Looked Back Yesterday, Looking Ahead Today

If you missed my recap of 2014 yesterday, you can find it here.  2014 has been gracious to us and provided us with more memorable moments of this life we share as full-time RVers.

Looking ahead?  Resolutions for the coming year?  I tend to not make resolutions but just take it as it comes.  Life is truly unpredictable and, as many full-timers say, plans are made in Jell-O and subject to change in a New York minute. 

I am hoping to become more regular with blog posts and to get back to writing, not just recounting the day’s activities.

Well, what the heck.  Let’s talk about yesterday’s happenings. 

I ran to Walmart for a few things and Dave tackled trimming shrubs around our RV.  He did an outstanding job!

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We can actually see the benches now!  These shrubs had totally gone wild and were in a bodacious out-of-control state.  Wish I had taken a “before” photo.  Makes the area around our rig so much nicer.

He also trimmed back some more branches and limbs from the tree in the photo.  This gives us a bit more light and reduces the amount of leaves that fall on the ground (and our rig).  Just a bit of a “facelift” to our area and it is really so much more pleasant and tidy-appearing.

Judy (Travels with Emma), a holiday getaway is not in our conversation at the moment.  As much as we love (and I do mean love) Cape May, that would be a bit of a travel stretch.  Gosh, I’d love to go back to Dolphin Watch again, and we absolutely adore the town of Cape May (we can see ourselves living there permanently); however, if we decide we can afford swing a vacation, more than likely it would be some destination on the coast in this area.  Myrtle Beach?  Too expensive and too touristy, but there might be some smaller town in that general area.  Long and short – no vacation plans at the moment.

I sort of feel like I am in “hunker down” mode here.  Check back with me about a getaway come August, when I’m suffering in a southern Summer again.  Ha!

In retrospect, we have said, “What were we thinking?” when we came down here.  Being the work-conscious types that we are – work ethic, time off = no pay, that sort of thing – it never even crossed our minds to take off a bit of extra time prior to arriving on station here.  Duh.  We could have hauled our home down to the beach, spent time in the Virginias prowling Civil War sites or, heck, even returned to Cherokee, NC (like that area a lot) for a spell.  I guess we didn’t think about it, since we had a nice holiday to Cape May earlier in the year.

Well, we learned our lesson with that one.  If possible, the next time we transfer, we will take some time for us.

Guess I had better skedaddle  out of  here for now.  Dave is about to get his last bike miles for 2014 and I am whipping up more sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs today.  We will have a bit of chess this evening and then I will be greeting 2015 while I am on duty.

Happy New Year!  Thanks for stopping by!

Looking Back at 2014

We have had another interesting year as full-time RVers, now 4.5 years on the road. 2014 has been another year of adventures, memories made and enjoyment of our lifestyle and work. Here are some highlights of our year.

We continue working as an on-site security team, starting 2014 in northwest New Jersey.  We experienced quite a bit of snow during January and February.

 

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Betty shoveling during a snowstorm that dropped 15” of the white stuff

 

Even though we had quite a few days of subzero temperatures, our rig kept us comfortable and cozy.  One thing about it, these sort of conditions keep one hale and hardy!  The snow really wasn’t all that bad, just mainly an inconvenience.

We were fortunate to again take a holiday, returning to a beach house in Cape May, NJ aptly named Dolphin Watch. The only thing separating it from the beach is a small street in front, and we enjoyed watching pods of dolphins glide by in the bay from the top deck of the house.

 

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Dolphin Watch in Cape May, NJ

 

The rest of our Summer passed uneventfully, and we simply enjoyed ourselves with grilling outdoors, doing grounds maintenance (we both had fun mowing the lawns with the zero-turn mower) and me tending my flowerbeds. Dave cycled quite bit and I continued my walking routine. We had a fire ring and spent evenings by a campfire whenever possible.

 

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In late August, we were informed that a security team was no longer needed on the property, and were asked if we would consider a transfer to the property in South Carolina. We said, “Yes!” and late September saw us on the road headed south, arriving on station October 1. This location was our first job with the security company and the contracting company, having worked a 2-month gig here in 2010, while the resident team went on vacation.

