Wednesday, June 23, 2010

#71 - Working Toward Simplicity in a Complex World, Pt. 2

In my last entry, I wrote of our desire to one day sell the house and move from 2,000 square feet to roughly 300-350 square feet. Accomplishing that will mean ridding ourselves of stuff: things we have accumulated over the years out of desire, perceived necessity, or perhaps because of some empty place inside that we want to fill.

So that means downsizing, which means ridding ourselves of most of our books (I'm keeping my America's Test Kitchen Best Recipes cookbook, though), figurines, furniture, large tools, even some of our clothing. Yet, if the last several months are any indication, I don't think we will feel deprived.

When we take the trailer out, we simply do not have room for everything we seem to need in order to live our lives at home. And I don't think we miss it. In the trailer, we have places to sleep, places to sit and read or watch movies, a kitchen, and a bathroom with a shower. Simple yet adequate.

We also have the capability to sit or cook outside. And when we do sit outside, we have the prospect of a different front (or back, depending on your perspective) yard every time we go on an outing. While not as landscaped, these yards usually surpass anything we would see at our own home, and we don't have to do yard work!

In addition, we usually eat better, sleep better, and get more physical activity when we take the RV out than we do when we stay home. Not only that, but I'm convinced we use fewer resources during a weekend in our fifth wheel than we do during a weekend at home.

Showers in particular use much less water, simply due to the fact that the hot water heater only has a six gallon capacity, requiring conservation and a little planning. We also use less water when we do dishes. And because our trailer is 30 amp, we use less electricity simply because we can't plug in and run everything at the same time.

The fact that Teresa and I both have a bit of a nomadic spirit helped us to gravitate toward the idea of the full-time RV life and made the idea of living in a fifth wheel or a motor home seem also a no-brainer for us. The fact that we have become a little less materialistic as we get older also helps.

Money (and caring for Christopher) may dictate when we can make this transition from a sticks-and-bricks (as full-time RVers refer to houses) life to RV living. I'm confident that no matter how much money we have or don't have, we will find a way to make the move. I've read too many stories about people from all income levels who have made such a move to doubt that we can do it, too. When the time comes, I know we'll be ready. now to start packing those boxes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#70 - Working Toward Simplicity in a Complex World, Pt. 1

Teresa, Christopher, and I recently came back from one of the many weekends we hope to spend this year in our new to us fifth wheel trailer. Odd as it might sound to many in our super-sized, bigger is better world, Teresa and I seriously talk about and contemplate one day leaving our 2,000 square foot home (increasingly small by American standards) and moving into a 300-350 square foot fifth wheel or motor home.

One of the difficulties we will have to overcome is the problem of what to do with all that stuff. Like most Americans, I suspect, we have accumulated assorted treasures, necessities, creature comforts, tools, etc., most of which we will have to leave behind as they will not fit in the average or even the super-sized trailer or motor home.

That raises the question of where to start. When we look at the big picture and see all of the stuff we have (and we have less than many), it seems as if we could never get rid of enough to enable us to fulfill our dream of living in an RV, at least not without a bulldozer to come in and ruthlessly shovel most of the items away.

We are, I suppose, lucky in that we do not have a great deal of heirlooms or family keepsakes to have to store or find a place for in the RV. From my side of the equation, we have a set of flatware that was a wedding gift from my mother. That, we could use in the RV if we decided to keep it. I also have a few drawings and painting my mother did that I might like to keep. Those, we could rotate and use for decoration in the RV. Maybe.

Teresa has some family pictures, which we have talked about digitizing. She has also been worked to convert a number of songs from the many albums we still own to mp3 so that we can keep the music without the need to keep the albums.

That still leaves a great deal to weed out and rid ourselves of. When I was younger - especially after I went back to school - I became an avid book buyer, to the point where we had shelves full of books in several rooms of the house. I obtained them (some bought, some free) either with an eye toward graduate school or with the thought I would like to read them some day. In most cases, I never have.

Since we moved to Idaho seven years ago, I have managed to rid myself of four or five boxes of books, donating them to the local library. However, I have several hundred still to go through, knowing I cannot possibly keep them and pursue a full-time life in an RV. As any full-time RVer will tell you, books add a lot of weight to your RV and quickly eat up precious cargo carrying capacity. So, nearly all of the books must go, although I plan to keep a few. Deciding which few I will keep is what keeps me from getting rid of most of the collection at this point.

Then there is the garage, crammed full of stuff I'm not even sure we know we have. In that sense, we are much like any average American family. Here in Idaho, most new houses are built with three-car garages, two-thirds of which usually seems to be filled with anything but a car. That, I suppose, makes us a bit different from many. First, we get by with a two-car garage. Second, we can actually park one car in the garage.

Like most Americans, though, we have bought into the consumerism culture, hook, line, and sinker. We buy, I'm sure, things we don't need or things we think we need only to come across it on a shelf or in a drawer a few years later and wonder why we bought it and lamenting the fact that we spent money on it.

Unlike a house, though, even the biggest RV has a very limited amount of space for stuff. Yet we find we have plenty of stuff in the RV and we don't feel ourselves deprived. If anything, we feel like we have more of everything, something I'll explore more in another entry.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#69 - Questions From Out of Left Field

From time to time, odd things occur to me and obscure questions pop into my head. Hence the name of this blog. This is one of those times.

For instance, must a woman who rides a motorcycle have children in order to be a "motorcycle mama"?

If a motorcyclist is also known as a biker, what is a bicyclist also known as?

Why is it that I always seem to need to use the bathroom most right after I've gone to bed?

Now that we have so much choice on television, thanks to cable and satellite, why is it I can't never find anything I'm interested in watching?

If love is a battlefield, what's love got to do with it? And who did write the book of love anyway?

If Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll, James Brown the Godfather of Soul, and Michael Jackson the Prince of Pop, what does that make Liberace? And where does that leave Prince in music's royal family?

How is possible that a country which put the first man on the moon also produced the Ford Pinto?

If common sense is so hard to find in people, what makes it common?

Why is it that a child who's grounded is in trouble while an adult who's grounded is generally respected?

If we actually paid people based on the value of their jobs to society, how much would the CEO of BP owe us?

Finally, if a person writes a blog and nobody reads it, is it still a blog? Or is it simply a diary? Okay, I'll stop. For now.