Monday, December 31, 2012

Of Hearth and Home

As yet another year draws to a close I am reflecting on what a huge year of transition it has been for my wife and me. At this time last year we were enjoying a welcome sabbatical on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts for the winter before an ill-fated attempt to relocate to the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area, where we were nonetheless able to sell a couple of vehicles of ours that had outlived their usefulness.

And as regular readers know, come spring we headed to Florida to gather some of our belongings from family before returning halfway here to the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee, which we love. Since moving here we have renewed our appreciation of hearth and home, as we moved every six months or so before signing a year’s lease of an apartment in an historic building in downtown Franklin, which includes a fireplace, albeit a closed one.

To help compensate for the lack of a working fireplace I downloaded an application [complete with crackling sounds] for use on our computer and we visit our local Cracker Barrel on cold days to soak up the ambience of their fireplace. It has been fun placing our stockings and Christmas cards on the mantel during the holidays and otherwise celebrating this most festive time of year. We are thankful to be closer to family and friends nowadays and welcome the return to our southern roots, not the least of which involves good old fashioned homestyle cooking, even if not over a fire.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Living the Dream

It has been some time since I blogged due to our busy slate of holiday activities but I had to post today because we got our first snowfall here in Franklin. Snow is only covering the ground but it adds a festive touch to our already joyous holiday season. It has been such fun celebrating the holidays here that it has reminded me how very much I am “living the dream.”

The holiday festivities kicked off earlier with Historic Franklin’s “Dickens of a Christmas” street faire, complete with costumed characters from A Christmas Carol playing live at the circa 1937 Franklin Theatre. And speaking of the theatre, on Christmas Eve my wife, Linda, and I saw our favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, at the theatre and we return on New Year’s Eve to swing to the sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

It is so awesome being able to walk downtown to the different cafes and shops and soak in the ambience of an old fashioned Christmas. We recently invited friends to visit our circa 1930 home in the historic district and to join us for a stroll downtown to the festivities when one of them exclaimed, “This is so romantic!” And it was just last year that another friend of ours remarked, “Your lives are like a movie!”

So perhaps we could describe our experiences as being like a dreamy, romantic movie? Whatever the description, Linda and I frequently feel the need to pinch ourselves to remind us of how blessed we are to live in such special places. As regular readers will recall, it was just this type of lifestyle that we envisioned a couple of years ago when we placed our house for sale and our dreams in the hands of the One whom we celebrate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Living the Edited Life

One of the guiding principles that my wife, Linda, and I have used on our journey of simplicity is an adapted version of the Pareto Principle, more widely known as the 80/20 Rule, which for our purposes simply states that 80% of stuff is used 20% of the time and 20% of stuff is used 80% of the time. The goal for us is to get our stuff down to the 20% that we use 80% of the time, and we are basically at that point in the process.

Our rule of thumb for the last several months has been that if we haven’t used an item lately and/or don’t plan to use it then we give it away, either to someone we know or to a charitable organization. We have sold very few items, other than our furniture once we sold our house, simply due to the logistics of selling such as packing and shipping, etc. Besides, we’ve realized the benefits of sowing and reaping in each of our lives.

As Graham Hill said, “Editing is the skill of this century: editing space, media consumption, [even] friends.” That last one may strike some as controversial but the older I get the more I realize that we do indeed outgrow some relationships and that is okay. It doesn’t mean that we no longer like certain people; it simply means that a person may be part of our lives for a season. To that end, Linda and I recently went through our collection of paper photographs [as opposed to digital ones] and culled them accordingly.

What I’ve found is that the same skill needed to be an effective editor of words, which is my livelihood, also plays a part in paring life down to its essentials. Whether it involves limiting space, media or relationships, living the edited life means being selective about the space one inhabits, what media one consumes and yes, even the people one spends time with. The Pareto Principle is applicable across the board so it helps to deal with whatever it is that hinders us from realizing our full potential.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Living Simply With Style

A good friend once observed that he thought the lifestyle my wife and I are living could perhaps best be summarized as “living simply with style” and besides feeling flattered I also couldn’t help thinking that it is a fitting summary. Ever since selling our house in Florida a year and a half ago to travel we have been blessed to live in some very nice locales, all of which have been quite affordable also, contrary to what one might think.

