Friday, September 30, 2011

Fetch or Keep Away

At 9am it's barely 60F degrees in Gumlog, Georgia. Gumlog is near the South Carolina border,  110 miles northeast from the Atlanta airport up I-85 or 150 miles southwest down I-85 from the Charlotte, North Carolina airport. 



While I enjoy all modes of transportation and have been lucky to have been on most available forms, I  admit, I love my rolling wheel estate, also known as a mini-motorhome or Class C, best of all modes.   Sometimes I wish I had a chauffeur, but mostly it's just me and the dog. 




Bow wow to the ball...


Harley dog is learning to play ball. Well, he has always played ball since I first introduced him to such a marvelous delight. Problem is, he prefers to play by his whims rather than by human rules, such as go catch the ball, bring it back to the human, drop it, so the human can throw it again. This is new to him. But he  has recently learned to actually play fetch and return the ball to be thrown again. 


Sometimes. 


He is cold today, bundled up in his blue sweater, courtesy of Baxter and Bailey in Ohio. They are dachshunds that used to wear this sweater, then out grew it, so they gave it to Harley. He loves it. Reminds him of his friends. 


I put a throw rug on the bench for him. His wittle paws were cold. If I sit on the bench too, throwing the ball, he races to bring it back to the bench. We do this 50 times a day. But if I move somewhere else, he won't bring it back. He changes the game to "catch me if you can"  as he races just out of reach with the treasured ball.


He wants to drag out his puppyhood as long as possible. Maybe he will always be playful.  He sure is a goofy little dog!


He's been loads of fun to have around to help me with my workamping duties.   He is one lucky dog to have a volunteer job as a bark ranger. 


NOTE:  Blogger may have made a mess of my formatting. I will have to look into this. *sigh*  If anyone can help, Email me. 


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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ask The Aliens


Ponderances...


How did I lose my shoes and the dog leash?  I still have the dog and my feet.  So what happened?


It's a mystery!  Were the dog and I abducted by aliens?  Did they keep my shoes and his leash as  souvenirs?  We left on our walk with shoes and a leash. Where did they go?  Where did we go?  Where are the aliens?


The only picture on my camera. I put the black board around it. Kind of tacky too, now that I look at it. 



How come I've been doing laundry for 3 days and I am still not caught up?  Oh yeah.  No dryer.  Short clothes line. Small memory.  I wash all I can then hang it  up until I run out of clothesline. Then I have to wait for stuff to dry before I can wash more. 


That explains the 3 days. 


Also, I got into an autumn equinox cleaning mode.  That's similar to a spring cleaning. I decided everything that was washable and not nailed down, should go in the washing machine. 


Except the dog.


He went into the kitchen sink.


Not that he was thrilled, but once he was all nice and clean, he seemed smitten with himself. 


Then I cleaned the kitchen, sterilizing the sink and counter tops. You can't tell the dog had a bath there. He doesn't seem to shed at all. Must be the  poodle noodle in him. (Poodles don't shed.) 


Next I bathed myself, because wet doggy put puppy soap on  me, my shirt, my shorts, my feet... Now he smelled fluffy clean.  I smelled like a dog.  How does that work?




This canine was exhausted after he bathed for 30 seconds and shook himself dry for the next 54 minutes.  He wearily climbed into his freshly washed, sun dried puppy bed for a well deserved nap. 





While straightening up the wheel estate, (does that make me sound unbalanced? I found a pill.  I thought I swallowed that!  Does my neck have a hole in it?  


The pill looked rather clean. I dusted off any minute dust it may have,  then swallowed it with some green tea.  I mop my floors with straight white vinegar, so nothing dangerous on the pill I hoped.   I forgot to check the mirror.  (To look at my neck. )


Did you know today was Thursday?  


I didn't.  Ever since my clock  broke, I have been confused. 


There is this little pill minder that is separated into 7 days.  Each little day holds 3 identical pills that I need every day of my life.   


When I opened up Wednesday's pills, it was empty.  Ah ha!  Maybe I dropped all 3 of them?  How come I don't remember dropping the pills?  I found 1, which I duly consumed.  So, I swept the floor throughout the motorhome.  No pills. Not even a moldy dust bunny encrusted one. 


I pulled out the antique Singer Vacuum cleaner I found at a Goodwill Store for $2 or $3, at a store three or four states over when I was traveling here.  Or there.  Or some where. It's old,weighty, powerful, with a long heavy duty cord. I vacuumed the motorhome including the upholstery. I cleaned out the vacuum, (lots of my hair, dirt, dust, a penny, 2 bobby pins, a broken rubber band, a paper clip, bits of shredded dog toy plastic pieces plus fluffs of stuffing from unstuffed puppy toys but No pills. 


