Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looked Back Yesterday, Looking Ahead Today

If you missed my recap of 2014 yesterday, you can find it here.  2014 has been gracious to us and provided us with more memorable moments of this life we share as full-time RVers.

Looking ahead?  Resolutions for the coming year?  I tend to not make resolutions but just take it as it comes.  Life is truly unpredictable and, as many full-timers say, plans are made in Jell-O and subject to change in a New York minute. 

I am hoping to become more regular with blog posts and to get back to writing, not just recounting the day’s activities.

Well, what the heck.  Let’s talk about yesterday’s happenings. 

I ran to Walmart for a few things and Dave tackled trimming shrubs around our RV.  He did an outstanding job!

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We can actually see the benches now!  These shrubs had totally gone wild and were in a bodacious out-of-control state.  Wish I had taken a “before” photo.  Makes the area around our rig so much nicer.

He also trimmed back some more branches and limbs from the tree in the photo.  This gives us a bit more light and reduces the amount of leaves that fall on the ground (and our rig).  Just a bit of a “facelift” to our area and it is really so much more pleasant and tidy-appearing.

Judy (Travels with Emma), a holiday getaway is not in our conversation at the moment.  As much as we love (and I do mean love) Cape May, that would be a bit of a travel stretch.  Gosh, I’d love to go back to Dolphin Watch again, and we absolutely adore the town of Cape May (we can see ourselves living there permanently); however, if we decide we can afford swing a vacation, more than likely it would be some destination on the coast in this area.  Myrtle Beach?  Too expensive and too touristy, but there might be some smaller town in that general area.  Long and short – no vacation plans at the moment.

I sort of feel like I am in “hunker down” mode here.  Check back with me about a getaway come August, when I’m suffering in a southern Summer again.  Ha!

In retrospect, we have said, “What were we thinking?” when we came down here.  Being the work-conscious types that we are – work ethic, time off = no pay, that sort of thing – it never even crossed our minds to take off a bit of extra time prior to arriving on station here.  Duh.  We could have hauled our home down to the beach, spent time in the Virginias prowling Civil War sites or, heck, even returned to Cherokee, NC (like that area a lot) for a spell.  I guess we didn’t think about it, since we had a nice holiday to Cape May earlier in the year.

Well, we learned our lesson with that one.  If possible, the next time we transfer, we will take some time for us.

Guess I had better skedaddle  out of  here for now.  Dave is about to get his last bike miles for 2014 and I am whipping up more sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs today.  We will have a bit of chess this evening and then I will be greeting 2015 while I am on duty.

Happy New Year!  Thanks for stopping by!

Looking Back at 2014

We have had another interesting year as full-time RVers, now 4.5 years on the road. 2014 has been another year of adventures, memories made and enjoyment of our lifestyle and work. Here are some highlights of our year.

We continue working as an on-site security team, starting 2014 in northwest New Jersey.  We experienced quite a bit of snow during January and February.

 

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Betty shoveling during a snowstorm that dropped 15” of the white stuff

Even though we had quite a few days of subzero temperatures, our rig kept us comfortable and cozy.  One thing about it, these sort of conditions keep one hale and hardy!  The snow really wasn't all that bad, just mainly an inconvenience.

We were fortunate to again take a holiday, returning to a beach house in Cape May, NJ aptly named Dolphin Watch. The only thing separating it from the beach is a small street in front, and we enjoyed watching pods of dolphins glide by in the bay from the top deck of the house.

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Dolphin Watch in Cape May, NJ

The rest of our Summer passed uneventfully, and we simply enjoyed ourselves with grilling outdoors, doing grounds maintenance (we both had fun mowing the lawns with the zero-turn mower) and me tending my flowerbeds. Dave cycled quite bit and I continued my walking routine. We had a fire ring and spent evenings by a campfire whenever possible.

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 In late August, we were informed that a security team was no longer needed on the property, and were asked if we would consider a transfer to the property in South Carolina. We said, “Yes!” and late September saw us on the road headed south, arriving on station October 1. This location was our first job with the security company and the contracting company, having worked a 2-month gig here in 2010, while the resident team went on vacation.

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The property in NJ was beautiful.  We made many memories there, including an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Superstorm Sandy, numerous Nor’easters and my second cancer diagnosis in 2012.

 

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We spent two nights in Harrisonburg, VA

 

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At a rest stop in W. Virginia, hanging with the “big dogs.” 

Almost 800 miles and a few days later, we were back in South Carolina. Not having made a long trip with our rig in almost four years, it was an adventure and rather fun being on the road again. I do the towing of our rig and thoroughly enjoy it; yes, I am my father's daughter! We made the journey without mishap, gathering more memories of our life together along the way.

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Bass Lake Campground in Dillon, SC

Bass Lake was our final landing spot prior to arriving at the work site on October 1, and we went on duty that night; we are now working nights and weekends.

 

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Our current setup in South Carolina

We have gone from essentially running the property in NJ to more laid-back responsibilities here in SC.  The needs of every property are different, but it is interesting work and we are working with two good organizations.  Adjusting to night shift has been . . . well, an adjustment . . . but the good news is no alarm clocks!  We awaken naturally, and my body is pleased with that.

 

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Night shift does have its moments

Our overall health remains good and we . . . well, we simply enjoy and cherish our days and nights together.  We often play chess or Scrabble, watch a movie from the comfort of our recliners, grill and just “be.”  I continue working part-time as a virtual assistant via oDesk and am having fun with that.

 

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Our dear wee Maggie continues to delight and bring us joy.  She is a real trouper and excellent traveler.

It really has been another outstanding 12 months.  I am grateful to continue being cancer-free and feeling good, and am looking forward to more adventures in 2015!

How was your year?

 Happy New Year!   Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Message to Myself

  • This evening I have been wandering through previous years’ blog posts hoping to call forth my Muse again.  You know, I used to actually write, not simply recounting the events of the day, but truly write.  I am hoping, and formulating a discipline for myself, to return to that frame of mind in the coming year.
  • The past week I have been missing Karen a tremendous amount, a hurting amount at times.  We were cousins by blood, but sisters – soul mates, even – by heart.
  • I stumbled across the following post on my original blog from September 2009, a few short months after Karen’s passing.  Stumbled?  Was drawn to without conscious intention?  Whatever the manner in reaching it, I am sharing it below for it is indeed a message to myself tonight. 