As regular readers may recall, upon the sale of our house we moved from Mount Dora, Florida to Celebration, Florida for five months. From there it was off to Nantucket, Massachusetts for seven months and then here to Franklin, Tennessee, where we have a one-year lease. We lease exclusively and each place has been nicely furnished and included utilities, all for only about a grand per month. Suffice it to say that our move to “minimize to mobilize” has rewarded us with the ability to live in desirable destinations without breaking the bank.

I am reminded of a couple of thought-provoking quotes that have helped my wife and I on our journey of “living simply with style.” One is attributed to Vicki Robin, co-author with Joe Dominguez of the bestseller Your Money or Your Life, who wrote, “I buy my freedom with my frugality.” In other words, each dollar not spent on superfluous stuff can be saved toward living a location-independent lifestyle. And similarly, Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

It is easier than people think to make relatively radical lifestyle changes, if one is prepared to make the necessary sacrifice. And I don’t mean sacrifice in the sense that it hurts to do so, but I do mean that in order to “live the dream” you can’t always have it all. For example, we moved from a 1,400 square-foot house in Celebration to a 400 square-foot studio in Nantucket, but my wife and I agree that it was totally worth it to be able to live in such an awesome place. Whether or not you aspire to live the mobile lifestyle, consider changes you can make in your life to experience your dreams.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Art of Being

My wife and I attended a niece’s wedding this past weekend and, as is my practice, I carried my trusty Leica camera to chronicle the happy event. Yet something happened during the ceremony that reminded me of the sacredness of the service. Of course, life’s big events are the very epitome of photo-ops, but as I was clicking away it dawned on me that it was more important to witness the event than to photograph it. After all, I was not the official wedding photographer, just a proud uncle of the bride.

And today I stumbled upon another blog that captured the same sentiment as it relates to our use of technology: “One way that technology degrades us, in the words of philosopher Martin Heidegger, is ‘forgetfulness of being.’ With technology, we cut ourselves off from the moment, from physical presence, from reality itself. Rather than really experiencing something we distance ourselves by filtering the experience through a little device.” Uh oh.

The very ubiquity of portable gadgets seems to encourage their frequent use, no matter how inappropriate. And don’t even get me started on other people’s dumb use of smartphones in such places as movie theatres. As Albert Einstein observed: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” I usually strive to keep technology in its proper place but even I occasionally need a reminder that practicing the art of being is the very picture of propriety.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Design of Stuff

I recently checked out the design documentary titled Objectified by Gary Hustwit, in which he interviewed famous designers about good design such as Apple’s Jonny Ive and Braun’s Dieter Rams, among several others. And of all the thought-provoking statements made by the designers it was one by award-winning Karim Rashid that stuck with me. He said that according to his research the typical person interacts with an average of 658 objects a day, which says to me that life is too short for bad design.

In the documentary’s liner notes, Hustwit noted about observing others’ interactions with their stuff: “Looking at their belongings, or how they interact with objects as part of their daily routine, can sometimes be a much richer, more honest representation of their life than what they might say about it. It’s more, well, objective.” And on the disc’s cover he queried: “What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?”

One thing I have learned this past year from the process of whittling my possessions down from several thousand to a couple of hundred is that I care much more about quality than quantity when it comes to material possessions. I’d rather have one well-designed pen, for example, than a drawer full of them. And I’ve learned that good design doesn’t have to be expensive, although I am willing to spend more for better design. When all is said and done, quality design more than pays for itself.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Royal Treatment

The other day my wife, Linda, and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a tea hosted by former royal butler David Woodfine at O’More College of Design here in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Besides preparing the scones from scratch, topped with real whipped cream, Woodfine regaled the group gathered on the lawn of the 19th century mansion that houses the design school’s headquarters with several engaging stories.

