Rolling On…But Wait

I thought I’d only be blogging our life once a month, but as it turns out I have too much to say, and I never know when I’ll have WiFi…so I hope you won’t grow too tired of my babbling. Before I get to our Colorado Springs events, I want to share the day Dan and I spent with his good friend, Tony, while we were still at my stepdaughter’s home. Tony became our “Senior Tour” guide for the day since he was familiar with the place. We headed out for a two-hour drive to the Pawnee Butte National Grasslands. I mentioned this on FB, but I thought I’d share another photo.  On our way to the Buttes, we stopped and took shots of the valley, and of an old abandon farm. We traveled on to the Buttes and though half of the travel was on a dirt road, it was well worth it.

On the way back we stopped at a local cemetery. The history was amazing as you read headstone after headstone of children and families that died from the Spanish flu in the early 1900’s. My heartstrings pulled even tighter as I spotted graves with only a piece of cement for a headstone, or just a bag of cement, now broken and hardened in the weather, because not everyone could afford a proper headstone in those tough times. Their devastation was a daily experience, and I couldn’t help but shed tears of sadness. 

We left the Denver area and headed to Colorado Springs to start our real travel adventure. First stop in Colorado Springs was the Garden of Gods. It is a natural rock formation park that will have you dropping your jaw. Unfortunately, the entrance we took didn’t sport the sign the other entrance did that specified NO RV’s etc…and let me tell you, between Dan’s F350 and a 30’ trailer we found ourselves trying to maneuver 50’ of metal around corners not designed for anything other than a vehicle. Our final nasty turn took out a tire…as we expected. So, after Dan pulled over the best he could and changed the tire our next stop was…you guessed it, a tire shop. But that is only the beginning of our “Friday the 13th” tale.

Next was finding a place to camp. We started calling RV parks, but one after the other was booked up. Finally, one gal gave us the number of another park she thought might be able to help us out. Thankfully, we thought, they had a spot so we made our way there a few minutes before he closed the office. Our eyes opened wide as we took in the view of a homeless community stationed along the sides of the driveway leading into the park entrance. I try not to stereotype people, but after the three break-ins to Dan’s truck in Washington, and the police telling us it is “homeless” getting what they can to sell…well, you can imagine our concern. However, we needed a place to park so we paid for two nights. Turned out the inside of the park was what we found to be more of a concern. During our stay, we witnessed two drug deals go down close to our camper. My upbringing gave me a lot of insight, so I know what I’m talking about. This told us we may come back from our day trip to find our tires gone…an expression I wasn’t too happy to hear come out of Dan’s mouth.

The next day we decided not to let our current living conditions stop our plans for our day trip. We took what might possibly have been our last look at our home on wheels, took a deep breath and headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They have the most amazing giraffe exhibit I’ve ever seen. It is below ground so the giraffe’s heads are your level. People could feed them and even pet them, which I did, of course.   The zoo is built on the side of the mountain, and every exhibit is amazing. The reptile exhibit has beautiful glass art along with other art inside the glass cages. The whole experience made you smile. And bonus…since you are on a mountain, you enjoyed panoramic views of the valley below. I loved it all. Then we went back to the Garden of the Gods so we could pull into the different parking lots and take photos.  We entered from another side this time and there we found the notice about no trailers. Live and learn…lol.

Bonus – when we got back to the RV Park, all tires were still intact, and so was our home. The lesson we have learned quickly is that cities are not made to tow trailers around. That it is best to go outside the city to find camping areas, drop the trailer and enjoy the sights. Another lesson is to check all park reviews before signing up for more than one night, or any night at all. But the biggest lesson is to be patient with each other and to quote Sue Aitkins from Life Below Zero (one of my fav shows) “Don’t take it personal” – and she would be right. It’s simply a learning curve and it will get better.

