Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leaving Home On The Prairie

I am puttering along to get ready to go on a side trip, leaving my home on the prairie to go take care of several appointments in the big town for a few days.  I also hope to rendezvous with a friend from the Caribbean who is driving down the entire eastern seaboard. 

But we are both old salts (sailors) who used to navigate our sailboats in far flung ports, without the aid of cell phones or GPS.  Somehow we always managed to find each other. 

Harley dog even has a few appointments 50 miles away. He is going to be tutored. At least that is what he was told...  actually he is going to be singing soprano in the choir soon. 

With no car, navigating numerous appointments in the motorhome should be quite the adventure. I better get into training for long walks. Shopping in the wheel estate generally isn't a problem as retail establishments typically have plenty of room for me to take up two parking spots without inconveniencing others. However, appointments at small offices, may be a whole different matter.  It might not be so easy  to find a double parking spot, and that is if I can park end to end. Otherwise I need three parking spots and a method of exiting the spot(s) when I am through with my various appointments. 

Anyhow, I should be back on the prairie in 3-4-5-6 days. That is if we don't go to town and get ourselves all citified...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Butterflies and Lace

Shopping for the holidays can be fun or a chore. Shopping online makes it super easy. For your friends, you might consider a symbolic theme, then include a card explaining the symbolism.

For instance, far from being a flighty, fluttery symbol - the animal symbolism of the butterfly is about profound changes of the soul.  A butterfly goes through numerous changes throughout their brief lifetime from egg, to larvae, to pupa until it finally unfurls incredible beauty, all in about a month's time. 

The symbol of the butterfly can make a wonderful gift such as a butterfly candle holder for couples on your list or butterfly purses for your close girlfriends. 

Shopping for children can be fun, but if you worry your child may end up with too many toys from relatives and others, then consider gifting them items to be used to redecorate their room with, such as a new bedspread, curtains and decor. 

You can center it around a theme the child likes or something from their heritage or an interest they have such as  gifting Celtic bedding and other decor items to go with it. 

Not only will they have new toys at Christmas but a seemingly new room to play in too. It's certainly nicer than underwear gifts. 

One year, I was absolutely mortified as a young child to have been gifted little girl's lavender underwear that had about 3 miles of lace sewed on it in layers, making it very fluffy and bulky. It came from another child I often played with because our mothers were very close.  I think I was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. 

What's even worse, was my family wanted me to try it on and show it off!  I wanted to climb under the sofa and hide. I thought underwear was private and not to be on display. I retreated to my bedroom to try on the ruffled underwear, then I came back out again with it hidden under my nightgown. I claimed it was itchy and scratched my behind repeatedly until my mother ordered me to go change back out of it. Whew!  Was I ever glad for that. I recall at some point, her thanking the other girl's mother, telling her how absolutely beautiful it was. It was indeed, the prettiest thing in my top drawer, where it stayed safely hidden away.  

Effing Maggots

Harley hardly at work.
He was cold, so he wore his little flannel jacket over his red T-shirt. 

I have a serious love-hate relationship with my current workamping assignment. The people are very nice, especially the other workampers and hunters. The wildlife area on the prairie is stunningly beautiful.  Harley dog works with me.

But the long 15-16 hour shifts are a bear to survive, some of the work is too heavy duty for me. My back and shoulder feel like they were ripped out.  The pain makes me grumpy. Today the work is downright awful. They forgot to pick up our garbage last week, so it has been accumulating in large trash cans that are lined with garbage bags. That's because I sent over a "Wish List" to the powers to be. On it were jumbo trash bags. Finally many things on the wish list turned up along with the trash bags. But I guess they didn't arrive quick enough.

Maggots appeared on the scene last night, attacking all the garbage. Finally this morning, someone came for the garbage. They were disgusted by the maggots. They hauled off the garbage but left the cans behind which are infested in maggots. I am disgusted by the maggots.  Now I've spent three hours trying to fight and kill the maggots.

I had no idea they were so hard to kill!   So far the maggots are winning. I've tried bleach, wasp spray, bug spray and now I am researching the internet on how to kill maggots.

I have not had a thing to eat, but my stomach is putting up loud protests.  My food looks like maggots and I can't eat. There are no maggots on my food, but I can't stop thinking about them. This is all rather disgusting. Killing maggots was not in the volunteer job description. I usually don't mind going well beyond the call of duty to get things done, but this is just horrible. Yuck.  I now know that I do not like maggots. Not one bit.

At least the garbage is kept far away from my motorhome. But unfortunately the garbage is kept near the hunters station where I work. So the station is now partly  infested with maggots. I am oh so tempted to hang up a sign: "Closed due to maggots!" and leave town. Leave the county. Maybe leave the state.

Oh wait.  It's cold across the state line. Brrr...  OK, I won't leave the state.