I sat down at my computer. The date is now Thursday. But I am still on Wednesday.  Thursday's little box has 3 pills in it. I guess I didn't drop any after all. The one I found must have fallen out of a hole in my head after I swallowed it on Wednesday.  


Confused?  


Ask the aliens. 



~~~Note:  If this is formatted funny, it's because I got tired of arguing with blogger's new post editor. Please accept my apologies.  


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rainy Day Movies

Don't you just love it when you discover the program you want works on both Windows and Mac?  I've worked on both types of operating systems, but I personally own a Windows system. I really can't say which is better.  



I've been looking for solutions to my camera. Apparently it does make videos, but they are fancier than my old computer can play. So I need either a simpler camera or a newer computer. But there is a third option, a  video converter.


That sounds complicated but while looking for such a program, I stumbled across the ImTOO DVD Ripper  and ImTOO DVD Ripper for Mac.


Since I read all about it anyhow, I might as well share that info here for the RV folks who have a stick house and DVD movies. If you are loading up the RV for a vacation or weekend getaway, you may want to take some movies along, in case the weather turns out funky, you have a plan B for entertainment.   You could choose a few DVD's from your library, or you could convert and copy them all to your laptop or a portable hard drive. Then you would basically be duplicating your DVD library, so you have the movies in your stick house as well as in your wheel estate. 


ImTOO DVD Ripper is a professional DVD ripping software that can rip DVDs to almost all video format such as MP4, AVI, MPEG, DivX, MKV, FLV, etc. Now if you understand all those formats, you are way ahead of me. Anyhow, this handy little program might help some of you techno-challenged folks.  


On a rainy day, Harley D claims the afghan, waiting to see if we are going to watch a movie in bed.
He keeps begging me to play "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" again...  and again...   and again...


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blue Ramblings

Every time I look at this picture, I become homesick for the Caribbean, my home of 22 years. 


I call it "The Color of Blue".  (You can click to enlarge it)






I have been trying to do a super long list of things towards my immediate future. All I can figure out is that I am staying very busy, with a fraction of the list getting done each day. Well anytime I go forward, even just a little bit,  it's still progress, for me. 


I think.


No, I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every moment of it!


My workamping situation is going to change again. I can't take the brutal winters of northeast Georgia in the South. 


Go ahead and laugh at me... 


But neither I, my dog nor the motorhome are built for chronic cold weather.  The biggest problem of staying anywhere that it might drop below freezing, is my plumbing arrangement in the motorhome was set up for vacationing in temperate climates and winterizing with anti-freeze when in storage. I am living in it, so I can't winterize the plumbing unless I want to live without water. 


The sheer cost of trying to keep the motorhome heated is more than the cost of moving further south. So that's why I call it my Wheel Estate.  It moves.  


I once stayed 2 months in an RV Park that had many folks living fulltime in their RV's but not going anywhere. They had put down roots, added outside storage units, built on porches, bought two cars. Yet many were sad and angry.  I pray often that I don't end up stuck like that. 


I'm not sure they realized it was a choice they made. 


I try to make happy choices in my life. It's not easy, but it sure beats being miserable. Since I've been living off a shoestring far longer than I thought possible, I've learned all about priorities and trade-offs when it comes to trying to stretch a budget 9 different ways. 


A close friend who knows intimate details about my erratic income, said "You take being poor to a new art form."


Funny, as I don't really think of myself as poor at all!  I feel very blessed and happy. 


The new census figures came out. The US government has determined that I live far below the poverty line. Isn't that amazing?  Well, somehow, I am making it happen and having fun too!  


I can make two lists. The need list and the wish list. If one is brutally honest about these two lists, then the need list will be very tiny and the wish list could be anywhere from small to humongous.  The need list is basically the bare bear basics:  Food, shelter, clothing, companionship. 


I fight with the budget to meet the tiny needs list. Sometimes, I get to cross over and snatch something off the wish list.  In that case I have to study the wish list diligently trying to make sense of the costs and consequences. Lately anything that got snatched off the wish list was basically maintenance and repairs to the motorhome. 


It's old, if I don't try to maintain it to the best of my ability, it could fail me.  I have no idea how long it will be my home. Probably forever if I am lucky.


Someone else once made the comment that I was fortunate to be able to travel. They had to slave away at their jobs 10 more years to pay for their homes, cars, RV and so on before they could travel.  Yep, that's what they said. 


Did they miss the part, that I don't own all that stuff they are working so hard to own?  I don't even own a car.  I've figured out how to live without one. It's not easy, but I make it work for me. 


