Friday, May 30, 2014

ValeDogtorian of the Canine School

As valeDogtorian of the canine school I urge you to go out in the world and make your mark on every tree. I am paWsitively proud of everyone of you.I will keep this doggone short because after the ceremony, special treats  will be handed out to all our graduates. Peemail is a great way to stay in touch with your pack as you go out in the world. Now wag your tails and celebrate!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cart Return

Today we broke camp to go shopping for food and supplies. I haven't driven the motorhome in over a month, so it was nice to get the tires rolling. It's never good for tires to sit a long time, they need to roll around. Also the generator needs a monthly exercise to keep the carburetor happy. Usually 15 minutes is plenty, but today it ran for hours.

It was pretty warm, so at my first stop at Dollar Tree (everything is $1) I fired up the generator so Harley dog would be comfy in air-conditioning while I could shop without wondering if  my pooch was  turning into a grilled hot dog.

It's been so long since I shopped that when I left him behind in the comfort of his rolling dog house, he gave me attitude. I park far from the store entrance, since I need 2 end to end spots to fit in.  I had already hiked a good ways when I heard him bark and howl. I marched back through the parking lot, right up to the window of the RV to shake my finger at him and remind him to STAY. I told him STAY means I go, you stay, and you be quiet about it. He hung his head in shame, looking away from me. This time when I walked away he was silent.

He is so spoiled! I leave all the window shades up, so he can patrol his surroundings from any angle. I left him water, dry food, wet food, toys, a comfy bed, two throw rugs, I mean he's never put into a kennel or cage. (I refuse to own one.)

I am a slow shopper, still not used to the ton of variety available. In the Caribbean islands, where I lived about 23 years, the choices were few and chaotic, so one had to be very flexible about the lack of choices and the scarcity of supplies.

I like to peruse the Dollar Tree for cleaning supplies and food items before I hit the pricier grocery store. A $1 dog toy fell into my basket, but I like to save that for a treat at another time. I don't want him to think just cause he guarded the motorhome in a parking lot while I shopped he will be spoiled further. Ha, he is spoiled no matter what.

But it sure is FUN to come back to the RV, unlocking the door to be greeted with enthusiasm, kisses and a jumping bean for a doggy. I put him on a leash, he leaps out the door and stands in the parking lot tethered to me, while I empty out the shopping buggy. Then we lock the RV, walking together, while I push the buggy back to the front of the store. He loves this reward! Cart return! Yippie!

On the way back to the RV, we look for landscaping that he can water. Then we get back in our wheel estate to head for the next stop.

At every stop he almost always get a little outdoor exercise before we move along. If there is a cart to return, then by all means we take it all the way back to the front of the store together. Because of an old shoulder injury, I often do push a cart out, even when I haven't bought much. The physical therapist that worked with me years ago, said it was best to balance my load (half in each arm) or push a cart.

At one quick stop, I came out carrying a small bag with one item and no cart. Poor Harley, he looked a bit crestfallen. But I took him on a quick walk to go sniff a tree and see if it needed watering.

All in all he was a good little doggy.

Harley sometimes lays on the head rest of his passenger seat so he has a commanding view.

Let your fingers do the walking...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


As if I didn't have enough to do already... I started a new website and blog that is going through serious growing pains as I learn a whole new platform. I've been a bit unhappy with blogger (this platform) but that means learning a new one before I can switch over.

My new website:

So I decided to keep this one going while starting the new one. I just need so many more hours in a day and a body that will quit playing un-fun games with my health.

I so wish technology would slow down and let us all catch a breath. Every time I hear the words "update and upgrade" I just want to cringe. It seems to transcend across silly lines too. I was reading someone else's RV blog where they mentioned their 5 year old motorhome needed some serious upgrades because it was looking "dated". At 5 years old?

Well, I am living in a 20 year old motorhome that has seen scant few updates in decor. It it rots, I patch it...

My motorhome came with the original 1994 bedspread and pillow shams.
They matched the window valances that are still in use today.
Ironically it had a hibiscus print, a flower I saw in bloom nearly everyday in the Caribbean.
Sadly it was pretty rotten. Each washing just tore it up more.
But I upcycled it into pillow covers with some of the better leftovers before they finally gave way.

Luckily I chose a motorhome I found livable "as is". I didn't want to start off "updating" when what I wanted to do was recuperate, live and travel.
The 1994 bedspread material was duplicated in the guest loft privacy curtains.
I still use these today, in spite of them being 20 years old. Behind the curtains is my guest loft queen bunk.

Some days I get so frustrated with products that fail. I lived overseas for 23 years and didn't stay abreast of American ways. I had no idea until I moved back to the US in 2010 that we were now supporting the Chinese and all the flimsy junk they make and send over. Not all their stuff is pure rubbish, some of it is actually pretty good, but it seems the vast majority of it is built with ridiculous cost cutting corners that render the final commodity nearly useless or with such a super short lifespan I fear we are rapidly filling up our landfills with Chinese merchandise that had very slight or no use before it failed.

I've also been a consumer victim of things the Chinese built from photos and therefore built it from a mirror image without reversing the schematics. Such as my external fan cooler for the laptop. I like to type at an angle, the laptops can always use extra cooling, so buying an angled fan cooler seemed like a great idea. The latest one I bought, after the other 5 failed in very short order, I have to use upside down, because it doesn't work right side up. Duh... perhaps this might also qualify as stolen technology. Because I have to use it upside down, I had to modify it some adding felt pads to it because otherwise it would scratch the table or rip the flimsy outdoor tablecloth on the card table I like to work at in the great outdoors.

