Sunday, December 29, 2013

What’s Today?

 

Okay, so it’s Sunday.  Got it.  Having Christmas in the middle of the week gets confusing as to what day it is.  Thursday felt like Monday.  Then there was Friday and b i n g o it’s the weekend again. 

Yesterday was reasonably nice for December here in New Jersey.  Maggie even had a clip outside.  Dave got in 55 miles on the bike.  Today, however, is a completely different story with rain (at times heavy) that started at around 9 AM.  At least it’s not freezing cold out.  It’s dreary out, so I have my Happy Light glowing as I visit with you here.  Just had my self-allotted one cup of coffee and I cleaned our bathroom a bit ago. 

I can think of another dozen things I should/could be doing this afternoon, but . . . aw, heck . . . I think I’ll just be lazy.  That’s what Sundays are for, right?  The years we worked self-storage, we worked weekends, so it’s nice to have Sundays for just . . . kicking back, especially when the weather is icky out.

Another year is almost gone, and we’ve been on the road for 3.5 years!   Not that we’re actually traveling, but I consider “being on the road” what we’re doing.  Again, if we have to work (which we still do), we’ve got a sweet gig here. 

Well, I’m rambling and have no real news, so I’ll leave you with one of my shorter blog posts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We certainly have!

Yesterday was again busy, as the usual crew was here working.  Our electrician also came by and fixed the power issue, so we now have heat in the office trailer again and no incoming voltage issues with our RV.  Yay!  I have been moving some of my stuff back over from our rig this evening in preparation for being back in the office.  I’ve been working from the RV  for about a week, and our dining table is a bit crowded with my laptop and other work items, chess board and Christmas tree/decorations. 

We had a lovely Christmas Eve of chess accompanied by Christmas tunes, laughter (both quiet and not-so-quiet), comfortable companionship and a late evening snowfall of about 1”.  Perfect!

Upon getting out and about this morning, we noticed tracks in the snow around our RV and the company truck . . .

Kitty tracks from Christmas Eve

Looks like the feral cat was strolling around our RV last night.

Deer tracks from Christmas Eve

I’m thinking these are deer tracks, as we did see three of them last night in the distance past that building on the right.  The eerie/cool  thing is the tracks come from the distance  right up to the company truck and  then . . . disappear.  There are no back-tracks or tracks going forward.  I asked Dave if he checked the cargo area of the Suburban just in case a deer was napping?  Perhaps magical reindeer were getting a running start prior to takeoff last night?

Today has been cold with relatively clear skies and the snow is almost gone again.  We had our opening of presents this morning,  breakfast and then, seeing as the roads were clear, Dave went for a bike ride while I prepared our meal.

I watched White Christmas while working away in the kitchen.  Watching that movie is a tradition with me.  Somehow it just doesn’t seem like Christmas without it.  Dave timed it just right; the movie had just ended and the stuffing and broccoli/rice casserole had  just gone into the oven when he returned.

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner – I’m grateful for the food, to be able to cook a nice dinner and to be able to eat whatever I want.

Dinner was a success and I had a good time preparing it.  We made a wise choice in the rear kitchen layout of our fifth wheel.  I have lots of counter space, room to work and can  access the oven quite easily. 

We watched It’s a Wonderful Life earlier this evening; this time a tradition of Dave’s and I love it, too.  The plan was to play chess this evening, but we agreed we’re both a bit too mentally laid back tired to do so and really enjoy it.

We received a couple of Christmas cards and I’ve had some warm visits via phone along with some holiday emails.  Have been having fun seeing my Facebook community post their holiday photos and updates.  Of course, I’ve also so enjoyed reading the blogs on my list to see what ya’ll are up to wherever you are!

I’m thinking we’ll have a relatively early night.  One crew that has been on-site will not be back until after the New Year, so that means we can set our alarm clocks for 7 AM instead of 6:30 AM!  Whoohoo! 

Well, Merry Christmas to you all.  Hope you are safe and snug and have had a wonderful Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Party Day!

 

We were again invited to the company holiday luncheon!  We left the property around 10 AM and got home at almost 5 PM.  Whew!  The luncheon is held near the main office, so we had to travel a bit.

Entry at The Stone Terrace IPPE Holiday Luncheon

Christmas decorations at the entry to The Stone Terrace, where this year’s luncheon was held.  We had a private banquet room on the ground floor.

 

At IPPE Holiday Lunch 12202013

A rare photo – both of us together, “dressed up” and in Scottish attire

Dave had only worn his kilt three times before today – at our wedding and two funerals.  My sash is the tartan of Dave’s clan; I  had worn it on my wedding dress.

We are “only” contractors and obviously do not work at the main office; however, this year again we were included in the holiday luncheon.  We truly appreciate the thoughtfulness of this.

What a fun afternoon!  The environment was lovely and the food was quite good.  The fellowship was . . . wonderful!  This company is quite a rarity these days.  With international holdings, it is family owned and run, and truly the camaraderie is that of good friends and family.  This is not only exhibited during the holidays but year-round.  They truly do seem to care about the people who work with and for them as part of their team.  The two owner-brothers make a point of coming around to speak to each individual.  This is a bunch of huggers, too!  Cool.

I yapped and laughed an entire year’s worth this afternoon!

Working as we do, we are rather isolated at times.  Some days there are people here but many days it is dead quiet.  Although I speak with many of the office folks on the phone and via email throughout the year, it’s different than working in the cubicle or office next door to them.  Associating a face with a voice is such fun and helps nurture that team spirit.

Last year’s “program” was a company-themed rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas.  This year it was a company-oriented episode of “Family Feud.”  So funny!  The two “families” had the rest of us in the “audience” howling with laughter.  The questions and responses were very clever.

I applaud the owners for knowing the value of giving their team some fun time together after working so hard throughout the year.  Again, this can be a rarity in today’s business environment.  Well done!

And you know what?  I’m feeling a bit more festive now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snowy Saturday

 

 

Dec 13 Dave Ride 2

Dave managed a bike ride Friday afternoon.

 

It started snowing again at 8 AM Saturday morning, snowed for 12 hours straight (at times close to being a whiteout) and then topped that with an ice storm.

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Dave clearing the roof of the first 2” of snow . . . but that was early in the day.

 

12142013 Warren Glen 1

We took a stroll down the entry drive to the main road out front in the afternoon.

