Friday, November 29, 2013

Angels, Rainbows and Dumps

Thanksgiving was wonderful!

I woke up alive, watched the sun come up just grateful to have another chance as a child of the planet. Lately I've got this goofy grin going on. My way of coping against difficulties. Smile. Count to ten. Be thankful. Repeat often. Big problems become insignificant.

Doesn't that sound grand! Life is all about attitude.

Somewhere over the rainbow by dear miss mermaid
I took this picture in the Virgin Islands where my homeport was located off and on for many years.
It's a treasured favorite.

I didn't have a Thanksgiving dinner this year. Previously I received 2 wonderful invitations, but I turned them down. This is RARE for me to turn down anything involving food! Mama didn't raise me to be a fool. But I was in a ton of pain at the time the invitations were issued and I just wanted to hide like an injured animal. Usually I cook on Thanksgiving and celebrate with others, but I just felt too weak.

But Thanksgiving rolled around, I woke up alive, plastered a smile on my face as if I'd won the lottery for life and was a guest of honor at this exquisite banquet called planet earth.

It was 40F degrees here on the Spacecoast of Florida. I am super uber thankful for the new heat pump and the angels that helped me arrange this. Last night it pumped out much needed HEAT. I feel spoiled rotten to be warm.

The heat pump is suppose to work above 30 or 40F degrees, the manual is real vague about it. Apparently if it gets too cold, it stops working. I kept my dusty old portable ceramic heater as a backup.

But about an hour ago, I cleaned it up and gave it away to someone needy that had access to electricity. Last night they nearly froze to death. Tonight they won't be cold. Tomorrow they hope to go work. I loved their enthusiasm. They thanked me repeatedly as if I'd handed them a check for a million dollars.

A few years back (it seems like yesterday) I nearly froze to death. I had no heat and I was terribly sick. It was an awful hopeless scary feeling of utter despair that can play awful tricks on the mind and body. I woke up alive. I looked for the rainbow.

I had offered up my heater earlier today but they had declined. Whimsically I told them where to find me later. The sun set, temperatures dropped. A timid knock came at my door.

A few short years later, I am able to help someone in a teeny tiny itty bitty way. Pass it along.

Life is goof.

How does fate work? Anybody know?

I am clueless.

Fate has lead me in the strangest ways to be somebody else's cheerleader.

At the dumpsters I've met the most interesting folks.

Just in the past week, five distinct characters at three different dumps crossed my path. I listened to their stories, their tale of woe, how things were, how they are now, their hopes, their dreams, their plans for their future.

Despite being a bit eccentric, they all seemed to have a few things in common, such as zeal and optimism that their woes were just temporary, that surely they were going to find the right path to get where they were going.

They knew the rainbow was there somewhere and they were fervently looking for it.

I surely know the feeling. I could smile, nod, listen.

Little old me in the course of one week, spent hours listening to five different people struggling on the very edge between do or die.

These weren't folks too lazy to work, or standing in line expecting handouts. They are part of a nearly invisible secret sub-culture scurrying around on the fringes of society, looking for ways to help themselves through a very tough time. They hold this unshakable belief that they can get back on their feet and they're doing most anything and everything to try to achieve that against the thousand to one odds thrown at them.

Where others see dark clouds, they see rainbows and possibilities.

I felt humbled to hear their stories. I surely know what it's like to be scared to death but wildly optimistic.

Smile, stop, listen. 
It's amazing what a grinning fool like me can learn.

Recently, the temporary view out my nomadic home was stunningly beautiful. An incredible reminder that my own dark clouds turned into a miraculous rainbow. I try to remind myself over and over, be thankful, be grateful, be useful, go help somebody.

Even funnier, when I went on Amazon today, I noticed somebody had purchased this movie through one of  my links. I've never seen the flick but I love the title.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah

Happy Thanksgivukkah, who'd a thunk it?

May your turkey be plump and your potato latkes sweet.

I'm in Florida where it is 24 degrees colder now than it was 24 hours ago.

It was so windy today, I felt like I was back at sea, sailing in a stiff breeze, with the gentle slap of water on the hull as we effortlessly glided through the waves.

So I spent the day outside, soaking up the intermittent sunshine and working on minor RV repairs.  I wanted to get good and warm before the near freeze expected tonight. 

It reminded me of many happy days on my old sailboat in the Caribbean, puttering around with the tool box repairing and fixing and dreaming. 

Tinkering and tool boxes, it's a recurring theme throughout my life, I can't seem to shake.

Happy Holidaze
Thank you for rocking my world.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eye Spy

Living on less and doing more... sometimes easier said than done, but when times get tough, the tough get creative.

I arrived at my current campground to stay 4 months in winter per my previous reservation. Home is where we park it and staying put for several months requires no input from the gas station nor outflow from the wallet, so it's my economical way of being able to spend winters in a warmer climate. I am willing to trade tires for foot and paw in the name of temperate weather.

I had only scraped up enough for one month's prepayment last winter to secure the reservation for this winter. Imagine my shock when I checked in last week to find out rates had shot up substantially. So much for my careful budget planning. Might as well toss that out the window.

That took my nerve away. I was so pooped out, that I just couldn't rework the budget for a few days. 3 months of the new rate would cost as much as 4 months at the old rate. Oh boy. Inflation is worse than I imagined. Will I be living at a truck stop that final month? Well it's an option to keep open for sure, but I have 2 months of creative thinking to come up with other solutions. In the interim, any considerations in my future that cost money was suddenly shelved, cancelled or eliminated. That certainly simplified things.

Of course there are a few items that just can't be erased, like motorhome insurance (required by law) and taxes, both which come due this time of year, but I know that and plan. Even though my insurer is willing to spread it out over multiple payments, I prefer to pay in advance to enjoy the nice discount. Waste not, want not. At least my rig is old, the taxes are cheap.