In the past few summers I bought several table fans to keep me cool outdoors. In many cases they had a loud noise and a lot of movement, the blades spun around, but the they had such an awful pitch, they weren't designed to blow any air.

What good is a fan if all it does is make noise but not blow air?

I met a crafts person who was dismayed to find the Chinese had photographed her crafts then duplicated her work, putting her unique ideas into mass marketing, but without her permission nor with any payment.

Another for instance... when I bought my motorhome, the previous owners left it "furnished" with their own accouterments. It was stuff they didn't want back and they knew I had arrived in America with no household goods, so they left all their RV stuff stashed in it. They weren't upgrading to a newer RV, so they didn't need much of the stuff anyhow.

One of the wonderful things it came with was a heavy duty flannel backed vinyl tablecloth. I used it for years on picnic tables then finally wore it out. I should have just cut off the bad parts and kept using the remainder. I had NO idea that heavy duty flannel backed vinyl tablecloths are no longer made. Now instead of 20-30 mil thick, they are 3 mil thick which means they won't and don't last long for outdoor use. I have one that is 6 months old,  claiming to be 3 mil thick and already it is ripping and tearing, but I can't seem to find that good old fashioned heavy duty ones of days gone by. Perhaps I should go retro and use oilcloth.

Lawsuits have also done away with nifty products. My 20 year old under cabinet built-in coffeemaker is no longer produced due to some sort of recall problem on newer models where folks got burned or something silly. I mean a coffee pot makes HOT liquid so one would think that common sense would tell you to handle with care.

Then again, I see so many idiot labels on things. Over the weekend my friends had a BBQ here. Someone brought some lighter cubes to jump start the coals, that had warnings in 16 languages but strangely enough no clear cut instructions for use. We figured it out, put them in with the charcoal then fire them up. But in 16 languages we were warned (A) they were FLAMMABLE and (B) NOT to eat them! AND (C) if you did eat them, not to induce vomiting.

Do people really get the munchies and decide to snack on charcoal lighter cubes? Doesn't that just sound positively delicious?

I have a tiny 200 watt electric heater and it came with a HUGE unsightly label super glued to the electric cord warning me the heater would get hot. Oh my gosh, and here I thought that little heater would make ice cubes for me.

Last year my doggy had emergency surgery on his ear when a dreadful prickly thing became embedded in his ear drum. He was given medication afterwards for his pain. At home I noticed the warnings on his pill bottle that (A) he should not drink alcohol with his pain pills and (B) he should not operate heavy machinery.

You mean my dog can't get drunk and drive the RV anymore since he is taking pain pills? Well, that sure takes the fun out of things. No wonder my poor little puppy looked so miserable. his driving privileges were temporarily revoked.

Some one gave me can of peanuts. Yum, I love peanuts. The ingredients were listed as "peanuts". And  ALLERGY WARNING: Contains peanuts.

Oh and back to the flimsy vinyl tablecloth... it warns me NOT to iron it.

That is how I ruined the heavy duty one. I was sewing outside. I covered the picnic table with the heavy duty vinyl table cloth because I wanted to cut the fabric I planned to sew without getting it dirty. Somehow I got the fabric wrinkled. Then I covered one end of the table with a thick towel folded over on itself. I ironed the fabric to sew. I unplugged the iron but like a fool, didn't move it.

While I was sewing, a gust of wind blew the tiny travel iron over onto the vinyl tablecloth and melted a perfect iron shaped whole in it. I surely felt like an idiot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Twisted Tuesday

Weather is gorgeous. I can't believe it is Tuesday already. It was so busy around here, I was just exhausted from my workamping duties.

I caught a windsurfer sailing off into the wild blue yonder, complete with his bicycle helmet. He said he was new at windsurfing, so I said "Well, if you're not back by tomorrow, I'll send boaters out to look for you!"

I sure got a tan in a hurry, just walking around in the glorious sunshine doing my park duties. But I think I forgot to pour down enough fluids, so I've paid for that, drinking copious amounts of water and juice all night and all day too. I was just so busy, I didn't think about it, tsk tsk tsk. I will try to remember this critical step.

Now here's a picture of my camp site. I honestly don't know how the camera plays tricks on me. This photo is completely untouched, but I have a window up forward over the cab, but in this photo, the window has simply vanished! Very strange.

That's my free umbrella in the background. A truck or something ran over it making it useless. But another RV-er beat it with a hammer in such a fashion as to make it usable again. Amazing! I was able to cobble it together with old parts from my other destroyed umbrella. It provides a lot of extra shade. My last umbrella which I bought from Amazon Warehouse (discounted items) was demolished by a crazy storm with wild gusty winds while I slept last winter. Oops! But parts of it and the new destroyed but fixed one now make shade again. I can twirl it around to direct the "lean" to my advantage.

Life is goof!

I use a special umbrella clamp I've had for years, that works really well with picnic tables. It holds the umbrella clamped to the table. It will also keep your table cloth from sailing away on a windy day.

I love my motorhome because it has a lot of windows, 14 to be exact, well according to the picture above, I lost a forward window somehow. But here is a motorhome with even more windows than mine. Maybe I should ask them if they want to consider a swap. The only problem is, theirs seems so awfully low to the ground and I like to drive down country roads which are less than perfect.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Super busy weekend here at the park on Lake Hartwell. People turned out in droves to launch their boats, create parking havoc and have a blast celebrating the Memorial Day Weekend.

I am plumb tuckered out from walking and working the park doing my volunteer duties as Park Host.

But some fun was thrown in too. I met some sailors who threw a barbecue party on my patio that included lamb, ribs and shrimp. It was great fun all around. Harley has been busy as a Bark Ranger. He was thrilled to try lamb for the first time, deciding he found it rather tasty and the bone gnawing a bit of fun. Someone went to pet him while he was chewing his bone and he growled "Don't touch the bone!" Sheesh...

