Monday, December 06, 2010

A Homeless Tail Tale


38F degrees outside,  when I woke up in Florida this morning. It was 51F inside my old motorhome. I so wanted to snuggle back under the covers with my little puppy dog. I try to conserve on heat, but I plan to turn it up now that I am up. I start off my days, full of enthusiasm, determined to work very hard at improving my strange situation. Little Harley dog is ensconced in a tight little ball, in his tiny cat bed, which I put on my bed at night. I place it directly over the mattress warmer, so he is warm at night.

He weighs 6 pounds and gets cold, very easily. Matter of fact, he has had to wear sweaters when it's below 70F, to keep from shivering.  The vet that saw him in an emergency the other day, says I must really step up my campaign to put some meat on his skeleton. I felt like a bad dog owner. I thought I was treating him with the best care. I did explain to her, that once he clears the fog in his tiny head, in the morning, he pretty much goes full speed ahead all day. So he does have boundless energy. Just that he doesn't gulp down enough food, unlike most dogs who will readily eat whenever food is available.  He always has dry food around, so he can snack at will anytime. I also give him extra foods throughout the day, in an attempt to put some meat on the little fellow.

If anything, he does love his walks plus of course, he loves endless play with his toys or other dogs.

I am trying to increase the amount of walking we do.  It's harder than I thought!

I don't know why I am so weak lately. It's scary and I just try not to even think about it.  I am not under medical care anymore, it was just too pricey for the doctors and the drugs. I went off all my medications a while back too, as a cost-cutting budget trim. Times have been really super tough ever since I got out of the hospital. My business evaporated, I relocated to America, which may have been a mistake, but I'm here now, trying to make the best of it.

I've now almost "broke even" with owning the motorhome. Living in it has been far cheaper than my old monthly rent. So at least, buying it, turned out to be a super good bargain, a smart decision. Just that I still have to find a place to park it or camp. But overall, the camping fees, when paid monthly rather than daily, or at a budget-minded campground,  is still far cheaper than rent on a tiny fixed-address abode. I've also utilized my skills to do most of the repairs and maintenance myself. Sometimes I get stuck and have to pay for a repair.

Incredibly, my motorhome is worth more than I paid for it. I'll admit, the price of this motorhome was a super good bargain. I paid about a third of what comparable motorhomes were going for, in the same condition as this one. So my research in shopping, really paid off, a nice piece of very good luck, that I am super duper grateful for.

Bargains don't just fall in your lap where RV's are concerned, you have to really hunt them down.

I have tried repeatedly to get extra part time work to supplement my writing income, but I am turned down, so far, for everything I apply for. With so many ahead of me with recent American experience and American references, I am just simply passed over in spite of my skills. I spent the past 22 years working overseas, I never thought it would be a problem now.

I try to convince myself, this is temporary, things will get better.

I thought I had a winter part time job sewed up. I barter my labor in exchange for a free place to park my motorhome with utilities and use of laundry, plus food most days, since I cook for a family every night. I do a ton of other things for the family. However, the government seeks to knock me out of work.  Can you believe it?

There is some sort of complicated permit requirement, the homeowner was unaware of, that she needs a special permit for me to have my motorhome on her property. I am neatly parked on her land, with most of the motorhome hidden behind tall vegetation. What a shame that SOMEBODY in the neighborhood, went out of their way, to cause us problems. Why are some people like that?  I guess they didn't have enough business of their own, so they poked their nose into other people's business, trying to cause mayhem.

I miss the happy-go-lucky attitude of my Caribbean island friends. Sure there are some grumps on the islands, but it seems to me that while back in America, I run into a lot more  grumpy people here, than I did there. I mean I certainly meet some happy folks too, but I am puzzled why so many people are rude or grumpy or both. Where is the daily happiness?

I shop for the family.  The other night while out shopping for food for their pantry, several young clerks asked me if I needed help. It was either a super friendly grocery store, or else I looked hopelessly confused. Either way, I was delighted to be asked and thanked them profusely.

I was trying to look over the fresh produce offerings, while writing down and creating a  menu for the family, for the week.

