It’s Not That I Don’t Want to Blog . . .

. . . it’s just that I usually don’t have the creativity or energy to do so after working or even on my days off.

“Why not?” you ask.

Well, this afternoon and evening I worked on five different blog posts as part of my responsibilities for one of my clients.  That includes formatting, proofing, editing when necessary, inserting images, composing lead-in “teasers,” SEO and so on.

Yes, folks, I’m blog-faced.

So, you see, by the time I wrap up a day’s work doing that or even close out a “typical” day at 10 PM or so, I’m spent. 

Your next question is, “What’s in a typical day?”

A typical day in the life of this virtual assistant starts between 2-3 PM and may include, in no particular order:

  • Reconciling bank accounts
  • Tracking and enrolling students using a variety of programs/platforms
  • Developing/updating procedures
  • Processing/composing/responding to emails of various natures
  • Preparing reports
  • Skype with client
  • Special projects, most recently background administrative assistance with a conference
  • Updating web analytics
  • Data input/revision on two different CRM platforms
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Web research
  • Spreadsheet creation and maintenance
  • Using Adobe in document conversion, editing, combination of files, upload, etc..
  • Uploading documents to platforms
  • Phone meetings with client
  • MailChimp
  • Various task management/sharing platforms
  • Blog work – not just the posts
  • Maintenance of various databases and systems (if I named ‘em all it would take a while)
  • Social media – maintenance, development, reporting, posting
  • Communicating with vendors on behalf of my client
  • Keeping my clients on track towards achievement of their tasks, goals and projects

I usually have about a gazillion tabs open in Windows on my laptop.

Oh heck, I know I’m leaving out things, but I think that gives you the flavor of what my work day may look like.

Yes, that can be in one day.  Yep.  Indeed.  Cool, eh?

Whew!

No complaints at all, mind you.  My days are varied at a lively pace and, while many of my responsibilities are now routine, there are daily “brain exercises” in problem solving, creativity, procedural development and the like to keep my gray cells happily ticking over.  I have been exposed to so many new programs, platforms, apps, etc. over the past several months . . . it’s great!  I have learned, and am still learning, so many new things.

That being said, I like the weekends, especially Sunday.  I’m off Tuesday/Wednesday and my clients are off on Saturday/Sunday.  There may be some interaction with either or both of them on Saturday now and then, but Sunday is usually a quiet day in that regard.  It’s a great time for me to catch up or work on projects which I find easier to tackle with “quiet time,” such as the blog posts today. 

I’m fortunate to provide services to two great clients who are flexible, who expect results but who in no way apply any stress, are willing to delegate (and sometimes eager, even – apparently they think I’m trainable – haha!), patient with my questions, and who I enjoy on both a professional and personal level.

So I look up and it’s 10:30 PM.  Egads.  Just about time for me to take a shower before Dave gets off work and heads home at about 11 PM. 

By the time my work day starts to wind down, I’m just done, as in stick a fork in me done.  All I want to do is step away from my desk and laptop, and let my brain veg out a bit, spend a bit of time with Dave when he gets home while we both wind down and then toddle off to blankies and wee doggie.

So there you have it, a bit of “Why I Don’t Blog Much These Days.” 

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?  It’s a crazy world we live in.

 

 

Christmas Day – 2015

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Christmas Full Moon in Bryan, Texas

We have been enjoying a laid-back Christmas Day this year, our first Christmas in Texas since 2009.  When I checked the outside temperature earlier, it was 76F.  Crazy, especially for us being accustomed these past six years to snow or at least temperatures 30-40 degrees colder. 

Christmas decorations 3 12132015

Had to find a new spot for our wee display this year, as we no longer have a dining table.

We have A Christmas Story on DVD; that’s what is on now, having been preceded by It’s A Wonderful Life.  Both films have been televised over the past week, but Dave’s work schedule has prevented him from catching them.  Besides, it’s sort of a tradition of ours to play them Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  We watched White Christmas last week, so I had my “fix” already.

I made sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs on Wednesday – 4 batches of the first and 2 of the latter.  That’s another holiday tradition around here.  Today’s dinner was ham and other dishes.  We exchanged cholocate yummies as part of our gifts this morning and, combined with some other goodies acquired during the week, our fridge is packed.  Needless to say, we won’t be hard put to find something to gnosh on for days.