What I didn't plan for was the new leak the rains opened up yesterday. Or that the cantankerous cobbled awning frame would put up a five hour fight during the storm when I tried to take it down, but by golly, I went round and round with it *ding ding* until I wore it down and finally got it retracted again. That made me feel very triumphant. Tah dah!

A few years back I replaced the awning fabric, but the frame is a mishmash of ill fitting parts by different manufacturers. Sometimes the parts fight with each other and jam. The old awning (shown in the picture below) is repurposed as a long table cloth.

If it's any gratification, an anonymous employee sort of bragged that they decided to get rid of unhappy campers and some folks who used to spend winters here will now be wintering elsewhere. (Guess I will not complain for one second about the rent increase!) I'm just glad I wasn't refused entry but I like to think I am a happy camper. I seem to fall in love with every campground I ever visit. Being turned away would be devastating. Especially to Harley Dog, because this place is within a mile or so of his favorite dog park. (All dog parks are his favorite... but finding a campground near one is puppy paradise.)

The rumors were true. I'd heard them last winter. A certain tormentor was refused occupancy. Well, that relieves a ton of stress for me. In my case, living stress free is critically important to my health. It's surprisingly hard, but I manage, mostly by waking up early, hitting the floor with happy feet and a smile stuck on my silly face in sheer optimism that it's a great day already.

mermaid body found
Last year, I spent 2 happy months in this park, so I made a reservation for 4 months for this year.

I figure any day I wake up alive is going to be the best day of my life. Smile!  Be happy! Start early so as not to miss out on one gratifying moment. Make the most with the least.

Last winter, a certain spy called the office several times accusing me of breaking the rules. A ranger was dispatched to my site multiple times, finding the complaints in error. Each time he caught me in a happy mood, laughing about the silly mess. He seemed a tad embarrassed but said they were bound to check out all complaints.

I love the outdoors, I have the obstinate awning, table, chairs, patio mat, string lights, bicycle and the jumbo picnic table strewn about more or less in a comfy artful arrangement. Harley Dawg enjoys his days outside with me on a tether that allows him to wander around our lot, without bothering anybody. Often my front door is wide open, so he drags his cord inside, fetching toys to haul outside. He loves the 9 by 12 foot patio mat as his personal playpen but he also likes to play underneath the motorhome because it's the perfect height for him. He is never left alone outside. I surely don't want a big hawk to fly away with my baby. (That has happened to small dogs before!)

When Harley was a puppy, I taught him that chewing on his string made his pet parent go seriously wild and crazy. He learned very quickly not to attempt this anymore. Now he can be trusted on a thin clothesline, without chewing it off while I work on outside repairs or bang away on my keyboard.

Last year, Harley was outside with me, dragging his little string around, play fighting with his teddy bear. He would toss him around, grab him for a wrestling match, then fling the teddy bear again. I was typing away when the ranger pulled up. Someone had complained I had my doggy running wild and loose. All six pounds of him. Pure terror in the park!

When the ranger appeared, he parked on my site. I picked up Harley then walked over to talk with him with a big smile on my face although at the time I had no idea if he had come for tea or what. In my arms, Harley was still attached to his tether, so the ranger saw before he even got out of his truck, that my doggy was not a wild hooligan on the loose, but hooked to a lead which was tied to my motorhome. Most parks like this one, do not want you to tie anything to the trees, including pets.

I confided in the ranger that I suppose the spy had made this accusation with very bad binoculars. We laughed and joked about the silly grievance. The ranger left.

Unfortunately, over the next few weeks this scenario was repeated with different rangers. One time we were actually visiting on another lot with a dog owner. Both of us had our pooches on little tethers, so they could play and tangle while we sat at their picnic table chatting away.

It pays to be civil and humorous but being spied upon was kind of creepy. After dark, I made sure my shades and curtains covered every square inch of my windows, because I didn't like the idea that some unknown person was focused on my life. I even double checked my locks. I never complained about the accusations against me, but it shook me up that someone was studying my antics.

Eventually rumors began to surface of who the spy might be. More scuttlebutt made the rounds that the mole had their future reservations revoked, being asked to take their refund and move their rig elsewhere. Now I found out from a conversation with those in the know that the gossip was true. The person that was spying on me and others was asked to leave and not come back. Ever.

The moral of the story is a gentle reminder to be a happy camper or you might be finding a new campground sooner than you think. Like Bobby Mcferrin crooned in his hit song "Don't Worry, Be Happy".
Serious Binoculars

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lost and Cataloged

I get lost so often in beautiful places, might as well snap a photo. This is my dashboard in the RV, I keep my jumbo Atlas up there on a piece of rubber shelf liner with a basket of fruit.

Just kidding about the fruit basket, it's a basket of doodads, that would normally live in the glove compartment, but my RV doesn't have one of those. However, I do tend to add one or two pieces of fruit in my little basket when I am going out driving, in case I get stuck in traffic and feel faint, I can munch on some.

On travel days, I am often too excited to eat breakfast, but then I set out on my venture and suddenly feel faint but don't want to pull over. This also came in real handy when I was driving through the Sea Islands stopping at draw bridges. I had breakfast on the fly, a piece of fruit at each bridge that opened.

And the fruit comes in handy when I am lost.

It's hard to believe I finally found my new old campground in Melbourne, Florida.  Been here over a week now. Yesterday 40mph winds rearranged my outdoor patio living into a disaster zone. Today I cleaned up most of the mayhem. Even my bicycle was turned upside down, despite being locked to an 8 foot 8 ton picnic table.  I give the thieves a double for nothing; if they steal the bike it comes with the picnic table too!

Harley's toys were scattered across the park by the high winds, but we rounded them up again. I'm just glad we didn't have to chase down laundry, I had hung it up inside this time, thank goodness.