 

12142013 Warren Glen 2

Took a look at the county road that runs by the front of the property, then turned around and headed back down the entry drive.

 

12142013 Warren Glen 3

There’s our RV/home with our truck parked to the right and the office trailer to the left of our RV.  You can see the mill building in the background and Musconetcong Mountain rising up behind that.

 

12142013 Warren Glen 4

Not exactly the perfect day for a picnic!

 

We both heard the snowplow on the property at around 4 AM (dark-thirty) Sunday morning.  No, we didn’t get up!

Our RV was encased in ice Sunday when we got up and about.  Think a 38”, 15,000+ pound ice cube.  At least the sun did come out a bit and most of the ice melted. 

There’s about 6” of snow on the ground topped with 1/2 to 1” of ice.  Crusty snow!  Maggie has been wearing her boots.  She is light enough that she doesn’t crack through the crust, but goes “skating” on the surface.  She’s so funny.  It’s a new experience for her, this skating thing, and she has been having a ball.  At one point today, she slipped and sprawled – like a novice ice skater might – but got right up and pranced along. She was unhurt and behaved as if it was a fun thing to do that.  I swear she was smiling.

Tonight is going to bring .  . . you guessed it.  More snow!   That’s the forecast through tomorrow evening.  Thank goodness for these . . .

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These babies are eight years old now.  Ordered them my first Winter in Minnesota.  I have strap-on cleats on them for dealing with icy conditions.

We’re getting January weather a month early here.  At least Friday is looking better so far; that’s a good thing, as it’s the company holiday luncheon.  We’ve been invited again this year and it’s a bit of a drive from here to the restaurant. 

Stay safe and warm wherever you are!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A White Day

 

It began snowing at 6:30 this morning and kept it up until around 2:30 this afternoon.  We ended up with just a little over 3”.

 

December 10 AM

Mid morning

 

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Taken at 4 PM.  Mr. Sun came out for a while!  This is looking out towards the front gate.

 

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Another 4 PM view looking back towards the mill.

 

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Our snowplow guy is here!  Yay!

It’s going to be a cold night, but at least the snow has stopped . . . for today, that is!

Dave has already been up on the roof of our RV to clear off the snow.

We thought it would be a rather quiet day due to the weather, but turns out our boss was here, in and out a bit, and there was a meeting here in the office.  Go figure! 

We also had our mobile tech scheduled to come out today to change out the high-pressure propane regulator on our RV.  Well . . . he’s rescheduled for Thursday.  Some other folks who were to be on the property today have been rescheduled as well.  Sounds like the rest of the week will be a bit busy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Think Winter Has Arrived

I must have some Bear DNA in me somewhere.  When the dreary, cold days of Winter come along, I have a hard time getting motivated to go anywhere.  I’m content to just stay home/here on the property. 

May 25 evening

May 2013 – Office trailer to the left of our RV

I really like and appreciate my office even more during Winter.  Yes, our RV stays cozy; however, “my” section of the office trailer is divinely snug.  My section is the approximately 10 x 10 area closest to our rig.  There’s a door that separates my portion from the rest.  I can crank up my little ceramic tower heater that supplements the electric baseboard heaters and stay comfortably toasty!

Dec 8 2013

December 8, 2013

Yes, we had our first “real” snow event yesterday.  The forecast was for up to 4”, but we lucked out again and only got about an inch.  That’s fine with me!  Last night it turned to freezing rain followed by a light, drizzly rain most of today.  It warmed up enough that most of what you see melted by this afternoon.  However!  We have yet another event coming in overnight and through tomorrow which is again slated to bring 2-4” with a high of 32 tomorrow.  The rest of the week will hover around freezing for highs but at least bring clear skies.

photo (3)

See that vertical “wire” hanging down off our RV and attached to the bucket?  That’s no wire, folks, that’s an icicle!  Pretty darn amazing.

 

Chicken Fiesta Soup

Chicken Fiesta Soup in the slow cooker last week seemed a good idea, and it was!

 

Chess Early December

Holiday Chess

We’re still enjoying our weekend chess matches, with usually two games each weekend evening.  I’m playing better and giving Dave a run for his money.  Last night we ended up in a draw and I’ve won a game here and there.  Of course, I did look up opening chess moves on the Internet.  Punk

I got out the Christmas decorations and what you see above is as much as I’ve done so far.  I still have lights to put up in our RV, the office and a string or two outside.  Haven’t been too motivated to do any of that yet, although the weather hasn’t been cooperating with putting up the outside lights.  Maybe later this week.  Better get it done if I’m going to do it!

We did make a trip to the mall Saturday afternoon.  We don’t go that often; in fact, it’s really at Christmastime that we journey over there unless we need something, say, from Radio Shack, etc.  We have again been included in the company holiday luncheon coming up in a little over a week, and I really didn’t have anything dressy enough.  I scored an outfit that will do quite nicely and can be worn for other things.  To top it off, when I was checking out, turns out both pieces were on sale, so I ended up saving about 50%.  I can live with that!  We’ll get in another mall journey soon to pick up some Hickory Farms goodies – another Christmas tradition – and prowl around a bit.

It’s been a full day at work, so I think I’ll have a bit of an early night.  I wonder how white it will be when we greet tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Duncan Lou Who and Panda Paws Rescue

 

For some time now, I’ve been a total fan of Panda Paws Rescue.  Amanda is truly an Angel on this Earth.  Check out her latest miracle, Duncan Lou Who.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by, and remember how to fly!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Peaceful Holiday Weekend? Not!

 

Well, folks, I’m a bit punchy-goofy weary.  It’s quiet around here again right now, as weekends typically are used to be.  For over a month, we’ve had some sort of activity around here every weekend.  You’d think a holiday weekend would be serene . . .

Even on weekends, we rarely sleep in, and are up and about by 7:30 AM.  Yesterday, we slept in.  At 8:17 AM, my phone rang.  A power company truck was at the gate needing in to do some work at the substation on the property.  Fine.  Mad dash to bolt out of bed and throw on some clothes.  The gate has to be opened, as does the office for visitors to sign in and we find out what’s going on.

The FedEx delivery that was supposed to happen Friday was next up.  It was my turn to trot to the gate, although I didn’t really mind.  This was a special package for Dave for Christmas, all the way from Scotland.  I was relieved that it actually arrived after Friday’s delivery fiasco.