Mid week I had some friends from Florida stop by, we hadn't seen each other in awhile so it was fun to catch up. They did a bit of fishing down my secret trail.

Harley was having great fun showing off his new Frisbee act. Tomorrow is another holiday so another day of chaos.

I am trying hard to keep up! But I am exhausted. A sudden brief thunderstorm emptied out most of the picnic and swim area but only a small handful of boats came back to claim their truck and trailer.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dawn of the Male Singers

Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

As early dawn takes over my sleepy brain,  I sit outside in a folding rocking chair with a cup of coffee, listening to the plethora of birds chirping, singing and honking. The geese have moved into the swim area again. I watch them stalk through the sand, preening their feathers. Then one slips silently into the waters. The others follow one by one. They float on the lake in the perceived safety of the cordoned swimming area.

Paul Hanford, an evolutionary biologist, says male birds - and it is almost always the guys - break into song at dawn because it is the best time to warn other males to stay off their turf and away from their mates.

That is what Canadian researchers have discovered after analyzing the acoustics of what they call the dawn chorus.

Most birds do their singing in the early morning, and in most species the male is the vocalist.

Researchers have known for some time that male birds don't sing for the joy of it, but to warn other males to stay off their real estate and away from their partner.

Each species has its own song or songs. Individual birds perform their own signature versions, with slight variations in tone or pitch that identify them to their neighbors. It is a little like calling out their name, over and over again.

"It is a very important thing; it is a daily advertisement of their continuing tenure, their presence."

Honking geese visit the beach anytime the humans aren't around.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I hate it when I don't get to post for a few days but I was having computer problems I just couldn't seem to sort out. Then the sheer frustration of sitting at the computer trying to fix the impossible, was driving me a bit insane.

So I would drag the doggy and I out on long walks through the park, picking up litter and completing our other workamping assignments. Then I tried to fix the computer again. It would frustrate me beyond belief, so I decided to attack the windows.

Ever tried to fix a computer with this little gremlin staring at you?

Not the operating system windows, but my RV windows that seemed filthy. I've decided that the problem is my timing. I need to clean the windows now while I am in the land of soft water. Cleaning them in Florida, land of super hard water is just maddeningly impossible. But now I can't seem to remove the hard water spots from the outside of the windows.

I hate doing windows. Mainly because they seem hard to reach when I am in pain, but lately the pain has left me. So that is thrilling beyond belief! So I've been doing the windows hither and yonder. I do a few then get tired, so I take up something else. I can't seem to find the magic for clean windows. I think I have them nice and clean then the sun or night lights hit them and I see spots everywhere. The Windex I have on hand seems not to work either. I think the problem is the outside of the windows, rather than the inside.

Just another thing to make me think I am losing my sanity.

What is wrong with me? Everything I try to do lately seems to be another disaster. A roof leak made a big stain on the chair it dripped on. I cleaned it off, and the stain was gone. Then the next day, the stain reappeared. What??? How does that happen? So I cleaned it again and took a picture of it. Stain is gone. The next day the stain is back again. It's mocking me now. I've cleaned it twice and twice it's come back. Gremlins!

I thought maybe some music would calm me down so I turned on the little MP3 player and plugged that into the speakers. Nothing. Three days of fiddling with the music now and then, trying to coax sound out of it then I discovered a loose speaker wire. For some strange reason, the speaker wire has to be plugged in half way not all the way, then it plays music. This is the second MP3 player. I've lived in silence for years. I so missed music. I used some birthday money to buy an MP3 player (Thank you angels!) and had glorious music for a few days then the player died. Nothing could coax it back to life on earphones or speakers. Recharging it didn't help either. When I would plug it into the computer, it would say the drive was full but when I opened the music file, there were no songs there. Finally I sent it back to Amazon who promptly replaced it. The new one worked fine then stopped, but I discovered it played on the headset, so I just had to fix the speakers. I don't really like the earbuds, they are too distracting for me. I want to hear the phone, the doggy, the birds and with earbuds you just hear music and nothing else.

"I am not cantankerous!  I just have a selective learning disorder..."

Harley dog wants tons of attention and that is maddening at times. He is high energy! His training baffles me. One day he is well behaved the next he forgets everything.

Like he was pulling me sideways on the leash, so we spent an hour fighting with the leash on our walk and litter picking. He was walking at a severe lean he was working to pull me so hard and be so cantankerous. It was so frustrating, I just wanted to scream. The next day, we went for a walk and suddenly he is walking on his leash just fine, no fussing and fighting and pulling me sideways.

Then he started becoming aggressive about his golf balls. He pesters me to play ball with him, then he wants to hold the golf ball and growl if you come near it. Well, that's not good either. One day when children were visiting he growled at them and frightened them and me half to death. So I kept telling the children to leave him alone. But now the children weren't listening either. Good grief. So I put Harley inside, left the children outside but now Harley cried like a baby at the top of his little lungs. Oh my gosh. What is wrong with my little doggy?

OK, if you are going to be aggressive about your daggum golf balls then we'll just quit playing golf. So I got out the Frisbee he has been ignoring. Day after day I try to play Frisbee with him and he acts clueless. He used to love Frisbee then last year the guy mowing the lawn ran over his Frisbee and shredded it into a million pieces. I was running around trying to pick up Harley's toys and the guy on the riding mower was chasing me around trying to run over the toys before I could pick them up. This was a game I did not like. Picking up a million pieces of shredded Frisbee was no fun. I still haven't figured out what was wrong with that guy, but now someone different mows the park grass and they don't try to run me over when I dash out to pickup Harley's toys. So that's a huge relief. But last year, after I finally got another Frisbee, Harley refused to play with the new one.