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If we live long enough, we will lose someone.  I’m talking about losing someone to death, the loss when another soul departs this Earth.

If you’re reading this, you have lost someone, sometime.  It happens.

What do you do?  Most people grieve, rage at the Universe perhaps, and finally, hopefully, be able to remember the departed with fondness.  One learns this is the Cycle of Life and one moves on . . . always remembering the person who is no longer with us, but still . . . moving on with Life.

What about the other folks?  The ones who cannot get past that first stage of mourning, of loss, of emptiness, of dependence on the one gone, of weaving the departed one into the fabric of their own life through constant talking of them and not being able to recalibrate their own existence . . . instead basing their world on the soul departed.

Yes, I know we all deal with loss in our own way.  I’m not saying what is right for one person is right for another in this process.

Still, it seems such a waste of existence to be so wrapped up in, so still-clinging to, one who has been dead for a number of years.  Seems like the person still here is missing so much of the vibrancy, the texture, the colors, the realization of a full life for themselves.  Do all their friends tolerate or enjoy the constant referencing of everything to the deceased?  Does it become tiresome to them and perhaps distressing if they have recently lost someone themselves?

Does this result in a rather morose and depressed individual?  Someone who is insecure in their own right, unable to make their own way in the world, unable to even hold down a job?

I would imagine this occurs in varying degrees.  Perhaps the person can perform on a basic functional level and appear to have gotten past the loss and yet still be mourning on an internal level.  We all hear about the remaining partner dying not long after their spouse after a long-term marriage.

If someone through the course of an eight-hour day mentions the departed at least once every hour and expresses their own existence in relation to the departed . . . can this be healthy?  This lamenter comes across as being sorrowfully depressed and, quite frankly, the listener can eventually feel bombarded and pummeled by so much negative energy; too much of “poor little me.”

Do we not owe the memory of the departed the honor of living a full life?  If one believes in an everlasting spirit of the departed, do we not owe them the right to be free?  By not keeping their spirit so close to us that it is restricting them from moving on to being fully at rest in the Hereafter?

Step outside your own sorrow.  If not for yourself but for your love of the departed, let them be free.

Let go.

Perhaps my viewpoint comes from being a strong person.  Oh yes, I have experienced losses.  I have mourned, cried, raged, lost my faith and reclaimed it, known that life would never be the same without the person and, yet, stumbled on through the haze, the fog, the sorrow . . . coming out on the other side knowing Birth, Life and Death are all part of our journey on this earthly plane.  

Is it a spiritual faith that allows one to come to terms with loss?  Is it being tough-skinned?  Is it being a survivor?  Is it being a Warrior?  Is it just being human?

I certainly do not profess to have the answers.  I feel for those who cannot let go, who yet cling to the departed.  My personal history causes me to feel some impatience with these people for allowing so many of the joys of each day flutter by without reaching out and grasping some happiness for themselves, clinging to that happiness as tightly as they cling to the memory of their lost ones.

Each day is a gift, not to be squandered.  I have recently lost my beloved Karen.  I miss her more than I can express; however, the pain eases just a bit each day.  I can call her memory up now and not be sorrowful but smile instead.  She was so full of life, laughter and faith and we shared so much of that . . . I carry on now in a joyful life, laughter in my home and heart, and my faith restored.  I like to think she watches over me . . . that she is by my side when I need strength . . . that she gets a silly laugh when I do something goofy.  I still talk to her . . . when I hear the chirp of a tree frog in the evenings I say, "Hiya cuz, whatcha into?  What’s happenin’?  I’m doing good.  See ya!"   Feel her presence?  Yes, definitely, but not as often as during the days immediately following her death.  Letting go; letting her go.  Instead of clinging, I try to honor her memory by living the way I did before she left, as I know she would want, and as I must . . . for each day I am here are a few more additional hours I have been blessed with since that day in 2002 when I met my own mortality.  I consider every day since that time to be “overtime,” to just be time I have been given as a bonus, an extension until my own “expiration date” comes up on the calendar of Life.

Should we not be at peace, loving, laughing and living to our fullest as we walk this Earth?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Ten Years Ago . . .

 

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Merry Christmas!  (Photo from December 2013)

I heard Dave’s voice for the first time on Christmas Eve 2004.  It was also the first and only Christmas my cousin Karen and I shared; she was with me in my Brenham home for the holiday and was there when Dave called.

Snow was in the Texas forecast that evening, and Karen and I planned to stay up and greet it . . . and watch a James Bond marathon on TV.  Sean Connery, ya know.  Plus, we had kazoos for heralding Christmas carols.  We were up until the wee hours of Christmas morning.  What a fun, cozy and special Christmas Eve that was.

I’m so grateful for those vivid memories that still linger . . . . hearing Dave’s voice, going back to the den from my home office singing out “I got a phone call from Scot-land!  I got a phone call from Scot-land!”  Karen asking, “How was it?” and my reply of, “I didn’t understand a word he said, but it was wonderful!”  It was my first exposure to a Scottish brogue and I think Dave might have been a wee bit nervous (I certainly was), so he was talking fast.  Hahaha!  I did catch a word here and there, of course, and with more phone calls over time I became comfortable  with the Scottish way of speaking.  It  snowed all over Texas that night, including the beach at Galveston, but not Brenham.  The next morning Karen put water in the coffeemaker but no coffee and ended up with a nice cup of hot water . . . we laughed so much we were in tears.  We would crack up at the smallest, the silliest, things.  Gosh, we had so much fun together.

Ten years.  Really?  It feels just like yesterday.

Karen has left this world, but Dave is here with me, and we have had ten years of sharing a good life together.  We have had some amazing experiences on both sides of the Atlantic, some trying times and, most of all, love and respect for one another.  It certainly is grand sharing Life with one’s best friend.

