Wednesday, March 30, 2016

It’s Wednesday, So It Must Be Cooking Day

Seems like our days off are just as busy as work days lately.

The weather cooperated and the planets aligned, so Dave was able to get in a couple of hours of much-need bike time, a mental health break for him.  I got our laundry done, did some vacuuming and other little chores while he was gone.  Once he returned, we ventured out to run an errand and get groceries.  Next up, it was time for dinner, and I admit I was ready to eat after hustling about most of the day.  Home-cooked burgers and home fries hit the spot.  With us and Maggie fed, it was finally time to chill out a bit. 

We caught up on Bates Motel and then started watching the second season of Happy Valley, both on Netflix.  Whew!  There’s so much going on in Happy Valley this season!  Often gritty and never pulling punches, Happy Valley is another excellent British crime drama. 

Interestingly, there are two actors from Downton Abbey in Happy Valley.  You may remember Siobhan Finneran as character O’Brien and Thomas Barrow’s ally in the early days of Downton.  Season 2 sees a character portrayed by actor Kevin Doyle, aka “Molesley” in Downtown

With errands (all of them for this weekend) and chores (well, all the ones I’m doing this weekend) done and the weather being gloomy, it’s the kind of day to just be at home.  That must mean it’s a cooking day.  I like to have at least one main dish, such as a casserole or pot of soup, prepared for Dave’s meals (so he has something decent to take to work for at least most of the week) once our work week kicks in again on Thursdays. 

Yes, I’m here during the week but also working, so there’s not really a lot of time to spend putzing around in the kitchen.

A bright spot in my week was a pleasant, catch-up phone chat with friend Phyllis.  She and husband Len are also full-timers.  We actually met in person a few years ago when they boondocked in the parking lot of the mill up in Jersey (where we were working as a security team).  They are back in Texas for a bit.  We weren’t able to hook up for an in-person visit this time, but at least Phyllis and I had a fun phone call; it was good to hear her voice and trade some stories and laughter.  You can follow their adventures over at My Own Highways in My Mind.

We haven’t heard word on the truck yet, but I’m really not expecting anything until tomorrow or perhaps late this afternoon at the earliest.

With all this talk of food and cooking, I’m getting a bit hungry.  Think I’ll walk a few steps into the kitchen and get a lazy day off late breakfast.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Well, That Was Exciting

Dave reported the Check Engine light on the truck was on while he was going to work Friday.  Same thing was happening on the return trip, and I took a look before he turned off the engine upon arrival home.  I had already talked with College Station Ford, and was told I could bring it in the next day (Saturday) for a code check.  Took Dave to work yesterday (also Saturday) and then stopped in at the Ford place.  We had also been noticing a “moan” when the truck was at low speeds, so asked them to see what was up with that, too.

After about an hour, the Joe (the tech) came back with the verdict.  Here’s the condensed version.  The Check Engine light was due to a code P1335, which is failure of the EGR valve.  This has to do with supplying air to the cooling system and engine.  The “moan” was the power steering pump beginning to fail.  Complete failure of that, of course, would affect steering and even brakes.  They also found that the 4x4 axle seals need replacement.

I think I must have asked Alan (service rep) if I needed to sit down about a dozen times while he was working up the estimate.  He first said, “Probably,” and when done said, “Maybe. Come take a look.”  It is definitely four figures, but better than I anticipated.  Of course, labor is the major part.  According to Joe, they have the parts on hand and can begin work Monday.  We’re looking at possibly Wednesday or Thursday for completion of the work.

One of my numerous questions was about drivability.  After talking with Joe a bit, we agreed the safest thing to do was to leave the truck there.  (I think he and Alan were relieved I decided to not drive it.)  While the truck might have been fine (and it wasn’t acting strange, at all) either of the first two items could completely fail without warning at any time and . . . well . . . the least would be towing charges and the worst could be disastrous.

So.  I needed wheels.

Saturday afternoon after 3 PM, and these guys are working overtime with me.  The dealership’s rental cars were all out, so Alan called around to see if a rental place was open.  No luck on a Saturday afternoon with the exception of the airport.

Great.  Rental agencies at the airport, I just have to get there.  How in the world am I gonna get to the airport?

Turns out . . . Joe will take me!

