This week marks the beginning of the Harn Homestead development with both Dan and me on-site full-time at the property.  It’s been a bit longer than originally planned and we’re a LOT further north than we thought we’d be (original plan was for Arizona but the water wars were already starting there in 2003), but we are finally here and ready to try this simpler life.  We are both happy to be free from the Rat Race but a bit nervous about the minimization of income this year.  I’ve been here at the Harn for over 4 months and have some notion of how, when you’re always at the Harn, it’s harder to spend money.  But we also see how much pricier groceries are up here in the Hinterlands and we know some of the gardens and other capital projects will require an influx of cash.

One of the things that has been on my mind is how much of a help Mom and Tom have been to us in this venture.  It’s really impossible to pay back their gift of hospitality and I’m probably most grateful to Tom for putting up with us MUCH longer than he was originally expecting…  More than we were too.  It seemed to us, once we got to Minnesota, we’d be so close to the property compared to Indiana that our progress would prepare the Harn in about a year.  But with taking on so many activities in Alex and me also starting a job, we were hindered in putting in as much time as was needed to get everything done.  In the end it took us 29 months, instead of the hoped for 19 which would have gotten us to the Harn by May 2016 when Tommy graduated from Purdue.  But we also got to meet lots more friends in Alex, take time for a big trip to Tom’s graduation with Mom & Tom, make a big MN-IN-MO-CO-MN road trip to get Tom’s stuff moved to his new job near Denver, and enjoy a lot more local music with Mom and Tom.

We could have lived in an apartment in town and not paid rent for our son in Indiana and been about the same off financially.  However, we didn’t want to create a situation where Tommy incurred the debts that we both had to pay when we were going to school. He was working throughout college and was able to support some of his own needs but rent is a big hitter for most college students.  I remember my co-op job being the only way I could afford to pay for housing and school in the last half of college and I was making darn good money at the GE co-op gig!  I still had a student loan for my senior year ending with $4000 in debt.  Dan had it much deeper than me with about 10X the loan buildup but he spent a lot longer getting his degree and used loans for living expenses for quite some time.

It’s harder growing up now.  Some time back, the presenter at the Senior College opener at ATCC mentioned how his kids were unable to make much headway with savings even though they had lucrative careers – they were putting so much into paying off debt.  We believe we gave Tom a leg up on life by giving him a debt-free start to adulthood after college. He even has a small nest egg of a 529 and his own savings that remain ready to support him when he needs them. This is in large part thanks to grandparents Fran and Ed who paid for part of his schooling and Mom and Tom for supporting his schooling and housing us, so we could support him by paying his rent.  I think that part of the joy for Mom and Tom in helping us was because they knew it also helped their grandson.

And I am so happy that circumstances resulted in Dan and I spending our time with Mom & Tom.  I am glad to have gotten to know my mother better and to have become so close with Tom.  He is a joy.  People in town often came up asking if I was “Tom Obert’s daughter” and it tickled me to no end.  A sweet lady at the book store, a friend of Tom’s from Jefferson High, once told me she could “see my dad in me”.  I loved her for it but had to explain to her that wasn’t really possible… that Tom was not my biological dad, just my favorite dad.  She said it must be the smile.  We are both quite smiley!

And perhaps it’s a good thing I have him as it seems my biological father has decided I am no longer his daughter.  [My brother Rob seems to now be caring for him to an extent with our step-mom having passed last year.]   I guess the Universe has ways of taking care of us that we don’t always comprehend.  And this may likely be a blessing for us all as I’m sure it will be Dan and I who will care for Mom & Tom as they age with us being the closest kids. Perhaps one day they will be living on our land in a cabin of their own.  You never know what life will bring.

But it sure is wonderful having Dan here.  He says it’s not going to hit him until he doesn’t have to pack up the car after the weekend and head back to Alex.  It’s already hitting me as we try to find locations for the last of the stuff moved up from Mom’s.  Thankfully, it’s getting organized to a point where it’s not super cluttered even with the additional influx.  We will keep downsizing and figuring out where things work best, now with both of us using the space.  And we’ll figure out how to live together again after another hiatus.  Lucky is happy to have another warm lap to confiscate.

We did celebrate by toasting with shots of Jim Beam from a small bottle received from the Broker who laughed at our plan to leave the Rat Race.  We’d gone in to have our taxes done with the guy who handled all my investments.  [I’m pretty sure he was aware we were in recovery and didn’t drink so I kind of felt like he was pushing us away with that token gift.]  I think we were small potatoes to him as many of his clients were multi-millionaires. Well, after being laughed at for our dream, I met a Broker on a plane in New York who seemed to have no problem with our plans.  In fact, she thought she could help us make it happen.  And by gosh, she’s had our money ever since and done pretty well by us.  If you’d like some investment help, she’s a real gem.

Here’s our video of the toast:

Dan Retires