gozarks.com weblog

Today is the present… be the gift.

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

———————

 

 

 

 

On the path of figuring things out. November 8, 2015

Filed under: COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,health — gozarks @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I felt pretty crappy for a few days this past week, which annoys me and my longstanding policy is to cope in silence.

What annoys me, however, is not the ‘coping in silence’ part, because when I feel like sh*t there is nothing that anyone can do aid my recovery beyond extending the same courtesy to me (and I to them) that we would in the course of any routine activity.

This old rocker has been in my family for as long as I can remember. It was my grandmother's favorite chair at our family's cottage on North Lake. Now, with the springs re-tied, new padding, fresh polish and new fabric, it is my favorite chair, too.

This old rocker has been in my family for as long as I can remember. It was my grandmother’s favorite chair at our family’s cottage on North Lake. Now, with the springs re-tied, new padding, fresh polish and new fabric, it is my favorite chair, too.

What annoys me is that when flights of (what I have come to think of as) ‘phantom pain’ seemingly take control of various parts of my anatomy, it is difficult (if not impossible) for me to do almost anything, and I find all impediments to my free-will liberty hugely annoying.

The good part is that laying prone, napping and quasi-dreaming, wrapped in blankets with a bean-bag-back-warmer, vests me with lots of time to think.

To wonder and speculate, more accurately, about what I would do if conditions such as this came upon me whilst I was on the road, traveling solo. And so, having actually lived in my RV sufficiently to know how things work and what must be done to sustain, as I languished in my comfy bed at home I imagined how my movements and actions would be different if I was (at that moment) on the road.

And what I realized was that I would have done just as well. Some things would have been, perhaps, a bit more challenging. But some would have been easier. And I would recover, just as I did here at my sticks & brick abode.

Or (I stretched my imagination), perhaps being immersed in the new environs of life on the road would somehow magically mitigate the ‘phantom pain’ that has sporadically interfered with my modus opperandi since my ‘death event’ back in January of this year.

More realistically, reflecting on how I felt 6-months ago, my hope and belief is that over time the renewal of my good health will continue.

Anyway, aside from the above the last couple of weeks have been highy productive. For one thing, I completed my most recent assignment for The Municipal, which is a story about Berne, Indiana, slated for publication December 1st. FYI: I now have two articles in print with them, one each in their September and October 2015 editions.

Also made serious progress tending to ‘little things’ for Louise, such as sealing and refinishing the edge around the sink, doing a heavy-duty flush of the gray- and black-water tanks and determining the cause of an intermittent leak in the gray-water system which is next on my list to fix.

However, the fait accompli with which I am most pleased is that I finally finished reupholstering my (maternal) grandmother’s rocking chair… and I do hope the quality of my work does her artisan sensibility for attention to detail proud.

And one other thing, my advocacy work with friend Vicki (who you’ll remember from Maiden Voyage: Lift Off) is steadily moving along, and an outline of one major project we’re forwarding is now available for public review at our Team JAKE blog. If you have a few minutes I hope you’ll give it a look and let me know what you think…!!!

Until next time, may the bliss be with you… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Maiden Voyage: Happy Endings October 25, 2015

So where we left off, Suzy had delivered me back to Louise and I headed south from Violet Hill with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home to Shirley.

Having checked-out several RV parks online, I’d selected one along my planned route and headed there. But when I arrived, though the office was open, no one ever came to the desk… and there were no instructions for self-check-in.

Also, there was some sort of (very large) ‘demolition fire’ consuming the remains of what had once apparently been a (pretty big) structure, smoldering right across the street… making it unpleasant to breathe and taste the air.

Thus, having spent 20 minutes of daylight doing nothing and wanting to be tucked in before dark, I called the second RV park on my pre-selected list to get exact directions to their location and got a friendly recording telling me to leave my number for a call-back.

That’s when it suddenly dawned on me that in the time I’d spent waiting and doodling around, I could have been half-way home… where I would not have to attend any of the tasks necessary to bed-down comfortably in an RV park for one night. And that the only reason, really, that I wanted to stay in Mountain View was to meet a friend for lunch the next day… which I could still do, by driving back in my car, even if I went home that night.

So I did, feeling rather gratified that I had proven everything I needed to prove to myself, about my own capacity for extended travel, capability to solo-RV and about my vehicle… sweet Louise… which I now knew from first-person experience to be steady, reliable, easy to maneuver, mechanically sound and uniquely comfortable to my pragmatic ideals and eccentric tastes.

