The Point

What’s the point of all these changes?  The point is to have time.  We want to have more control over our time.  Right now, we are living for the weekends, and then we spend those weekends running errands and cleaning the house and mowing the lawn and doing things we HAVE to do.  Where is the time to do the things we want to do?  I have a whole list of things I’d rather be doing with my time than working and commuting and doing house-upkeep things, and John has more hobbies than you can shake a stick at.  (What is that even supposed to mean?  Why is that a phrase that means anything?  You’ve never seen me shake a stick.  I can shake a stick at all KINDS of things, and fast, too.  Why would you want to shake a stick at lots of things?  Or even one thing?  I don’t understand.  Google’s results are inconclusive.)  Yes, I’m aware that everyone feels this way, but that doesn’t mean we have to.  Not if we can do something about it.  So we are.

The point is to have time.  We’ll remove owning a house from the equation.  Suddenly, we don’t have to paint the porch columns or mulch the flower beds or mow the lawn or stain the deck.  We’ll save money, money we could use to things we WANT to do (like travel and take lessons).  Our rent will be less than our mortgage, we won’t be paying HOA fees.  Over (not too much) time, we’ll pay off Riley’s medical bills and the air conditioner we replaced in the spring.  I’ve done the math.  With an estimate for rent, just moving out of house will save us approximately $1700 a month (possibly more).  Moving out of the area (and paying off those two items) will save us another $1000.  Putting our plan in motion will eventually save us nearly $3000 a month, regardless of how much money we make in these hypothetical new jobs.  And we won’t HAVE to make as much money in those hypothetical new jobs because we won’t be living in one of the most expensive areas in the country.

With saved money and extra time, what can’t we do?

State of the Rest of the Household

People, our plan is in motion.  It’s still fairly nebulous, but that’s okay.  We have steps to take, and then steps to take after that, and at each point, we can (and will) revisit our decisions and change our direction, and yeah, okay, we’ll probably be flying by the seat of our pants a little bit, sometimes, but that’s okay, right?

Step 1: Get the house ready to go on the market.

There is SO much to do for this step.  We met with our real estate agent, she brought over a stager who made a ton of notes for us to follow to make our house look as perfect to prospective buyers as possible, and then we spent last weekend getting of SO MUCH STUFF.  The Salvation Army truck came by Saturday morning to pick up that extra dryer we’ve had in the basement since we moved in and about 30 boxes of books.  We did a sweep of the entire first floor and filled up my car with stuff for a trip to the Salvation Army Donation Center near us, and when we got back, we made a sweep of the entire second floor and repeated the trip.  Sunday, John worked on his car (because it needs to be able to go with us), and I started packing up OUR books for long-term storage.  We finished that project last night and moved all of the books that were in our dining room AND all of the shelves into the basement.  Tonight (or possibly this weekend), we’ll do the same thing with the library (the room that used to be the dining room).  The stager says we should switch those rooms back, and losing the bookshelves will make the rooms look bigger, so okay.  It’s possible that we would have ignored that advice, but those things will need to packed up in the near future anyway to go in storage (they can’t come with us!), so it helps us to get them packed up now.  We’re going to use that crib we never managed to get to Erik and Margaret (sorry, guys!) in our guest bedroom to make it look like a nursery, so we need to get the full bed that’s in there down into the basement, and once we’ve finished moving furniture around, we can call the painters and have them fix and paint the ceiling by the stairs and paint the walls and ceilings in the upstairs hallway and the stairs.  Oh, we need to paint the outside of the front door, and we need to get the guy in to paint the railings of our deck.  Those are the big things, I think.

Step 2: Put the house on the market.

We’re aiming for mid-October.  Might make it.  Once it’s listed, we just have to keep it clean.  We’re going to have to figure out what to do with Riley, though.  Maybe we run home and take him for a long walk?  Maybe he’s fine in the backyard?  He’ll make a ton of noise, though.  I don’t really want to have to crate him in the basement every day, but that might be the easiest thing to do.  We’ll talk about it.

