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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.

 

 

 

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

 

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… 

 

Whew… June 28, 2010

The last 5 days have been enormous.

We arrived home about 2 hours ago, somewhere around 1:45pm, having set out from Shawnee (Shawna was delighted with the name), Oklahoma, around 8 this morning.

The drive the day before (aka: Sunday), leaving Magdalena around 7am, brought us 600 miles closer to home by the time we stopped. And that evening (which was only last night, but feels like a week ago), we dined at a marvelous Chinese buffet where Shawna had octopus for the very first time. (Note: She liked the tentacles but did not care so much for the head.)

Backtracking further, the day I wrote my previous post (June 24, aka: last Thursday), was the day we arrived in Magdalena, New Mexico, and for a scant 68-hours (aka: 3 nights and 2 full days), soaked up the ambiance and culture of this sacred (a term I do not use lightly) community which pokes its head up through hard-scrapple terrain like a cactus blossom in the arid mountain plain… all of which I’ll say more about, later.

Fastforwarding back to (almost) the present moment, by 2:30 this afternoon, sweet Shawna (who drove the entire trip, shy only about 200 of the roghly 4000 miles — incident free, I am thrilled to announce) had our chariot unpacked of luggage, technology, snack box, cooler and assorted trinkets gathered along the way, was showered, had donned fresh clothes, text-messaged at least 6 friends, posted 2 notes to Facebook, made plans for the night and was out the door to check in with her (previous) employer to see if a spot still existed for her to come back to work.

Also by 2:30, I had turned on both of my desktop computers and started downloading emails: 6oo+ to one account, and about 50 to the other. Also, I noted that the house was not cooling down from the humid 80-degrees the thermostat read when we turned the a/c on… a circumstance which had not changed even an our later, just before I started this note, and so I called to get myself ‘on the list’ of our local heating & air folks who will (thankfully) be able to come check things out tomorrow.

Which is fitting, somehow, to come home to the routine nonsense of life. The maintenance, repairing, maintaining, and outfitting of a home, which — so long as one owns one — never ceases… except for spaces of time such as indulged for the last three weeks, which have in every dimension perceptible have been sheer bliss and pure enlightenment…

 

Arizona June 24, 2010

Phoenix is a tribute to its name, at least from the perspective of the freeway by-passer. Surely, this city has won awards of some significant nature for the meticulous attention to detail expressed in the cultivated landscaping if its expressways… causing me to wonder: If the federal government is the ‘great equalizer’ in terms of maintaining a nationwide network of connecting arteries among the various states, what is Phoenix doing that the rest of us could model?

Because frankly, the state of our national roadways in other locations along our route unfavorably pales by comparison, with Colorado placing a somewhat distant second. In both places, however, one of the more impressive qualities is the mosaic embellished to the retaining and sound-deflecting walls that corridor the pavement. Denver has gone with a scribed ‘mountain & river’ motif, which scrolls along the top of the walls like an endless graphic tapestry that is surprisingly pleasant and much easier on the eyes than plain cement.

Phoenix, however, has captured the allure of Aztec temples with embossed geometrics and cultured landscaping, lush with flowering flora. Captivating.

Anyway, today we shall leave behind us the chimney rocks and blooming cacti of the Arizona high deserts. We spent last night in Globe, just a hop and skip to the New Mexico border on US 60, which we shall travel all the way to our current destination.

 

SeaSprites June 21, 2010

Tonight will likely be our last night in sunny/misty/foggy California, ending our quest for the last two days to camp in a place ‘by the beach’, optimally with some sun.  

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

  

Last night we camped in Santa Barbara. Very posh and pleasantly sunny, though unseasonably cool when we checked in, looking forward to a stroll on the beach just around the corner.  

Hunger called, however, so we set off to find dinner and ended up at an ornately bedecked and lavishly bedazzled India-cuisine restaurant in the heart of the tourist-trade district on (I think it was) Central St.  

The atmosphere was enchanting, lavish with tapestry ceiling and intricately carved woods. The presentation and service were charming and professional. Sadly for me, however, though I am certain the food was superbly prepared, I have never been a fan of curry and my hopes that perhaps my tastes had changed proved futile.  

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

  

Still, I reserved this news until Shawna — who was getting a first taste of the distinctive flavors — had finished her meal… or should I say stopped nibbling at it, sighed, and demurred that at least she liked the rice.  