Harley gets bored and starts dragging all his toys outside one by one until he has toys everywhere. I pick them up and put them away, but he drags them all back out again. So that's how the yard ends up with toys everywhere. He is one very busy doggy.

Suddenly yesterday out of the clear blue he "remembers" how to play Frisbee. So now I wish I could make a hilarious video of him. The Frisbee is so big and he is so tiny, but he races after the Frisbee then brings it back for me to throw again. When the park ranger stopped by today, he presented the Frisbee to her and she threw it. Amazingly he raced after it, and kept bringing it back to her. We were both laughing so hard. He was being such a total delight. Watching a tiny little dog carry this huge Frisbee is rather funny.

Suddenly the computer is working again. So I am able to write. I have no idea what fixed what. I am so clueless. It's those gremlins at it again.

PS, while trying to post this, I get a message from blogger "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again. Dismiss."

So five tries later... blogger decides to publish this. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Full Moon Fool Madness

Busy in the park!

Ghoulies dancing in the forest.
A UFO took off leaving an inverted sand crater. 

Sasquatch came out of the woods.
(Um dude... there's a reason they call you Big Foot.)

A Genie crash lands his magic carpet.

A ghost hung himself.

13 Rocks

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's All My Fault

We've had a roller coaster ride of weather lately. Soaring temperatures in the 80's and 90's Fahrenheit (or 26-32 Celsius) brought out swimmers and boaters in droves at the park where I am workamping in my little old motorhome for the spring and summer.

There is no campground here. I sometimes miss the the camaraderie of other travelers and campers. But I couldn't find workamping in a campground that didn't include heavy labor so I ended up here. No complaints. Life is full of trade offs. I am super lucky to have this gig.

I've noticed taking a picture downhill makes the area seem so small. Such is the case with the picture below. The beach and swim area are huge, but I am standing uphill looking downhill. When the 2 dimensional picture shows up here, it makes the beach and swim area appear so tiny. I wish I were 20 feet taller, then the picture would seem more realistic.

Now the weather is cooling off again. So cold that now it's expected to be in the 50's (10 C). It's all my fault too. I put away my boots and temporarily took the comforter off the bed.

I say temporarily because it has to live on the bed year round. There is no where else to stow it in the motorhome. I like the feel of it year round anyhow. It's soft and cuddly.

But I took it off the bed, so I could remove the duvet cover for a good washing. I hung it out to dry and wadded up the comforter on the guest loft. Then I foolishly made up the bed without the comforter. While doing that, I tripped over my warm winter boots, so I stashed those away in a hard to reach storage area, thinking I surely would not need them for a few months.

So that folks, is why temperatures plummeted from 90 to 50F (32 to 10C).

It's all my fault.

Stay Cool (or Warm)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Poor Wittle Puppy

I am not spoiled.

All I did was ask for a patio mat. That concrete can be so ruff on a poor little pooch like me.

OK, so I asked for a chair, but I was saving you from tripping over me! I'm just a wittle puppy. 

And what's a little doggy bed? I was saving you vet bills. You wouldn't want me to tangle my paw in the chair would ya?

So I asked for my blankie. Don't all dogs have blankies? I was a bit chilly this morning. Besides, I need to hide my toys under there. I didn't want the thieving squirrels to steal them. Look how they ran off with my nuts! Just can't trust those squirrels. 

Oh and the bowl of water. I didn't think that was a big deal, you were making coffee, so I asked for a dish of water. 

Now, all I am asking for is a little treat, something to take the edge off. A piece of cheese or something nice.

And you call me SPOILED?

Honest to goodness, I was going to let you sit down and enjoy your coffee right after my little nosh. Oh and a walk. Can ya take me for a walk?  I give you my kissy face!

I'm your favorite waste of time. You said so yourself one day. I heard ya too. 

(Those nice folks deliver my dog food!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Stop It

The stop sign saga...

People were blowing past the "STOP Pay Fee Here" self-pay honor safe.  It is with great hope and faith in mankind, that folks will pay before they enter the park if they don't have an annual pass.

For those folks that have an annual pass dangling on their rear view mirror, they don't need to pay the day fee, but everyone else does. For the day trippers that didn't buy an annual tag, the supplied envelope comes with a hang tag to display on the rear view mirror, the other part of the envelope goes into the safe with $4 cash or check.

I am a volunteer Park Host in the park with Harley the Bark Host. We had a stop sign on a tripod that was relocated to the self-pay safe. The old STOP sign up there had gone missing. So I set up the new tripod STOP sign (should have taken a picture of that but I didn't).

The next morning I went up the road to the safe to clean up the garbage people seem to throw out their window while paying their park day use fee.

What I found was someone had crashed into the STOP sign and destroyed the tripod. I had to rotate the tripod remnants to make it more or less prop up again. The whole thing looked kind of pathetic. I set up the remnants against the safe to go get my tools to remove the rest of the destroyed tripod. This time I took a picture, because I happened to have the camera with me.

In the picture, on the left and right of the safe are envelopes sticking out to make it easy for folks to grab one. You can see what's left of the tripod is pretty busted up.

I got busy with other things in the park, we were having a parking problem, someone had thrown the life jackets in the lake to float away which I was trying to coax back to the shore without having to get wet since I wasn't dressed for swimming. Always something crazy going on around here.

Just before we became super busy running out of parking completely, somebody (and I say that oh so politely) showed up and hogged two spots, then took off boating.

