Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beauty And Hope For A Dollar

I've been doing pioneering stuff.  Really strange things. When I wrote "Ten Ways To Cheer Up Your Life"  one suggestion was:

GROW. Plant seeds.  Growing things is not rocket science. Buy a pack of flower or herbal seeds.  Follow the directions and plant. Water as needed and pray. 
Maybe I could have explained further, that this gives one hope, that something beautiful will happen in the future.

In my provisioning travels, I tend to hit the super cheap stores first before I finally go to a regular grocery store to finish rounding out my provisioning. For instance I often go to "Dollar Tree"  where everything is $1 because they have some fabulous bargains on certain food items. The problem is they also sell a ton of other stuff that is fun to look at.  Sometimes something falls into my cart that isn't edible, but is such a bargain I can't resist because it is something I will use and it's 50-90% cheaper than anywhere else. Splurging like this is rare for me, but it occasionally happens.

One day a box of "Wildflower Mix"  fell into my cart. Yep, it just tumbled right off the shelf and into my cart of cheap food.  It read "Sunny area mix, contains 17 beautiful varieties, covers 100 square feet.  A balanced combination of annuals and perennials provides brilliant colors throughout the season in a constantly changing pattern of blooms."

All that for $1.00 even though the box read $2.99.  Can beauty and happiness be found in a box for a $1?  Well, I intended to find out. Or I could have explained to the cashier, it fell in my cart by mistake, let me put that back. But what's the fun in that?

Wildflower Mixed Seeds by DearMissMermaid.com


I figured since Harley dog had a shovel now, I could use that to plant some splendor somewhere in my travels.  Harley had taken up voracious digging with his little paws at some of the campsites. One month instead of using his allowance for toys or a sweater (he gets cold super easy) I bought him a small shovel with a telescoping handle to cover up his sins. It was a nice cheap bargain I stumbled into at Big Lots.  If I tossed in seeds, before covering up his holes, then I would leave behind a trail of wildflowers.

Of course, since I bought the seeds, he has not dug one hole. For many weeks now, I have waited for him to dig up a campsite so I could plant the seeds and subsequently surprise a future camper with their stunning beauty. But he has found other things to do, and for whatever reason only a puppy brain knows, he has seemingly ceased digging.

Turns out that shovel has come in rather handy for more than just covering up the ankle-breaking holes he was making. I've had to dig out my motorhome twice when the leveling boards jammed between the motorhome undercarriage and the earth while I was trying to drive off of them in anticipation of departing.  Not sure why this happened to me twice, but it has. Actually three times, the first time I had no shovel, but a man nearby did and he dug it out for me. (What luck!)

Then at Hunting Island, I put my awning struts out "porch style".  They are made to optionally remain attached to the motorhome at a 45 degree angle with the awning out, or they can be unhooked from the side of the motorhome, then placed vertically like a porch post about 8 feet from the motorhome (the awning unfurls to a width of 8 feet). They have two holes drilled into the foot of the strut, so they can be nailed into the earth with large sturdy tent stakes. That way if you bump into it, or a puppy on a tether tangles with it, hopefully it won't collapse causing injury or mayhem or both.

camping at Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina by DearMissMermaid.Com
On the left, the strut is planted in the ground "porch style".  The strut to the right is still attached to the motorhome.  I had the roof at this odd angle, so the rains from the night before could drain without swamping the awning. 


The strut can then be adjusted upwards, so that the awning is level with the coach roof.  I call this "porch style".  At Hunting Island, I tried this out, discovering I liked the idea.  Eight or nine days later, when it was time for me to break camp and shuffle along, the tent stakes refused to budge. I think the rains that came right after my arrival, mixed with some natural clay in the earth, then the subsequent sunny days, baked this hard as concrete.

I tried vise grips, a hammer, a few curse words and dumped sweat and water all over these struts, but after an hour of this futile work,  they would not budge from the ground, not even a mere half inch.

So I went to see the workampers that were manning the check-in station for campers. I told them I just couldn't leave Hunting Island. My wheel estate was firmly  attached to Mother Earth, and I would be forwarding my mail and settling in for a spell. I was absolutely thrilled at this turn of events.