Lots of folks tell me I need a car. But it's another trade-off. If I tried in my wildest dreams,  to afford a car, I might risk losing my wheel estate, then end up living in the car. So I just avoid the car and do all I can to keep my wheel estate in one piece. 


Others like to point out my gas mileage is not near as good as their compact car. Well, I realize that, believe me, but I am so lucky not to be living out of a compact car. 


I like to be outdoors in order to escape the small motorhome and its confines. I love how cute and cozy it is, but too much time inside working, living, cooking, recuperating can make one kind of batty. 


My interior manse is about 160 square feet. Some of my friends have bathrooms bigger than that!  400 square feet is considered pure luxury in a motorhome. 


I look around my place and wonder what if it was 2.5 times larger?  Would I get lost in all that space?


I honestly think housekeeping is easier in larger motorhomes or fixed homes, you know the kind that come with a permanent address. That is because you have space to put things away plus more room when daily debris is scattered about in use. 


So much of my motorhome areas provide 2-3 different uses. My dining table doubles as my desk when I'm not at my outdoor table. I also clear it off for dining, for projects, for repairs.  It has to be cleared off again, before I drive anywhere.  I've even converted it to a bed once for a friend to sleep on because they didn't like the ladder to the guest loft.


My outdoor desk is a folding card table I bought for a great bargain at Big Lots, ditto for the folding director's type chair.  It was a super deal, I am just so sad that at the time I could only afford one chair. I had already bought 2 very inexpensive folding camping chairs, from Dollar General, then discovered I couldn't sit in them for typing unless I stacked up a big pile of pillows.


So for awhile, I sat on stacks of pillows in order to type outdoors.  Then I spied the director's chair in Big Lots one day.  I unfolded it and sat down.  Unintentionally I daydreamed about sitting in that chair in some marvelously beautiful campground.  I guess I sat there a long time, staring into space, because a stock clerk came by to see if I was OK.  Embarrassed that it appeared I had moved into the store for a spell, I decided at the time, I could afford one chair. 


I enjoy having friends visit, but it's much roomier outside.  So I now have a small collection of odd camping and folding chairs scattered around the outdoor card table. I keep a colorful tablecloth on the table, it makes it look like home to me. The tablecloths are my old sarongs from the Caribbean.


The only end table in my bedroom is at the foot of the bed. I can't switch around, because my pillows would always be falling in the floor.  My bed in back doubles as a day bed sofa.  If I'm sick, the dog and I retreat to the bed, piling up all the pillows in the corner to make it more like a recliner chair than a bed. Pillows in back for my spine and skull, pillows on the sides like arm rests. Sometimes I doze right off in this position.  Other times I remember to lay down. 


At night, I often pull open a drawer right next to the bed. Above those drawers is a small closet for hanging clothes, so no room for an end table.  But I make my own for the night.  I set a large thin chopping board on top of the open drawer. It makes a little temporary end table. In the morning, I clear it off, storing the board between the mattress and the wall. Then I close the drawer. 


Every morning when I wake up, I tell myself, today I am getting well, working, doing lots of wonderful things. Every moment counts. I hate being sick. It's a waste of time. I want my body to straighten out and fly right. 


Then I do odd things like, drop what I am doing, to go help a friend in need for a few days, while all my stuff falls way behind schedule including my housekeeping and laundry.  It doesn't take much effort for my motorhome to look a wreck!  


It seems to me, that living in a small mini motorhome full-time, working, living, playing, recuperating is a big tall order for such small space. If a dozen  things are scattered around, out of place, it looks like a disaster. 


Maybe it's my previous living on a boat mindset. On sailboats, everything has to be stowed for sailing. But sailboats typically have utilized every spare square inch of dead space for storage. Not true in motorhomes. If I were a carpenter, there are so many dead areas that I could convert to  drawers or odd shaped lockers, like on a sailboat. But I'm not a carpenter, so that's not going to happen. 


I blame much of the mess on Harley D. Most folks assume the D if for Davidson, but it's for dog.  


He doesn't mind.   He happily takes blame as he shreds a favorite toy.


He is a mixed breed of Chihuahua and Poodle. As of last week, he weighed an astonishing 5.5 pounds!  That is 2.5 Kilos.  I read that long haired Chihuahua's can have heavy ears or just one heavy ear. In that case it folds over, only standing up when the dog puts effort into it.  I guess that explains his goofy looks of one ear up and one ear down. He has a heavy ear. 


Well, I guess he's my little heavy-eared dog. He's so ugly, he's cute. If anything, I was blessed with a dog with a wonderful personality. He is enthusiastic, energetic, friendly, playful, outgoing and rather entertaining. 


All the things I want to be too. 


We can learn a lot from a dog. 


Well, I've rambled on a bunch today.  Time for work, laundry, cooking, housekeeping and prayer. 