I guess he is so ultra special and important that the parking rules only apply to everyone else and not him.

Below is a photo of my driveway which we pressed into service, using it for extra parking, trying to keep everyone happy and boating. Meanwhile Mr Important is still occupying two parking spots. I think maybe 20 more people alerted me to this, as it irritated quite a few folks.

Sometime during the day or night someone thwacked the honor safe knocking it crooked. No idea who did that, just later discovered the safe leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Probably one of those trucks on steroids that come careening in here from time to time.

Nothing I could do about that, the safe weighs a ton. I can only imagine what their vehicle must look like after hitting it. The safe is anchored far below ground, so it can't go far.

I returned to the STOP sign with my tools. I removed the destroyed tripod, propped up the STOP sign, then stood around scratching my head, trying to figure out how to attach it to something. Realizing I had some thick padded double stick tape, I figured that would hold up the sign until maintenance could bolt it to the kiosk.

The next day I discovered someone had hit the stop sign and the safe, scraping paint off the side of the safe. The stop sign was laying in the street with tire tread marks across it.

Good grief. Must be the week for blind people to be out driving around. I thought one had to pass an eye test to get a driver's license but I could be wrong (again!)

I took the STOP sign home, giving it a bath to remove the tire tread markings so the visibility would be improved.

Later I carried the stop sign back up the hill to the kiosk.  I used my thick double stick tape to attach the sign to the safe, all nice and neatly. But I forgot to bring my camera, so that picture never happened either. What a shame.

The next morning, Harley dog and I are out walking along, cleaning the garbage out of the ditches. We pass the safe and stop sign. Then we stop and look.

Apparently someone else had come along and hit the stop sign, folding up the side of it down the safe. Now it read STO instead of STOP. How that double stick ever held, I have no idea.

More blind people driving around.

To straighten out the sign, I had to fight with it to pull it from the double stick tape, then jump up and down on it. This sort of flattened it out. Now it wouldn't stick back to the tape again, so I laid it at an angle.

I took the picture below. Leaning safe, crooked bent STOP sign sitting there. You can see in the background, we're so busy we've run out of parking again.

You can sort of see on the right side where the stop sign is still bent from being hit by a truck or car. I wasn't strong enough to get it any straighter. Already the new sign is pot marked from being run over a few times. I hoped no one would steal the sign before I got back with more double sided sticky tape.

Later in the day I came back with tape to  see about reattaching the stop sign.


I get the stop sign taped onto the safe. Geezus, this stop sign is turning into a new career.

This morning I hear this horrific banging. I see a truck parked up at the stop sign.

You gotta be kidding me.

I walk up there with the bark ranger to see the latest mishap, expecting the worst.

Much to my surprise, there is the maintenance guy, banging on the stop sign to flatten it out further.

He says "I thought we put a new stop sign out here just the other day, but this thing is beat to hell and back."

I sighed "This IS the new STOP sign. I guess the visitors wanted to break it in for us. They've run over it, destroyed the tripod, dragged it down the road, hit it a few times, folded it around the corner of the kiosk and I jumped up and down on it too for good measure. All that's left if for the dog to pee on it, then it's good as new again."

He shook his head while drilling some new holes, then attached it to the kiosk with some heavy duty screws. Maybe tomorrow I will take a picture... if it's still there.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Miss Marian and The Crippled Children

In loving memory of my mother, Miss Marian. 

Happy Mother's Day to one and all.

Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina
Circa 1962 according to the reverse side of the postcard
Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children
Greenville, SC

It's Mother's Day and it's pouring down rain. The heavens are crying, my heart is crying.

I miss my mommy.

Boo hoo hoo.

She died way too young.

Don't they all?

She was the greatest woman on earth. I loved her dearly. It wasn't until years later I realized what a rough time she had during certain periods of her life, but she persevered through thick and thin.  She had tremendous pride.  She would also drop everything to run to someone's aid. She was a generous giving person with an ample bosom that gave wonderful cuddly hugs.

I am sure that around the world are full grown adults who wonder what became of Miss Marian and remember as children,  her loving attention and soft enveloping  hugs. (Much to my dismay, I did not inherit her massive bosom, instead my chest resembled my father's much of my life.)

When I was  4 or 5 years old, my mother began volunteering at Shriners Hospital  for Crippled Children in Greenville, South Carolina. Yes, that was the exact name of it in those days and times. It first opened it doors on September 1, 1927 on Pleasantburg Drive, surrounded by country roads and trees. Now that address is a booming bustling business community.

My mother was known to the children she loved and helped as Miss Marian even though she was married and obviously had a last name.   The Shriner's children that came and went in her life, were as much a part of her heart and soul as her own children.

Over the dinner table, numerous times, I heard her describe hundreds of children by first name, what was wrong with them, where they were from, why they were there and whether their family was able to visit them much or not.

She was such a beloved volunteer, she eventually became a salaried employee.  At that point and time, children came from around the world to live there for months while numerous surgeries and therapies were performed. My mother taught the younger children, because obviously they weren't able to attend school. Many had never been in school as the school's used to make it nearly impossible for the handicapped to attend. Thankfully schools have radically changed their policies in this day and age.

Some days she was consoling children who were in tears over the pains of wearing various orthopedic braces or learning to deal with new prosthesis  that were helping their young bodies to heal or adapt. She described children that hadn't seen their families in months, because they were far away or too poor to travel to the hospital.

She took me  to the hospital on several  occasions. I clearly remember my first visit at Christmas when I was 5 or 6. I saw children born with numerous physical maladies and children recuperating from horrific accidents or bound in casts or braces or both. Some had prosthesis for legs or arms. Others couldn't leave their beds, which were wheeled into a great hall where some of the children  were participating in putting on a Christmas show. Many were in wheel chairs or on crutches or using tiny walkers.

