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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

 

Maiden Voyage: Camelot October 6, 2015

The second leg of my debut as a solo RVer had initially envisioned a visit to Lexington, Kentucky, but plans changed and on Monday, the morning of September 28th, Louise and I headed south.

As we did, I thought (just as I am thinking right now) that I feel somehow awkward – kookie-strange and weird – anthropomorphizing a mechanical vehicular means of transportation (ie: an ‘inanimate object’) as if it were human.

Growing up with a FoMoCo engineer as my dad, such tomfoolery was not warmly embraced… although neither were we a dull sort, but none of our several vehicles had names beyond manufacturer, make and model.

Thus my grandfather (my mom’s dad) drove a ’49 Ford Sedan and called it , simply. the Ford.

1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever "drove," sitting on grandpa's lap, when I was 4 or 5...
1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever “drove,” sitting on grandpa’s lap, when I was 4 or 5.  Photo courtesy AlfvanBeem – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons

My dad’s auto of choice was a ’57 Thunderbird.

I remember riding in my dad's 1957 Thunderbird. Wow... would I love to have a ride in it now...!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

I remember riding in my dad’s 1957 T-Bird. Wow… would I love to have a ride in it now…!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

But neither of these automobiles ever had any people-flavored nicknames, and growing up with this (unspoken, inculcated, memetic) predisposition tends to amplify it as ‘the norm’ – which of course it is neither normal nor abnormal for one to give a pet-name to a car, toaster, poodle, pony or computer… <smile>, but simply a mannerism of expressing a dimension of one’s own personal countenance.

And in the ‘why & wherefore’ of all-things-considered, boiling it all down to one (spectacular <smile>) reason for doing the dance I’ve begun, it is to explore those dimensions of ‘me’ that I intuitively know to exist but that have, for the past half-century, played second-fiddle to doing certain — like being a mom and having a career — and that now there are some other things that I would like to do.

Thus in the hopes of inspiring this ‘new and improved’ state of creativity in myself, I am purposefully doing things that are NOT ‘normal’ for me… like dubbing my 2002 Great West Van as Louise -and- giving myself permission to totally ‘go with the flow’, change plans mid-stream and even tell someone off without feeling even a teeny niggle of second-guessing guilt…!!!

Because the circumstances that culminated as my revised route could have caused me anguish. For one thing, I put a lot of thoughtful energy into formulating any plans I make, and this trip certainly was no exception. And there were others who were half-counting on me to be in Lexington for a day or two. So when events went counter to what I’d envisioned, it was unsettling to have to re-make plans midstream… Especially when, from my perspective, there was no ‘good’ reason that the change had to happen and was simply the result of a professional colleague doing something quite mean-spirited.

And usually, when I encounter stuff like this I tend to just let it go.. brush the dust from my sandals and move on.  This time, however, as my friend Vicki (with whom I was backyard boondocking)  became aware of what had transpired being a forthright advocate of justice for all, she said to me: “So… did you call her on it…???”

Thus I shed my political-correctness and told the unpleasant woman to go bag it… and bottom line, it felt good <smile>, kinda like I started resonating in harmony with a new frequency <smile> as I re-thought travel plans for the balance of my first roadtrip.

Bidding Vicki a fond fare-thee-well mid-Monday-morning, the drive from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff seemed a reasonable distance (150 miles) to travel in one day and I wanted to get comfortably settled into a site before dark so I could just kick-back, relax and the enjoy comforts of my roving home.

As I got closer to Poplar Bluff I googled RV parks, looking for one with WIFI and full hook-ups, and a place called Camelot RV Campground was right on my path

And I must say, I believe that King Arthur himself would have appreciated the comfortable accommodations I found there. I mean, the woman at the front desk was friendly and attentive. Registration was quick, instructions on how to connect with campground WIFI were explicit, and directions to my site, #17, and how to exit in the morning were drawn-out for me on a map.

Settling in to a site takes a bit of doing. First, you park as level as possible. Then you go around the vehicle unlocking the lockers that have the stuff you need to hook-up. All of which, really, is pretty simple – once you know how. And it is not a steep learning curve <grin>.

