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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.

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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

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

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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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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

 

Workamper Rendezvous October 27, 2015

The Workamper* Rendezvous in Heber Springs, Arkansas, last week (10/20-22/15) was amazing… They – being head honcho Steve Anderson and his awesome crew of family and friends — fed, entertained and educated us with a smorgasbord of creative wisdom and delicious expertise…!!!

Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.
Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.

FYI: This event is NOT just for those who are (or would like to be) earning an income while living full-time on the road. Even though all the info is geared to assist those who choose to explore this dream, anyone who enjoys camping in any kind of RV could definitely learn a lot.

I, for example, learned much more than I already knew about the 30amp electric system in my RV. Excellent info that will save me tons of $$$ on needless repairs precluded by a few ounces of preventative wisdom.

I also learned the legal difference between a domicile and a residence… Do you know…??? <smile> Because if you don’t and you happen to fit a particular demographic profile, you could be wasting big money paying taxes that you are not legally obliged to pay…. thus proving that sometimes, ignorance is not bliss…!!!

And the social environment of the whole event was wonderfully convivial. Attendees were mostly in the 40s-to-70s age range; retired (or soon to be), or already ‘living the dream’ of freewheeling independence, earning their keep through various means as they wander scenic byways, tour national landmarks and mosey through life at a pace uniquely their own.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

Which sorta-kinda describes almost perfectly the overview of ‘living life’ that I envision and am enacting for myself as my transition from full-time mom and head-of-household-working-professional ebbs away from the sacrificial duties of titles and tasks, flowing into the realm of ‘whatever I choose to do next’.

As anyone who has already made this passage knows, it could be likened to navigating the Straits of Magellan, tossed about by shifting gusty winds, feisty currents, the narrowness of the channel through towering rock cliffs and the deceptively beautiful wailing of emotional sirens.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

My personal crossing from the ocean of family responsibility to the sea of doing for myself began just over 4 years ago when my youngest darling daughter turned 18. And in fact, that day of emancipation had been envisioned from the birth of my eldest child… at least from the standpoint that I as a mother had one very important job to do: to prepare my darlings for adulthood; to make sure they were as equipped and as ready as I could coach them to be to take on the joys, challenges and responsibilities incumbent of adult life… on their own.

And now, with all of my darlings living their own dreams (and happily thriving), I am in what long-ago colleague Alan Lakein would call ‘the end game’ of my transformational journey and I am ‘trying on for size’ the doing of things that I have for (lo, these many years) imagined I would be doing ‘after’ my kids were grown.

Thus as my Maiden Voyage was (to me) all about proving to myself that I and my rig were up to the challenges of solo RVing… attending this conference was (for me) all about finding out how easy (or difficult) it is to attend and participate in such events given my mode of transportation. And under this heading, I really learned a lot.

These full-timers live in style and tow their 'garage' (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

These full-timers live in style and tow their ‘garage’ (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

Mainly, that having a very mobile (20′) van-type RV does give me easy access to convenient parking at an event. However, with the RV being my only transportation -and- my home, it is neither easy nor convenient to get involved with ancillary activities that take place away from the main event.

For example, there was a solo RVers meet-and-greet held at a park pavilion one evening which I would have much liked to attend. Yet the fact that the gathering was (for me) too far from my campsite to walk, and that driving there meant I would have had to back-into my campsite when it was pitch-dark decided my fate.

On the other side of the coin, I loved the camping experience. In contrast to other sections of the park which were full nearly to capacity, the section I chose for my 3-night stay was empty, save for Louise and me <smile>. Thus things were blissfully quiet -and- I felt no compunction about turning up the volume on my radio when the spirit so moved me <grin>.

The dwelling inside the stately bus is truly glamorous... Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle:

The dwelling inside the stately bus (pictured above) is truly glamorous… Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle: “Glamping”.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

Back to the downside, I learned very quickly that the duties of being a solo RVer take precedent over and may interfere with the desires of an event attendee. Thus a couple of times – mainly because I am ‘old’ and simply cannot cram as much action into an hour as I once did – I found myself doing necessary routine RVer chores instead of attending a conference presentation.

And it also became self-evident that in order for me to pursue my envisioned ‘home ranger’ lifestyle in a long-haul manner, that I will have to allot time not only for travel, routine maintenance, sleep, general housekeeping, provisioning, cooking & eating, etc. -and- time to ‘do stuff’ (like visiting places and enjoying events), but that I must also factor in ‘time to write’… because, of course, this is the gold nugget of my personal work-camper plan… to supplement my retirement income by peddling my wordcrafting charms… <grin>

The 'empty' area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay.

The ’empty’ area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay. And yes, that is the lake in the background… which gave me a great view from my bedroom/living-room window…!!!

So, that is my current story <smile>, except to note with great glee that my eldest son, Adam, has now officially moved to Austin, Texas, where he has (as of yesterday) commenced employment as Field Services Engineer with Crushing Tigers, Inc. Wow… not too shabby for a homeschooled boy with a post-grad degree from the hands-on school of hard knocks…

Yes… I am very (very, very, very) proud…

Until next time, (((hugs))) and happy travels… ~Christine

*The term “Workamper” is a registered tradename of Workamper News.

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