Good Excuse as Any

One of my major work systems is undergoing maintenance this evening, so I might as well blog.  Right?

To say that our days are full right now is a bit of an understatement.  We’re both back to work and have most of our weekly routine back, although interspersed with relocation-related activities.

Sherry, (In the Direction of Our Dreams), in response to your question about how the Edge would handle the snow, it is front-wheel drive (a must for up here) and has intuitive all-wheel drive.  Apparently it senses when the tires are slipping, and kicks into AWD automatically.  I’m told I won’t even notice, but I wonder about that.  Our truck had 4WD on the fly which I manually engaged when needed, and I could tell a difference in traction and the way it handled.  We’ll see later this year when the white stuff starts falling for real.  I still need to study the owner’s manual and spend some time in the “cockpit” learning all the in’s and out’s of our Beastlet.

Here’s snippets of life in a small northern Minnesota town so far:

  • Wednesday at a local grocery store is Seniors Day, with 5% off your bill.  Yes, I qualify, which I find both amusing and bemusing.  Tuesday is Double Stamp Day. Are you old enough to remember collecting Green Stamps in a book?  Well, they have their own version of that which you collect on paper cards.  Twenty stamps = $1 off groceries or gas, up to $10 at one purchase. 
  • The small mall is within walking distance.  No kidding. There are a lot of other amenities within walking distance.

Bear tapestry 04212017

I purchased this small tapestry at an outdoor market in 2005, when I lived in Hibbing, MN. Not sure where it will “live” here, so in the meantime, I hang it temporarily at night to keep it from becoming wrinkled. It’s nice having special items out for enjoyment instead of packed away.

  • Our townhome has drapery hardware already in place.  A traverse rod, mind you.  Are you old enough to remember drapery hooks?  These worked with pinch-pleat drapes, which you will be hard pressed (no pun intended, but there ya go) to find anywhere except by ordering online.  After hanging the first set as an “experiment,” I now understand why women of the 1940s and 1950s did not work outside the home.  It could take all freakin’ afternoon just to hang one window’s worth of drapes with hooks.  The result is better than I anticipated after watching a YouTube instruction video on doing this.  It’s doable, but I may order a different brand – and certainly different color – for the other rooms. No matter what type of curtain top treatment, the vast majority of curtains in stores here are foam-backed insulated.  You might ask, “Why is that?”  Well, it gets cold here in Winter, baby!

Curtains in office 04212017

Looking out my office window, with curtains

Deer next door 04202017

View from our front porch yesterday evening. There are 5 deer that seem to pass through about the same time on a daily basis.  I’ve also seen a fox out in the field.  Building in forefront is the Home Care and Hospice agency associated with the hospital, and the hospital is in the background. Told ya there were amenities within walking distance.

  • Speaking of walking, one sees frequent walkers here throughout the day.  Yes, people walking on purpose, for exercise and/or enjoyment.  I hope to join their ranks once things settle down a bit.
  • It is still pretty chilly here, and we’ve had some rainy days.  Today, however, it was in the low 60s and stunningly gorgeous outside.  Difficult to stay indoors and work, I tell ya.  Good thing I enjoy my work!

Workspace 04142017

Here’s my workspace. I. Am. In. Heaven.

Work buddies 04132017

Top shelf good vibes

  • I met our mailman the other day.  Wow.  We have a mailman.  We’ve even gotten mail!  You know, the paper kind you can touch.
  • I’ve cooked a few times and, with my first “major” cooking effort wondered at the fact that I had prepared the same meal in our RV.  “How did I do all this in such a smaller space?  Wow!”  Not to mention having hand-washed all the resulting dishes, pots, pans and utensils.

Aloe Vera in kitchen 04192017

Having no plants in the RV, I have reinstated my tradition of an Aloe Vera in the kitchen.

The evening is progressing, so I’d best wrap this up and publish.  I am once again very grateful that we were able to make this move.

Front porch evening 04082017

Front view from porch at evening

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll stay safe out there, okay?

Settling In

We departed the RV park in College Station, TX the afternoon of Tuesday, April 4, and arrived at our new digs in Bemidji, MN that Saturday afternoon.  Our departure was a bit later in the day, by the time we loaded the truck with our belongings from the rental travel trailer.  Besides that, we weren’t in a hurry.  We drove each day until we decided we’d best look for a hotel for the night.  We ended up staying in Ardmore, OK; Emporia, KS; Sloan, IA; and Fargo, ND. 