He certainly is my best friend, even if he did beat me at chess tonight.  Ha! 

It has been raining nonstop (except for a few brief interludes) since Monday.  Ugh.  The office building has a few roof leaks, so yesterday and today Dave has been emptying buckets to keep abreast of that.  That’s a bit above and beyond our job description, but one does what one needs to do.  Hopefully the rains have ended . . . until Sunday when it starts up again.  Continuous rain and highs near 70 F . . . I tell ya, I’m missing the cold and snow right about now.  Crazy, eh?

That being said, it is a magical time of year and we’re so enjoying our evenings together matching wits over the chessboard in our cozy RV home that we share with wee Maggie.

Here’s wishing you a peaceful and safe Christmas filled with love, laughter and fellowship.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Santa Shops at Walmart

Today’s weather has been totally Scottish.  “What is that?,” you ask.  Light rain, chilly temperature, overcast skies and a bit of a breeze.  Brrrrr.

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Maggie cozied up while we played chess this evening

We were off to Walmart this afternoon for a few last-minute items before Christmas.  Walking through the parking lot, we spotted Santa in civilian clothes.  Really.  Beautiful white hair and neatly-trimmed, full white beard.  Snow white.  Put the eyeglasses and red suit on this gentleman and that childhood belief in Jolly Old St. Nick would be alive and well.  Two ladies getting into a vehicle close to his sang out, “Hi, Santa! Merry Christmas!”  I would have loved to have taken his picture, but that would not have been cool.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.  I have to wonder if he does play the Santa role at this time of year.  At any rate, there you have it.  Santa shops at Walmart.

See that bit of red in Maggie’s sweater above?  She got her first Christmas sweater today.

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Well, why not?

There were all sorts of cute outfits and it was a bit tempting to get her a reindeer outfit, but I opted for something both cute and practical.  Never have been one to “dress up” my dogs or cats.  Heck, Maggie’s predecessor Baby wouldn’t even wear a sweater, opting to enjoy even the snow and frigid temps in Minnesota without “clothes.”  She did, however, have boots for walking on snow and ice.  So does our Maggs; she inherited Baby’s boots.  The closest I got to “dressing up” a cat was putting a harness on Red so I could take him outside during his recuperation from an injury.  That’s a story from bygone days for another time . . .

It’s so icky and miserable out tonight that I’ve put on my thick hoodie sweatshirt I got years ago at the Thirsty Moose Bar and Grill in Hibbing, MN.  It’s definitely a “north country” piece of clothing, being thick and warm, and perfect for weather like today.  If you’re ever up that way, stop in at the Thirsty Moose for a burger or a pizza.  Both are absolutely outstanding.

Unlike many full-timers, we do not travel with the seasons since we are working; we remain in one spot months or years, and our current line of work has us outdoors quite a bit.  With that in mind, we have clothing for the full range of weather conditions from scorching summer temperatures to blizzards and everything in between.  We’ve culled items now and then, but some things we just cannot give up.  Yes, that includes snow boots with cleats for navigating on ice.  Sheesh.  Our closet and wardrobes would definitely have more room if we were able to fly with the seasons.  Who knows?  Maybe, just maybe, one of these days . . .

In the meantime, however, it’s good to still have my Thirsty Moose hoodie!

The weather forecast remains the same through Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to not having to get on the roads and in stores until after Christmas.  Traffic was pretty heavy today around on the short distance we go down I-95 and in town; the Walmart parking lot was quite full and there were lines of cars going into the mall parking lot.  Glad we weren’t going there!

My cup of coffee is just about gone, so I’ll call this a wrap for tonight.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Good Day to Bake

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Someone was ready for snuggles when bedtime rolled around at 3 AM this morning

The weather folks pegged this day except for the blustery conditions; we have had a bit of rain and it is definitely chilly out.  Yep, it has been a good day to be in the kitchen, or “galley,” as some RV folks call it.

Years ago I was introduced to sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs by my then mother-in-law.  Yummy delights, those.  Having the recipes from her, these two items have become holiday staples in my home since then.  Today was the day.

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First batch of sausage balls

 

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The olive/cheese puffs come out looking like wee sombreros most of the time, but they are still yummy.

Both the sausage balls and olive/cheese puffs have passed the taste test.  We’re good to go.  Speaking of going, these babies don’t last long around our house, and I imagine I’ll be doing another round between Christmas and New Year’s.

The movie of choice during all this cooking was The Longest Day, an epic D-Day film with just about anyone you can remember being in it.  I followed that up with The House Across the Bay, an oldie I had never seen before today.

My heart and thoughts this evening are with the families of the two NYPD officers assassinated today.

Everybody be safe out there, okay?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Propane Fill Day at Florence RV Park

 

One of the pros of being in SC vs. NJ is that we are going through propane a lot slower down here this Winter.  We have a total of four 30-lb. tanks, two on board and two spares.  In NJ, there were two additional tanks we could use, making a total of six tanks in rotation.  During Winter, Dave would often go as frequently as weekly to have four tanks filled.  Thank goodness our propane is paid by the company which we are contracted to; if it had not been, we simply would not have been able to afford to work in NJ.  Even here, that reimbursed expense helps immensely. 

We do run the furnace, keeping the thermostat at 60 overnight and then bumping it up to no higher than 65 when needed.  We are fairly conservative with the use of the furnace, running it enough to keep the rig happy.  Our fireplace and two ceramic tower heaters provide supplemental heat, and our home stays nice and cozy.  Some folks set their furnace at higher temperatures, but neither of us likes to be too warm.

We go to Florence RV Park to have our tanks filled, and it is a short drive over to I-95 and the park.  I was going to put in the link to their Web site, but apparently the site is no longer active.  That’s too bad, because the park is really okay.  We stayed there for a night or two in 2010 prior to arriving at this work site (we did a 2-month relief gig here while the permanent team went on vacation), and it seems even neater and “cuter” than back then.  It’s not full, but is nicely populated by what appear long-term folks, perhaps some snowbirds and then the overnighters passing through the area. 