But it does take some thinking and developing a process that works to make sure certain things get done, like plugging in to shore power, turning the propane on, connecting the tank-dump (sewage and gray water) line to the in-ground receptacle and opening the valves to let stuff flow.

Also, if the campground has cable TV, you hook-up your coaxial. And Camelot did indeed offer this free amenity, but I was coaxial-less <smile>… and even if I had thought to bring one along, probably wouldn’t have taken the time to figure out how it works… because there are a lot of various coaxial connector boxes and disconnected cables inside one of the aft cabinets which I know somehow relate to the TV installed overhead in the cab of the van, but at the moment I have nary a clue about what is supposed to connect where in order to get the TV to work…!!!

Which is not a big deal for me really, as I have no television (cable, satellite, public air waves) at home. Paid subscriptions just got too expensive for my pension-budget, and once the public airwaves went digital, my entertainment and news have all come through the Internet. Thus my keen interest to overnight at a campground with WIFI… (aka: I LOVE Netflix) and this proved to be my only disappointment.

Connectivity was intermittent and slow., making it impossible to watch even a 3-min Youtube, although I was able to get some email sent — but even that was touch and go. Had I planned on staying more than overnight at the park, I would have had to ask if this was the norm, or if something was amiss. But since I was ready for an early beddtime, it didn’t seem worth the effort.

What did seem worth the effort — and resulted in one of the most sublime moments of pure indulgence – was waking-up from an evening nap and cooking brown rice at midnight without thought or concern to whether my late-night movements were disruptive to my sleeping son or daughter who rise early to go to work…

Thus I listened to the radio, turned lights on and off, washed dishes and did whatever I wished in the privacy of my own little gypsy cabana… and abiding the principle that “my liberty to swing my arm freely ends where your nose begins” with respect for others camped nearby, I could just simply be myself….

Wow… What a hoot…!!!

7am breakfast of brown rice, scrambled egg and fruit juice kicked-off my departure routine. Then, after the kitchen was tidied and my bed made (all of which took maybe 10-min.) the 3-way refrig which had been running on shore power since I checked in, had to be switched off because I have not yet had the ‘coach battery recharge while driving’ issue redressed. Thus on this trip, while in transit I used a standard ice-chest when shore power was not available… which was most of the time.

Then the roof a/c and/or exhaust fan(s)  are shut down, turned off, curtains are un-snapped from front and side windows, decorative items (like my Mickey & Minnie Mouse Chinese Lantern that hangs above my aft table when I’m not tooling down the road)) and various electronics are stowed with items essential to navigating the day’s journey provisioned for easy access from the driver’s seat.

Outside, as electricity and sewer lines are disconnected, cleaned and stowed, lockers must be closed and locked, tire pressure and fluid levels checked, and a walk-around of the vehicle, making sure to bend over and look underneath and cast an eye to what’s going on up-top, confirms that everything looks the way it should.

Most time consuming of my exit protocol was flushing the black-water tank… which had (as I am told many RVs do) a bit of a nasty odor which we first noticed when the kids and I drove Louise home after purchase.

Son Adam substantially mitigated this problem en-route by pouring a bag of ice down the commode. And then, after we got home, daughter Shawna and I took Louise to a local park for a picnic, and while we were there we dumped the tanks… which I hoped would completely resolved the issue.

Alas, it did not. The annoying odor, though less intense, persisted. And so this time I was determined to give the tank a really thorough flush, pouring whole buckets of water into the toilet with the trap propped open, so that any residual sludge would gush through the system and out the drain. And for all of the rest of my journey home, the offensive odor ceased to exist…!!!!

And so you have the highlights of my first solo night in an RV park… 72 hours into my debut adventure with several more days yet to go. Thanks for the pleasure of your virtual ride-along company… and if you’d like to know more about what I do beyond roving in Louise, I am proud to share the happy news that I am again in print with The Municipal… in the October 2015 edition, find me on pages 24-26.

Until next time and the story of the third leg of my first adventure as a Home Ranger…… (((hugs))) and happy travels to all… ~Christine

 

Maiden Voyage: Lift off. October 2, 2015

My first excursion in Louise was like cruising the universe on a rogue moon.

Having quantum-leaped free from the gravitational jurisdiction of my native solar system, Friday last I set course for St Louis and the flux was on <smile>.

