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Today is the present… be the gift.

Sunshine March 15, 2016

So-o-o-o… landscaping skies returned today <smile>… and greeted my freshly manicured front entry…

The sidewalk to my front door.

The sidewalk to my front door.

Next on my list here, I’d like to paint the front steps. At one time they were covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting, but it was old and ugly and a couple of years ago I pulled it up and have been wanting to do something with the steps ever since, but just didn’t know what. Now that we have decided to get a new roof, I have decided that I will match the color of the front steps to it — after it is installed.

This is my 'utility yard'... it's to the west of my house.

This is my ‘utility yard’… it’s to the west of my house.

My ‘utility yard’ — so named because the door to my laundry room (around the corner) opens onto it, there is a clothes line strung above central green patch, and it is where we will eventually have a propane tank installed when we replace the electric range with gas — is a good example of how my wildflower gardens and meandering paths come together to create less maintenance work. The leaf-mulched areas in the  foreground and background the of the pic are flowerbeds and take advantage of seasonal leaf-fall (of which there is a lot) by using it in the area where it naturally occurs as mulch for beds within that area… thus eliminating the need to transport it someplace else… and reducing the area to be raked and mowed by 75%.

The ground around this downspout was low.

The ground around this downspout was low.

As you can see in the pic above, the area where water runs-off from this downspout had eroded, leaving a low spot. Not good. Water must flow AWAY from the foundation <grin>… And so my ‘big’ project today was to build-up the ground and reinstall the run-off stones.

Same area after a bit of TLC.

Same area after a bit of TLC. No more low spot. Happy run-off…!!!

Also, though I have no pics of it, my darling daughter Shawna and I were, over the weekend, able to get the potable water system in “Louise” de-winterized and working fine. Ah-h-h-h-h… a few more small steps toward being ready for road-tripping this summer…!!! (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

Rain, rain, rain… March 11, 2016

And more rain has brought a halt to landscaping fun for the moment. However, before everything turned wet, my youngest darling daughter and I managed to clear out all the scrubby-brush that was clogging this front corner of our yard, right where our driveway meets the lane.

Front corner of my front yard, overgrown with scrubby brush.

BEFORE: Front corner of my front yard, overgrown with scrubby brush.

AFTER: Same corner... much better looking.

AFTER: Same corner… much more tidy -and- you can see my house…!!!!

But back to the rain…. my heart goes out to all those who have been touched by flooding. My warmest good wishes and fondest hopes are for your expedient recovery.

One good thing about the rain for me is that I was able to confirm that the caulking I did around an old antenna cable that runs through my RV’s roof is still keeping things inside dry. And now that the weather has warmed, next on my ‘prepare for travel’ agenda is to fill the potable water tank and get that system de-winterized, ready for use.

Beyond that, headway is being made with getting all my other little projects (like doing the layout for the next publication  of Help YourSelf ) tied-up neat and tidy so that I am footloose and fancy free to pursue wherever my bliss leads me <grin>.

And lastly, but certainly not leastly <grin> I wanted to say a belated but super-big THANK YOU to my sweet child Shawna who, for my birthday, gifted me with a complete set of bed-linens for “Louise” (’02 Great West Van 20′) all matching the lovely comforter and shammed pillow shown in the pic of my aft berth, below…

I love the spacious look the mirrors give the cabin.

I love the spacious look the mirrors give the cabin.

 

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Daffodils & Orchids… March 5, 2016

Orchids (from Walmart) and Daffodils (from my garden).

Orchids (from Walmart) and Daffodils (from my garden).

…seems a fitting name for this mixed-medley pictorial of what I’ve been up to, am doing, and look to accomplish in the sweet by and by <grin>.  The inspiration for this namesake, pictured at right, greeted me every morning at breakfast for nearly a week. And even now, the Orchids still bloom.

spring_buds030516

Pretty blossoms dapple a flowering shrub in my backyard.

Lots of stuff is starting to blossom here in the Ozarks. Springtime and Autumn are my most favorite times of year. Daytime temps are in the 60s & 70s, nights are in the 40s, and sunny blue skies are common.

What more could anyone ask…???

Part of the enjoyment for me is being able to get outside and play in the yard.

Pictured below is the view of my yard, looking north from my house.  There is a circle drive around island of trees in the center. My RV, “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′) is on the left and the yellow trapezoid-thingy marks the spot where I would like to put a permanent RV pad.

Area where I would like to install an RV pad..

Area where I would like to install an RV pad..

Closer look at where I'd like to put an RV pad.

Closer look at where I’d like to put an RV pad.

Composted mulch

Composted mulch

Right now, in the area where I want the RV-pad, there is  HUGE pile of composted wood-chip mulch which I am now trucking by wagon-loads to top-off various flower beds such as the one (below, right) alongside the driveway to  my garage.

One flowerbed done... and a zillion to go .

One flowerbed done… and a zillion to go .