The park has been pretty darn quiet today.  Just about all the long-term folks are gone, although their rigs are still here.  There is a handful of short-term rigs; two of those look like they’re pulling out tomorrow; they hooked their “toads” to their Class A rigs this afternoon.

Dave got out for a bike ride this morning while I was putzing around in the kitchen.  The weather was oblinging, and he enjoyed his holiday ride. 

Winter will be making a comeback Monday after storms roll through here tomorrow and Sunday. 

Hoping your Christmas Day was a pleasant one! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Landed Safely for the Night

Quick post just to say we have landed in at Montgomery South RV Park in Hope Hull, AL, which is just south of Montgomery. Uneventful trip, although we were glad to be out of the Atlanta area.

This park is okay . . . although we are not initially impressed due to the fact that there were 3 freely roaming dogs (1 which we have to chase away from our site and who appears to have ear mites and some sort of skin condition) and 1 freely roaming cat we had to shoo away. Site is really too short for a long rig, but is doable. Utilities are at the rear of the site, so one cannot pull up far enough to park one’s truck behind the rig or to line up entry steps to the concrete patio (which is large and nice). So . . . we’ll see what tomorrow brings. We’ll probably stay unless the owner/manager cannot/will not control the dogs or if this becomes a major issue. There are no lights in the park whatsoever, although we are parked right by the office and there is a porch light there.

There is cable for TV but it does not work. Internet is slow and unsecured. Cannot fathom an unsecured network in this day and age, especially since putting in place a password of some sort is a simple thing.

Owner/manager is nice and gave us a good rate but . . . one can have the nicest park in the world and freely roaming dogs and cats make it a thumbs down.

Can you believe this is in their rules here . . . “Pets are welcome, although dogs must be kept on a leash at all times when outside of your RV.”

Ya’ll be safe out there!

Thanks for stopping by!

And on the 14th Day . . .

the Sun Did Shine!

We awoke a bit after 8 AM this morning at the Barnyard RV Park in Lexington, SC to actual sunshine. It is difficult to express how wonderful this was after enduring 13 straight days of virtually nonstop rain, including the massive and catastrophic rain system that pummeled South Carolina this past weekend. We rolled out of the park and onto I-20 West shortly before 11:30 AM.

Our first stop was about 60 miles down the road at the Georgia state line welcome center. Yes, there was cheering as we crossed into Georgia from South Carolina.

Georgia Welcome Center on I20 West 10062015

Dig that blue sky!

We munched Pringles (our road trip snack of choice) merrily along until Exit 114, and stopped at the Pilot across the interstate to fuel up for tomorrow’s leg of our journey. Back out on US 129/US 441, we crossed I-20 and cruised down a couple of miles to Country Boys RV Park. This is our third stay here. The park really isn’t much to look at, but it is quite decent for an overnight stay with WiFi that works, cable, good utilities and decent gravel sites. Most of the park is filled with long-term workers, but everyone is friendly and we stop now and then to visit for a bit when we take our strolls around the site loop. We talked quite a while with a young man who is a traveling nurse. I would certainly recommend this as an overnight stay.

Country Boys RV Park Site 59 10062015

Letting our awning dry out a bit here at Country Boys RV Park

If you’ve been watching any coverage of the situation in South Carolina, you’ve heard about dams failing and/or breaching. These have been earthen dams in the area; however, we were never in the path of potential danger from these.

Lake Murray was not too far north from our location in Lexington. The Saluda Dam (or Dreher Shoals Dam) is a large dam that is located there. Lake Murray had reached capacity and the dam floodgates were opened at least twice during our stay. This had not happened since 1969, except for testing purposes. South Carolina Emergency Management Division periodically posted reassurances on Facebook that the Lake Murray dam was in no danger of failure, and I certainly did appreciate that. If that dam would fail . . . well . . . we would have been done. Quickly. Period. Truth be told, I feel just flat better being away from there.

Here we have cows lowing in the field next door. Cows have groovy energy.

We traveled 152.9 miles today without incident or discomfort, for which I am very grateful. Tomorrow we’ll be making our way down to Hope Hull, AL, just outside Montgomery, where we will lay over for 6 nights.

Hopefully that stay will be the relaxing time we envisioned for Lexington. Although we were never in immediate danger, the conditions were absolutely uncertain and we never could really let down our guard. I’m looking forward to doing laundry, working my virtual assistant job and transitioning from disaster preparedness mode to enjoying-the-road-trip mode.

