Really nice post!
The plan of improving things will absolutely aid in the sense of decay. If it's a major issue/distraction to what you want to achieve, you may want to look in to underground housing as things in houses in caves decay even slower. You probably already know that no structure on deed with over 30 days of upkeep will take decay damage, but I'll mention it anyway.
The meditation confusion between Knowledge and Love is a moot point in my personal opinion. Sure, 25% extra skill gain may seem like a great boon. And it is, do not get me wrong! But getting to 70 meditation will take you a long, long time. For a casual(-ish) player, Love is perfect. With the refresh at level 4, you practically negate the need for cooked food (beyond affinity meals, when those start to become cheaper) since you can starve once and still stay over 70 nutrition (which means no skill gain penalty). And you won't need more than that if you play two hours per day.
Adding on to that, level 7 of the path of Love is optimal for your pens to keep your trusty steeds fed without having to worry too much about starvation. Don't get me wrong, the animals can still pack it and force you to re-do it, but it should be a relatively rare occurrence.
Continuing to build on the point of Refresh vs Cooking, as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't bother too much about it unless you really like to do that kind of a thing. If you decide to not pursue it, though, it may be worth looking in to purchasing a Small/Large Magic Chest (paid items, caution) at a point in the future to keep heavy and affinity-specific meals for a long time without decay - otherwise, it's not very worth to purchase specific affinity foods.
Building on a small mention in your first post about clay not being on your initial island - this is something you can remedy as a player with the player transmutation system. It's going to be quite pricey starting out, but should settle down to a few silvers over the span of a year or two, hopefully. https://www.wurmpedia.com/index.php/Transmutation_liquid_(Feature)
Adding on my personal notes, I would sincerely encourage you to keep up with the foraging / botanizing / killing creatures for fight skill / burying corpses. Even if you don't get the rare window of opportunity often that provides the coins, it's a free amount of extra coppers and silvers that will make a difference over time for little extra effort if you're doing it in passing. Something else you can do, if coins is something you look to accumulate without paying real life currency for them, which is selling items to your token.
Be very careful with this though, once sold, even we GM cannot get the item back, and we will not intervene except in exceptional circumstances. You sell the item you have activated by right-clicking the token and selecting "Sell". It's a paltry amount of coin you get, and it is 1 iron coin + 1 iron per 10 QL of the item you are selling. You will be capped to a low amount of money that you can sell per time frame (sorry, it's late and I don't recall specifics), and it's quite click intensive. It's up to each and every one to decide if it's worth it.
I personally admire the discipline to stick to a fixed number of hours per day and budgeting it towards things you enjoy, and I hope you manage to maintain it. I wish I had your fortitude in setting limits the decade ago I personally joined, but here we are today with a recent relatively large landmark of my own; [00:16:38] You have played 701 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes. Yeah. Not getting that time back.
Wurm is an expansive and extremely open-world game. I sincerely admire people that can find their little niche and stick to it, just doing what they enjoy. Thank you for providing this perspective on the game, it's truly a valuable thing to get insight into how someone fresh to the game views the world we aim to provide. Even though it has its ups and downs, I hope you will enjoy your stay.
Best of luck, and happy travels.