I had been pressed into service to help out with the Christmas Show. I thought my little job was of omni-importance and I did all I could to make my mother and others proud of my help.

On the stage was an artist's easel with a big pad of paper. My mother or someone had written various titles  in large letters on the huge pages, announcing each scene. It was my job to turn the pages as the show progressed.

Before the show began, I realized my mother had "other children" as they squealed in delight at her mere presence and called out her name for attention. "Miss Marian!  Miss Marian!"  She knew every child in the hospital by name. It seemed they all wanted her attention, hugs and devotion all at once.  Over and over she introduced me by name, explaining, I was her little girl that lived at home with her. I remember many children being surprised to find out my mother had a young daughter at home.

Strangely, I wasn't jealous. My mother had told me long before my first visit there, how lucky I was to be born without any birth defects. She explained that other children were not so lucky, but Shriners Hospital was working hard to improve their lives.  Since she had already described to me children with missing or malformed limbs, I wasn't intimidated when I saw them. The first child she introduced to me  had arms that stopped at the elbows but with tiny fingers on the nubs that reached up to hug my mother.

One of the greatest life's lessons my mother taught me, was to never discriminate against others based on their looks or beliefs or race or anything. It was a valuable lesson that has probably greatly contributed to my laid back lifestyle and ease with traveling into different cultures or being comfortable around folks that are radically different.

Over the years, many of my toys would vanish while I was at school and my mother went on one of her  spring cleaning rampages throughout our home, leaving it seriously organized in her wake. I would come home from school to find my bedroom and closet cleaned up and out, with many of the toys having been donated to the hospital or other charities.

Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina
I found this old postcard for sale on line.
No idea of the year, but note that it is a painting and not a photograph.

Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, and the entire Shriners Hospitals for Children system, have not only kept abreast of the leading medical technologies available, but have become pioneers in their fields.  They are recognized world-wide for their expertise in spinal cord injury, burn, cleft lip and palate, plus orthopaedic care.

In the 80's a new hospital was built across town,  but the old building still remains with new tenants. At some point, perhaps in the early 70's,  it was no longer politically correct to use the word "crippled" for  physically challenged patients, so the name was simply changed to Shriners Hospital for Children. I remember when the sign was updated out front. I joked with my mom, "Does this mean the children aren't crippled anymore?"

Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina
I don't know if the -32 means this was a depiction of the hospital in 1932 or if that means something else. The road out front is now six lanes, but they mostly encroached  from the other side of the road, so as not to take much from the hospital property. 

Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina
This postcard of the hospital was postmarked 1941. 

Now through modern miracles, many children only stay for a few days then return home, continuing with out-patient care. But during the 60's and 70's when my mother worked there, they often moved into the hospital for months at a time, often far away from their families. 

I am sure that today on Mother's Day, my mother, Miss Marian,  is being greatly honored in the hearts and minds of the thousands of children, now grown adults, that she loved, hugged and taught during their stays at the hospital.  

Happy Mother's Day, Miss Marian. You are loved, missed, honored and cherished by me and so many.  

(This article first appeared May 13, 2012 but I reprinted it because I miss my mother dearly and I am just too sad to write anything else today)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Pick Up Line

I know I am a fruit loop. I cease to care. All my life I've heard a different drummer. My box isn't square because I'm thinking way outside the box anyhow.

Back in the dark ages, the first time someone called me eccentric, I was stunned.

Me? Eccentric?

What gave them that idea? Should I continue to be their friend? I could have just hopped on my unicorn and left them in the rainbow dust. But after awhile I decided it was much nicer than being called crazy.

I am lazy, my joints are achy, so I use a litter picker and an old bucket.

Earth's Biggest Selection!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Joyful and Thankful

No matter what this crazy world dishes out next, I am just super lucky to wake up alive. Life is fantastic! The sun came up, the birds are chirping, spring weather has rushed into summer time rather quickly.

I owe a heap of thanks to so many readers, fans, angels, friends, framily, subscribers, supporters, contributors and the powers to be up above.

In this day and age it's difficult to mention religion or politics without coming under attack. I am a wimp, so I try to avoid stress, it only makes things worse for me at this point and time.

But then again, I once read an interview with Roseanne Barr. They were talking about how she has come under attack for various things. She said something along the lines of "It's the nail that sticks up that gets hammered the most!"

I suddenly felt empowered, just reading that. It made me want to be less of a wuss and more of a nail that sticks up.

Lately I am sticking up for mother nature (and getting hammered too.)

Um, a friend of mine says "getting hammered" means getting drunk! Oh dear. Not the thought I was conveying.

My workamping spot. 
Oops! That's my laundry hanging out back, guess I should
bring it inside. The last folks left a satellite dish behind, so I've used it to hold up the clothes line. I have no need for satellite and I heard the cost is prohibitive. But to each their own. For me it works great holding up the laundry.


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Too Complicated

I've spent most of my adult life living outside of America. Now that I am back living inside America, I am just lost and clueless.

The culture baffles me. Technology is slowing me down, not speeding things up.

Back in the dark ages I worked on the cutting edge of computers. They were going to save us mountains of paperwork and make us productive. Indeed my accounting and tax business took off like lightening when we were the first in the state to utilize a computer for accounting. My income shot up and I was quite successful. At the time, I was faster than the machine. I had to slow down my number punching so as not to jam up the computer. Eventually they made better computers that enabled me to rattle off dates, account numbers, invoice numbers, check numbers and dollar amounts in rapid succession, as fast as my little fingers could go.