Note for the record that I LOVE my little wagon. It has proven itself as an amazingly useful utility not only for landscaping chores and but also for getting a trunk-load of groceries into the kitchen in one fell swoop…!!!

Anyway, the lovely rock planter has now had winter debris removed, a nice thick layer of composted mulch added, and Zinnia seeds planted. Also, I’m thinking that the oak pallet (in the background) might make a good base for a nice broad entry step to an RV when I get the new pad installed.

And behind that, if you look real close, you’ll see the right rear quarter-panel of my Tib… and the rear of my son Adam’s motorcycle.

Coldframe on deck.

Coldframe on deck.

The coldframe, at left, was constructed with an old bathtub, some plywood and a storm door, all of which came to me free at one time or another and — thanks to me being a ‘collector of things that have value’ — ultimately came together as this fun place to grow stuff.

Dill and Basil seeds planted in the freshly mulched coldframe.

Dill and Basil seeds planted in the freshly mulched coldframe.

This year, as you can see on the right, I’ve planted some dill and some basil. Now all there is to do, at least with this bed, is keep it watered and watch it grow.

Still, my yard is (to quote Bernie) YUGE…!!! Way more than I really want to handle by myself… which is why I am so thankful for the assistance of my darling daughter Shawna who is a big help with all sorts of household stuff.

And now, with the weather so appealing, the outdoors to-do list is long. In addition to moving all the aforementioned mulch, I have a bunch of flower seeds to plant and some maintenance work to do…

Anybody wanna come help…???

Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

FYI: All the seeds in the ‘kitty litter’ bucket were harvested from last year’s plantings -and- various roadside patches that caught my eye. The boxes-and-boxes of wildflower, zinnia, and other blooming seeds were purchased at the end of the season last year for 1/2 off… so the whole batch only cost about $5.

Unhinged gate.

Unhinged gate.

Other little projects to be tended in the not-too-distant future: The gate — leaning oddly to the left in the pic at left — has come loose from its hinges. Not a big project… just  one of many that takes time.

Anyway, enough about work… even though it mostly feels like play. As a closing note for this time around I’ll share a pic  of the two beautiful designer-art pillows my son Adam gave me for my 67th Birthday…!!! He said he thought they would look good in my RV… and I think that, as usual, he’s right…!!!!

Twin Turtles

Twin Turtles

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

gozarks goes mobile February 22, 2016

This morning, immersed in the riverside quietude of Maumelle Park, sipping coffee (lightly laced with Irish Cream), pseudo-watching ‘the news’ on airwaves TV and puffing, occasionally, on a corncob pipe stuffed with “Tin Star Menthol Pipe Tobacco” (yes, I still enjoy the ‘rush’ of nicotine <smile>), I imagined myself to be on the road to Somewhere Else and imagined what I would be doing along the way.

With ‘along the way’ being ‘any place’ that I might like to relax for a week or so as I travel to Somewhere Else…

And with knowing that my travels will be more comfortable by me ‘earning my keep’ as I go…

Thus I thought about what I am good at and would most enjoy doing to accommodate such a mutually beneficial business transaction and decided to simply go mobile with my longstanding credentialed skill-set in graphic design, promotional copy-writing, special event production and strategic marketing… updating or designing new logos, brochures, custom newsletters, website content, display ads, etc. (as was my professional mainstay for decades up until 2011) as I move about from place to place.

So, over the next short while I’m going to put into practice the marketing strategy thus designed <smile>, the first step of which shall be to develop a promotional flier for ‘gozarks goes mobile’… and when I have it done, I’ll pass it along to RV campgrounds along my projected route to Somewhere… which, given I can get all my ducks in a row, will be to Alaska for the summer… wow… wouldn’t that be a hoot…!!!

PS: Here are a couple more pics from my Maumelle Campout… FYI: for more about this darling daughter, click here

shawna_me_louise-22116

Shawna (aka: my youngest daughter), me and (in the background) “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′).

steak_eggs022115

Yes… it all tastes better when kissed by Mother Nature and partaken al fresco… 

 

Campout Maumelle February 20, 2016

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE — gozarks @ 11:49 am
maumelle_camp

The campsites at Maumelle Park (on the southern bank of the Arkansas River just west of I-430) are spacious, tree-shaded and equipped with picnic tables.

 

This weekend is a try-out… figuring out how much time it takes me to do certain things, like my wake-up routine (3 hours, including personal hygiene, getting dressed, general housekeeping, cooking  breakfast, making coffee and watching the news on TV); how long it takes me to catalog and optimize a batch of photos (1 hour) and post a note here (1 hour), so that when I go on a long roadtrip I have some idea about how much time it takes me to do the things I want to do… <smile>.

necklace

Yes, that’s me, grinning like a Cheshire Cat… I mean, who doesn’t like to get beautiful, thoughtful gifts… most especially when they come from our kids…!!!

 

Before I dwell on these resplendent pleasures, a bit of catch-up is in order.