Today's Tip:

Receiving unwanted catalogs in the mail when you are a traveler can be a real nightmare. Especially when months of mail catch up to you and it includes fifty pounds of catalogs because you ordered one little part months ago.

To Remove Your Name from All Catalog Mailing Lists:

Send an e-mail to with your name and mailing information. Abacus is the database used by nearly all product catalogs.

To Opt-Out of Just the Catalogs that You Don't Want (Or to make sure certain companies are specifically notified):

Create a free account at  then choose the catalogs that you'd like to unsubscribe from. They'll take care of the rest.

I have recently done both because I don't need or want catalogs from anybody about anything. I like to think I am doing more with less!

That reminds me, another nice thing about shopping with Amazon is they never send you any catalogs. Hooray!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ten Reasons I Love Amazon

Ten Reasons I Love Amazon

Black Friday Specials start today and run all week.
Open 24/7
No parking problems, no crowds to battle.
You are always first in line at the check-out.

My book and blog
Of course I love Amazon because my books are sold there and my blog and book are both available on Kindle. Don't know what to give someone as a gift?  Give them my book "Hurricanes and Hangovers".

Send a Wrapped Gift With A Note Card
It's easy to send most items as gifts. Purchases in your Shopping Cart can go to different shipping addresses. At checkout specify which gifts get cards and wrapping. Recipients will not get a copy of the invoice, but they can still exchange the gift for credit if there is a problem.

Amazon Gift Cards
Send gift cards by email, with a custom message.
Alternatively send a custom gift card you design and print yourself at your own printer.
You can even send a gift card through Facebook with a note or video or personal picture.
A gift card wrapped in a decorative box can be delivered to the recipient with free one day shipping.

Personal Shipping Address Book
Amazon let's you keep your shipping addresses on file, so that gift giving is a breeze in the future. (Also multiple addresses for travelers.)

Subscribe and Save Items
Choose 1 item for 5% savings, Choose 5 items and get 15% off your order, delivered to your door. Currently there is a 30% discount promotion for new subscribers, cancel anytime, no minimum purchase. Enjoy huge savings on numerous products.

Amazon Rewards VISA Card
Earn points every time you use your VISA both on Amazon and anywhere else, reward points that you can spend like cash every month at Amazon. No waiting to accumulate massive amounts.

Amazon Prime
Get unlimited FREE two-day shipping with no minimum order size, perfect for fulltime RV-ers who need parts delivered at their campground in a hurry.

Instantly watch over 40,000 movies and TV episodes (free with Prime)

Borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (free with Prime)

Amazon Warehouse Deals
Amazon Warehouse Deals is a part of Amazon that specializes in offering great deals on returned, warehouse-damaged, used, or refurbished products that are in good condition but do not meet rigorous standards as "new." We also offer products in new and open-box condition. All purchases are backed by Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee. (I have used this often to save money.)

Stress Free
Don't let the crowds, traffic snarls and parking stress you out. Shop from your computer and always be first in line at the check out. Pick the Perfect Item, in the exact color, shape,model and size. Read reviews of what others say about it. No more going from store to store wasting gas and time looking for the perfect size and color. Returns are super easy. They can even pick them up at your door.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How to Recipe for a Bikini Tanned Turkey

How to Recipe for a Bikini Tanned Turkey
by Dear Miss Mermaid author of Hurricanes and Hangovers


Learn how to make this sexy bikini turkey and give your family or guests a great laugh. Turkey isn't just for holidays, it's a great budget food. Leftovers go a long way making sandwiches and soup. For leftovers, pull off all the extra meat and refrigerate, then gently simmer the carcass on the stove or in a crockpot with herbs, for several hours. Strain and save leftover broth to cook dried beans or rice. You can also cool the broth and freeze it for later use.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You'll Need

a whole turkey
tin foil

1 Step One
How big a turkey do you need?

You should allow 350g/12oz per person (with bone) but bear in mind that's just for one meal. Below are some example bird sizes, with extra allowed for hearty diners or leftovers.

2 Step Two
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Make sure turkey is completely thawed. Reach inside cavities and remove neck and giblets. Save for another recipe. Wash turkey and pat dry. Next, size up your turkey and use scissors to design a bikini bottom out of tin foil. Place on turkey.

For the bikini top, lay out a piece of tin foil. Use a small juice glass to draw 2 circles for the bra top, then draw out the straps, cut and place over turkey breasts.

Optionally, you can undo the wings, lift over the turkey neck and tie together with cooking twine (see resources below).

Spray a roasting pan liberally with non-stick spray, then place turkey in pan.

3 Step Three
Make sure the tin foil is smoothed flat on the skin. Next sprinkle the turkey with SAGE, this will give the turkey great flavor. Then sprinkle generously with PAPRIKA. This is going to give it that wonderful golden tan, so don't be skimpy on it. Gently pat the herbs against the skin, so they stick well.

Use a moist paper towel and gently wipe off excess herbs that have stuck to the tin foil bikini. (You don't want any herbs under the foil.)

Bake turkey in oven. When turkey is past half it's cooking time, gently, remove the bikini. Continue cooking until done.

6 to 8 pounds 2-1/2 to 3 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 4 hours
12 to 16 pounds 4 to 5 hours
16 to 20 pounds 5 to 5-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 5-1/2 to 6 hours

If using a meat thermometer, place the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, taking care that it does not touch any bone. Roast the turkey until the meat thermometer reaches 170-180 degrees F.

4 Step Four

When turkey is done pull out of oven and let sit 20-30 minutes while you assemble the rest of the meal, set the table etc. You may wish to cover turkey with a light foil tent to "hide the surprise bikini".

Use the poultry lifters to transfer the turkey to a serving platter. Your dinner is sure to be a comical hit!