I was told to take my time and get anything out of the truck we might need.  Dave’s work hat.  Check.  His tennis shoes.  Check.  My phone charger.  Check.  Alan found a plastic bag for the shoes and hat.  One parting pat and reassuring words to Truck and I hopped in Joe’s truck for the airport trip.

At this point, I have to say thanks so much to Alan and Joe for going above and beyond, especially after hours.  I guess I must have had that “deer in the headlights” look a bit, but these two guys were great and really stepped up to assist me in a predicament.

The airport is small and the rental car counters are right at the main entrance.  I stopped first at the Hertz counter and the gal there was really very sweet; however, I wanted to check out the others for price and vehicle comparison.  At this point, a few bucks here and there do count.  Chase at the Avis counter gave the best deal on a small car (no, I don’t need a Lincoln Town Car, thanks other agency – not Hertz, but another).  He was friendly, helpful and patient.  I hadn’t rented a car in several years and was still in a bit of shock over the truck.

Before long, I was making my way out to the lot and a blue Ford Focus.

Ford Focus Rental 03262016

Our ride for the next few days

Good heavens.  Missed Truck as soon as I got into this wee spaceship.  Took me several minutes to orient myself to controls, etc.   Made it home safe and sound.  Tired, mostly mentally but physically a bit, too.

Worked until 10:30 PM, at which time I headed off  to pick up Dave from work.  Found out the Focus has a backup camera.  Hahahaha!  A backup camera for this wee bit of a car?  Seriously?  Too funny.

I’ll be taking Dave to and from work while we have the rental.  No biggie, as I’m up when he gets home at night anyway.  Just rearrange my work schedule a bit.

Our bank account is not at all pleased about these repairs, but this is Life.  Our truck is our lifeline for work, Life and moving our home.  We have to keep it in safe working condition.

I’ll say, too, that in the seven years we have had Truck, it has never left us on the side of the road.  Good Truck.  Good Truck!  It has taken us and our home so many miles, up and down mountains, across flat prairies, through slush and snow with like a faithful horse.  We want to keep it that way, so we spend the bucks to make it right again.

We’re both tired these days and slept until almost 10 AM.  Of course, lights out was around 2:30 this morning.  I’ve made salmon patties, wild rice and broccoli with cauliflower for Dave’s meal at work and for my dinner later.  I’m thinking leftovers tomorrow.  That’s a good thing.

Won’t be long until I boogie off to take Dave to work.  Then it’s back here for a few housekeeping items, pay some bills and go to work myself.

Whew.  I’m looking forward to our “Friday night” tomorrow night!

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pleasant Week Until . . .

As you know, I telecommute as a virtual assistant and currently have two clients.  One of those clients is also a full-time RVer and Montana fifth-wheel owner!  Kate, Dave (yes another Dave), Buddy and Chaser (B & C are their joyous Blue Heelers) arrived last Thursday and were here until this past Wednesday.  You might enjoy their blog, Taking the Fifth.  I do!

Kate and Dave Montana 03232016

Kate and Dave’s rig

Theirs is a 2004 front living room model; I didn’t realize that floorplan was available earlier, as it seems to have become popular again in the recent couple of years.  At any rate, it was pretty nifty!  It’s always fun to see inside someone else’s rig, especially full-timers and those with a Montana they call home.  It was also cool for Kate and I to see “where it all happens,” I.e., our workstation setups.

Kate and Betty 03232016

Me and Kate – How fun to meet in person!

Kate’s company is TypeWell, which provides training and software to professionals engaged in closed-captioning (speech-to-text) transcription.  “What the heck is that?,” you ask.  Here’s a description from the TypeWell site:

“How Does TypeWell Work?

A trained TypeWell transcriber synthesizes the essence of the discussion and captures it using advanced abbreviation software. The recipient simultaneously sees the transcript using a standard Web browser on a mobile device, such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or e-reader.

A TypeWell transcript can be easily printed or saved for later reference as a study tool or meeting documentation.”

Is that cool and amazing, or what?  Well, of course it is, because Kate is cool and amazing!  So are Dave (her Dave . . . my Dave is also cool and amazing, but you knew that) and the pups, I might add.

I’ll also add that the profession of TypeWell transcriber would fit nicely with the full-time RV lifestyle.  Yes, speech-to-text services are needed all over the country!  You can click here to learn more about training.

