I understand your hesitancy in letting Gmail record all your calls and its valid. But there are numerous other companies that are offering free outgoing calling to people in the US and Canada. The key is finding a company that lets its users (like Voxox) control what number is displayed when making that call.
> Someone else will have to explain their calling plans, they are too complex for my poor brain.
Exactly my point. Their website is a mess. But don't let that stop you from enjoying their services. It looks like they beat other VOIP companies soundly by offering unlimited incoming calling for just $2. Who can come close to that? Their support, while just chat based (don't think they have phone support), was excellent when I recently communicated with them. As long as you can type you're OK. It was down for a while today; not sure what their uptime percentage is. It costs $10 to join as that is their minimum payment but if you don't like anything you can cancel within 24 hours. You use it with a computer based softphone like Xlite or you can buy an unlocked ATA for very little on a place like Ebay (like about $20). Not sure if the type of ATA you choose influences things much. Others experienced with using a few of them could offer their opinions here. If you want flexibility in the home and want to use things like cordless phones you'll need an ATA. Otherwise a bluetooth headset will give you mobility in the room with the computer.