Bon appetit from Dear Miss Mermaid!

Tips and Warnings

Try to make this turkey "top secret" and surprise the guests!

Everytime you check it, tell them it's a top secret recipe and everyone must leave the kitchen. Forbid anyone to look in the oven.

Don't forget to take a photo and send it to Dear Miss Mermaid!

WARNING: Making this recipe can cause serious comedy!

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Pause for the Paws

Paws for the cause...

We're just resting up, back soon with exciting puppy tails...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank You

I cherish my Readers, Fans, Subscribers, Sponsors, Saints and Angels.
THANK YOU with love, hugs, wild applause and happy paws.
Your readership, patronage, support and encouragement keeps me humbled in gratitude.
I feel so blessed, grateful and lucky to be alive in this wondrous world.
THANK YOU from Dear Miss Mermaid and her funny little dog.

A mere 5 years ago, I took this picture from my patio
in the Virgin Islands of sunrise on Thanksgiving morning.
I owned 3 cats that I loved dearly.
I had no clue that 5 years later I would be living in a little
old motorhome, camping in Florida with a funny little dog.

Life is goof.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clowns and Spa Treatments

Awhile back Camping World offered to get my RV washed. EXCUSE me they called it a spa treatment. When I asked about where to sit for my pedicure, they informed me that their spa treatment was a wash and dry for the RV only.  They wanted $3.49 per foot and up ($98 for my 28 foot motorhome and that didn't even include my two feet.)

I politely declined their offer. No pedicure. No deal. If anyone is going to the spa, it will be me not my RV.

At some point I tried to wash the beast myself. The past owners didn't seem to put much time or effort into the outside, so it's kind of always looked a little bedraggled. My torturous wash job would have made a hilarious video if it had been compressed into a few minutes of speedy film. I should have worn a clown suit to make my dropsy antics entertaining.

It took me 2 weeks and 50 stabs of painful attempts, creeping up and down a ladder while my joints protested mightily, attempting to scrub (and constantly dropping) all sorts of sponges, rags, erasers, brushes, soaps, bleach, hoses and I forget what else I tried in a serious attempt at cleaning up the outside.

It sure looked like a clown had done the work when I finished, but I thought it looked a smidgen better. (This was before I was able to afford new eyeglasses.)

But I was excited, I had a friend coming to camp for a few days and I wanted the rig to look nice and inviting.

When my friend arrived, we sat outside under the awning chatting away and playing toss the ball with the doggy. He looked over at my motorhome then said "You know, we ought to wash your RV while I'm here to help, it looks awfully dirty."

Now I  really felt like a clown.

Speed forward to the present...

Today while out walking Harley to deposit our trash at the dumpster, we ran into 2 different people I met last year that are here this year in the same campground. Both said my motorhome looked great. I was SURPRISED to hear that. I was oh so proud too. Somebody noticed. 

Baby got a NEW bath!

I've been worried that my camping throughout the Sea Islands was causing me to collect corrosive salt on my wheel estate. The usual dirt and dust was sticking to her too.

Recently in Brunswick, Georgia we stopped at a Blue Beacon Truck and RV wash. For $28 they pressure washed my RV while Harley Dog and I enjoyed the water storm from inside. They did an incredible job that I just can't rival. The don't call it a spa treatment, they call it what it is, a wash job.

We wait our turn at the truck wash.

Holy smokes, even my old tires came out looking new. I was worried more parts might pop off, but at least they would be clean. They even pressure washed my bicycle hanging on the rear bumper. Too funny!

I was a little nervous because when I arrived, there were no signs or anything to tell me what to do. So I got in line with the truckers. As they moved forward, I did too. Still nobody showed up to collect money or tell me to get lost or get out of line or you're out of line or this is a spa not an RV wash.

When the truck in front of us exited the bay, several guys motioned rapidly for us to pull in. We were pelted with water and soap by 4 or 5 guys running around with these huge pressure washer wands. They were determined to get my rig clean.

A man came up asking me to get out while he signaled the enthusiastic crew to shut down the water. I climbed out, he escorted me around the corner to an office where a cheerful lady chatted happily while taking my money.

Back inside my wheel estate Harley jumped on my chest slathering kisses all over my face to let me know how much he missed me (and how badly he needed a bath too!)

I was gone a good 2-3 minutes.

Dogs are wonderful that way!

Always thrilled to have you back again.

About ten or fifteen minutes later, they finished washing my wheel estate, waving me out the exit. Amazing how dumping off all that dirt, salt, sand, mud and muck cheered up the motorhome (and me!) Even my gas mileage improved.

And 2 weeks later, 2 people said it looked very nice (and they didn't even know baby got a bath!)

I am on TOP of the world.  Wait until my friend sees this...
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

How Did He Know?

This trip yielded some real interesting detours...

We slid into Florida in one piece or multiple pieces, depending on how you look at it.

I so wish I were a cartoon artist so I could draw a caricature of my motorhome with parts popping off.

Yepper!  We left motorhome DNA in 4 different states but we arrived alive with all the tires still rolling (but we are missing a critical valve stem.)

Twice I made detours for repairs I couldn't do on my own. Three times the UPS truck chased me down in two campgrounds bringing needy parts hither and yonder. Thank goodness Amazon offers free 2 day delivery for Prime members. (They've become very competitive on just about everything including RV parts.)

Other things were cobbled together with exotic odds and ends. Like the overcab bunk bed ladder was temporarily repaired with a stainless steel S hook I found last summer while picking up litter as a volunteer. I tossed it in my little compartment organizer, which ironically was bought second hand at a Salvation Army Thrift Store for spare change.

This past spring and summer I filled up a small spare change purse while picking up litter as a volunteer.

Today someone suggested I write about my motorhome budget so others could see how I make this all happen so "efficiently".