 

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The property in NJ was beautiful.  We made many memories there, including an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Superstorm Sandy, numerous Nor’easters and my second cancer diagnosis in 2012.

 

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We spent two nights in Harrisonburg, VA

 

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At a rest stop in W. Virginia, hanging with the “big dogs.” 

 

Almost 800 miles and a few days later, we were back in South Carolina. Not having made a long trip with our rig in almost four years, it was an adventure and rather fun being on the road again. I do the towing of our rig and thoroughly enjoy it; yes, I am my father’s daughter! We made the journey without mishap, gathering more memories of our life together along the way.

 

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Bass Lake Campground in Dillon, SC

 

Bass Lake was our final landing spot prior to arriving at the work site on October 1, and we went on duty that night; we are now working nights and weekends.

 

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Our current setup in South Carolina

 

We have gone from essentially running the property in NJ to more laid-back responsibilities here in SC.  The needs of every property are different, but it is interesting work and we are working with two good organizations.  Adjusting to night shift has been . . . well, an adjustment . . . but the good news is no alarm clocks!  We awaken naturally, and my body is pleased with that.

 

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Night shift does have its moments

 

Our overall health remains good and we . . . well, we simply enjoy and cherish our days and nights together.  We often play chess or Scrabble, watch a movie from the comfort of our recliners, grill and just “be.”  I continue working part-time as a virtual assistant via oDesk and am having fun with that.

 

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Our dear wee Maggie continues to delight and bring us joy.  She is a real trouper and excellent traveler.

 

It really has been another outstanding 12 months.  I am grateful to continue being cancer-free and feeling good, and am looking forward to more adventures in 2015!

 

How was your year?

 

Happy New Year!   Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Message to Myself

  • This evening I have been wandering through previous years’ blog posts hoping to call forth my Muse again.  You know, I used to actually write, not simply recounting the events of the day, but truly write.  I am hoping, and formulating a discipline for myself, to return to that frame of mind in the coming year.
  • The past week I have been missing Karen a tremendous amount, a hurting amount at times.  We were cousins by blood, but sisters – soul mates, even – by heart.
  • I stumbled across the following post on my original blog from September 2009, a few short months after Karen’s passing.  Stumbled?  Was drawn to without conscious intention?  Whatever the manner in reaching it, I am sharing it below for it is indeed a message to myself tonight. 

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If we live long enough, we will lose someone.  I’m talking about losing someone to death, the loss when another soul departs this Earth.

If you’re reading this, you have lost someone, sometime.  It happens.

What do you do?  Most people grieve, rage at the Universe perhaps, and finally, hopefully, be able to remember the departed with fondness.  One learns this is the Cycle of Life and one moves on . . . always remembering the person who is no longer with us, but still . . . moving on with Life.

What about the other folks?  The ones who cannot get past that first stage of mourning, of loss, of emptiness, of dependence on the one gone, of weaving the departed one into the fabric of their own life through constant talking of them and not being able to recalibrate their own existence . . . instead basing their world on the soul departed.

Yes, I know we all deal with loss in our own way.  I’m not saying what is right for one person is right for another in this process.

Still, it seems such a waste of existence to be so wrapped up in, so still-clinging to, one who has been dead for a number of years.  Seems like the person still here is missing so much of the vibrancy, the texture, the colors, the realization of a full life for themselves.  Do all their friends tolerate or enjoy the constant referencing of everything to the deceased?  Does it become tiresome to them and perhaps distressing if they have recently lost someone themselves?

Does this result in a rather morose and depressed individual?  Someone who is insecure in their own right, unable to make their own way in the world, unable to even hold down a job?

I would imagine this occurs in varying degrees.  Perhaps the person can perform on a basic functional level and appear to have gotten past the loss and yet still be mourning on an internal level.  We all hear about the remaining partner dying not long after their spouse after a long-term marriage.