That's the super short list of today's goals. 




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Monday, September 26, 2011

Work From Your RV

You've probably seen the hype before "Work at home, make $$$". Your "home" can also be your RV.  Many RV folks would love to find a way to "work at home" so they can travel in their RV fulltime.  If you've done your homework properly then you've probably found out that 97% of those "work at home" deals are scams to get your money, not make you money.  Generally, the scams are something like you have to buy books or  join a site or become a member or pay for unaccredited education to learn the "secret" of working at home.  Some want to sell you books or tools or seminars or webinars. A dead give away, it's a scam,  is when the money they promise you will earn is way out of line. If the money were that great, they wouldn't be begging you come work for them, they would already have plenty of hungry workers. 



Basically they are selling you something in exchange for your gullibility. So be super careful when you see those emails and ads that promise you loads of money, to work at home. 


I took this rainbow picture in the Virgin Islands a few years ago. 




There are a few legitimate work at home or work in your RV,  jobs. They often require long hard work for minimal pay. If you're talented and can market your talents from home or your RV, then bingo, you've probably found a way to make money that is better than minimal. There really is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 


Or is there?


If you like to read, study and do research, then there is one way you might make money at home or in your RV. Notice I said might.  You might even make a lot. 


Might. 


All you need is a computer and internet access.  I know this sounds too easy, but actualy it's very hard.  


You can teach yourself to become a day trader. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission  have this to say about day traders:


Day traders rapidly buy and sell stocks throughout the day in the hope that their stocks will continue climbing or falling in value for the seconds to minutes they own the stock, allowing them to lock in quick profits. Day trading is extremely risky and can result in substantial financial losses in a very short period of time.


It sounds like the SEC doesn't want you to be a day trader.  But to be fair, they want you to know, it's not a get rich quick scheme. It has worked for some, for others it's been a disaster. 


Of course, you don't have to trade, buy and sell immediately, you can hold on to stocks for a very long time, especially if the dividends are paying well, it might be more attractive to keep a stock than to rapidly trade it around.


Either way, you have to do lots of research, reading, and studying, before you get into day trading or trading stocks at all, even for long term growth. If your IRA accounts are paying pitifully, you may wish to take over managing your own IRA or IRA's, in hopes you can do better.  


The internet has leveled the playing field considerably. You can often do online trading for a fraction of the costs you used to pay traditional stock brokers who handled transactions for you. It used to be you had to have mega-bucks to enter the stock market. Now you can often open up an online  account for $2,000.00 and sometimes even less. 


You have to take stock of yourself first. Are you a gambler?  Are you ready to devote time to all the research, as well as follow the market and your individually owned stock quotes throughout the day?  If you mess up big time, can you afford the loss?  This is all part of the gamble. If you are looking for cold hard guaranteed returns, then this is not for you at all. Stick to your FDIC  accounts that pay interest. 


Even so, despite the volatility, I happen to personally know two day traders, who are managing to make money at their stocks, while working from home. Actually one is in a traditional home, the other is in his RV. Mostly they are glued to their computer and the internet during market hours. In both cases, it's mostly a fulltime job for each person. 


I also happen to have a friend who through pure luck managed to make a small fortune in the stock market over the course of one year. He took his profits, closed out his accounts, then put the money in savings accounts. It's a strange way to do things, most folks become almost addicted to stock trading. But like a gambler, his theory was, take the money and run.  He wanted to stop while he was ahead so he would have lifetime bragging rights. 





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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rain Chains



This rain chain is nearly identical to the one I first saw at Foxys Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the Caribbean. 


The first time I saw a rainchain was at Foxys Bar on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. At that time about 100 people lived on the island. 


A light rain had begun to fall. Folks rushed from the beach, to the open-air bar for cover. In those days,  the bar had one wall and a roof held up by posts.  This was so you could enjoy the tropical weather as well as the fabulous views of the Caribbean sea. I was mesmerized watching the rain fall down the rain chain. 


Electricity wasn't introduced to Jost Van Dyke until Christmas of 1989. Even then, only the main settlement received electricity, many folks in the country continued to live without electricity, or used generators and solar panels. 


