Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last Day of July

I finally figured out how to do a before and after picture, so here goes!

stained glass bathroom window in RV motorhome by Dear Miss Mermaid copyright by http://DearMissMermaid.com

If you decide to use the Artscape window film on your window, be sure to follow the directions. They are very clear.  The finished product came out just like it should. I am so used to things going wrong. I used scissors because I didn't have a box cutter. I sort of wish I had waited until I got a box cutter, but I was excited, plowing forward. Everything else I did exactly as they instructed.


Wednesday is the full moon and August will have a blue moon too. I am shocked it is going to be August already. I am still finalizing my winter plans, which is to say I have none, but I can't freeze up here either.

Well, I do have reservations in a park in case I don't find workamping. But since my engine, transmission and brake repairs recently cleaned me out completely, I am not sure I have enough left over to leave town, much less to pay rent. But time will tell.

Money grows on trees doesn't it?  Maybe some will bloom...

I have stories and chapters for several books piled up all over the place. Seems like I need to pull it all together and get it to market. Easier said than done. It seems my brain is starting to settle back down.  Gee whiz, it's been three years give or take, I knew it would heal.  But sometimes I must appear like a blubbering idiot.

Some days the words are trapped inside, I can see them in my mind and can't spit them out verbally. It's hilarious when others treat me like the fool I must appear to be. Other days I can put pen to paper while appearing to be a deaf mute. But luckily sometimes I wake up bubbling over, ready to talk, the brain is in gear and there isn't anyone around, so the poor dog has to listen to my blubber.

Recuperation slows me down. I never know when I will be struck down again, but I do get up early with a smile on my sleepy face.

Recently I had company staying with me who was graciously helping me with oodles of projects. I was cooking and cleaning, trying to make them comfortable especially since they were breaking a sweat trying to help me and my little old motorhome.

Every time my friend tried to do the dishes, I would say "No, no, no, it works so much better for me to wash the dishes and you do the carpentry work. If I do the carpentry, we will have a BIG mess on our hands!"

For years I worked as a private chef on yachts and in upscale vacation villas. Many didn't have dishwashers, so I was used to washing mountains of dishes.  Fine dining requires many dishes, even when there was a dishwashing machine, it was so slow it barely made a dent in the mountain leftover for me to do.

One night recently, after dinner my friend and I  sat outside staring at the stars while chatting away. I never did the dishes and admonished my friend to leave them alone. The dirty crockery could and would wait until morning without growing legs and walking away.

The next morning, I got up to make coffee, but it was already made. The dishes were washed and piled up air drying in the rack. My friend and the dog were gone. Awhile later they came back from a walk. I was all apologetic for sleeping late, and thanking my friend repeatedly for washing the dishes, making the coffee and walking the dog.

He gave me a puzzled look claiming he did nothing of the sort. Matter of fact, he opined I got up around 3 or 4am, washed all the dishes, made coffee, reorganized the fridge,  then went back to bed. He said it was the smell of the coffee that briefly woke him up. He says he spoke to me, but I didn't answer. Just washed all the dishes, emptied out the fridge,  reloaded it,  then climbed back in my bed without a word.

We had a good laugh over that!  I remembered nothing of the sort. But here again, the fridge was organized in the manner I prefer.

The dishes were piled up in the chaotic improbable way I stack them into the tiny  dish drainer.  It definitely looked like my handiwork.

Very strange!  Am I sleep working? Wow, maybe I could get a night time dishwashing job. I will just sleep and wash. Kill two birds with one stone.

Next I want to tackle window washing in my sleep. I so hate washing windows on this RV, they just seem to torture me by refusing to come clean.  I blame it on the hard water from last winter that seems to have stained them.

Sounds like a good excuse to me!

Messing About A Motorhome Bath

I've been recuperating,  living, working,playing, rambling in my little old wheel estate  for well over two years. The motorhome is only 17 years old and 28 feet long from one end of the bumper to the other. The cab and engine take up a good chunk of that, so it leaves me about 20 by 7 feet of expansive living area.

Small wonder I refer to my bathroom as the broom closet. Which, um, I do keep my broom hanging in there because there is no where else to store it. 

So how does one keep from going insane in such a small space?  Add a rambunctious puppy to the mix!  

Oh yeah. That works.  What was I thinking?

At least the puppy drags me outside often, so that is one way to keep sanity in a compact home. Go outside frequently. 

Some of my close friends say nothing will make me sane. I am just hopelessly crazy. Having a clown for a dog just adds to the circus of my life. 

Another way is to make minor changes here and there.  Same old place, new look. 

Every month I earn  penny points at Amazon.  These can be spent like real money whenever I order something. They are earned by signing up for an  Amazon credit card  (Visa). I earn 1-3% on purchases, these are then credited in pennies to my Amazon account each month. At Amazon checkout I have the option to apply these points to my purchase. 

I use these pennies for food,  RV repairs and minor upgrades. This month I had accumulated nearly 2000 points (2000 pennies) or $20. Woo Hoo!

That's when my bathroom window shade decided to fall apart for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time in 2 years. It's 17 years old, thick enough to  be a black out shade, decorated with an embossed diamond pattern and trimmed on the bottom edge with brass. It  hides inside a valance that is decorated in the original upholstery fabrics and more brass. I still have many of the original shades throughout the motorhome. 

RV bath make over by Dear Miss Mermaid copyright by http://DearMissMermaid.com
This is how my bathroom looked when I bought the motorhome in 2009. 

Above the window is a valance and inside  is a pull down shade. 
The shower (not shown) is behind me as I take this picture. 

No where in my motorhome to hang a broom, so it hangs in the bathroom on the wall. The bottom panel of the window cranks open. The folding handle is the round plastic part in the lower part of the window.

RV remodeling by Dear Miss Mermaid copyright by http://DearMissMermaid.com
I love the window and sunshine, but for privacy, I have to pull the shade down for obvious reasons. The stain on the wall was removed with a magic eraser. I think my glue is melting, I find these stains in weird places, but no water leak. 