Oh don't I wish!  If I could live anywhere in the whole wide world,  I would live at Hunting Island indefinitely. But they have rules and regulations preventing this. The tiny park attracts more than a million visitors a year with only 200 campsites and one cabin rental.

Before the day and age of internet reservations, and before all the cabins fell into the ocean, you had to enter  the lottery to get a reservation there. I am not kidding. You  filled out a lengthy form mailed it off by a certain date each year.They tossed all that into a box then they pulled out applications one by one until the park reservations were full. If your application wasn't drawn out of the box, well tough luck. Eventually you received a letter in the mail, telling you whether or not you had a reservation that year. At that point you had a few scant days to mail off your payment or lose your reservation completely.

So recently, I was delighted to discover my wheel estate had literally set down roots, refusing to budge. I thought they would now let me live there forever.

Oh dream on...

The couple who had rented my lot after me, had already made a few visits to see if I was off my site yet. I didn't know I was stuck at the time, or I would have asked them for help. Putting the awning away was the very last thing to do, before unhooking the umbilical cords and driving away. I wasn't late leaving the lot, but the couple had arrived early in hopes they could set up.

Well, the workampers didn't want me jamming up the reservation system, so one of them came over to look at my problem. He asked if I had a shovel and a board.

I felt like a pure idiot.

Of all the tools and devices I had tried to remove the offending tent stakes, I had not thought to use my shovel. Duh...  Honest to goodness,  some days my head must be just a brainless hat rack.

Luckily I did have help, because digging it out, turned out to be heavy duty work, such that a neighbor came over to assist too. It was a tad fun to play the helpless female for a few minutes while the two men did all the grunting, sweating, digging, pulling, cursing work. Typically I am way too proud to ask for help, but sometimes we all need a little help here and there. (And we should swallow our pride and ASK.)

It took the men a good 20 minutes to extract the tent stakes.  I thanked them over and over though I really wished they had failed so that I could just blissfully live there forever.

Ever the gentlemen, they foolishly asked if I needed help with anything else.

"Why yes I do!  Could you change the oil in the engine, wash and wax the rig, re-caulk the roof, repair the refrigerator, clean the windows, fix the door..."

I suddenly realized I was standing there all alone, holding two tent stakes and a dirty shovel talking to myself. The men had simply vanished!

Oh well. It was worth a try...

Now back to the box of flower seeds. (I sure digress don't I?)

It recently poured down rain steadily for two and half days. When the sun finally made a peek-a-boo, I seized the opportunity to attack the water logged Georgia red mud with Harley's shovel.

I tried nine different ways to encourage Harley to dig the holes for me, to churn up the muddy earth, but he stood there on the driveway, away from the sodden ground, with a tennis ball in his mouth, looking at me like I was crazy. He sure wan't about to get his pristine little paws wet and muddy. He likes to dig up dry dirt, not red wet mud.

I had no idea churning up the earth would be such hard work, or maybe I am just a weakling some days. Well, I know why I am such a weakling, but I like to pretend that all is well and attack chores in hopes I will get better and stronger. It's my insane way of dealing with reality by somehow proving I am worthy of another day on this wonderful planet.

Throughout the day, I fought with the shovel and the earth until I had made a few little flower beds here and there, then I planted the seeds and said prayers. I am embarrassed to say that after all that hard work, I only used up half the seeds, so I've still a long ways to go.

Someone had given me a pack of bamboo shish-kebab skewers.  I used these to build little picket fences around my flower beds, so I would remember where to water and hope that the maintenance folks would avoid weed whacking or mowing them down.

flower bed by dear miss mermaid


Some folks just don't get my weird sense of humor. A jogger came by, stopped and asked me what all the sticks in the ground were for. I said "To mark where the bodies are buried."

He made an abrupt U-turn, flew off down the road and out of the park as if his pants were on fire.

Me so bad. It was a joke!  I expect any time now, forensics is going to show up and plow through my flower beds, but I seriously hope not.

Well, I've got to run now myself, to  water the dog and walk the seeds.


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