There was no cumbersome mouse to slow me down. The computer saved our business time and paper. No more big heavy 36 inch accounting ledgers to push a pen across all day long by hand. I was suddenly super efficient at my job. It was thrilling!

But late in  1987, much to the shock of clients and friends, I gave up accounting and taxes to pursue a life at sea. One of these days I will explain why. It's very complicated. It wasn't a flippant decision, it was one I planned in secret for a year.

Anyhow, speed forward to 2014. I returned to America just before 2010. Computers are used now to spew forth mountains of paperwork and create hassles, not solve them. Or so it seems to me.

I want a simpler life.

I have tons of articles and chapters written for several more books, in severe need of rewrites and editing,  but I am constantly interrupted with patching up this old motorhome, fighting to get well, workamping and dealing with the total chaos of learning to live in a very complicated America.

I keep trying to get off all the junk mail that turns up in my post box. Then I do a dozen things to try to keep the spam at bay that turns up in my email accounts despite all my spam controls. I am suddenly battling unsolicited phone calls on an unlisted phone. As quick as I block the numbers so they can't keep calling, more pop up. When I quit answering the phone altogether it seems I miss an important phone call and end up playing phone tag to reach the person back again.

Some days I try to do a ton of research on alternative treatments for my condition. Many websites assault me with popups to sign up for newsletters or create an account or take a survey. I just want to read the article, but some times there are flashing advertisements competing for attention, talking commercials and videos playing jerkily on my super slow internet access. I try to block the ads, stop the videos and concentrate on the information I am trying to read.

The source is not always accurate, but often self serving, so I am forced into cross checking across many domains. If I could afford all the books I want to read, that would be so much simpler, but I live on an "efficient" erratic income until I get well, so researching on the internet is my option for now.

I've given up on western medicine. The last time I went to see a doctor, they treated me like an assembly line part for a manufacturing plant. I never did get to see a doctor at all but was treated to a long list of folks who claimed not to be "the doctor" but instead had some other title. No one was interested in my concerns or questions or pain.

I was barked at, ordered around, ignored and shuffled from one waiting room to another, as if I had upset their entire day by darkening their door and asking for help. And how DARE I ask each person that came to hastily do something offending to me, if they were "the doctor". These people had on no name tags, no titles, just assorted scrub suits as if everyone was fit to dash off for surgery any minute.

Later I researched some of the titles these people told me they were and discovered the education qualifications for some of them were pretty minimal to earn these titles. More than once I was told to stop asking questions.

Three hours later, I still had not met a single person claiming to be a doctor, but I was pushed out the exit with 2 prescriptions, written by an assistant who was extremely rude to me when I inquired if he was the doctor. My other questions went unanswered and I was lectured and interrupted, over and over never once allowed to spit out one complete sentence or question. I was told more than once "You're time is up! You're time is up!"

It seems to me, I could have just thrown on a set of scrubs and start poking and prodding at the other patients and no one would have been the wiser.

But I digress...

I could get so much more done each day if I wasn't under constant attack in my mail box, email and phone. I just want to get well and be a walking, smiling miracle.

There is a tiny handful of companies and people I want to contact me because I do business with them.

But it seems I spend most of my day sorting through this total chaos of information overload from companies I want absolutely nothing to do with at all, that are relentlessly tracking me down as if I were some sort of rare species to be hunted down with the frenetic energy of paparazzi gone crazy in search of a huge reward.

My key chain is weighted down with dozens of tracking cards for stores that will charge me extra for buying ordinary food if I don't present this daggum card each time. I have to keep my ignition key separate now, the key chain is an explosion of tracking cards I resent mightily. I travel, so different areas have different grocery stores available. I am sick of these silly cards, but it seems there is a financial penalty if I refuse to use them. It's maddening!

Shortly after I arrived in America, I tried to buy a heavily discounted sweater on a very cold day for $3 or $4 cash and the cashier refused to sell it to me unless I spit out my email and phone number. I was new to America, very sick, very cold, a bit baffled and confused by the wild events that lead up to me landing here. I didn't want to give out my information, I just wanted to pay cash, put on the sweater and leave the store. I was terribly weak and exhausted. It had taken me a long time pawing through the clearance rack in the very back of the store, trying to find something that was warm and fit me too.

It was a weird feeling. Not so long ago, my life was vastly different. I could have walked in that store and bought anything I desired. A terrible incident and severe illness had changed my life dramatically. Now I was scrutinizing the haphazard clearance rack in the back of the store ignoring the full priced trendy outfits.

When I refused to give out my phone and email, pushing my money across the counter, announcing I was just paying cash, the manager had to be called. I was on the verge of tears, I was so cold and sick and tired. Ten minutes of harassment later, I was finally handed this 16 inch long paper receipt for my single transaction. I put on the sweater, tags and all, then marched out of the store carrying the bag with the lengthy receipt and several other advertising papers and coupons stuck in it by the cashier.

For some silly reason, I just draped over the steering wheel of my vehicle and cried.

America had become a very complicated place to live and I was clearly way out of my league.

Below is a picture of the secret trail to a special place, I accidentally discovered recently. 
Don't tell ANYONE!

If some corporation finds out about this secret trail, they will require phone, email , address, date of birth and a Facebook account before one will be allowed to walk down it. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

Trash Talk

92F degrees today. It's early May! This is a record high since 1933. What's so funny, is at first I thought something was seriously wrong with me before I realized we were having a unseasonable heat wave. I went out to walk the doggy and the heat just seemed like too much. I hadn't noticed the temperature, it's SPRING and I was expecting spring weather. I thought I was running a temperature! Duh...