Life is strange. It was a good excuse to clean the entire wall, ceiling and floor.

The fabric vinyl coated shade is getting frayed on the edges. Awhile back I had  to reattached the shade to the roller.  Now the spring has sprung. I hate having a dark bathroom, I love the bright germ-killing mold-mutilating sunshine. 

Bathroom came with a built-in fake chrome soap dish that looked hideous.  I prefer the liquid soap.  There is a tiny set screw underneath the soap fish for removing it from the bracket. 

Valance and shade removed. 

Now the curvy corners are exposed, I like the rounded shape in a tiny room full of angles. 

Oops! My window is filthy!  That white stuff recently appeared in streaks on the outside of the RV windows. Sheesh. 

I have NO idea what it is, but I did wash the windows inside and out in the bathroom and removed the screen and crank-out knob for cleaning.
 Did I simply put up another shade?

Heavens no!  I am always thinking outside the box. In this case I bought Wisteria Window Film sized 24-by-36-Inch.  The window is 16 by 24 inches. This film is made by  Artscape . It clings to the window by static.  It's applied with soapy water and a small squeegee included with the film. It appears permanent once the water has dried. It can be removed without leaving any damages. 

Once it's up it looks absolutely awesome!  This picture does not do it justice at all. But the sun shines in brightly yet one has complete privacy in the bathroom. 

The effect  is stunning.

It looks like a real stained glass window until you get up close. 

The first time I used my "renovated" bathroom, I felt like I was peeing in  church! I say that because I grew up going to school in a church that had the most incredible stained glass windows. We met in the chapel once a day. I stared at the huge windows marveling at their exquisite beauty.

In the winter, sometimes the church would be far colder than the rest of the school due to it's huge cathedral ceilings.  We weren't supposed to interrupt our lesson with a bathroom request, so in the cold of winter, in that sometimes frigid  church, I was often waiting for the lesson to be over, so I could bolt for the rest room. 

At a used charity shop, I stumbled upon  a new brass soap dish for 20 cents. I didn't want it for soap, but as a mini-shelf to hold my  tiny ceramic heater.  This keeps it off the counter. A bungee cord retrains it.

The white cylindar laying in the floor is one of my fire extinguishers; I plan to properly install it one of these days.

I came home from the store with extra fire extinguishers about 2 years ago after my mini fire, and well um, one of them has  just sat in the bathroom floor ever since. 

Talk about serious procrastination!

My back scratcher hangs on the wall next to the broom. 

My throne is on a pedestal, this makes the toilet be a comfortable height for sitting down.  Thank goodness for small favors. 

The first day I installed this, I kept walking past the bathroom door, and opening it  up to stare at the window. 

I left a tiny gap at the top of the window. I can actually sneak a peek outside. From the outside, you need to be 10 feet tall with your nose pressed to the top of the window to be able to see inside. 

I had a hard time capturing the beauty of the window with my camera. 
It's not faded at all, but the picture gives it that look for some weird reason, probably due to the bright sunlight. 

RV remodeling by Dear Miss Mermaid copyright by http://DearMissMermaid.com
As a bonus, the window reflects in the mirror. The stained glass gives complete privacy but lets in the sunlight I crave. 

I think I will title this "Messing About..." for pun reasons!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lake Hartwell July 29 2012

Hartwell Lake on the South Carolina and Georgia border, photo copyright by http://DearMissMermaid.Com
Hartwell Lake Sunset on the SC/GA Border

It was so nice and cool this morning in the 70's, it felt great to go walking with the doggy. Then we came back and hung out on the patio.  I was working and the dog was playing. We both had our breakfast out here.

Just rambling and recuperating. My computer is acting up seriously. It's old, hot and tired.  I keep making backups. So if you lose contact with me, you will know the puter finally gave it's last gasp. I've done everything to revive it, so hopefully it will try to hang on a little longer for me. A lot longer would suit me just fine.

If it doesn't then well there will be silence here,  until I work out Plan B or C...

We did break camp late yesterday afternoon. I keep getting so organized inside, that I can be ready to roll pretty fast but the heat makes me oh so slow sometimes.

One thing that I just installed in under 2 days was a  quick-connect water hookup  to my RV.

Why has no one ever told me about these marvelous inventions?

My left arm is still floppy some days and useless. So a few weeks ago, after a grocery run, I could not get the water hookup back on again.  My one arm just didn't have the strength and the other arm was protesting.  I've been living off the tank of water the RV has, then refilling my tank every time I am outside. This makes it quicker overall, to refill it a few gallons at a time, rather than waiting until all 30 gallons are gone.

Amazon sent me the quick-connector. You attach one piece to the RV city water inlet, and the other piece to the fresh water hose. Afterwards you connect the two with just a gentle push. When disconnecting you pull on the female side and it disconnects in a nanosecond. No herculean strength involved. It's effing magic!

It took me two days and assorted tools plus Teflon tape, to get both pieces attached in such a way they would not leak. Yippee!

OK laugh. Most folks could do this in 3 minutes. But trying to do it with one arm working and one being cantankerous, well it took me two days of moaning and groaning with assorted tool,  to finally get it on nice and tight.

Yesterday we went to Dollar General with our $5 store coupon. I picked out $25 in groceries and only paid $20 thanks to the coupon Several items were last chance discounted or marked down.  Took doggy for a short walk in the country. Then we went sightseeing down some country roads looking at cows, alpacas, old barns, new houses, double wide trailers, Victorian mansions, old shacks and little cabins. After awhile I turned on the GPS my friends gave me for my birthday.  I told it to take us home and the little lady began giving us directions, as by now we had no idea where we were. It was great to have her figure it all out for us.

The dog is so relieved that he doesn't have to do the navigating anymore.

I am too, because he mostly got us lost, though he can sniff out a campground from at least 2 miles away.