Thanks again, everyone, for your continued support and good vibes as we journey along!

Ya’ll stay safe out there!

Thanks for stopping by!

Counting Down the Days . . .

and, man, we’ll be so ready to pull outta here on October 1.

This has turned out to be pretty much the assignment from Hell. While our time here has given us a bit of boost in funds and an opportunity to regroup and plot a course forward, I have to say . . . it is horrid here.

Yes, it could be worse. If it were, we would not still be here; the only reason we are still here is from an ethic to finish our commitment and our loyalty to the companies we have worked with for the past several years.

After leaving here in March and then returning in July, we realize we didn’t just have our knickers in a knot when we left before. This truly is not a good environment for us and our home.

No, I’m not just talking about the ants which, after a hiatus of several days, have reappeared with a vengeance due the recent slight change in weather.

Dave is lucky to get 3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period and suffers from constantly blocked nasal passages. I have headaches daily and a freely running nose constantly. We both have episodes of tickled throats with coughing and burning, watering eyes. I am also experiencing more intestinal issues here.  I feel physically ill here most of the time. Dave stays exhausted due to lack of adequate sleep. We both often feel “itchy” with a crawling sensation on our skin, even though nothing is there . . .

Neither of us has even been up for chess the past few weekends, and you know we so enjoy our matches.

We remember we experienced these issues before, and they cleared up after we left.

One side of our entry steps turned green with mold? fungus? moss? Yeah, looked like moss, really.

Preparing a proper meal is tricky with having to keep things back in the fridge or up off countertops due to the ants. We really have not been eating great meals due to those logistical hurdles and the fact that our schedule (night shift) throws off our eating times. Neither of us has much of an appetite, anyway. We spray outside, keep crumbs off our counters, keep things sealed, wash dishes immediately, etc. The problem is simply too enormous here and has gone unchecked for so long here on the property that we will not be rid of the wee devils until we leave.

We are absolutely looking forward to getting some decent lettuce again. Produce here is subpar and we stopped buying lettuce weeks ago as it was a waste of money. I miss a green salad!

We dare not open our vents or windows due to not only the multitude of insects but also because of the odors here. Tonight it is very “green” smelling out, literally a “green” and plastics-smelling odor. This is from the water treatment ponds at the back of the facility.

Tonight it smells like Pasadena, TX. If you’re from that area, you’ll know the saying of “The air is greener is Pasadeener.” Ha! Yep. Smells like Pasadena tonight.

Other times one is “delighted” with the smell of smoke from area residences either burning trash or the burning off of fields. There is also a lumber place near the grocery store; fresh timber is brought there and cut, so one gets that smell, too. Yes, a wood smell can be pleasant, but this is almost overpowering.

Thankfully, we don’t have much longer here, and we’re just trying to hang in there until Oct. 1.

On that note, our route is plotted and reservations made along the way. We’ll spend our first 2 nights out at The Barnyard in Lexington (about 90 miles west). We will have been working the night before (with Dave getting off work around 6 AM on the morning of departure), so making our first move a short one and staying 2 nights will give us a chance to rest and begin adjusting to regular sleeping patterns again. 

One thing about reliving the unpleasant environmental issues here is that it reaffirms our previous decision to leave here.

We are hanging in, trying to stay healthy and retain (what’s left of) our sanity until we leave.

Just telling it like it is . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

Changes Coming

Our gig here is a temporary one, and we’ll be rolling out the gate October 1.  We have been working with the security company since 2010, really the entire 5.5 years we have been full-timers. We like everything about the work – the people, the work itself and the income. In view of my body’s “new normal” following my surgeries in 2012, we are thankful for the nature of the work, the conditions, lack of stress, everything about these assignments. We would like nothing better than to have another following this one; however, we are realists and will be pleasantly surprised if that develops. Whatever happens, we are grateful for the time we have had with this company and its owner.