In the Virgin Islands, it's very important to collect rain for water use. At that time, Jost Van Dyke had no public water sources. You simply caught rain on your roof, then stored it in a cistern beneath your home or business.  Some folks stored their rain water in barrels. A water pump (manual or electric or battery powered) was used to pump the water from the cistern or barrel back through the building for modern day indoor plumbing. 


I marveled at Foxys rain chains the day I first saw them. They were used instead of a downspout.  I had never seen anything like it. His was simple, just a bunch of identical metal loops, about 2-3 inches in diameter,  chained together.  It led from his roof to a rain barrel. The water ran down the loops quite beautifully, then into the barrel. I thought it was an ingenious invention. 


Later I would learn that the Japanese, long known for their love of  aesthetics, had been using rain chains for hundreds or maybe thousands of years. They called them kusari doi, which literally translates into "chain-gutter".

Just like copper is a popular choice in plumbing, ditto for these chains rain (as some folks call them) or chains of rain, which I prefer. You can also get them designed like little cups or buckets.  Each cup then empties into the next cup beneath it. Rain chains are an inexpensive way to add a semi-natural waterfall feature to your home and garden. 


Alternatively, if your gutter has developed a hole somewhere, simply hang a rain chain there to divert the water like a downspout. The magical waterfall created by the rain chain can go a long ways to calming the nerves and delighting the senses. 




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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blogger Error


Note: I think I fixed the formatting problem. 


If you are subscribed by email, then you may have received yesterday's post as a total mess. On my screen, it all looked formatted correctly, but when I posted it, what a mess it was!


I am clueless. This is something new, blogger changed their website and the editor seems a mess on my end. 


Just while I was typing now, blogger mysteriously changed my font, without my permission. I am so aggravated with their posting system. I am going to try to correct yesterday's post, but it was probably already sent out to the email subscribers as a huge mess. Please accept my apologies. 


Grrrrrrrr........


To top it off, my short lived fantastic energy of the last few days, suddenly left, leaving me at a snail's pace with aches, pains and confusion. I am trying to make myself SMILE and cheer up!  


The sun is out, the dog is happy. We went for a brisk walk, in hopes that would improve my aches and pains.


It did not. If anything, I felt worse instead of better. Usually walks improve my disposition.  Hmmm...


However, puppy has suddenly started to catch on how to play "fetch". So I tossed his tennis ball about 100 times, while he was tethered to a very long string.  He actually brought it back to me each time, dropping it at my feet. My goodness, I have been trying to teach him this all year!


Maybe his tiny brain finally got a clue. 


After awhile I guess he became tired, because he ran and hid the tennis ball underneath the middle of the motorhome.   I changed out his water, dropping an ice cube in for good measure. He lapped up the bowl of water quite lustily, like a soldier returning from the dessert. 



"I can play ball!"  


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The Best of the Mess




Lawdy mercy, I am busier than a long tailed putty-tat in a room full of mouse traps. 


I find it amazing how my body is sick one day, then two days later, I am bouncing off the walls with energy, ready to tackle the world. Every day I just feel like I need to do so much, with a huge priority on enjoying the moment. 


Enjoyment?  Yes!  Every day needs to be wonderful, enjoyed, loved, cuddled and held tightly as the most precious thing I ever owned. 


Or didn't own. You can't really own today or time.  


I see so many people rush around doing what they think they are supposed to be doing, but not being happy about it at all. 


Times are tough, really hard, since my life went upside down.  But I just refuse to let it get me down anymore.  Sure I was confused and bewildered.  


Still am!


But I try to plow forth, smile and make the best of the mess. I always assume somebody has it much worse somewhere else.  I am lucky to wake up to the four basics of shelter, clothes, food, and companionship (that silly dog is good for something, after all). But honestly, I am sometimes appalled when I meet folks that "have it made"  financially, have good health, have vast assets, yet are incredibly miserable. 


If I was forced into choosing being happily poor or miserably rich, well I'd take happiness. 


What???  Am I crazy?  (I sure hope so!)


A few years back, I was leading a comfy life in the Caribbean. I had a choice of two different freelance assignments. One paid very well, but was with difficult combative people, who could never be pleased. They were sure to make my work hard, long, difficult and unpleasant.  The other was a delightful assignment, that paid OK, but not near as well as the other, but the people were a joy to work around, the job offered a great deal of satisfaction and happiness. 


Someone visiting me from the USA, for a few weeks, said "Well, that's a no brainer, take the job that pays the best!"


I said "That's funny, I was thinking of taking the one that was going to be fun and pleasant."  