We had tootled off to Tugaloo,  adventured through Avalon, meandered through Martin, journeyed through Stephens, traversed Lavonia then giddy upped back to Gumlog.

I managed to back in nice and neat between all my outdoor accouterments without taking anything out or running over anything. I more or less was lined back up where I wanted to be with my outdoor rug ready to step upon.

It was dark within the hour, but the full moon shown brightly. I checked the moon phase, oddly it says we should have only seen 79% of the moon, but it sure looked full to me.

We also heard a wildcat screaming. When I went to lock up the gate, Harley refused to come with me. That made me a tad nervous, as he seemed afraid of something. I felt like something was watching me too. It was eerie.  And dark.

Later, I could see the late night revelers were rushing down into the park, but I heard the screech of brakes when they discovered the gate was locked. They threw some trash out of their car then sped away. I guess that was their way of making sure I knew they had been here.  Sheeeeesh...

Tonight I locked up the gates while it was still a little light out. Safer that way for me. I have to hike  the park to make sure its empty of vehicles.  They can still park outside the gate and walk in. But it's very dark.

The park ranger told me to do whatever was safest all around to ease the problems around here. Normally we don't lock the gates, but lately we've had  some problems with drunken noisy trash throwing hoodlums at night, so the park is on lockdown at night now.

Funny how people take a good thing and wreck it.

I guess the heat has made a few people a little crazy.

Still scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone wants to come to a gorgeous park to throw their garbage out everywhere. Sometimes will just forever remain a mystery to me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Living Large

Does it look like I have lived here very long?  

                I arrived here in early May.  The longer I stay, the more the outdoor life takes a form of its own. I seriously owe many angels who have gone out of their way to help this old Mermaid recuperate and live large on a ridiculously tiny (but  uber efficient) budget.

Sure I am still head over heels in debt while I try to whittle down my past medical mess, but all things take time, some things just take a little longer.

Or a helluva lot longer!

For over two years this motorhome has provided me year round shelter in various locales, while I try to reassemble my health, head  and future.  I gave up on the current medical mess and went searching for alternatives. Mostly sifting through the myriad of information on natural cures.

And you know what?

Most of them seem to be working!

Because of the age of my wheel estate and the fact this one wasn't really built for fulltime living, I am constantly repairing or maintaining or modifying something.

This has forced me to learn loads of new skills, many that I am terrible at!

It takes me about one to four weeks to do what a pro can manage in a few hours. But that's part of the efficient budget... learning to get by, make do, tackle difficult projects, and pray  that it all comes together eventually.

Much of my glorious outdoor life shown here is due to wonderful  super angel heroes. Where would I be without you?  In a ditch?  Under a bridge? In a box? Underground?  In an urn?

Instead I am oh so lucky and I thank you from the bottom of my tail to the top of my feverish head.

My little old wheel estate, looks so small but to me it's the castle in my dreams. Having the room here to spread outside is wonderful.

Some of my outdoor life (shown in the picture) is gifts from angels, some things on loan, some hand-me-downs, some dumpster diving, a few things I bought used at nearly new shops or at a dramatic discount, some  because it was damaged, in need of repair.

Much like me and my battered body. Heavily used, injured and in need of mending.

Currently I am workamping to help that efficient budget, so I feel extremely lucky. I have no complaints.

I woke up alive with a silly little dog. The sun came up.  What an exquisite day all around.

For some fool reason, I looked to see what I wrote on my blog today in 2009. At that time I was hovering in a ward at a dreadful hospital on a tiny island in the Caribbean. My bed sat beneath a faded blood splattered wall. Most of my roommates departed in a hearse then new ones appeared. I had no idea that I would ever make it out of there alive. When I had a few moments of semi-clarity, I would tap away on my laptop, posting  about my chaotic situation. I was heavily discriminated against, long boring story on that, but it helps to know this if you dare to read those painful memories that was my reality then. The hospital didn't have internet but I had a secret connection they knew nothing about. When anyone came near me, I would slam the laptop shut or switch to a page of the Bible or one of my bright sunny beach pictures.  I was terrified they might out I was blogging about the hospital.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Vidalia onions are sold out for the season. For 22 years of living in the Caribbean, I sorely missed these wonderful tasty super sweet onions. They are like no other onion  on earth. You can peel them without crying.  They are super delicious, especially raw.  If you've never had one, then your life might be just plain sad.  

vegetable basket in my RV Phtoto copyright by DearMissMermaid.ComI almost feel terribly guilty when I cook them. I can eat a sandwich with a sliver of meat or cheese and a huge thick crunchy chunk of Vidalia onion. The taste is awesome.  Nothing can compare. There are southerners that eat Vidalia onion sandwiches. These onions are so delicate that they bruise easily. They must be handled very carefully as they are somewhat fragile. 

vidalia onions Phtoto copyright by DearMissMermaid.ComVidalia onions can only be grown in Vidalia Georgia where they have the perfect weather, water and soil to make them sweet. The dirt is low in sulfer which prevents the onions from developing a pungent taste. It's the sulfer gasses released from regular onions that tend to make you want to cry. It's  higher water content in Vidalia onions rather than sugars that make them taste sweet but also make them a bit more delicate. 

Storage is at a premium in my little old wheel estate, so my "keep in a cool dark place" items such as onions, potatoes and winter squashes, I keep in an Easter basket under my side table. 

recycled tire rubber Phtoto copyright by DearMissMermaid.Com
Speaking of delicate things...  Recently I took my motorhome on a test drive through the Cherokee foothills. A few weeks back, I had to cough up a bloody fortune for general engine maintenance plus repair the transmission and rear brakes. 

Yucky poo is all I have to say about that right now. 

recycled rubber trail in tallulah gorge georgia Phtoto copyright by DearMissMermaid.ComSo I haven't driven more than 10 miles since the repairs were made, so while I had company we took the RV beast out on some day trips towards the BLue Ridge mountains north of Lake Hartwell. 