If someone through the course of an eight-hour day mentions the departed at least once every hour and expresses their own existence in relation to the departed . . . can this be healthy?  This lamenter comes across as being sorrowfully depressed and, quite frankly, the listener can eventually feel bombarded and pummeled by so much negative energy; too much of “poor little me.”

Do we not owe the memory of the departed the honor of living a full life?  If one believes in an everlasting spirit of the departed, do we not owe them the right to be free?  By not keeping their spirit so close to us that it is restricting them from moving on to being fully at rest in the Hereafter?

Step outside your own sorrow.  If not for yourself but for your love of the departed, let them be free.

Let go.

Perhaps my viewpoint comes from being a strong person.  Oh yes, I have experienced losses.  I have mourned, cried, raged, lost my faith and reclaimed it, known that life would never be the same without the person and, yet, stumbled on through the haze, the fog, the sorrow . . . coming out on the other side knowing Birth, Life and Death are all part of our journey on this earthly plane.  

Is it a spiritual faith that allows one to come to terms with loss?  Is it being tough-skinned?  Is it being a survivor?  Is it being a Warrior?  Is it just being human?

I certainly do not profess to have the answers.  I feel for those who cannot let go, who yet cling to the departed.  My personal history causes me to feel some impatience with these people for allowing so many of the joys of each day flutter by without reaching out and grasping some happiness for themselves, clinging to that happiness as tightly as they cling to the memory of their lost ones.

Each day is a gift, not to be squandered.  I have recently lost my beloved Karen.  I miss her more than I can express; however, the pain eases just a bit each day.  I can call her memory up now and not be sorrowful but smile instead.  She was so full of life, laughter and faith and we shared so much of that . . . I carry on now in a joyful life, laughter in my home and heart, and my faith restored.  I like to think she watches over me . . . that she is by my side when I need strength . . . that she gets a silly laugh when I do something goofy.  I still talk to her . . . when I hear the chirp of a tree frog in the evenings I say, “Hiya cuz, whatcha into?  What’s happenin’?  I’m doing good.  See ya!”   Feel her presence?  Yes, definitely, but not as often as during the days immediately following her death.  Letting go; letting her go.  Instead of clinging, I try to honor her memory by living the way I did before she left, as I know she would want, and as I must . . . for each day I am here are a few more additional hours I have been blessed with since that day in 2002 when I met my own mortality.  I consider every day since that time to be “overtime,” to just be time I have been given as a bonus, an extension until my own “expiration date” comes up on the calendar of Life.

Should we not be at peace, loving, laughing and living to our fullest as we walk this Earth?

Thanks for stopping by!

Christmas Eve Ten Years Ago . . .

 

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Merry Christmas!  (Photo from December 2013)

I heard Dave’s voice for the first time on Christmas Eve 2004.  It was also the first and only Christmas my cousin Karen and I shared; she was with me in my Brenham home for the holiday and was there when Dave called.

Snow was in the Texas forecast that evening, and Karen and I planned to stay up and greet it . . . and watch a James Bond marathon on TV.  Sean Connery, ya know.  Plus, we had kazoos for heralding Christmas carols.  We were up until the wee hours of Christmas morning.  What a fun, cozy and special Christmas Eve that was.

I’m so grateful for those vivid memories that still linger . . . . hearing Dave’s voice, going back to the den from my home office singing out “I got a phone call from Scot-land!  I got a phone call from Scot-land!”  Karen asking, “How was it?” and my reply of, “I didn’t understand a word he said, but it was wonderful!”  It was my first exposure to a Scottish brogue and I think Dave might have been a wee bit nervous (I certainly was), so he was talking fast.  Hahaha!  I did catch a word here and there, of course, and with more phone calls over time I became comfortable  with the Scottish way of speaking.  It  snowed all over Texas that night, including the beach at Galveston, but not Brenham.  The next morning Karen put water in the coffeemaker but no coffee and ended up with a nice cup of hot water . . . we laughed so much we were in tears.  We would crack up at the smallest, the silliest, things.  Gosh, we had so much fun together.

Ten years.  Really?  It feels just like yesterday.

