What Are You Reading?

The grocery store we frequent has a Three-Books-for-$10 bin, and recently I scored three unexpected goodies.  One book each by W.E.B. Griffin, Clive Cussler and James Patterson.  I have made my way through Griffin’s different series, excepting Badge of Honor, enjoyed the adventures of Dirk Pitt that Cussler conjures up and curled up in blankets late at night with Patterson’s works . . .sometimes leaving a light on.  I haven’t started these new additions to our library, but am saving them for . . . a snowy day?  Hmmm . . .

Still having a balance on my iTunes card which was a Christmas gift, I downloaded Krav Maga by Boaz Aviram the other day.  This system of self-defense has piqued my interest for years; as much as over a decade ago, I toyed with taking classes while still living in Brenham.  I now wish I had persevered in doing so, as I don’t foresee that opportunity presenting itself again.  So.  I bought this book for self-education and just because I believe I will be able to glean some benefit from learning more about the system’s philosophies and techniques. 

Along those lines, when we got into our occupation of security work a few years ago, I purchased Israeli Security Concepts: A Comprehensive Guide For Selecting Training And Deploying A Security Team For Installation And Personnel Protection (Volume 2)While targeted for a specific audience, there are so many techniques and practices that can apply in everyday life and situations.  Interestingly, one thing I do already is back into parking spaces.  I have been doing this for . . . well, a long time.  I would say it started when I began driving larger vehicles – my Tahoe and now the “Beast” F-350 – as it seems easier for me to pull out versus backing, but I do recall doing it with my Honda sedan.  It seems to be something I began doing instinctively.  At any rate, I believe a civilian could pick up some valuable personal security tips from this book.

I just finished another Zane Grey work, The Mysterious Rider.  Never a fan of Westerns per se in the past, I do so enjoy his books.  He not only conveys the spirit of bygone days of life in The West, but the stories of people living those in those times and environment.  I’ve been hooked on these for a while now.  They are available free on iTunes, and I read them on my phone.

My personal library was quiet extensive prior to full-timing, but I did keep books which comprise a core of that previous collection.   Shaman, Healer, Sage is one of those, and I am revisiting it. 

Ha-ha!  Now you know one of the reasons I am not blogging every day.  As our work duties are much lighter here  and I have much more free time, I figured I might as well indulge in some reading and studying.

What’s on your bookshelf that’s getting your attention these days?

“We do not want riches.  We want peace and love.”

– Red Cloud (Makhpiya-Luta), Oglala Sioux, 1870

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A Taste of Winter

 

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Winter does come to South Carolina, even if briefly.  It was snowing when I headed to bed around 2:30 this morning after my work shift.  Mostly what’s on the ground is ice, but there is a bit of snow here and there.  Nothing to speak of and certainly nothing when compared to this . . . .

Feb 13 Betty and Rig

February 13, 2014, in New Jersey

Tomorrow will be above freezing in the 40s, so we’ll venture out for propane and a few provisions before the next wee storm rolls in later in the day.

The past week has been relatively uneventful.  Maggie sailed through her dental procedure last Thursday.  I had a restless and pretty much sleepless night while she was overnighting at the vet and was glad to pick her up the following afternoon.  She took full advantage of being a lap dog that evening.  Yep, that was my purpose in Life . . . to provide a warm, blanketed lap to our Maggs while she recovered.  Good therapy for both of us.

The next project in my virtual assistant work has come along and I’m glad to be cruising along with work again.  There are lulls in between projects, but that’s okay.  It gives me some free time in the evenings for a couple of weeks and then things pick up again.  Nice.

We continue to play chess over the weekends, this past Friday and Saturday nights were truly epic matches.  Our games last 2.5 to 3 hours, which isn’t bad for a couple of amateurs just having fun.