My friend and I had a heated discussion, as she expounded all the reasons, I should grit my teeth, buckle down and take the awful job because it provided more money. I could name off numerous good reasons to take the job with the lesser money, while she could only name one good reason to take the awful job. 


The money. 


I guess that afternoon, we found out just how vastly different we viewed the world. 


It's been drilled into our heads from day one, especially as Americans, that we owe ourselves a very rich life.  Money is the end all. We should continually strive for more, more, more money and that in the end, it alone,  is supposed to make us happy. 


I personally know a handful of people with plenty of financial security, yet somehow, some way, they are grumpy and unhappy.  But they often tell me, they are working hard for when they retire, they will then be happy.  Or when they get the next million, then they will be happy. Or when they can afford an ostentatious main home, a mountain home, a beach home, a lake home, then they will be happy. 


Luckily I also have a handful of friends who are financially secure, as well as living a great life pursuing happiness every day. 


But somehow, the happy people seem to be far and few. The grumpy folks seem to abound. Why is that?  


So many people hold out on their dreams until retirement. I don't know where this thinking comes from, but many folks have set their targets, that once they retire "It's OK to be happy". 


What if they don't make it to retirement?  What a shame to put off their entire life, waiting to be happy.  I want happiness today. I think about idiotic things, like if I drop dead, I would like to have been happy right up until that very moment. 


Or close to it. 


One day I read what was to me, a very sad story. First it started off, the guy was talking about how he had found out he had cancer, how he had to go through all these treatments to fight it off. He went on about how it scared him into thinking he should do more to enjoy life, rather than put it off any longer. He harped about how cancer had made him put on the brakes, slow down and think about all the dreams he had never fulfilled. Now he was going to chase his dreams, put caution to the wind and finally have some fun. 


All this is beginning to sound so wonderful, right?


I mean the cancer situation sounds bad, but the fact that he had decided he should do more now, rather than later. 


He went on to explain how he and his wife always wanted to live in a motorhome and travel. So now, he wasn't going to put it off any longer. The cancer  had scared him into action. They were going to move into the motorhome, fulfilling their dream of travel and the vagabond lifestyle. 


In six years.


What???


Yes, he was SERIOUS!  His cancer scare had frightened him into planning his lifelong dream to happen SIX YEARS away.


My jaw dropped. I immediately felt sorry for him. I am sure I could take a peek at his finances and show him how to do this now.  In a month or so, not in six years! 


Why wait six years for a lifelong dream when you very nearly had your life ripped out from under you?  They had plenty of assets that could be converted into their dreams. 


Now.  But wait, that would be taking a chance. 


A chance on happiness and that life might not be perfect after all. 


But he and his wife had gone to see some sort of professional retirement planner. They had picked out a luxurious motor coach with all the bells and whistles. They had  figured up all the costs of traveling in it in style, staying at all the resort RV parks. They figured up how to keep the stick house and all the costs associated with it, how to maintain their  new cars and how to retire in the lap of luxury so they could finally fulfill their dream to travel. 


Their retirement planner had figured out how they could accomplish this in six years, if they slaved away at their current jobs, dreaming of six years down the road. 


I felt so sorry for the guy. 


I would have suggested, sell all that junk that is burdening you down now, buy a far cheaper motorhome, look at the less expensive costs of staying in state and national parks or other RV campgrounds that don't operate like resorts. 


Go see the world. Live a little. Live a lot. 


If I could figure out how to do it on shoestring, couldn't this guy with his vast wealth figure out how to do it immediately, rather than wait six more years to fulfill a lifelong dream?  I wondered, would he even live six more years?


You can chase your dreams now, but lawdy mercy, you got to be willing to make the trade offs to make it happen. They don't just fall in your lap. Once you place numerous conditions on your dreams, they may not ever happen at all.  Following your dreams is risky business indeed!  What will the others say?


Why does happiness have to be postponed?


This guy talked like his cancer had caused him to make these life changing, earth shattering decisions.  But six years away?  


Where's the adventure in that?  What if the cancer comes back?  What if six years from now, never happens?  


It all seemed so sad to me. 


Sure I plan two ways. I plan for today and I plan for five years from now. Well, that is how I did it in my younger days. I had immediate goals and I had long term goals. Now I pretty much plan for today and plan for a year from now. I no longer think about the five years much, but I feel hopeful the five years will roll around. I try to live happy today. 


Today is my adventure!  This is the best of the mess!