We walked uphill to the distant mail box while picking up litter along the way, filling up a bucket I carry for this delightful chore. I am hoping to eventually clean the road all the way to the highway. I love mother nature and dislike seeing this litter mar her beauty. I wish folks would wake up and stop flinging garbage out the windows. I've never been a fan of fast food joints due to the sugars and chemicals in the foods prepared at those types of places, but picking up park and roadside litter can really give one a huge hate for fast food joints. It seems many folks drive, eat and toss it out the window. Incredible!

I also walk around the park I take care of, picking up the random litter with a litter picker that I have just about wore out. It's not near as bad this year (compared to last year) which does please me tremendously. Garbage attracts garbage and it seems to me, when a place is pristine, most folks are a little less reluctant to toss their garbage on the ground. Of course last year once I got the park nice and clean, it's popularity soared. More people came out to play.

This weekend was total chaos here, we ran out of parking again. I let 9 trucks and boat trailers park in my yard. The extra cars found ways to park hither and yonder. I also discovered that many folks forgot to pay their entrance fees on the honor system. Is mankind really that dishonorable?

Last year when they asked me to consider switching parks to volunteer workamp, I came over to investigate the place. I was horrified at the garbage strewn liberally around the park in spite of the dozens  of garbage cans conveniently located. The ditches on the sides of the roads in the park and the roads leading up to the park were scattered with beer cans and assorted garbage. This is a no-alcohol park, yet the drunks couldn't even hide their beer cans in a trash can. Insane! The picnic tables had garbage scattered all around in spite of the cans being within easy reach. The sandy beach was more like a garbage mound with sand thrown on top of it.

I was too embarrassed to be seen living here (with all the garbage) but I decided this park needed a fool like me in the worst way. I managed to eventually get the place cleaned up, then we had a huge flood last summer and more garbage washed ashore. It seemed like a never ending nightmare.

Do people really think this way these days?

Let's go to a beautiful park and trash it! Let's go boating and toss all our crap overboard!

I came back home feeling a ton of guilt about turning on the air-conditioner and closing all the windows to cool off. Harley dog loves to be outside as much as I do, but he can't be left out there alone. He is such a tiny doggy, he would make a tasty snack. Besides he wants to be where ever I am.

I've been enjoying living outdoors as much as possible. My motorhome is tiny and being on the patio is heaven on earth to have all that room to spread out with a nice view of the lake.

It must be the mermaid in me, I love to camp near rivers, lakes, oceans, waterfalls, anything with water involved. Workamping on a lake is perfect for me.

I so wish I could open up the entire side of my camper to commune with nature.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

At The Lake

Life is oh so wonderful. Bird are chirping and singing, the weather is cool at 50F degrees, but the sun is out. I want to just bundle up in a soft fluffy bathrobe but alas, there is no room for such frivolity in my compact closet. I measured my closet. It is a whopping 19 inches wide! I thought it was much smaller.

I do have a soft flannel knee length night shirt I bought to sleep in on cooler nights. But I found the long sleeves and shoulder seams too restrictive for my sleep style. Fortuitously it buttons up, so the flannel nightshirt has become my make-do house robe for taking the chill off on mornings like this.

Oh but wait, 'tis the season I am workamping. I need to just get dressed right away. Should John or Jane Q Public approach me with a question or concern, it would be nice, to be properly dressed rather than get caught answering my door in wrinkled sleepwear.

My mailbox is located a goodly distance outside the recreation area where the dog and  I volunteer as Park and Bark Hosts. The box curiously shares a post with another mailbox at the driveway for an ancient mobile home.  At some point years back, someone added to the mailbox "At Lake". I suppose the occupant of the mobile home was tired of people banging on the door looking for number 900.

When the park was set up decades ago, the mail route stopped long before the entrance to the park, so the mailbox was tacked onto the end of the route up the road quite a ways. Over the years houses have built between the mailbox and the park, but for whatever reasons, no one made arrangements with the post office to see about relocating the mailbox. Luckily most UPS or FedEx drivers have figured out the "At Lake" notice. You might recall that no one is allowed to use a mailbox except the US Postal Service.

When friends are using the address to locate me by GPS I have to remind them that the mailbox is where GPS will take them and that's not where I am physically located.

The big brown UPS truck recently came roaring up the park host driveway delivering Harley's organic dog food. Harley is in love with the brown truck. He runs frantically to the end of his tether, his tail wagging furiously like a helicopter blade as if any moment his tail will be fast enough to give him flight too.

Years back we were workamping in Florida 50 miles from nowhere. It was frighteningly cold in the mornings at 30-40F degrees. We had to do our workamping outside starting at 4:30am because we were the check station operators for a hunting area. I ordered Harley a thick warm doggy jacket and a toy for Christmas since he had to go to work with me at 4:30am. The big brown UPS truck delivered his package while we were working one day. I opened the box to show Harley his coat and toy. Then I put his warm coat on him so he would stop shivering and shaking. He paraded up and down the wooden bench in the outdoor hunt station like he was a model on the runway. He still loves that coat and gets excited when it's cold and I bring it out for him to wear. Ever since then, he associates the UPS truck with good tidings of puppy joy.

Needless to say, today he was wildly delighted to have the wonderful brown truck bring him a sack of food. He was sniffing the box, so when I opened it, I set his bag of food down for him to look over. That little helicopter tail was spinning as he sniffed it over in sheer delight.

Lake Hartwell has numerous islands and coves plus a 962 mile shoreline. 

It's hard for me to believe that I am starting my 4th tour workamping on Lake Hartwell. I had hoped to travel far and wide around the country workamping along the way, but when I found this gig, it suited me, it suited them. So here we are, back again!