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Goin' country.

In response to Andrea Brunken's letter ("Bona Fide Country Folk") in the May/June Mail Call, no, Andrea, you're not crazy, or even alone. Lots of people are moving from the city to the country to leave traffic, sirens, crime rates and noisy neighbors in their rearview mirror. It's a good move, but not without pitfalls. I've been dreaming about living the country life since I was a child spending summers at my grandparents' dairy farm, but I had to grow up, retire and get married to do it right. Here are a few pieces of advice from what my wife and I have learned.

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* Decide how much you are willing to put in to the country life because the serenity, scenery and slowed-down lifestyle are balanced by the hard work it takes to keep everything working. It's like a garden; those fresh vegetables are earned with a hoe.

* Learn everything you can about builders before you pick one. There is no shortage of horror stories, and all those stories were expensive.

* Take notes on everything your builder says and keep every scrap of paper you get, because you can't remember everything. Think of it as protection and peace of mind.

* Expect every conversation with your builder to involve decisions; big and small. The style and finish of the door handles have to be decided just like countertops and roof styles.

* Everything will cost more than you thought, and everything will take longer than they promise.

* Keep a video camera and still camera with you during every visit. It's good for documentation during disputes and fun for telling the story of how your country home became a reality. Let the funny one do the narrative.

* Get used to the idea that nothing is close or convenient. It's the trade-off you make for peace and quiet.

* You can't start researching doctors, hospitals and all medical matters too soon. Plan on making trips to the nearest big city for specialists and anything requiring "procedures."

* Seriously consider a small safe room. We use our utility room for that purpose. It looks ordinary but has 8-foot solid concrete walls, a ceiling full of rebar, and a decorated steel door with a dead-bolt lock. It can protect you through several types of emergencies, and you'll never regret it. Tornadoes are occurring everywhere in the country now, and it's a smart alternative to a storm cellar. While you're at it, consider a screen porch. A glass of sweet tea with no bugs is a blessing!

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Above all. learn when to be flexible and when to stand your ground. You're the one paying for it, and you'll be the one living in it. Good advice is there to help you make good decisions, but the decisions are yours to make.

KEN AND KAY WATTS

Pineview, Texas

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Title Annotation:Mail Call
Author:Watts, Ken; Watts, Kay
Publication:Grit
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:473
Previous Article:Best days.
Next Article:True GRIT.

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