At Tallulah Gorge in the Chatahoochee Forest part of the trail was paved with this wonderful rubbery mat. It looked like shredded rubber, but upon further inspection it appeared to be a type of matting.  

Walking on it was heavenly! It gave a real spring to my step.  My feet and sandals felt luxurious as I bounced down the path. 

tallulah gorge falls in chatahoochee forest georgia Phtoto copyright by DearMissMermaid.ComIt's a marvelous recycling idea, one that I hope to see repeated elsewhere. 

We were able to see some of  the the breathtaking falls.  Tallulah gorge is over a thousand feet deep and about two miles long.

Shown here is L'Eau d'Or (LaDore) Falls.

We didn't hike to the bottom of the falls as it included navigating something like 700 metal steps and requires a free permit.

Due to weather, permits had been suspended for the rest of the day but not before we met an enthusiastic family that got the last permit and was starting down at one in the afternoon.

I cropped my picture, so it appears as if I was much closer, but I was pretty much a fifth of mile high from the the lush pool of water.

We did some hiking on the rim trails which were pretty easy but at the time we were there the humidity was incredible, my clothes were soaked in short order, despite the copious amounts of water we were drinking.

So exactly what did we buy in the gift shop as a souvenir of our visit?

A jar of Vidalia Sweet Onion Relish. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dreams Afloat

Funky Fungi on a fallen tree

Now that I am back to writing, the internet has gone AWOL on me. Not sure if my USB stick finally burned out or the company isn't broadcasting or what. 

Sometimes I am able to borrow someone else's internet but not often.  Things may get erratic here, as this is the fourth day of intermittent internet.

Calling the company is pretty useless. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Well, not really. The T-shirt never arrived.

Waiting for a live person to come on the line takes phenomenal patience. Then there is the language barrier. We're both speaking English, but we can't seem to understand each other.How does that work?

Basically they try to convince me for an hour that something is wrong with my computer or settings. Then if I haven't lost the phone connection or crashed my computer completely, they might admit there is a problem with their tower. In that case they always tell me to wait two hours or two days or two weeks, then call them back.

I am in a ton of pain but feeling rather happy. Why wreck it with a maddening call to the internet company?  I will just putter along happily pretending nothing hurts and catch up on housework.

The dog and I woke up alive. We went for a walk with the camera, but I tuckered out before the dog did so we returned to play ball. He didn't feel like playing golf much, so we are on the patio by the fan enjoying the fabulous views of a receding lake and an empty park.

Birds are singing, the parking lots are bare. My workamping duties are sparse today. We didn't even find any errant garbage to pick up which probably means we didn't look hard enough.

Time and time again, I do not understand how it is people go to beautiful places to toss their garbage out. This park has dozens of trash cans.  I am sad to think that we have raised a nation of many idiots. Too lazy, too stupid to place their garbage in a proper receptacle. What went wrong where? Are the schools teaching that it's OK to uglify America now?  I sure hope not.

While my friend was visiting he helped out tremendously with my workamping duties. Oddly enough, picking up errant garbage isn't listed as work to be performed, but just the same I do it everyday.  He gallantly picked up a small mountain of refuse we found scattered along the receding shore. I am a "volunteer" so I add this to my own duties.  If I didn't pick up the scattered litter, the park would be a total wreck.

Lake Hartwell is 9.8 feet below full pond. This is so sad as several of the boat ramps have been forced into closing. One of our two boat ramps here closed months ago, but there is no barrier to prevent people from using it if they so desire.  The lake is still usable. Our swim area used to have a tiny sandy beach, now it has a big sandy beach.  So that's a plus to the lower lake level.

Today is Wednesday, so the Wednesday evening crowd might show up, they seem to fish every Wednesday in a catch and release deal.

The courtesy floating dock is firmly parked on mud now. An astonishing array of flowers, grasses, plants and struggling trees have taken root in the red mud around  the exposed lake shore.

The other day we visited the Big Water Marina where mostly the sailboats like to hang out. I used to rent their International 420 sailboats back in the 80's after I sold my friend's sailboat. He had a 23 foot Columbian and had moved overseas. He kept it on Hartwell Lake. When his former secretary became too big from her pregnancy to keep up with her husband, toddler and her former boss's sailboat, she brought me the keys.  I spent all my weekends on the boat most of the summer,  but unfortunately, I sold it quickly for the owner, which meant I had no freebie to use anymore.

The new owner, who had sailed with me many times on the boat before buying it, never once invited me out on it, after he bought it. So I started sailing the International 420's out of Big Water Marina which is located on the big water section of the lake. Hey, I bet you never guessed that!

I was thinking of buying a sailboat to spend the weekends on and join the yacht club. (This was back in the 80's).  I had spent two racing seasons crewing as an invited guest on a J-24 sailboat with other yacht club members. At the time I was an executive, firmly settled in my career and home.  It seemed natural to look to acquire a weekend escape. I was doing the yuppie thing.

But somewhere along the line, my ideas changed, my dreams pressed me into escaping yuppie world and moving out to sea. Literally!  I ended up working on big gorgeous sailboats that took me to exotic locations. The first year, I made about 20% of my former salary. But I didn't care. Money isn't everything. I had the time of my life and loved every moment.

Now that my body is beat up and ravaged from medical mess, I am oh so grateful I had the presence of mind to run out and do all those adventurous jobs in far flung ports on exquisite yachts.

People try to drag me out boating now, but I am just tired and the body doesn't work like a monkey anymore scrambling around on heeling decks. I probably did thirty or forty thousand miles on sailboats and mind you they only go 1-10 miles per hour as I worked only on monohulls.

I'd rather have the great memories of time past, than try to relive them now on boats. But still people try to drag me out on all manner of boats and seem almost offended when I try to explain, that was then, this is now.

Although...  if it were a large hundred-plus foot sailboat and I could go merely as a passenger and not as crew, I could be tempted to step foot on a sailboat again.

