Friday, September 18, 2020

Five for Friday - and a Sad Day

Although I have not mentioned it THAT often here,  our little white dog has had serious chronic health issues for some time. Heart problems which led to breathing problems, Doggie Crohn's disease-she was on heart meds, Lasix, and pain meds.  It had been painful to listen to the breathing for awhile, but she was still barking at the mail man, eating her food and still following her mommy around. Her mom had pretty much decided that she would know when she would know And she was right. In the past two days she had multiple seizures, where she literally "fell out" and was splayed on the ground, in between times of just lying around. It was time.  So this morning I and our dog (who I am sure is totally confused-or maybe not, as long as she's been ill), said goodbye to her for the last time. There is good news in this sad story in that my sister has been off work and able to spend as much time as she needed and wanted with her pup. And also, because of Covid, dog and owner spent their last minutes together outside in a courtyard in the grass instead of inside an office. I'm sure another dog will enter our (their) lives, but it will probably take awhile.

Meanwhile, Five Friday Things (written mainly before our sadness)

1. I'm feeling just a bit out of sorts or at loose ends.  I had kinda planned on keeping my machine out and sewing table working and move around it, but that didn't work too well. At the moment said machine is sitting in on the "this stuff will go in my car" shelf in my bedroom and all the sewing stuff has been left out. Obviously I have knitting to keep me busy during the down times, and I even left out some cards and materials to stamp with, but sewing is my jam. And I do at least a little bit almost every day.  Plus, it's fall and I have all these plans for projects.  Maybe if I get fully packed early I'll pull the darned thing out. Not all the boxes are sealed, or ready to be sealed.

2.  I've given up on the getting the freezer thawed before I go plans. Certain other people (and me on occasion), keep buying food instead of using the darned thing up. I'll leave that for them to deal with once I am gone and do the best I can meanwhile to pull out stuff I bought and use it. Like the thin cut pork chops, stew meat and chicken thighs. Tonight I suspect our collective mood is going to result in frozen Lasagna or Red Robin Burgers.

3. I am tired of putting things on the corner and giving a call out to Next Door or dragging things to the car, so I arranged for a pickp from the veterans on the 9th. Meanwhile one part of my bedroom will be donation bag/box express, but I can live with that just to haul it out on one day.

4.  I live in a battleground state, epecially at the Senate level. We are one of those "Likely to go blue and turn the senate" elections. And the reason I'm not moving October first is solely so that I can vote somewhere my vote will count as opposed to somewhere it won't.  But the ads my friends, the ads. Last night we watched Jeopardy and yes, we do usually record it. There must have been twelve ads easily for each candidate in each commercial.  Never mind the ads on my youtube workouts, spamming all of my social media and everywhere else. I usually record most things but from now on if it ain't DVR'd I am done. And that includes Jeopardy and Brother vs Brother!  

5.  I have two books ready at the same time. Now I get to decide whether to jump into the Pillars of the Earth prequel (something that starts at 900 CE is my speed), or the new Catherine Counter FBI novel.  My current alternating TV list are the Sommerdahl Murders on Acorn, and Away on Netflix. I really need to start watching The Boys but I'm waiting till the whole season is there on Amazon so I can just sit and watch. And I'm still working on my music lists and adding to it starting with this list for more ideas. Yes, I am into serious Rock and Blues music.  More than most of my readers, it seems!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A New Budget For a New Time

Just as an aside, I dunno about other bloggers, but if I had a buck for every comment on healing herpes I send to spam rather than publish, I could retire to the Bahamas. I tell ya.

This afternoon my sewing room/studio looks messier than it has in a year.  As part of the packing process, I emptied out all the drawers and bins and put like items in various sizes of plastic bags (art pens in one, paint brushes in another, acryclic tubes of paint in another and each sewing project separately bagged.  My table is now piled high. Multiple boxes (both those to be packed and those holding trash/recycling and donation items, as well as some already packed) litter the small floor. The storm before the calm. 

I've finally (mainly) figured out the budget after talking with utility companies, wifi providers and looking at all the costs and estimated costs.  There are a few unknowns, of course. In the end, some things will be greater, some less, but I sould actually have more "flexible" income than I do now, even if only do to being in a lower priced area.

