Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Money can't buy happiness . . .

It has been said that whoever coined (no pun intended) this phrase probably didn’t have much money – but I don’t think so. After being poor and wealthy, I think it was written by someone who had seen life from both sides. Recently there was a television documentary about people who have had major cash windfalls by winning the lottery and, subsequently, how their lives had been ruined. One woman won the lottery for a large amount of money not once – but TWICE. After losing it all by gambling it away, she currently lives in a trailer in New Jersey. A man who won what was supposedly the largest lottery payout in history has lost family members, lost his drivers’ license because of an alleged DUI/failure to appear, and faced criminal charges for assault– all this from someone who probably lived a quiet, normal life before money changed his life for the worse.

Most people dream of having more money. Not having to work, being able to buy homes in great locations and decorate them without looking at prices, travelling, buying expensive cars would certainly be nice. The question is does quality of life actually improve because of a higher bank balance? I’m sure stress levels about certain things (i.e., paying the bills!) would disappear. On the other hand a new set of problems would appear. People would know you have money (part of the deal with the lottery is that they give you the big check with the press taking photos – anonymity is not an option). People you know (and some that you don’t) would suddenly want to be your closest friends. Worry that some crazy person would try to kidnap your children because they know you can afford to pay ransom would be a new concern.
Although I would love to have a brownstone on the Upper West Side, a summer house on Nantucket, a Volvo SUV, a yearly trip to Europe, etc., I think my happiness can be achieved on a fairly small budget. Living debt free and having enough money to pay the bills on time, having a small vacation every few years, having enough money for my sons to go to the colleges of their choice when the time comes and living comfortably in my modest but nice home would be enough for me (with one exception – I still would want the Volvo SUV - you have to have dreams!).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bugs and Rural Living . . .

Ogden Nash once said, “God in His wisdom made the fly and then forgot to tell us why”. I have to agree - I could easily live without bugs. Growing up in the suburbs, I had my share of mosquito bites, bee stings, etc., but never really understood being overcome with bugs until I moved to the country. When I was a kid, bugs came out just before dark, right when you were getting ready to go inside anyway, so they weren’t too much of an annoyance. Where I live now, the bug attacks begin in the early morning hours and continue on for the entire day. By the time dinnertime arrives, they have completely taken over, preventing any kind of gardening or relaxing outside.

Some people enjoy rural living, the fact that they cannot see their next door neighbors, except for when the trees shed their leaves in winter. Others aren’t bothered by the fact that you take your life in your hands trying to walk down the street because of the lack of sidewalks. But now that I live in a country setting, I rather miss the suburban setting – houses twenty feet apart, yards that can be mowed in less than an hour – they are all a thing of the past.

My ideal living situation would be one of being getting up in the morning, walking my kids to a local school (on sidewalks), then moving on to specialty stores where I would buy foods for that evening’s dinner. Bread, produce and meats would be purchased from local shops, where they know what I want and put it aside for me, rather than walking into a supermarket and choosing produce and meats that are not of the greatest quality, but purchasing them because they are the only ones available. Spring and summer evenings would be spent on my rooftop balcony, gazing over the rooftops of the city, wondering what the other rooftop dwellers were eating or drinking, with only the occasional bug flying through to bother me.

For now, my lifestyle must consist gallons of mosquito repellant (with DEET to keep away ticks), making sure the dog is never far from me after dark (coyotes), looking out for turkeys, and staying out of tall grass in spring and summer (SNAKES!!).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To blog or not to blog . . . .

Every morning I faithfully check my favorite blogs - it is a normal to me as checking my email or the local weather. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, but they always entertain. After much debate (internal - I'm not going to let many people know that I am blogging) I have decided to embark upon this blogging journey. Hopefully it will be an interesting and colorful trip!