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I would definitely stay here again

I can’t vouch for the Internet or cable TV services, but the staff is friendly and the laundry/rec/office areas are neat and clean.  It is next to I-95 with easy access; one hears a bit of highway noise, but not at an annoying level by any means.

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The resident ducks are quite friendly and came over expecting a handout.  I’ll try to remember to take something for them next time.

I’m getting a load of laundry done today because it’s supposed to start raining tonight and continue through tomorrow.  Yes, tomorrow is forecast to be colder, windy and rainy.  Sounds like a good day to make sausage balls and olive balls cozied up in our RV home.

Jerry over at WagginTailsRV commented on my last post that my life seems to have simplified with the move to SC.  I dunno . . . in some ways, yes, but in others . . . no.  While our professional life has certainly simplified, it seems like I stay much busier here.  I think that is in part due to it being the time of year when there are fewer daylight hours.  Seems like we’re always “chasin’ daylight” around here, with so many things to do before it gets dark out.  I’m hoping this will ease up a bit with prolonged daylight when Summer rolls around. 

Speaking of which, we’re off to the store for a few things before we go on duty tonight.  The closer it gets to Christmas, the less I want to be in a grocery store or even out running errands of any type. 

Didn’t get this posted before we ran to the store, so a few hours have passed.  We had a pleasant evening of another epic chess match, and I’m getting back into the groove after finding my opening move, the Sicilian, again.

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Victory is mine with a rare win by Black this evening!

Dave has gone to bed until I get him up around 2 AM, I’ve polished off the wee snack plate I brought over to the office, Maggie is curled up in her “spot” and Pandora is singing some tunes.  I’ll make a cup of coffee and put in some time on my virtual assistant job.

That’s a wrap for tonight.  Ciao!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 PM Coffee

 

A bit late for a cup of java, you say?  Well, not when you work night shift, husband is sleeping and your solo shift ends at 2 AM. 

Prior to 2012, I had not been a coffee drinker for 20+ years.  What changed in 2012?  Hurricane Irene visited us in New Jersey.  The morning after the storm, we went to a local cafĂ© for a hot meal.  Dave ordered a cup of coffee and the waitress brought two.  I wasn’t going to drink it, but Dave encouraged me, saying something like “It’s hot and the caffeine will do you some good.”  This was after spending the night in the cab of our truck with RV hitched up, parked behind a school for shelter while Irene blew and rained around us.  I learned one can indeed sleep, for brief periods of time, slumped over the center console in a Ford F-350 with a Hurricane raging outside.  Who knew?

I drank that cup of steaming java and, man, was it good.  On the heels of Irene came Tropical Storm Lee and then a powerful Nor’easter and, yes, I would have a cup of coffee now and then during those times.  We would be without power and thoughtful visitors to the site would occasionally bring coffee from a nearby store.

So then I began to drink coffee only during natural disasters.  During our time in New Jersey, this meant I had a cup ‘o Joe every couple of months.  Then Winter came and, dang, it was cold.  Then our boss up there brought in a Keurig for the office.

The capability to make one single cup of coffee at a time cinched the deal for me.  I have always totally disliked coffeemakers and never even had one when I lived alone.  A Keurig?  One cup at a time?  What a concept!

You guessed it.  I am now a coffee drinker once again, but definitely in moderation.  Some days, like today, I will have two cups – one in the afternoon and then one around 10 PM.  Other days, it’s just the 10 PM cup and some days it’s none at all.

I really enjoy this one at 10 PM, shortly after Dave has gone to bed, my solo shift is just getting started and my thoughts are my own . . . quiet, solitary time.

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We’ve started playing chess weekend evenings again.

 

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Maggie chills out Sunday evening after a clip and bath that day.

 

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My world at about 2:30 this morning.  It is often foggy here.

I’m now out of java and words, so I’ll toddle off to my virtual assistant job while I’m on duty.  That helps pass the time and, really, the four hours I’m up alone breeze by quite swiftly.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Husband Rocks

 

We ventured over to Magnolia Mall for the first time Friday, where we made our annual purchases at Hickory Farms, I completed my shopping for Dave’s Christmas and we just prowled a bit.  We’ll be going back again before Christmas.   We’re not “mall types,” and this  time of year is really about the only time we hit a mall.  Magnolia Mall beats the heck out of the one we had in NJ, where many of the stores had moved out; there really was not much left.  This mall, however, is definitely thriving.

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Today has been windy (and chilly!) and the dead fronds on this tree were rubbing on our rig a bit, not to mention making a heck of a racket.  swish ~~ crackle  Dave got on the roof this afternoon and took care of this.  He’s awesome!  Yes, he rocks!

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17 fronds went bye-bye in the back of the company truck

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Decorations went up in our home today.  This is taken near the door looking back to the kitchen with the living room slide on the right.

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It’s all about the lights, making things cheery.  This is taken from the kitchen looking forward.  Stockings are hung from the slide on the left.

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Our wee tree on the dining table.  Found that tree our first year out in 2010.

Dave got me this awesome hat for Christmas and I really used it in the New Jersey winters.  It is a high quality piece and quite warm.

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Well, last Winter, it disappeared.  I looked high and low for this baby, wondering where the heck it had gone.  Darnedest thing, its disappearance.  I kept the faith, refusing to believe it was absolutely gone.  So . . . .

When I opened our box of Christmas decorations this afternoon, there under the garland was . . . Hat!  How in the world did it get packed with the decorations?  I have no clue, but I felt like Christmas morning had arrived early when I saw it!

Well played, Hat, to appear again today you are truly needed in the wind and cold!

I’ve been a bit blah this week, but then realized it would have been Karen’s birthday a few days ago.  I sure miss that gal.  When we were kids, our families spent just about every Thanksgiving together, but she and I shared only one Christmas.  She was with me at my Brenham home the first time Dave called from Scotland on Christmas Eve 2004.  She and I watched a James Bond movie  marathon that night, ooh’ing and aaah’ing over Sean Connery and waiting for it to snow.  Earlier in the day, we had prowled a old-fashioned toy store in town and spotted kazoos.  I had never played one, so she bought two and taught me.  Yep, you guessed it.  Two middle-aged women playing Christmas carols on kazoos into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for it to snow.  It snowed just about everywhere else in Texas that night, including at the beach in Galveston, but not in Brenham.  Good memories, that, time shared just be-ing.  Ten years ago. Wow.