Aside from the monthly expense comparison, there will be some heavy spending the first couple months, after the moving costs.  Because I am leaving a house that has had most things combined, and because the furniture is almost ten years old even if I was willing to take it (It will be my son's or he can sell it all)  When I moved into this house, furniture became "house furniture".  So the bad news is that I need new furniture.  The good news is that I need new furniture. That includes a new bed, a dining room table and chairs, living room furniture (temporarily taken care of) and something on the patio. Oh, and a new quilting table. For starts. Plus bathroom furnishings, cooking items in smaller sizes and all the other good stuff. Plus, Christmas is coming.

My Amazon wish list is growing. I should turn it into a registry, maybe?

Anyhoo, back to the budget. There are two increases,  many decreases, some that will remain the same and some that I am not sure about.

The increased spending:

  • I will be supplementing my son until the spring. He is now employed but was off work quite awhile and then under-employed hours wise-and with the job market changing to his "degree" career looks unlikely right now. He also has crushing school debt because Mom could not help him (yes, on hold for now). Last but not least "our" dog (really his dog now)  is staying with him and needs expensive surgery, possibly times two. So mom is paying the greater part of said debt for awhile. 
  • The other increase is housing. Because, two bedroom senior community instead of house sharing. Many housing expenses will drop after the move but the monthly rent will increase drastically.  Current expenses (rent/cable/water/insurance/gas and electric) is in the thousand dollar range. Lone Star State expenses (rent/electric/insurance/wifi) will run in the $1300 range. Both estimates depend on seasonal issues. Gonna try living off my Firestick, casting from my computer and see how that goes to begin with before subscripting to Hulu or Sling.
Decreases which offset the above:  

My daughter texted me this picture of a quiche since she makes one a week for her breakfasts and said she will start making a second one for me each Sunday.  Yes, please!

  • Groceries will be a whole lot cheaper in Texas. General pricing is quite a bit lower and there are at least ten groceries not including warehouse stores and Whole Foods/Trader Joe's so significant competition and millions of good deals on those first pages of the ads. Also I'm related to two people who like to cook, including SIL who cooks in large amounts and will assist in feeing me becuse he doesnt know how not to.
  • Gas (the kind you put in your car) will be cheap, cheap, cheap , cheap compared to where I am now! In theory Texas has tollways which could increase the car expense, but I have chosen a place where they are not necessary except for the rare occasion. Natural gas is also dirt cheap in Texas but I have electric heat.
  • Entertainment/Amusement/Dining out will be much cheaper. Because of more options (much, much larger metro area), lowered costs in general in Texas, and  my living in a college town with all the free events. Also,  I'm not planning on returning to the the happy hour AND lunch AND paid craft thing weeky that I was doing pre-pandemic.
  • Recreation/Health Club/Senior Center access are all much cheaper than in Colorado although Lord only knows when I will feel comfortable going and when they will be fully open.
  • Lifelong learning will be temporarily a teeny bit cheaper because of zoom but that will increase whenever in person classes begin.
Things that will probably stay generally the same or a wee bit lower:

  • Clothes will not be much different cost wise, national chains tend to be pretty stable. Useage may change but I cannot estimate that until we get something close to the normal time again. The store I shop from 85 percent of the time does not exist where I will be. Since I want my current store to say in place (even though they are part of a chain they are the nicest people ever) I am going to have the manager of the store ship things to me from her store instead of ordering online. There is a plethora of thrift, consignment and other stores in Texas, but I cannot plan on using them any time soon.
  • In theory travel will remain consistent when it resumes. Local vacations and day trips will be much cheaper than in Colorado though. You can certainly stay in Galveston or Padre Island or the Hill Country for much less than a mountain retreat in Colorado. So I'm keeping said travel budget as it was before and going with the theory that I will get more for my buck.
  • Crafting/Creativity/Hobbies:  The budget may increase on these but the cost will remain the same. Quilt cotton and good yarn has fairly standard pricing set by the distributors.  All the big craft stores have fairly set pricing and I already order from online stores. I do plan on taking some intensive classes but those will be one-off's 
    Now that my mistake is corrected, the sweater is on it's way. It's now about twice as long as this shows
  • Health and Personal Care expenses.  I'll be lowering my monthly health insurance by half, but that's an open season issue, not a moving issue. Pedicures and the like will generally remain the same, I think.  
    Speaking of which, it may be time to get these feet  a pedicure and massage!
Things that fall under I don't know yet:

  • Car insurance. I won't really know what that is until I officially change my address which as yet is undone. I do currently have the expensive insurance that has a low deductible and full glass coverage and I may change that, but its not related to the move as such
  • I'm sure there are other things that fall under the I don't know, I just haven't thought of them yet.
What have I missed?