Power crew leaves.  They get signed out and gate opened and closed.

Put on laundry.  First load was in dryer and the second on just started the wash cycle when clunk . . . the power goes off.  This was right at 11 AM.  Oh good grief.  This happens now and then, usually associated with bad weather of some kind.  In this case, weather was not an issue.

First priority is a phone call to the power company.  Of course, it’s an automated system that does not understand the normal speaking voice, (I know from past experiences) so I have to speak loudly and sternly.  Otherwise, the automaton on the other end says something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,”  similar to this voice-activated elevator sequence (pardon the language, it’s in Scotland).  Sorry about the alignment; I couldn’t place it in the center of the page.

 

Electrical items – computers, phones, printer, washer, alarm system - get unplugged in the office during a power outage to protect against surges when power is restored.

Next is to fire up our generator, which is a manual pull start model.  No problem.  Get the power cord adapter out of the storage box in the office.  Unplug power box from source on office trailer and plug into adapter.  Unplug RV.  Turn off furnace inside RV.  Take off the weights holding down the tarp over Genny’s shelter.  Fold back tarp.  Lift cover.  Check gas level and top off if needed.  Begin start procedure, which we do as a team. 

IMG_3869

Genny’s shelter, which Dave built.

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Meet Genny.  Her handle folds down and she stays in her shelter.  She’s a big girl, construction-grade, and runs whatever we want/need in our RV.

Well, even though we exercise Genny regularly, it was bloomin’ cold out.  Took a bit to persuade her to fire up, the longest it has ever taken.  Thank goodness it was sunny and not blowing, snowing or raining – even though it was pretty darn cold.  Once she was humming along, the adapter gets plugged in and I check Genny’s “pulse.”  Everything looks good, so the power cord gets plugged into the RV.  Furnace gets turned back on.  Water heater gets switched from electric to propane. 

I send an email to our boss advising him the power is out.  Of course, our Internet is also down at this point; my iPhone sure is a handy in these situations.

We thought we might not have water; we’re on a well and when the power goes out, the water stops flowing.  So . . . valve on hose into our rig gets turned off.  Faucets opened inside the rig and water pump turned on.  Faucets turned off once flow is seen.

At 12:18 PM, the alarm company calls with an automated message telling me apparently there’s been a loss of power to the alarm system here.  No kidding, but thanks for the call.

Dave was then free to hop on the bike for a ride whilst I awaited the arrival of the power company.  As Dave was leaving, another power company guy came to finish a bit of the work the other crew started in the morning.  Dave leaves.  Power guy is ready to leave (all this coming and going means the gate has to be unlocked, opened, pulled shut and locked).  He has called about our power outage but hasn’t heard anything.  He says he will call me if/when he finds out something.  Good guy, that.

Our RV is nice and cozy again and it’s cold out, so I go inside for a while.  Sit down and start to doze.  That won’t do, so I start dusting furniture.  At 12:22 PM a neighbor calls asking if it’s okay to cut firewood from the downed trees at the other mill down the road.  Yep, help yourself.

The nice power guy called at 2:30 PM to tell me a crew will be working our problem in about an hour.  It’s now an hour past the initial restoration time provided by the automated system during initial contact.  Lovely.

Time passes.  At 3:31 PM, the power company calls to ask if we have power.  No.  Okay, they’ll be sending someone shortly.

At 4:25 PM, I call the power company and, using the “elevator technique” above, am connected to a live human being.  Oh.  They are on their way.  A crew truck and one guy shows up about 4:40. 

From then until 5:10 PM, it was hanging out with the crew guy and getting our site electrician on the phone, and passing information back and forth.  Did I mention it’s dark and cold(er) by now?  Electrician arranges to have a buddy come see if he can get us back up and running, as it appears not to be a power company issue.

His van shows up and power company truck leaves.  More time in the dark outside and finally at 6 PM, we have power again!  Whoohoo!  Only seven hours off the grid this time!

Let Genny run a bit just to make sure the power is stable, then turned her off and reversed the above process, getting her snug for the night.  Our RV is now back on shore power and all the unplugged items in the office get plugged back in.  Water pump gets turned off.  I start up the laundry again.

I shoot off another email advising our boss that power has been restored.

A quick dinner, some chess and the last load of laundry folded and put away around 10 PM.

And that was Saturday.

This morning we were both up around 3-4 AM, probably from being unable to sleep after spending so much time outside in the cold Saturday evening.  Dang.  We were both so wasted, we decided to postpone our Perkins breakfast, getting a couple of things at Lowe’s and a wee holiday excursion to the mall. 

At 10:33 AM, the son of one of the company guys calls and is heading our way to fish.  I’m finishing my breakfast, so Dave gets the gate.  They get signed in. 

Okay, so there’s a minivan parked in the driveway out front and a woman hanging around.  Sometimes folks park to make phone calls, motorcyclists have been known to stop for a break and consult maps, etc.  Well, she’s been there a while (we’ve been keeping an eye on her, me via the office window and Dave via binoculars) and now there’s a pickup.  Okay, let’s walk out and see what’s up.  Another trip to open the gate and walk down the driveway.  Sure enough, she’s broken down.  I get her name and phone number; she says a tow truck will come get her vehicle.

At 12:10 PM, the fisherman calls to alert us to someone walking a property road by the river, headed towards the mill.  Dave jumps in the company truck to go investigate.  He returns shortly, having advised the person that they are on private property.  They’re leaving.

We decide to get a few things from the grocery store, so make a short trip out around 1 PM, arriving back a bit after 2 PM.  Tow truck comes to tow stranded vehicle.  Fishermen are ready to leave, so they sign out and are let out through the gate.

In between all the above activity, there are periodic patrols of the mill down the road, too.

Dave’s watching a video and I’m blogging.  It’s just about 4 PM and getting dark already.  We’ll each grab a light dinner and then play some chess later.

I bet we’ll sleep tonight!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Let’s Talk Mice – What Worked for Us

 

No, not Mickey and Minnie.  We’re talkin’ field mice and Winter.

Whether you full-time in your RV or store it during Winter, you very well may have visitors seeking warm shelter within the confines of your rig.  Mice.  In our case, field mice.