Aiming to be off the launchpad between 8am and 9am, completing the pre-escape checklist took a bit longer than anticipated, partly because I kept thinking of specialty tools that would make life more comfortable at all of the little stops along the way.

The item last grabbed at 10am as I shared mega-hugs with eldest son, Adam, was our family’s old campfire-soot-stained 8-cup percolator.

“You know, that wouldn’t be here for you to take if I hadn’t rescued it from Sassafras,” he chided.

I smiled at him, over my shoulder, reflecting backward with uber warm-fuzzies on the last time the percolator was used, on a family camping trip, fifteen years ago, to a nook in a cranny of the Ozark Mountains that we named SassafrasWilds.

Then finally, with the turn of a key and the engine purring like a quick-witted tiger on the prowl, five years of hoping, dreaming, wishing and navigating through the passage of my off-springs’s young-adulthood and my liberating emancipation from the work-a-day world to that stage of life we call ‘retirement’, I was cruising.

Wow… What a hoot!!!

Time of arrival at friend Vicki’s abode, where I was to backyard boondock for a couple of nights and which the google-gods calculated to be 346 miles north-northeast of my start, was estimated at 3pm to 4pm.

In fact, according to Louise’s instrument panel, we logged 354 miles portal-to-portal, with no digression from route. And for those (like me) who care about such things, Louise got just a hair over 13mpg on this first leg of our journey, which was all on U.S. Hwy. or Interstate with many long and sometimes steep grades.

Coupled with my penchant to ‘take things slow and easy’ (average speed was 60-ish) and my self-awarded liberty to stop whenever the spirit so moves me, actual travel time was 10 hours… which included 1 stop to check tire pressure and fuel-up right after leaving home, and one to refuel along the way, plus several to just to get out of the driver’s seat, have a snack, stretch my legs and take a potty break.

Truly, for me, an enchanted way to travel.

Chumming with Vicki – who I met at a conference which she coordinated in 2011 — was grand. Our friendship was seeded by our respective independent advocacy work on issues pertinent to social justice, professional accountability, individual equality, civic well-being and family health — my personal role in which has mainly been that of journalist: reporting on programs, events and activities being forwarded by various organizations that, in my cultured opinion, deserve to make print, and sometimes volunteering as the communications director or public relations person with organizations that are doing what I see as critical work in the fostering of healthy, happy, vibrant communities.

In this instance, my test-run with Louise included piggybacking my penchant for advocacy with my desire to travel and visit family and friends. To find out, experientially, how capable I am to maintain the pace requisite multiple consecutive days on the road, including the doing of routine operations (like dumping the tanks and hooking-up shore power) plus the daily housekeeping of my mobile mini-mansion, while at the same time driving upto to 300 miles a day -and- doing the things that I actually want to do.

Thus for two days Vicki and I dug into the subject matter of the organization she now serves as president: Women Against Registry, aka: WAR.

Our first task was to draft some written copy for new brochure to succinctly articulate the organization’s purpose which, in a nutshell, is to insist that society look at and do something about the harm being done to whole families and most especially to young children, by laws that were – with the best of intentions – intended to protect everyone.

A tenet I personally find to be too true in too many aspects of our great nation’s justice system today.

Thus a good measure of the time that Vicki and I shared – reaching back to include several months of email correspondence — was given to detailing plans for an envisioned conference that we’ve lovingly dubbed JAKE, which stands for Justice, Accountability, Knowledge, Equality… and which to us, sorta says all of everything about what we want life to be all about for everyone, all of the time… just and fair, with each of us accountable for our own actions being grounded in an understanding of the complex dynamics of social interaction and thus resonant with the quality of respect amplified by the tenet, “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”

So, there you have it… <smile> Phase one of my weeklong test run went great. Louise operated fabulously well on self-contained systems from Friday morning through early Monday afternoon, when I checked in for our first night together in a real RV park… my experience of which will I shall elaborate upon soon….

Until next time, (choose to) be the peace, love and joy that makes the world a friendlier, happier, healthier place for everyone… especially yourself… because you (and all of us) deserve it. (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

enemies February 23, 2012

 The following came to my Inbox compliments of Simon Black, author of Soverign Man, who (if you take what he says at face value) makes a good living out of telling people what’s wrong with government, the economy, health care, the media, banking and finance, foreign policy, etc., etc., and so on… and then selling them his version of ‘the answer’.