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We picked up this set in Rockport, TX during one of our holidays with our popup.  Gosh, that was back in June 2008.  We were in town prowling around and found this in an import shop.  It’s a stone set and thankfully came with a very nice case.  It was a bit of an extravagance at the time, but has given us so many evenings of enjoyment.  I was introduced to chess in the early 1980s in El Paso.  At the time, I was working for the Students’ Attorney at UTEP.  The attorney was an avid player and taught the basics to the intern and myself.  Dave has been an excellent player for “donkey’s years” (a very long time) and gave me proper schooling when I spent time with him in Scotland in 2005-2006.   I was a laughable player at the start, but he was a patient and supportive teacher, and I’ve progressed into a respectable opponent.  It’s fascinating to see each game evolve following our individual standard opening moves.  I won’t divulge mine, but it is a named opening move I found a while back when doing some research.  It seems to serve me well; Dave scores the most victories, but he’s an excellent player.  I do, however, give him a run for his money and put his king in some awkward spots.  My king has become bolder over the years and, when he goes down, he goes down fighting.  At any rate, it’s excellent fun and flexes the gray matter a bit. 

Funny . . . Dave remarked the other evening that when he gets in a tight predicament, he goes on the defensive . . . . but me?  He says I just keeping attacking.  Must be my Warrior nature, eh?

Well, Dave is catching up on some sleep that eluded him earlier.  I’m in the office with some afternoon quiet time; hence, this blog post.  I’m looking at nine more hours until my day winds down.  Caught up on work and personal paperwork yesterday and it’s totally icky out, so guess I’ll find some other things to occupy the rest of my day. 

“Whatever the gains, whatever the loss, they are yours.”

– Fine Wounds, Nez Perce

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Valentine’s Day Recap

Dinner out?  Nope.  Movie?  Nope.

It was quite a nice Valentine’s Day, though.

We made a quick trip to the market to restock a basic few food items.  We could have waited until Monday to do so, but the weather forecast was looking fairly grim at that point with snow and ice.  It’s a bit tougher to surprise one another with gifts when you’re out shopping together in one store; it’s easier at a mall.  I think we did pretty well, though, ending up with an exchange of cards, fave candy for Dave and flowers for me.

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The Radio Shack next door to the grocery store is closing its doors and having a huge sale.  I have been wanting another set of decent ear buds and scored nicely on those.  I’m glad the store in the mall will remain open.  I grew up with Radio Shack and they have been able to help with our Texas-based mobile phone service.  Some of the phone network provider stores cannot assist us if they are not a corporate location.  (This baffles me, actually.)  Radio Shack has always been able to provide the service, doing so with friendly and knowledgeable personnel.

Dave got some bike time in after our return and pretty soon it was time for our Saturday night chess session.

Funny . . . we work together and obviously live together, so we are in each other’s company pretty much all the time.  Our weekend evenings are special because it’s “us” time, not distracted with work or the routine tasks associated with the RV lifestyle, etc.  Weekend evenings are time spent simply enjoying each other’s company, which we still very much do after almost 10 years of this almost 24-hour togetherness thing.

Heck, even going shopping together is so . . . cozy and sweet.

Okay, that was Saturday.  Moving on to Sunday . . .

Again keeping in mind the weather forecast, we boogied over to Florence RV Park and refilled two propane tanks.  We have four tanks and typically don’t refill until we have three empties; however, we didn’t want to get caught short and do not want to be on the roads the next couple of days.

It is very cold here; well, very cold by South Carolina standards.  Dave has been hustling about this weekend keeping the water lines on the property from freezing and monitoring water flow, tank level, etc. 

We are hooked on Downton Abbey but instead of watching it every week, we skip a week and then double up on episodes the following Sunday.  We catch last week’s episode at 7 PM and then the current one at 9 PM.  This way we have a “Downton evening.”  On the alternating Sundays, we play chess and have a “chess weekend.”  Somehow this season of Downton seems more engaging than last year’s and we have been hooked all over again.  We see plot similarities between it and Upstairs, Downstairs now and then, as in tonight’s episodes.

While the chance of snow has lessened a bit, it will be interesting to see what tomorrow (Monday) has in store for us.  Stay warm and safe, wherever you might be!