Karen has left this world, but Dave is here with me, and we have had ten years of sharing a good life together.  We have had some amazing experiences on both sides of the Atlantic, some trying times and, most of all, love and respect for one another.  It certainly is grand sharing Life with one’s best friend.

He certainly is my best friend, even if he did beat me at chess tonight.  Ha! 

It has been raining nonstop (except for a few brief interludes) since Monday.  Ugh.  The office building has a few roof leaks, so yesterday and today Dave has been emptying buckets to keep abreast of that.  That’s a bit above and beyond our job description, but one does what one needs to do.  Hopefully the rains have ended . . . until Sunday when it starts up again.  Continuous rain and highs near 70 F . . . I tell ya, I’m missing the cold and snow right about now.  Crazy, eh?

That being said, it is a magical time of year and we’re so enjoying our evenings together matching wits over the chessboard in our cozy RV home that we share with wee Maggie.

Here’s wishing you a peaceful and safe Christmas filled with love, laughter and fellowship.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by!

Santa Shops at Walmart

Today’s weather has been totally Scottish.  “What is that?,” you ask.  Light rain, chilly temperature, overcast skies and a bit of a breeze.  Brrrrr.

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Maggie cozied up while we played chess this evening

We were off to Walmart this afternoon for a few last-minute items before Christmas.  Walking through the parking lot, we spotted Santa in civilian clothes.  Really.  Beautiful white hair and neatly-trimmed, full white beard.  Snow white.  Put the eyeglasses and red suit on this gentleman and that childhood belief in Jolly Old St. Nick would be alive and well.  Two ladies getting into a vehicle close to his sang out, “Hi, Santa! Merry Christmas!”  I would have loved to have taken his picture, but that would not have been cool.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.  I have to wonder if he does play the Santa role at this time of year.  At any rate, there you have it.  Santa shops at Walmart.

See that bit of red in Maggie’s sweater above?  She got her first Christmas sweater today.

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Well, why not?

There were all sorts of cute outfits and it was a bit tempting to get her a reindeer outfit, but I opted for something both cute and practical.  Never have been one to “dress up” my dogs or cats.  Heck, Maggie’s predecessor Baby wouldn’t even wear a sweater, opting to enjoy even the snow and frigid temps in Minnesota without “clothes.”  She did, however, have boots for walking on snow and ice.  So does our Maggs; she inherited Baby’s boots.  The closest I got to “dressing up” a cat was putting a harness on Red so I could take him outside during his recuperation from an injury.  That’s a story from bygone days for another time . . .

It’s so icky and miserable out tonight that I’ve put on my thick hoodie sweatshirt I got years ago at the Thirsty Moose Bar and Grill in Hibbing, MN.  It’s definitely a “north country” piece of clothing, being thick and warm, and perfect for weather like today.  If you’re ever up that way, stop in at the Thirsty Moose for a burger or a pizza.  Both are absolutely outstanding.

Unlike many full-timers, we do not travel with the seasons since we are working; we remain in one spot months or years, and our current line of work has us outdoors quite a bit.  With that in mind, we have clothing for the full range of weather conditions from scorching summer temperatures to blizzards and everything in between.  We’ve culled items now and then, but some things we just cannot give up.  Yes, that includes snow boots with cleats for navigating on ice.  Sheesh.  Our closet and wardrobes would definitely have more room if we were able to fly with the seasons.  Who knows?  Maybe, just maybe, one of these days . . .

In the meantime, however, it’s good to still have my Thirsty Moose hoodie!

The weather forecast remains the same through Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to not having to get on the roads and in stores until after Christmas.  Traffic was pretty heavy today around on the short distance we go down I-95 and in town; the Walmart parking lot was quite full and there were lines of cars going into the mall parking lot.  Glad we weren’t going there!

My cup of coffee is just about gone, so I’ll call this a wrap for tonight.

Thanks for stopping by!

A Good Day to Bake

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Someone was ready for snuggles when bedtime rolled around at 3 AM this morning

The weather folks pegged this day except for the blustery conditions; we have had a bit of rain and it is definitely chilly out.  Yep, it has been a good day to be in the kitchen, or “galley,” as some RV folks call it.

