The Monthly Downsizer: February 2017

In July of 2015 we moved from a 1,400 square foot house with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an oversize double garage to an 880 sq. ft. apartment.  Four months later, we downsized again and moved to a 670 sq. ft. apartment.  With the goals of shortening our retirement horizon and simplifying our lives, we jettisoned most of our belongings and took the plunge into an ongoing adventure in downsizing.

Our next downsize will happen when we retire early, on or before  January 19, 2019 (one one nine one nine!). We will once again whittle our belongings down to whatever we can fit in a modest storage space in Sister Grumby’s basement (thanks Dee Ann!). Then we’ll hop on our touring bikes and ride around our beautiful US of A.

The Monthly Downsizer is a once-a-month post that documents our continuing process of intentional reduction.  Here’s a link to last month’s post.

February was a quiet and sad month for the Grumbys, with a healing journey to the desert and an upsize of gratitude.

 

Stuff (a quiet month for downsizing)

Lucky Oregon coast rocks in their new desert home

I believe I’ve mentioned before that Mr. Grumby and I love to collect rocks. This hobby isn’t exactly compatible with the lifestyle of Serial Downsizers, so we look for opportunities to re-home our treasures. At the end of February we went to visit some friends in Arizona who like collecting rocks even more than we do. We were very excited about giving them a vase of rocks we collected at the Oregon coast in 2010 or so – a little ocean oasis for their desert home!

These rocks are very fortunate to be part of the largest and most diverse personal rock collection we’ve ever seen. They now have beautiful rock-friends from as far away as France and Vietnam. And some of their new Earthy companions have fossilized whale bones and petrified wood!

No doubt this February downsize was a big win for our beloved rocks. I love to imagine the stories rocks could tell about the millions(+)  of years they’ve been around and the changes they’ve seen throughout their lives. Think of how much the vase of Oregon rocks will learn from their new companions from around the world!

 

Money Matters (because it does, you know)

Mr. Grumby took care of our most important money concerns during the month of February. He officially assumed the role of Chief Investment Officer after we transferred our investments into an account that we’ll manage ourselves. We greatly appreciate the counsel provided by our financial advisor over the years, but the personal finance blogging community inspired us to fly on our own. Look for a detailed post about this coming soon from the Great Mr. Grumby.

We’re almost at 107k points now!

On the expense side, we had another solid month with low grocery ($286) and entertainment ($49) expense. We did shell out a handsome $225 in credit card membership fees to Chase, but in exchange received 100,000 travel reward points* which are worth about $1,500. The deal was that we had to spend $4,000 in 3 months, so we just front-loaded our 2017 charitable contributions in January. Don’t worry! We are totally on top of the credit card game and never carry a balance.

* Unfortunately this program expired the day after we signed up, so we have no link to provide for this great deal. We would, however, recommend checking out the Travel Miles 101 website if you are interested in learning about travel hacking. Please only entertain this idea if you are diligent about paying off your credit card balances every month!

 

End of Life Veterinary Care: Maintaining Comfort and Dignity (sadness!)

You may recall that last month we took GrumbyCat to the vet because she was feeling ill. We took her back a couple of weeks later when we had more information about her worsening symptoms. The follow-up exam and subsequent blood test revealed that she had a heart condition and diabetes, in addition to her long-term digestive maladies (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). The vet informed us that we could pursue additional diagnostics with an echocardiogram and ultrasound, but that we were essentially at an impasse with being able to successfully manage GrumbyCat’s health. The medication that she needed to control her IBD symptoms would quickly exacerbate her other complications.

GrumbyCat aka Lady Camille

We were not ready to say goodbye to our dear feline, but we knew we did not want to subject her to any additional indignities, fear, or pain by scheduling veterinary procedures that would not improve her quality of life. She was a wonderful and loyal companion for more than 15 years. We wanted her remaining days to be spent in the comfort of her home and with the humans that she loved and trusted.

For another eleven days, we spent as much time as possible with GrumbyCat. Eventually the evil IBD caused too much suffering and we scheduled an appointment for in-home euthanasia. Mr. G. and I feel very fortunate to have had the resources to give this final gift of a comfortable and dignified passing to our sweet girl. We were holding her on our couch as she took her last breath. Very peaceful.

