So, here's a recap.
Back in early 2014, Mr. P and I plunked down some money for 2.25 acres of woods in the Sierra foothills. We (especially I) made plans and schemes and started some crazy-early home design, among other things.
Then in May, his father died. It wasn't a shock - we'd seen him in February and knew it was just a matter of time - but it opened up a can of family worms, let me tell you. Much of our life during the period June 2014 - August 2016 has been in a holding pattern because Mr. P found himself taking the reins of his mother's finances in order to dig her out of a very nasty pit. That took months, requiring repeated trips up and down to San Francisco. In November 2014, at least in part due to the exhaustion and stress of all this, he was in an accident that resulted in his car being totaled.
Fortunately (?) his mom couldn't drive anymore and it was agreed that he would take her car. Fortunately (without qualifiers) he likes the car and it is serving him well as a daily driver.
Meanwhile it was discovered, soon after that, that my MIL's cratering condition was because she had a brain tumor. This turned out to be fully operable, and the surgery, in early 2015, was a complete success. She is now doing much better. Later in 2015, she had another surgery - for a hip replacement. That was also a success. Having survived both surgeries, coping and getting around, and with Mr. P in charge of her finances, a certain level of stress came off. But it is still a three-story house she lives in, she was living alone, and we were still afraid of getting that call. You know, "we found her at the bottom of the stairs."
This summer, Mr. P's brother moved in with MIL. This happened just as we had come to the conclusion that we were going to have to. And all of a sudden we can actually make plans again.
Other stuff: in early 2015 my job was eliminated, right before I went out on medical leave. I was offered a transfer position that I accepted with gritted teeth, and as soon as I went back to work I started a job hunt. I traded my 20-year-old, increasingly unsatisfactory Accord for a 5-year-old Insight. Later that summer I got a new job. I completed my paralegal certificate course in early fall.
Since then I have paid off my tuition and the car loan, and doubled the size of my emergency fund. This effort got a boost from a large tax refund, which we got because Mr. P's income took such a hit in 2015 with all the time lost to San Francisco. (Tradeoffs, we haz them.)
Anyway, per above, we can make plans again. By which I mean not next year's vacation, but a five-year and a ten-year plan.
If all else remains stable, we will pay off the property next year. And then take the next ten years and shovel money into a House Building Fund.
I would like for us to be in the Sierra House before Mr. P is seventy. That's the goal. If it really takes one year (property) + ten years (house fund), he will be 68 and I will be 62. We will then need to live in a rental up in the hills so we can supervise the build. There's a possibility one or both of us can pick up some part-time work there as well. The builder will surely not want us around all the time.
So the secondary goal is to stay fit and healthy. We both have some work to do in this regard, too. Sixty-nine is no longer the advanced age it once was, but getting there in good shape takes intention and persistence.
One might ask: is it worth building a house that you can't move into until you are 70-ish?
Well, from my point of view, obviously yes. But then, we are people who have not had Our Own House, ever.
If we can pull it off, I would much rather spend those last 10, 15, or 20 years in Our Own House, in Our Own Woods.