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Thinking like a homeowner

For most people, including us, it is a challenge to revise your earth-bound thinking to the world of full-time travel. There are so many presumptions that you have to toss out: the presumption of never-changing utilities (power, water, sewer, trash); the expectation that you’ll wake up every day and know where you are; the reliability of a weekly schedule.

But the process of tossing out those presumptions is very liberating, once you get the hang of it. As a full-time traveler without a house to maintain, you can focus on yourself rather than the structure around you. No tax bill, no mortgage, sure — but what about never having to sweep the front walk or paint the eaves?

We found that once on the road we had massive amounts of free time that had formerly been dedicated to mowing, shoveling snow, shopping for house items, caring for plants, and cleaning. I knew that would happen, but still it was amazing just how much time we spent servicing the house — literally 10 to 20 hours each week. It was a second job. And by selling the house and taking to the road, we’d essentially said to traditional society, “Take this job and shove it.”


Ah, those were the days, but we are now on the flip side of that, having come back to a house and finding ourselves completely immersed again in household duties. Suddenly it seems there is no time to do anything but take care of the next house-related task.

And my thinking has gone back to the mode of years ago when we last owned a house. Some of it is pretty bizarre. Case in point: I love my toilets. Yes, love. We finally found a low-flow toilet that actually works reliably (the Toto Ultramax). It works so well that I am even telling you about it, here, in public. It works so well that you could flush a live cat down it. (Note: I am cat lover as well as a toilet lover and don’t actually condone the practice of flushing cats.) As one of our contractors has said, “It makes you want to eat more just to see what it can take.”

OK, enough of that. My point is simply that homeowner-hood has taken over my brain and suddenly things like this not only matter, they are the top thoughts in my head. I am having actual concern about trivialities like leaves that blow into the carport, and decades-old cracks in the backyard wall. I am picking palm tree seeds from the gravel, and washing bird droppings off the windows. My number one goal this week is to — gasp — go shopping, for stuff like mattresses and chairs. What has happened? Did someone slip a double Prozac dose into my raisin bran?

In all this, there is no room for thoughts of adventure. I remember (vaguely) a time when we would awaken to draw back the bedroom curtains and be reminded of where we were that day. Then we’d grab the national park map and guide and plan a day of hiking, or sightseeing. Or we’d go walking around to explore a rally, or just open the windows and let the local smell (salt air, green forest, desert breeze) permeate the Airstream. I’d still have to do some work every day, but other than that my thoughts were of what we could do next to have fun or expand our horizons. Rarely did I think about cleaning or maintenance, and never about mowing, planting, or painting.

Well, in Tucson mowing is still low on the priority list, fortunately. So it’s not a total setback. But I am plagued by an emotion borne of homeownership: envy. I am horribly envious of my friends who are all in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park having fun.   Other friends are getting together in Quartzsite this weekend.   Worst of all, several of them have made piteous comments designed to make me feel better, like “Yep, I’ve been landlocked by my house too,” and “Don’t worry, someday you’ll get back on the road.” I want to be on the road now! If I sit here too much longer I may turn permanently green, and I don’t mean in the eco-friendly way.

I am ticking off the tasks that have to be completed before we can go. This weekend we are expecting Handy Jerry to come by and deal with some “punch list” items on the house. More interestingly, we will get delivery of our couch. (That might not seem like a big deal but it is to people who have spent a lot of time cross-legged on the rug lately.) And Emma has her big karate test on Saturday. This is all good, but it means yet another weekend stuck at home.

These tasks are passing by like a line of traffic on the highway. We’d like to get our chance to pull out, but they are so evenly spaced that we never seem to get a break. As soon as we see a break of four days or more in the schedule, we are going to hitch up and go somewhere — anywhere. And if we can’t see a break, we’ll make one. We’ll just schedule all the final tasks for the last two weeks of the month and take off between now and then. It’s risky, but worth a shot. That should get us out of homeowner-think and into mobile-think again — not to mention enlivening this blog a bit.

So let’s summarize:

  1. Homeownership can turn you green.
  2. In my world, the “homeless” wanderers are to be envied, and the stable home owners are to be pitied. (Yes, I live in opposite-land.)
  3. The best thing about Tucson is that lawns are optional.
  4. Toto makes a really great toilet.

Keep all that in mind. There will be a test later.

5 Responses to “Thinking like a homeowner”

  1. Mike Young Says:

    Totos rule!!! I too sing the praises of Toto toilets. Alas, when I do so all I get is stares of incredulity. Glad to see that I’m not alone in this offbeat passion. But, perhaps, we should be a little more guarded about sharing plumbing interests with strangers. 🙂

  2. Peter Nault Says:

    Please tell me you’re not considering building a sculpture garden of old discarded toilets on your lawnless lawn!!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Home remodeling has become a hobby, much like taking up photography or golf. Just look at the Home depot or Lowes parking lot on any day of the week and especially on the weekends.The magazine and book section at Barnes and Nobel have hunderds of titles to choose from. What you don’t have a Wolf Range and ZubZero in your kitchen plans?? It’s a national sickness.

  4. Judy Says:

    Gee Rich, your world sounds very much like mine!
    When we were deciding on toilets, I did lots of research. Here’s my favorite line: “Although the test protocol utilized a media whose physical properties closely resemble typical human waste, the reader is reminded that there is an enormous variation in human waste from person to person, and from one day to another.”
    At least we don’t have that job.

  5. rick olivier Says:

    hi rich & co.

    don’t forget to tell us all about your feelings on tucson and the east to west conversion (it was vermont before, yes?) love your blog.

    re:toilets. I recommend the Kohler Wellworth to all my friends. best buy for a hundred bucks. ok, enuff toilets…

    POR’ed by back frame today. doing some welding tomorrow. amazing what this AS thing will throw your way!