We were fortunate to have no issues on the road, although the wind was incredible every day. One day it was headwind, the next tailwind, and so on each day.  We were sure glad it wasn’t a crosswind!  We were able to find lodging every night with parking to accommodate our truck and U-Haul trailer within walking distance to restaurants.

The AmericInn in Fargo was our fave of the trip.  They boast of being “Rated the Best Hotel in North Dakota.” I have no arguments with that!  Flipping through the cable channels, we found the move Fargo.  Even though we’d seen it before, you know we just had to watch it being where we were!

AmericInn Fargo 04072017               Lobby of the AmericInn in Fargo. We enjoyed the lodge theme, which was found throughout the hotel.  Sitting by the fireplace for a while felt good!

After unloading and dropping off the U-Haul trailer Saturday afternoon, the process of unpacking and setting up our new home began.  All the boxes are gone now, and we’re awaiting delivery of some furniture tomorrow. 

Our home 04122017

We’re in a 55+ community, each building being a 4-plex of townhomes. Ours is a 2-bedroom unit.

The Monday after our arrival found us at the Ford dealership.  One of the truck batteries had gone bad and, while that was being addressed, we decided to look at cars while waiting.  We had plans to downsize in the near future, as we no longer needed our Beast – a Ford F-350 1-ton diesel – since we no longer had to tow an RV.  Well …

2014 Edge Sport new ride

Our “new to us” ride, a 2014 Ford Edge Sport with low miles

After about 5 hours at the dealership, we had negotiated an excellent trade-in value on our truck (everybody wanted the Beast) and a whopping deal on this Edge.  I had been doing research for a while on the Edge and a Honda CRV, with the Edge having … pardon the pun … an “edge” over the CRV.  The Beastie here has all sorts of electronic gizmos and systems, and I still need to get the owner’s manual out and spend time with it.  For now, I’ve got down the basics – syncs my phone, plays my Pandora, I know about the basic computer screens and systems, and can get us around.  It has heated seats and a sunroof.  I’ve never had a sunroof (and that feature wasn’t a factor in our decision), but it might be nice in the climate here.  Personally, a sunroof in Texas just doesn’t make sense.  Anyhoo, it’s fun to drive and handles well.  We certainly didn’t anticipate making a car deal on our 2nd full day here, but there it was, and we won’t have to do it in the future.  Cross off one item on the “to do” list!

Betty Paul and Babe 04102017

Requisite “touristy” photo with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

We both started back to work on Saturday, and are settling into a bit of a routine once again.  I don’t think either of us would trade the years we spent full-timing in our RV, but this is a welcome change. Everything here is nearby – a nice walk or short drive.

I step out on the porch in early mornings and smell pine trees. Eagle makes morning rounds, and gulls (yes, gulls because of Lake Bemidji), ravens, and Canada geese are seen and heard throughout the day. I saw a fox and a deer in the field nearby last night.

It’s such a relief to be in a small town and closer once again to Mother Nature.  My stress level has diminished greatly over the past week.

Evening view from office 04182017

Evening view from my home office

More later as we explore and settle into our new hometown!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be careful out there, okay?

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 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.

 

 

Been Keeping Busy, As Usual

Seems I either don’t have the time or the creative energy to blog these days.  Both of those commodities are being put to use in other ways and, when I have “down” time, it’s spent with Dave enjoying our Tuesday/Wednesday evenings relaxing our brains and bodies watching some previously selected Netflix programs.  Our latest was Last Tango in Halifax.  I take some Sunday evenings, such as this one, to catch up on things around the house, do yoga, organize my work area and projects for the coming week (read restore some order to the chaos resulting from the week winding down), clip and/or bathe Maggie and perhaps even gasp blog. 

I find if I do not take the time for personal creativity now and then, my temperament suffers both internally and externally. 

I was fortunate to be an advance reader of Paradise Down, the latest work of author Donna B. McNicol.   Paradise Down is now available on Kindle at Amazon.  It’s an entertaining whodunit set in Hawaii and, as usual, Donna delivers an enjoyable read.  You can visit Donna’s author website here to explore her other works, including The Klondike Mysteries.  I’ve read all of those, and hope there will be more in that series.  Ahem, Donna, nudge, nudge.

