Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Never look a gift horse in the mouth!

I haven't heard anyone else say that for a long time, although I say it once in a while. As most readers know that how I came into possession of the dwelling I'm in is an instance of pure serendipity. I realized there were a lot of things that needed to be done to make the place livable, and a few more to make it somewhat attractive, so I jumped at the chance to improve a shabby 1963 mobile home.

Many things weren't obvious when I first saw it although the owner alerted me to a leak in the roof that was built over what was intended to be a side entrance. That room is now an enclosed porch, and its saving feature is that is contains a decent washing machine. Even at that, I'd like to tear the whole thing down and give away the washer, but my son says there are a few things I should do to the room and it will then be ok.

As we pulled up the carpet we noticed several places where the flooring had obvious water damage. One spot in my bedroom was from the shower, and that has been fixed at least until I can tear out the horrible formica wall panels and install ceramic tile. An area of the old flooring had been cut out all along the living room wall and replacement flooring installed. There is a large window in the center of that wall, and when I took down the curtain rod to paint I saw that there had been/is water damage around the window. That means the whole wall is probably bad, but I'm not going to rebuild this place and spend a lot of money, so I am hoping the boys can paint and recaulk the roof before long. It has been one of my longer-term objectives to replace the windows, one by one, and it is this window that I will start with.

I can't complain about this "gift horse", and I'm not complaining even though it may sound a bit like I am. I am grateful to have a very good place to live and projects that will keep me occupied at least as long as my money lasts.

Today I painted the ceiling and walls with primer, so tomorrow I will try to get started early with the first coat of ceiling paint. If possible I might even be able to do the second coat - I still have to get to Home Depot for the wall paint but that shouldn't take long. As I've noticed with the rooms I've already done, that primer coat is really a good indication of how bright and cheery it can look, and how drab all that paneling is. Actually the paneling is just a case of overkill, but the color of it doesn't suit my tastes so I want it all covered up. Right now just about everything except the dog is crowded into one side of the room, and I hate to think of living like this for the next few days, but at least I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I can't find my camera in all this chaotic mess, but if I do I will post some pictures of the work in progress.

Well, I found the camera! The first picture is one I've posted around the time the guys were doing the flooring in the living room. The second one is the same area, only now it's primered. The third picture is the window in question (that's the screen leaning against the wall).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finally back to work

Joe came by with his two little girls this morning and we had a very good visit. When they left I decided to get started on the roll-out portion of the living room so I began shifting furniture around. I got the ceiling and walls washed and will paint a coat of primer tomorrow. I will need to start early so I can go out for some errands in the afternoon - for instance, a gallon of paint for the walls.

The other side of the living room which has the higher ceiling is not on my priority list just now. For one thing the vent cover for the swamp cooler is absolute filthy and seems to have lost one of the anchors or bolts that holds the cover in place. There is enough delineation between the two sections of the room that I can do one side and then stop and pick it up later.

I should probably be working on the kitchen since I received notice that the electric range has been shipped today. But the living room section can be done quickly I think, and will give some satisfaction to carry me over to the next project.

Donald brought a TV stand from his Mom's house this evening which works perfectly and is just the right size for the TV. She also sent a bread machine, so tomorrow one of the things I need to pick up is bread flour and yeast. I'm so excited to try it as I want home-made bread so much I was considering making it by hand. I know I would be unable to even lift my coffee cup for weeks if I were to do that!

Floors nearly finished

Donald came over with the two girls this afternoon and went to work on the last room which is my bedroom. There are just a couple rows of flooring to go and since they require some fancy cutting around the floor vents it was decided to come back when the light is better. The girls were really good - they brought activity books to work in and Nana has the crayons and a few other things, mainly snacks. I make sure to have healthy snacks and drinks on hand for all the grandkids, and Jeannie joined us for the last couple hours. It's nice to have a place large enough to contain the kids, although it is much smaller than what they are used to.

Lady was her usual laid-back self. I had gone out this morning to replenish the supply of the wet food I add to the dry dog food. I haven't been putting much into her bowl because I wanted to take time to allow her digestive system to get used to it. I notice lately when I take her out into the sunlight that her coat is much more healthy and shiny looking. If the light hits her just right her coat is beautiful. It has to be the food, which is Wilderness Blue and is almost all meat. I brought home the giblets from the turkey on Thanksgiving and cooked them up for her, and she thinks she's died and gone to heaven.

I'm ready to get back to painting, so I think I will try to wash some walls and ceilings the next couple of days so that when Jeannie comes by I can stick a paint brush or roller into her hand. I want to post some pictures soon, but not until I have a room that is completely finished and with everything in place. That may be a while as I can't work the hours I once did.