Woodfine laced his stories with wit and wisdom gleaned from more than five decades of service to such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and numerous other royal personages. But of all the pithy quips and quotes he shared, the most compelling to me was his comment that “southern hospitality is second to none.” That is some compliment coming from one of the premier practitioners of hospitality.

As a born and bred southerner, I can attest that we are generally an hospitable lot. Even as my wife and I were in the process of relocating to this area, we were welcomed by our landlords to stay with them for the long weekend until our apartment was ready for occupancy and allowed to use their truck for the week until we got a car of our own, which was a big blessing to us. And such graciousness is not altogether uncommon here.

But the truth of the matter is that Scripture admonishes believers in particular to practice hospitality with one another. Whether we invite others to share a meal with us in our homes or out at a restaurant, or even to fellowship without food, we are urged to “roll out the red carpet” and give each other the royal treatment, for we are noble in our own right. If one with such stature as Jesus Christ came to serve us, surely we can serve one another.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Psychology of Place

Writer Russell Banks observed about the psychology of place: “All travel writing that’s of lasting interest—writing that is written by writers as travelers, not travelers as writers—is really written to make a point about home…which leads one to conclude that the best travel writers are people who are at bottom unsure of the nature and limits of home and their relation to it. They move out of the that…they can look back and see what’s true there.”

As reflective sojourners, my wife and I are still in the process of looking back and seeing “what’s true there” after selling our house last year and redefining what home means for us in this new phase of our lives. And we both agree that while there are facets of home ownership that we miss, we are convinced that we made the right move and are very much enjoying the fruits of it.

What enriches our experience exponentially is the realization that we are walking out the will of God for our lives, of which we are continually reminded in ways both big and small. For example, upon relocating here to Franklin, we landed the first place we looked at living, we leased the first car we test drove, and Linda got the first job she inquired about, all within about a month of moving to unknown territory during a poor economy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Living Off Margin

Sitting here at Merridees Breadbasket in downtown Franklin and watching the manic movement of people reminds me of the times I spent observing the ant hills of my youth in rural Virginia. There is a hum of activity, some of which appears purposeful and some not so much, but what stands out to me is the pace of the procession. Judging by the furrowed brows of people’s faces, it appears that many are left without much margin in their lives.

As I observe this I am reminded of a quote by bestselling author John Eldredge: “The strategy of the enemy of our souls in the age we live now is busyness.” Amen to that. After failing to connect with a couple of friends recently despite repeated attempts on my part to accommodate their schedules, I finally surmised the other day that people are simply too busy for their own good.

It was impressionist composer Claude Debussy who remarked, “Music is the space between the notes.” And I couldn’t agree more. What is missing in the modern lifestyle is the equivalent of silence to accentuate the magic of life’s music. Rather than arranging life’s activities to allow for times of serendipity, people seem content to live with little or no margin at all in their lives.

Soon after moving here to Franklin I delighted in the realization that our new home is located off a street called Margin. As a matter of fact, we live between the streets of Church and Margin, which I interpret to be a sign of the times. When those who count themselves among God’s people can’t find the time to fellowship with one another, then much is lost in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ownership Is Overrated

I’ve been thinking lately about the journey my wife and I have embarked upon and how much we are enjoying the liberty that comes with the leasing lifestyle. For example, our weekends are typically palettes of time to paint as we please rather than laundry lists of household chores that come with home ownership, not the least of which for us was landscaping a large lawn that no pet or child ever enjoyed, as we had neither.

An added feature of our home here in Franklin is that our place is also nicely furnished with antiques and artwork so that it can feel as if we are living at a boutique hotel rather than an historic house. And one of my favorite aspects of leasing is the ability to call the owner with the inevitable maintenance issues that arise, as honey-do lists were never my favorite pastime.