I slept rather well in my homebed that night, though a part of me missed my traveling berth. Sometimes life feels like having to choose between rich-creamy vanilla ice cream and deep-dark-chocolate mousse… and knowing that you can have as much as you want of either, but only one at a time…

This cozy corner of my petit-rv serves as my entertainment center, office and dinner table.

This cozy corner in the combo living-room/bedroom of my petit-rv serves as my audio entertainment center, office and dinner table.

It was wonderful to shower in my own sticks-and-brick bathroom, and pull clothes from my large/spacious closets, and get dressed in the luxury of my almost-enormous bedroom with the window-wall overlooking the broad back deck and yard full of autumn-gold trees. Still, there is nothing more convenient than having ‘everything you need’ literally at your fingertips… thus, my tug-of-heart.

Which was what I pondered, at length and in depth, as I headed back to Mountain View that Thursday morning, only this time I was driving my Tib (2008 Hyundai Tiburon); thinking about how much I enjoy my mobility and the great medley of things (projects, events) that I am at my liberty to choose to do and am sometimes blessed to share with friends.

Miriam, who I was meeting for lunch at Jacks Fishing Resort & Jo Jos Catfish Wharf where she works, has been on my ‘friends list’ since 2010 when we met doing advocacy work with a law-reform organization. A vibrant woman with a deep love of family and devout relationship with God, I have always admired her tenacity, forthrightness and pluck.

It had been some time since we’d chatted face to face, and it was good to catch up. She and her husband are doing well, her work keeps her busy and she has not much been involved with advocacy stuff for a while, she said. She asked about several of our mutual advocacy-friends, some of whom neither of us had seen for quite some time, but we shared what we knew. And we had a great time just chit-chatting about various of our mutual interests, such a the health benefits of good nutrition and the amazingly beneficial properties of various herbs and essential oils.

Lunch, by the way (I had the Seafood Platter with breaded deep-fried catfish, shirmp, and clams, baked potato, cole slaw, hushpuppies, baked beans, green tomato relish, and homemade tartar sauce), was beyond delicious. Possibly the best clam strips I’ve had since childhood visits to Howard Johnson’s…!!! Everything – including the beautiful waterfront view and convivial service – was absolutely wonderful and definitely goes on my list of ‘great places to eat’…!!!

I also learned that I could have gotten an RV site there, at the fishing resort, instead of going home the previous night… and have stowed this info for ‘next time’.

Which is where my meandering journal shall pick up with the story of my great adventure at the (amazing!) Workamper Conference  last week (10/20-22/15) while staying at the Dam Site State Park & Campground in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Until next time, a bushel and a peck of happy (((hugs))) ~Christine

————————–

 

Maiden Voyage: Suzy October 17, 2015

Suzy and I have been friends for nearly 15 years. We met when gozarks.com was in its heyday and she contacted me (as editor) with some questions about the region of the Ozarks where I lived as she had a hankerin’ to move.

Suzy's hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed.

Today, Suzy’s reclusive residence in Izard County sports a hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed. Hard to believe this was once a dirt-floored pole barn.

Which she did, to a small (neglected) house on the Middle Fork of the Little Red River that she (amazingly) hand-crafted into a sprightly manifestation of elegant utility, homespun charm and humble grace. Replete with simple touches of user-convenience and common sense, every necessity of living life comfortably was delightfully woven together as an accommodating home.

We lunched there several times over the course of many months, in her charming kitchen, next to the massive stone hearth in her ‘open floor plan’ living room, over which she had hand-carved a mantle to read: “This is my rest forever. Here I will dwell because I desire it.”

The email from Suzy that came with this pic: "This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like,  but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I'd never seen these, until I grew some. I'll save seeds, if you want some."

The email from Suzy, about a month ago, that came with this pic: “This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like, but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I’d never seen these, until I grew some. I’ll save seeds, if you want some.”

Lunch with Suzy was always a delicious treat for me, still being immersed in the parenting and homeschooling of children, the duties of caring for my disabled husbnd, and the breadwinner agenda of a professional work-a-day-world.

To just sit and relax in the company of another intelligent woman, swapping stories of times past and hopes yet to come, was like going on a picnic in a different universe.

Then it came to pass that she was literally flooded out. The river rose terribly high, twice in one season. Her household was decimated both times. And after recovering from the first intrusion, when the second deluge came barely a heartbeat later, she knew it was time to move.