My old home of Western North Carolina is expecting some snow and I wish I could be there for it. If you don't have to drive anywhere and can just sit back and watch it come down, it is a beautiful experience. My dog sure perked up when she could go out and romp in the snow. At least everyone should be home from their Thanksgiving travels during this storm.

I hope all the RVers who are heading for snowbird country have safe travels--good weather and good roads. Right now I am very happy to be where I am. Next year, who knows!

My burned hand has healed very well. The new skin is much younger and smoother looking, but it's a helluva way to get younger skin. I'm still loading it down with lotions several times a day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another day of doing nothing

I certainly didn't want to go out today in the post-Thanksgiving shopping traffic, and I mainly watched Book-TV a big part of the day. There are no commercial breaks so trips to the kitchen and bathroom had to be quick.

In a comment to my blog about the science shows I've been watching, Carolyn wrote to say that maybe quantum mechanics explains why she can walk into a room and then can't remember why or what she wanted. Carolyn, you are caught in a parallel universe, and for some reason you crossed briefly into that other world. I think I'm really beginning to like this science stuff if it can explain my crazy behavior! Some may wonder why a person who hates to use a cell phone, and doesn't want to know how certain technologies work (but just wants them to work) can be interested in quantum mechanics and the like. If I wanted to know about the latest computer technology for example, I could be as capable and good at it as anyone else, but it just isn't in my field of interest at this time. But the latest theories and discoveries about the universe happen to interest me now, so I'm going to learn a bit about it even if it drives me crazy.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my home improvement projects, especially the kitchen. I would love to replace the cabinet and drawer pulls and hinges, but just a quick google search put me in a state of shock at the prices. My kitchen alone has 18 cabinet fronts and 12 drawers, and the same hinges and pulls are on all cabinetry in the hallway and bedrooms. I think I will need to space out the projects around the time it takes me to save the money to pay for them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I've Got It!

As you know from my past few posts, I was told to take it easy for the first week after eye surgery. I've taken that to mean maybe the first 10 days or even two weeks. What can a person do when not doing anything? Watch TV! I've watched TV so much that my eyes might fall out, or more likely, I will go crazy from the commercials.

I prefer to learn things on TV, although I realize TV isn't there to teach (or to entertain) but to sell. But I play solitaire on the computer when they are selling things, so I feel like I'm learning new things - and becoming better at solitaire. My programs of choice are those relating to nature and to science.

Thankfully many programs are repeated an unbelievable number of times throughout the week and hearing them over and over again has allowed me to have several "Ah ha" moments. Science has never been my best subject, but I've become very interested in things like black holes, space travel, multiple universes, string theory and quantum mechanics. It's the last one that I thought might be the easiest for me to understand, so after watching the programs over and over I heard a statement that resonates with me: at the quantum level everything becomes possible--things can be in several places at one time. Now I know what happens to my keys and my glasses. They actually ARE in more than one place at a time, and that's why I often have trouble remembering where I put them.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I spent the day at my daughter's and didn't do a single thing - all the kids and their spouses cooked, set the table and cleaned up afterward. My eyes were really bothering me by the time I got home - I think light, both artificial and sunlight, bothers me even though it is absolutely essential for me to see very well. Today I haven't done one thing except what I had to.

Oh, and I ordered an electric range from Home Depot - they have the best price on the model I need, which is only 20" wide. I tried to order a new dishwasher but had trouble getting the order in. It seems they want to charge me a hunk of money for a "required install kit". I may begin looking around at stores that will sell me what I want. I prefer to deal with a person anyway but it is becoming more common for the big stores to want to sell certain of their products online.

Steve came by with Liam yesterday morning to check out a couple of issues I'm having with the house and to give me some answers and suggestions about renovating the kitchen. Here is Liam trying to get a reaction out of Lady.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A few thoughts

Regarding my post yesterday and my short-lived RVing career, I want to emphasize that solo RVing doesn't have to be lonely. I find that as an introvert, I need to recharge my batteries by being alone, but then I need an outlet for all the energy I have recreated. That principle remains the same no matter what my life style is. When living in Asheville I became very active in the local genealogical society and had plenty of projects to keep me busy, along with human contact which I needed as well. I also took courses at the local community college which kept me in contact with many other people, and I especially derived a lot of benefit from being around people much younger than myself.