A first for us is our lease of a vehicle upon moving here since we used to opt for ownership until we became convinced that leasing made more sense for us. For my wife and I it has become about operating big ticket items versus owning them, especially when it comes to the vagaries of vehicle maintenance. As the ad for a boat charter company stated, “we own the boats, you own the memories.” After all, it’s not about a life of stuff; it’s about the stuff of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Of Church Bells and Community

As I sit here at the Five Points Starbucks in Historic Franklin, cornering a table and watching people as I write, I am reminded of the strong sense of community here and how it is something that I crave wherever I live. Churches are one of the pillars of community and just this morning I passed the church between home and here that serenades us with the peal of hymns each hour, not an everyday occurrence elsewhere.

Yet as I thought about it, I realized that everywhere my wife and I have lived for the better part of our more than two decades together has been within earshot of church bells, a fact that had never dawned on me before. Whether the Methodist church here in Franklin, the Congregational church in Nantucket, the Presbyterian church in Celebration, the Presbyterian church in Mount Dora or the Methodist church in Savannah, we have been blessed to live near these pillars of community.

Another recurring theme at the places we’ve called home is our proximity to each town’s other community outposts such as the post office, public library, city hall and local bank. It is no small pleasure to be able to take care of life’s business within walking distance of home and it is not a convenience that I take for granted. My wife and I have made it a point to live in various versions of “Mayberry” and we cherish the sense of community.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Details of Our Detour

My absence from the blogosphere has been due to a series of unforeseen detours demanding my attention but the dust has finally settled and so have we…here in Franklin, Tennessee. For my friends and followers who last read about our relocation to the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area this must come as a surprise so allow me to explain.

Our move to New Castle lasted all of a week, as the landlord reneged on our lease [which he had failed to sign] and as we couldn’t find a suitable alternative on such short notice we were left scrambling for a Plan B. As it turned out, we were providentially able to sell our Volvo convertible to the Volvo dealer and our Vespa scooter to the Vespa dealer, both vehicles of which had issues that we preferred not to deal with, and so we sold them.

Once we had liquidated our vehicles we leased a car, filled it with our stuff and headed to our families in Florida to regroup. On the way we made delightful rest stops at bed and breakfasts in Hershey, Pennsylvania and Staunton, Virginia, where I am originally from. During our trip to Florida, we visited Linda’s parents in the Orlando area and my parents in the Palm Beach area, gathering stuff we left there before our move to New England.

While staying at my folks’ place we briefly toyed with the idea of stashing our stuff there and heading to Europe for the summer but decided instead we needed to get off the road for a while and find a place of our own. We narrowed our prospective destinations to my native Virginia and to the Nashville area of Tennessee, where we both have personal and professional connections and Linda has family.

Tennessee won largely due to its lack of a state income tax and the fact that a return to my roots in Virginia didn’t appeal much to me. We had visited Franklin, a popular suburb of Nashville, a couple of times earlier and it stayed in the backs of our minds as a potential home. We have been here a month and are enjoying getting settled into our furnished circa 1930 executive loft in downtown Franklin within walking distance of Starbucks, the Franklin Theatre, and a host of other cool places. Stay tuned for details!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our New Castle

After seven months of blissful encampment upon this spit of land called Nantucket situated thirty miles out to sea my wife and I are heading to the next stop on our adventure together, the picturesque hamlet of New Castle, New Hampshire. While it is part and parcel of the Portsmouth area, the coastal town I blogged about earlier this month, New Castle has its own zip code, is the smallest town in New Hampshire and the only one comprised solely of islands.

Pictured is the three-story colonial that we will call home for the next several months and while it is not literally a castle it will feel like it compared to the relatively cramped quarters we inhabited here on Nantucket. It is about three times the size of our last place and the entire house is ours, whereas we shared a house last time. Aside from all the extra space we are perhaps most excited about the prospect of using the fireplace in the autumn, our favorite time of year.

