July 3, 2015

Summer Storms

The monsoon has officially arrived! This week we have had dust storms and a nice light show twice. Last night, we had impressive lightning and a good downpour. The forecast calls for more stormy weather through the weekend. This is good news for those of us who call the desert home. The cloudy skies today should help to keep our temperatures down, at the least, to more moderate ranges (lower 100's). It is humid out right now (38%) with only a slight chance of rain today. The chances of rain are much stronger tomorrow (historically, we seem to get rain on the 4th of July, go figure!) Still, it is such a blessing to have a change of weather. I cannot tell you how boring it is to always have sunny skies. I am sure that folks who move here from extreme Northern climes love the sunny days, but for those of of us who like clouds and variable weather, the perpetual sun can be just as difficult to handle as the always present grayness. I happen to be one of those people who really needs gray. I know that seems weird, but I have always loved the grayness of winter, the cloudy and rainy days, and the variableness of weather. I don't like severe storms, tornadoes and such, but I do enjoy the change. Just saying it is so...

Thinking More About Moving Elsewhere

Yesterday I posted some pictures of my desires regarding home ownership. Today, I thought I would post pictures of what I love most about the country life. I grew up in the city, always a city girl, but my heart was never into the big lights of the big city. Of all the places I have lived in my 50 some years, the closest I came to living in the country was my 8 years spent in Hazel Crest, IL. Hazel Crest is a village in the southern suburbs of Chicago. The house pictured to the right was my childhood home. It was white with black trim, and I don't recall a big tree in the front yard. Still that would have been nearly 37 years ago so a lot has changed in the neighborhood (demographically speaking). As a child, I think the population was about 17K. According to the 2010 census the population is now 14K. I am not surprised with the drop. Most of my childhood friends have left the area, moved farther south and west of the city. Still when I was young, you didn't have to drive very far to be "in the country" or at the least in a more sparsely populated area. In fact, you could drive about 10-12 miles south and you would see open fields by either side of the road.

Monee, IL

My cousins lived in Indiana and Ohio, so during our time in IL, we visited them frequently. My Indiana cousins lived on farms outside of Bluffton (near Ft. Wayne). My Ohio cousins lived in the country outside of the Akron/Canton area. Both locations, IN and OH, were beautiful, and I dreamed that some day my Dad would get relocated with his job. This never happened, and instead, my Dad moved from IL to CA. My youth was spent living in either smaller towns to large metro cities. I have to say, though, that my heart has always been drawn to rural America. I have always loved small towns, smaller churches, and the lifestyle of Small Town, USA.

Ohio

Sharon Center, OH

My Aunt and Uncle's House (it was brown back then)

Down the road

Indiana

I tried to capture some photos from Indiana, but unfortunately, where my family lives (or lived) is so rural, that Google has not taken the time nor interest to map it (LOL!) Instead, here is Berne, IN. My Aunt and some cousins live here, and it is a very quaint little town.

Downtown Berne

Typical Amish Farm near Berne, IN

Old and New

I think what I love most about these pictures is the way of life captured in them. While I am not advocating a return to a simpler time or even moving to a farm somewhere in rural America, it is more so that I long for the peace and quiet of the countryside. I love rural roads, and I love small towns. I love everything about living in a small town, even the negative things like living in too close of quarters where everyone knows everyone. There is part of me that loves this idea, and I think it is because today, so many people do not know their neighbors. Even if they do know them, they may not socialize with them. I mean, they may say hi or wave, but they don't really "know them." This is unfortunate, and as times get increasingly more challenging, I think it is vital to make good connections with our neighbors. Besides, they might need us or we might need them some day very soon!

Rural Life and What I Like

My number one pick for rural life has to be trees. I love trees and green countryside. This is a picture of a very nice road with lots of green around it. I think this would be a great road to drive on.

Nice road with lots of trees

Cows and a Pond

White country church (a must)

Gothic Style House

My desire is to move someplace where I can live very comfortably. I guess it is important to define what I mean by comfort. You know the old saying, "One man's comfort is another man's poverty," well, it is true. Comfort level is subjective. According to Merriam-Webster,  comfortable means "affording or enjoying contentment and security." This means that I would like to live in a place where I could live on my income without having to worry about contentment and security. For example, let's say that I earn $4000 a month (gross), and all my bills (everything including food, gas, expenses) runs me about $2000 a month. I would have everything paid for each month, and still have half my income left over to invest and to save for emergencies. This is my plan, to keep my living expenses to 50% of my income. The plan also includes extra income, should I marry or have some other source to add to what is available each month. 

Personally, I live very comfortably on $2k a month, and I spend -- not a lot -- but I do spend. I shop, I go to lunch, I buy books. I spend whenever I want, whatever I want (but with limits). If my husband and I earned double this amount, I would not increase my expenses to meet the extra income rather I would keep my expenses at a moderate amount, factoring in an extra person's needs for food, clothing, etc. So lets say combined my husband and I bring in $60-70K. I think it is feasible to live on 50% of that income or $3K per month. Granted, we may be able to live on less, but I am just shooting numbers out to demonstrate a point. The key is to manage your expenses. I can see realistically that it is possible to live a very good quality of life, comfortable, without exceeding 50% of your gross monthly salary. This means, no credit card debt, of course. It also isn't factoring in school loans or other extras.  The idea is that if you live someplace where you can be comfortable, and you can make a decent salary, then you should be able to live modestly without having to give up everything. This is my goal, the plan I have been working off for nearly five years. The Lord has provided double my expenses, and He has helped me be careful in my spending. Right now, I have more credit card debt than I am comfortable having, but I know it is temporary. I have to travel to VA every year for my schooling, and well, travel is getting to be expensive. I know that once I am finished with school, and I am working a regular full-time job, I will have those credit cards paid off and kept to zero. 

Thus, to me comfortable applies "to anything that encourages serenity, well-being, or complacency as well as physical ease." I desire to live comfortably all the days of my life, Lord willing. If the Lord moves me to a place where I can live this way, I will be blessed. If He calls me, instead, to live in a more expensive place, so be it. I know He will provide. My job is to rest and to trust the One who knows my needs best, who is looking out for my best interest, and who is all about bringing to pass that which is good for me. I trust Him, I rely on Him, and I rest in His security. He gives me contentment and He provides ease so I can feel safe and secure. He is good, so very good to me.

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