Full time RVing was a delight as long as I was able to volunteer my time at a National Park facility. I had at least two future jobs lined up when I began having trouble with my vision, and had to decline both of them in addition to some other opportunities that came up during the next year and a half. I would probably still be traveling across the country with stops at the parks along the way. It is especially helpful for solo RVers to have something outside themselves to keep them busy and involved, and is a great way to expend energy. I'd like to urge anyone reading this who thinks they might like the lifestyle, to by all means try it out. You just never know how you will respond to a challenge until you take it on. But solos have to think carefully how they can balance their aloneness with human contact.

My current renovation projects should take me through the next couple of years, with time off for travel and camping now and then.

I'm doing a bit of cleaning today. I can live amidst a lot of clutter, but I don't like it when things get dirty as my kitchen and bathroom floors have done. The flooring in the vicinity of Lady's nest needs cleaning as well, although I've been keeping up with dust mopping and catching most of the dog hair floating around.

I had a terrible time with my eye most of the morning - it felt like something was in my eye and no amount of blinking could get rid of it, nor could the drops I'm using 4 times a day (even though I snuck an extra drop in around mid-morning). I re-read the papers given to me after surgery and noted that it is normal to experience what feels like grit in the eye, but it sure is annoying and it hurts.

After my disaster with frying bacon about 10 days ago, I decided to try doing it in the microwave this morning. One word describes the texture, taste, and aroma: AWFUL! I guess I'm giving up bacon for a long time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Little Stir Crazy

I have been so good and quiet the past week I can't believe I'm still sane, but I'm pretty sure I am. I decided this morning to see if I could drive, so I went the approximate mile to Home Depot and bought a cheery plant for my kitchen window. I did pretty well, but won't try to drive any distance for a while. My eye still aches now and then, and my hand is finally starting to look human again. I think the burn has caused me more pain and suffering than eye surgery.

A week or so ago I received a question from a reader asking about my decision to try the full time RV life, as well as how I came to the decision to quit. I will try, and I hope I am clear enough about it. Of course the opinions I express are strictly my own, and won't match what other RVers have experienced.

When I returned from 3 years of living in Ireland in 2003, I bought a house outside Asheville, NC, which I loved more than any other place I've lived. I had a beautiful view of the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway outside my front windows, and mountains were all around me. But after 5 years or so I realized I just couldn't maintain the house and 3/4 acre of heavily treed property on my own.

I first became aware of traveling and living in a camper for more than a few weeks at a time, when I read a journal of a retired couple who pulled their daughter's tear drop camper to Alaska and back. It sounded idyllic to me, and having spent a lot of time hiking and backpacking in my lifetime, it certainly provided a lot more comfort in traveling than carrying a backpack. From the journal website I clicked on the ad for "Go RVing", and then did a great deal of research on RVs of all kinds. I found my way to Howard and Linda Payne's website, "RV Dreams" which provided a huge amount of information on the full time lifestyle and costs associated with it, and had a very active forum in which I could ask many questions and find answers from others who had practical experience. RV Dreams also had a chat room which I started taking part in nearly every evening for months, getting to know many of the RVers and hopefuls that I still keep in touch with today through the blogging world.

Within a few months I put my house on the market, and accepted an offer in 3 weeks. I disposed of my furniture and a lot of belongings, putting into storage things I wasn't ready to part with then. I have since wished I could have put all my furniture into storage as I would love to have it now.

I bought a rig, a 2002 Ford F-350 with dual rear wheels and a diesel engine, and a 2004 Hitchhiker II 5th wheel, and took off across the country for California in December of 2008. 2009 was a great year for me, and I loved the freedom to pull my house along with me wherever I went. I worked for about 3 months as a camp host at Lassen Volcanic National Park that summer, and then drove east again in September, visiting my son and his family in NY, and friends in Asheville NC on my way to another 3 month volunteer stint at Fort Pulaski outside Savannah Georgia that winter.

After that year I remembered the old saying "Wherever you go, there you are." I really couldn't keep up with the maintenance required on an RV, and found myself feeling very lonely. I was happy when volunteering, but the other 6 months out of the year were lonely during the times I wasn't with family. I have always been somewhat of a loner and enjoy the freedom to plan my trips and drive my own drive, but that doesn't negate the fact that it was lonely even though it is a choice I freely make.

In 2009 I began to have problems with my vision, and had cataracts removed from both eyes, which then led to a diagnosis of an eye condition requiring cornea transplants. So 2010 and much of 2011 have been taken up with health and vision issues, and I was really tired of the additional issues involved with living in a house on wheels. Many of those issues result from the constant stress on such a house when traveling around the country and over every kind of road surface, and many of the issues result from the crappy way they are manufactured. I longed to settle down and my ideal was to find a park model somewhere, and maybe a small camper such as a tear drop for occasional camping. I did find such a little house in a 55+ mobile home park in Sacramento, very close to 3 of my 4 kids.