But I am responsible and trustworthy. So I won't leave town.  But I am seriously fed up with maggots. What a way to start the day. I am trying to find the comedy in maggots.

OK here goes...

A boy and a girl maggot were  munching on an old turkey leg. Finally the boy maggot says "What's a nice girl like you doing in a joint like this?"

I just took a break to read up on maggots. Now I'm not only disgusted with maggots but educated about them  too. Maggots are the larval stage of flies.

Oh boy. I have flies to look forward to next.

My camera is acting up, so I am going to try to reset the settings, then photograph the maggots. Then again...  now that I've thought about it,  maybe not.

All right, time for another maggot joke...

A man arrived in hell. Satan said he had three choices. Behind door number one, folks were standing on their head on a brick floor. Behind door number two, they were standing on their head on a wooden floor. Behind door number three, people were standing up ankle deep in maggots but drinking coffee and smiling.

The man chose door number three. Satan stuffed him inside, handed him a cup of coffee, then slammed the door locking it firmly. The man stood ankle deep in maggots sipping his coffee.  A few moments later a loud voice boomed overhead; "Coffee break is over!  Time to stand back on your head!"

So here I am taking a coffee break, writing about maggots...

OK, I fiddled with the camera and took some pictures.  

The stop sign in the picture below, is aimed squarely at the road approaching it. That road is posted as 15mph speed limit. It's a dirt road.

There is also a  handheld STOP sign inside the station. That is so one can run out in front of a 70 mile per hour truck to wave the handheld STOP sign at them in case they don't stop at the stop sign.

Am I the only one who thinks this is slightly suicidal?

Last week, I did flag down a pickup truck that was going about 70 miles per hour.  I heard him roaring up the road, when I stepped outside in a foolish attempt to stop him.  He slammed on brakes, stopping about 40 feet past the stop sign, creating a huge cloud of dust. As I coughed, sputtered and smiled, I said "That's the fastest 15 miles per hour I have ever seen!"

He apologized, took his card, then drove off sedately.
Three Lakes Wildlife Management
Highway 441 Check Station

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So Beautiful So Thankful

When walking the dog, we walk along the edge of the wetlands, trying to stay dry. It is stunningly beautiful out here. The Florida National Scenic Trail meanders through the area. 

I am super thankful for Thanksgiving, waking up alive, and all the wonderful folks who read my ramblings.  I am dead tired, getting ready to run the Hunters Station at 5am. 

More, later. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Day Was A Hit

Thanksgiving was wonderful here on the palmetto prairie in Florida. There are four workampers here, so I made a 14 pound stuffed turkey plus smashed sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. When the bird was done, I made mushroom gravy from the juices. The only other cook in the bunch outdid himself, making a green bean casserole, baked beans with bacon, coleslaw, pumpkin pie and a birthday cake for his wife's birthday, which we found out was the same day. We washed all that down with nearly a gallon of iced tea while dining al fresco under the gazebo with a view of the wildlife area and prairie. 

Two canine critters also had turkey with us, delighting us by being very well behaved. 

When one workamper discovered I had a shoebox full of ice in the freezer, he trotted out the hooch, so we had cocktails before we all retreated to our various campers for a full belly turkey  tryptophane nap. Just before that, one of the biologists stopped by to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, so we fetched a clean plate, then stuffed him full of food too.

There were plenty of leftovers to divvy up, so we all left our little party with lots of goodies in tow. 

The turkey bird I baked, before we carved him up to smithereens. 

 The stuffed bird is  ready to bake, but looks very colorful because I dusted him with sage and paprika before roasting. 

Go ahead and laugh, but this was my FIRST time using a baking bag in the roasting pan. The turkey was done nearly an hour sooner than I expected. I guess that bag really speeds up the cooking and saves on some of the mess.

This is the stuffing. I made so much, we had a huge pan of it baking in the oven besides what was stuffed in the turkey.   It has a loaf of whole wheat bread, raisins, onions,  granny smith apples, celery, garlic, butter, chicken stock, sage, marjoram, and cloves. I had nuts to put in there too but nutty me forgot about them. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Many Many Many Thanks and a Happy Thanksgiving

I owe  lots, tons, heaps, piles, slews, bunches, oodles, multitudes and shiploads of THANKS THANKS THANKS for all my readers, fans, subscribers, benefactors, angels, friends and dog. 

Without each and every one of you, I would cease to exist. 

THANKS for believing in a wild and crazy mermaid!


I'm the luckiest person alive to have so much to be so grateful for on this wonderful day.  


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Bear Facts

The  exquisite wild flowers around here remind me the world is my garden.

 I am just a child of the planet, belonging nowhere, loving everywhere. 