Friday, September 11, 2020

I'm Booked, And What a Week!!

In 2001, I managed a healh club  few rock's throws and down a path from the Pentagon. All these years later, I still remember it all.  Everything.
Early on this week I pulled the trigger on a moving company. The idea of a pod and hiring on locaton movers on each side vs a moving company was a no brainer in the end. Extra cost or no, even with the fairly small amount of stuff I am taking on trip one. 

I am now packing bit by bit. There is a large box in the middle of the "parlor" full of many boxes of various sizes, tape and foam envelopes and a roll  of foam as well (the putting the word out and getting them piecemeal was killing me, I tell you). Today I am doing organizational restructuring in my bedroom and clearing off a large bookshelf so then I can begin stacking the boxes next to it and in front if it. I told the sales guy that when his compatriot calls three days before the move to finalize things, I would be able to show in pictures everything that was going and that it would all be in two specific areas. I've decided I care about boxes more than shelving and if I have to sacrifice the two thrifted baker racks I use for storage to add on some boxes, I'm okay with that.  Thrift stores and Ikea are already in my future.

I also decided that all the various large and small plastic drawers and bins will probably not make the journey either (packing everything in ziploc bags of all sizes since price is based on cubic feet and not weight) and so am giving a few away this afternoon. 

In case you've been living unawares, I live in the land of Fire Snow at the moment. One hundred degrees on Monday and 33 degrees on Tuesday. I've climbed under the covers and bundled up without complaint simply because any moisture is moisture in the land of fire and drought (but it wasn't nearly enough).  But the sad part is that the snow did not hit many of the fire areas.  And we lost an already dead tree (trimmers are booked through November) that took out the neighbor's power line (an act of God but a subsequent issue has us on completely different keel with said neighbors-a story I'll share at length next week).  

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park


On the furnishing front, once again, I've changed my mind.  Daughter and SIL are getting new furniture and after some thought, I am taking theirs-a three seater reclining sofa in beige and a matching rocker (which I may put out on the patio for now).  I can upgrade at will later on, but the beige allows me to use as many colors as accents as I like (probably going with so called fall shades to mix and match) and leaves more money for a new (sleigh) bed and pub sized dining table (I have yet to find what I want). And I really wanted a double recliner. Oh, and my unit is on the first floor.  Final decision.

Tuesday I climbed into bed intending to read and instead ended up playing with my girlfriend Alexa (yes, I know what many of you think of those personal assistants). She already will turn my light on and off with commands, play music and turn off in an hour when I am sleeping (and go louder or softer at a single word) , as well as read any book in my kindle library out loud. I now know that she can read audibles, read my podcasts out loud for me, make a shopping list, re order things I order regularly on Amazon, talk me through my morning stretch routine and read my bible lesson out loud to me. Most importantly, wonder of wonders, is a "skill" called Ask My Buddy. It allows me to voice activate the Alexa unit and say "Alexa, call Katie, I need help" and then that call immediately shows up on my daughter's phone. I have three units so where ever I am, Alexa should hear me.

My sister-in-law's mother passed away this week. She had been having severe respiratory issues, even her hands were blue on a couple days. It had been going on but getting worse. First the hospital said she had C-19, then no, the test came back negative. She was 90 years old and ready.  When they came to move her to hospice, she basically said, I'm not going to another place, and died. We will miss her greatly, she was smart as a tack at ninety years old. 

Tomorrow (heck, this afternoon) we will be back to summer temperatures although right now the heat is still on. I made a rookie mistake  with my knitting project at the beginning that I missed, and am now startng that puppy all over. I am keeping out both knitting and sewing projects until the last minute. I may even order some Christmas fabric to work on gifts. After all, one cannot pack and organize all of the day.

Although I need to do a minimum five boxes a week, by my estimation.

Football, I've missed you so much!!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Friday Stream of Consciousness

Tomorrow my son will jump on a plane and fly to Texas and return on Monday. While there, he will participate in a small, socially distanced draft party. He has not seen his sister since February and since the hospitality industry doesn't get holidays off, he's not sure when he will again. This is opening our house bubble much more than it has been to date. It's been six months in isolation around here and if there's going to be a time, this is probably it before the weather changes again and flu season.