“Funny” how I used to be a medical transcriptionist and have ended up involved in transcription, but of a different sort. (I’m not a transcriber, but am Kate’s assistant.)  Yep, that’s the way my world and life go.

My college roommate was a Deaf Education major, and taught me ASL (American Sign Language)during our time together.  “Funny” there, too, eh?  I used to be decently understandable/coherent with signing, but have forgotten most of it over the years.  That was a wee while ago, mind you.

While the temperatures have been comfortable for about a week, the past three days have been windy.  I mean windy to the point of it being unpleasant to be outdoors.  Ugh.  Our two days off this week were spent mostly inside.  We didn’t venture out anywhere except to H.E.B. for groceries.  Wednesday was spent doing laundry and then cooking the rest of the day.  We watched quite a bit of TV and dozed in our recliners a bit.  Unfortunately, it was too windy for Dave to cycle; to do so would have actually been hazardous.

Now the unpleasant part of our “weekend.”  I received alerts that someone was shopping with Dave’s debit card number at an Academy store in Houston to the tune of a couple hundred dollars’ worth of goodies.  Freaked me out and pissed me off.  The card itself was in our possession; only the number/info had been used in this fraud/theft.  As a result, I’ve been working with the bank to get this resolved.  I hope the Blue Bird of Karma visits these jerks (there are other descriptive terms I’d like to use, but I’ve exercised restraint here.)  Soon.  Repeatedly.  I also hope they tried to use it again and found out it had been cancelled.  Thank goodness for alert messages.

I do miss the world in which I grew up . . .

Ah well. 

Moving along, there is a wee home improvement project on the horizon.  I’m hoping to at least get started on it in the next few days.  Nothing major, but it will be an improvement and a bit of a project.

So now it’s almost time for Dave to leave for work and I have work to do yay! once he leaves, including a 2 PM phone meeting.  Better skedaddle!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

We Sure Got a Lot Done

We’re on the down side of our weekend, nicely tired from having a productive two days off.  Dave started yesterday (Tuesday) with a morning bike ride and, when he returned, we tackled washing the rig.  He began with the roof.  Man, you should have seen the dirty water pouring down the sides!  Once finished we teamed up to do the rest of our home.  I tell ya, we were tired afterwards.  We then splurged on carry-out pizza and spent the evening watching the election returns on TV.

Post wash street side 03162016

The grass had gotten pretty out of control with recent rains, warm weather and then sunshine.  The yard service wasn’t scheduled to come until Thursday, but the owner/manager brought in his own mower and mowed quite a bit of the section here up front.  What a relief!  We really appreciated that.  That “we” includes Maggie, too.  It was getting to be quite a jungle for her.

Post wash 03162016

Today started much like yesterday with Dave off for a 40-mile ride.  I decided to do what laundry there was in the hamper, as there’s rain in the forecast starting tonight.  After that, I boogied outta here and landed at Target. 

We are in a humid climate, and it will be both hot and humid before long.  I had seen reviews both from RVers and “regular” purchasers of the Eva-Dry countertop units, and this is what I was after.  Target was supposed to have them in stock.

Dehumidifier 03162016

And so they did!  There were two, actually, so I brought this puppy home.  It sits about 8.5” tall, just the right size for countertop placement.  With its size, I can put it in the bathroom, bedroom or here in the kitchen/living area.  It is indeed whisper-quiet.  It think I’m going to like it! 

Next stop was H.E.B. for our week’s worth of provisions.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the two days I have access to our truck; if I’m going to run any errands, those are the days.

After putting everything away, we were back outside to clean the exterior windows.  They ended up being a bit streaked from yesterday’s bathing of the rig.  Thanks so much to my hubby for working so hard on our home on his two days off!  We’re now all clean, inside and out.  Yay!

The yard service showed up today, probably because of the rain forecast which is supposed to kick in tonight.  They mowed the rest of the park and did the edging and trimming around our site.  Of course, that meant more grass clippings to be swept off our patio and parking spot.  They do come around and blow everything, but I always do a more thorough sweeping.