But how do you put a price on dumpster diving?

Yesterday I met a real interesting character behind the grocery store. He arrived in a weathered pickup truck with all his scrap metal finds jingling in the truck bed. He came to check the dumpster just as Harley and I were departing. We yacked it up for about 30 minutes, the pros and cons of dumpster diving. (Sadly, we both struck out on this one.)

This guy let me in on a few tasty secrets too.

I'll admit, I often get embarrassed to be seen poking around the dumpsters, but since I have Harley Dog, he makes a great cover, like I'm just here to walk the dog.

I was wondering how this stranger knew I was competing with him and not just exercising the canine critter.

Did my long handle grabber and folding step stool betray me?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Does Size Really Matter (Part 2)

The other day I wrote about squeezing my motorhome into a teeny tiny camping lot assigned to me by a ranger with a very strange sense of humor.

Below there I am, nestled between the trees on 3 sides. I think this was a tent only spot. My front bumper sticks out at the edge of the narrow road.

Two days later I traveled 5 hours making 140 miles to a favorite little island in the Indian River Lagoon. They gave me a list of open spots, letting me drive around and pick one.

Rather than a water front site, I chose an economical inside one with a little patch of grass on the driver's side.

And a big patch of grass out my front door!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

American Red Cross: Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Typhoon Haiyan swept across the central Philippines on November 8 leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake. 

The American Red Cross and its humanitarian partners are working together to meet the needs of those impacted by this disaster. Your financial contribution will support their ongoing efforts to provide relief to people affected in both the Philippines and other countries affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). 

Please note that your credit card will be charged in U.S. dollars. 

Click here to donate

Hauntingly Beautiful

hunting island state park by dear miss mermaid

hunting island state park by dear miss mermaid

hunting island state park by dear miss mermaid

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Does Size Really Matter

I may not be Wonder Woman...

But I can do things that sure make you wonder. 

Sometimes I get a bit miffed when they ask me the size of my motorhome then put me in the tiniest spot in the park that no one else can get into. Sometimes I want to tell a bold face lie and enlarge my rig by 10 or 15 feet, just so I can get a decent spot.

Yesterday, I finally made it to a campground. They assigned me a site after being deeply interested in the length of my RV. I should have known what they were about to do... and lied through my teeth!

Matter of fact, another camper came in the door, just as I was leaving and announced the site they gave him was too small and he wanted a larger one.

I should have known...

I went to my site which was heavily lined in trees and bush, scratched my head, scraped a couple of trees, terrified a child on a bicycle, came within a half inch of knocking over the utility post, folded in my mirror (which doesn't fold) and backed up until the lantern pole in back refused to budge anymore while managing to miss the picnic table near my side entry door by a good solid inch. 

All the while my enthusiastic puppy is in his seat jumping up and down like a cheerleader for the winning team. He gets wildly excited when we arrive at a campground. 

Climbing out the window, through the bush, I noticed the RV was way too crooked to run my refrigerator safely. 

Somehow I slithered down to my basement storage, removed a few thick boards, put them under the rear tires, climbed back in the driver's window, drove forward 8 inches up on the boards which put me so close to the road, that an SUV going down the narrow lane nearly collided with my front bumper.

I had just put 28 feet of RV into a 20 foot parking spot, but BY GOLLY I was in the site they assigned me. 

Seeing that the guy next door was watching me in awe, I said "Excuse me sir, have you a shoehorn I can borrow to park this thing?" 

He burst out laughing and claimed he greased up his rig to fit in his spot. We had a fun conversation. Turns out he was a retired veteran at the ripe age of 75, but he looked far younger. 

He noticed my license tag from the Virgin Islands. He asked exactly what highway I took to get here and I told him no highway, I just put up the sails... I had already noticed he was wearing a secret that indicated he was prone to sailing in far flung ports.

Sure enough, he started telling me about his travels on sailboats in exotic ports. Funny how that happens.

Next all I had to do was move the 6 ton, 6 foot picnic table and I could pull out my steps to use the side entrance door. Harley was still inside, waiting anxiously to go for a nice long walk so he could water every bush and half the trees. 

I was so tired from my long journey, I left the picnic table alone, but I crawled  up on it to pull Harley out the other window.

Camping is so much fun!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Searching For Florida

September 22, I began driving my little old wheel estate to Florida.

I made a wrong turn and just kept going.

As of November 10, I am getting closer.

I think...

My GPS is dyslexic (no kidding) the dog can't navigate and my paper with driving directions blew out the window. I found the atlas but drove off the page an hour later. Flipping over to the next page, I continued to drive not realizing it was the wrong page, and wrong state. 

Last weekend I lost a whole hour in the middle of the night and I wasn't even driving!

In 1513 Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he found Florida.

Maybe I should try his technique next.

Home is where I park it. 
All the green dots are my various campsites.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Attacked By Dogs But We're Alive

My last post was Wednesday and I just realized it is already Saturday. We spent most of Thursday traveling in my mini-motorhome. Only took 5 hours to go 150 miles but we made it here alive and set up camp.

Friday while out walking my dog in the campground, we were attacked by another dog!

I thought I was going to meet my maker right then and there. The owner simply had NO control over his dog, no matter how loud he screamed and hollered that his perfect 100 pound pooch was "not dangerous".

His dog dragged him down the road to attack us in the blink of an eye.

We were distracted by his wife and her 2 little dogs. It was only later, I found out through the grapevine that they were married and all 3 dogs were theirs.

It happened like this: my dog and I were walking in the campground. Approaching us was a woman with 2 small 10-15 pound dogs on one leash. Ten or so feet behind her was a man with a 100 pound dog.