What does courage look like…

My next blog was going to be filled with tales of our travels and adventures on the road, but my heart was busting open with the need to share a story with all of you. Over these past few weeks, I have witnessed courage on many scales. But nothing compares to the courage of our dear friends, Rick and Theresa Gibson, and their granddaughter, Payton.  Five years ago these grandparents received a call and were quickly on a flight to their granddaughter’s location. Their grandchild had become victim to Baby Shaking Syndrom. They remained by her side as their one-year-old was fighting for her life. Payton continues to be a fighter filled with courage and strength today. This little girl has endured multiple surgeries, illness, being poked, stuck with needles, and doctors working on her the majority of her life, yet she smiles. I marvel at her endurance as her Papa holds her up to walk around the backyard. Then with her sweet smile, she easily convinces Papa, Grandma, or both to sit on the ground and play with her and her toys. I don’t know how this young child taps into such courage and strength. The medical complications that accompany this syndrome will bring you to tears. The fact that she will never walk on her own, or that only half of her brain is being used. It is also the seizures, a frightening and complicated situation. There is the liquid medicine because she can’t swallow pills that Payton must take regardless of the taste. The capsules they call “sprinkles” that are carefully empty into a small container of applesauce. This is a daily routine no child should have to endure, yet, Payton does. All because she cried when she was a child, and her mom’s boyfriend couldn’t cope. Instead of walking away, he shook this little girl almost to her death. The courage to fight for her life is nothing that can be contained, and nothing short of a miracle. She continues to smile as she pushes through to keep muscles exercised and to learn words and tasks. She is an angel. But like any typical child, her “halo tips” now and then, a loosely coined phrase from Theresa. She is a strong-willed six-year-old, and though I didn’t witness it, apparently she has a set of lungs to prove it.

The boyfriend received a forty-eight-year sentence for his crime. He will be eligible for parole after he has served eighteen years, but Payton has no release from her prison. She was given a life sentence of disabilities for his crime. A crime that could have been avoided. I have watched her progress via Facebook over the past five years and have been amazed at her smile and spunk. Yesterday was the first time Dan and I had an opportunity to travel to their location to visit and to meet this little lady in person. Her smile is as contagious in person as it is in pictures. Her beauty is radiant and her spirit filled with love for her Papa and Grandma.

However, that is not where the story of courage ends. Though Payton’s mom is in the picture, she is not Payton’s only caregiver. Payton is blessed with wonderful, courageous, loving, and selfless grandparents. Rick and Theresa didn’t hesitate to make the decision to adopt/share custody for this little girl and take on her care full-time. Knowing Payton’s mom wasn’t able to emotionally handle the situation alone, they didn’t question what their destiny would be. Over the past five years, they have endured the unknown with courage I can not imagine. They have been Payton’s everything. There wasn’t a hint of hesitation in this decision. It wasn’t as if Rick had to convince Theresa to raise their granddaughter, or Theresa to convince Rick…there was not even a blink of an eye. They fought with everything they had in them. Then signed on the dotted line and brought their little girl home. That is the real story of courage here. Courage built on faith and love.

As a grandparent, I have been blessed with many babies to hold in my arms. I’ve enjoyed the hugs, kisses, and time with each of them, but then I was able to pass the little cuties back to mom or dad and go on with my freedom. I have the option to sleep until 4am or 9am. I have the option to go out to dinner, or a movie and not worry about a sitter. I can choose to be adventurous or have a quiet evening at home enjoying a good movie. I have options. Theresa and Rick have laid down their lives for their granddaughter and without hesitation. They simply changed their priorities, and with love in their hearts. With all the trials and obstacles they face daily for Payton’s needs, they have not escaped their own personal trials of surgeries, illnesses, and anything else life could throw at them. But they have persevered. They have overcome, and have come out the other side with even more courage and faith than before. To say I admire them would be an understatement. We have hunted alongside these two people, stayed in their home, broken bread, shared laughs and told stories. It isn’t a matter of just admiring them, we love these two people for their courage, strength, and unshakable faith. Rick and Theresa put “Grand” in grandparent in the most selfless way anyone can. As a grandparent, I know I would step in if needed for my family. I only hope that I would step up to the plate with as much courage and faith as Rick and Theresa have done.

Recognizing others courage for the strength and faith that it is will remind me daily of my own blessings. My heart is overwhelmed with Rick and Theresa’s patience and love for Payton. And I will take away the knowledge that my travels may, at times, be less about the scenery, and more about the people who impacted our lives.

As the Snow Flies…

Yes, the snow has fluttered to the ground on more than one occasion since we arrived in Colorado…but that is to be expected. As an example of a typical day in Colorado this time of year – I’ll have my cup of coffee at 6am when the temp is a cool 28 degrees, by lunch I’m in a T-shirt enjoying seventy degrees and sunshine. Then dinner rolls around and I’ve put my jacket on as I make my way from dinner with friends at a local restaurant to the car dodging snowflakes the size of fifty-cent pieces.

But let’s talk about something other than the weather. Dan and I have been on the go since we arrived the night of March 9th. We have had family time with my stepdaughter, Shannon, her husband, Brandon, and two of their three little ones, Ember and Kaidence. I smiled as I heard Kaidence excitedly ask as I walked in the door, “Are they here yet?” Her grandpa is her favorite person, but her love for me is easily felt with the hugs and smiles she gives me when I lift her into my arms. We’ve stayed busy with potty training (the two-year-old, not Dan…hehehe). There was grass seed to lay, and time spent babysitting to fill our days. Dan has done his normal puttering to keep busy when he wasn’t helping in the house. He’s never without something to do, much like myself, but I didn’t hesitate to leave the yard work to him as we prepared for Kaidence’s 3rd birthday party. All-in-all it has been good. Our time with Shannon, Brandon, and the kids has been filled with good laughs, busy dinners, and, as always, great private stepmom/stepdaughter conversations while we pamper ourselves with pedicures.