I will probably want to hit the road this coming spring, but I don't think I will miss having an RV to deal with. I now drive a Toyota Highlander which achieves much better fuel mileage than the Ford diesel truck, and which suits me and my dog, Lady.

That is the story of my short attempt to be a full time RVer. I enjoyed much of it, but in the end it was loneliness that led me away from it. I'm still alone but I don't notice it like I did before. Most RVers that I have met and whom I know through chat room, emails, and blogs have a much different experience than I did. I have always felt that it is better for me to try something until I decide I want to do something else, rather than to wish I had.

I have been so fortunate to have traveled much of the world, and I hope to someday recount some of these travels as blog posts. It's an idea that is still under construction in my mind.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being a couch potato

I would bet that many of you don't think I could just stay immobile for long, but I have been following the doctor's orders to the letter. I don't feel well enough to do anything more, and it has been a real chore to walk Lady twice today. Fortunately she seemed to understand that I couldn't stay out long, and didn't take a lot of time to get her business done. I gave her double treats, of course, plus an extra scoop of wild salmon & duck canned food with the dry.

My eye doesn't feel so good, and the bones around it hurt like hell, especially my cheekbone. But I can't complain because of how fast the vision is coming back. I still have quite a ways to go, but I can tell the operation was successful. Now I have two donors to remember and thank every day of my life.

At a time when I could really appreciate television there is really very little worthwhile programming especially during the day, so I'm napping a lot. I read a few blogs and then have to set it aside and pick it up a little while later.

Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes and good vibes. I am so grateful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Post surgery

Everything went well yesterday, although I was in enough pain I took strong narcotic pills afterwards and last night. They really helped and even made my hand feel better.

I went for the post op this morning and I can actually read letters on the eye chart with the eye just operated on. I noticed when I got up I could see more detail with that eye than I did a week or two after surgery last time.

I'm at home now and the doctor told me to be a couch potato the rest of this week. I need permission to do that and not feel guilty!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Accident prone

That's what I'm beginning to think I am. This morning I decided that since my cholesterol had dropped so low, I deserved bacon and eggs for breakfast. I fried the bacon and was attempting to pour most of the bacon grease into a cup when it sloshed out over my hand. It really burned my hand down to the wrist and over to the palm side. Dang, my aloe plant is at Jeannie's house, and she and her family are enjoying a 4 day vacation at Lake Tahoe, so I immediately held my hand under cold running water. It helped enough that I could stop to cook the eggs and eat my mid-morning breakfast.

I've since been resting with the hand wrapped in a wet towel with ice cubes layered in there, and it still burns like hell. I should probably have immediately driven out to buy another aloe plant, but I didn't feel like getting into the car.

Some of you may remember an incident when I dropped bacon grease all over the kitchen of my 5th wheel, and I sometimes think I shouldn't ever buy bacon again. But I love it now and then.

There goes all the odds & ends jobs I was going to do today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dogged Determination

I have had a whole lot of little successes today, so I don't know why the clutter in my house hasn't been reduced, at least that I can see. First off, I had a light bulb go off in my head. I was exasperated that what looked like such a simple shelf to assemble was more than I wanted to deal with. I woke up thinking, just LOOK at the pictures, don't READ the printed instructions. I can't believe how easy it was. How can a mfr make something so easy to assemble and then send along barely intelligible assembly instructions? Now that I have it together, sitting on my countertop and holding the few cookbooks I have left, I realize it's about twice as large a shelf as I needed. You know how that goes - you just fill the space with something.

The Fuller Brush mop arrived today and I put it together easily. What a difference it makes!

I set a huge stack of empty boxes and cardboard out on the curb this morning and they were picked up right away evidently. I shouldn't have been so hasty, as I now have two more boxes to go out.

There are a lot of programs on TV today (and the past couple of days) about the Vietnam war. I still can't think about it very much - it seems like yesterday for one thing, and so divided the country I don't think we've ever really recovered. At least there is more respect for the military today. My brother was there early in the war, at Bien Hoa. Because he had already served two years in Okinawa and was overdue to come home, he only remained in Vietnam for a few months. Not long after he left, there wasn't much left of Bien Hoa or anyone who was there. Although I'm very much anti-war and have always been, I really resented those who didn't have to serve their country mistreating those who did. And Jane Fonda? I can't believe she still shows up on TV once in a while. But I guess one of these days we'll start hearing about the Dixie Chicks as well. I was still in Ireland when they performed in London and one of them really inserted her foot in her mouth in front of a large audience. I have never felt so ashamed in my life. We can say what we want when we're in the US, is the way I look at it, but when we're out of the country then family loyalty rules should apply.