Back in July my Little Voice whispered, “Medical transcription.”  I was a home-based MT for several years with a bit of time before that in the 1980s in-house at a hospital, was good at it and made a decent living when I was on my own. I continued in the profession after Dave and I married in 2006, up until the time we relocated from Minnesota back to Texas.  When I first had the dream of becoming a solo full-timer back in 2003, I planned to take that job with me on the road. Dave and I talked about my getting back into it. It will give us a source of income that will allow us to be independent and one that we can take with us when the time comes that we want to hang up the keys and come off the road. (We talk about returning to northern Minnesota at some point in the future, but not living in our RV.) Even if we happen to get another security gig, I can do the MT work part-time, as I am currently with my virtual assistant job. I reactivated my professional organization membership and am making my way through an acute care (hospital dictation) self-paced online course through the continuing education branch of that organization to refresh my skills. I always enjoyed being an MT. I find it fascinating. It’s fun! I’m quite pleased that the “lingo” is returning easier than anticipated. Apparently MT work imprints repressed memories. Teehee!

Workstation 08112015

Ergonomics are essential in MT work. Dave added on a keyboard shelf to my wee workstation. The black ergonomic keyboard sits on the shelf; it’s just off in the photo to show the extension. My new work area will go in the rig where our dining table currently sits. Maybe that will happen this week?

I can do the job, but the trick will be finding the desired opportunity. I have been away from the profession for a few years and its nature has changed somewhat; however, I have solid experience in acute care (which is a higher level of technical expertise). I also performed QA and mentored new MTs in my final position. These are all factors in my favor.

Turns out my Little Voice was prophetic yet once again, as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas recently announced it will not offer individual PPO health insurance plans in 2016. Only HMO plans will be available. Since BCBSTX is the only carrier available in our zip code (Livingston / Escapees), we are once again losing good (although significantly inferior to the insurance we had prior to the enactment of the ACA) insurance. Our PPO covers us out of Texas. The HMO will not. BCBSTX currently has an add-on option called Away from Home Care; however, under one HMO network it covers emergencies only for a period of less than 90 days out of Texas and provides no coverage at all under the other HMO network.

Well.  #*()#& <— insert your favorite expletive deleted. I once worked for a minor league baseball club, so I have several choice ones in case you need suggestions.

I have avoided HMOs my entire life and am now forced into one. Okay. I’m not going down the road of talking about this. I fought the good fight when the ACA was coming with letters, emails and phone conversations with my legislators, all to no avail. The things I predicted with the ACA are coming to pass. At this point, I am simply focusing on survival for us.

Even Warriors get tired.

So.

More information will be available from BCBSTX in October (supposedly), so we’ll know more (hopefully) and can make definitive plans at that time.  Plans set in Jell-O, of course.

Everything is happening in October.

That in itself is a source of stress these days. We roll out of here October 1. We originally planned on landing somewhere in The South (probably GA or AL) for the winter, hopefully with Dave working for our site and my getting into MT work. That idea is history. We won’t know anything about health insurance until October or November. Somewhere in that time frame I need to start applying for MT positions.

Right now the probability is that we will be returning to Texas for the long term. I have been researching the availability of healthcare services in different areas based on current available information, the towns and areas in general and different options regarding long-term RV sites.

Again I say, “So.”

Timing will be the tricky part, and we are still grappling with that. Head straight to Texas? Sit elsewhere for the winter months? Don’t really want to start a new MT job and then have to take a break to travel. Same thing goes for Dave landing a workamping gig. Oh well. I have to trust The Universe that all will work out as it should.

The ideal scenario would be another security assignment in Texas and I could work part-time as an MT, setting us up for the long term and our dream of eventual return to Minnesota.

If that does not develop, what I envision is making a sustainable living as an MT, our home set up in a comfortable park, Dave finding activities to keep him occupied and fulfilled, perhaps even hanging out my virtual “open for business” sign to The Universe and teaching Reiki again, being able to move with the seasons within Texas (i.e., down to the beach for winter) or maybe even a bit into Arkansas where it might be a tad cooler during the heat of the summer months and . . . well, simply comfortably enjoying ourselves.

It has the potential to be a totally groovy existence!

In Other News

We have started playing chess again on the weekends.  Yay us!

The ants are still with us and will be until we leave here. It’s just a fact of life at this location. I have felt better about our intruders after seeing this news article about seed bugs in California. One woman says in the article the only light she has on in her home at night is the television. Yikes!

Dave was run off the road today when he was cycling. Thank goodness he is a very proficient and talented cyclist. He managed to stay upright as he went off the road into a ditch to avoid being struck by a car. A woman out in her yard called over to make sure he was okay.