Harley dog and I survived our 5am to 8pm shift at the hunters check station yesterday. Today we worked 5am to 1pm. Now we are done for the week.  The hunters are super nice. I give them all a big smile.  Nobody has yelled.  Most folks are unfailingly polite. Of course, it's like the wild wild west with everyone armed to the teeth with assorted weapons and ammunition. One certainly hopes everyone is in a good mood, given those odds. 

Harley dog is also having to get used to the  long hours. I can't take him on a long walk during my shift, just short loops around the area. When we work, he is a on long tether, because he has zero road sense about the dangers of vehicles. Lately he has busied himself with mole patrol when he's not sniffing over the latest kill.  The guy that trained us weeks ago when we first arrived,  happened to stop by for a few minutes, giving Harley tons of attention as the CEO (Canine Enthusiasm Officer).

The 10% precipitation forecast for yesterday turned into 100% flash flood conditions.  Because it's a holiday week, many hunters had arrived early with guests such as children, wives, in-laws and grandchildren. They drove into the 38,000 acres of wild adventure,  nice and dry, all happy for the thrill of the hunt returning hours later soaking wet, muddy and cold, ready to brave an exciting night in the sodden campground. The little permission cards they pick up in the morning, then  fill out and return at the end of the day came back wet, blotched, smeared, ripped, folded, torn and some were simply MIA.

I had to string up a clothes line in the office shack  to dry out the paperwork to do my reports. What a hoot. It reminds me of the many beach bars in the Caribbean that have little clothes lines with wooden clothes pins attached behind the bar. You often see assorted money hanging there to dry out,  that comes their way from boaters and swimmers. 

When things got slow today, for some fool reason, I decided to clean and organize the shack. I started in one tiny corner. After moving  100+ pounds of paperwork, brochures, wildlife magazines, rubber stamps, pens, pencils, cameras, forms,  flashlights, batteries, 2 pairs of dusty eyeglasses, 5 coffee cups, paper towels, ant poision, bleach, hand sanitzer, mosquito spray, gloves, rubber bands, staplers, mystery keys, paint brushes, padlocks, chains, chokers, business cards, and a cloudy magnifying glass, you will never guess WHAT I found next. 

A desk living under all that. 

Like a true excavator,  I swept off several pounds of dirt, then washed it three times trying to get most of the grime off.  I found a pile of pictures from previous hunts and a stapler, so while the desk was drying, I started a montage on the wooden  open door,  until I ran out of staples. By then the desk was dry and fairly clean. Whew.  I transferred the mountain of supplies, back to the desk, only this time, a good bit of it went to live in the drawers I discovered hiding beneath.  What a treasure hunt-and-stash this turned out to be. 

Another workamper stopped by to see how I was doing. He poked his head in the shack with a surprised "What?  There's a desk in here?"   We had a good laugh over that. 

Harley alerted me there were cows and calves roaming around, so I took him for a closer look, but they wandered off deep into the brush. I don't know when hunting season starts for cows.  Two people reported seeing a bear climbing a tree, I had no idea bears lived here. A wildlife biologist stopped by so I mentioned the bear. She said they are just passing through, as it's not a very good bear habitat and there is no bear hunting season here.  So that's the bear facts for you.   

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh For The Love Of An Adirondack Chair

Today I am slaving away volunteering at my 16 hour workamper shift. I am busier than a one-eyed thee-legged cat chasing nineteen mice in seventeen directions. How I wish this place had Adirondack chairs. I could surely plop my plump rear  in one about now. That would feel oh so wonderful. Remember Adirondack chairs?  They are large with a sloped seat and back with wide arm rests.  Once you are in one, you just never want to get out again. 

Not ever. 

We had them in our backyard when I was growing up back in the dark ages. I guess they are absolutely timeless, as I don't think they have ever gone out of style. 

Harley dog is not feeling well and is downright cranky. Tsk tsk tsk. On a super quick break, I speed walked to the motorhome, to fetch his favorite food (a hot dog with cheddar cheese).  That cheered him up for a few minutes. We even played fetch and catch out by the picnic tables

Now he is lazing around in the comfiest chair, looking rather glum. The storm just hit us with full force. Luckily about 10 minutes ago, I did another rapid trip to the clothes line where I have been drying my wash cloths and hand towels for 2 days.  If you want it to rain, just ask me to hang out my laundry.   It works every time!  But today, I managed to get the stuff off the line, moments before the storm rolled in. 

Now I am in the dark little shack, watching it flash flood outside. How I wish I had run home to close the windows. Oh brother.  I hope the motorhome doesn't overfill her bilge and sink like a rock.  Wait...  I am used to sailboat living. I guess motorhomes don't sink or have bilges.