Please, do observe:

The war you won’t hear about in the media

There’s a war going on that you’ll never hear about on the nightly news.

This war poses, by far, the largest immediate threat to you, your family and your future well-being.

And provided you take no action to protect yourself, this war could very well alter the quality of your life forever.

But this war is not being fought against some unseen enemy on the far side of the globe.

This war, dear reader, is being fought against you.

You are the enemy.

Your way of life is the enemy. And your belief in your freedom to live that life as you see fit is in the cross hairs of a government desperate to maintain the status quo.

Your freedom is being destroyed. But it’s happening slowly so as not to stir the masses hypnotized by their TV and video game lifestyle.

During the collapse of an empire, freedom doesn’t disappear in a blink. As we can all see by the events around us, it disappears very slowly. Little by little, laws are enacted that remove it.

One day, there’s nothing left.

That’s the point at which people will wake up and start to freak out.

The goal of this message is to make sure YOU are not one of those people.

[sales pitch removed]

To your sovereign freedom,

Simon Black

Word-crafted rhetoric, homed to an invisibly transparent purpose, parsed with precision pronouncements all pitching to do one job: Sell a product.

Simon has something he wants you (anybody, somebody) to purchase. He wants to trade something he has for something you’ve got. 

His singularity is motivating you to ‘buy’ and he is using every manner of logic and persuasive (gravitational) cunning to pull you across his event horizon, punctuating each participle to stress every adverb that will help close the deal. 

Such is the distilled essence of all that we call ‘capitolism’, which — some would say — is the backbone of healthy free-market economies and the bedrock of global prosperity and peace. So, we wonder, why does Simon chronically tell us ‘how bad things are’ and blast us with info about why things are not working, and then offer to ‘sell’ us his ready-made solution for precluding such woes lest they befall us, ‘the enemy’, ourselves. 

That is, if Simon really does have a solution — a better way of doing things than free-market exchange — why isn’t he giving (yes giving) all of us a free lesson in the subject-matter. Why isn’t he — having (supposedly) found ‘the way to a better life’ — explaining this passage, step-by-step; handing out ‘maps’ out of the goodness of his heart? 

Does it matter…???

What do you think… Lemme know. 

“America: Love it or fix it…”

(((hugs)))

 

Abuse October 13, 2011

Been too long since I’ve taken time to reflect, assimilate and digest. Contrary to profuse and numberous distractions, however, life is good — at least in the grander sense and bumps in the road aside.

For reasons related to a lot of things I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘abuse’…. what it is… that is, what defines it… where is the line crossed? what are the objective dimensions of that line and where does subjective experience enter in…?

What I’ve arrived at: it seems that we — society as a whole, that is — have developed a type of cognitive dissonance about what we classify (or not) as ‘abusive’… and how we deal with it. Take for example the actions taken by officials in Topeka, Kansas, to unadopt a local law on domestic violence due to a budget crunch… A sane person who has studied the facts would be hard put not to wonder why ‘domestic violence’ (which typically victimizes women and children) was targeted and not, let’s say, the prosecution of cannabis (marijuana) crimes where there is no victim involved?

What does this say about ‘us’ — the Great American Society? 

 And if actions really do speak louder than words, how do we turn this into a win/win/win….???

 

Nobody knows nothin… June 21, 2011

Filed under: CIVICS 101,COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL — gozarks @ 6:59 pm
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The facts are coming in regarding the circumstances which resulted in the shut-down by the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office of the Arkansas Family Muisc Fest held near Old Joe, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 18, 2011. (See: Home To Roost) And they are confusing.

For example, we have learned that there is NO ‘noise ordinance’ in Baxter County. We have learned that at least one of the neighbors who was rumored to have filed a complaint did NOT. And we have learned that NONE of the local law enforcement agencies has any record or knowledge of the festival being closed-down by their agency.

Most disheartening is the report from one local resident who tried to find out why this happened and started making phone calls: “They (the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office) knew nothing about it and told me it was Marion county and I told them it was most certainly not so they said it was Stone county, so I called them and they said that it was Izard county who once again told me it was Baxter!”

