Archive for June, 2011

Charts and Maps

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Like many people, we’ve often rented or borrowed multi-room dwellings for many of our vacations. I guess it all started with our honeymoon in a cabin at Hard Labor Creek State Park. I remember an early tripp to Fripp with my sister and her husband, and later visits to Hilton Head, including several time-share weeks graciously donated by the same sister & husband. We’ve spent more than one anniversary week at an isolated cabin in the woods of The Last Resort. During our more-children/less-money phase, we were privileged to stay at a family site on Smith Lake in North Central Alabama, and had some great times at a rustic church lodge near Black Mountain, NC.

As our children became adults with Real Jobs, we looked for opportunities that would still be meaningful while leveraging their limited vacation and holiday time, finally settling on spending Thanksgiving week on Edisto Island on the South Carolina coast. We stayed at several beach-front rental houses there until we found the perfect large-family-house on the marsh, to which we have faithfully returned over the past several years.

My birthday sailing lessons in 2005 started a growing affection for Lake Sidney Lanier, so we added a Memorial Day water stay, trying several VRBO properties at various places around the lake, learning some of the pros and cons of lake real estate.

All of these excursions featured great fun and food, and most included friends and family fellowship (The Last Resort excluded, for what are hopefully obvious reasons.) They also included some form of non-automotive transportation, ranging from bicycling on Fripp Island to canoe trips, hiking on mountain trails, sailing, skiing at Smith, and, most recently, kayaks and ski-dos. We have been fortunate to build some great memories, with only a few stitches, the occasional cast, and an extra pound or two to show for it.

Now, to get to the point of this posting, there’s a common, but easily overlooked thread running through these trips that I want to touch on. In almost every case, I have greatly enjoyed acquiring, or in some cases even generating, maps and charts of our locale and surroundings. It’s no secret that I am a fan of the visual representation of information, and a good map is a unique pleasure for me.

Now I am starting to look at maps with a slightly different perspective: these will be “closer to home”, shall we say, and they will be relevant more than one or two weeks a year.

Sounds like fun to me!

Twirly World

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

This is an extremely pleasant Saturday afternoon. A cloud cover and brief rain have kept the house and yard pleasantly cool compared to the last few unnaturally hot days. I have a project to work on involving cables and sound equipment. I have food and drink at hand, and music in the background. Other than missing my spouse (who is off visiting one of our distant young’uns), I could hardly ask for better. And it is quite timely, too.

My little world has been all a-twirl for the last few weeks. We have been seriously pursuing a new housing opportunity that has occupied a large share of my life, thoughts, and emotions, much larger than housing usually does.

This pursuit has come about due the intersection of multiple factors, including

  • real estate opportunities resulting from the recent economic unpleasantness,
  • realizing (much to our surprise) that we aren’t getting any younger,
  • recognition of our growing affection for water, including ocean, lake, marsh, river, and boats of all kinds, and
  • the pleasant opportunity to share enjoyable surroundings with our family members more than just once or twice a year.

All of this has not come without its own share of fretting. It would be literally impossible for me to convey all of the ponderations I have been pondering. It has been downright ponderous.

Rather than even attempt to summarize, allow me to just list some of the key words, in no particular order, just to give you an idea of what has been waking me up at night of late. Words like investment, fun, stagnation, opportunity, conserving, spending, work, conservation, change, risk, future, age, life-phase, energy, fortunate, resources, fortune, parents, children, goals, inspiration, and happiness.

By my own observation, us humans are particularly good at arranging the facts to justify what we want to do. I try to be conscious of this tendency, and remain objective, but, really, how can you know?

Nonetheless, in all my thinking, I have reached some intermediate conclusions that I feel like sharing. Realizing that I am not you, and you are not me (unless it is me that is reading this), you should take them with a handful of salt, and perhaps take another look at the cartoon in my previous post.

  1. At some point in life, I think it is OK to ask yourself what you are saving for. (Or, if you are a stickler for grammar, “… for what are you saving.”
  2. For me, the appropriate use of my resources has always been a balancing act, weighing the needs and desires of myself and my family against inclinations toward sharing, altruism, and helping the less-fortunate.
  3. There are fears that plague us in our darkest moments – death, medical disability, painful loss, weather disaster, political upheaval, economic collapse, uncertainty about the future. Yet it is liberating to realize that these dire potentials can also provide a powerful justification for seizing the day, for enjoying every moment, for loving deeply, and, yes, sometimes even spending madly.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say as the future unfolds.