Saturday, June 27, 2009

June: Not Bad So Far

Two weeks ago, I had my counseling session, which is required by federal law before I can actually apply for my reverse mortgage. The one thing that is very clear – I had already grasped it, but this made it even clearer, is that this is something of an irrevocable decision. No one should get a reversible mortgage to solve a temporary difficulty, nor should anyone get one who has any possible heirs that he or she might wish to endow with his or her property. I can get out of it once it is in place, but it will be costly. If I get out within two or three years by getting a new first mortgage or otherwise paying the debt, I will have paid an effective 10+% rate for the two or three years, since many of the costs are front loaded. Once these two or three years have passed, the amount owed will have grown to the point where I would be hard-pressed to afford a new mortgage to pay it off, and I will be far worse off than before, although at that point, with the presumed growth in value of the home, it will have come down to an effective rate of outgo v value well below 4%. Are you bored yet?

The following Monday, I took off from work, because an appraiser came to value my property at the worst possible point in the economy, but here’s the thing: I can wait – and work every day of that wait – until times are better, or I can retire very soon. Retirement is not one of those things to which you can tack on days at the end to compensate for a late start. That weekend I arrived home to find my estate resting silent in its beauty, awash with bright flowers surrounded by its eighty-foot trees, a perfect oasis from which one would never really have any reason to stray. I think mosquitoes, deer and work are put on Earth to keep us from lying in a puddle of ecstasy under the nearest tree for the entire month of June. What a gorgeous time in this gorgeous place. The sensible person does little but stare about himself in a peaceful daze and haze during June; the rest, I guess, get married.

One statement that the mortgage man made to me when we spoke has been gnawing at me; he cheerfully informed me that all the projections that the insurer is making assume that actuarially I have 18 years left to live. This led me to thinking that even if I don’t turn up my heels on schedule, I will be well into my eighties, an age where one is too old to do much more than spoon mushed-up food or shoot up a Holocaust museum, neither of which activities is on my bucket list, I assure you. This led me to cast back 18 years and think what I was doing then, and I realized I was in Saudi enjoying the First Gulf War. Didn’t that just happen? All of a sudden life looks very short, and if there were no work, pretty sweet.

I was planning to write Warren and Marlena this weekend to say that joining them in Bali was too costly and not to count me in. But now I am thinking, “So little time!” Moreover I was driving thru the town south of here where my brother Liam’s best friend and his wife (well actually they are both his best friends) run a small grocery-cum-deli, saw them outside grilling a passel of chickens (which were, mercifully, deceased) and stopped to say hello. I mentioned the Bali thing, and they thought they too might be interested. The deal is that Warren and Marlena are renting a luxury villa in January in Bali. Since they stayed there earlier this year; they know the owners and can get it without the agency fee that they paid the first time, which is substantial. This villa, which has a full staff, including a guard, will cost them about $150 a day – far cheaper than a hotel, but it is very large and can accommodate a lot of folks, so although the price is fixed, the more folks that stay, the cheaper the cost for each will be. So, I am re-thinking the “no way”. I had been worrying that money would not last if I lived too long, now I am worrying that it won’t all be spent. Second in horror only to the thought that I will still be working when I die is the thought that I will leave money behind unspent.

Very likely I won’t be able to do this in the end, but I’ll think about it a while longer. My high school class is celebrating its 50th reunion with a Caribbean cruise in March (doesn’t retirement sound fun?) and there is that to pay for. And Bali is half a world away – there’s the airfare to get there and back. Still, Bali, you know. It is one of those places you only hear about, and I have always liked actually going to places that seem like myths. I am not sure how have I missed Timbuktu for so long.