Step 3: Find a place to live.

Once the house sells, we’ll need a place to go.  We’re planning to find an apartment or some sort of rental in the area, near enough to commute to our jobs.  Rent has to be less than our mortgage (shouldn’t be difficult), the lease needs to be short-term, and they have to allow dogs, of course.  I’ve done some preliminary searches – those places exist not far from us.

Step 4: Find portable jobs.

We’re not going to stay in the area (that is NOT the plan) long term, and we’re not ready to settle in any one area right now, so we need to have jobs that will let us work remotely 100% of the time.  Once we find those jobs (John’s current job might let him do that.  Mine will definitely not.), we can leave the area.  The job search can start any time, but will certainly start in earnest once the house has sold.

Step 5: Decide where we’re going next.

The sky’s the limit.  We have some ideas, and it will depend on our timing, but we can go anywhere.

I’m sure there are other steps, and I’m sure there will be other steps, but I think those are the main ones.  We’re doing all of this even though Riley just had his leg amputated, and even while he’s going through chemotherapy.  Dogs are portable, too, and he just wants to be with us.  It doesn’t matter where.  We’ve run out of reasons to delay – we are ready to go.

State of the Dog

It’s time for an update.  Riley is doing really well.  His surgery was three weeks ago today, and he had his first round of chemotherapy last Thursday.  He’s got his old energy back, even if it doesn’t last as long as it used to.  He goes on daily walks (twice a day, most days), and he romps around.  I’ll get video of him in action soon, I promise.

When we took him in for chemo last week (which doesn’t affect dogs the same way it does humans – much lower doses, so most dogs don’t even get sick), the oncologist looked at him, hesitated, and asked if he’s a border collie.  Shrugs from us.  Maybe?  Partly?  Could be a problem.  The plan is to give him two different drugs, one each visit.  The first one is not an issue, but the second one is often toxic to border collies, Australian shepherds, collies, and other dogs of similar breeds.  Toxic like could actually kill him, not just make him sick.  So we’re doing a genetic test.  If it turns out he’s part border collie, our chemo plan will change.  The test results are due back in another week and a half to two weeks, and the next chemo visit (when we start that second drug) is two weeks from tomorrow.  The timing should be just about right.

The other thing we’re working on with him is his appetite.  While recovering from surgery, he didn’t really want to eat at all.  Four of his six pills (antibiotics and painkillers) had to be given with food, though, so we were quite literally shoving pills and food down his throat.  Pills that had to be stuffed into round meatballs of wet dog food so he would take food at the same time.  It was awful.  For everyone.  But he’s gotten much better about taking pills since then.  J  He still isn’t eating normally – actually, he is eating normally now, which was never all that much.  He was kind of a picky eater, and he only ate when he felt like it.  That sounds perfectly healthy (he’s not the kind of dog who will eat until he gets sick), but it’s not enough when he’s underweight.  He isn’t eating enough.  So now, we’re buying samples of all kinds of delicious wet dog food to see what he likes, and we’re adding some of that and some plain chicken to his dry food twice a day.  He eats the good stuff and leaves the dry food.  Sometimes he comes back to finish the dry food.  Mostly, though, he knows it’s going to get covered with the good stuff again at the next meal time.  I don’t care as long as the end result is that I can’t count his ribs just by looking.

He’s wearing his compression shirt, and there’s a towel stuffed under there to protect from scratching. He didn’t do much scratching.

The big day

Riley’s surgery was today.  This afternoon.  I’ve since heard from the vet, the surgeon, and a vet tech, and they all say he’s doing fine.  He just can’t come home yet.  When he does come home, he’ll be a tripod.  (One of the vet people said that to me the other day.  “One of my dogs is a tripod.”  Caught me off guard.  It’s obvious, but it never occurred to me to call a three-legged dog a tripod.)  I feel a ton better now that the surgery is over, but now I’m going to worry about how he does overnight.  What if he manages to pull out the IV and doesn’t get his fluids or his medicine?  He’ll be fine, I know, but what if he isn’t?