07 June 2008

Adios Caledonia, Howdy Virginny

As this is being written, April is in the air from the Republic of Georgia to Heathrow thence to Edinburgh and onward to Cupar. Her goal is to pack up our little hoos on the burnside and be ready when the removals company from Edinburgh arrives on Friday the 13th. You see, we have decided to sell our little foothold in Scotland, a gut wrenching decision but financially as clear as the air here at 7,000' in New Mexico. The council tax on the little place is ludicrous - nearly $2,000/year on 720 square feet or about the same as the taxes on Stratheden Farm (53 acres and a 2,700 square foot house). Although we moved much of the house contents to Santa Fe in 2004, we kept the little place as a going concern, as a way of staying physically connected to Scotland, hoping that Russ might find a job there (and as a place for our friends to stay while visiting Scotland). For both of us, the time spent in Scotland was the best of our lives but there seemed no way to stay there. The dream would not become substance.

I'm thankful for George Bush. Yes indeed, because the dollar dropped from $1.32=1 Pound on the day we bought #8 Tannery Court to currently $1.98. Thanks to George, when we sell the house and convert the Pounds Sterling back into US Dollars, we will make an almost 50% gain (which has, of course, no tax consequence in the UK). When we decided to buy a place in Cupar rather than rent, the decision wasn't about a good investment but minimizing loss. Rent on a decent place would have been at least 300 Pounds a month, all down the rat hole. Instead, why not buy a small place, make it our own by painting, remodeling, whatever we desired, and then hope that by the end of Russ' studies, it would not have lost too much value, at least not to the tune of 300 Pounds/month. As the Divine Plan would have it, our 'loss hedge' became the best investment we have ever made.

With any luck, it will sell by the end of summer and we will have generated enough funds, dear Reader, to build a modest solar (off grid) guest cottage at Stratheden Farm for your comfort when you come visit us. The main house will have a guest room with its own bathroom but would it not be ever so more convenient to have a little self contained place if you are there for a month watching the autumnal colors sweep through the Blue Ridge? Or perhaps fly fishing in the 1,000 feet of trout stream that delineates the southern boundary of the Farm. You may come and go, hoop & holler, rise & shine or sleep in as your heart dictates, without disturbing the Master of the Farm. One of the greatest joys of life is good friends and we have more than our fair share - and sincerely hope that they will come and enjoy the beauty and solitude of the Farm with us.

Also in the little free-standing structure, a small minimal studio for Russ - and others. Since so many of our friends are photographers, having a studio and minimal darkroom available might encourage them to produce some masterpieces while visiting, no? Besides generating income by agricultural production, it may be possible to seasonally conduct small, intense landscape workshops. The cottage would serve as the living quarters for the workshop leader with the studio as the classroom. Yes, Kerik, Tillman and Bill, this means YOU.

Time to brew another pot of Typhoo.

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