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Today is the present… be the gift.

Master Plan June 6, 2016

Fourteen month ago (aka: April 2015, about two months into my recovery from death) I contrived a ‘master plan’ with a multi-prong purpose. Aside from the obvious of getting my affairs in order, I set my sights on recreating my life; making my surroundings most amenable to me; doing things I always wanted (but never had time) to do.

Thus the necessity to ‘clear the decks’, take stock, and renegotiate (with myself) what is ‘important’ to me… and what is not. Which, as I have pursued various means of ‘downsizing’, has provoked me to ponder the proverbial question: “What’s it all about?”

Why do we ‘do’ whatever we do? What makes one thing more interesting or important or worthwhile than another? And what it all comes down to for me is that once you have the comfort of a decent place to live and the security of knowing that you may reside there for as long as you wish and will always have sufficient nourishment, the only thing that makes anything truly worthwhile is feeling the warm-fuzzies that flow from convivial companionship.

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Front entrance to the artisan workshop and gallery that my daughter and I put together so we could ‘yard sale’ our trash & treasure .

And for these last many months I have had the joy of working with my youngest daughter on a (HUGE) project: to de-clutter, reorganize and convert my backyard garage (pictured above) into the artisan workshop and gallery I’ve dreamed of since the day we moved to this household a decade ago.

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Our yard sales have become popular with our neighbors who often consign clothing, books, and housewares to our yard sale.

We closed the shop over the winter, but reopened this past Sunday (June 5, 2016).

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Our newly reorganized yard sale shop.

Though I know it may not look like it, the way we now have things set up, the left side of the above area now rather easily converts to 8′ x 12′ artisan workshop with workbench including table saw (not pictured) which are along the left wall, behind the hanging clothes.

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Fancy dishware, athletic bags, home furnishings, hair curlers, school desks and gift baskets are among the ever-changing processional of oddities, goodies, and collectibles that parade through our gallery.

My daughter has dubbed the shop “Shaundeli” — and you can see more of the stuff we offer on our Facebook Page. We are planning now for the 4th of July weekend and invite you to come by for a visit and maybe to join us in a game of horsehoes…!!!

Because, like I said, it’s really all and only about the warm-fuzzies… <smile>

Anyway, the following pic is of the completed dinette-booth I created in the mid-cabin of my RV, which I initially set-up about 3 weeks ago save for the detailing, ie: since then I have fabricated and installed a ‘trim & support’ edge for the clear plastic tabletop, covered the (ugly green) cooler with a fabric skirt (which you cannot see in the pic), added a decorative (but durable) cover to the seat cushion, and topped it all off with a nifty decorative pillow.

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My mid-cabin dinette.

So… it looks like I am ready for lunch on the road…!!! Now, to figure out just where I want to go…

Anyway, my Japan Chronicles shall continue next time with our visit to Hasedera Temple..(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

 

 

 

Homefront May 16, 2016

I have to digress from my Japan Chronicles… but just for a moment <smile>… to share a nifty new way I organized things in ‘Louise’ (’02 GWV 20′). The pics below show the way I’ve had things in the ‘mid-cabin’ set up ever since I started equipping for extended travel.

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Mid-cabin storage, as it has been since I first started road-tripping in my Class B RV.

Same area, below, from another angle…

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Mid-cabin area, utilitarian but otherwise not very functional.

This mid-cabin area, as I had been using it, held an ice-chest (used mainly for ‘dry storage’ but also very handy for refrigeration on short runs when or other times when it makes no sense to use the 3-way fridge), a couple of ‘pantry boxes’ (with sugar, seasonings, pasta and canned goods), a set of drawers (with office supplies, tools, and misc.), some ’emergency water’ (in the pink crate), a stool, a trash can, and a place (behind the pink crate) to keep all essential vehicle documentation (owners manual, maintenance records, registration, etc.)

This arrangement worked very well. Everything was readily accessible and yet sufficiently ‘out of the way’ so I could still  had room to move around the cabin. However, one feature that I had really wanted in an RV — that I didn’t get with this one — was a ‘dinette booth’ where I could sit at a table to eat a meal, watch some TV, or do some computering. And, even though I have tried several arrangements to give myself these little luxuries in the aft portion of the cabin, with the way the couch/bed is situated (which is otherwise very comfortable), it just doesn’t work.

And I was thinking about this quite a lot on the last excursion I made with ‘Louise’, before I went to Japan, and was struck with an idea that seemed so brilliant I couldn’t wait to try it out… but wait I had to, until we got home and after I got unpacked, which is now 99% true <grin>.

So the other day I played with a ‘new grouping’ of the stuff in the mid-cabin:

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Mid-cabin reorganized.

This is ALL the same stuff, just arranged differently.

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Mid-cabin storage now also functions as a dinette.

And I absolutely LOVE this new arrangement…!!! Not only do I have exactly the same amount of convenient storage space as before (and in fact, I actually have better access to the ice chest and a better location for vehicle documents which are now in the pink crate that is under the table-top, behind the stack of drawers), with the addition of a ‘table top’ I now have the benefit of a ‘private booth’ where I can sit to eat a meal, do my computering and watch a bit of TV…!!!

What a hoot…!!!