“The Circle has healing power.  In the Circle we are all equal.  When in the Circle, no one is in front of you.  No one is behind you.  No one is above you.  No one is below you.  The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity.  The Hoop of Life is also a circle.  On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree, and every plant.  It is this completeness of Life that must  be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.  To understand each other, as the ripples when a stone is tossed into the waters, the Circle starts small and grows . . . until it fills  the whole lake.”

– Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota, grandson of Red Dog/Crazy Horse’s band

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Winding Up the Week

We finally experienced what I considered a nice-weather day Friday.  The high maxxed out in the low 40s, but it was sunny with just a hint of breeze and much lower humidity.  Even though today was one of the colder days according to the thermometer, I enjoyed the abundant sunshine and absence of biting wind.  The lower humidity really made a difference, too.  I have felt subjectively much more chilled here on days when it has not been as cold, but the humidity makes it a “damp cold” which I don’t tolerate very well.  At any rate, it was absolutely lovely out today!  Of course, this evening it is in the mid 20s and we’ll be dropping lower than that in the coming nights this weekend.

The really exciting thing?

One of the forecast models calls for snow next week!  Woot!  Of course, we’re talking South Carolina here, so there won’t be accumulations, but hopefully we’ll get to experience snowfall again.  I think we have both been missing that magic.

I tackled laundry today, getting that out of the way in the unlikely event the pipes freeze during this cold snap.  The added bonus is both weekend days are free of that chore. 

This afternoon I whipped up a chicken noodle casserole and had a bit of that for my dinner, and we’ll have that on hand for tomorrow, too. 

This evening (we’re talking Friday here), saw us engaged in yet another brilliant chess match.  Intriguing game, chess.  Even though our respective opening moves are the same each time, it is fascinating how the game develops into a different scenario each time.  Our games run at least two hours and lately going on three hours. 

Oh wow . . . it’s almost 1 AM on Valentine’s Day. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We don’t have special plans for the day, unless you consider going out for a few groceries special.  You know what, though?   Really every day we’re together is special.  I don’t know how I got so lucky to be spending my life with Dave, but I am.  I remember when I was getting ready to board the plane with Dave to go to Scotland in November 2005.  We had spent about two weeks together here in the States after courting over the Internet.  (There is a longer story to that courtship, but I’ll save that for another time.)  I had said something to my aunt (she and my uncle were at the airport in Minnesota with us) about being so lucky, and she whispered in my ear “God knew what you needed.”  She also said at one point that Dave was my reward after everything I’d been through during the years before (cancer, heartbreaking divorce).  Well, I’m not a big “God” person, my spiritual beliefs being a sort of patchwork quilt of various philosophies, so I’d say that Spirit knew what I needed. Who would have thought that an instant message and a few emails would blossom into the bouquet my life is with this man I call Husband.

We typically don’t go out on weekends, but we’ll be stocking up on a few essentials in light of the wintry precipitation in the forecast next week.  Oh my god!  It’s gonna snow!  Get the bread, milk and eggs! Haha!  We will need to get propane Monday during the day, and that’s the last time we’ll be “oot and aboot” until after whatever falls from the sky is gone.  Folks in The South simply do not know how to drive in snow (even a dusting on the roads) and/or ice.  We may end up not getting anything like that, but we’ll be ready just in case.  We can just hunker down and enjoy it.

There’s still a load to get out of the dryer and fold before I hit the blankies in a while, so I’ll toddle off for now.

“You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home . . . This country holds your father’s body.  Never sell  the bones of  your father and your mother.”

– Old Chief Joseph (tu-eka-kas), Nez Perce

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So Much More Than Just a Saying

“Life is short.” 

It’s not just a phrase or a saying.  It can be too true.  I became aware of some news today that brings this home in a way that is a punch in the gut.  To be honest, I am angered and saddened.  And frightened.  No, the news is not about me; however, it could so easily be news about me.  Or you.  Or someone you hold dear.