Tonight I could be hit by a train. Do I hold up my hand and say "WAIT!  I'm not done with my six year plan to be happy?  WAIT!  Stop the train! Turn back the clock.  Come back and hit me in six years, certainly not now!"


I don't mean to knock anybody for making long term plans. We all need to.  But it seems so sad, this man came so close to losing his life, so now, he is going to plan to be happy. 


In six years. 


I guess I look at my world in a crazy way. My little old RV takes me down the same highways as the million dollar rigs. I often do camp side by side next to people who have spent over a 100 times more on their rig than I have on mine. But here we are, next door neighbors in the exact same campground, marveling at the same waterfall or incredible sunset. They may be dining out on chateau briand and lobster thermidor, washing it down with Dom Perignon served by waiters while I am eating homemade bean burritos, washing it down with  water.


But guess what, we both got fed, to live another day. They may be drawing off a carefully orchestrated retirement plan. Here I am juggling erratic health, uncertain income and a wild thirst for happiness and adventure. 


I've lived the high life, the low life and the uncertain life. Their grocery cart may have the best of the best. Mine looks like I'm here to relieve the store of  damaged items. I have the discounted banged up produce, the dented marked down cans, the past-dated cheese at bargain prices. It's just a method for me to get through the rough times. But I don't see them as rough, it's just another adventure!


But by golly, I'm truly enjoying the best of the mess. I am having fun, trying to get well, stay well and fulfill my dreams.


Today.  Tomorrow. And maybe even six years from now. 


I've heard money can't buy happiness, but it sure feels better to cry in a Rolls Royce. 


To each their own. But, I'm having a blast and I surely hope that cancer survivor makes it to his six year happiness plan. 


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Impromptu

NOTE:  I am having a load of trouble formatting with Blogger, I may have to switch blog formats if they continue to refuse to fix their problems.  If this turns up formatted badly, I am very sorry. I have fought with this editor for what seems like hours. I give up!  Here goes, I will try to correct it again, but if it insists on making a mess of my writing, I am clueless what to do next. 


I think I have the blog loading much faster now. At least it was loading OK on my slow internet. But today I am on super fast internet, as I am near my old hometown of Greenville, South Carolina visiting friends. I am driveway camping. I've used an adapter to convert my RV's 30amp electrical plug to a household 15amp plug.  




In January 2010, while I was still super sick, my friend was not yet disabled.  I was camping in his driveway, in my wheel estate, fighting for my life. One night I laid in bed in my RV, with all the window shades up, watching it snow in South Carolina, a most unusual occurrence. As dawn broke, I snapped this picture from my bed. I've sure come a long ways since!  At that time I had just bought my RV in December, the month before. I had yet to go anywhere with it at all. I remember daydreaming endlessly about getting well, getting strong, getting on the road. While my health is still a chronic problem, I've managed to  learn all about driving and living in 28 feet. 




Yesterday, before plugging into their outside outlet, I made sure everything in my wheel estate was completely unplugged from any motorhome outlets inside. Anything prewired with switches, I made sure they were off. Then I hooked up to their electricity, allowing my refrigerator to change from propane to 110.  I have to be mindful that I don't do anything silly like try to run the air-conditioner, electric hot water, coffee pot and microwave all at once. If my automatic battery charger (it runs off 110 to recharge the 12volt house batteries) has an on/off switch, I've never found it. So it kicks in when it deems the battery needs a charge. I believe it is around 45 watts.  So I've switched my hot water off, even though it only draws 400 watts. I don't need it but I can fire up the propane if I do. 


Overnight it was super muggy and sticky due to recent rains, so I was able to run the air conditioner and the refrigerator all night. I had only slept 4 hours the night before, so I was plenty tired. I tried sleeping with the windows open, but it was so muggy, I was so tired, that I switched on the A/C after locking up the windows and doors. 


This was a spur of the moment trip. One friend who is disabled needed some help at their home, another was having a 50+ birthday with no plans. So Harley and I took about 20 minutes to get the motorhome organized.  Yeah, that little dog is loads of help. He follows me around watching the signals that travel is imminent. Of course he wants to go for walks, play ball and do anything but help me get ready. Yet once we are prepared to drive away, he gleefully jumps into his seat, then watches the scenery go by, until we get to the interstate. He doesn't care for the interstate scenery. 


Finally we cut loose from  the umbilical cord, then rolled down the country roads. Usually I prefer the highways and byways, but today we did 40 miles of our 60 miles trip down the interstate so I could look for gas prices. Usually I check out the Gas Buddy Map for gas prices before I travel, but today I had forgotten. I did know that South Carolina would be far cheaper than Georgia gas prices.  