Funny enough, I had a dream recently, that I drove my motorhome to the ocean, stepped on a sailboat and left port for the freedom of the seas. So it could happen again. Never say never.

For now I love life just fine with my doggy in my little old wheel estate.

Earth's Biggest Selection!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hot and Sultry

Our company left. My little dog was so enamored to have his buddy around that when he finally drove off, Harley sat at the end of his long tether in the driveway, watching the road, listening for his  car to return.

By evening he was inside, laying around looking totally deflated. Above, he is in his favorite perch, staring out the window, still watching the road and driveway.

I am  still pretty busy with maintenance and repairs plus my usual workamping duties. I got up at 4am, so that in the cool of the morning I could defrost the freezer plus make and install new air conditioning filters. Oh boy.  Isn't that exciting. Being on an efficient budget, I don't buy the manufacturer's pricey air conditioning filters.  Beside's their brand isn't  made to be cleaned and reused. At Amazon I found this Flanders/Precisionaire Cut-To-Fit Air Conditioner Filter last year.

It washes up beautifully and can be cut to any shape. I have been washing mine almost every week, as my medical equipment clogs them up faster than normal. But after a year or so, they are ready to replace.  I had plenty of leftover material from last year to cut new ones. So with the AC and fridge turned off, the coffee pot turned on, I had a terribly exciting morning.

Suddenly I thought it was raining really hard as the window was just soaked with water. Then I realized my water hose had split a gut.  It was furiously washing the side of the motorhome. I ran out to turn it off.  Thank goodness I had not opened the window yet, as I was about to let the morning air inside while the AC was off and the freezer was thawing with the aid of this tiny 200 watt ceramic heater.

Well, the water hose is just  one more thing to repair. You see how my list gets longer instead of shorter?

Now I have to saw  off the bad part of the water hose, put on a new hose fitting.  And learn to  live with a shorter hose. Seems like it broke last summer too. I think the heat of the water gets so hot in the sun, that it just finds a weak spot to split open. I might have a fitting, got to  go search the toy box.  Looking inside the toy box jumble,  made me want to organize that better, so one job blends into the next.

Didn't find a hose fitting yet, but the toy box is well organized now.

In case you are wondering, my toy box is the cargo carrier on the aft hitch full of parts and tools. Since getting the big toy box, my life is a lot better organized, especially for maintaining and repairing a 17 year old RV.

By late morning, the heat wave had chased us back inside. But the freezer was spotless and silently making new ice. During the heat wave, we were making ice in two trays three times a day to keep the shoe box more or less full. When I was measuring my freezer for a rectangular container to hold ice cubes emptied from the trays, a plastic shoe box without the lid,  fit in there perfectly.  That way I can accumulate ice, as the trays make it.

In case you are wondering, it's never had shoes in it, I bought it new for $1, then bleached it out for good measure. It's great to have a bucket of ice on these hot sultry days.

Matter of fact, by later afternoon I was outside hanging up laundry to dry. It was so hot, I took an outside  shower behind the RV fully clothed while washing my hair. I was hoping no park visitors would drive up with questions, but if they did, I was  soaking wet in my summer dress with my hair lathered up.

Amazingly, that felt so great, that I continued to work outside while dripping wet but the dress is drying rapidly, as is my hair. This feels pretty nice.

As a kid, I grew up in suburbia with no air conditioning but we had a water sprinkler. We would play outside getting soaked in the sprinkler, then when we dried off and felt hot again, we would rinse in the sprinkler again.

I felt like a child today, playing with the water, cooling myself off.  I still haven't repaired the water hose, still looking for the part. I got busy playing with the puppy dog, washing dishes, washing laundry.  Oh what fun.

Now I am pooped out and ready to sneak back indoors to the cool air conditioning.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Even More Company

Look who else turned up for a visit. These nearly new fawns delighted me and my company by making repeated early morning visits to my grassy lot for our enjoyment.

As for me, it's been a huge delight to take a break from my usual routine, which meant I took a noticeable break from writing and many of my  other daily customs.

Believe me, it's extremely refreshing to sometimes just shake-it-up, climb out of the rut and try on a new groove.

Sly As A Fox

Almost pulling things back together more or less. Making repairs left, right and center, still so much to do. I will be posting again soon.

Red Fox by DearMissMermaid.Com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hostage Situation

flowers by DearMissMermaid.Com

Hostage Situation One
The camera has inexplicably stopped working and is holding my pictures hostage. At one point it said "battery dead"  but refuses to let me recharge it. Never had this happen before with this camera. It's waterproof and shockproof. Dang.  I will continue to try magic to get it to recharge the battery and spit out my pictures.

Hostage Negotiations in progress...

As for urgent motorhome repairs, I've been so busy with other hostage situations that I've called in for reinforcements.

Hostage Situation Two
Plates, Bowls, Coffee Mugs, Mixing bowls, dog dishes held hostage.
Underneath my motorhome's refrigerator is a big drawer. The refrigerator is built-in above the drawer. Sure a floor to ceiling fridge would have been nice, but not the case. The great big drawer underneath the fridge has always been the most convenient place to keep my plates, bowls and coffee cups. There just isn't another cabinet or place that is as handy as that drawer for the dishes.

The drawer has managed to lock itself so that I can not get to the dishes anymore. Funny, because this drawer doesn't have a lock. But the drawer is holding the dishes hostage.

Hostage Negotiations in progress...

Hostage Situation Three
Mail held for ransom.
The US Mail system is somehow randomly delivering some mail but returning critical mail, like the mail that was remailed to me from a Florida address to my current Georgia address. Twice now postage for delivery has been paid to have that package of mail shipped to my current address. Twice it has been inexplicably returned. In order to get the package, I will have to pay for the shipping for the third time. Talks with the Post Office have not resolved this situation yet. They claim they mailed me a change of address letter with a critical tracking number on it and without this number, my address can not be changed in the bowels of their computer system.