Again located on Main Street, we will be across the street from the town post office, church and town hall and just down the street from the market and library. Perhaps most notably, New Castle is also home to the turn-of-the-century resort hotel Wentworth by the Sea, not to mention the Portsmouth Lighthouse, Portsmouth Yacht Club and Fort Constitution, site of the first naval battle during the Revolutionary War. And by this time tomorrow it will be our home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strangers and Sojourners

It’s that time again…my wife and I are preparing for the next move on our grand adventure…and this time it’s off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Dating to 1623, the city of about 25,000 is the third oldest English settlement in the nation behind Jamestown, Virginia [1607] and Plymouth, Massachusetts [1620] and we are headed there this weekend to check out the area before planning to move there within the month.

Speaking of Plymouth, while pilgrims are most often associated with that place, the word pilgrim literally refers to people who embark on journeys of faith and that includes us. A similar word to pilgrim is the lesser-used term of sojourner, which can be defined as “a person who resides temporarily in a place,” and that also describes us.

Even my blog profile states: “I am a creative sojourner who enjoys simple living, thoughtful conversation and good coffee.” And during my devotional reading the other day I came across a biblical passage from the Old Testament that quoted God as saying, “For you are strangers and sojourners with Me.” I can’t speak for others but I like the thought of God being my traveling companion.

As we anticipated from the get-go, Nantucket has been a way station instead of a destination for my wife and me. Between moves from our cottage on Main Street here in Nantucket and the upcoming one to Portsmouth we are staying with friends at another property located on, of all places, Pilgrim Road, which sums up our journey.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Beauty of Grey

Okay, I confess: I like the color grey. And yes, I prefer the old English spelling of it also. Actually, I came to the realization the other day that it is my favorite color of all. I guess I was in some kind of denial about it until I had to acknowledge that my car is grey, my scooter is grey, my computer is grey, my house I sold was grey, my wardrobe is very grey and what is left of my hair is becoming ever more grey.

While I consider myself a very black-and-white kind of person when it comes to principles, I cannot help liking the color grey and its many hues, from light grey, or heather, to dark grey, or charcoal, and all that is in between. I suppose I am particularly enamored with the sleek minimalism of grey and the understated elegance that it reflects. Besides that, I am not sure what it says about me other than that I simply treasure the beauty of grey.

So suffice it to say that I love living on the island of Nantucket, which is called “The Grey Lady” partially due to its fog-laden location and partly due to the abundance of grey-colored houses here. Whereas the fog is weather-related the architecture is man-made, largely the result of the island’s Quaker settlers who believed in an egalitarian unanimity. As a matter of fact, a running joke on Nantucket is “meet me by the grey house with the white shutters.”

Another appealing aspect of Nantucket’s grey-scale landscape is the total absence of billboards or even chain establishments on island. Other than a Ralph Lauren store that apparently got grandfathered under the guidelines, there are no national brands represented here and the result is a community vibe reminiscent of kinder, gentler times and places in America. Coming from the commercialism capital of Central Florida to the offshore oasis of Nantucket has been a welcome respite, grey days and all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

With this weekend marking the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic sinking it got me to thinking about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as some of the biggest celebrities in the world were on board the “unsinkable” ship for its maiden voyage, including John Jacob Astor, who died in the wreckage as the wealthiest person aboard.

When it comes to wealth, I recall a mentor of mine suggesting that the word rich simply connotes “a full supply” and a famous actor saying that money grants options more than it guarantees happiness. While I may not be rich or famous by standard definitions I consider myself blessed with a full supply as well as options, not the least of which has included the opportunity to live in special locales over the years.

As a case in point, after selling our beloved cottage that we owned for better than a dozen years about this time last year, my wife and I have enjoyed living in a couple of the most desirable places anywhere. Celebration, Florida, is an award-winning planned community outside Orlando, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, is a renowned island getaway thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod.