Yes, it’s cold out right now at almost 11:30 PM with the wind, but I really don’t mind.  This past week has seen temps reaching almost 70 F, which seems bizarre to me this close to Christmas after our time in NJ.  This change in weather and getting our decorations up has put me in a bit more of a holiday mood.

Hope you’re feeling some holiday cheer!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Well, Well . . . It’s December

Crazy to think 2014 is almost history.  Thanksgiving is behind us and I suppose we are well into the holiday season, eh? 

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Silly door hanging for inside of our office suite door.  There is a more traditional wreath on the exterior; I’ll try to get a photo of that tomorrow.  Saw this whimsical one and just could not resist.  In honor and remembrance of the past few winters we have spent in NJ.  Doubtful we will see snow here, or at least not of the volume we had up North.

I really have not felt very much in the holiday spirit but did a bit today.  Put up some tinsel and lights here in our office suite, as we spend much of our waking hours in here and the majority of those are at night.  I figured we could use a bit of cheer in here.  I’ll get out our few decorations for our RV home this weekend and cheer things up in there, too.

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Yes, Phyllis, I did roast the turkey Sunday, and it turned out quite nicely.  It ended up in a casserole yesterday, and that was a good move.  Dave had some leftovers for his “breakfast” today and I just about finished it off this afternoon with a salad.

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Maggie was snuggling with her blanket last week during the cold spell.  The spare chair in my office is one of her spots.  She’ll be there some nights and others, like tonight, on her big, cushy bed on the floor.

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Did I tell you about my encounter with Spider?  Last week when we had those three straight days of rain, I was taking my shower back over in our RV.  Was drying off one night/morning (what we call “night” is 2-3 AM) and plop! into the shower floor dropped Spider!  I think we were both surprised!  I hopped out of the shower stall rather quickly, saying a few words in doing so.  Well, Spider was soon an ex-Spider, but I left it in the shower.  Why?  Well, I figured chances were darn good that I had been bitten and, if I became ill, we would have the culprit available for identification purposes.  Really, though, this was no evil-looking Spider, just a . . . well, Spider.  Brownish, gray run-of-the-mill Spider.

Sure enough, the next day (well, later that same day), I noticed what appeared to be a bite.  It is essentially healed now and was never severe, although I felt kinda of punky for about 48 hours.  Again, nothing serious . . . almost a bit like I was coming down with the flu. 

That is the first time in 4.5 years of full-timing that we have had an issue with a critter of that sort in the rig.  You can bet I check towels, PJs, etc. now! 

Full-timing in the South.  Bugs.  Spiders.  Ugh.

Speaking of which, a couple of weeks ago there were ladybugs everyfreakinwhere.  Now it seems to be garden millipedes.  Ick.  Neither of those have been in our rig, thank goodness!

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Well, Dave has gone to bed until around 2 AM.  He has not been sleeping well at all since our crazy five days over the Thanksgiving holiday, when our sleep patterns were disrupted due to work obligations here.  We’re back on our regular schedule and I have pretty much bounced back, but he is struggling to get prolonged sleep again.  I’ll change gears now and put in some time on my virtual assistant gig. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Day

 

Today was certainly a departure from Thanksgiving Days of previous years.

Beginning yesterday, we are on our own here until Monday and we’ve been pretty busy.  There was an issue with a system Tuesday, so we are having to monitor a level readout every two hours.  The tank which supplies water to our RV (and I think perhaps the office, too) had to be refilled today; that involves turning a valve, but one has to check on the storage tank and turn off the valve when the tank is full.  Dave took care of that this afternoon and refilled our fresh tank, too.  The overnight temperatures are below freezing tonight and the next couple of nights, so that means various water spigots need to be turned on around the property to avoid freezing lines; Dave took care of that, too, this afternoon.  These things are in addition to our regular patrol rounds.

We’re both running on less sleep, seeing as one of us needs to be up at all times in order to perform the system check every two hours.  Those two hours really fly by.

I did manage to put together a semi-traditional Thanksgiving meal  with the usual side dishes but sans turkey.  Said bird did not thaw in time, so we had breaded chicken breasts instead.  I made an ambrosia salad for the first time, which turned out well.  This is the first Thanksgiving meal that Dave and I have eaten in shifts.  Oh well, we both ate well, just at different times.   Hooray for leftovers!

After dinner, I discovered that our TV picks up a Fox channel very well.  I ended up looking at most of the fourth quarter of the Dallas/Philadelphia football game . . . and enjoyed it!  Goodness, I had not watched football in . . . well, ages.  Following that was Fox’s Cause for Paws; Maggie and I snuggled in my recliner under a fave blankie and watched that together. 

We had nonstop rain Sunday through Wednesday morning, followed by colder and windy conditions today.  Less sleep than usual and that “I just can’t seem to get warm” feeling contributed to my feeling rather punky most of today.  I rarely take a pain pill, but took half a one a couple of hours ago and am feeling much better. 

Dave has been in bed for a couple of hours now; Maggie and I have the watch until about 2 AM.  I’ll be ready for a shower and my turn to catch some zzz’s. 

You know, our current assignment and locale is not optimal, but I have so much for which to be thankful.  We are employed and our material needs are met, including being able to put a plentiful dinner on our table.  We work with good people.  I am alive after beating cancer twice and, health-wise, the majority of my days are good ones.  We own our home and it has wheels, so we are free to live wherever we choose.  The lifestyle I live is of my own choosing and I share it with a husband who is also my best friend.  Our wee Maggie is a source of delight and comfort who knows, among many things, just when to snuggle in my lap and radiate peaceful “therapy dog” vibes.  While our version of the full-time life is somewhat different than the typical stereotype, we are living Life and collecting so many memories.

Yes, the list goes on and on.  And on.