We have no intention of everyone locking ourselves in bedrooms for fourteen days. I'll wear a mask to pick him up in the car and we will most likely separate as much as possibe (he'll be mainly working to make up for the long weekend). Human contact, especially with family, is on occasion a necessity.

I left the house yesterday-with a cloth mask covered by a three layer disposable (not totally paranoid, thinking that the disposable lessens my washing needs since I only have four cloth). I walked into the isolated area of my pharmacy and got my senior flu shot out of the way while they still had it. Then I walked into the fabric store and grabbed some fabrics. I'm  I'm going to start testing patterns and this was the first.  Then I went to the mobile phone store and upgraded my phone. Every place was mask required, limited numbers, paperless and the whole shebbang.  And I still probably won't leave my house again till moving day unless it's for an in the trunk delivery. Living with people who work has me keeping my bubble closed.  Plus which, I know I was lucky yesterday not to encounter the maskless few or other issues while I was out and about.  

It's called Modern Maze. Was gonna make it a modern Christmas quilt but changed to the brights!

My name is Barbara. I live on a fixed income. I am the queen of getting stuff for free or almost free and never paying full price while living richly.  Except for fabric, good perfume, the occasonal pedicure and a gourmet restaurant experience. Adding to those exceptions is the admitted fact that  I am a serial phone upgrader. Yes, my phone was one year old, but the new one has a better screen, camera,  faster speeds and 5G. Fortunately while it extended the life of my phone payoff, it did not increase it and it was already in my budget.  I am who I am.

I may have downsized my closet too much.  After hanging up every top piece I own (literally) I have eight short sleeved tops, about six tanks, six long sleeved tops, five sweaters, two heavy sweaters and about four cardigans. I'm telling myself to wait until I get there so I can remind myself of what I'll really need.  All the downsized, outsize, stretched neck clothes that are out of the closet are now on a shelf to be used for wrapping. 

Last night I was sitting up in bed and looking at the disaster on the other side of the room in my (pretty darn large) bedroom. Black bags full, a temporary metal shelf full of things to give away, stuff to be packed later and shipped in the second load. And this is from a gal who has already seriously downsized  far beyond the average retiree and is not a collector of stuff. My organizational solution has been to put everthing from the smaller sewing/room office that is not going in the bedroom for staging, pack things in the sewing room I'm not using, and go from there. Today I began a priority list of what has to be done.  Thankfully the things that have to go on this first trip are one pod and a large SUV packed to the gills.  If I have my clothes, memorabilia, a few pieces of furniture and craft stuff, and some holiday decor then I will survive. As the song says.

As if I don't already have enough to keep me busy, I'm starting a craft/sewing/creative dedicated blog.  It will be slow at first and I need to get articles written in advance.

On the keep yourself moving on the home front, I've created what I guess is my own interval training. I found a pile of five to ten minute aerobic/strength/balance videos from silver sneakers. So in between all the sitting and sewing and knitting and reading, I'm getting up every so often and either walking ten minutes or doing one of the above.  Something being better than nothing and all that.

Especially since I'm about to have leftover pizza for lunch and possibly an oreo for dessert.  Because, as I commented on another blog, there is no substitute for potato chips or double stuffed oreos. Healthy or otherwise.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Thoughts on Living Alone-Now and Later

It's coming along quickly! on my lap, so the light isn't great but now you know the color.

I'm going to be living alone. I've done it before, I'm doing it again, and I'm doing it on purpose-and even looking forward to it.

There are lots of people who live alone incuding many of my readers. I have not done it in awhile, that's for sure. And I'm starting this new life in the midst of aa pandemic when most all of the group activities in the area and the community room stuff is on hold for awhile at least. Who knows for how long.

I did all kinds of research before our temporary new normal began. So I know that after Covid, there will be a quilting group, a knitting store with classes, a progressive church with a senior social group, lifelong learning classes and the common areas and some limited activities in the community. All of which would be more than enough for me. I'm not an introvert nor am I social butterfly in any sense.  But I need my other people, some kind of structure of going out and being among the others and especially in having conversations (some deep) with people besides myself or my famly.

Even in the normal times when we have all that, I will still be alone. In the evening, at night, in the morning. Much of that will be positive. It's a choice and I look forward to long periods spent crafting, sewing, knitting reading, tv binging, relaxing, eating and starting a ew crafting blog, among other things . But jumping back into living alone will have it's own set of adjustments on some small level.