We had one (or two or three or ??) get in the “attic” of our 5th wheel a couple of Winters ago.  The sound of them above us was maddening and we had nightmarish visions of the damage being inflicted.  We placed small bait trays in a couple of spots via the A/C vent openings, but there simply was not enough room and no access to do much of anything about this except worry.  Turns out it/they chewed through a wire to one of our A/C units.  We discovered this when we turned on the A/C for the first time when the weather warmed up.  Ouch.  $$$ to fix.  We also had evidence of mice under our kitchen sink.

At that point, I got some of the plug-in sonic pest repellants and Dave went around our rig – inside and outside – with expandable insulation.  It comes in a spray can and is easy to apply.  This helped quite a bit and we have not had evidence of mice inside the rig since.

However, we continue each Winter to get mice in our basement, even with one of those sonic plug-ins in there.  There are simply too many places for mousie to squeeze through; one just can’t plug up every single opening.

Following are some of the popular remedies, most of which I have tried.  I’ll save the winner for the last:

  • Fabric softener sheets:  Did not work for us.  Mice tried to use ‘em for nests.
  • Peanut butter, cheese, Fritos on a snap trap:  Mice had a snack and didn’t snap the traps.
  • Bait boxes:  Worked to some extent, although it did not rid us completely of mice.  I placed them inside the basement and outside on the ground.
  • Victor Sonic Pest Chasers:  We have the mini version and I got them at Lowe’s.  Can’t say definitively if they work or not.  I will say that when we first arrived here, a mouse or two was seen in the office.  Since using these plug-ins, I have not seen a mouse inside the office.  We have not had evidence of mice inside the our rig, either.
  • Steel wool:  The access compartment in the basement of our rig where the water hoses come up is a hole, obviously.  I pack coarse (the coarser the better) steel wool around the hoses to seal up that hole as best as possible.  Again, perhaps this works, as we have seen no evidence of mice gaining access to the basement via that route.
  • Moth balls:  Have not tried this. 
  • Peppermint:  Supposedly mice are repelled by this.  Peppermint oil didn’t do squat.
  • Altoid mint on a sticky tray:  And here we have the winner!  Altoids are “curiously strong” mints, right?  So I figured this might work.  My first attempt was placing some Altoids at different access points in the basement area.  Mice ate the freakin’ mintsBy this time, it was an “us or them” situation.  Okay, so I figured I’d try an Altoid in a snap trap.  Crafty mice stole the mint, leaving the trap intact.   Having had experience with sticky trays in the past, I really do not like them; however, we cannot tolerate vermin in the rig.  Thinking the mice were hooked on the mints by then, I placed one mint on a sticky tray, positioning it in a place where the mice liked to hang out.  Next day?  Bingo!  Rigged up about three of these in the basement area, with positive results.  We had no more mouse issues for the remainder of the Winter.  The mice had a nice treat and departed this life with sweet-smelling breath.

There are more popular remedies such as I’ve listed that folks have tried.  Just thought I’d share what did and did not work with us.

Mice visiting this Winter?  Treat ‘em to an Altoid! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 29, 2013

What / Who is a Virtual Assistant?

 

Me! 

When I mention my work as a virtual assistant, I am often asked about how it works, how to get started, what types of jobs are available and so forth.  With that in mind, I’ve created this post.

Thanks to technology, one can work remotely from any location in the performance of a variety of tasks.  Some of these include:

  • Data entry
  • Writing – blogging, copywriting, proofreading, editing, transcription
  • General administrative
  • Information technology – software development, beta testing, etc.
  • Social media
  • Research
  • Accounting/bookkeeping
  • Marketing/customer service
  • Video creation and editing

While one can establish their own clientele as an independent freelancer, many times becoming a virtual assistant (VA) can be more easily accomplished by working through an agency.  There are several agencies on the Internet – Elance and oDesk are two major agencies.  I am registered with both, and am currently working through oDesk.  For that reason, specifics will be related to oDesk.

On oDesk since 2010, I have worked several short-term projects now and then.  These have included Web research, copywriting, social media management, data entry, administrative and software beta testing.  In June 2013, I landed my current assignment which is turning into a long-term arrangement.  Classified as data entry, it is not mindless work that you might associate with that term.  It is just enough to make me think a bit but is not stressful, has flexible hours and has no short deadlines. 

Currently I’m working part-time, but realistically could have an assignment with full-time hours or be working two jobs concurrently.  I’ve turned down several invitations lately which encompassed 35-40 hours per week.  That’s too much for me right now.  It is what you make it and what you want/need.

I enjoy being a virtual assistant for several reasons:

  • It keeps my brain active!  Our work here is not brain-intensive.  While that is a wonderful thing at my age and a relief from years of “intellectual work” in the corporate world, I wonder at times about my brain turning to “mush,” if you know what I mean.  Looking back at my professional resume, I think “gosh, I did all that?”  Working as a VA keeps my brain from napping all the time.
  • Interaction with co-workers, albeit via Skype, teleconference and email.
  • Learning new applications.
  • Staying creative.
  • My job can go with me when I travel, which is perfect for the full-time RVer.
  • Oh yeah, then there’s the extra income.  Winking smile

Simply put, oDesk is a temp agency for telecommuters.  Here’s some key highlights:

  • Workers are freelancers.  Employers are clients.
  • Registration and participation is free for freelancers.  All fees are paid to oDesk by clients.
  • Freelancers find work by applying to jobs and receiving interview invitations from clients.  Once you have established a track record with a good oDesk rating, invitations become more frequent.  Currently I receive approximately 1-2 invitations each week.
  • Freelancers establish their own pay rate on their profile.  Pay rates can be adjusted on a per-job basis.
  • Payment classifications are hourly or fixed-rate.  Payment for hourly jobs is guaranteed as long as they are performed via the oDesk Team App, a time-tracking desktop application.  Performing work outside the oDesk environment is a violation of the freelancer’s contract with oDesk.
  • Payment is made by direct deposit.  Freelancers set up a payment schedule.
  • Freelancers are independent contractors.  oDesk does not withhold taxes. 
  • There is a wide variety of jobs available in all fields.  Yes, there is a good amount of “garbage” jobs out there.  The oDesk community is worldwide and the pay scale runs the spectrum of ludicrously low to commanding a good hourly wage for high-tech, highly-skilled jobs such as in the IT industry.
  • oDesk does offer payroll options and, at the current time, health care benefits to full-time freelancers.  Full-time status criteria must be maintained for these benefits.