Life is indeed guid!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chasin’ Daylight

So it’s been ten days since my last post.  All I can say is that there really isn’t much to talk about.  We have settled into a routine – more or less – and the days seem to slip by quickly and quietly.  We are finding we leave the property much less here than in NJ.

I did recently install a modem/router for the Internet system that services our RV.  Took a bit of time, as there were some system configuration issues; however, AT&T tech support was great, and it’s all working like a charm now.  I enjoyed wearing my geek hat, and this provided the opportunity for me to document system information for the facility.  Dave picked up some extra work this weekend clearing some of the rail tracks and cleaning out a rail building.  These were nice variations in our routine.

Monday is the day we go grocery shopping to either Food Lion (nice store) or Walmart (if we need more than just provisions), perhaps to Lowe’s or wherever else we need to visit to pick up something.  Typically it’s just groceries.  I occasionally get  out to run an errand, but certainly not every week. 

Saturday is laundry day, and that is an all-day endeavor here, especially when one gets started in the early afternoon.  Our washer and dryer are working perfectly, but it seems to take items longer to dry here than in Jersey, probably because of the higher humidity in the atmosphere.  They get dry, but now it’s 1.5 hours in the dryer instead of an hour, and this prolongs the entire process.  I sort clothes Friday evening and have the laundry bags set out in the living room; I usually get up before Dave, so I can grab the bags without disturbing him.  All that being said, I still am so thankful we have our own facilities here and I’m not having to go to a laundromat. 

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Maggie was not impressed with the rainy and blustery weather today.  Me, neither.

We seem to be chasing daylight these days with the early arrival of darkness around 5 PM.  On the days Dave rides, he pretty much has “breakfast” – at around 1 PM – and then immediately gets ready to go out.  We’re getting about 4-5 hours of daylight right now to do things.  Crazy.  Seems like 6 PM rolls around pretty darn quick and we’re back at work. 

As you can tell by Maggie’s expression above, the weather was  lousy out today.  Chores done, I spent time in the kitchen . . .

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Pizza casserole . . .  yummy!

This was a major deal, actually, as we really aren’t eating nearly as much these days.  Good news is I’ve lost 10 pounds since leaving NJ.  No, we’re not starving ourselves; most days my main meal is my first one . . . my breakfast . . . and it’s a good one, so anything later is definitely on the light side.  Of course, Thanksgiving is coming, and I will be cooking our nice meal for that.  I’m thinking I’ll need to set my alarm clock so I can get started cooking well before noon . . .

Always in the past, we have taken time out to stroll a mall wherever we are at Christmastime – sometimes for shopping and other times just to take in the atmosphere of a mall at the holidays and window-shop.  I make my traditional stop at Hickory Farms and stock up on goodies.  This year . . . ??  I honestly don’t know when we’ll have the chance.  Hopefully we can squeeze in a trip sometime.

Being even more at-home folks these days, I am so thankful our RV home is snug, cozy and comfortable.  The curtains I put up in August really do add a nice touch and help with light filtration now that we’re daytime sleepers.   I appreciate having an office away from our rig and I’m glad I have my virtual assistant work to keep me occupied at night (and for the extra $$ it brings in).

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Picked up some lights at the dollar store for our office suite.  Since we’re over here a good bit of the time and at night, I’m hoping this will add a festive feel.  Might even add a couple of decorations or perhaps a wreath for our suite door.

This is certainly a different existence than we had previously, but we’re adjusting.  We run errands together now, work together . . . essentially are together 24/7 except when Dave is riding or pulling our work shift while the other sleeps.  I tell ya, it’s a good thing we get along so well! 

Looks like where we were in Jersey will be picking up 6-8” of snow just in time for Thanksgiving.  Will I miss shoveling snow or holding my breath while Dave gets on the roof of the rig to get the snow off the slides? 

Nope.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

She Nailed It!

I mentioned recently about getting my hair cut for the first time down here in SC and not being thrilled about the experience.  It really wasn’t a very good cut and needed some tweaking, and the entire experience left much to be desired.  With that in mind,  I had decided to visit a few salons to check them out.  There are a couple on the “square” in downtown Darlington.  The silver necklace chain I had ordered recently to replace a broken one was in at the jewelry store, so this was a good day to take care of both errands.

After parking and walking the square over to Studio 36, I saw a sign on the door which said they were closed from 2-3 PM.  Hmmm . . . what to do, since it was not quite 2 PM.  I prowled a couple of shops and then made my way to the Jewelers Bench to pick up my chain.  The remainder of the time was spent sitting on one of the benches on the square, enjoying the cooler temperatures and people-watching. 

Three o’clock rolled around and back to the salon I went, where I met Channon, co-owner and stylist.  We talked a bit and she took me as a walk-in appointment.

Hallelujah!  She nailed it!  Pleasant experience and a great cut.  I’ll go see her next month when it’s time again. 

Whew.  What a relief.  Working with guys in the type of environment I do, my monthly salon visit is the one “girlie” thing I get to do for myself away from home and the job.  It’s a wee bit of indulgent pampering and, by gosh, I’m gonna find a place that is pleasant and relaxing with a stylist with whom I can develop a rapport.

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It is definitely cooling down outside, and there were a few drops of rain a bit ago.  This is courtesy of the Polar Vortex that has been blasting much of the country and is now making its way here.

Didn’t we used to just call these events a “front” or, even yet . . . Winter?   Seems like weather events have such dramatic names these days.

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Cycling “Dog” Report . . . Or Rather, Harassment:  While Dave was not chased by a dog today, he related a somewhat more disturbing encounter.  He noticed a vehicle at a slow rate of speed behind him at one point.  Typically this is a motorist who is either a bit timid at passing a cyclist or is waiting for oncoming traffic to pass in order to give the cyclist a save berth on the right.  (Note:  There are minimal to no shoulders to the roads here.)  Dave started to get a slightly “weird” feeling about this, wondering what was up.  Finally the vehicle passed and, in when doing so, a male stuck his head out of the passenger window and “barked” at Dave . . . “woof woof woof!”