In Georgia they started out at $3.45.  Past the state line into South Carolina they dropped to $3.24 then $3.19 then $3.15 at a Pilot Flying J in Piedmont South Carolina. We pulled over and filled up the hungry tank.  I estimated I needed half a tank, which would be 30 gallons, but I prepaid for nearly 40 gallons. Imagine how surprised I was when the tank took exactly 30 gallons to fill it back up. I went back in to get my refund from the cashier. What a treat, a refund from a prepaid gas purchase. 


I guess I've driven this beast around enough now, to figure out how much gas I need when, as lately I try to guess how many gallons will fill it up, then see how close my estimate comes.  Lately my estimate has been miraculously close.  I so hate to get below a half of tank because of potential emergencies. My thinking is, if you plan for the what-ifs, they rarely happen, but if they do, you aren't totally devastated because you have planned ahead. Just in case. 


I hate to get below a half of tank of gas, unless I know I am going to be in a cheaper gas price region very soon. I've been through fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and boat disasters. I was once plucked off a turtled catamaran in the Pacific Ocean after spending a very long day with a friend and one life jacket. 


Two people, one jacket, an upside down boat and 10 hours of drifting, wishing for rescue. You could say I learned a lot that very day about life, mortality  and being better prepared in the future for potential mishaps. 


In June 2010, when I broke down (stuck brake caliper that was heating up) I was in 100F degree weather with nearly 100% humidity. Luckily the dog and I had loads of gas in the tank, so we were able to run the generator and air-conditioning while it took 3 hours for help to arrive in the form of a tow truck. 


That night when we were towed and  parked outside a locked gate,  in an industrial area for future repairs in the morning, we tried life with just the windows open, but the dog had his tongue out dripping and my clothes quickly became soaked in sweat. We closed up the windows, turned on the generator and air conditioning, then slept through the night with creature comforts. The week before I had just installed a Carbon Monoxide Detector.  I never dreamed I would rely on it so quickly. 


In case you are wondering, a generator puts out deadly exhaust like any engine. Should anything go wrong, the frightening alarm from the Carbon Monoxide Detector would hopefully save our souls. 


Last spring I applied to work for FEMA as an emergency worker in the event of disaster. I reasoned with my self-contained motorhome, my vast experience with disasters coupled with my business experience and my willingness to travel on a moment's notice,  would make me an excellent candidate. But no, they were looking for a corporate type employee and I didn't fit the profile. I really think FEMA missed the boat on this. 

So yesterday, was a spur of the moment trip. What fun!  Since my disabled friend knew my birthday friend, we decided to invite him out to dinner at Hibachi Grill and Buffet. When I made the call to issue the last minute invitation, I got his voice mail. I didn't really issue an invitation but rather made an announcement.  "I'm on my way down the road to so-and-so's house, so we can both take you out to dinner for your birthday!"  My friend would know I was coming 60 miles from my workamping at Hartwell Lake in Georgia. I was hoping it would impress him enough to get his rear end ready for a surprise treat. 



By the time I was only minutes away from  Greenville, my friend had received the message, calling back to say he was cleaning up, changing clothes and would be over shortly to meet us. . He was thrilled at the invitation. He very rarely gets to dine out and had never been to this restaurant. 


Harley was delighted and thrilled to see two of his human buddies plus the cat, who has become friends with. He was wildly excited trying to shower love and doggy kisses on humans and feline. We laughed "Yuck!  Doggy germs!"  like Lucy so often said in all the Peanuts films featuring Charlie Brown.


By the time we made it to the buffet, I realized it had been over 8 hours since I had eaten last. Oh my gosh. Oink oink oink!  We made piglets out of ourselves. 


The food at the buffet is about 80% Asian and 20% southern. The treats were awesome with large assortments of sushi, stir fries, meats, seafoods, veggies, salad bar, a custom grill-to-order and a ridiculously large dessert bar. 


Dining out is a very rare exotic treat for me.  Ditto for my birthday friend, who is gallantly struggling through college at 50+ years of age while trying to juggle two teenagers, an older home, a lazy dog and chronic unemployment. The kids were visiting elsewhere for the night, so they didn't go with us. A fourth person had been invited to the impromptu party as well, so we all had a grand time. 


My birthday friend had a plate full of desserts, as we had all declared this was one night when healthy diets flew out the window in exchange for pure gluttony. The restaurant played their hilarious version of Happy Birthday over their loudspeakers. It was rather comical, as it was a very strange version we had never heard before. 


If you find yourself in the greater Greenville, South Carolina area, looking for camping, I have stayed at both Paris Mountain State Park and  Rainbow RV Park. 


If you want sheer beauty and natural nature, stay at Paris Mountain State Park. If you want to be super close to shopping, then stay at Rainbow RV Park. Both are about 10 minutes from the heart of Greenville in South Carolina. 


Click to enlarge this map of the Greater Greenville area in South Carolina.