On Tuesday, I took the truck for a wee run up the road once again to Hearne.  My plan was to check out the Ace Hardware in downtown.  Gotta love Ace Hardware, ya know.

Hearne TX 05242016

   Downtown Hearne, a virtual ghost town on a Tuesday afternoon

I did prowl the Ace, a thrift store that had seen better days, a wee antique-type shop and Wilson Drugs.  Wilson is still a functioning pharmacy with gift items towards the front of the store.  I confess the cow portrait paintings captured my spirit and fancy and . . . one of these days I just might make a return visit for one of the smaller versions.  I expected outlandish price tags but was pleasantly surprised and, well, they made me smile.  Good vibes and all that, ya know.  Cow energy is totally groovy.  Trust me.  I’ve hung out with cows.

Once again, it was a rejuvenating outing for my Spirit – me, Truck, tunes and the open highway.  I think these wee expeditions nourish my independent Warrior Spirit.   

Thursday was the day of torrential storms and the tornado touchdown you have heard about in Bryan, TX.  That touchdown was perhaps five miles south of us, just a couple of exits down Highway 6 that runs by the park here.  Dave, Maggie and I joined others at the nearby restroom building here in the park for a while when the winds picked up and, well, it just didn’t feel “right” outside. 

I can’t describe that feeling to you other than it didn’t feel “right” and I knew we needed to get out of the rig.

Aggieland RV Park Bryan Flood 2 05262016

This drainage ditch in the park is typically empty.  This is looking out toward Hwy 6.

Aggieland RV Park Bryan Flood 05262016

Same ditch, facing the other way.  Tops of the culvert pipes are barely visible.  Those pipes are big enough for me to comfortably crawl into still relatively upright.  That’s a lot of fast-moving water, folks.

Even after the imminent tornado threat had passed, we were still under one tornado warning after another pretty much throughout the day.  Dave was scheduled for work but ultimately called in an absence due to severe weather.  Bryan and College Station PDs were telling people to stay off the roads, emergency vehicle sirens were heard constantly, there were reports of cars off the roads, roads were flooded and so it went all day.  The storms continued throughout the day; the rain was biblical, torrential.  In short, it was nuts.

With one ear and eye on weather conditions and Dave at home, I accomplished very little work on Thursday.  I’m grateful for understanding clients.

Speaking of work, one of these days I’ll share with you the sometime insanity that is a day in the life of a virtual assistant.  It’s actually a fun state of madness, and I’m grateful for clients who are both professional and a pleasure and for work that is stimulating both mentally and creatively.  I get a kick out of having a full day’s schedule and that feeling of “Yes!” when I tackle and conquer a new process or complete a project.  I experienced that this week in compiling procedures for a process, finalizing that document in collaboration with my client and then implementing those procedures for the first time.  The feeling of accomplishment is sweet.

It was a bittersweet week with anniversaries of the passings of two of my favorite people . . .

Karen and me camping

Me on the left and Karen on the right, camping “back in the day”

Cousin by blood, big sister and soulmate by hearts, Karen passed seven years ago on the 26th of May.   She was the wind beneath my wings throughout my life and remains so to this day.  I think I will always miss her.  I hope I will always feel her presence.

Dad and Texas Raiders

Dad with “Texas Raiders,” the B-17 he helped restore back in the late 1970s/1980s.  The B-17 was scheduled to be in College Station as part of her current tour, but has rescheduled for June due to weather.  I’ll go see her then and give her a hug.  It was aboard her that I dispersed Dad’s cremains in September 1997.  She’s a special lady.

It was 19 years ago yesterday, the 28th of May, when Dad “went West.”  We shared a special bond, as many fathers and daughters do, I suppose.  He instilled in me a love and appreciation of Nature and wildlife, photography and flying things, to name a few.  Over the years while I was growing up, he taught me how to be independent from the practical – such as changing a flat tire – to the spiritual of being content with one’s self and not dependent on another for one’s happiness.  He’s also “to blame” for passing along the nomadic genes I carry.

It was a week of smiles and, yes, misty eyes on occasion.  It was a week of a full heart. 

I apologize for the small font size.  I have attempted several times to change the size in this post with no success.  I’m composing in Open Live Writer, so perhaps it’s a glitch within the program.  Ugh. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Ya’ll stay safe out there, okay?