I mean, do we really get it… That if NO law was being violated and there was NO ‘probable cause’ (evidence that a crime was being committed), then the law enforcement officers had NO authority to close the event.

NO AUTHORITY. NONE. ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH.

Do we really get it that when officers of the law behave in this manner that they, being bound by the duties of their employment to safeguard our constitutional covenants of liberty and freedom, have in the act of taking the law into their own hands committed an act of treason against the well-being of the community as a whole. 

This is serious stuff, folks. Our birthrights as individuals to unfettered self-determination — the sacrosanct holier-than-holy “Highest Law of the Land” — is being systematically gutted by our own apathy and indifference.  Respectfully,  we should ALL be contacting the elected public officials of Baxter County and asking them to explain not only how this all went so wrong, but also what actions they are going to take to make things right. 

Respectfully, calling our elected officials and insisting that action be taken on matters like this is NOT ‘meddling’. This is us ‘regular people’ doing OUR duty as citizens, honoring the lives of every man and woman who has ever served in the military safeguarding our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And please, don’t take my word for it. Read what others are saying about the creeping destruction of our unalienable rights. Then get busy and start making phone calls…

 

Home to roost… June 19, 2011

My previous rant about “The Power,” addressing the insidious and sublime ‘police state’ mentality and how desensitized ‘we the people’ have become to the unfathomable perils of it, came home to roost here in Arkansas yesterday. But please, let me start at the beginning.

Yesterday, my daughter Shawna and I treated ourselves to a concert-outing. (See poster at right.) It proved to be a pleasant and entertaining ‘family style’ event. Our whole time there, people were smiling and happy. Kids frolicked on an improvised waterslide. Folks visited. Music played. And the sweet-cool evening breeze off the White River bathed us all. Even my daughter ‘had fun’ (and you know how persnickety teenagers are)! For your enjoyment, I have posted a few photos, below.

But sadly, as I hear tell, after my daughter and I headed home, around-about 10pm the local constabulary pulled-up two patrol cruisers in front of the stage and shut the whole shin-dig down. As I understand it, this action was taken resultant of complaints about ‘noise’.

Now I can’t say how loud things got after we left, but while we were there the music was loud enough to be appreciated and not so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think. And it was, after all, a music festival.  A place where one might expect the drum-beats to reverberate.

I also confess that I have no knowledge about what (if any) ordinances exist in Baxter County that limit the decibel of sound one may issue forth from one’s own private property. And I stress here that this was a private event, accessible only by purchase of a ticket, presented by an independent promoter at a private campground at an ‘end of the road, way-out-of-the-way’ location.

I also don’t know who the people were who filed the complaint and I don’t even know for a fact that a complaint was filed. Everything I know about what happened after Shawna and I left is hearsay… though it all comes from trusted sources. 

Still, no matter the facts what I do have is common sense, a strong understanding of what is fair, right and just, and a growing outrage over what ‘we the people’ are subjecting ourselves to in the namesake of ‘doing something good.’  I mean, what are we doing (as a society) when we use ‘police power’ to treat a bunch of harmless, fun-loving families like they are  rowdy-punks having a destructive kegger in somebody-elses woods?

Where are the ‘rights’ of the people who peaceably assembled to enjoy the music? People who were all there voluntarily… who chose to be in a place where people were celebrating… where NO ‘harm’ was being done and no ‘crime’ was being committed. Who honors their rights and those of the musicians who came to perform?

If you are even a wee bit concerned about this, please call the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office ( 6/20/11 CORRECTED: 870-425-7000) and politely ask what ordinance was violated by the folks at the Arkansas Family Music Fest held near Old Joe, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 18, 2011. Then please, let me know what they tell you. In the interim, enjoy the photos…

 
 
 The crowd gathered on lawn chairs and snacked from coolers as the musicians played on stage.
 
 

One of the several band that entertained during the music festival.

Folks mixed-and-mingled throughout the event.

 The improvised waterslide was an absolute favorite with ALL the kids (young and old)!!!

And there were even totally awesome souvenir T-shirts…

And as already mentioned, my daughter (that’s her, second from the right, with the folks at the Monster Energy Drink booth) had an excellent time.

All in all, it was an event about which the whole community SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!

My fellow Americans… Where are you?