Personal traits and skills needed:

  • Have a solid foundation of computer and Internet literacy.  Clients are typically willing to train on specific platforms, but you must have a solid foundation on which to build and expand.
  • Experience with various applications is very helpful – Word, Google Docs, Excel, OpenOffice, Wordpress, etc..
  • Self-disciplined and able to work without close supervision.
  • A professional presentation.  Yes, it is a “real” job.  Present yourself and behave in the appropriate fashion.  Be prepared to make the commitment to an assignment.  Be sure that you possess the skills necessary for the assignment or that the client is willing to train.
  • Perseverance – landing that first job may take a while.
  • Caution and common sense – there are some scams out there.  You need to be able to distinguish those.  Use the oDesk client ratings to make these judgment calls.

How does one become a VA with oDesk?

  • You must have a reliable Internet source and computer.
  • Go to oDesk and register.  It’s free.
  • Set up your profile.
  • Take the oDesk Readiness Test and any other applicable skills tests.  They are free and will build your credibility and marketability.
  • Download and familiarize yourself with the oDesk Team App.  This is what you will use to track your time as you work; it calculates and records your wages.  Think of it as a virtual timesheet/ time clock.
  • Download and familiarize yourself with Skype. It’s free.  Many clients perform interviews via Skype and use it as a method of communication on a daily basis. You want to be ready for that interview!
  • Browse jobs and apply for the ones which interest you and for which you are qualified.
  • Respond promptly to messages from clients and invitations to interview.  oDesk recently introduced a new profile item on freelancer responsiveness.  Obviously, a higher responsiveness score is a good thing.
  • Clients may respond immediately or some time may pass before you hear from them.  I have landed work in situations where the initial contact was several weeks prior to beginning the assignment and I’d essentially “forgotten” about the job.
  • Landing the first assignment is the hardest part.  It is a job search.  Persevere. 
  • I recommend setting up a separate email account for oDesk notifications and for corresponding with clients.  I do this, keeping that email strictly for oDesk work and separate from my personal email account. It’s a safety precaution.  It also doesn’t crowd up my personal email inbox.
  • While there are tons of legitimate clients, there are scams and deadbeats as well and, while oDesk does a good job of staying on top of these, some do make their way into the system.  I have found that the many professional and legitimate employers interview by invitation only; however, that does not mean there aren’t legit jobs that accept applications initiated by the contractor.  You just have to use caution and common sense.  Remember that anyone can be anything on the Internet.  Check out client reviews, their payment history, how long they have been on oDesk, how many jobs they have had on oDesk, etc.  All this information is transparent on the oDesk system.  When a dialogue is initiated between you and a client, you will typically have the name of their company.  Do a Web search on the company.  You will see if it looks legitimate and you will see if it is something that interests you.  By doing this research, you will also show the prospective client that you have done your “homework” and made the effort to learn about their company.  They will be impressed, and that’s a good thing!

I hope this has been helpful if you have considered becoming a virtual assistant!

Thanks for stopping by! 

Every Thanksgiving Is Different . . .

 

. . . yet still the same.  Yesterday differed from last year but was much the same.  It was quiet here and I fixed a traditional holiday dinner.  Dave went for a bike ride.  We enjoyed an evening of chess.  Last year, we were just recovering from Hurricane Sandy, but it was a quiet day and Dave managed a bike ride while I gleefully prepared our dinner.

I enjoy looking at the photos of others showing gatherings of family and friends, and at times miss that fellowship.  On the other hand, we make our holidays special, just Dave, me and Maggie.  I appreciate and take joy in phone calls, text message and emails exchanged with special people in my life on holidays.

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving.  Well, it is a day of reflection, but most days I consciously am thankful for many things.  Here’s a few things on my perhaps quirky list . . .

  • The water heater in our RV which allows me to take a warm/hot shower of ample length to heat up my body during Winter and relax me for bedtime.  No need for “navy showers” in our rig.
  • Being able to bend over without discomfort to do laundry or other tasks.  I still distinctly remember having surgical staples last year and am grateful to be able to move without pain.
  • My overall good health.  Life following last year’s surgery is a “new normal,” but it is definitely do-able. 
  • My husband Dave, with whom I fall in love all over again on a routine basis.
  • Our wee Maggie, who is such a delight.
  • Our home, which is sturdy, cozy, paid for and has wheels!
  • A work situation which is steady, interesting, fun, virtually stress-free and allows us a certain amount of freedom versus a “nine-to-five” job.  This also includes our environment and the people we work with.
  • The big generator sitting outside which provides us with electrical power when the grid is down.
  • Our beautiful, big, black truck that I delight in driving and which tows our home on wheels like a work horse.
  • Having the time and gas money to get in that big truck and just go for a drive to get some windshield time.  Keeps me sane, or some reasonable facsimile of sanity.
  • My “old” friends who still keep in touch even though we are miles away.
  • The “new” friends I have made since we started this adventure.
  • Our washer/dryer set here in the office.  This has made life so much easier.  It’s also nice to know what’s been in them, as opposed to going to a public laundromat.  I can’t imagine not having them last year.
  • My spirituality.
  • The health resources here – everything from the EMS squad to doctors to hospital staff – which are excellent.  These folks saved life twice last year. 
  • Being part of the local CERT group, even though I’m not a permanent resident of the area. 
  • Holland Police Department – we interact with the officers as part of our job and the CERT group falls under their organizational umbrella.  The officers are a great group of guys and we are grateful for our relationship with the HPD.
  • Sleeping well.  We have peace and quiet with no noisy neighbors parked right next to us.  It.  Is.  Quiet.  Here.  At.  Night.  We sleep well. 
  • My Dad, who taught me to be self-sufficient and to be aware . . . not just for safety but in Nature and in Life.
  • My Mom, who instilled in me her sense of patriotism and duty.  I’m grateful to her for reminding at difficult points in my life that I come from a long line of strong women.

These – and many other – things cross my mind not only today but routinely as being aspects of my life for which I am grateful.  Hope you are having a safe, cozy and fun holiday weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It’s a Chilly Evening

 

Right now  at about 8:30 PM, it’s raining out and chilly at 34F.  We are in the midst of a Nor’easter here in New Jersey.  So far we’ve been fortunate and the winds have not picked up.  I think that’s yet to come overnight and tomorrow with even more rain.  We did have a bit of a snow shower this morning, but there’s nothing on the ground, and it turned to rain as the day went on.  The rain is supposed to turn back to snow tomorrow evening.