Dan and I have used our “grown-ups only” time wisely. We’ve done dinner and a movie (Game Night…so good). We have had lunches with friends. Dinners with other friends. We attended a birthday party for a friend’s son who turned sixteen. Earlier that same day, we were with little Kaidence at her third birthday party as the yard filled with fans of the bouncy house and their parents who have grown up before my eyes. We enjoyed an evening of dessert and great conversations with more friends. We even had an opportunity to have dinner with our nephew from Michigan because he was on a job assignment near Brighton, Colorado. All of these events were filled with fun moments of getting caught up since our last visit, sharing plans for future travels, and simply enjoying each others company. We spent Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday at our old church, Crosstimbers. I consider Crosstimbers my “home church” because when I’m inside those walls, I am with my second family. I am drawn to Pastor Russ’s every word. I feel the combined love of God in every song we sing together, and love for each other in every hug from friends I have missed since my last visit. The community built in Crosstimbers is like no other I’ve experienced. For that reason, I’ll always visit my “home church” family. I’ll hold onto all these memories I’ve made on this trip with my friends and family. We still have a few days to go, but we want to thank everyone who made time to see us, break bread with us, and shared stories with us…we love you all.

It has been a whirlwind of fun, but life sometimes tosses those lemons at you…and bam…it gets you right in the center of your heart. That day, March 28th, came when I got a call from my baby brother, Bill, asking if I was sitting down. Never a good start to a conversation. He informed me that my Aunt Elajean had passed away an hour before. I leaned back in my chair and felt the sting of heartbreak hit. Not just because she was my aunt (technically step-aunt) who had been in my life since I was eleven, but because of the great lady she was to everyone around her. I spent time as a teenager babysitting her younger kids when needed. Their farm was a place of safe comfort for me, so I’d use any excuse to visit them in Kirkland. Aunt Elajean and Uncle Don had eight kids, almost matching our eleven. If you couldn’t find someone to play with you on their farm you simply were not looking hard enough. Over the years I lost touch with most of them, but through Facebook many of us reconnected. Even Aunt Elajean was on Facebook, so reconnecting with her was a bonus. We could talk about my childhood, and enjoy sharing memories of the farm, my Uncle Don (funniest man around), and my stepdad (Elajean’s brother) for hours.

Elajean gave me insight into life from her vantage point. One day she began asking questions about my mom. Their lives were so different she never had a chance to really get to know her before she passed away in the early 70’s. I recently told Aunt Elajean how much I appreciated her caring enough about my mom to ask and understand. I loved Aunt Elajean’s kind heart, her witty humor, her adventurous ways, and her love for God. I appreciate that she became a fan of my books and told me she enjoyed them, and not just because I was her niece. Before Dan and I went on the road she and I planned a visit. I told her I would be over earlier than planned and I hoped she didn’t mind. She told me no, it would give us more time and she loved to hear my stories. That was Aunt Elajean…always happy to hear about anything you had to tell her. Her unselfish heart made everyone that knew her love her even more. Dan and I have a lot of friends our generation and younger, but also of the generation above ours. I’ve rarely walked away from a conversation with someone older without learning something. My older friends have helped teach me to listen, to learn, and to understand life. Even at eighty-eight, Aunt Elajean was young, because her spirit was young. Unfortunately, the frailty of the body sometimes can’t keep up with the spirit and mind, and though her mind was quicker than most her body could no longer keep up. I won’t be in town for her service, but she and I talked about it enough to know she would be okay with my absence. I know she’s smiling down on all of us because she is home with the Lord, and that is a blessing and something we can all take comfort in knowing. I have no doubt she is still watching, listening…and perhaps even reading. R.I.P. Aunt Elajean…you will always be loved and remembered.

I’ll wrap up this travel blog by reminding all of us to enjoy your time with others, old friends and new. Don’t let an old argument or misunderstanding stop you from picking up that phone. There will always be roads less traveled, and some traveled far too much. There will be good days, bad days, rainy, snowing, and sunny days…but it’s the days when we are sitting quietly and someone comes to mind making us smile that really count. It’s those memories that give us hope that no matter where we are in the world, someone out there in the universe loves us.