Years ago I was introduced to sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs by my then mother-in-law.  Yummy delights, those.  Having the recipes from her, these two items have become holiday staples in my home since then.  Today was the day.

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First batch of sausage balls

 

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The olive/cheese puffs come out looking like wee sombreros most of the time, but they are still yummy.

Both the sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs have passed the taste test.  We’re good to go.  Speaking of going, these babies don’t last long around our house, and I imagine I’ll be doing another round between Christmas and New Year’s.

The movie of choice during all this cooking was The Longest Day, an epic D-Day film with just about anyone you can remember being in it.  I followed that up with The House Across the Bay, an oldie I had never seen before today.

My heart and thoughts this evening are with the families of the two NYPD officers assassinated today.

Everybody be safe out there, okay?

Thanks for stopping by!

Propane Fill Day at Florence RV Park

 

One of the pros of being in SC vs. NJ is that we are going through propane a lot slower down here this Winter.  We have a total of four 30-lb. tanks, two on board and two spares.  In NJ, there were two additional tanks we could use, making a total of six tanks in rotation.  During Winter, Dave would often go as frequently as weekly to have four tanks filled.  Thank goodness our propane is paid by the company which we are contracted to; if it had not been, we simply would not have been able to afford to work in NJ.  Even here, that reimbursed expense helps immensely. 

We do run the furnace, keeping the thermostat at 60 overnight and then bumping it up to no higher than 65 when needed.  We are fairly conservative with the use of the furnace, running it enough to keep the rig happy.  Our fireplace and two ceramic tower heaters provide supplemental heat, and our home stays nice and cozy.  Some folks set their furnace at higher temperatures, but neither of us likes to be too warm.

We go to Florence RV Park to have our tanks filled, and it is a short drive over to I-95 and the park.  I was going to put in the link to their Web site, but apparently the site is no longer active.  That’s too bad, because the park is really okay.  We stayed there for a night or two in 2010 prior to arriving at this work site (we did a 2-month relief gig here while the permanent team went on vacation), and it seems even neater and “cuter” than back then.  It’s not full, but is nicely populated by what appear long-term folks, perhaps some snowbirds and then the overnighters passing through the area. 

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I would definitely stay here again

I can’t vouch for the Internet or cable TV services, but the staff is friendly and the laundry/rec/office areas are neat and clean.  It is next to I-95 with easy access; one hears a bit of highway noise, but not at an annoying level by any means.

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The resident ducks are quite friendly and came over expecting a handout.  I’ll try to remember to take something for them next time.

I’m getting a load of laundry done today because it’s supposed to start raining tonight and continue through tomorrow.  Yes, tomorrow is forecast to be colder, windy and rainy.  Sounds like a good day to make sausage balls and olive balls cozied up in our RV home.

Jerry over at WagginTailsRV commented on my last post that my life seems to have simplified with the move to SC.  I dunno . . . in some ways, yes, but in others . . . no.  While our professional life has certainly simplified, it seems like I stay much busier here.  I think that is in part due to it being the time of year when there are fewer daylight hours.  Seems like we’re always “chasin’ daylight” around here, with so many things to do before it gets dark out.  I’m hoping this will ease up a bit with prolonged daylight when Summer rolls around. 

Speaking of which, we’re off to the store for a few things before we go on duty tonight.  The closer it gets to Christmas, the less I want to be in a grocery store or even out running errands of any type. 

Didn’t get this posted before we ran to the store, so a few hours have passed.  We had a pleasant evening of another epic chess match, and I’m getting back into the groove after finding my opening move, the Sicilian, again.

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Victory is mine with a rare win by Black this evening!

Dave has gone to bed until I get him up around 2 AM, I’ve polished off the wee snack plate I brought over to the office, Maggie is curled up in her “spot” and Pandora is singing some tunes.  I’ll make a cup of coffee and put in some time on my virtual assistant job.

That’s a wrap for tonight.  Ciao!

Thanks for stopping by!