What makes our experience all the more remarkable is the fact that we wound up leasing properties in both places that were wonderfully situated yet well within budget. Indeed, we literally couldn’t have picked two more perfectly positioned homes than the ones located on Lake Evalyn in Celebration and on Main Street in Nantucket, named one of the ten best streets in all of America.

My point in sharing these details is simply to highlight how much it is possible “to live large on less.” While my wife and I have yet to earn six-figure incomes we have enjoyed a semblance of the good life without being either rich or famous by living simply within our means, paying off debt and giving to others. It may not be a recipe for celebrity but we wouldn’t trade our lifestyle with anyone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not Watching Time

With the change to Daylight Savings Time the other day I tried to update the time on my watch by “springing forward” and realized that the battery in it had died. I had decided beforehand to give it away when the time came to replace the battery so that is what I did and I am thoroughly enjoying being untethered from a timepiece, some version of which I have worn since I learned to tell time as a youngster.

Meanwhile, I am reminded of the story from Gulliver’s Travels when the Lilliputians question if Gulliver’s watch is his god because he is manacled to it at the wrist and he consults it so much. Of course, we can do without a watch much easier nowadays, what with our smartphones and other electronic devices conveniently at hand to tell us the time. But there is something beyond mere symbolism to me in the act of literally loosing oneself from its grip.

It was actually my wife who first dispensed with wearing a watch last year after returning from a particularly relaxing vacation and enjoying the feeling of not watching time. She wound up giving it to my mother, who needed a new watch herself and was more than happy to take it off her hands. As for me, I was only wearing my watch as a fashion accessory on the rare occasion when I dressed up some, such as at church, so I looked forward to quitting it altogether and I am not looking back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Return From America

My wife and I recently returned from a brief visit to “America,” as Nantucketers refer to the mainland. After four wintry months on this spit of land thirty miles out at sea we were invited to spend a couple of nights with close friends from Nantucket at their rental home in Hyannis on Cape Cod, a two hour ferry ride away.

After a rocky ocean crossing during which I “lost my lunch,” [an experience shared by Thoreau upon his visit here and which he called “paying tribute to the sea”] we proceeded to thoroughly enjoy our stay off island. In addition to watching television and playing Scrabble with our friends, we also indulged our latent desires for food chains, including a relaxing chai latte at Starbucks and a hearty steak supper at Outback.

But one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip came when our friends loaned us their vehicle for the day, which gave us the opportunity to explore Cape Cod’s back roads, including one called “Old King’s Highway,” a meandering scenic road through several picturesque New England villages complete with general stores.

The one pictured above, the Old Village Store, is located in the town of West Barnstable and has been in continuous operation as a general store since before the Civil War. It was even featured, along with the adjacent railroad depot, in the period movie called The Lightkeepers, which was filmed on Cape Cod and featured Richard Dreyfus and Blythe Danner. It transported us back in time even as it served as a waystation on our journey.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Cost of Busyness

Even before moving to Nantucket to write my “Waldenesque guidebook to simpler living,” as I am describing it, I recalled that Henry David Thoreau had spoken at the local library here called the Atheneum. As it turns out, it was on December 28, 1854, the same year that Walden was published, and my research indicates that Thoreau typically charged enough for such lectures to cover his annual expenditures in one speech.

According to the January 1, 1855 edition of the Nantucket Inquirer, “A large audience assembled to listen to the man who has rendered himself notorious by living, as his book asserts, in the woods, at an expense of about sixty dollars per year, in order that he might there hold free communion with Nature, and test for himself the happiness of a life without manual labor or conventional restraints.”

Thoreau is reported to have opened his lecture by saying, “I will only lecture on what I think, not for the sake of saying pleasant things. I wish to give you a strong dose of myself. You have sent for me, and will pay me, and you shall have me, even if I bore you beyond all precedent.” Afterward, the Nantucket Inquirer noted, “His lecture may have been desultory and marked by simplicity of manner, but not by paucity of ideas.”