 

 

 

Kept the Balls in the Air Another Week

In my previous post, I visited with you about juggling Life and its activities.  I’m happy to report I kept those balls in the air another week, with my second Sunday evening yoga session.  As the routine I had chosen was only 30 minutes, I followed that up with a 30-minute guided meditation.  I’m thinking about extending the yoga portion out to 45 minutes or an hour; seems like 30 minutes left me wanting more.  I’m still modifying the routine, so it’s all a work in progress.

Maggie evening 05062016

Outdoor time continued this week, sometimes mornings, sometimes evenings.

Not only did Maggie and I have what I call our “outdoor therapy time” but she got a clip and some extended massage/silly talk time one evening.  This was the result . . .

Silly Maggie 05062016

Silly leg in the air after all that lovin’.

Of course, yesterday was Mother’s Day and my thoughts went to Mom, who has been gone since 2007.  Here’s one of my fave photos of her . . .

Mom Christmas 1950s

Christmastime photo taken by my Dad, probably in the 1950s.

Since we are off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Mondays are our Fridays.  Yay!  Lots of folks dread Monday, as it harkens the beginning of the work week.  We, however, look forward to Monday!  No great plans for this “weekend,” just the usual errands, cycling for Dave and hanging out for both of us.

After quite a bit of fine tuning, I believe I have found the right height and screen tilt for my laptop on my wee desk.  Did I mention I was hunting for a pair of prescription computer glasses I had from my medical transcription days?  Well, I think I have found them!  I have regular reading glasses for when I wear contacts, but they were totally ineffective for computer work.  After a grand “scavenger hunt,” I found a pair of glasses tucked away in a drawer.  I’m thinking they are prescription, as they are doing the trick so far.  What a relief.  The ergonomic chair purchased a while back, laptop position, mid-range computer glasses and increasing the magnification of my screen has lessened the eye strain, shoulder tension and general uncomfortable feeling I was having after putting in the hours of working on the laptop.  So far, so good for now.

It has been pretty darn blustery here today, although warm with no rain.  The heat has not been horrible . . . yet.  I have a routine I go through for “cool running” here in the rig after Dave goes to work.  I’ve been staying comfortable in shorts with both A/C units set at 76 and a floor fan going here in the living room.  I do turn them both units down before Dave gets home from work, so it’s really cool in here for him and in prep for sleeping.

“Cool running?”  Yes, that’s closing certain shades and curtains at different times of the day depending on the slant of Mr. Sun.  It’s not cooking during the peak heat time (4:30 to 7 PM) and not having the TV on.  The television puts out a fair amount of heat, actually.  Heck, I’m busy working or doing something else like house chores that I don’t need – or want – television.  What about with meals?  Nope.  I’ve been reading, as was my habit years ago.  (Right now it’s Bel-Air Dead by Stuart Woods.  I always enjoy the Stone Barrington novels.)

Tuna biscuit casserole 05072016

Enjoying cooking while it’s not 2000F outside.  Tuna biscuit casserole, a longstanding “comfort food” dish, for my meals this week

That inevitable time in Texas is approaching when the A/C units will be getting a thorough workout, so I’m trying to give them a break as long as possible.  I’m thankful we have not had really hot days yet and that, with the exception of one or two occasions, nights have been pleasantly cool for sleeping.

It is coming, though.  I dread it beyond description, but will soldier through and remember that it will come to an end.

You know what?  This blog post has come to an end.  Let the weekend commence!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Juggling Act

I’ve had this wee Gateway notebook for a few years. I used it now and then in New Jersey, but it seemed to run so slowly that I became frustrated with it on several levels. I dug it out recently just to see if it really was as bad as I remembered. Lo and behold, for some reason it seems to be behaving significantly better.  Who knows?  Perhaps it just likes Texas.

I’m composing in Wordpad, will save to a stick as a draft and then finalize the post in Open Live Writer and publish from my laptop.  The tricky part is typing on the very small keypad.

Why am I going to all this trouble?  I miss blogging and writing in general. I sit at my laptop working a significant number of hours these days.  I have less time for my brain to wander, if you will.  I miss letting my thoughts “freefall.”

To say that my days are full is somewhat of an understatement. That’s not a complaint, just a statement of fact.

I’ve got the basic daily routine of my life down pretty well and am now trying to integrate some other facets once again.

I have started giving Maggie more outdoor time, hooking her up to her lead and sitting out with her for 20-minute periods two to three times daily, weather permitting. 

