for him and his wife but I will miss him a lot. He is a great pastor and a good friend. Our church will miss him even more. He was instrumental in efforts to revitalize our failing church and I fear that without his guidance our church will falter in its efforts for a new beginning.

Hurricane season heating up.

I woke up this morning and checked the National Hurricane Center to see how Tropical Storm Bertha was doing and to see if there were any more storms brewing. To my surprise there was a tropical depression that had just formed off the coast of South Carolina. That depression is now Tropical Storm Cristobal and it is headed up the east coast towards our general vicinity. It is not likely that we will get much more than some wind and rain and maybe beach erosion but it did prompt me to see how well prepared we are in the event a major storm hit our area. I have a backpack of emergency supplies that I bought a couple of years ago which are probably still good. The backpack has emergency food, water, weather radio, flashlight, batteries and other assorted stuff. I also have a large box of MRE’s (meals ready to eat) that I also bought a couple of years ago. Along with a ton of water in plastic jugs in the garage I think we are in pretty good shape for any storm. The last storm of any significance that hit our area was Hurricane Isabel which did extensive damage in our area in 2003. We had evacuated to Teresa’s dad’s house in the western part of Virginia before Isabel hit and were fortunate to have gotten our electricity back soon after returning home. The house and yard, including our fence, were damaged but not extensively.

So I have my fingers crossed that 2008 will be like 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 with no major storms impacting our area. But I feel we are prepared for the worse if it should come to that.

Summer is almost here.

It will officially be summer in a few days. This will be my first summer as a retired person. The last time I had an entire summer off was when I was in Junior High School. So I hope this summer will be a memorable one. I have lots of plans and ideas for keeping busy. We have our pool where I expect to be spending a lot of time. The hammock is also I nice place to spend some time. Away from home Hoffler Creek now rents canoes and kayaks to explore the nearby creeks and waterways. I still plan on going soaring at the airport is Isle of Wight. I want to go to the beach, including Assateague beach and the beaches on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am still planning on driving down to Florida to watch STS-125 launch, although that is in October and not officially summer. I am sure I will think of other things to do. After all I have all the time in the world, I’m retired.