My sister Lucy just left an hour or so ago; she has been staying here for the last two weeks, a period made easier for both of us I am sure, by my absence from here while I worked in Smallville both weeks. Lucy and I, though we were very close as kids, now circle each other warily when we are together. Altogether though it was a successful visit, and ended well. She was here when the appraiser was coming and went into a flurry of activity to ensure that his first impression was a good one. I love when women visit; the house is always so orderly and clean when they leave. Her efforts must have worked; my house was valued at the high end of my hoped for range; $200,000. This is high for the area; not because it is a lower income area – far from it – but because Western NY is chronically depressed. I think the entire state outside New York City and maybe Long Island isn’t so much low income as it is no income. With the kind of money I make, a mere droplet in such places as California, I can live like a king here. Lucy loved being here alone in the quiet; her husband retired rich but mildly disabled and is always home. I think they have a good marriage, but she says she loved being wholly alone in my house. Her husband is always home, and she says that although he is not interfering and intrusive, she feels kind of guilty not being busy during the daytime. She finished four books while here – mostly in the daytime – guilty pleasures!

My brother Jack and his somewhat irritating girlfriend will arrive this week from AZ. I do live the high life. This is another visit that could go either way.

Anyway, Lucy took all us locals sibs – George, Luke and his girlfriend Carol, and me to dinner at a restaurant, which was once a beer joint, but has now been considerably upgraded. We ate outside on a deck, which is a hundred yards or less from the substantial waterfall in Hagerty by which the first gristmill in that village was once powered. I actually used to live in an apartment above that restaurant when it was a joint with a very loud jukebox. How it has changed! A large blue heron swooped up and down the creek for our viewing pleasure. It was a very nice time, not least because Lucy footed the bill. Poor George, who has not had a scintilla of good luck in his life time (he has been abducted at gun point; he hit and killed a drunk pedestrian who suddenly step in front of his car, etc. ), had one of those slightly odd experiences that seem to come his way. George is a recovering alcoholic, as they say, and ordered iced tea, while the others (except me) had beer or wine. The drinks arrived – Luke and Carol having Coronas, Lucy some merlot and a diet Pepsi for me. The waitress plopped down a glass of brown liquid in front of George; he took a swallow, and said, “That’s not tea!” So he had his first sip of brown beer in 13 years. Stuff like that always seems to happen to George. He is the quietest guy, and very deliberate in his actions – not at all a ‘what the hell’ kind of guy like Luke and me and yet if any stray bit of weirdness comes along, it immediately takes dead aim at George. A small thing; but really, how many people order tea and get Guinness? It is not like the waitress mis-heard; she had clarified after his order whether he wanted he tea sweetened.

The reverse mortgage man says I should have the money in a week or slightly longer; I have next Friday and the entire following week off from work; life is sweet.

OMG, I just clicked on some odd spot in this effloration and the whole thing disappeared. Shades of the old MSN Spaces days! But not to fear, I have recovered my mewlings intact.

Hope y’all have as good a next couple of weeks as I plan to have. I know all about the best laid plans; which makes me think these weeks would be best if I got laid. But that is another topic entirely…


  1. Ahh, David, how sweet it is! I'm looking forward to tales of your long and languid days and your frenetic and frequent travels. I am placing all of my hopes for retirement on your shoulders! Light the path for me.

    It's really nice to read how you are building your future. Makes me want to stop talking and put a few things into action for myself. You are inspiring, my friend.


  2. Well, Kid, not so much 'building' as 'throwing together'. But ya gotta go for it. One could die waiting. After all, that 18 years wasn't a guarantee...

    I hope to keep either your path, or myself well-lit - or both...

  3. I don't know. My folks are 84 and do better than I do! Of course, I'm disabled, but still... But, like you have most of your life, just jump.. it has served you well as a modus operandi. I, too, look forward to the day you are retired, as I will expect long, wonderful posts to flow out of your fingers onto the keyboard with some faster regularity than I currently enjoy! I may not get them, if you're going to be traveling all these places, but I'll expect them, nonetheless! Ha!
    I'm glad things are looking hopeful for you!

  4. I have had the dismaying thought that I only write when I am miserable, but I sure hope not. The retirement notice has been given, and the bird is straining to fly free...

  5. Yes, let's hope that you share some of that joy with us, as well! Flap those wings, baby!

  6. Ok, Shag, let's hear how it's going! Miss you and your words.

  7. Not sure how much excitement in sharing my languid days will provide. Sat on the deck. Sat on the porch. Dozed on the sofa. Sat in the lounge chair - There's a week right there...