Harley dog and I would much rather be at the dog park, with me on one of the park benches and him running wild and free with the pack of canines.  At one campground, there was no dog park, (there usually never is) but Harley wanted to play with the young children on the playground equipment.  They were telling him how cute he was and soaking up his puppy kisses.  One child asked to send him down the short slide, so we let the puppy slide down, to my waiting arms. At that point, little Harley tugged on his leash, away from the kids, away from the playground. 

I guess puppies weren't meant for playground slides. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bounty From The Hunt

Guess who's in my crockpot? 

A hunter brought in his bounty to be weighed and logged. I snapped his picture.  Later he returned with a gift for the workampers.  We were dead tired at the time, so we wrapped and stashed him in  the shared refrigerator. The next day, one of the guys carved him up into hunks of chunks. 

I put a batch in my tiny crockpot and let it cook forever (about 36 hours on low) with a bay leaf and a generous splash of  basamic vinegar. It came out SUPER tender. 

Harley dog has made a piglet out of himself, as he LOVES this new treat in his dog bowl. I seasoned up the first batch with my version of homemade barbecue sauce. I put some on a sandwich bun and I must admit he was delicious. 

Meanwhile, Harley seems to be holding out on his dry dog food, waiting to see if pork if going to turn up in his bowl. I give him a small bowl of it each day since and he is thrilled. 

I usually don't let Harley over-serve himself, but I foolishly allowed this the first night. I won't be doing THAT again. 

Harley slept on his back with his overstuffed belly resembling a pregnancy. He made a disgusting sound (yes dogs do fart) that woke him up. The look of shock and surprise on his little puppy face was hysterical! 

I guess this is one of the interesting perks of this unique workamping opportunity. (Um, the pork, not the fart.)

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Surprise

I loved your comments on Retail Mania (yesterday's blog). Thanks!  The same article is now on associated content on yahoo.  Yippie doodle!

Also, a big thanks for explaining Black Friday to me, if I had thought about it, or done a teeny bit of research, I would have realized the answer. For the mom and pop stores, I can believe that Black Friday is the first day of their profits, but for the mega corporations, I hardly think so. Of course the corporations often overpay the CEO's where as mom and pop stores, usually can't overpay themselves so lavishly. So the bottom line is often subjective. 

In spite of my scrooge bah-humbug attitude towards Black Friday absurdities, I did decide to buy turkey and fixings today for Thanksgiving. 

I will cook for the workampers.  I have so much to be thankful for this past year, so I want to celebrate and be very thankful. Since the other workampers have been so wonderful to me, I decided it would be a nice thing to do all around. I just pray that Thanksgiving afternoon is warmish, so we can dine outdoors under my gazebo.  Gazebo is my fancy name for my hexagon shaped canopy. I had mentioned this a while back, that I wanted to do Thanksgiving dinner, if all would attend. At the time, everyone seemed happy about this. 

The problem with living, working, playing in RV's, is that the entertaining can be VERY cozy when one is foolish enough to volunteer to do Thanksgiving dinner for a group. Nobody really has an RV here large enough to seat us all at a table indoors in lazy Thanksgiving comfort. So al fresco it is!  We can build a fire or drag out an electric heater, if the weather is coolish or a fan if it's fantastically hot. 

The hunter's station came with an old mobile home trailer. It has a full sized stove and oven in it. I checked it out and it seemed to work fine. I will cook the 14 pound turkey in that oven, but none of us really care to dine in there at all. It's just too depressing.   Sure there is a table and chairs, but something is seriously lacking in the ambiance department. 

Today I drove to the Kenansville, Florida post office. I had sold something I needed to ship off. Before I went on my month long trip in October, I had begun selling off a few things to raise money. I thought I had sold it all, but oops, there was one final item that finally sold and needed to be shipped. 

For three days I've had montezuma's revenge or something similar. Yuck. My neighbor's offered to give me a ride to the post office in their pickup, but I didn't think I could make it there *ahem* gracefully. One nice thing about not having a car and being forced to drive the wheel estate when I need to run an errand, is that I travel with my own restroom. In this unfortunate case, this came in rather handy indeed. 

I put away anything that might fall or break, unhooked the umbilical cords, used the restroom, then drove 7 miles in my old motorhome to the tiny post office.  After parking more or less legally, I used the private restroom again, then went inside.  The postmistress was very friendly.  I apologized for arriving a bit disorganized. She told me to take all the time I needed, and just let the line in back wait. 

Of course there was no one in line at all.  I explained to her, that I had arrived here a few weeks ago, but just recently located my mail box.  It was over a half mile from my driveway on another road. 

She laughed and said "Yep, that's the way we do things around here!  Glad you found your mail box.  Some folks are still looking for theirs..."