 

Enjoying Colorado Sun

Well, here we are at our first major stop, which I’ll get to later. It’s a true learning experience on where to stay and where NOT to stay. We have Good Sam’s, and Passport America. Both have information that can be useful when determining where to park for a night or two. However, when you are new to the game, and trying to figure out where in a city (you are completely unfamiliar with) the RV park is…well, that becomes a challenge.

Our first night was at a Walmart in Penelton, Oregon, and though we would have been warmer if we had started the generator we opted not to since it was one night. Oops, wrong decision…it was very…and I mean very cold. But we survived, and once we were dressed we headed down the road to the closest place that served warm coffee. Thank you, Flying J, your coffee rocks.

Our second night was great. We got into Mountain Home, Idaho. We took the business exit looking for Walmart to pick up supplies when suddenly I spotted “with my little eye something that” said Mountain Home RV Resort. We were both ready to shut down for the night, so after our Walmart stop, we decided to check it out. It was fairly empty, so no problem getting a spot. The people were wonderful. They had pull-throughs (an added benefit for our length) and the place was really clean. It was a chilly night so we hooked up to power and set the furnace for a comfortable night and slept great. We woke up to beautiful sunshine…a great bonus. After coffee, I was off to the showers. They provided private rooms with showers and toilets, and a nice size counter. All-in-all it was awesome. I’m serious when I say these people and this RV Resort have set the bar pretty darn high in our eyes. Before leaving, when I inquired where to find more parks of this caliber, they gave us some great advice for future places…a website called RV Reviews…but not all parks are on it.

Which leads me to our next night. We found our way to Utah, and were headed to St. George when we received a call from Dan’s daughter asking if we could come earlier than planned (which was March 20th)…of course, when children ask for help, we are there for them as much as possible. We hadn’t gotten so far on our current highway that we couldn’t redirect our path, so we finished our steak dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, and after looking at our Passport America book of parks, found one that only required a ten-mile backtrack. So, off we went. When we found the place, it was a wake-up moment. First off the office was closed. It was clearly a trailer park, (which is fine…under most circumstances), but had spots for RVs too. There was no one around to help, however, there was a sign posted on the door. I stayed in the truck while Dan went to see what was up. He came back and said there was no info to help. We drove through the park, since there was no turn around spot, and took in the sights. It was very seedy. After our prior nights stay, this was well below our experience, and our standards. Dan said later he pictured us waking up with all four tires taken off our truck…not a vision I care to share. So, we didn’t stick around or inquire with the locals how to set up for the night.

We found our way to the nearest rest stop and tested out if our generator would possibly keep going through the night to keep us warm. It lasted until 3am, but Dan willingly got up and put more fuel in without my even stirring, and I woke to a warm and cozy home. We made our way to our destination of Northglenn, Colorado. We will be here helping the family out, and visiting friends as schedules allow for the next few weeks. Then the adventure will continue. I will post a few photos on Facebook soon.

So far, I have learned to trust my husband’s instincts. My husband is a mountain man and a survivor under any condition, but our safety is his utmost priority. I would trust him with my life in the mountains, and in the city as well. Especially when he told me there was a number to call at that trailer/RV park, but there was no way he was going to risk our staying there, so he simply didn’t tell me there was contact information. And for that, and him, I am thankful.

Almost Pavement Bound

As we wind down to the last few days before we hit the traveling trails I look back at what these past six weeks have involved. It’s been a lot of errands, fine-tuning, storing of items not required, and spending time with family and friends. Dan has equipped our travel trailer with a wood burning stove to ward off the dampness and chill of the PNW and anywhere else we need it. Propane is great, but if you run out, don’t have the electric hookup or your generator goes on the fritz and isn’t able to provide the power to run the furnace, you might need another way to stay warm and dry. That is when I rely on my husband and his “out-of-the-box” brain. His style may be a bit redneck at times, but he hasn’t disappointed me yet, and he gets the job done.

This lifestyle may not be for the faint of heart unless you do the one/ two-week travels and then back to your solid foundation home. Adjustments can be taxing on anyone, and I am not above those troubling times. I’ve had to work hard on my OCD when it comes to neatness. One item out of place, or extra items on the table and the place looks like a hurricane hit it…yes, that is an exaggeration, but small spaces equal big messes in my view. Day after day my OCD has been a struggle. One of the hardest has been the inability to have a perfectly made bed. My bed doesn’t have to just look good, it’s made to perfection. It’s always been my reward for a hard days work to crawl into a perfect bed and snuggle in with a good book. I’m learning to deal with an imperfect bed, but getting to this point hasn’t been pretty. If you knew how many times a day I wanted to quit this adventure you’d surely be disappointed in me. Add my husbands healing – or attempt to heal – foot issues causing crankiness, and well, it’s been interesting. I am temperamental at times, but a lot more than usual. The edginess that has filled this travel trailer could be cut with a knife. But with every storm, there is a calm, and that is when I finally let it go for a while and realize everything is temporary, and to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