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

 When I gave her the news that I’d never been a big fan of India food she, with raised eyebrow, enquired as to why I had not objected before we’d dined… and I told her that I wanted her to experience the tastes for herself, without my prejudicial influence. She smiled and said something like, yeah… but you coulda told me and I woulda believed you. To which I responded, sure… but now you know for yourself.  

What she did not get to know for herself, however, was that longed-for walk on the beach which was postponed after dinner last night, ostensibly until this morning. But with the fresh daylight, the sky was overcast and the breeze nearly chilly. So we headed on down the coast.Wending our way, making several wrong turns, keeping close to the seashore, we managed to find a motel that is right on Hermosa Beach. Not nearly so splendiferous in accoutrement, and nestled alongside a mixed residential and business district, the beach is literally right outside our door, the sun shines brightly and Shawna is enthralled!!!!

 

Day 11 June 18, 2010

Filed under: EN ROUTE — gozarks @ 9:06 am
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The accommodations at this Day’s Inn (where we’ve camped for two consecutive nights) are comfy, but the outdoor pool was not pristine. However, the break in the near daily unpack-reload routine was a treat and visiting with our kin was delicious.

In a few moments we shall depart these traveler accommodations, headed first for a bon voyage breakfast with family, then on the San Francisco through Yosemite National Park, which is supposed to be a spectacular drive.

The next few days will be busy, however, with back-to-back appointments in the Bay area tonight and tomorrow, then on to Lompoc Sunday. Thus I may be absent from these keys in any significant manner until Monday.

 

Reno June 16, 2010

Night berfore last we stayed  somewhere-mid-northern-Nevada at a posh ‘casino’ motel. Last night we landed in Reno. Still, proximity does not change habit. At least not automatically. And never having been much of a gambler, I have yet to place a dime on the tables or in the slots.

Shawna collects some salt from the Nevada flats, home to the 'measured mile'.

Shawna collects some salt from the Nevada flats, home to the 'measured mile'.

Which should not be construed to mean that I am not a risk-taker. If that were true I wouldn’t be on this road trip!!! I mean, three glorious weeks with a teenager… no sane person could contemplate this without comprehending that they are putting sanity at risk!!

Still, this is the role of a parent: To do what can be done to assist and enable our children to grow and prosper by exposing them to and immersing them in the way life is and the way it ought to be.  And to do this well, we must come to grips with the fact that the ‘daily routine’ we maintain is the real master of this (subliminal/pervasive) communication.

Yet there are moments when our surroundings and the events taking place present opportunities to emphasize important bits of ‘reality’ in context of our cultivated perception… which is, realistically, critical to each of us in developing an innate sense of well-being and cognitive health.

This morning, for example, as Shawna and I took our time packing, getting ready for my business meeting this afternoon, we had a chat about double-standards prompted by her questions about the California man who was pursuing Bin Ladin.

Not completely comprehending the details of a report on the TV news about his arrest in Pakistan, I gave her a factual account: That a U.S. Citizen had taken it upon himself to hunt-down Osama bin Ladin. That he had done this because he was pissed that Osama was still at large and since there was a bounty posted on Osama’s head — making him a ‘legal target’ for any self-declared bounty-hunter — the man had set out to bring Osama to justice, but was arrested for taking pursuit.

What?!? Was her answer. How could they do this? Why did they arrest him? She wanted to know.

And thus ensued our chit-chat about double-standards. How ‘we’ (as society) get desensitized to our own moral infractions: Saying one thing (ie: putting a bounty on a man’s head — which itself is to my way of thinking a questionable and immoral practice) and then doing the opposite (ie: punishing a person for taking seriously and acting upon our public encouragement to do something we have said should be done).

As if to make my point, the next news item was a video of a police officer punching a woman in the face for j-walking, which elicited an astounded ‘OH MY GOD’ from my darling child. Capitalizing on this illuminating moment, I gently chided: See… that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And that is why I am so brutally intollerant of ‘little’ inconsistencies in personal moral-codes and standards. Our society has come to worship  violence. We tollerate and even celebrate it as a supposed means of ‘doing good’.

However, this is not normal. It is a learned/inculcated behavior resulting from the incremental desensitizing of our innate sense of ‘good conduct’. It happens a little, and a little, and a little at a time, this inculcated immoral ideology until — socio-cultrually speaking — we end up in a space of time where law enforcement officers commit agregious criminal behaviors which are voraciously defended by officials as ‘honorable’ and old men are sentenced to five years in Federal prison for growing plants. ~~~