Friday evening’s shelter training session was informative.  They even had the parking lot set up as it would be in a “real” event, with Holland PD officers stopping each vehicle to ask our purpose in being there and to direct us to appropriate parking.  Upon entering the building, we were given a packet and an intake form to fill out and essentially “processed” through the shelter experience.  We had sessions at each area – kitchen/dining, dormitory, restrooms/showers, etc. in which were given an overview of what took place in each area and what our responsibilities would be in the event that the shelter is ever put into action.  Silly me . . . I kinda like the thought of directing traffic . . . It was interesting and good to reconnect with fellow team members.

Saturday morning we ventured out to the book sale at the Riegelsville Library over in Riegelsville, PA.  That’s just down the road a bit and across the Delaware River.  I have books on my iPhone but Dave prefers to hold a real “live” book while reading, so we went mainly for him to stock up.  While he was browsing, I went to the church next door, where they were having a bazaar and craft sale.  I scored a couple of things . . .

Cow towel

A cute, sweet silver-haired lady makes and sells these kitchen towels and this Cow spoke to me, especially for $3.50.  Back in my Brenham home, I had Cow items (black-and-white bovine) here and there.  I also used to talk to them (and wave at ‘em – they would look up and sometimes follow along the fence line) while out cycling in the Brenham area;  in fact, my cycling buddies gave me the Cow Name of “She Who Rolls and Waves.”  Cows have such groovy energy, and I even spent a morning with a cow whisperer and his lovely Brahmans.  Anyway, I digress . . .  We could use a new kitchen towel, so here’s Cow.

I also picked up a neck “cozy” made by a young lady.

Neck warmer

 

It really is warm and soft!  If my neck is cold, so is the rest of me.  Keep my neck warm and I’m pretty much happy.

Other than that, it was a fairly quiet weekend.  We played chess again; our games last about 1.5 to 2 hours.  I even won a game again!  The first few moves always feel awkward to me, so I looked up some opening moves on the Internet and found the Sicilian Defense, which seems to work for me and I can actually remember it!  Ha!

The really good news is that our new convection microwave was installed yesterday!  Yay!  I found a different mobile tech, Regins RV Service, and Steve came out to take care of us.  Dave assisted him – it really was a two-person (man) job.  Steve also took care of another minor item for us and diagnosed why one of our electrical outlets is not working.  He will order that part and a new porch light fixture and, next time he is in the area, will come back to take care of those two items.  Gosh, it’s so nice to have a usable microwave again, not to mention the exhaust fan and the light over the stovetop.  I’m good to fix Thanksgiving dinner!  Whoohoo!

With a view to the approaching storm, this morning I did what laundry was in the hamper (and Maggie’s sweaters and blankets) just in case things get rough and we lose power at some point.  All the groceries are in that I need to make our Thanksgiving meal, laundry is done and Dave went to have our propane bottles filled today.  We’re good.

Other than that, it was pretty darn quiet around here today.  We don’t anticipate much activity tomorrow due to the weather and then it’s the holiday weekend. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sure Gets Dark Early These Days

 

It’s not quite 5 PM and just about dark outside already.  You’d think at my age, I’d be used to the early-dark days of Winter, but I’m not.  I must be part Bear or Groundhog; during this time of year (at least here where it’s cold), I really have a hard time getting excited about going places.  I’m perfectly content to be snug at home working, writing or doing whatever.

In just about an hour I will, however, be going to a CERT training session for the evening.  It’s on shelter operations, and I’m looking forward to receiving formal training on how to help run the shelter.  The recreational center which has in the past opened itself to the neighboring area during natural disasters (offering free showers, bottled water, phone charging, etc.) is now a designated shelter for the entire county.  CERT members have helped staff the rec center when in “shelter mode,” and tonight we are receiving formal training on setting up and running a shelter.  We are being provided a meal; I would imagine it will be standard shelter fare, in order to give us a “real” experience.

That means I’ll be heading “up the hill” (as is referred to around here) in a bit, in the dark, in light rain.  The “hill” is actually Musconetcong Mountain and the direction up the hill is South.  That felt unnatural to me for quite a while when we first arrived here.  I felt like if I was going up a mountain, I should be heading North!

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Since I’ll be away this evening, Dave and I had our “Friday night” last night.  I had a coupon, so we went to Perkins for burgers and then had two epic chess matches.  We started at 8 PM, and each game lasted two hours, so we had a late night for us, especially with the following day being a work day.  Sure was fun, though, listening to melodic Celtic tunes and playing chess.  I even won the second game, my first victory since we started playing again about a month ago.

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We plan to hit the used book sale at a nearby library tomorrow morning.  We’ve been a few times and scored some good reads.  This is really for Dave, as he prefers to hold an actual book.  I don’t have a Kindle, but do have the Kindle app and another book app on my iPhone.  Right now I’m progressing through the works of Zane Grey.  I’ve known about the author for a long time, but never gave much thought to Westerns.  After reading the first one, I’m hooked. 

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We have our usual quiet Thanksgiving planned, just the two of us.  I cook and we just chill.  I plan on hitting the grocery store Sunday for all those provisions, and a few more “storm provisions,” as there is the possibility of a Nor'easter hitting us Tuesday evening through Wednesday next week.  We’re stocked up pretty well, but I’ll get another package of paper plates and some more Handi Wipes, just in case we lose power (which would mean we would lose water since we’re on a well here.) 

Today has been rather mild; however, a change is coming Sunday, with a blast of arctic air (and perhaps a bit of snowfall) preceding the possible arrival of the Nor’easter on Tuesday.  At least the leaves are off the trees now.  That’s a good thing, trust me.

Other than that, we’re pretty well set for Winter.  Plenty of warm clothes and outerwear, water hose heat-traced and with the drop light at the turnoff valve, the pump room is well insulated with a little heater in it, we  have gas for the generator and plenty of propane on hand for several days.  I’ve confirmed arrangements for plowing the property if it snows enough this Winter to be plowed.  The company paid for four new tires on the company truck, so it’s good to go if there’s snow/ice; this vehicle even has 4-wheel drive.  Yahoo!  This is our 3rd Winter here, so we pretty well know “the drill” by now.