Here I am, out in the boonies. B is where I found my mailbox on another road, a half mile away.  A is where I live. See the houses?  Oh you don't?  Well there aren't any out here. That might be why you don't see them. I guess I am lucky the post office is willing to bring the mail out within a half mile. 

I noticed when I left, that what others had rumored about was true, the tiny post office closed up at 1pm every day. In the outer lobby where usually America's most wanted are posted, were the usual suspects plus an extra bulletin board. It was a community board full of interesting notices. 

So I read about free kittens, land for sale, a house for rent (minimum 3 months rent, on the water too), a lady looking to be a personal caretaker, who would take a live-in live-out job, a crooked photocopy of a news article about how the residents of Kenansville fought to keep their tiny post office open and won. I was having fun taking in the local news but, on line two of that article,  my restroom was calling me to hurry back and visit. As I turned to race out the door, I saw the postmistress watching me. I must have looked like I had fire ants in my pants, the way I raced outside so fast, leaping inside my motor coach. 

Now she probably thinks I am a fruit cake too. One minute I was leisurely chatting with her, organizing my box, bubble wrap, contents,  address, the next I bolt out the door racing for my motorhome as if my very life depended on it.

I am sure my rapid departure, gave her pause for the cause, because obviously I did not drive off right away. Oh well, nothing like being the latest gossip in a sleepy little town. 

Speaking of fire ants... on my first or second workamper shift I was seriously attacked by Fire ants. That is my how my swollen misshapen ankle looks over 10 days later. All those welts are from the fire ants.  If you like to look at yucky stuff, you can click on the picture to enlarge it. Oh the hazards of living around wildlife, wondering around in the dark minus a flashlight. I learned my lesson. Tsk tsk tsk!  Now I walk on three foot stilts at night.  Make those ants work to reach me next time!

Harley dog was ecstatic to see me, as a I flew through the side door of the motorhome, leaped down the hall, threw open the bathroom door and sat down. Whew!  Made it!  He dutifully raced down the hall with me as if I were introducing a new game of play. 

I was going to visit Heartbreak Hotel, for pictures,  yes the famous one that inspired the song and movie. It's supposed to be not far from the Kenansville post office. But I now felt so lousy, I headed back to the hunting compound instead. 

Ten minutes later, we whizzed right past our mailbox and missed the turnoff to go plop back down on our plot. I was feeling much better, so I decided I should go  grab the provisions for Thanksgiving. The closest grocery store was only 28 miles on down the road.  Yes,   I am in the serious boonies!  

My schedule was going to be hectic between now and turkey day, so I suddenly realized, this might be my best time to do the shopping. I had already invited the other workampers before I had all these weird problems, so now I had to plan for the party or cancel it. Since I have lots to be thankful for, I decided to plow ahead.  It's good for the soul to stay very busy.  If I had to pull over a few times to visit the restroom, I just would. One of the benefits of traveling in a motor coach. 

I put  this baby on cruise control, then sped down the country road, sipping cold green tea I had brewed earlier, thinking what a marvelous day it turned out to be. Harley was even excited, he was standing up with his paws all over the passenger window, watching the scenery sail past. Through a miracle we made it to the grocery store with no pit stops. But as soon as I parked, well I made a bolt for my restroom in back again.  

I washed my hands and face, straightened up my hair, put on some lipstick, fortified myself with a little bit of apple juice, told Harley to stay as I stuck my I'm-serious-pointy-finger at him, then climbed backwards out of my motorhome. Harley already looked a tad crestfallen. He had surveyed the parking lot, realizing this was not a campground nor a dog park nor a friend's house. Just another boring parking lot for him to wait in his rolling dog house while I got to do all the fun stuff. 

My entry steps are put away for travel. They are manual, not electric, not the automatic types, that simply popout when you need them and pop away when you don't. So when I use the side door, with the steps put away, I go out backwards, as it's much easier for me to maneuver, with my old right leg and left knee injuries.  I'm not sure how to explain why it's easier to go out backwards in this case, but it is, so I do. This too must make for  curious idle chat around the water cooler. The woman who steps backwards out of her motorhome...

Gosh, I guess my body is pretty banged up overall, but I've put it to heavy duty use over the years. It's like an old beat-up car. Been in a few fender benders, stuff breaks, things fall off, the mechanic removes obsolete parts, but it still runs and goes. That surely describes me!  

In the grocery store, everyone was just so super nice to me. I don't know what I did to deserve such wonderful service. As I came in the door a young man came over all smiling, asking me if I would like a shopping cart. I did. He wanted to know if I wanted a big cart or a small buggy. I wanted small. While perusing the cheese, a lady came up to inquire if I needed help. WOW.  This was an ordinary grocery store with extraordinary people working there. I felt like I met half the staff while I wandered aimlessly around the perimeter of the store's interior assembling fresh ingredients.  Of course I am a slow shopper at times. No need to stress out, if I can avoid it. Maybe they just aren't used to such slow shoppers as myself, taking a long time to spend a little. But how delightful to meet such a gracious staff while I sorted out the best bargains for assembling Thanksgiving. 