In less than a week the real adventure will begin. Soon having a perfect bed to crawl into at night won’t matter. The process to secure everything to eliminate a disaster in the trailer while driving won’t be an issue. The lack of order will be (somewhat) liveable. All the adjusting will be managed and replaced with days in the sun, and evenings with a glass wine lounging in our gravity chairs under the awning or a star-filled sky. Leaving my daughter and granddaughters will be the toughest, though I remind myself it’s temporary. Leaving other family members and friends is never easy either, but it’s our children that hold our hearts the most. Thankfully, they still make airplanes, so if I get too homesick I’ll fly home for a visit. By the time I write my next blog, I hope to have some fun adventure to share with you.

I look around and see so many homeless and I berated myself for being so self-absorbed to worry about whether my sheets are neatly tucked in or not. Life has a way of humbling us and bringing us back to reality. I am lucky to have a warm (thanks to my husband) home, wheels included, and good food in my belly. Will this really keep my OCD from creeping in now and again…nope…but hopefully regrouping my thoughts and priorities will be ever so slightly easier to attain.

 

Happy Trails…Almost

Okay, here is the deal. We’ve been at our temporary parking spot in the driveway where my daughter and granddaughters live (with permission from the homeowner) for about ten days due to a minor medical issue that is plaguing my husband’s foot right now. And when I get hit with a blessing I call it what it is…a blessing. This delay has given us time to detail our new home. Time well needed, and time well spent. This first “travel blog” may come off as a “B**** Blog” – but let’s deem it an “Information Blog” on the learning curve of being a travel trailer owner. A curve we couldn’t see clearly around…lol.

Due to being newbies to this life, we envisioned packing up and being on the road the day we signed off the final walk-through of our apartment. But with Dan’s foot that wasn’t the case…thankfully. We had a bit of a shock the second day in our travel trailer when we woke to a condensation issue we were not expecting. I’m not talking a drip or two on the windows, nope, it has become a major issue we have had to deal with. Now, mind you, our camper is beautiful, and I love many features on it, but having moisture so high inside that you can feel the damp air isn’t cutting it. I have done a lot of research and joined a few forums to get the answers. And the consensus is that this condensation issue is everywhere, with every travel trailer I researched. It will, of course, go away once we are out of this cold, and wet weather because we won’t be blasting the inside to keep warm, while Mother Nature throws everything she has at us that she deems necessary as normal conditions known to the PNW. By the way, my husband calls the Pacific Northwest the Pacific NorthWET…yep, he’s got something there. Unless we spend all of our time in arid states, this could be an issue…so it is one to be dealt with head-on.

So, first, we tried one of those packs that are filled with crystals to absorb the humidity…didn’t help that much. We ran fans, opened vents (the few chances we had with no rain), and bought a few more crystal packs. We bought a gage to monitor the humidity and no matter our attempts, we’ve stayed at 63%-78%. We have to get it down to 50% and below to remedy this issue, and that won’t happen here in Edmonds, Washington…that’s for sure. We will eventually be in sunny climates but we can’t ignore what is happening right now if we want this place to last.

Dan is more than a pretty face, thankfully. He’s exceptionally knowledgeable, and hands-on crafty at engineering solutions, too. He can engineer just about anything we need. And he inspects everything thoroughly.  Upon inspecting the bunk where I lay my head at night, the sheets were soaked. As were the walls of every exterior wall. TMI, I’m sure, but between his back pain causing him to thrash around at night waking me constantly, we don’t have our eyes closed in the same bed…otherwise, neither would sleep. I am his priority, so he was determined to find a way to fix this moisture issue. Now, when you have paid this much money for a “home on wheels” you don’t want to see moisture/humidity destroy it. All I could envision was mold growing between the walls ruining the construction of our home. I visualized rusted metal flaking away leaving gaping holes for rodents living in the woods to crawl in and make a home. Yes, that may be dramatic, but hey, it could happen.

He created an egg-crate solution to keep air moving around the bunks’ exterior walls.  The egg-crate was genius, this is step one, and it is beautiful at the same time.

And that led to checking and fixing wires and pipes that needed securing. Here he is with his drill gun and eagle eye fixing another issue. 