This is definitely not good.  Dave is an accomplished, safe and courteous cyclist, obeying the etiquette and laws of the road . .  .  keeping as close to the right as possible, etc.  This was a blatant display of harassment which could have had unfortunate results for all concerned.

More bluntly stated, “What the hell is wrong with you people down here?”

<insert dueling banjo music here>

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I hear and see that NW NJ is receiving their first installment of snow this evening.  That’s a bittersweet thing . . . it really is beautiful, but sure is a lot of work when it piles up to two feet or so.   Surviving in that weather environment kept us hale and hardy, and it was fun to see Maggie walking on top of the ice-crusted snow, but . . . I won’t miss some aspects of the experience. 

Okay, I think I hear that wee container of Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate whispering to me . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Being chased by a dog (or multiple dogs) when cycling is no laughing matter.  The obvious danger is the dog actually latching hold of one’s leg and inflicting injury; however, there is just as great a peril of the dog becoming entangled in the bike’s wheel(s) and/or swerving to miss the dog, which could result in a mishap.  There is significant risk of injury to both cyclist and dog.

In the almost four years we were in New Jersey, Dave racked up 26,000 (yes, that’s 26,000)  miles on the bike with only one minor encounter of the canine kind. 

We have been at this location in South Carolina six weeks and Dave has ridden 1,000 miles.  The above occurs every time he goes out, which is four to five times a week.  The question is not “Did you get chased by a dog?” but “How many today?”

South Carolina beats Missouri hands down in this regard, although in MO, Dave was once chased by 10 different dogs during one outing alone.

In Texas, of course, if you ride in the countryside – at least in ranching country, which was my old cycling area – being chased by the occasional cattle dog (and buddies) was a given.  Those guys were usually just out for the run, the fun of the chase.  “Here’s the ranch.  You know there’s these two dogs that wait at the top of the hill.”  Okay, no biggie.  They run a bit and then give up.  No harm, no foul.

No cows here, folks, just cotton fields as far as agriculture/farming/ranching goes.

The behavior by humans here shows total disregard for the safety of others and their dogs.  Examples:

  • Dave recently saw a guy walking a bike across a four-lane divided highway accompanied by two dogs . . . without leashes.  This was not a cyclist by definition, but just a guy with a bike.  Two unleashed dogs?  I know that highway.  Those dogs were lucky to get across without getting creamed by a vehicle.  That’s not to mention the guy was taking risk himself attempting to walk a bike across.
  • One of today’s dog encounters (there were two) takes the cake.  There was a guy walking along the country road up a ways in front of Dave, going in the same direction.  The dog happens to look back and comes tearing away from the guy after Dave.  Running away from his owner, back in the opposite direction from the way they were walking, to confront Dave on the bike.  The dog was so crazy, Dave had to swerve and almost caught the dog in his front wheel.  Yes, the owner was yelling at the dog, but to no avail.  WTH?
  • Then there’s the one with its owner in their yard which bolted out into the street chasing Dave as he rode by.  The owner just stood there in his nice yard in front of his nice house.  Baffling.

What the hell is wrong with people down here?  <--- That’s a rhetorical question, to which I don’t expect an answer. 

Is it a trait of the South?   Am I living in a real-life version of Deliverance?

Yes, there are leash laws for this county and the State of South Carolina.  I looked ‘em up this afternoon.  I’d say 80% of the population in this county is in violation.

Do these people not realize that if their dog bites someone the dog can be impounded and they can face hefty fines?  Do they not care enough about their dog to keep it restrained and out of harm’s way?  Dave has seen numerous dead dogs by the roads here.

Again, these are rhetorical questions and apparently the answer is either yes and they don’t care or no, they haven’t a clue.   I really do not understand the mindset, either way.

I have never lived anywhere that had such an apparent problem with this.  It angers and troubles me, for Dave’s sake and secondly for the dogs at risk.

Yes, we’ll be arming Dave with some sort of defense – air horn, pepper spray (my least favorite idea, because it can backfire depending on which way the wind is blowing), extra water bottle . . . something. 

I cannot imagine allowing our dear Maggie to run loose in the manner exhibited by the majority of dog owners in this area.  I love her too much . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

For the First Time in Over Four Years . . .

 

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There’s Blue Bell in our freezer!

You just can’t get Blue Bell in New Jersey, and we’ve been away from Texas since 2010.  I’d heard BB was available here and, sure enough, there it was in the freezers at Walmart.  I had a dab of the Dutch Chocolate this evening, and it was yummy.  Having lived in Brenham for a few years, I had met Belle, the BB cow.  A taste of home and Texas.  Nice.

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Those aren’t rain clouds; it was just overcast today and quite very mild, but that will change come Thursday, when we drop into the 50s for daytime highs.  I’m ready.

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See the dots on that column?

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In NJ, we had stink bugs this time of year.  Here in SC, we have these.  I’ll take the “gals” versus the stinkbugs any day.

Our days are pretty much the same Tuesday through Friday.  Dave was out on the bike for a couple of hours this afternoon, getting chased by “only” two dogs today.  I changed and washed the bed linens.  Dinner done and dusted (yes, I did a bit of cooking and we ate together), Dave has gone over to our RV to catch some zzzz’s before his shift around 2 AM.  I’m here in the office visiting with you for a bit before working my virtual assistant gig for the remainder of my shift.  I’ll do a patrol somewhere around midnight.  Maggie’s here with me, patiently lounging on her bed.

That’s it for today.  Well, that’s something, at least.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gosh, Another Weekend Just About Gone

The days seem to fly by here.  Perhaps it’s working a night shift . . . I don’t know.  We have settled into a routine and have pretty much adapted to the different lifestyle.  One thing that is different is our eating pattern . . . breakfast at noon.  Wow.  Different.  Dave typically has a bike ride of a couple of hours in the afternoons, so we rarely end up having meals together and I certainly am not cooking daily major meals when we were in New Jersey.  I seem to be cooking a “real” meal we have together about twice a week.