For a while then, she relocated quite near me in the city of Fairfield Bay. But during this time we were both rather busy with other stuff in our respective lives – me, with navigating through a divorce and moving my brood to the abode where I and two of my five adult children continue to reside, and she with similar though different lifestyle evolutions.

We kept in-touch with email and when she announced plans to relocate to a remote chunk of land in Izard County where she would realize her dream to be a self-sufficient homesteader, I celebrated for and with her.

I visited her remote hide-way once, soon after she’d settled in to her bare-bones L-shaped polebarn with a dirt floor. Completely off-grid, water was pulled by the bucket from an ancient hand-dug well, the single working remains of a farmstead that had thrived here, an hundred years ago.

She planned to camp inside the polebarn, which she’d designed, had constructed by a local contractor and equipped with a wood stove, over her first winter while she figured out the parameters of her envisioned home. And now, on my homeward-bound travels, I would be getting a chance to see more than photos of what she had accomplished.

We had, however, determined that it would not be feasible to take Louise up the driveway to Suzy’s abode as it is passable only by vehicles with a lot of undercarriage clearance and quick maneuverability, like the 4-wheel drive pick-up truck she drives. Thus we chose to meet at the local Post Office, which closes at noon and seemed a good spot to park Louise while Suzy ferried me to her home for our visit.

Yes, Suzy does (finally) have 'running water' -- a la the 'gravity flow' system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

Yes, Suzy’s mountain hideaway does now finally have ‘running water’ — a la the ‘gravity flow’ system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

This was a good plan, except for the overhead wires… which I almost (but not quite) learned more than I care to know about, the hard way.

That is, when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that there were some electrical and phone lines high overhead, draped from the top of a tall pole at the front corner of the parking lot, near the street, running diagonally across the parkong lot to the back-rear corner of the building… but factually, I didn’t really give them much thought.

At least not until I got out of Louise, preparing to get in the pick-up with Suzy, and noticed that the low end of the lines were now resting on the upper-front fiberglass roof of my mobile abode.

Thus my next move was to calculate how I might-could backup to be clear of the lines without inadvertently taking them down…

Which I was, ultimately, able to do <smile>… but not without some very careful maneuvering.

And me chastising myself for being so stupid as to having gotten myself into such a fix to begin with – and at the same time congratulating myself for having recognized a potentially bad situation and having figured-out a ‘no harm done’ solution.

Ah-h-h-h… the challenges of RVing….!!!

The short ride back into Suzy’s dominion was every bit as rugged as promised. Had she intentionally constructed some sort of modern gauntlet to keep unwelcome visitors at bay, she could not have done better than Mother Nature’s protruding ‘wash board’ of tree-roots, gaping gullies, dry washes, and jagged terrain.

The 'volunteer' butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy's vegetable-scrap compost and produced a good harvest.

The ‘volunteer’ butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy’s vegetable-scrap compost.

But then, like a mirage in the wilderness, the gentle harmonious homestead she’s sculpted comes into view; unassuming; a simple modern metal-sheathed structure with a pleasant screen porch, surrounded by a patchwork of garden spots, blooming flowers, and running vines.

Step through the unpretentious doorway of this handsome polebarn and enter a custom tailored wonderland of clean lines, well organized structure and methodical fancy.

The walls and towering ceiling of the large L-shaped living area are precisely fitted tongue-and-groove, the masterwork of which one cannot truly tally without knowing that each board was sawed by hand and patiently installed over months of diligent physical pursuit, as was each stone-paver in the hand-laid floor, each plank in the raised woodfloor section areas, and the design of each piece of handcrafted furniture, such as her mini-4-poster bed.

Truly, a testament to what one person can accomplish, alone, with creativity, intelligence and diligence… while living on a fixed (frugal) income, with no electricity, no central heat, no air conditioning and no running water… A living work of art in perpetual motion, beautifully intertwined with the elements of Suzy’s nature.

We spoke of many things, as we always do, and noshed on bagels with cream cheese. We compared notes about how new chapters were opening in our respective lives, enticing and encouraging each of us to explore new horizons, and thus she was doing some deep-seated thinking about what she wanted to do ‘next’.

With many chapters of that conversation yet to come, Suzy delivered me back to Louise and I again headed south with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home. But when I got there, things changed. And that is where my Maiden Voyage saga shall continue and conclude <smile>, next time we chat… Until then, (((hugs))) and happy traveling… ~Christine

Addendum: Subsequent to our visit, Suzy decided to sell her minimalist-mansion on 40 forested acres with natural spring-fed pond. If you’d like to know more, lemme know and I’ll get y’all in touch…!!!

——————————–