We picked up GrumbyCat’s ashes today and plan to scatter some near pretty spring flowers in one of Portland’s many parks. We will combine the remaining ashes with those of her canine sisters and take them with us wherever we go. When we happen upon a beautiful place we will distribute a bit of their remains to honor the many ways that these three extraordinary beings made us better people.

 

Healing Journey to the Desert

When GrumbyCat died, the hollowness that we felt was intensified by the cold and dreary Oregon winter. Thankfully we had an opportunity to visit some wonderful friends in their beautiful Arizona home. They treated us like royalty, instructing us to laze in the sun while they prepared delicious meals. The warmth of their kindness and the desert sun was just what we needed to begin the process of healing from a great loss. Toward the end of our brief visit, Mr. Grumby casually mentioned that we might wait until April to go back home.

Look at all the beautiful desert rocks!

Of the adventures we enjoyed with our friends, our favorite was pulling off the side of old Route 66 to wonder quietly in the wise and mysterious desert landscape in search of … rocks! Every step revealed a treasure. Billions of years of history, survival and transformation in every colorful pebble. It felt so good to pick up the smooth, round stones and hold the warmth against my sore neck. I also looked for flat angular rocks to create cairns, a calming and meditative activity that could only be interrupted by my stomach growling for lunch. We took the curative energy of our afternoon stroll up the road to a delightful picnic perch and savored sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and home made chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies – yum!

At the end of the day we took a few samples of the desert earth back to our friends’ house; more rock-friends for the growing collection! Before we sat down to one more tasty dinner (vegetable soup, ciabatta bread, and blackberry cobbler with ice cream), we took time to pause for our friends’ evening gratitude practice*. We each shared a few words about what we were most grateful for that day. After dinner we retired to the living room for conversation and a healthy dose of belly laughter. I don’t remember what all we were laughing about, but it was the perfect way to end a wonderful vacation.

 

Gratitude: Our February Upsize

*We enjoyed our friends’ daily gratitude practice so much that we brought it home with us. It’s so simple and powerful to take a few seconds to focus on the good that comes our way each day. This is an especially transformative exercise during times of sadness … or long periods of rainy, grey weather. The best part … it’s free!

A few gratitude-related links:

 

What are your experiences with gratitude and healing journeys?

Have you taken a vacation lately that was a healing experience? Where did you go?

What are you grateful for today?

 

Here’s a link The Monthly Downsizer: March 2017

 

  6 Replies to “The Monthly Downsizer: February 2017”

  1. Ginny Felle
    March 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

    It was fantastic to have you both to our sunny winter retreat and to share our special ordinary life with y’all! Rocks and gratitude are two of our favorite pastimes every day of the year and it was wonderful sharing our retired love of life with you. “Stay the Course” friends and you soon will be free!

    • Mrs. Grumby
      March 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks Ginny! Wonderful to have such positive and joyful retirement role models as yourselves. :o)

  2. March 5, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I have the same Chase credit card and also recently reached the 100,000 point bonus! I’m glad I was able to snag the deal while it still lasted because I too noticed that it’s no longer offered. This is my first attempt at Travel Rewards so I’m curious to see how you guys use your points, hopefully you blog about it if you get the chance. I think the rock collecting hobby is neat too, my mom loves collecting rocks as well and displays them all over our house. Nice monthly update Grumby’s! 🙂

    • Mrs. Grumby
      March 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, FPF! So glad you were able to get in on the 100k point deal too. We’ll likely save most (or all?) of our points to use during our first year or 2 of retirement so that we can keep expenses low. Has your mom told you the stories behind some of her rocks? I’ll bet she has some good ones.

  3. June 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for directing me to this post, Mrs. G!

    • Mrs. Grumby
      June 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for checking out my thoughts on the challenges of pet care decisions.

      Hope Molly does OK for a long while before you and your family are faced with any further difficult decisions. I was glad to read that you’re working with a vet who is willing to listen to you and not push too much for surgery that may not be necessary.

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