Bonus to Jayco for all the pretty features they have, and for the strong construction they do have, but when you are married to a perfectionist he will track down every little thing that should and shouldn’t be when it comes to anything to do with plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and construction…and he has. When we looked at this model, along with the dozen others, this make/model shone through. But until you live in something full-time, you can’t see the true workings.

That said, I am very grateful for the time we have now to get the storage, construction, and moisture issues worked out. My daughter, Kristin, will be helping determine the best “tote” plan for my clothes, etc…since everything that is capable of absorbing water and stored by an exterior wall will require being kept in totes. Oh, and by the way, I broke down and have purchased a dehumidifier that will arrive on Tuesday. That was upon the advice of multiple experienced travel trailer owners. I will update you with the results after we have some time to let it work.

On a more colorful note, I spotted flowers for sale at the local grocery store yesterday bringing me hope that winter will, as always, come to an end and spring will replace the cold with beauty and new life…she has never let me down yet. I do hope my next blog is filled with a more fun adventure…but until then, my friends, I hope you are staying warm, dry, and happy.

When We Lose A Favorite Author…

We not only lose a friend when they pass away, we lose the characters too. I’m extremely saddened by the passing of Sue Grafton. I recently finished “Y is for Yesterday” and dragged it out as long as I could knowing it would be a year before the final letter of the alphabet would be released and in my hands. Yes, I know I’m not Sue Grafton’s family, and my heart is broken for all of them, however, I loved her too. I’m not looking for condolences. This blog is not about my loss, but about being a fan of Sue Grafton’s. I’m full of respect and condolences to her family and would hope they know this blog is out of love and respect for her. As a writer myself, it’s also my way of recognizing what goes along with losing such an amazing author. And as many of you know, writing is a way of healing my heart…this blog is no exception.

It is as if Kinsey Millone became a friend I checked in with every year to see what was going on in her life. What adventure was she ready to take me this time? What was Henry, her landlord, up to these days? Of course, every time Kinsey told me what Rosie was serving at her restaurant I realized our taste in food may differ, seriously differ, but I loved her visits with Rosie and her restaurant just the same. All of Kinsey’s friends, old boyfriends, ex-husbands, old work friends, and reconnection to her family all became a part of my life, along with all the people she worked for through her Private Investigation cases.

Sue Grafton may not have been a personal friend of mine, but, again, I loved her just the same. I felt like I knew her through her characters, because as an author myself (not of Sue’s caliber, of course) – I put all of me into my characters. Many are created out of someone I know, including myself, and others are created through my imagination, but soon become just as real to me. I am a part of my books, and so are those I create. My husband gets concerned (murdered a few men in my imagination), but trust me, I’ll keep him safe. If I am a part of my books, I don’t doubt Sue Grafton was as well…in fact, Kinsey is modeled after Sue…how could I not love Sue if I love Kinsey.

The truth of the matter is as a reader I never thought about losing a favorite author to cancer or any other life-threatening event. Years of being a dedicated fan now come with the reality of age…theirs and mine. None of us go on forever, even if we wish it with all our heart, so the inevitable is just that…inevitable.

So, on that note, I’ll bid my friend a loving farewell, along with all her wonderful characters.

R.I.P. Sue Grafton, you will truly be missed.

And what’s left is…

Memories…short and sweet. I’m sure you’ll agree they are the most important gift. Many people experience the after-holiday-season letdown. We may be gearing up to ring in the New Year, but, for the most part, the holiday season is winding down.

I loved the night Dan, Kristin, Sav, Jo and I watched the movie Polar Express. Here I am all comfy on the couch with Sav and Jo. And though I have no physical picture I’ll always remember last night when Kristin, Sav, Jason, and I went to see the new Jumanji movie. But as fun as these movies were, it’s about being with family and friends.

This Christmas I was reminded that memories are not only created during the holiday season but throughout the year when I opened a gift from Jessica, my stepdaughter. It was from last spring when she flew in from Ohio for a visit. While she was here we went to a dessert shop for a goodie. It was on that day Jessica took this picture of me eating a flower (something she wasn’t sure of) that decorated my sweet treat. She made this fun frame to create a happy memory, and I can’t help but smile when I look at it.  

I know there are many people who have no one to make memories with, and others (including myself) hanging onto a memory of someone who has passed away. I can’t help but be grateful for my memories regardless of the time of year it is made.

I am quite certain the new iPhone or the pair of shoes I bought for myself during the holiday season will not hold their value, but the memories made with family and friends will. Our memories are all we have, and as I get older…and older…and older…this fact rings truer.

I know you have busy schedules, so I want to thank you for reading my ramblings, and I wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope you have a wonderful 2018 creating great memories of time with family and friends.

 

Where Are The Christmas Decorations???