When they were about 70 or so feet away, the two little dogs began barking and yapping hysterically.  The owner ignored them and continued walking towards us while her dogs worked themselves into a loud noisy uncontrollable frenzy, lunging at their leash. Incredibly she seemed oblivious to this appalling behavior.

Obviously she couldn't care less that her mutts were unruly and totally out of control.

Harley Dog was silent but his swift wagging tail slowed down as we both stared at these snarling, yapping, barking hysterical little dogs that were approaching us. The man and his huge dog were behind her, also ignoring the ruckus.

I turned around to go the other way and get away from this mess but Harley's leash caught on a short post sticking out of the ground. The field next to us had the perimeter lined with posts stuck in the ground presumably to prevent cars from parking there. Harley went one way, I went the other.

I was approaching Harley to untangle the leash, but he was continuing to go around the post. I was watching him and not the loud ruckus still coming at us.

Suddenly the 100 pound dog was all over us, snarling, barking and snapping and we were held hostage by the post and the tangled leash.

The dog had lunged with such force that his owner was dragged along with him. As the huge dog tried to eat my dog, I screamed in shock and reached in to grab my little canine while screaming "Grab your dog!"

At the sight of the large dog's snarling teeth at my eye level, I thought  "This is how it ends? One day I'm soaking up a beautiful world, walking with my favorite buddy (my dog) when this is how it ends?"

Meanwhile the man was screaming "My dog is friendly!" while furtively yanking on his leash. I managed to untangle the leash, grab my dog and stumble backwards away from this snarling snapping huge dog.  The woman had stopped, watching all this while still allowing her dogs to continue their ridiculous hysterical barking which was now fueled by the huge dog's barking and snarling.

Well, we are alive, no blood was drawn, but we're both pretty shook up.

My adrenaline rush unfortunately escalated into a full blown mess with my heart swelling up so fast that I lost my breath completely and was rendered breathless for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a minute or so. I thought I was going to pass right out. I was seeing flashing things and felt like I was going to pass out into darkness, but I was willing myself to BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE while telling my heart SLOW DOWN, SLOW DOWN, SLOW DOWN. Feeling terribly weak, I had to set Harley down, who still had not barked.

Not even once. I had no idea if he was injured or not. It was very cold and he was wearing a sweater.

Even when I was able to breathe again, I still couldn't talk because I was heaving uncontrollably, vibrating from head to toe.

I was staring at the ground trying to focus on meditating my heart to slow down and my breathing to return. Harley was by my heel looking forlorn. Having him by my side was a huge comfort but I couldn't seem to get the couple and their 3 out of control pets to LEAVE.

The man and woman stood there with the three snarling yapping dogs while screaming at me louder and louder "Are you all right?" over and over. I just wanted them GONE. But I couldn't talk. It was frightening!

I managed to start backing up away from them as they kept coming closer screaming "Are you OK?" I guess they thought I was DEAF because I was staring at my dog, while trying to will my body to calm back down. I was trying to hold up my hand in a stopping motion which they ignored.

The man said "I'm so sorry, my dog is really friendly."

Finally I was able to barely mumble "Get away from us!"  But they just STOOD there while their dogs went wild, the big dog was still lunging at the leash with the man fighting his leash with both hands.

I was becoming dizzy and terrified the dog might attack us again.

I saw there was some stacked railings around a garden, about 15 feet away. I managed to somehow stumble over there and sit down. Harley was still silent, on his leash, right next to me. When I sat down, he climbed up in my lap and we sat there hugging and consoling each other. I shielded him with my arms while I tried to clear my head, focus on slowing my heart back down to disco dancing speed and take big gulps of air.

I just wanted to hold and protect my little buddy, if it was the very last thing I ever got to do.

Incredibly the couple was STILL THERE inching CLOSER with their 3 wild hooligans. Finally I managed to utter "Get away from us! I wasn't expecting to meet a vicious dog in a campground! You're scaring us! Leave us alone! Go away!"

Seeing that they weren't leaving, I got up uncertainly, turning my back on them praying that angels were watching out for fools like me. I just wanted far far away from these horrible people and their stinking out of control dogs.

I only made it about 10 more feet to the next garden that had a low rail I could sit back down on. The woman said "I'm calling 911!"

I managed to say "No!  Would you just GO AWAY!  Leave us alone!"

Sure, I was terribly rude and probably handled this all wrong, but WE SURVIVED!

I am alive, Harley is alive, no blood was drawn. I am the luckiest person alive! My dog is alive, we are OK. We are oh so lucky and deeply grateful we lived to tell about this.

If your dog or dogs are anti-social and/or uncontrollable  you need to seriously TRAIN them. Dogs are not born instantly trained. You have to put in hours upon hours of dedication teaching your dog to be social, balanced and mindful of their leader. 

There are tons of books, loads of websites and professional trainers available including classes held at pet stores and other venues. 

Clearly these people have done their dogs and themselves a HUGE disfavor by refusing to train their dogs to behave in an acceptable manner. 

Last night and this morning Harley and I did go on a few beautiful walks. We purposely avoided all other dogs because I am still  feeling rather weak and yes I am still FRIGHTENED.

When we went to bed last night, I held Harley in my arms as I dozed off. We normally sleep at opposite ends of my bed, but we both needed this extra security for a few hours.

I am still feeling pretty weak, so in spite of having to pack up and leave again in the morning, I am going to go lay down and rest again. It's a beautiful day and I would love to be repairing the leak in my water tank or organizing my housekeeping, or catching up on the laundry, but all that just has to wait for now.

For now I have to remind myself over and over to be THANKFUL to be alive and THANKFUL for my little companion. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Harley Almost Swept Away

Somewhere out there is Harley Dog's golf ball.

Harley Dog is truly half monkey. He used to be terrified of the water but I've gently worked with him to slowly overcome his fears. He used to be scared of everything!