One long-term forecast model has us in store for a pretty darn hot summer, so anything we can do (I.e., dehumidifier) to make it cooler and more comfortable inside is imperative.  We’ll also get to Lowe’s before long for insulation panels like we used for skirting in New Jersey.  The street side of our rig gets direct sun pretty much all day, so we’ll put up panels in the windows on that side.  The panels, the dehumidifier, the LED lights and the dark curtains I put up while in NJ should all help keep it more tolerable in here.

I hope.

For now, however, we enjoyed two days of nice weather and, although there may be a bit of rain, we are to be treated to more seasonable temperatures back in the 70s for a wee while.

I’m good with that.

There are quite a few work emails awaiting my attention tomorrow, so I’ll be hitting the ground running again.  This lull has been a productive time, but I’m looking my usual full days of assisting my clients.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rare Sunday Evening Post

Work has been quiet this weekend, so I have taken advantage of the lull to do some major Spring cleaning.  We’re talkin’ mini blinds, cabinets, vents, inside closets, walls, fixtures, etc.  Not just the usual routine dusting and so forth, but the cleaning I’ve been wanting to do ever since we left the funkiness of South Carolina and the other park here in Bryan where we stayed for a month.  Yes, I’ve been doing the “lightweight” usual housecleaning, but not this nitty-gritty stuff on a deeper level.  Seems like I’ve been working a lot; well, not just seems like it, but I have.  Our days off together have seen us running errands or simply just crashing – watching movies, napping in our recliners, etc.

So, I’ve been going with the flow – workflow, that is – and using this lull to tackle these things.  Today was a wee grocery run before Dave left with the truck, then laundry, changing out the bed linens, feeding/walking Maggie followed by dinner for me.  Just took a chicken noodle casserole out of the oven for meals over the next couple of days.

It’s been a bit busier here in the park recently.  This is a popular stopping spot with several return guests.  We’ve been here since November, and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with a few “regulars” even in that short period of time.

I guess that’s a short period of time.  This week will mark four months we’ve been here.  Yoinks!

I’ll confess . . . I’m sometimes in a bit of a funk about our present situation.  We both have said, “If only we’d taken the Massachusetts assignment when it was offered . . .”  At that time, however, it really did look like we were on track to be in NJ another few years.  We didn’t see the advantage in going more north since we were content where we were.  If we had . . . we’d still be making great money doing the security work we enjoy in surroundings which suit us better than where we are now. 

But . . . one can drive oneself nuts and make oneself miserable thinking about the “if only’s.” 

Don’t get me wrong.  Really.  I am grateful for the work we have, that we landed in a nice park and that we are hanging in.

I’m grateful for all the memories we made while in New Jersey.  We worked hard, had adventures, adapted to Mother Nature’s whims and had ourselves some fun!

I have always been one to look on the positive side of things and I still do, it’s just that sometimes . . .

Ah well. 

You know what, though? 

Life is guid!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

February 10th, Really?

Well, I’m just about falling off the grid when it comes to blogging.  Once again it’s a record time in between posts, this time being almost a month.

Our days (and weeks) seem to pass by in somewhat of a blur.  I find myself occasionally stopping to ask myself, “What day is today?”  Crazy.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Our weekends are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Dave is still working at Walmart, really being “one of the gang” on his crew and even one of the long-timers by comparison.  I continue with my telecommuting as a virtual assistant and still enjoying that.  Our days and evenings are full, making the time we spend together before and after work (and our weekends) more special. 

Dave is now a fully permanent employee, so we’ve enrolled in health benefits and he is now accruing vacation time, although he won’t be eligible to take any time off until next year.  The health insurance is sort of a good thing and not so good thing.  A bit more expensive, but we’re now in a PPO vs. an HMO (via the Exchange) and there are some nice aspects of the plan we’re in.  It’s a bit scary . . . giving up some of our independence, so to speak.

One thing about this location; it is windy at least 9 days out of 10.  It’s reasonably flat here and quite open and, hey, it is Texas . . . so it’s windy. 

We’ve had a few warm days already, and I am really, really not looking forward to the summer months.  Mr. Sun hits the driver side of our RV all day; we’ll get to Lowe’s for some of the insulation panels we used to skirt the rig in Jersey, cut it to size and put it up on our big windows on that side.  Long before temps heat up.  I’m really only talking the side-facing windows in the slide-out on the street side.  There’s a small section of the big window that opens, so we’ll not cover that up.  Yes, it will make it darker in here, but that’s the idea.  Darker = cooler.  The door side of the rig is in shade all day.