When I came out of the store, I drove away. I felt pretty good.  I think that dreadful montezuma's revenge has run its course. 

Back on the compound, I parked my rig, trying to face west, so the side with the most windows is facing south. I plugged in the lifelines.  Back in the RV, I  stuffed the big frozen bird in  a canvas tote, then walked Harley to the mobile home, to store the young fowl in the refrigerator  for thawing.  At  14 pounds, that turkey surely will not fit in my motorhome refrigerator.   Next, I saw the other  workampers, who had not seen the big turkey. They said they had been thinking, what with all my maladies of late, we would cancel Thanksgiving, so I wouldn't have to cook. 

I was delighted to inform them, we would not be canceling at all, I had just bought Turkey and all the fixings.  I had also channeled with my crystal ball to request a pleasant afternoon, so we could dine al fresco under the gazebo. 

Now it was their turn to change glum faces to excited ones!   Of course they said stuff like "You don't have to do that..."  but I could tell they were plenty happy that we would be celebrating and thanking and eating and yacking away between mouthfuls of home cooked, made from scratch good old fashioned Thanksgiving foods. 

I wrote all this last night when I couldn't sleep, but I am so glad to report that after trying out various home remedies the past two days,  the montezuma's revenge has departed me for good. I can now actually walk the dog more than 100 feet from the motorhome, without bolting back for the restroom. We might even work up the energy to go start checking our mailbox regularly, now that we located and identified it. 

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Retail Mania

 I often say I am lost in America or an alien in America. I lived overseas for 22 years with few visits to America. Most were for family funerals, so I was far too distracted to notice changes in culture. When I moved to America, I ended up in my little old RV while I figured out my future. Well, almost two years later, I am still in my little old RV, deciding it's a different odd off-the-beaten-path lifestyle that seems to suit me for the time being. 

As I began to slowly assimilate myself back into American culture, one of the first things to slap me squarely in the face is the overwhelming greed I see rampant now.  It is  just so absolutely incredible that I seem to perpetually have my jaw dropped down in shocked wonder.  I grew up in a time when Sunday openings for any businesses were extremely rare. Sunday was a day of rest and worship. Now it's the norm in all but a few tiny pockets in America for retailers to be open all day Sundays. Some places have restrictions on what can open before noon or 1pm on Sundays. For some it's local laws, for others simply local customs. But this is very rare. I remember when many Saturday places closed up by noon. If you hadn't done your shopping by noon on Saturday, too bad!

Just recently when I lived near the tiny town of Lavonia, Georgia, they had these two wonderful hardware stores that had been there for generations. One in particular was my favorite, and they had little oddball parts I needed for my repairs. It also seemed to be a social hub downtown, as there were always a handful of patrons camped out by the old wood stove, deep in conversation.  You weren't likely to walk out of there empty handed, as they seemingly had it all. I was giving another RV owner directions to this hardware store on a Saturday morning, when I said "They are old style, so get there before noon!"  He had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained they closed up at noon on Saturday and didn't open on Sunday either. He was shocked and thought me a foolish woman to perpetuate such nonsense. But it was true.  A pocket of America that still held sacred the fact that people need time off to be with their loved ones or to worship or both. 

Last year I was appalled that some of the big retailers like Walmart were forcing their employees to open up and work on Christmas Day in some areas. I thought that was horrendous, that folks couldn't spend that time with their family. Couldn't the store close for at least 24 hours without risking bankruptcy?  It's bad enough that retailers now stay open all day Christmas Eve, I remember when most places were closed by noon, with a few heavy hitters staying open until 5pm. The theory was folks could still get home in time for Christmas Eve dinner or in time to go to church or both. 

Now retailers are open all hours of the night on Christmas Eve. 

I am not sure when the term "Black Friday" came into use. I didn't even know what it meant, the first time I heard the term just a few short years ago. I finally learned it's the Friday after Thanksgiving, when stores used to trot out their Christmas selections and the official shopping season began for the upcoming holiday. 

Just this year, I was poking fun at a store employee because their store had Halloween on display in late July. I asked the clerk how many overtime hours she worked to get Halloween merchandise stocked in the nick of time. She gave me a straight face and said "Our manager said we had to move out the Halloween stuff because Christmas merchandise goes on display in 6 weeks!"

Today I read a news article, that employees were grumbling because some retail mogul idiots have decided that Black Friday starts at MIDNIGHT!  Walmart has declared it starts at 10pm on Thursday.  Such greed!  Employees around the country are being forced to report to work by midnight. Stores are promising great bargains if you show up at midnight to shop. Consumers that aren't working in retail, are grumbling that they have to forego their own Thanksgiving plans in order "camp out" in line to be one of the first to enter the store at midnight.  