In the beginning at least, I am sure I will want a slightly better sense of schedule than I traditionally have had. I'm neither a planner nor a scheduler, never have been. But without other family members or outside commitments to form some kind of schedue, I'll probably need to create my own, at least in the beginning. I'm not worried about any dressed or grooming something because that's something deeply embedded in me-if only because then I can embrace the pjs and shower routine in the evening as part of the winding down part of my day.

I'll be opening up my bubble in a huge way in that I will be joining my daughter and son-in-law in their bubble (or maybe it's that I'll be allowing them in mine).  They both work (my daughter is an occupationa therapist that goes to multiple nursing homes so she is extra careful).  Not seeing them will not work for me unless the numbers start skyrocketing or they have reason to expect exposure.  But they already will be helping me move in, picking up my key and checking out the apartment and shopping for me. So we are pretty much there. This probably means that I will need to be extra careful in the complex especially with folks much older. For now at least, Sundays will probably be spent at my daughter's doing laundry, sucking up to their cute dogs and letting my son-in-law cook to his heart's content.

There's a safety component that worries my daughter and I suppose on some level me as well.  I have bad (but not yet terrible) balance. All due to my dengenerative disease (and multiple breaks in one ankle). I function completely normally-except for those once in a blue moon times I don't. Which is why I do leg strength exercises for at least a half an hour daily, no matter what, including practicing leg step overs. I'm leaving behind steps of any kind (except into the low bathtub here there will be all kinds of bars) and most other balance issues. But things happen and the same degeneration that makes me fall can make it almost impossible to get up  (even with the arm strength exercises I do with an equal effort).

 My daughter has hinted at getting a necklace or other wearable device especially since I am not one to throw my phone in my pocket before going out for a walk. It's that, or a morning and night time text or call, we'll see. She's also suggested the double shower chair for avoiding the stepping over part. I'm absolutely not there yet even though I come from the perspective of using whaever makes life easier/safer/makes you more independent. I've spent some money on a few things like a tall broom and dustpan and a reacher and will have a separate post about those. 

I'm going to need at least some kind of socializaion beyond daughter and son in law. In general, I'm not a big fan of Zoom and the virtual but it may be time to change. I can still visit my current church from afar, as well as the knitting gals when I feel the urge. I'm thrilled to see that the quilt group has zoom meetings with speakers, the church has zoom meetings of all kind and that Olli has some Zoom scheduled classe for the fall. At this point, virtual friendship, coffee and conversaton is all there is and I'm determined to jump in at least a litle bit.

Last but surely not least is the cooking for one again thing.  Knowing myself, it would be too easy to rely on deli chicken and stouffers single meals and take out.  I'll need to make a special effort not to do that.  I don't cook alot but what cooking I do will be a happy medium of regular recipes once a week and cooking for one or two type things the other times. I guess it's time to get back in the habit of getting the large packages of chicken from Costco and cutting off a single pack at a time!

What have I missed, though?

Friday, August 28, 2020

Reading and Watching and Planning and Leaving My Cocoon

I spoke to my agent/coordinator person the other day.  It completely escaped my mind that I had a durable financial attorney document with my daughter's name written and notarized in 2008. They last forever, so that's an errand I don't have to deal with. My son is going down to visit my daughter next weekend (they're having a social distanced little football draft party and he needs a break) so he can take that with him. I'll be interested in hearing his take on the plane experience, even though I of course will be driving. I should have an actual unit number soon and I told her first or second floor. I didn't care as long as the elevators always, aways, worked!! I'd prefer a patio/balcony that faced outward as opposed to into the center of the community but there are so many trees, even in the parking lot that I will be happy either way. Another decision down.

Today is a high of eighty degrees (it's seventy five now), and the almost fifteen degree difference is a brief respite. While there is haze I can see the mountains and I can neither smell nor taste the smoke (that's when you know you're in trouble). So, taking the bull by the horns, this afternoon we went for a drive. A long drive, after which we hit our local free gardens for a brief walk, mask on. I got less than two thousand steps but I left the house for something other than groceries in the trunk or a doctor visit. A big step for me. Unfortunately the I'm being dragged kicking and screaming to the second "outside my house" outing.  The pharmacy forgot to put my prescription in the delivery pile and they won't delver again until Monday. So either this evening or in the morning prior to the rush, I need to actually enter a grocery store, go to the pharmacy, and pick up my drugs. It has to be done, I suppose!  