I did get one clerk to assist with finding bug traps. I saw a bug in my motorhome and it freaked me out. I can't use the aerosol sprays for killing bugs, so I bought the passive bug traps, once the clerk found them for me.

I am not afraid of bugs, but I do know, once you see ONE bug in your home, if you don't take serious measures to combat that one bug, you could very well have a thousand bugs next week, a million in a month. They multiply at an incredible rapid rate. My doors and windows are often open, so there is opportunity for a bug to move in I guess.

So, I scattered the bug traps throughout my motorhome in cabinets, near the garbage, and in dark places.  I typically carry out my little bit of garbage, almost daily. I keep everything tightly sealed up, so I don't know what a bug would find tasty around here.

Maybe it was overkill, to start a war over one little bug,  but thankfully I haven't seen bug number two since I bought the traps.  You have no idea how happy that makes me.

I find American grocery stores baffling!  It seems 85% of the foods offered are pure junk.  I stick to the produce department mostly, bypassing most all the other aisles. I don't need meat, but the family I cook for does, so I have to plan meat and seafood oriented meals for them. If it were up to me, I would I just feed them wholesome veggie and dairy meals.

We didn't need this RV permit hassle. So, I may be out of luck, and out of a semi-warm place to park and barter,  in a few weeks. The permit requirements are rather cumbersome and expensive, plus after all is spent and done, the government may turn us down, so it' s like buying a lottery ticket. There isn't an RV park within 20 miles of their home, so moving me across town, isn't feasible either.

Florida is expensive, not a place for a budget-minded motorhome owner. I doubt that I will be able to remain in Florida, if the government forces me out of my current job. The homeowner, who desperately needs my services, is aghast at the recent turn of events, as I am too. There are two disabled adults in the home, who need my assistance. This arrangement is very convenient for all concerned.

Except the government.

I am writing for several other companies in my spare time. The pay shows up 90-180 days later, so it's not a quick fix by any means, but eventually the tiny checks will arrive. Of course I push my book and try to expand on marketing.

I am currently offering a huge SALE on my books for a few weeks, in an attempt to drum up more sales. I am also working on my next book, between juggling everything else going on. I have no trouble staying very busy each day, trying to make things better.

The banks and past medical bills are starting to give me a really rough time, they keep increasing the monthly payments, making it harder and harder on me.  Maybe they  think money just falls out of the sky. The payments I make to them, just wipe out my monthly income, leaving me very little for essentials  I didn't need life tougher and rougher with the government knocking me out of work, too.

I struck up a conversation with a homeless man the other day. I had noticed everyone walking past him, treated him like a rock in their path, something to avoid and then immediately dismiss. Passerby's seemed to give me dirty looks, as if I was doing something terribly wrong to be standing there talking to him.  He has a dog too. They are both homeless, but while the man is skin and bones, his dog appears well fed. I can understand this. He needs the love, hope and companionship,  his dog gives him every day.

I am often  terribly shy about approaching strangers about anything at all. This man wasn't begging, just hanging out with his dog in a piece of sunshine on a cold day.

A homeless tail tale.

I had passed him by before too while secretly thinking  to myself "Oh my gosh, if something doesn't break soon, I could end up just like him."  So I had been saying "Hello" as I passed by him. His face always lit up.

While running errands for the family I barter with, I had a few minutes to spare, while waiting on them to do their business. My dog had come along for the ride. I leashed up my dog,  then walked right up to the homeless man and started a conversation about my dog wanting to meet his dog.

The man smiled and responded in a soft articulate voice. So we chatted about canine critters and weather, while our dogs sniffed each other over with tails frantically wagging in glee.

I've had homeless acquaintances before.  That may sound really odd. I found out, years ago, so many crave simple human interaction, something they are mostly, continually denied daily, as people around them see them as invisible or disgusting, not someone worthy of a bit of conversation.

I just wanted to briefly visit with the human soul behind the anonymous face of being ignored.

Why are some people seemingly afraid to talk with the homeless or the down trodden?

It's true that a few are crazy or incoherent, incapable of taking care of themselves and have ended up homeless and vastly forgotten, mired in a private hell.

But the majority I've chatted with over the years,  seem to be just ordinary people who fell on really tough times.

Having that happen,  would make most of us, at least a little crazy.
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