Guess I’ll finish getting ready, as I’ll be leaving in a bit.  Have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fairly Quiet Weekend So Far . . .

 

. . . but the overnight tonight may prove to be different.  That frontal system which has wreaked havoc throughout the Midwest is heading towards us, slated to arrive between 3 and 6 AM tomorrow morning.  In the dark, of course.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this nasty frontal system.

Just a wee post before I continue on with getting the “go” bags ready in case we have to make a dash for the mill (sturdy shelter) in the wee hours.  The bags consist of my CERT bag, which is packed and ready 24/7, and then my backpack for a few essentials.  I’ve talked before about what goes in there, so won’t again at this time.

Last night’s dinner (and then leftovers today) was homemade beef enchiladas and (non-homemade only because the avocados were not very good) guacamole.

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I had already taken a bite out of mine before snapping the photo.

Have to get a Tex-Mex fix now and then and, being up here in NJ, I just make it myself.  I have two recipes for tamales, but making tamales is a project and I haven’t gotten up the courage or energy to tackle that in our RV.  Besides, making tamales is more fun with friends!

Back to the approaching storm, the bad news is that there have been multiple tornadoes associated with this system and we are to expect 40-60 MPH gusts and the possibility of tornadoes.  The good news is we are in a valley of sorts (hence the name Warren Glen – glen as in valley) and many times are somewhat sheltered.  Good and bad news is our rig is in the open with nothing to fall on it; however, there is no structure to shelter it.

We do have the mill in which we can shelter; thank goodness for that!  Other than making kolaches earlier today, I’ve been really lazing around.  Turns out that was a good idea, as it sounds like I may not be getting much sleep tonight, or at least not in the early morning hours.

Okay, better gather together more stuff and finish getting my backpack ready.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It Was Tempting . . .

 

So . . . for the past few days we have been entertaining a job opportunity as a management team of an RV park back in Texas.  In fact, it was my “old stomping grounds” of years ago.  I lived and worked in that area during the early 1980s and in later years cycled all the surrounding farm-to-market and county roads.  Yes, it was tempting, and we had several serious conversations about it.  We would be in an area familiar to me and closer to friends and some family there is left on my side.  The park itself looked lovely, a small park, and my conversations with management were pleasant.  I’m sure it would have been fine; however, after weighing pros and cons, we have decided to sit tight where we are.

Home sweet home

June 2013 – Home Sweet Home, complete with corn growing!

It is gratifying to be contacted and to know that we are marketable in the park management world.  Yes, we could do the job and do it dang well, and if our assignment here was ending with no other options, we probably would have jumped on it.  At some point in the future we may venture down that avenue, but not now.  So, we passed.

Long-term financially, we could have saved a bit of money annually by being back in Texas, but it would take at least a year to see that savings and, in the big scheme of things, there is more to consider than money.

Shocking to some, eh?  A bit more money saved, but at what price to the Spirit?  Isn’t that mindset part of the make-up of a full-time RVer?  That there is more to consider in Life than money?

Evening Walk July 29

July 2012 – Musconetcong River from back bridge on property

Yes, we’re on call 24/7 here and sometimes we get called out on weekends or at 2 AM, but not every week.  When it does happen, we are not irritated . . . it’s part of the job, and the folks we work with – the company we’re contracted to and local law enforcement – well, we really do work together seamlessly as a team.  We pull 12-hour days more than just occasionally, but it’s not hard manual labor work, and it’s not cleaning showers and restrooms or evicting someone because rent has not been paid.  Need a new shovel, broom or drill for company use?  Go to Lowe’s and get it.  There’s no “May we please get a new snow shovel?”  We know our responsibilities, perform them diligently to the best of our abilities and we don’t have someone constantly looking over our shoulders or micro-managing us.  Unlike other positions we’ve had as a team, here we not only have the responsibility but the authority to carry out those responsibilities.  We have had a couple of minor incidents lately and, when notifying our boss, it’s not being told what to do but being asked, “How do you want to handle it?”  I don’t have to call about every little decision, and that makes doing our job much easier. 

RV’ing friends have a place to boondock in our parking lot, and we appreciate being given permission to have visitors.  We were invited to the company Christmas luncheon last year – told to lock the office and gate and come join them – and we broke bread in a family atmosphere that is rare these days in the corporate world.  We were honored to be invited to share that, especially in our status of “just” contract workers.

 

1994 Chevy Suburban IPPE Work Truck

August 2013 – The company brought this replacement new-to-us company vehicle which we use on patrol, etc.  The previous company pickup was literally falling to bits.  Got four new tires put on this beast a couple of weeks ago.  This one has 4-wheel drive, which comes in handy!

Although one of us is on the property at  all times during business hours, when we are not performing our duties and it is quiet, our time is our own.  Dave can get a bike ride in the afternoons and I stay here; I can run an errand or go for a walk and Dave stays here.  Some days there are no visitors on the properties; other days it’s like Waverly Station in Edinburgh! 

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October 2012 – Office trailer in foreground; our rig parked behind it.  Short commute!  As with park hosting jobs, our site, utilities  and Internet are included.  Our propane is paid for during Winter months, and we purchased a washer and dryer which are in the office.

Overall conditions here are more harsh than being in an RV park set in a developed area.  We lose power (and, hence, water since we’re on a well) now and then, but have a construction-grade, big generator.  We have resources to tap into during natural disasters . . . where to get a shower, shelters, etc.  We have the mill in which to shelter during threatening conditions such as high wind, and have done so a couple of times.

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January 2013 – So cold the river froze!  Our propane tanks also froze during this week of single-digit daytime highs and below-zero wind chills.  That’s cold!

We have no real worries about personal property vandalism or theft.  Sometimes I miss having neighbors and being close to long-time friends . . . but it’s quiet (we sleep well) and we have our privacy.  That being said, we get the occasional honk and wave from one of the “locals” passing by on the road.  Cool!  I derive a sense of community as a volunteer with the local CERT.  (Click here to see photos from our drill this year, which was held here at the mill.  Awesome experience!)  We have established health care providers in the area; the care here is excellent, as I found out last year when battling cancer for the second time.  We are independent contractors, so we can schedule vacation time whenever we choose; of course, we have done so keeping in mind what is happening on the properties.