It is a stark reminder to embrace each day with joy celebrating what is truly of value in one’s life and shrug off what is of no real consequence in the fabric of our lives.

Happy Cheeks, I am wrapping my Warrior Scarf around my head in your honor and will walk by your side down this path, as will so many of your sisters in survivorship, now set before you.  Pinkie is stocked and at your beck and call.   Love you! 

~~~~~~~~~

Maggie and I went to Palmetto Animal Hospital for her meet-and-greet Wednesday afternoon.   I was very pleased with the facility and with the staff.  She balked a bit going out the door of the exam room with a tech to have a blood draw (giving me a look of “Momma, where are they taking me?  Why aren’t you coming?”), but returned her usual wriggly-tail and cheery self.  That’s a good sign.  Stocked up on flea/tick and heartworm meds, got her food prescriptions, discussed treats that might sit well with her diva-delicate stomach (even a free sample) and made the appointment for her dental cleaning next week.  After researching vets in the area, I chose Palmetto based on reviews, location, services and the fact that they offer after-hours emergency care for existing clients. 

The doctor called today with the lab results; all is fine with our Maggie across the board (it was an extensive lab panel).  I’ll take her in next Wednesday afternoon, she’ll spend the night and undergo the procedure the next morning.  I think there has only been one other night she has been away from us, and that was back in 2012 when she had bladder stone surgery.  I say “I think” because that incident was on the heels of my surgeries that summer and I was still recovering; things are a bit foggy from that time.  She and I ended up spending time recovering from surgeries together.  Our wee Maggie girl . . . I love her dearly.

At any rate, it will be strange to be Maggie-less for an overnight.  We have never boarded her.  Where we go, Maggs goes.  Of course, that means I’ll have my entire bed to myself for a change.  Ha!  Seriously, though, I will miss that lump between my feet even for one night.

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We’re getting a dose of Winter here in South Carolina over the next days.  The wind has been brisk today (again as usual) and temps will dip into the 20s tonight.  We’re looking at shivery days and overnights in the teens over the weekend.  Currently, Monday night’s forecast indicates a “wintry mix” as a possibility!  Of course, that is more likely to be in the form of ice instead of snow and could disappear from the forecast.

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Then there’s the exciting news of Dave’s bike ride today . . . no dogs!  How cool is that?!

Okay.  It’s time for my midnight-ish patrol round.  Go hug  someone or something you love! 

Peace, ya’ll!

“Teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers.  So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.  Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the earth is our mother.  Whatever befalls the sons of the earth . . . This we know; all things are connected like the blood which  unites one family.”

– Chief Seattle (Seathl), Duwamish-Suquamish, 1785-1866

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Rising to the Challenge

Thank you, Phyllis and Jerry, for your encouraging words on my last post.  Ya’ll know me pretty darn well, recognizing and reminding me that I am a Warrior who thrives on challenges and for pointing out that the one presenting itself to me currently is to not only survive but to thrive in our current situation.  Here are my challenges:

  • Stay mentally stimulated
  • Remain spiritually awakened
  • Focus on positive aspects of my life and circumstances
  • Continue to nurture friendships and stay in touch
  • Integrate physical activity to these surroundings
  • Get off the property as feasible for interaction with others and as stimuli for all of the above

I have the resources to accomplish all the above and am already engaging in most of them.  I think what I need to do is be mindful of these goals every day and set my intention for each.

Just now I had a thought – “Is this what the newly retired grapple with after leaving the workforce?  That sense of lack of purpose, of direction?”  Yoinks!  Thing is, we are not retired but are working, so I do not  have the luxury of an open Life canvas.  So!  What I will try to do is paint my canvas within its confines – that is, working night shift seven days a week.

