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Do you have stuff? We have stuff! George Carlin used to do a routine on stuff. He had stuff, but he had another s word for other people's stuff. George was probably right, we have too much stuff. Andy Rooney, are you reading this?

Louise and I are coming in off the road. In July of 2001 we moved into a 1994 Monaco Dynasty (no slides) and we've been living on the road ever since. This fall Louise decided we needed a home, so like a good husband I set about working on the project.

We knew where we wanted to land. We had talked about it for years. We found the community -- RVers and people living in mobile and manufactured homes in deep south Texas. We were fortunate to find a place where we "fit" in to the community. It's always been a retirement community but one that is highly active. We've joined in the activities and contributed our own leadership to some of them. It is a community that thrives in the winter as flocks of northerners flee the s and c (snow and cold). Fully a third of our winter residents fly the maple leaf.

Any normal person would just look up manufactured homes on the Web, pick one and have it hauled in. Louise calls my projects "a Butler." I like to plan out every detail and get everything right. Nothing just happens, I plan it. So I've had many episodes of planning at 4 a.m. The result is that everything (well, almost everything) is going according to plan. The schedule is way out of whack, but we're getting it done.

So now we are accumulating stuff. I spent a day putting up towel bars, shower rods and other accessories. I needed a shop vac to clean up after myself. We are accumulating lawn and garden tools. I need plumbing tools that are different than RV plumbing tools. Every time I turn around, there is more stuff. Stuff we can't get by without. We're building an addition on the house for our stuff. The stuff needs shelves and closets.

When we moved all our stuff that was stored in my daughter's basement for the last nine years, it filled a 5' x 8' U-Haul trailer. Needless to say, we're up to a U-Haul truck already and there is no end in sight. It is time for you to get back into the stock market. I'm buying stuff, so somebody is making money! A lot of this stuff is Hecho en China! They make lots of cheap stuff and we love cheap! The dining set is Hecho en Malaysia! The shop vac was assembled in the U.S.! Who knows where the parts were hecho. It's a fine shop vac though, a vast improvement over the old one that I had when we last lived in a house.

So the anchor is set. We now have enough stuff to keep us tied to this location. We'll drift away briefly only to reach the end of our chain and then anchor will bring us back. We'll keep coming back to our stuff here in south Texas. Eventually we'll become feeble and we won't be able to drift away, and we'll huddle among our stuff to the end.

It was fun being without the stuff. Well, we really weren't without stuff, but we had almost all of our stuff in a motorhome. We set our schedule to suit ourselves and the people we love. We would wake up in the morning and discuss our plans for the coming weeks, throwing in thoughts about changes. We were gypsies. Now we have stuff.

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I am trying to move in the opposite direction. I want to set my stuff free....or free me from my stuff if you prefer. We still have one bird in the nest whoose nestegg is growing and thoughts of buying a house are in his head. Once he is out, who knows, maybe we can stuff what we need in one motorhome and go hit the road for a very long time.

Enjoy your new "castle" in South Texas you two!

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