Maggie outdoor time 04162016

She spends much more time indoors and is exposed to much less stimulation versus that in our life as a security team.  I could tell she was pretty much bored just hanging out watching me work.  Our “sit outs” seem to be helping, as she now anticipates them and seems more perky in general.  Yes, we walk the loop in the park, but it’s not the same as just hanging out listening to birds, watching people, etc.

Being more sedentary these days, I need to resume a walking routine.  This is not only good for my physical body, but for my state of mind and my Spirit.  Nothing like a 2-mile walk (several times around the loop) with groovy tunes in my head to recharge my batteries on several levels.  I’m hoping it will also help acclimate me to the Texas climate again.

Well, one can hope, right?

A scavenger hunt of sorts failed to turn up my yoga DVD. It has to be here somewhere; I just haven’t found it yet.  I did find my Tai Chi DVD, only to remember that the DVD player is disconnected from the TV to allow access for the cable converter box.

We have a Roku streaming stick, and I have found some yoga series on it.  In fact, I did a bit Sunday night and found that I need to do a lot more!  I think it will work be feasible to do yoga here in the living room.

It’s all about integrating and maintaining balance in one’s life, and that is what I am striving to achieve at this point.  I’ll have to compromise and improvise at times, but I think it will be worth it.

How’s your balancing act going?

Thanks for stopping by!

Another Week and More Cooking

So it’s Wednesday again already!  I’m grateful we made it through a week with no malfunctions of any sort.  Haha! 

I tell ya, my work is steady lately and for that I am also grateful.  Whew!  Keeps me hopping during the week.  As a matter of fact, I contemplated putting in some time yesterday or today (days off) but then thought, “Nope.  Not gonna get in the habit of that.  I need my time off.”  Thursdays are my “Mondays,” and catch-up days, so I know I’ll be hustling tomorrow.

Yesterday was errands-and-chores day, and I did accomplish everything, including a late afternoon boogie to H.E.B. for groceries.  I like to get all the errands done in one day, so the next day I can just be here at home to cook, chill or whatever, “whatever” being a blog post, crashing in my recliner in front of the TV . . . taking a day at a slower pace.

When returning home from the post office in the early afternoon yesterday, I overshot the exit to the park.  Was just grooving along in the truck with tunes cranked up and, next thing I knew, I was passing the park.  Contributing to that overshoot is the fact that the exit for the park is closed due to construction, so one has to get off the highway via the exit right before this one. 

Oopsies.  It was just one of those days when I was digging the drive and could have driven from here to . . . Iowa.  Ha!

Keeping in mind the new routine I want to establish of giving the truck a workout now and then, I just said, “Why not?” and kept on going.  Turned my sights to Hearne, a small town about 20 miles north on Hwy 6.  Cranked up the music and settled in to enjoy the drive.  Engaged the cruise control for a while just to make sure it still works.  It does. 

There’s not a whole lot in Hearne of interest from a quick glance, excepting perhaps the Ace Hardware store downtown.  Small-town Ace Hardware . . . love ‘em.  I tried to think of something I might need as an excuse to go in and wander around, but came up short.  So I went around the block and pointed Truck toward the barn.

Me, Truck, highway and tunes.  Bliss.

When I did arrive home about an hour later, I realized I felt bit more relaxed.  Thanked Truck for some much-needed windshield time.  “Me” time.  Sweet.

Dave got busy this morning and washed our awning.  He did a great job and it looks soooo much better!  We were able to leave it deployed for a while, but then the wind intensified and we had to retract it.  He clocked 30 miles on the bike after taking care of that maintenance task.

Wednesday cooking ensued while he was away – sausage kolaches, a beef-and-wild rice casserole and then cinnamon rolls (not from scratch, sorry).  Dog fed and walked, dishes done and dried, and now steak fries are in the oven which will accompany the burgers I’ll make in a bit.

Whew!  There are 40+ work emails awaiting my attention, along with routine end-of-week tasks and current special projects. 

That DIY project I alluded to recently?  It’s still in the box here in the living room.  I’ve eyeballed what needs to be done but need 2-3 hours of dedicated, uninterrupted (quiet) time to tackle it.  Hopefully soon.

Yeah, right.  Ha!

There are other things I’d like to talk about, but it’s just about time to put the burgers on. 

Perhaps next time, whenever that might be!

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?