Me thinks "This does not compute. "

Mail is still currently stuck in Florida and now  three months old. 

Hostage Negotiations still in progress...

Hostage Situation Four
Motorhome held hostage by water connection. My  "city" water connection was on so tight, it couldn't be removed.  I became so flustered because I had an appointment to go to. My left arm lacks strength, I've been having problems with it for quite awhile now. I drive the motorhome as my private car, since um, well I don't have a car.  I was so hopping mad after struggling for an hour to undo the water connection that I am considering a knife to slit its throat... um slit the water hose.

"Hello?  I am late for my appointment because my water hose isn't long enough for me to drive there..."

Appointment postponed, hostage negotiations underway.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Down For Repairs

RV gazebo by http://dearmissmermaid.com

These chairs are empty because we've been busy with loads of little repairs around the motorhome.

Tis the season for things to break faster than I can fix them. Luckily I have company  this week that is helping me out tremendously. We aren't repairing everything, but we are making a good dent in the list that changes often.

I haven't had much time to write so I hope you understand.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rock Fever

Awhile back I mentioned I was hauling rocks uphill to my campsite for a special project.

Well, this isn't it, but it's a great idea  I like a lot.

My project is more modest and no where near complete. The heat wave and my left arm trouble put an end to my rock hauling. So my project is still in the works, but I have a few more months workamping to try to do something with it.

Earth's Biggest Selection!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls in Georgia in located on the Toccoa Falls College campus, bordering the Chattahoochee National Forest. This waterfall has a 186 foot (57 meters) vertical drop (Six feet more than Niagara Falls.)

A few weeks ago, I had major and minor work done on my mini-motorhome at the Ed Murdock Ford Dealer in Lavonia, Georgia.

Finally I had a chance to test-drive my wheel estate by going grocery shopping in Toccoa. Since my friend was with me and we were at the tail end of a brutal heat wave, I headed for higher ground and cooler temps after we filled the fridge with produce.

Incredibly we managed to get lost. Yepper.   Two humans, a dog, an atlas, a computer and a GPS, yet we managed to make numerous wrong turns and have great fun too.

At some point we saw the sign for the falls, even though that wasn't our intended route, but we pulled in to check our maps, then hiked to the falls.

We had to pass through the college Book Store and Gift Shop to access the falls. Little Harley was with us on his leash. Inside the store, a father and his 3 children came over to play with Harley. One little girl asked me "Why did you bring a dog in here?"

I answered "Because he wanted to see the Toccoa Falls!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12 2012

Laundry and repairs. Oh what fun!

That's a string of lights hanging behind the laundry line. Just in case I want to hang or unhang laundry at night...

Since my friend is visiting here, we are busy trying to repair things that require 2 heads, 4 hands and 1 dog. Mostly we laugh a lot and dream up the perfect invention, wondering why no one has made a what-cha-ma-callit already.

Puppy tries to help us with the projects.  He sniffs around inspecting everything to see if it comes up to canine code.

Several days of heat wave, followed by thunder storms and drenching rains. I saw the most awesome lightning show.

Lake Hartwell and the park has been quiet the last few days around here. The cicadas are out in full force at night, sounding like an orchestra.

I found a small snake skin on the other side of the driveway. *Shudders*  I don't like snakes. For a fearless adventuress... I have my moments.

Harley dog is thrilled to have his buddy around to torture and play and walk and run and race and chase with.

I'm wore out, all this fixing and rigging and repairing is exhausting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Workamping Introduction

What is workamping?  Many people ask me this repeatedly, so here's a very brief introduction. More on the nuts and bolts later.

I love workamping but it's not for everybody. 
There is no one-size-fits-all workamping opportunity. 

Workamping is living in your motorhome or RV (Recreational Vehicle) at or very near the jobsite. Typically, owning and living in an RV is the number one requirement for the situation.

It must be fully self-contained in many instances,  even though some or all utilities are typically provided along with a camping site for the duration of the workamping agreement.

There are basically three different types of workamping:

Paid situations where you are required to live in your RV on or nearby a jobsite.  The RV camping lot is often provided at no cost as part of the pay and there is a separate salary check.  The work could be specialty, temporary, seasonal or even long term.  
Volunteer situations are with a government agency or non-profits that ask you to volunteer your services at no pay. You are required to live on or nearby the jobsite in your RV. The RV lot and utilities along with other perks (sometimes) are provided  in exchange for your volunteer services.  
Bartering with corporations or privately owned businesses that operate for profit. You exchange X number of hours per week or specific services.  In exchange you receive camping and utilities instead of a paycheck. 

If you are looking to get rich or accumulate wealth, look elsewhere. Workamping is not for you. However if you love the RV lifestyle fulltime but need extra funding to maintain your nomatic survival, then workamping could help you bridge the gap. While many situations will not pay any cash, having your lot rent and utilities paid for one month or many months can certainly knock a dent in your budget. 

Every workamping situation is completely different.  Some are quite casual arrangements, others are a strict adherence to a specific job detail.

Some require a couple, with both people working, others are suitable for a single. Some allow the couple to decide how they will handle the work load, so that it may be possible that only one person is working for the spot, even though two are living on it in one motorhome (or fifth wheel or travel trailer.)

In a later column I will tell you more about workamping. While there are numerous places to check for workamping possibilities, here are two free sites for you to peruse.

Volunteer for Government

Workers on Wheels
Work for RVers and Campers Blog


You can search the internet for numerous more workamping listings. Beware, that some sites charge you fees but most do not. Many State Parks have websites set up for workamping too.

Frankly, I don't believe the sites that advertise workamping as a total vacation. Either you are working or vacationing.

In my opinion, a working vacation is like wearing shoes while barefoot.