I'd better quit before I really piss off someone.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I began writing a blog in 2008 when I decided to sell my house, buy an RV, and live the full-time RVing life. That lasted for about 2 years, and I had some good times as well as some traumatic times. In the long run I discovered it wasn't fun to do alone. The blog has been well received by many in the RVing community, but now things have changed in my life and I'm no longer a full-time or even part-time member of that group. What I'd like to say is that I know many of you read blogs to hear about the RVing life. So if my blog no longer lives up to your expectations or preferences, by all means drop me from your list. What I don't need is a negative comment about it. I write and folks read, just as I read the blogs of others. There is no reason why an anonymous person needs to tell me I complain too much or am uninteresting, or whatever. JUST DON'T READ MY BLOG if you feel that way! It's really all that simple.

My life has taken a dramatic turn away from what it was the past few years and I am comfortable with that. I still hope to travel, but to tell the truth I doubt if I would ever want to travel in an RV again. I am finding it so much easier FOR ME to drive a smaller and more maneuverable vehicle. If you disagree then that's fine with me, but I can only say what I think and feel.

I drove downtown to my doctors office to pick up a prescription this morning and while I'm not usually a freeway driver, I did take US 50 freeway most of the way going and coming. Driving back I couldn't believe the condition of the roadway - smooth as glass! It has been repaved and the on and off ramps are much improved. So all that aggravation of roadwork can lead to a very pleasant driving experience, to say nothing about it being much safer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nothing going on here

I'm just counting down until my scheduled surgery on Nov. 15th, and to tell the truth, I've been a little down and depressed for some reason. I think it is partly because I had such high hopes for getting things done, and it just doesn't work that way. My energy flags so I can't do as much as I'd like, and the flooring is dependent on when the guys can get together. The only room left to do now is my bedroom, but I still have boxes to empty so I can get some semblance of order to the house.

I bought a very nice and comfortable office chair, but after it was assembled in the living room we found it wouldn't go through the door to the office. The doorways to both bedrooms are angled to one another, and rounding the corner to the left and into the office is almost impossible. I don't know how I could even get a sofa bed in there.

One thing I'd like to do is replace the jalousie windows with double paned sliding windows. Half the window cranks are missing throughout the house, and the ones that are still there don't always turn properly. I thought I'd get one window to start with and have Joe install it. He replaced all the windows in his house, so he has experience doing it. He got up on the roof to wrap up the swamp cooler for the winter and took pictures of the surrounding roof. It doesn't look all that good to me although I will need to climb on a ladder to see exactly what needs to be done in order to explain it to the folks at Home Depot. I don't know what prep should be done before painting the roof, and I'm sure there is something.

I have contracted something that I hope is just allergies. I don't feel like I have a cold, but sometimes the symptoms for colds and allergies are the same or similar. I'm beginning to wonder if it's the dog hair I'm allergic to. If so I guess I just suffer it out. I sure don't want anything to delay my surgery yet again, so I won't say anything to the doctor about it. I use Claritin during the day and found some cough syrup with codeine which seemed to help with the cough and sore throat. If I really need it I take Benadryl at night to help me sleep.

Today is my daughter's birthday! I have a card and gift for her but am afraid to go near her family in case I do have a cold.

One of the things that has plagued me, especially since I don't see well unless I have plenty of light, is the fact that there aren't many light fixtures in the house. I bought a floor lamp yesterday morning and wondered if I could assemble it. Well I did, and it didn't take long, was easy to put together, and didn't require any bad language. I'm on a roll, I thought, so I picked up a shelf at K Mart in the afternoon to sit on the counter and hold my cookbooks. Whoa, I don't know who wrote the instructions but English is definitely their 2nd or 3rd language. The box sits here waiting for Donald or Joe to put it together!

I'm thinking about getting another floor lamp for my bedroom. I have a wall fixture but have to walk to the very back of the room to turn on the switch. I need something I can turn on and off easily when I go to bed at night. I also found a nice wooden 2-drawer file cabinet for the office, but it requires assembly. I don't think it was always like this, as I don't remember having to assemble everything I bought years ago. I guess they can more easily fit the boxes on the container ships leaving China than the assembled product.

I'm not sure when I'll post again as I just haven't felt like writing lately or even reading blogs. I doubt I could ever catch up with what everyone is doing. So I'll see ya when I see ya!