It’s not the same in our home right now, but it’s still a “wonderful time of year.” Though the totes of decorations remain in storage, Dan did hang our front door wreath. Guess he felt we needed something to bring the holiday in to greet visitors. We are down to the last few weeks push before we hit the road…and this has been an adventure in and of its own. Instead of storing all of our furniture, we decided to sell it (minus our antique pieces)…how hard can it be, right? Part of my dilemma was the proverbial question of when, where, and how. Dan calmed the storm in my brain by reminding me if we sold everything before we were ready to drive away, we have a beautiful new camper to sleep in…oh, yeah, right…lol. So, I took pictures, edited to add corresponding numbers to match the list of items, and posted them on Craigslist, and FB Marketplace. Then a friend mentioned “OfferUp” as a selling avenue. I looked at the website, and journeyed around in an effort to understand, but found I was too tired that day to figure out how to post/edit/sell. When she and another dear friend of mine had lunch and a Christmas movie day she asked if I was using OfferUp. I admitted my lack of tolerance for grasping another selling avenue.

By the next morning…and I mean the wee hours, I decided to check it out again to determine if I wanted to go through the work to post on the 3rd selling avenue. After all, it was 3am…not like I had anything better to do. After carefully dissecting and touring the website I figured it out, and by 5am (two hours = old brain) I had all twenty-one items tagged, listed, and posted. What shocked me was within a few seconds of posting the last item I had interested buyers flooding in. The email/message process was in full swing. When Dan got up about 8:30am, I had sold (potentially) five items, including our boat/trailer. The day continued in that crazy mode to the point I had to have a notebook so I could list who wanted to buy what, and when they wanted to pick the item up. It was like being at work again…full speed ahead.

Three days have past and we have sold all but a couple items…Merry Christmas to me. But, …lol…you knew there would be “a but”…that is not where the story ends. Now, understand that I do, indeed, love my husband and I have since put my broomstick away and calmed down from this situation. Picture this…we, and by that I mean Dan, had just helped a buyer pick up the front porch plant stand…and this is how the conversation went when he came back in the apartment:

Dan: You need to take a picture of the table on the porch and post it for $20.

Me: What table, the gal already picked it up…remember? You took it to her car.

Dan: You need to take a picture of the table on the porch and post it for $20.

Me: What are you talking about???

Dan: You need to take a picture of the table on the porch and post it for $20.

Me: Daniel, what are you talking about???

No answer – my blood is warming up here folks…

I open the door and find a table I’ve never seen before, sitting in all its glory, before my eyes.

Me: Where did you get that thing?

Dan: You need to post it for $20.

Well, you wonderful people who are actually still reading this blog, I’ll tell you the words were flying out of me so fast and furious they bounced around putting dents on the walls. The mission of these not-so-kind words was to make my sweet husband know I was NOT running a business here. I was NOT selling other peoples items they have put in the trash for the recycler. He had a great idea for us to earn an extra $20…and I, under no uncertain terms, told him it was not happening.

Needless to say, I’ve stuck to my guns (my stubborn streak runs deep) and not offered, through any avenue, this lovely trashed out table. And there it still sits…

Table aside (three days later), we spent Sunday morning with family enjoying an early Christmas celebration due to school break schedules. We arrived on time and were greeted by a grandchild, Jo, running to thank us for the pajamas. Every year since Sav and Jo were babies, I have given them “Christmas Eve” pajamas. I know there may come a day when they outgrow that one package to open on Christmas Eve, but until then it’s a tradition we all enjoy. The house was festive, smelling of breakfast and hot chocolate. Everyone was generous with their hugs, smiles, and laughter…especially when my husband pushed his tie button (the Rocky theme) and pretended he had no idea where the music was coming from…he is a hoot. It was a beautiful morning and one I’ll treasure forever.

Dan and I will continue to pack/sell/toss as we come to the end of our journey at the apartment, and begin our new adventure. Tensions can be evident at times, but we know it’s not to be taken personally. Other times are filled with playing cards and having a good laugh over one of our favorite shows. Oh, yeah, and then there is me crying over a Christmas movie, often one I’ve watched every year for more than I can remember. Including with that scene is Dan checking to be sure I’m okay by reminding me I’ve seen the movie before, and me explaining “every time is like the first time” as the tears stain my face. All of these moments are part of the adventure..and I know that regardless of decorations, or should I say lack-there-of, busy schedules, packing/selling/tossing and being sure the cable etc has a shutdown date, along with a P.O. Box ordered…it’s a wonderful time of the year after all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all…xoxoxo

 