But there is certainly nothing wrong with loving your work so much it feels like a vacation.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Fun With Food (Part One)

Cooking in a little old motorhome is the same as cooking most anywhere else there's a kitchen around. All those years of me cooking on boats afloat taught me to make food for for the masses utilizing a galley the size of a broom closet. All these dishes were made in my motorhome at some point in the past 2 years. 

 Baked Ham and Pineapple for a Pot Luck Party

 Honey Cornbread

 Fruit Salad with grapes, Mandarin oranges, pineapple, mango and blueberries tossed with a lemon yogurt dressing

 Tarragon Spinach Mushroom Pie with Feta Cheese and Onions

 19 Bean Burrito in Whole Wheat Wrap with Salsa, Cottage Cheese and Jalepeno Peppers

 Herbed Chicken Breast with Rice Pilaf and Salad

Sauteed Liver and Onions, Julienned Veggie Steam with Mandarin Oranges

Spicy Bean Enchiladas topped with cheese and jalepeno

Carrot, Apple, Raisin Nut Salad with Maple Dressing

Marinated Salad with Mushrooms, Artichoke Hearts, Water Chestnuts, Red Peppers and Olives over Romaine

Sunday, July 08, 2012


Caribbean Company Coming!

Yippeedoodledoo. I love the solitude out here but it sure can get lonesome.

I think the heat wave had gotten to my friend.  Called me up and said they would be here Sunday afternoon. I checked the mileage they planned to drive on a google map, then told them they had 700 miles to go.

They don't do computer or technology. Just using a phone with push buttons is considered very advanced for them. Have Atlas, will travel.

So now they are planning to split it up into two days and spend the night halfway somewhere. So they are coming tomorrow.

I've got a writing project to finish before they get here. Grrrrr...  then do the massive cleaning and organizing. Or just clear a path and call it a done deal. 

I can always distract them with food...  

Tuna salad with fruit recipe by DearMissMermaid.Com
Tuna Salad with fruit
Made by a fruitcake...

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Safe To Roll

Heat wave!  Again!

1994 Tioga Montara 28 feet by dear miss mermaid copyright by http://dearmissmermaid.com

I am just terribly sick and I think much of it is, the heat and humidity has just gotten to me exasperating my other problems. The RV has been super sick too.  The puppy dog is healthy and feisty.

I've been out in the elements way too much lately at the wrong time of day. My face is beet red, my arms are a golden brown.

Harley dog and I have been living in purgatory. We had to give up our wheel estate to the grease monkeys for the fifth time this month with three visits in  the last two days alone. Now that they've picked my pockets clean, run up my credit card to the max, they have seemingly run out of urgent things to repair.

Apparently I need a better emergency funding system. Oh well, such is life. At least now I've got my confidence back that the RV engine, brakes and transmission are operating safely again. I am saying my prayers over and over that the daggum tires hold up for another year or more. Though a stem valve on one of the four rear tires had to be replaced too, and that wasn't cheap either. Sheesh, but at least now my tire will stop leaking.

RV's and boats are about  the same. If you skip a $200 repair, it can get worse and turn into a $2,000 repair and go on up exponentially the longer urgent repairs are delayed. Besides refurbishing my transmission which needed all new seals, I asked them to adjust the emergency brake. It wasn't holding and this alarmed me. I like to be super safe. I always use the emergency brake.

This rolling dog house weighs over 5 tons empty and the dog owns a ton of stuff, so that makes it 6 tons, then the water and fuel and poop tanks can easily add another half ton. So I like to always use the emergency brake and not rely solely on the park setting of the transmission.

I'd hate to be shopping for groceries and have my wheel estate pass me by on aisle three.

My father taught me to drive at a tender young age. I was barely 6 or 7 years old when he let me bunny-hop in first gear in his VW bug across the school's empty parking lot on a weekend. This became a fun pastime that I endlessly begged him for.  He drilled it into my head that one should always use an emergency brake when parking, no matter what. Whether parking for 10 seconds or on a steep hill, always use that brake.He taught me how to check it, to make sure it was really set correctly and working effectively.  Of course he was teaching me on cars with stick shifts, so not only did I have to learn the clutch but all the mysteries of finding four gears and reverse. I guess he taught me pretty well, because I have only had one car wreck where I was at the wheel. I've been in three other frightening accidents as a passenger, so quite frankly, I can make a lousy passenger and become a nervous wreck if I am riding with someone that is foolhardy.  More than once I have announced "Just pull over, I'd like to get out alive please."  If that doesn't work then I mention I might be throwing up on their lap any second now...

Years back as a teenager,  I jumped out of a van being driven recklessly by a drunk. I had a long lonely walk down the train tracks. I didn't want to walk down the road which had no sidewalks, in a dicey neighborhood, so I took the train tracks. It took hours for me to make it home but I arrived alive. I can remember that walk so clearly because I was scared but I was trying to study the beauty of the remote tracks.  About a week later, my drunken friend turned up sober, full of apologies.

The Ford place where I was getting my current repairs, does have a waiting room that is air conditioned. Matter of fact, it's too cold. Harley had to wear a doggy Tshirt and still he shivered and shook. But puppy dog has to go out to water the bushes now and then. Going from that frigid room to the 110F degree heat was maddening. Because there were potted plants in the waiting room, I took him for frequent walks, as I want him to understand that potted plants are not for him to water. He did this once on a friend's deck much to my embarrassment. I also wanted to speed walk him past all the cars, as I am trying to teach him that peeing on car tires is not appropriate either. Poor doggy, so many rules.

Back in the mid 70's I had been renting a small place to live in and had only been there maybe four to six weeks, when a neighbor pulled a gun on me one day because my puppy peed on his car tire in our shared driveway. At the sight of the gun, I am sure my heart stopped. I vaguely recall needing an underwear change shortly thereafter. Then I went looking for a new place to live.

I hastily moved a day or so later and lost my damage deposit too, because the landlord couldn't understand my terror. My cat had already vanished weeks before, and it had not occurred to me that perhaps the neighbor had something to do with that too. Anyhow, I don't cotton to living next door to psychotics and owe my long life in part, to that hasty move.  I didn't even bother with the police.  What would they do?  Probably release the guy in a few hours, angering him further.