Thoreau expounded his thoughts by adding, “I shall take for my text these words, ‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’ This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I cannot buy a blank book to write thoughts in but it is ruled for dollars and cents.” Of course, it was none other than Jesus Christ himself who originally posed the question, as recorded in Mark 8:36, and we would do well to count the cost of all our “busyness.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ode to Love

With today being Valentines Day I thought I’d write an ode to my beautiful, young wife of nearly 24 years, Linda. As I have contemplated many times lately, a minimalist journey such as the one I am traveling requires a truly special companion, and that describes my wife in spades, or hearts, as the case is.

While Linda and I have always strived to live a simple life together, the latest iteration of what that looks like for us could easily frighten others more faint of heart. Suffice to say that I would not have dared to try selling our house in a down market without my wife’s consent, yet she was not only on board but also in total agreement with the details of the move, resulting in a timely and profitable sale.

It was nine months ago today that we moved from the house we had built and called home for twelve years in order to enjoy our present lifestyle of liquidity and mobility. And I am pleased and proud to say that Linda has been as supportive and participative in making our moves successful as one could possibly hope.

During our time of sabbatical here on Nantucket, Linda is volunteering at the local shelter for abused women and continuing her daily practice of making a difference in the lives of people she comes in contact with. On the home front, she lovingly strives to keep our lives here in close quarters growing together rather than apart and we are experiencing just that.

As I try to remind her regularly, Linda is even more beautiful to me than the day we married and I truly love her more with each passing day. Yet the highest compliment I can bestow upon her is to quote the wise proverbial saying: “There are many good women, but you are the best!”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I am happy to report that since my last post Nantucket received the snowfall my wife and I had hoped for, with about five inches of fabulous white flakes covering the ground and creating a winter wonderland of serene scenery. According to our best recollections, it had been more than two decades since my wife and I last saw that much snow and we learned that it is relatively uncommon for here also.

And it could not have been more picture perfect. We awoke on a Saturday morning to a steady stream of snowflakes and it continued to gather virtually all day as wooly blankets of white fleece. We got dressed in our winter gear, headed down Main Street to the island wharf and photographed the breathtaking beauty of it all before heading home to share our excitement with Florida friends and family.

There is something special about the simple beauty of a winter snowfall that blends manmade structures like buildings and boats with the natural presence of flora and fauna to create a landscape that is theatre for the senses. And we loved our front row seats to the spectacular show that the picturesque snow presented our fellow residents and us on this dreamsicle of an island thirty miles out to sea.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Celebrating the Seasons

As I write this, I am sitting at the Atheneum, Nantucket’s public library, listening to my favorite classical music, Antonio Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons." And I am reminded that the metaphor of seasons has served as the soundtrack of my life since we sold our house and stuff last year to move to this remote, romantic island.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my wife and I visited Concord, Massachusetts, the home of Henry David Thoreau, on our way here to Nantucket, and it was there that I jotted down a couple of quotes from Thoreau that captured my seasonal sentiments: “My friends ask what I will do when I get there. Will it not be employment enough to watch the progress of the seasons?” and “While I enjoy the friendship of the seasons, I trust that nothing can make life a burden to me.”

Upon hearing from our Florida friends of another 80-degree Christmas Day, my wife and I congratulated each other on our migration to the northern climes of New England. I am a native Virginian and so am used to experiencing seasonal weather, especially during the holidays, and while my wife is a native Floridian we used to live in Georgia and Oklahoma, where we had some semblance of seasonality.

Since moving to Nantucket we’ve been regularly reminded by the locals what unseasonably warm weather we’ve enjoyed, which has made for a particularly nice transition for my wife, but we are looking forward to some snow accumulation and not just the flurries we’ve gotten so far. All in all, we are very much enjoying ourselves here, so much so that we are considering moving here longer term. But in the meantime, we are celebrating this season of our lives.