I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson and others on Pandroa lately when I work at night. I remember my parents playing a record of El Paso by Marty Robbins. What I never realized until recently is he has another song about that cowboy’s love Faleena. Crazy. Me? Listening to that? Yeah. Well . . .

If you’ve made it this far, all I can say is I do appreciate you taking the time to read what’s going on. Lots happening, eh?

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Three Years and Kickin’ It

I had not intended to write a blog post today, but Facebook brought to my attention memories of this date – July 19 – from previous years. 

It was on July 19, 2012, that I was told a tumor (goblet cell carcinoid) had been found on routine pathological exam of my appendix following emergent appendectomy on July 11, 2012.  Dave and I were also told by my surgeon that I should have follow-up surgery to remove my right colon and ovaries.

Whoa.  Talk about a literal punch in the gut.  That news came outta nowhere.

I underwent the second surgery in August 2012, and have now seen three years of survivorship.  Again.  I say “again” because I underwent treatment for early-stage breast cancer in 2001.

You know, I really don’t think about the GCC these days, although the residual effects of that second surgery are with me daily.  My body certainly isn’t the same following that surgery; I live with a “new normal.”  I’ll spare you the details.

Three years.  The five-year survival rate is about 70-80%.  Could be better odds.  Could be worse.  Those are statistics, and I am not a number.  I have been cancer-free for these three years.  Most days I feel pretty darn good.  Our lifestyle over the past year has allowed me to drop some weight, so I’m back down to a trim 130 pounds, having shed about 15 during those months.  The reality is my long-distance cycling days are gone, but I walk as often as possible and have found that I love walking.  I pretty much eat what I want and do what I want physically.

I have been a bit concerned lately about our future.  Our security job here runs through September and, as of this writing, we do not have anything else lined up.  We are hopeful there will be another assignment for us, as we like and are well-suited to the work, enjoy the people with whom we work and, well, the pay is good.  We are, however, exploring other options for the long term in case that does not materialize.  We would be foolish not to do so.

Thing is . . . all any of us have is right here, right now. Life can change in a literal heartbeat, the ground and life as we know it shifting and falling away from us into the Unknown.  Sometimes that Unknown is kinda scary, eh? 

One of the blessings, if you can call it that, of a cancer diagnosis is putting your world,  your life, your relationships, your beliefs into sharper perspective.  It brings into precise focus what is truly important in your life.  It can also be a reminder to lighten up. 

Fighting, beating and living beyond cancer is serious business, not just for the survivor but for spouses, partners, friends, caregivers and everyone affected by, and on the periphery of, the survivor’s diagnosis.

A few ants in the kitchen?  Annoying as hell, yes.  But, hey, no one told me today that I have cancer. Lighten up!  It’s a great day!  Woot!

Not sure where we’ll be in three months’ time?  The Universe knows what It is doing and things unfold as they should.  We’ll see what shakes out and try to put together a parachute of our own to help float us to where we are meant to be.

No one told me today that I have cancer.  Lighten up!  Life is an adventure!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Approaching storm this evening

We have settled into a routine here again.  Our day starts between 11 AM and noon, feeling no guilt at sleeping in to such hours since we are working night shift.  We make a grocery run one weekday and another weekday is laundry day.  There may be days when we need to run another errand or perhaps I stay here and Dave heads out on the bike.  We are back on the property by 4 PM if we do leave and begin our on-duty time through the night into the early morning when facility personnel are back on-site.  Honestly, I’m content with not having to go anywhere the days that aren’t for getting provisions or doing laundry.  Weekends are different, as we are on duty around the clock from whenever the last person leaves Friday until the first one arrives Monday morning.  I have been working my virtual assistant job quite a bit during the days and overnight in between patrol rounds. Evenings after dinner we watch some TV together; right now we are making our way through Frasier. 

Yep, Life is indeed good.

Three years down the path of survivorship and I am grateful for this moment.  Right now, at this place.  I am grateful for and still head over heels in love with my brave and strong yet gentle (and oh-so-patient) Scotsman after being together essentially 24/7 for almost 10 years.  Truly the legacy of William Wallace (“Braveheart”) lives in the Soul of my husband.  I am grateful for our wee Maggie, the sweetest and most cheerful-hearted dog.  I am grateful for our home, our work and our adventures in Life we share.  I am grateful for the adventures yet to come for us. 

I am grateful for right here, right now.

Thanks for stopping by!