It's called Red Dress. One of the many art pieces in our parks, recreation centers, and greenways.

Thos are some big lily pads!

Of course we have to preuse the gift options

I've pretty much gotten my realistic gift giving list down, at least the making portion. I have a tentative master list here. I've started on the knitted coasters and mats for my brother and sister in law. The list doesn't include donation gifts or cookies or that stuff yet, I need to add it as I go.  
this I intend to make just for me, I just have to choose a color

Watching and Reading and......

Ever notice how the releases from the big boys and girls happen about twice a year when it comes to reading material?  I have a huge list of pe-orders and library reserves for late October and November that include most of my regular authors (this happens again in April) but I needed new material.  Not surprisingly, I jumped right back into my Kindle Unlimited membership. I also made my monthly visit to Fantastic Fiction to see what the new books were out and immediately checked out The Last Flight (much better than I thought it would be), and also checked out a book called White Out (not yet read) through Kindle Unlimited.  Also decided it was time for some new best selling authors so started the Christopher Reich Simon Riske series and and am starting book two from the library. To all you Daniel Silva readers though, I'm having trouble with Gabriel Alon. Does it get better?

Streaming wise, I'm still watching the show Midnight Sun on Hulu, and I'm about to jump into Secret Enemies on Masterpiece (through prime).  I'm ashamed to say that we are all so hooked on Jeopardy around here, that we are watching all the repeats every night, even of the College Championship they showed in April. What can I say. While I rarely watch networks showing, I'm getting slowly caught up on Chicago PD (but none of those that follow). I've absolutey refused to watch the conventions (either one) under any circumstances, although I will watch the debates. If they have any.

Remember, not voting is voting for Trump. Voting for a third candidate is voting or Trump. Right now they are neck and neck. This is the year to badger at and be rude to every friend and neighbor you know. Drag em to the polls.

Since I cannot watch TV when I sew, I signed up to receive audio books, and subscribed to a few podcasts: I'm listening to The Minimalists, the Yarniacs, Sewing Out Loud, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

I need more podcast suggestions, feel free to send them my way!

And finally, on the way too much information front (sorrry men), my entire underarm and boob on my left side are causing me pain beyond belief. I dunno if my left side is that much weaker or somehow my weight lifting technique is that changed on that side, or what. But I am doing no lifting, no stretching no sewing and no knitting for AT LEAST today and tomorrow. Seriously people. Ouch!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Relocation Choice Two-My New Home

Today I managed to get outside for an hour. The air is crappy and you can't even see the mountains but I had to do it. Smoke smell or no smoke smell.
My larger search area, with daughter living where the 380 sign on the right is and north, my final decision right where the c in County is, community one where the words Little Elm areand the turuoise apartments a little off to the left
My initial criteria was simply that I was not going to purchase-for a bunch of reasons. I'm not in a position to pay cash. I expect to be living with my daughter in about five years. I literally don't want to expand any effort on a home other than cleaning the inside, and even in the best of scenarios that doesn't always work. And I would prefer the city of Denton

I wasn't sure I wanted a senior community as such, although I knew I need the zero step entry option. I ended up touring five locations. Two of which were not senior communities. My second round was only the three senior communities.  While the non senior communities had some no step apartments the amenties were not as nice. And I realized that I was just fine not having young kids around. I looked at online, but did not tour, the towhouse/apartment complex that was in the city next door just in the middle of shopping and restaurants and you name it. Yes, it has it's advantages, but I lived in a brownstone duplex with the same advantages for 20 plus years and it's no longer calling to me, although it was a great place when I lived there. 

I did not start out with a large list of requirements except the no steps and a couple other things-I operated on the theory that things will call to me or they won't and I had already ninety percent decided on the town itself. So there were three left. Note that all of these communities had common rooms and kitchens, pools, movie theaters, libraries, and exercise space.

Note: I toured these places on a cloudy February day. If the pictures are bright and sunny, they are stock pictures. Grey skies were taken by me.

Complex one (see 3 photos below) was very near a lake (they all are in half an hour driving from large lakes actually, again, it's Texas). I actually liked the way the apartment itself was laid out, especially the angled kitchen counter.  All the homes were single level, very close together with a little grassy area for walking a dog, but not much more . It had no walkability factor, and there was nothing right out the gates to call you. You'd have to drive awhile,  not just five minutes.  The apartment itself was lovely, but I felt that the general outdoor area could have been maintained a teeny bit better.  The inside and common rooms were well tended.  The community had wonderful ratings from residents and family members. It was a town over from Denton, though. This was not in my town of choice, it was very near to the lake it would have been a longer drive to my daughter and in much traffic. 