Staying mentally stimulated will be easier once my virtual assistant job resumes.  Right now I am in a holding pattern awaiting the next task on the project.  This lull has given me the opportunity to prepare and submit our 2014 taxes and to redesign my Reiki web site.  I have had the domain for at least a decade and even though I am not teaching at the current moment, I still maintain the domain.  One never knows what the future holds, and I do not want to relinquish the domain name.  The web builder software has been upgraded and my old site would at some point in the near future be inaccessible, so this needed to be done.  There may be some more fine tuning, but it is pretty much there.  Not thrilled with the prospect of a revamp (I really liked my previous design), I have to admit the new version has a more updated look . . . a more “going with the times” look.  Figuring I was on a “tech geek roll,” I did some tweaking of my Blogger blog.  If you are viewing the Blogger version of this post, you’ll notice it now includes a blog roll of sites I follow.  Our weekend chess sessions also help in this regard for both Dave and I, and we enjoy matching wits over the chessboard.  I do read and am currently returning to some of the books I kept from my fairly extensive library way back when . . . ones that feed my spirituality and give me pause to think and contemplate.

Remaining spiritually awakened is, I believe, a habit of remaining mindful and taking the time for meditation and other practices.  A deep spirituality is still very much part of my being, but I neglect it too often.  Like relationships, it needs nurturing.  This was a bit easier in surroundings which gifted me with the beauty of Mother Nature and her creatures, but I’ll work with what I’ve got.  Ha!

Focusing on the positive is a choice, so my intention (you remember that word, eh?) will be to choose to recognize the many positive aspects and blessings in my life and surroundings.  Sticking to the topics of our environment and situation, here’s a few:

  • A steady paycheck that is adequate for our needs with a bit left over.
  • We have our privacy and quiet, especially on weekends:  We’re not sandwiched between other RVs in a campground.  We can open our curtains without the possibility of curious eyes peeking in.  I can play my music as loud as I want (on weekends) when cleaning house, etc.. 
  • We have our washer and dryer on-site.
  • There are no drama queens in our workforce; no drama to the job and really no stress.
  • We have an office suite and restroom/shower facilities for our use.
  • The skies are more open here.
  • We are not micromanaged; actually, we’re not “managed” at all.  We just do our job.
  • Our RV home is under less stress in this more temperate climate.
  • There’s no road salt to wash off the truck after snowy winters.
  • Dave doesn’t have to get snow off our roof or change out propane bottles every 24 hours during Winter.
  • We don’t have to be concerned with slipping on ice.
  • The distance to get our propane tanks refilled is much closer.
  • We are finding the cost of living (so far) is a bit lower (on some items).
  • I don’t have to wear snow boots with cleats three months out of the year.

Continuing to nurture friendships is both easy and dicey.  Exchanging emails or yapping on the phone is easy with friends.  They’re friends, right, so it’s easy-peasy.  Living a nocturnal existence makes it a bit tricky at times, because most people live a “normal” schedule and are sleeping when it’s my “afternoon/evening.”  Still, there are weekly, every couple of weeks and monthly phone chats with longstanding friends.  Laughing, sharing and simply hearing their voices does my soul a world of good.  There’s the girlfriend of decades playing Words with Friends with me; we exchange messages now and then which doesn’t seem like much, but it is a daily connection.  There are all the folks on Facebook with whom I interact frequently.  “Are those real friends?” you may ask.  Well, yes, actually, they are.  There’s my godmother, the cousin I hadn’t been in touch with for decades, people I have been with in person over the years and those who have become friends and pals through sharing mutual interests, philosophies and activities via social media.  There is you, Awesome Reader of my ramblings, and those whose blogs I follow.  It’s pretty cool how one gets to know folks by reading each other’s blogs and commenting back and forth.  Long and short (probably too long) is that friendships require nurturing to keep them fresh.  This is a true labor of love and the rewards are . . . well, priceless.

Integrating physical activity is probably the kicker item in the list.  The everyday routine opportunities for physical work (mowing, gardening, walking, even shoveling snow) are simply not available here as they were in New Jersey.  It’s time to get a routine going for the bike on the stationary trainer, to dig out that Tai Chi DVD and, of course, continue my wall push-ups.