The only landscaping at the Ford dealer was about 400 yards across black tarmac to these tiny over-trimmed bushes at the entrance. Not a shade tree within a mile of the place. The tarmac heat was so bad you could see the sizzling air rising up. I had to be careful to avoid certain spots that had turned to scorching black glue that was threatening to adhere my shoes in place.

Not a speck of shade anywhere. I felt so sorry for little Harley and his itsy bitsy paws walking on that steaming asphalt. I noticed when we headed back to the waiting room, he would race as fast as he could drag me. I wanted to pick him up, let his paws cool down, but I am still having an awful time with my left arm.  I figured it was just faster to race back rather than try to pick him up with my good arm while not letting my purse fall off and tying to juggle the leash and so on.

Once we were back in the waiting room, I filled his water bowl from the water fountain they thankfully had in place. He dutifully drank it dry, looking rather smitten with himself. He was so sloppy he had water dripping from his tongue, beard and whiskers when he was done. I don't know where he put all that water since he is so tiny. I was trying to drink loads of water too, but I think I just didn't get enough.

He was the entertainer of the waiting room. He wanted to meet and greet all who dared to come by. He was lucky that everyone seemed to be dog friendly people. We are out here in the country, where lots of folks have multiple dogs and cats. The conversation was pretty much all about pets and their antics. Several people took pictures of Harley's shenanigans with their cell phone!

My gosh the dog is famous.

I was using his 4 foot leash rather than his flexi-leash because I want to break him of his small-dog habit of jumping up on people's legs.  Even though his toenails are nicely rounded smooth (all that pavement walking seems to keep them wore down)  not everyone wants a dog jumping up and down putting his paws on their legs. So I wouldn't let him get close enough to do that.

He decided this meant he should dance on 2 legs, do 360's, then flop on the floor, dragging his back legs splayed behind him while crawling on his forward elbows. Loud laughter kept erupting from the other customers so much that employees kept peeking around the corner to see what was so funny in the waiting room.

Harley would flop over on his back, wiggling from side to side up and down and all around with his four legs in the air.  Someone said they wish they had a treat for him. At that point, he immediately sat in front of them, his tail wagging. I explained he sits for his treats, so I rummaged around my purse until I found his little bag of goodies. He left the person he was staring at, to sit in front of me with his tail doing double-time. He sat there and daintily took one treat at a time.

I wish he would do all his tricks on command but other than that one, he won't. He just waits for an audience then pulls his tomfoolery and stunts out  at whim. Of all the dogs I've had the pleasure of owning, Harley is the absolute hardest I have ever tried to train. Maybe I am just trying to teach him too much too fast. But in the past I had dogs that were very sociable. I could take them anywhere and they were well behaved, doing exactly as I told them. But Harley dog, is a whole different matter. He is just super enthusiastic and stubborn. On top of that he is a serious flirt, wanting to meet and greet anyone that will dare to look at him.

I must give him an A+ for effort and a B+ for good behavior. When he wasn't trying to entertain the latest addition to the waiting room, he would hop up in the chair next to me and sit around grinning at everyone while wiggling his tail. He really did make everyone happy and their cars seemed to be fixed in short order while our wheel estate was taking forever as they kept finding more problems.

I reviewed each one with the service tech and I must admit, they all seemed like valid needed repairs. It reminded me of being at the hospital consulting with the doctor about what it might take to keep the patient from perishing.

I haven't been able to go anywhere in two months, since the transmission became incontinent plus I have been collecting up a list of things that needed to be done over the past few months.  I would have loved to have fixed all this much sooner, but I had  be super patient while trying to figure out a method to pay for it all.

To make matters even worse, the final cost of repairs was double what I had modestly estimated, as suddenly other surprises came to light. More on this tedious subject later.

I thought I was drinking enough water to stay hydrated, but more than once I was dizzy and just pooped out. Even today, I feel drained, as I pour liquids down my own muzzle and hide inside.

So now that my RV is ready to roll, I am far too exhausted, both broke and broken down (the body, not the RV). Doubtful I will be going anywhere anytime soon, but it's nice to know, I am back in running condition again.

It's a huge relief. What's the use of living in wheel estate if you can't drive it anywhere?

Also, my rolling home is my personal transport. I sold my car when I bought the RV.

Living in an RV is so much nicer than living in a car. That is for darn sure.

I didn't see how I could possibly keep up with 10 tires, double insurance, maintenance and so on. Plus the sheer hassle of towing a car means I can't stop at whim to sightsee or shop or rest. So I actually prefer this method overall.

Luckily I don't have to commute to work daily since I simply live where I  work.  I can handle most all my duties on foot when the heat isn't a scorcher. But still, if I have an appointment somewhere or need supplies, I have to break camp then drive my RV  to do my errands. I've actually come to enjoy this, as it's nice to travel with a restroom, a fridge and a dog. I don't have to worry about forgetting anything, as it's all with me anyhow.

More than once when I've gone to run errands, I've become faint or weak. I've been able to pull down the shades and nap, then continue my journey or errands when I felt better. So traveling by motorhome for errands is really quite fun and convenient.

harley dog in RV, pets in RV, copyright by http://dearmissmermaid.com and Dear Miss Mermaid

The dog gets to go everywhere. Small wonder he's so spoiled. He's kind of funny when I get out to shop and tell him to stay if he's not welcome in the store. He gives me that sad pitiful injured hurt look that is just oh so pathetic.

But he readily patrols the RV in my absence, with windows on all four sides anyhow, he has plenty to monitor. At least he has learned to do this quietly. It took a lot of training too. But I refuse to leave him in the RV barking his head off at my departure. I used to go back and correct him endlessly.


Now I can just tell him he has to stay, then walk away while listening to silence. I guess the little fellow has learned a few things after all.