Gee… how I love it when a plan comes together. And the best part, to me, is that 99% of everything needed to make the conversion was right there… ready and waiting for me to create (from thin air <smile>) exactly what I had wanted all along.

Somehow, I think there is a life-lesson in this… but I’ll leave it to you to contemplate this moral to the story <grin>.

Looking forward to next time and more of my travelogue from Japan…!!! (((hugs))) ~Christine

PS: Had to share the following pic of the key-chain for ‘Louise’… which is now sporting a shiny medallion that the kids got for me when they visited Tokyo Tower. The custom-crafted inscription reads: “BEST MOM EVER” 2016-04-27, (heart) A (heart) S (heart) J (heart) S (heart)… which are Adam’s, Shalom’s, Josh’s, and Shawna’s initials wrapped in a whole bunch of love…!!!

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Key-chain token from the Tokyo Tower.

 

 

 

Japan Chronicles: Homecoming May 2, 2016

Some of the best advice I ever got was “Start with the End in Mind.” It came, as I recall, from a management training program I attended back in the 1970’s. And, truth be told, to fully appreciate the reality of my present moment, we would have to go back that far and stroll through what all I’ve experienced since (and even prior to) then… and you would also have to be sitting next to me right now, in my bedroom, ensconced through big-window glory by a lush variegation of sun-dappled forest green with the lighthearted hymn of my tiny brook babbling in the background.

ASIDE: Did you know that, as new historians (an oxymoron?) now tell it, the first published author and also the first known person to utilize the phrase “I am” in print – which was a total linguistic anomaly at that time – was a woman. A high priestess, to be exact, who wielded more political clout in her day than did Karl Rove during GW’s administration. But don’t take my word for it… have a gander at “The Ascent of Woman” the next time you Netflix.

Back to the moment, at least for me (as I write), this space/time of here-in-now is pretty-damn perfect: I sit in my grandmother’s old rocking chair (that I reupholstered a few months back), tiny laptop (atop an old – 1930’s? – folding table) at my fingertips, immersed in the stunning beauty of nature, surrounded by an array of (what to me are) interesting, comfortable and somewhat unique accouterments of daily life, sipping fresh coffee (laced with just a touch of Irish Cream <smile>), fresh off a two week sojourn in Japan.

RANDOM NOTE: Add imaginary echo here, in a child-like girlish voice to replicate the lilt of my youngest daughter, Shawna, who is nearing 23, repeating the word as a cadenced mantra — “Japan… Japan, Japan, Japan… J-a-p-a-n” – which grew with daily intensity as we packed and prepared for the trip.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together in our 'trip of a lifetime' family vacation in Japan.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together on our family vacation in Japan.

And the two glorious weeks that we were together there, on a family-outing ‘trip of a lifetime’ were by even my most self-indulgent standards, saturated with decadent luxuries that gave great gobs of simple-pleasures to all involved. Truly amazing on so many levels, rippling through every dimension of life, and for which I am deeply thankful and tremendously appreciative of the good will and generosity of my children, without whom I would not have been able to make this trip… and who (for the most part <smile>) treated me like a queen and endured my persnickety ways with loving good grace and aplomb…

Thank you Adam, Shalom, Josh and Shawna for everything that each of you did to make our time together in Japan so phenomenally enjoyable. And thank you Patty (my eldest)… though you could not join us in Japan, we know you were with us in spirit…

Breakfast, prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son's apartment.

Breakfast — scrambled eggs with two kinds of tiny mushrooms and cheese and garnished with fresh (celery-like) greens, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes and onions and a warm buttered roll — prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son’s apartment as I did my morning computering.

Tales about all of which – from the nightmare of our flight getting there, to our day touring Buddhist temples and including the gastronomical and shopping delights we encountered along our way, I shall relate in dazzling detail  with more splendid photos in coming weeks… <grin>.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were in a 9-story shopping and food mall on in Yokosuka.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were just a few of those that bedecked the hallways of a 9-story shopping and food mall in Yokosuka.

Right now, however, carrying forward the present moment and having elucidated the background harmony which carries the happy tune of my life, perhaps and hopefully you have sensed a glimmer of the awes and wonders that resonate in my little universe… the place where I live… the space where I make my home. And the profound joy that I feel just sitting here, absorbing the moment… super-saturated with the activity of simply being alive. Feeling so tremendously gratified to have — oh, so many years ago — started raising my family with the their successful adulthood clearly in mind.

Anyway, in the scope of my continuing present moments, I see some yard-work in my immediate future.

NOTE: It is phenomenally good to be home.

My youngest son, Josh, with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh's honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us...!!! More about this as my Japan Chronicles unfold...!!! His superiors were VERY complimentary of Josh and also very appreciative that we (his family members) were present for the ceremony because it is such a rarity to have a sailor's kin present for such events. We each were given an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Navy, signed by the Captain of his ship, to thank us for our support of Josh's service to the Navy. And the officers, senior enlisted crew members and his peers were all HUGELY complimentary of Josh... saying to me personally what an outstanding person he is, how great he is to work with and how appreciative they are of having him around.

My youngest son, Josh (front row, 4th from the right), with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh’s honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us…!!! More about this and lots more good news next time, as my Japan Chronicles unfold…!!!

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

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.

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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

 

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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