Getting off the property for fun and rejuvenation is something I do need to strive for a bit more, as we are very isolated here and have virtually no contact with others.  I confess, however, that after running two or three errands during the week, I am content to just stay put.  Yeah, I know, I need to get my hiney in the truck, crank up my tunes to “blow out the windows” volume and go for a drive.  I’m thinking 50 miles down the interstate, turn around and come back.  Well, okay, given the time constraints of our work schedule, I’ll settle for 30 miles.  Well, maybe 40.  I could do 40.  

So there you have it.  Challenges and a plan.  An intention, if you will.  I can do this.  May not be easy every day, but that’s why it’s called a challenge.

Today’s quote below speaks to me on a spiritual level somehow . . .

“To clothe a man falsely is only to distress his spirit . . . “

– Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux, 1868-1937

365 Days of Walking the Red Road

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Another Week Gone

We have been here in South Carolina for almost 4.5 months.  Some days it feels as if so much more time has passed than that and other days it feels like we have just arrived.  Not sure what that says.

This past week was another in a series of the same-old-same-old. 

Maggie is on prescription dog food, so I have made an initial appointment with a local vet for this coming Wednesday.  A meet-and-greet, if you will.  Once I have a prescription, I can order the food online and have it delivered.  This will be a huge help given the distance to the vet and our work  schedule.  I’ll also schedule an appointment for teeth cleaning for her and ask about getting some flea prevention.  We didn’t have an issue with fleas (none, zip, zilch) in New Jersey, just an occasional tick which I removed (and she gets the Lyme vaccination),  but I have a feeling things may be different in this location.  At any rate, I’m hopeful this will be a good vet and that Maggie will not be stressed with them; reviews are quite glowing, the person I spoke with on the phone was very nice and they have emergency services, a rare resource in this area.

Maggie had a spa day today, albeit with yours truly providing the pampering.  Gave her a very thorough clip during the wee hours of my shift Sunday morning and then a bath Sunday afternoon.  The weather here was quite warm, so we were able to do this outside.  Crazy towel time afterwards!  Fun!

Taxes are done and dusted for year 2014.  Yay!  That’s one less thing on my plate.

We certainly are saving money on dining out here, even given the modest number of times we ate out in NJ.  About once a month we would treat ourselves to a lazy Sunday breakfast at Perkins or perhaps a Sunday dinner at Applebee’s.  Here?  We have been out for a meal just once, to IHOP while out and about.  Again, our work/life schedule simply is not conducive to venturing off the property for meals or exploring the area.  When we do go out, it is to run errands such as refilling propane, to Lowe’s, for groceries, etc.  I get my hair cut once a month, and enjoy that wee bit of pampering.  Of course, Dave is off on the bike several times a week and I have a couple of hours of time for myself unrelated to errands off the property about once a month.

Yesterday I weeded out a few items – clothing and otherwise – and they went out the door.  I’m sort of in a paring-down mood.

It has been windy today . . . again.  I swear it’s either raining here or, if not, it is blowing a gale.  Rain returns tomorrow.  We have not had our awning out once here.  Strange, because when we were here for two months in 2010, we had our awning deployed and staked out the entire time.

We have had a couple of unsolicited initial contacts about other jobs; however, there has not yet been anything that has caused us to seriously consider leaving here.  Let me rephrase that . . . consider leaving this job, not this location.  We receive inquiries now and then, so this is par for the course.  Who knows?  Perhaps one day we’ll get an offer that will sound wonderful and we’ll be wheels up off to another adventure.

In the meantime, we’re holding our own and hanging in.  I feel like we’re in a holding pattern here, but grateful to be employed.  We play chess on weekends, and two of the games this weekend were absolutely our best yet.  If there had been an audience, they would have been on the edges of their seats.  Saturday’s match went for three hours.  Sweet.  I truly cherish our chess evenings.

Well, it will be time for my part of the night shift to end soon, so I’ll wrap this up for now. 

“I am not a child.  I can think for myself.  No man can think for me.”

– Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt), Nez Perce, 1840-1904

365 Days of Walking the Red Road

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I am a Warrior

The above bracelet is a Toby and Max design