Moving Sale Blues verses Selling to Sinners…

I have two titles for this blog…and couldn’t decide so there you go. Many of you know my husband, Dan, and I will be traveling around the states for about a year once we get past the holidays. With all that comes the drudgery of packing, deciding what to take, what to store, and what to sell to keep the storage costs down.
I started with the lightest to move items, my photography backdrops, and a backdrop stand. They are in good shape, multiple scenes, colors, and patterns. I hoped to get them to someone who is starting photography or adding to their current setup. Putting feelers out didn’t drum up a sell, so I went to the next option…Craigslist. I posted photos of the equipment so that the potential buyer would get a visual. Then headed off to meet my daughter and friends for a fun meet & greet lunch. On my way to the restaurant, I received a text. Now, I promise I don’t normally check a text, for the most of 99.9%, but I wanted to be sure it wasn’t my daughter canceling due to a work/child emergency before I got on the freeway. It was someone responding to my ad…wow, I thought to myself, it’s only been a couple of hours.
When I park at the restaurant, I read the email stating this person’s mom would be interested and I was to email the mom at the provided Gmail account. Sounds good so far…right?
My lunch took priority, so when I returned home a few hours later, I proceeded to let this person know I heard of her interest and to please contact me when she would like to make the financial/item exchange.
Dan and I headed out to run an errand that evening to purchase a car alarm for his truck…it has been broken into twice over the past week and a half…(insert very unhappy face here). While he drove I noticed an email from the “mom”…so I opened it. Reading her story sounded legit, so I provided the information (my full name and address) she needed to get a Cashier’s Check to me. I was to cash it and then make arrangements for someone to pick up the items for her. She said her husband handles the finances and was out of town…so the check would be overnighted from his destination.
Okay…let me insert here that I have gone off Paxil, due to a health concern, and even though we reduced the dose down while getting off, withdrawals are pretty much inevitable…my brain has been misfiring a bit as the withdrawals take over (not fun). My zapping neurons didn’t see any issues. Until the middle of the night when I woke up in a panic realizing I was about to become the victim of a SCAM operation. I picked up my phone at 2:30 am and emailed the “mom” telling her I will not accept the check. If she was interested in the items, she will have to come up with cash, and meet me in a public place – I suggested the Lynnwood Police Dept.
I didn’t hear back for a couple of days. Whew…that’s off my yuck detector. Then suddenly someone else tries to do the same SCAM deal. I quickly deflected this new intruder. Later that day I hear from the first one saying the check is on the way…good grief, what about cash/police didn’t she get. In the email, she is saying the check will be for considerably more than the sale price…that I am to deposit to my bank, withdraw what I have coming to me…along with transfer fees…what are those for you ask??? Well, she told me once the check clears, I was to withdrawal the remaining amount and wire transfer it to UPS…the instructions are endless and blurring my eyes at this point.
Anyhow, I blasted back I was NOT accepting the check and that the items had been sold (yes, a lie…but I felt justified). Well, guess what came in the mail today. A Cashier’s Check for $1,500.00 – yes, that is $1,350.00 more than what I was selling my items for. Naturally, I won’t be doing the depositing…transferring…or any other business.
I hope you are still reading at this point because here is the real reason for writing this blog. How many times do these people get away with these, or other scamss like it?? Obviously enough to be profitable or they wouldn’t keep going. I would love to take this check to the police and get an investigation going, but they don’t have time for this…hence, the reason these “SINNERS’ can continue to exploit good American people. I stand by that assumption partly because when Dan’s truck was broken into the first time (they used a slim jim), they left their Walkie-Talkie…nice to know these thieves communicate during “their” business hours. We put in a report and got a case number, but when we told them we had evidence they could get prints off, they told us they wouldn’t bother with it, and instructed us to throw it in the garbage. To top it off some of Dan’s tools, and paperwork was found by a man who lives close to our apartment. He called the police, and get this; they told him just to throw the stuff out. Thankfully, he is a better citizen than that, so he dug around and found Dan’s cell number and called him. Next thing we know we are standing in front of a man with Dan’s items in his hands. We didn’t get everything back, but it was something.
However, this is exactly why good American citizens are getting scammed, ripped off, robbed, and violated. There are so many Whales swimming around that the police have to handle that these little “Sinning Minnows” can easily swim past without being noticed.
I know there isn’t anything I can do about it, but I feel better talking to all of you and hoping you can see past the slime that slithers amongst our good people.
Take care everyone; we only have each other and God to see us through.
As for the original items, I was selling, and the furniture I will be selling as “Moving Sale” items…I’ll be doing more research in an attempt to find legitimate post avenues. I’m sorry to be a Debbie Downer during the holiday season, but, unfortunately, crime doesn’t take a vacation, so fighting back can’t either.