I was more than happy that over time, he learned to walk with me down the beach, finally unafraid of the crashing waves. Much to my surprise, he has even started prancing around with me in very shallow water on warmer days.

It's like having a new doggy, but it's my same old quirky canine.

Today we hiked to a remote beach area to play fetch with his favorite golf ball. I took him off his flexi-leash. There was this new tidal creek, no idea when it appeared, it wasn't there on my previous visits.

We were playing toss and fetch with the golf ball, though sometimes Harley changed this to keep away or watch-me-ignore-you, so I pulled out treats and the clicker to remind him.

Now we had a fun game going. He chased after the ball maybe 2 dozen times, returning it to me for the next toss.

Then I made a boo-boo.

I threw his his golf ball which hit a rock then bounced into the swift flowing stream before Harley could snatch it up. He took a flying leap off the bank into the waters without hesitation, frantically searching for his beloved toy.

I was astonished! He simply vanished over the side of the bank into the new creek.

I ran over terrified the waters had swept him away because I couldn't see him. But he was walking below in water up to his chin searching for his toy.

When he came out, I attached his harness back to his Flexi-leash.  We followed the new stream to the ocean and he periodically leaped in to swim and search for his golf ball. Even more amazing but at least now I had him tethered in case the moving waters overcame him.

We made it to the ocean, but never found his ball. Finally I convinced him to give it up. He seemed super proud of himself but a bit forlorn.

I tried to speed walk him away, so he would hopefully forget about the errant ball. He shook and shivered, then finally ran big wide loops around me on his long leash, apparently running to warm up.

He paraded down the beach with his head held high, like he was pretty impressed with himself. His wet fur stuck out at odd angles.

From the way he was so terrified of the ocean and any water at all,  a few short years ago to see him now, having the time of his life is just amazing.

Well, it's time for me to shuffle along, so tomorrow is a travel day to parts unknown. I'm headed in a southerly direction. It's possible I won't have internet or phone at my next stop, because I don't know where that will be.

My next reservation is 3 states and 8 days away where I will winter for a few months, so I have to come up with a plan between here and there.

There's no more room at the inn...  the campground I am at is booked solid starting tomorrow. I've only extended my stay 3 times...

My problem is I fall in love with just about every park I stay at... so I am always torn between returning to the spots I love and trying out new ones too.

Mother nature is oh so beautiful. I am super lucky and deeply thankful I woke up alive today.

Bye bye seaside, hello highway!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

UFO Sighting

I believe in UFO's and aliens because just like mermaids, they really do exist. Now I have proof.

My camera takes photos randomly.  I will be aiming for a subject, snapping the picture, assuming the camera functioned. It makes all the noises like it snapped a photo. Later when I download them to my computer, many pics are simply MIA. 

Did Aliens steal them for research?

Sometimes the camera has a random delayed reaction, apparently snapping pics after I have moved on to do other things. Later I download blurry pics or snaps of very odd things.

Are aliens controlling my camera?

On a return trip from the beach,  I tried to take a picture of my campsite, then walked to the door, to kick off my shoes to go inside. The camera had one of its erratic delays, so I ended up with a strange picture of my shoes and no picture of the campground.

Are the aliens curious about my removable feet?

I decided to crop the picture and keep the photo to forever remind me of a fun day at the seashore with my new little gremlin friend.
ufo sightings

A Big Lump In My Bed

Oh my gosh, is there a little alien hiding in my bed?

My double bed in the rear of my mini motorhome is pretty much boxed in like a bunk on a sailboat. Making it up takes extra effort, because you can't just walk around it. Having lived and worked for years on boats afloat, I am accustomed to difficult beds. But still it's hard work to climb all over the bed while simultaneously trying to make it up neatly.

My bed only has 8 pillows, so I have to move all these up forward to the living area seats, while I make up the bed in back. For medical reasons I have accumulated various types of pillow aids.

A goofy friend who came to see my motorhome, glanced in the rear at my bed with all its pillows, which that morning I had neatly arranged around the perimeter. They remarked "Oh, you have a padded cell. Nice..."

One day recently I finally got my cell, I mean bed, all made up with clean sheets, a comforter and a bedspread. Turning my back, I went forward to retrieve the pillows. Upon my return a moment later, I was startled to find a big lump in the bed. Pulling back the bedspread, wondering if a little alien was hiding under there, I was dumbfounded to find this strange little gremlin.

ufo sightings

Below is a great picture (after cropping, straightening, coloring...) 

Ha!  I've finally outsmarted the alien photo thieves.

I've titled this one "Driftwood Ballet" because it reminds me of a ballerina in motion. 

Can't see the ballerina?

Maybe you need a padded cell too.

ufo sightings

I put a little leash on the alien gremlin. He began climbing up the wall. When he stopped to admire his shadow, I captured his picture.
ufo sightings

Alien Garden

I went for a ride in their UFO. They took me to another world. When nobody was looking, I snapped this photo of their garden. Not sure what they are growing, but it sure looks interesting.

ufo sightings

Alien or Mermaid Fossil?

The beach was littered with black rocks that were washing up with the tide one morning. Astonishingly one had a partial print. A mermaid hand print?  An alien foot?

Inquiring minds want to know.

ufo sightings

I also captured numerous photos of the UFO. 

But aliens stole my pictures. 

Maybe they didn't like me photographing their vessel.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Harley Hog Dog Wreck

I should take all your wonderful suggestions and just start a separate Harley Dog blog. He dominates so much of my life and brings me tons of laughter with naughty mischief thrown in for good measure.

Lately that little 6.6 pound bundle of trouble has been at it again. From drinking the ocean and hurling at both ends, to wrecking the bicycle. How can one little doggy manage to get into so much trouble?

When my friend was traveling with us, we took turns riding the bicycle. Typically we just went our separate ways at different times. Even if we had 2 bicycles, my friend can do 10-15 miles effortlessly while I can barely struggle to make one mile.