Does anyone celebrate holidays with their families and friends anymore or is it all just a huge consumerism rush and crush now to be the first to buy a so-called bargain? Is it really a bargain at all?

America which was founded in part on the freedom of religion, has now stamped it in the ground firmly. You surely can't pray in school or mention God or a higher power in public places it seems. Retail greed seems to be the new God of our culture, to be worshiped and adored like never before. 

I for one have NEVER spent one dime on Black Friday and I am very proud of that. I won't be spending one penny this year either. I've always considered it appalling. I was selfish, I wanted both Thursday and Friday to spend with my loved ones, not in some stampede to hurry up and empty out my wallet. 

Sure I am on a super small budget and Black Friday is rumored to be a huge bargain day, but I just don't "get it".  Whatever junk is out there for sale, is still going to be for sale in the days and weeks to come. 

I've probably stepped on toes all around today, by bringing up what seems to me to be TOTAL MADNESS!

Even worse, I've read that many folks are so grateful to have a job and so terrified of losing it, that they feel they have absolutely no choice and no say in the matter at all.  They must forego their own holidays and family time, to feed the big hungry greedy monsters.  It seems to me, slavery is alive and well in America. 

Are people really going to camp out in parking lots on Thanksgiving day just so they can get retail induced self-perceived bargains at midnight?  Has the whole country gone crazy? 

I will boycott this Black Friday, just like I have always done. A one person protest that I refuse to take part in such greedy insanity. 
The full moon, as I saw it November 10, 2010

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fearless Workamping

Fearless Workamping

I am doing my best here to put up with the long hours and my aches and pains. But I heard a strange story, so sorry I wasn't here to see it for myself. Before I came here, we had agreed on a date, but not a time.  I had already nailed down the location I was supposed to come to for workamping, so I wasn't too worried. On the day I arrived, there was no one to greet me, so I looked over the available campsites, chose one, then started to set up camp. 

The other couple was in their rig, they noticed me, coming out to find out who I was and what I was up to. The lady that hired me for this gig promised to come out in a day or two or so. Her office is nearly an hour away. 

When I finally met her, she was glad I was here and all set up ready to work. She related a curious story to me. 

A couple showed up in their RV to workamp. They called her repeatedly insisting she show up at the remote campground to meet them upon arrival. She got here waiting around for awhile for them to show up. 

Finally a shiny new Class A came roaring,  down the dusty dirt road. Without slowing down, they made the right hand turn into the grassy campground, through the open gate.   Unfortunately, they took out the gate post, knocked down the gate, ran it over, while tearing a large ragged hole down the side of their motorhome from the gate post they had knocked askew. 

The man got out, cursed up a storm, then disentangled his rig from the destroyed gate and post. Somehow he managed to go up to the cleaning station,  turn his rig around, then sped out of here, screaming out his window "We won't ever be back!"  

I guess that's why we were  assigned an extra shifts. 

Scene 2
This picture takes some explanation. It was somewhere near Piedmont, South Carolina when I snapped this picture. On the other side of the RV is a cop car with flashing blue lights directing traffic.  This RV entered traffic so fast, that their rear end scraped then stuck on the inclined parking lot exit, lifting their rear tires an inch or more off the pavement. The end result, they were stuck!  I am so sorry I didn't get a better picture, but I was going pretty fast when I came upon this scene. My camera is slow, and I only got one picture snapped. 

Today the Japanese attacked my comment section imploring me to buy flowers from Japan. Grrrrr...  Blogspot claims to have a great spam catcher, but they seem to miss a lot of the spam so I have to manually remove it all daily. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Is Next Week

Back by popular demand:

Recipe for a Bikini Tanned Turkey

Click for picture and recipe. 

May your stuffing be tasty

May your turkey be plump,

May your potatoes and gravy

Have never a lump.

May your yams be delicious

And your pies take the prize,

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving
from one crazy
Dear Miss Mermaid

Monday, November 14, 2011

Workamping As A Check Station Operator

My comment area was once again, attacked by spammers who extolled the virtues of "natural exy boobs". Yes, those were their exact words.   I deleted their comment. Then a few hours later,  they posted again that I needed "bazoombas grand".  Even more hysterical was the suggestion I "boobify for fondle" and in another comment "look my breast". The spammers are relentless!  Apparently they have little command of the English language. Why do they think attacking my site will bring them more business?  It's a big mystery to me!

This morning, the weather is perfect and gorgeous too. I am finally outdoors under my gazebo, living life the way I imagined it. Well, sort of. I'm in a ton of pain from the mystery ailment to my neck and shoulder, but I so happy, I just don't care. 