Very cose together and teeny tiny porches. The pointed roofs are because there are no basments and to hold big fans

I did really really like the kitchen/living/dining layout of this, but I thought the patio door swinging right into the island was tight. This was the only two and two I looked at. 

 Complex two ( 4 photos below)was probably considered at least a full step up money and quality wise than complex one and three-even though it had the worst ratings by far.  It was between three and hour hundred dollars a month more than the other places. It also had stainless steel instead of white appliances and newer stone counters. The big draw was a huge community room and a full set of "planned programs" almost everyday. On the other hand, the porch in the photo below was in the largest one in the full complex, and the green space you see, well most of the houses did not have that. These houses face right onto the street.  Last but not least, it was less than a mile (probably a half a mile) from the city landfill. And while the description includes walking to stores, those stores include things like the Home Depot shown on the map. Not an outdoor mall, or small shops or restaurants. I got the feeling that except for going to the store, a large number of folks allow said community to provide their entertainment and socializaiton. Which is fine if that's what you want. It was very pretty This was also in Denton, near the interestate, but not in an established community and such with nothing much around and tiny trees mainly when they existed. 

No porch except the tiny entry way, and lots of concrete

On the other side of that fence to the right are shrubs, a street and then nothing but fallow land, so I also might have had to deal with construction, and I could barely get a dining table or good chair or swing (this is a stock picture, mine were taken in Feb when the grass was brown

So the question is, were all these shiny things worth the extra four hundred dollars (no difference in size).

See the Home Improvement store and parking lot to the left and landfill tot he right

Complex three ( last three pictures) was stacked two level apartment homes, instead of the single level cabana style of the other two. Again, this area had VERY high ratings from both families and residents. The homes were at least as large, and the patios were big enough to put deep seating furniture on.  All the apartment homes were entered from the inside hall, where there were large elevators, and almost all the indoor doors were decorated, had chairs or seating next to them. On my first tour, I said to myself "But someone will live on top of me or underneath me". LIke all of the other apartment communities, it was gated. It had a movie theater, a common room, a dining room, and a library, a really nice pool (the pool itself and the ramps and such were much nicer than the other two). It also had a bus, that belonged to the complex, that took you where you wanted to go. It was a slightly older complex that had large trees as well as newer ones. It had some green space (less sprawl). And it had a park immediately next with a walking path. This senior community was in an older part of town and right near Texas Women's University. It was also on the main drag that goes pretty much from from interstate to another highway while going through quite a few towns. My daughter also lives off this main drag. 

See the teeny tree (seriously, there are big ones all over) See the grasss?  See that one person actually has a dining patio table on their patio?

This was actually built by the city, but it's immediately next to the apartments

This was taken in February and all the patio stuff and decor was taken away but it was by far the best pool in terms of size, depth, cleanliness, access and all the poolside stuff (chairs, grills, you name it).
The third tour was with my daughter. She would never attempt to make a decision for me as such. But I value her opinion and she knows what I want and need. Since community one was the furthest away, we went there first. And eliminated it pretty quickly. Then we went to community two. Daughter liked it very much, and adored the inside and the idea of all the events. She knows me too well though,  and did not like the idea of not having a full on patio or even a decent sized porch. She did not know at the time about the landfill. She also turned around in a circle and said "but there's nothing else here!".  

Finally we headed to the last one, closest to her home. (Note that we did the full tour in each of these places and of multiple apartments. Riding the golf carts, as I did the day before. Twas a day). To my two level concern she commented "You're all seniors and kids staying over will be special occasions, it's unlikely someone is going to pound on the floor all night or put a toy down the potty".  Then she smiled and said, "See, you don't even need to leave the gate to go walking".  We both loved the layout, and honestly, the staff were the nicest folks we had met. After we got home we discussed it some more-the layouts of the final two, the cost, the area around and everything else.

Finally she looked at me and said, "I know you. You'll go out to lunch, find your own quilting group, find your own kntting group, go to church, join a club. You will probably go to ten percent of the activity stuff. So is four hundred dollars a month for stainless steel worth it, especially when there's not the grass or patio you want?" 

And so a decision was made!