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Hurricane Irene 2011 – The shot of the frozen river was taken from this bridge.  Irene brought the Musconetcong River out of its banks.  We evacuated our rig to higher ground.  We also evacuated during Tropical Storm Lee and in 2012 took shelter at a local hotel during Sandy.

The skies here are among the bluest I have ever lived under, and now and then I watch an Eagle soar above my head.  We have deer, foxes, all sorts of birds, bear, skunks (eek!), generations of groundhogs, turtles, a trout-stocked river if I ever get around to fishing and the occasional beaver.  Oh yeah, and a hardy feral cat which is now seeing his/her third Winter here.  We have moles in the  yard and field mice looking for a warm nesting spot (like the basement of our RV) during Winter but no cockroaches during Summer and no bother with ants.  I can live with that trade-off.

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April 2013 – Honored to have a family being raised in our yard.  Momma and Poppa routinely proudly paraded their family literally right past the front door of our RV.

 

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October 2012 – The biggest “front yard” I’ve ever had.

Kinda hard to trade all these things for the hustle and bustle of a more metropolitan area.

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June 2012 – One of occasional passers-by.  We are on a balloon flight path.

To be honest, this place and our life here are Spirit-comfortable.  Sure, the thought of hitting the road for a long trip (back to Texas) was exciting, as were thoughts of a new environment and job, making new friends and spending time with old friends again.  I even plotted our route south on I-95, then west on I-10 in order to avoid nasty Winter weather and to see places we have not experienced together.  Figured if we were going to have to travel and then be sitting in one spot again for a while, why not make it a nifty trip.  I would have seen and overnighted in Florida for the first time.

I tell you, though, this place feels right for us, at least at this point in time.  We have so many memories here and continue to make more.  Thinking about departing from here the past several days, I experienced a sadness over leaving at this time.  We know this job will end at some point in the future; that’s different.  When that time comes, we’ll look forward to adventures at our new landing spot!

Hope you are Spirit-comfortable wherever you are . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Week Already?

 

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Scene on the property here

Seriously, where does the time go lately?  We have been fairly busy with work, people coming and going just about every day.  Really, it’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I posted here last.

There has been a bit of a lull in my online part-time job, not a complete stoppage, just a slowing down.  I with two young(er) gals and we’re taking this time to revise, finalize and put into place procedures and guidelines as things are ramping up for the work load that is (supposed) to be coming in the near future.  Over the past few months, the three of us have established a comfortable professional and personal rapport.  We each bring experiences – common and different – which seem to make a great team.

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Today we’ve had alternating dark skies and then sunshine. Winter is definitely knocking on our door.  If the next six months follow the same pattern as the past couple of years, we’re in for cold, wind and wet (rain and snow) until about April.  The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted this Winter to be cold, wet and white.  The Woolly Bear Caterpillar examples I have seen around here seem to tell a different tale of a mild Winter in store for us.  Time will tell.

It’s a little while later and I’ve read reports of a few snow flurries around in northern NJ.  I’m not surprised. 

We occasionally think of leaving here and I admit I am torn.  There are pros and cons both ways; many of the pros include the beauty of watching Eagle circle above, the quiet, the views such as in the photos above, the good people we work with, the freedom and ease of our daily schedule which our duties here allow, very good medical care locally and the climate, to name just a few.  On the other hand, we live an isolated life (due to the nature of our work) with no friends locally, the winters are indeed harsh, NJ has a high cost of living, there is state income tax here and then there is the climate, to name just a few.

We are not unhappy here and that’s a good thing.  On the other hand, it is easy to become . . . what . . . complacent or afraid to make a change.  We have been here almost three years, quite a long stretch for full-timers. 

Would we save money by, say, returning to Texas?  Quite possibly, if the right job opportunity presented itself.  When opportunities arise, and they do now and then, we feel we do need to consider them, whether it’s Texas or elsewhere.

The financial aspect is another factor.  Next month my health insurance premium is increasing by $100 each month, and by the end of 2014, our monthly premiums will have increased 100% each.  The ongoing health insurance issue indeed plays a part in decisions we might make about job opportunities.

Scary or exciting?  A wee bit of both . . .

In the meantime, it’s Friday and we have an evening of chess planned.  Yay!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

 

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Some of the trees on the property here today.  Yes, it is a dull day out, and the sky is essentially the same color as the background behind this text.

 

No worries about it being a dull and bleary day today; I have my Happy Light!  Yay!  The above photo was taken with my “good” camera, a Canon Rebel.  I hardly ever use it, just on “special occasions,” with a smaller point-n-shoot camera kept handy.  In keeping with my philosophy of “why not enjoy something instead of saving it for a special occasion,” my Rebel is now sitting in the office ready and handy.  What exactly was I saving it for, anyway.  There’s often not much of spectacular interest to photograph around here, but perhaps I can find things to snap.  We’ll start with the lovely trees this morning, eh?

Spent part of the morning rearranging my office . . . again.  I really liked having the credenza behind me against the wall opposite my desk; however, it was up against the heating vent.  Not a good thing with Winter coming, as the credenza and its contents were getting pretty darned warm when the heat was on, and pretty soon I will need the heat on in here.  I’ve been able to get by with a tower ceramic heater so far for chilly mornings and evenings, but that won’t be enough before long. So, the credenza got moved back to the wall to my left, the back wall of the office trailer.  I brought in a stand that was outside, and that is what one of my plants is sitting on now.  Need to keep the plants near windows so they can get some light, and I have accomplished that.  Lifted up the window covering on the back wall window, so I (and the plants) get more natural light. 

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You can see one of our rig’s slides through the window.  We’re parked end-to-end with the office trailer with our generator set up between the two. 

That window really needs to stay covered during the warm/hot months in order to keep it cooler in here.  That certainly won’t be an issue in Winter, when the priority shifts to bringing in natural light and, hopefully, sunshine.

Yes, it’s Halloween, or Samhain, depending on what you celebrate if you celebrate!  We obviously don’t get trick-or-treaters here on the property and in some ways I miss that.  Oh well.  Dinner is leftover chicken-and-rice casserole I concocted last night, and we plan to make it a chess evening.  Our weather is to deteriorate over the evening, with heavy rain and possibly some strong winds into tomorrow.  Sounds like a good night to put on a CD and play chess.

Hope you have a good Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by!