I'm still new to all this bicycle business. My friend splurged on a quick release seat thingy so we can pop the seat up and down without tools and take turns riding the bicycle.

Mama always said "Play nicely and share your toys."

One day we were going to rendezvous at the far end of the beach, away from everyone else and let the pooch have some ball chasing in the sand fun time. Harley is high energy. He needs to get out and race around now and then. My friend was going to walk to the beach, while I took the long way around riding the bicycle. There is a patch of beach where the bicycle has to be walked through. (I comically found this out after becoming mired in fluffy sand one day.)

Harley Dog loves to ride up front in his handle bar basket on the bicycle. We were zipping down the beach on a gorgeous day in the Sea Islands. 

Riding on the beach is new to me (and I love it!) I had dreamed about it, then studied the tides to figure out the safest times to ride without bogging down in the sand. 

Awhile back, I built in a short safety leash to the dog basket. Heaven forbid if we are in a wreck, I don't want Harley running off scared and possibly under a car wheel. 

A flat two dimensional doggy isn't much fun anymore.

Hopefully the leash somewhat protects him from getting thrown or landing in traffic or running off terrified. I thought I had him trained. I make sure he hears the clicking noise of the leash as I tell him to "sit, stay" when I put him in the basket.

Well, Harley LOVES my friend. So when Harley saw him waiting at the end of the beach with a ball in hand, he defiantly  took a flying leap out of his basket while I was still peddling away with all my might against a slight headwind.

Puppy dog KNEW this was against the rules. But in his enthusiasm, he just figured he would toss caution to the wind.

I saw him for a brief moment, dangling outside the basket, unable to touch the ground, strung up by his harness vest, scrawny little back legs wiggling and spinning like a cartoon character, his vest still attached to the safety leash.  The look on his face in that brief flash was priceless! He knew in that moment he had screwed up royally and this was perhaps a very bad move on his part.

I toppled over too and now doggy, bike and I were unceremoniously dumped into a heap of wet sand. 

Somehow between trying to stop, while reaching forward to try to balance an off balance dog, and kick down the kickstand, I flubbed it all up in that half second and we laid down the bike with both of us still on it. Harley looked both frightened and relieved.

My friend was laughing so hard because he said we looked like a circus show in an old movie that has choppy motion. One minute we're wobbling down the beach on the bicycle, the next we are fully stopped laying sideways in the sand. By now Harley was dancing on his hind legs, plowing up the wet beach to try and reach my friend. 

No one was injured, but we looked like we had been in a sand storm.  I reached over to unhook Harley from the safety leash and attach his regular leash. Suddenly it slipped from my hand as one very naughty dog ran off to meet up with my buddy and make kissy face with him because he held the coveted ball.  

So much for loyalty!  

At that point I thought well you little booger head, if you are going to do the big no-no (leaping from the basket) then not so much as a doggy kiss to see if I am OK after toppling us over, well to heck with you!

Still covered in sand, I picked up my bicycle and raced passed my insubordinate canine.  

As I rode past I said "You don't want to ride in my basket? Fine! You can just walk!"

I did a few loops around him, telling him what a foolish hound he was, then I playfully rode away.

Well, his mouth flew open, he dropped the ball and tried churning up the beach to chase after me.

Ahhhhh... so I do mean something to him after all. But I had a little fun with him, by riding off without him as sort of a lesson. (He probably didn't get it either.) 

When I finally stopped, it was because I was out of breath from laughing so hard as the absurdity of the entire scene, still covered in wet sand.

While I was trying to catch my breath, something jarred
in my tiny brain.

De ja voodoo...

Last time I did this was around the mid 80's on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Only that time it was two women on a Harley Hog sans a Harley Dog. We plowed up a dirt and gravel road when my petite friend who was driving made a boo-boo. It too turned out to be rather amusing. We weren't seriously injured, just a little banged up and bruised.

In a nutshell...

OK in a large nutshell...

We were in the Cherokee foothills parallel to a remote fishing river on a paved road. I thought I had told my friend that the next turn was onto a dirt road and that it was a hairpin turn. She was relying on me for navigation because in those days I knew every road and path through that area. Somehow she missed that tidbit of critical info. To compound matters, the turn was hidden by trees and brush.

As she barely down to make the turn, two fishermen looked up from the river to see us riding by on this exquisite Harley Davidson. My friend took the turn way too fast only to realize we were about to crash into a tree if she didn't make the complete hairpin turn. We came to a sudden halt as the the hog laid down in the dirt and gravel, throwing up a mud blizzard. 

We lay there in the mud and muck with the motorcycle on top of us, kind of in mild shock while the dust resettled around us. Rock and roll was playing loudly in our ears, because she had hooked us both into her Walkman stereo (which back in those days only played a cassette tape not MP3's.)

We had on dark sunglasses, dark helmets, dark clothes, dark boots and leather jackets. We both had long hair which was tucked up inside our helmets to prevent chronic wind knotting.

The two fishermen bolted out of the river, coming to our rescue. They pulled the motorcycle off of us asking if we were OK. Rock and roll was still  blaring in our ears so we only saw their moving lips. We stood up, covered in muck, a little shaken from the drop. Finally we took off our helmets, removing the earphones so we could hear, think and thank our rescuers. 

As the helmets came off, the hair came tumbling down. Removing our sunglasses to shake hands with the fishermen for their gallant efforts, their jaws dropped in utter disbelief. It was their turn to be in mild shock.

Finally one of them said in this slow country drawl prevalent in the south "Oh my Gawd, THEY'RE GIRLS!"

From the astonished look on their faces we could have been aliens climbing out of a space ship. 

I guess in those days and times, two women on a Harley weren't often seen in them there mountains.