A watershed approaches — not soon, but soon enough. We will be selling our present house and moving. The reasons are simple: 1) it’s too large for just the two of us; 2) it’s fairly expensive to maintain; and 3) the property taxes are obscene (believe me, I mean really obscene). The budget says “sell!” By cutting back in some respects we might afford to continue living here, but we also definitely look forward to the freedom that divorcing ourselves from this property will provide. (The girls are grown, and although it is always nice to have a large place to which they may return, their careers and distance make it unlikely they will show up for more than a few days maybe twice a year — not enough reason to maintain this particular residence.)
I mention all this as prologue to what selling this place will really mean: What will we do once it is sold? My wife and I have discussed the matter in only a preliminary manner, but some possibilities are beginning to jell:
1) Buy another, smaller residence. It would likely be either an apartment or a townhouse, since we agree we do not want to be bothered with things like a lawn, garden, sidewalk shoveling, roof repair, and other maintenance tasks associated with a free-standing house. Probably a condominium. The question, however, is where?
- I personally still like the Twin Cities a lot. The climate notwithstanding (and I prefer the cold to heat and humidity anyway), the cultural opportunities here are superior to almost anywhere in the country, especially for the cities’ size.
- Patricia would like to move closer to the girls, but then the question becomes which one? They are located on opposite coasts. If one of them started a family, that might decide the matter, but they are still at a point in their careers that a radical move to another city is not out of the question, which would leave us with the choice to follow or not. (In addition, housing is still noticeably more expensive in New York City or San Francisco.)
- A downtown Minneapolis condo appeals to me. I don’t think we could dispense with a car (like we could in NYC), but the supply of attractive condo units in the center city continues to increase.
- We’ve occasionally considered trying to get into one of the subsidized artist co-ops to be found in the Twin Cities, but we’d probably fall afoul of income/asset limitations.
- We might move to an entirely different locale, although I personally rule out anywhere in the South, even though housing costs there are very attractive. Places that previously have appealed to me: Santa Fe, Taos, Portland (Ore.), Seattle, or selected areas in New England. My wife every so often thinks of moving to be closer to her family in southeastern Michigan, or to my own family’s stomping ground near Traverse City, Michigan. Lots of possibilities.
2) Rent, here or elsewhere. Most if not all of the preceding bullet points apply. An advantage is not being tied down for more than a lease’s term. It presents interesting budget challenges, too involved to get into here.
3) Move temporarily to another country altogether. My wife recently latched onto this possibility thanks to an article in AARP Magazine, “Paradise Found: Ten fun, affordable, stunningly beautiful places to retire abroad.” Several places mentioned lie within the tropics, which do not appeal, but someplace like the Languedoc in France or Le Marche in Italy definitely has possibilities. This would mean selling the current place, banking the proceeds, putting a lot of our retained belongings in storage, and renting an apartment (or, possibly, house — but see above) in a relatively low-cost-of-living region in Europe or elsewhere. France appeals to me and a Spanish-speaking country to my wife since one of us would at least have a small head start on the language issue. Such a move entails complexities and ramifications beyond count, but the fact that many ex-pats have dealt with them suggests they are not insurmountable.
4) Time to mention my own immediately-after-sale dream: take a world cruise. Because of timing, we’d probably need to rent locally for up to a year — maybe in one of the “residence inn”-like places. All proceeds would be banked (and earnings used to fund the trip, at least in part). There simply would be no comparable way to visit so many different places, and the photography opportunities would be extraordinary. Holland America has a 110-day cruise that departs every January, for example, with a ports-of-call list worthy of a major drool. (When contemplating a world cruise or a temporary relocation like in 3) above, one of the nice things about digital photography is that I could take all the necessary equipment — including my digital darkroom — with me, and could upload to offsite archival storage as we traveled.) A downside is the amount of downtime involved — the Holland America world cruise entails 53 days at sea, which means you need to bring along a lot of books.
5) Buy or rent an RV or bus and cruise the country. Haven’t given this a lot of thought, but I have the experience of friend Ben Willmore for guidance.
6) Move in with a daughter (see bullet point above regarding living near one of them) — this one generally rates a “Ha! About as likely as winning the lottery.”
Other possibilities have undoubtedly not been mentioned, or even thought of. We still have a couple years to think about the alternatives, but not too much time since whatever we do will require planning. Just the thought of downsizing from this house — crammed to the gills with books, CDs, laser discs (!) and DVDs, cooking gear, framed and unframed prints, my wife’s sculptures, and everything else that one acquires in 42 years of marriage (a/o just a couple weeks ago), four careers, and two kids — is a daunting proposition.
Police State U.S.A. Department
An article in yesterday’s The NY Times raised my blood pressure (seems to be a frequent occurrence these days): “Border Sweeps in North Reach Miles Into U.S.“ The story discloses U.S. Border Patrol Agents boarding trains and buses that neither originate nor for most of their routes come anywhere close to the U.S.-Canadian border. The agents interrogate persons as to their citizenship or immigration status. Few of the targets realize that they have no obligation to respond, and of course the BPA never informs them of their right to silence. The possibility and in fact likelihood of racial and ethnic profiling are extreme, not to mention similarities to police practices in totalitarian societies:
“It’s turned into a police state on the northern border,” said Cary M. Jensen, director of international services for the University of Rochester, whose foreign students, scholars and parents have been questioned and jailed, often because the patrol did not recognize their legal status. “It’s essentially become an internal document check.” [Read Mr. Jensen's official filing in a related case.]
Legal scholars say the government’s border authority, which extends to fixed checkpoints intercepting cross-border traffic, cannot be broadly applied to roving patrols in a swath of territory. But such authority is not needed to ask questions if people can refuse to answer. The patrol does not track how many people decline, Mr. Pocorobba said.
[I]t evokes travel through the old Communist bloc. “I was actually woken up with a flashlight in my face,” recalled Mike Santomauro, 27, a law student who encountered the patrol in April, at 2 a.m. on a train in Rochester.
Across the aisle, he said, six agents grilled a student with a computer who had only an electronic version of his immigration documents. Through the window, Mr. Santomauro said, he could see three black passengers, standing with arms raised beside a Border Patrol van.
“As a citizen I’m offended,” he said. But he added, “To say I didn’t want to answer didn’t seem a viable option.”
Unexpected Tribute Department
A friend and fellow photographer who was one of our participants in this past year’s The Nude in Minnesota III show pointed to this blog from a forum discussion on Model Mayhem that highlighted a “Weekly Assignment” of “Public Transit.” So, if you are coming here from MM, I recommend you start with the “Index to Key Posts,” which provides links to the critical posts I’ve made regarding the “War on Photography,” relevant for anyone photographing public transit.
Have fun with the assignment, and be sure to assert your rights if challenged.
My leg and hip started acting up again last night, so thoughts I was on the mend naturally went out the window. So we’ll leave for the hospital in a bit more than two hours. Breakfast was my last meal until after the procedure. I’ll post a quick interim status report once we’ve returned (which should be about 4 p.m.).
Our first session — a confident, assertive gal.