Did I mention that we have changed out our interior lights to LED?  That’s excepting a couple of wall lamps.  The others that we use regularly are done.  I like the quality of the light much better and those puppies sure are a lot cooler, not to mention more energy-efficient.  Even though we don’t pay separately for electricity here, increased energy efficiency is a plus.

All that being said, I may be establishing my own private nudist camp in here during the hot summer months.  Well, not totally.  How about semi-clothed camp?  Ha!  And lots of quick cold showers.

The weather for our “weekend” (yesterday and today) this week has been pretty icky with nonstop rain.  So much for washing the rig again this week.  I did get out during a lull yesterday and headed to Office Depot in College Station.

Desk chair 03082016

A bit hard to tell from the photo, but that’s an ergonomic desk chair.  After snooping around on the internet, I found this model at Office Depot at a greatly reduced price.  I tested the display model, really liked it and was lucky enough to get the last one that was boxed.  Yay me!  I had an ergonomic chair prior to our full-timing in 2010; I sold it, as our rig had no desk and I didn’t need it any longer.  Well, now I have a desk and am spending quite a few hours each week working.  So.  Chair.  There are adjustments for height, seat tilt and lumbar adjustment and the armrests are height-adjustable.  I like it a lot so far.  I’ve always like the mesh-backed chairs, as they stay cooler and really are more comfy.

Maggie 03082016

What else to do on a rainy day?

One other item I picked up at Office Depot was something for Dave’s cycling documentation.  At this point, he doesn’t have a proper desk, but uses a small computer table that is just big enough for his laptop and nothing else.  He keeps stats on his cycling, so his “stuff” was ending up on the floor beside his recliner.  Ugh. 

Dave holder 03082016

Now everything is tidy and handy for him to use.  It looks neater in his area and the hassle of moving all this stuff every time I vacuum is eliminated. 

Every now and then, actually just about every week lately, I go through another drawer, another cabinet, take a sweep through the closet . . . and am sorting through/organizing items with the result that some go out the door. 

Seems I am feeling burdened by too much stuff these days.  From 2011 up until last October, we had an office at our work locations.  We could spread out a bit, and we acquired some items that were necessary in our line of work, including heavy clothing and outerwear for the harsh winter conditions in New Jersey.  Our lifestyle has changed, we no longer have an office and, at least for the foreseeable future, we certainly are not experiencing harsh winter weather here in Texas.  Being outdoors was an integral part of our security jobs, and that is no longer the case.

That being said, I can’t (yet) bring myself to toss out expensive insulated overalls, heavy outwear and other items for extreme weather conditions.  Heck, most of those items weren’t cheap and I have worn/used them now and then even in our new way of life. 

Maybe it’s just the onset of Spring.  I’ve even measured living room furniture and our space in here with the thought of rearranging our furniture configuration. 

My measuring tape says that ain’t gonna happen.

I look at what folks are doing to their interiors on some social media groups and . . . sigh.  Oh well.  Ours is comfy and not disgusting . . . just not “spiffy” like some I see.  Of course, I wonder about the added weight of some of the furniture additions these folks make and I’m really not into painting the walls or cabinets in here.

I also wonder how folks keep the interior of their RVs looking like a showplace.  Really?  Do they actually live there?  Do they put the toaster away somewhere when not actually using it?  Do they realize the added weight of that wood wine cabinet and all those bottles of wine?  Perhaps it makes a difference that we eat at home all the time and that we are still working vs. being retired.

Ah well.  In the meantime, I did pick up a new comforter for the daybed that ties in better with the colors we have going on and a new doormat that does the same.  Whoohoo!  I’m glad I put in curtains while in NJ and that we have changed over to LED lighting.  Those things help.

Still . . . I’d love to be the winner on a program “Redo My RV Interior.”  Ha!

No, I don’t want a new rig.  I like ours and there’s nothing wrong with it.  I’d just like to do something with the inside.  Hence, new comforter, new doormat, etc.  Little things can make a world of difference.

But . . .

If you hear of a program like “Redo My RV Interior,” let me know.  I just might apply!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!