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Teriyaki Chicken one day this past week fed us for a couple of days

One of the advantages of our eating habits is that I have lost some weight, which is a nice thing.  When I first moved to MN in 2005, I found a pair of Land’s End soft corduroy leggings (in essentially new condition) for $5.00 at the local Goodwill store.  (This was a nice Goodwill, where one could find brand-name, quality items.  Picked up some great, heavy sweaters there, too.)  Well, I wore the heck out of those leggings in MN and they kept me warm and comfy.  Gained a few pounds over the years and, although I could still wear them, they did not fit as well.  I hung on to them as they are of good quality and a rare find.  Guess what?  Had them on yesterday and they fit perfect again.  Boy, did they feel good and . . . well, just comfy.  Kept me nice and toasty all night while working.  Yay!

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View from the truck on patrol earlier this week

I got our chess set out yesterday and we had a game last night.  We had not played since one of our holidays to Cape May, so it had been several months, perhaps a year?  Seems like the first couple of games are a bit awkward until one gets back in the groove.  Dave taught me how to play when I spent the Winter of 2005/2006 with him in Scotland.  He really does excel at the game, but I have gotten to a point over the years of giving him a good match and even winning one now and then.  Long and short is, it’s not as much of a slaughter as it was when I was first learning.  Ha!  The set is on our dining table, ready whenever we are in the mood.

That reminds me . . . I had a good opening move when we were playing routinely.  I need to look that up on the Internet and see if I can find it again. 

As I’ve previously mentioned, we are running off our fresh tank here and using a macerator to dump our tanks due to the hook-up situation.  One of the perks at this location is a divine shower stall in the office suite we’re using.

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Haven’t measured it, but it is definitely a two-person shower, with room to spare

This is a huge, tiled shower compartment, which is a lovely change from the smaller shower in our RV.  Our RV’s hot water heater is good, and I’ve never had a problem with running out of hot water while shower, but, I tell ya, a leisurely, decadent warm/hot shower at the end of my shift at 2 AM feels really, really good!

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Maggie’s impression of a pillow sandwich

Our Maggie is one smart pup.  I dry her feet (and belly and face, when necessary) after being out in rain, snow (she does wear boots when needed), bringing her to me, turning her around facing away and lifting her up on her hind legs so I can dry the front ones, her “beard” and belly.  I’ll say, “Let’s do your feet.” or “Feet, Maggie.”  I make it a sort of fun time with lots of “silly talk” about her feet, her wee face, etc. 

Well a couple of months ago, when I picked up the towel and said, “Feet, Maggie,” she came over to me and turned around! It’s been the same ever since.  She’s one clever doggie, our Maggs, and quite the character.  She brings us so much pleasure, love and laughter.

Tomorrow is shopping day, so I’d best add a couple more items to my list.   Hope you’ve had a good weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Strolling the Square

This afternoon I had an appointment for a hair trim.  Yep, have been looking a bit shaggy the past few days.  After almost four years with the same stylist in New Jersey, going to a new stylist was a bit . . . traumatic.  Well, that first visit always is, eh?  Dave says it looks good, but my personal jury is still out.  We’ll see how it does tomorrow after washing tonight and the wee bit of styling I do with it.  I’ll also see how it does as it grows out.  I was somewhat amused listening to the women talk in the salon . . . man, I’m definitely in the South again!  One doesn’t hear those types of accents anywhere but the South.

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This evening’s sunset

I planned to arrive at the Square early prior to my appointment, as I needed to pick up my bracelet from the jewelers.  Yay!  The jeweler did an excellent job in resizing my bracelet, and I can now actually wear it without worry that the clasp will accidentally open or the bracelet will slip off my wrist from being too large.  I am quite pleased.

With a bit of time to spare, I walked the Square, popping into a few stores to nose around a bit.  This included Carolina Drug (drugstore), which indeed has a working fountain/grill.  Cool.  I can see getting a burger or shake there in the future.  There was also a clothing resale/consignment shop; didn’t get anything, but I always enjoy poking around in those types of places.  I have picked up some excellent items for quite the bargain at similar places in the past.

Dave had a bike ride and dinner is in the oven . . . a teriyaki chicken dish.  It’s about time for the first patrol of the night, so I’d best be toddling off for now.  Hope you’ve had a great day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wintry Weekend

Friday was pleasant, and I grilled burgers for us that evening.  Saturday, on the other hand, brought downright chilly weather with rain and wind throughout the entire day.  We made our patrol rounds and did a few things indoors, but in the afternoon the three of us (that’s including Maggie) snuggled up on the bed and watched a Netflix movie via our Roku streaming stick – perfect cozy interlude on a blustery, wet and chilly Saturday.  Today started off definitely chilly and windy; this evening the wind has dissipated, but temps will bottom out at around 30F.

Just to be on the safe side, Dave drained our water hose which is outside.  If you recall, we’re running off our fresh tank, and he uses the hose to top off our tank every few days.

Friday I ventured to downtown Darlington and the jewelry store on the square.  Last Christmas Dave gave me a lovely silver bracelet; however, the clasp was of poor design and kept coming open.  I had it changed out for more secure lobster-type clasp while still in New Jersey.  This resulted in added length to the bracelet, making it too large for my wrist . . . especially since I have lost about 7 pounds during/with our move here to South Carolina.  Having previously noted the independent jewelry store on the Square, I took my bracelet in to see what they could do.  Sure enough, the jeweler said it would be no problem to take out a section of the bracelet.  Yay!  Guess what?  He said he would attach a loop (?) to the section he removes in case I would like it as a pendant or charm.  Sweet.  I also wear three pendants on a silver chain . . . well, last week the chain broke.  Bummer.  The jeweler helped me pick out a similar chain, and I have that on order, too.  All this for an extremely reasonable price, and I’m supporting a local, independent business.  One of my aunts sent me an American Express gift card for my birthday and I’m putting it to good use.  Thanks, Linda! 

While on the Square, I ventured over to the Merle Norman studio, which also has a hair salon in it, and made an appointment for a cut next week.  Going to a new stylist is always a bit of a freak-out, but I’m hopeful this will be a positive experience.

That’s really about all that’s been happening.  It is very quiet here and, from a security standpoint, that’s a good thing! 

Thanks for stopping by!