The pain humbles me that life ain't perfect, but I just try to focus on all the positive aspects of simply waking up alive to such a beatific day to enjoy the great outdoors with agreeable weather, a cup of coffee and a sweet little doggy by my side. 

When I first set up the gazebo here, it looked so  lovely, but the direct sunshine is so intense some mornings, that I can't see to do my work on the laptop outside. Then we had a cold snap, so I stayed inside to do my work by the heater. Now we have summer weather again. In November. How lovely!

Florida is flatland.  There is very little shade where I am camped, though there are skinny pine trees.  I tried hanging up a lightweight white blanket that came with the RV when I bought it to diffuse the bright sun enough for me to type. As the sun moves, I can reposition it or take it down. The clothes pins weren't strong enough to hold it in place.Often I would hear "pop-pop-pop" as the wind blew the light blanket, sending the clothespin flying in all directions while the blanket either took flight itself on a magic carpet ride or collapsed in a heap, sometimes landing on a startled Harley who was innocently playing on the patio mat beneath it.

Recently at Big Lots, while shopping for work gloves, (they were on sale from $1.50) and a bed pillow (they were already sold out of the one I wanted) I spied these 4 heavy duty clamps that were priced well below what I had seen elsewhere, so I took a chance on them. Today they are holding up the temporary side shade quite beautifully. The wind is whipping the blanket around somewhat, but  the clamps are doing their duty. 

On another RV blog, someone had mentioned having some heavy duty clamps around came in handy for all sorts of purposes. I am sorry I can't give the blogger credit, as it was ages ago when I read this. Indeed, they are handy. These are small, but powerful. 

I survived the 15 hour shift yesterday at the Hunter's Check Station. It actually turned out to be almost 16 hours, but hey, who's counting...

WOW.  I feel so accomplished. But thank goodness I now have a week to recuperate, ha ha ha, tee hee hee. 

I slept all night, woke up in a ton of pain, but sitting under my "gazebo" cheered me substantially. The weather was gorgeous and other workampers came for coffee.  

Then this afternoon, I collapsed in a heap on my bed, just totally exhausted, falling fast asleep. I guess that long shift had caught up with me. When I woke up, someone was at my door. I was totally deflated to find out I was being assigned another shift.  Oh rats. Oh darn. Oh shoot. The second shift will  only be 8 hours, but still, things just keep changing around here.  I just go with the flow, to keep peace.

Harley dog worked with me yesterday.  We had a fun hard  day at work. Twenty minutes before opening time, the first hunters arrived to line up the road, waiting for me and 5 o'clock to arrive. I could see them  from my motorhome while I fumbled around making coffee.  At 10 to 5, Harley dog and I walked to our post, reporting for duty with a hot cup of coffee.

It was a strenuous commute of 20 seconds and 100 feet. As I groped around with my flashlight and  the combination lock to open up the station, hunters began emerging from their vehicles, to see if they could help, while I searched for a pole to reach the light switch that an 8 foot tall electrician installed close to  the high ceiling. Finally a towering man flipped the switch. Later I located a pole I can find in the dark next time I open up. 

I greeted everyone with a big smile and a cheery good morning  to hide my nervousness. My last shift, I was trained in one day, this shift, I am running the place on my own. People were unfailingly polite. Amazing!

In what seemed only a matter of minutes, I let 84 camouflaged hunters, their assorted guns, ammo, jeeps, trucks, pickups, ATV's, amphibious 6-wheelers, coolers, trailers, plus 3 sleepy kids, and 2 huntresses inside the compound. Another 47 hunters would arrive as the day wore on. 

It was still very dark, as the waning moon had set earlier. I retreated inside the shack, after tying  the old wooden double doors wide open, so I could listen for traffic on the dirt road while busying myself with rubber stamping and pencil pushing.  My coffee was now somewhere between tepid and almost lukewarm. 

I learned to crank the right handed wench with my lefty. The hunter, seeing me do this asked "Are you left handed?"

Smiling I answered  "No. I just thought my left arm muscles needed improvement."  He laughed about this, then saw me write some more in the book.  This time using my right hand. Even though I have whined excessively on this blog about my painful neck/shoulder/back/right arm, I decided not to let the hunters know of this personal malady. I just wanted to find a way to do my job, without complaint, all happy like. 

In exchange for working the Hunters Station, I get lot rent and utilities. This of course is a huge help on my current  budget.  The biggest perk being that I was able to move to central Florida for the winter months. Yippee!  As a welcome bonus, the other workampers are incredibly nice.  We're all a bit eccentric, me probably being the worst of the bunch, but for four strangers thrown together for living and working in a remote location, it's thus far working out most agreeably. 

I am still dead tired tonight, but life is beautiful!