Firstly, I want to send HUGE (((hugs))) to my youngest son, a Navy enlistee, who is stationed in Japan, for the BEAUTIFUL necklace he sent me. He is such a thoughtful lad…

I love him and ALL of my darling grown-up children with y whole heart and cannot thank them enough for every wonderful thing they do for me.

Also, for those who wonder what I do when I’m not camping, last week one of my little projects included dehydrating a p0und of mushrooms (pics below), getting stuff organized for the next publication of Help YourSelf, updating my gozarks ezine, and playing with a papier mache / mixed-medium sculpture that I started last December — and I’ll post pics of that when it’s done.

Back to the near present… <grin> yesterday I enjoyed a lovely visit with Carolyn Patterson, a long-time traveler and all around interesting woman.

carolyn

Carolyn and I enjoyed a marvelous afternoon chatting, enjoying the cool breeze and watching the river.

This morning, out the front window of “Sweet Louise” (aka: ’02 Great West Van 20′) I saw a barge heading downstream.

barge

With the ‘privacy drape’ of the front window of my RV half-way taken down, I saw this long tug-pushed train of barges.

So, that’s it for me in the here-and-now. Below are the promised pics of dehydrating mushrooms. Hope all is good by you. (((hugs))) ~Christine

dehydratormushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

By request… December 12, 2015

I’ve been asked to elaborate on the process and products used to refurbish the countertop edge round the sink and stove-lid in my galley, so here goes:

The stainless steel sink in my galley is installed below the countertop, which is made of some sort of highly compressed particle board. This exposed edge of the countertop had been coated with (probably) white latex paint and (possibly) some sort of white caulk, which had deteriorated and whenever I used the sink and water splashed onto the edge, the particle board would get just moist enough to swell and open several long lateral cracks.

sink_edge_before_lowres

In the photo above, taken after all the loose paint and caulk had been scraped from the countertop edge, the lateral cracks are clearly visible.

I knew that if I did not resolve this issue, over time the cracks would widen and the particle board would start to seriously degrade.

 

sink_edge_tools_lowres

Tools used, left to right: sponge sanding block (medium-coarse grit), cheap china-bristle paint brush (noticeably used), utility knife and small putty-knife scraper.

 

Thus an ounce of prevention being would be worth a pound of cure, based on lots of experience with various types of caulks and paints, I decided to use an oil-based paint because this kind of paint ‘soaks in’ to porous surfaces, whereas water-based paints tend to form a skin ‘on top’ of whatever they are applied to.

sink_edge_supplies_lowres

I used oil-based Gloss White to touch-up the countertop around the stove and oil-based Aluminum for the edge of the countertop around the sink and for the metal lid that closes over the burners of the propane stove

 

I used the putty knife, utility knife and block sander pretty much in that order to remove all of the previous coating material that could be removed without damaging the edge. On the stove lid, which has a slight texture, I gave it a good scrub with the sponge sanding block, brushed away all the dust and then wiped everything down with a paper towel dampened with rubbing alcohol.

And I decided that when I applied the paint to the edge around the sink, I would bring it up onto the surface of the countertop, mocking-up the effect of having the sink edged with a stainless steel rim.

sink_taped_lowres

I used blue tape (the kind made for painting) to mask-off the faux edge I created for the sink.

With all of this prep work done, I started applying the Aluminum paint. The first coat, around the skin edge, was diluted with some mineral spirits to help it soak deeper into the particle board and aid in waterproofing.

 

The first coat on the stove-lid went on full strength, however when working with Aluminum paint on metal I find that with the first coat I need to be very persistent in painting it out and re-brushing to get uniform coverage.

All in all, the stove lid and the countertop edge got four coats of Aluminum paint. Each coat of paint was allowed to cure for at least 24 hours (above 60-degrees with good ventilation) before the surface was (gently) scrubbed with the block sander, wiped with a clean dry cotton rag and  another coat of paint was applied.

Then, about 48 hours after the final coat of Aluminum paint — and after I used the utility knife to (gently) score along the edge of the blue tape (so I wouldn’t inadvertently pull the edge of the paint I had just worked very hard to lay in place) — I removed the blue tape and touched up the white countertop here and there with  oil-based Gloss White.

sink_stovetop_lr_111915

End result is that I am quite happy <smile> and hope this info is useful to those who wanted to know… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Projects November 19, 2015

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,HOMEMAKER ENGINEERING,Uncategorized — gozarks @ 6:29 pm

This last week has flown with productivity…!!! Getting lots of little things done on Louise, such as resealing the edge around the kitchen sink and giving the stove-lid a shiny coat of aluminum paint… See what you think:

Countertop edge around sink (before).

sink_edge_prepped_lr_111115

Countertop edge around sink (after).

sink_edge_lr_111915

Stovetop and sink (before).

sink_stovetop_lr111115

Stovetop and sink (after)

sink_stovetop_lr_111915

May all of life’s little projects turn out so well… (((hugs))) ~Christine

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