the end of a journey

Sometimes the journey has a way of changing directions that are unexpected and one does not usually have the opportunity to plan for those changed directions.  Such has been the case for me.  As you know the time I spent in an RV with a dog and a camera came to a end a year ago this month.

These four images are all of the same flower using different techniques. I did them all inside where I could complete them without dying from heat exhaustion!

My life has become very different from what it had been and I really wasn’t prepared for all those changes.  I planned on staying in the North Carolina mountains for a few years and never dreamed of moving back to Tucson even though I’ve loved the desert.  Yet here I am in Tucson having done a full circle (Tucson to Costa Rica to Florida to North Carolina to Tucson).  My expectation was that driving around the country in an RV would afford me the opportunity to find my “place” in this great country of ours and move there permanently; that didn’t happen.  But I’ve been blessed with some great friends who were willing to step up and help me in all sorts of ways, some most unexpectedly, most beyond the call of duty.   

Picasso and I are doing well enough in our Tucson apartment.  While life is certainly different here compared to North Carolina, we have adjusted.  There have been times when the heat in Tucson has been unbearable (three days straight of 117 degrees!) and I find myself looking at the photos I took of winter in North Carolina to cool down.  It helps!  Picasso, who hated the heat in Florida, seems to be managing much better here.  Evidently it’s the humidity that does him in even more than the heat.  When we go for a walk I allow him to lead us for the most part so he can decide how much of a walk he can handle and where he wants to go.  He knows all the paths that keep him off the blacktop and how to find and stay in the shade.  

I’m not sure how this new life with this new normal would have been for me without Picasso.  Dogs are truly amazing creatures.  He does a great job of taking care of me, even making sure I get some exercise every day as he walks me!  He has been my very special buddy during this time never once complaining about those days when I clearly can not give him the attention he deserves.  

It is now time for me to end this blog.  As you probably have noticed I’ve not done much writing since the accident.  My photography has likewise become more limited although easier to accomplish than writing.  Between the heat and my limited driving I have found my motivation for photography to be lacking.  Hopefully that will change once it gets a little less inferno-like outside!  (As I write this on the 11th of September it is 105 degrees!).

Thank you for being with me on my journey and sharing in my dreams.  It was so nice for me to have you with me as I searched for and found my RV, moved into it and finally got on the road.  Your encouragement was wonderful!  It was a time of excitement as I set forth to follow my dream and succeeded.  It taught me that no dream, no matter how insane others might find it, is impossible.  Whenever I needed help, help seemed to appear.  

The feeling of freedom I felt while challenging myself was amazing to me.  Not just the freedom of doing a road trip but also the freedom I felt when I crashed through those crazy limitations my mind often put in my way.  I learned that if something happens to change the dreams, mourn the loss then move forward to the next dream as soon as possible.  Life is too short to mourn for any length of time.  

It is with great love and gratitude that I now say my farewell to you, my friends, old and new.  Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart!

As a final note, this whole blog will be taken down off the internet in five days as I’m not going to renew the domain name.  So you see, it really is the end!

© 2017 deborah kauffeld

…and just like that – KABOOM!!!

It was the fourth of April, a beautiful spring day, and I decided to take a ride to town to finally go to the Division of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license and then register my car.  I had three days to spare before my registration from Florida expired so time was of the essence.

Top down, visor on, enjoying the day when all of a sudden…

The white Ford 150 in front of me stopped for a left hand turn into a parking lot.  I stopped behind him with plenty of room to spare.  The guy behind me in a red Toyota pick-up failed to slow down and slammed into me – TWICE – at 30 MPH, pushing me into the truck in front of me.  I immediately knew that it wasn’t a good thing for my car but was less sure about myself since there were no obvious issues.  Yeah, I was sore but nothing broken.

No damage at all to the truck in front of me, thankfully.

No damage at all to the truck in front of me, thankfully.  It is hard to see the ball hitch since it is hidden in the shadow.  

 

It doesn't look all that bad from behind, does it?

It doesn’t look all that bad from behind, does it?  The bumper, bumper cover, back-up sensors and trunk lid had to be replaced along with a bunch of hidden parts.  

 

So sad!  That ball hitch sure caused a whole lot of damage.

So sad! That ball hitch sure caused a whole lot of damage.

 

And  you should've seen the other guy!  Totally most likely.

You should’ve seen the other guy! Totaled most likely.

An officer was there immediately to ask me if I was okay and then asked me to drive into the parking lot, the same one the man in front of me was heading for when this whole thing started.  It turned out that the officer actually witnessed the whole accident and even videoed it, something I figured would clearly be in my favor. Unfortunately the truck in front had one of those ball hitches on the back of his truck which impaled my poor little car, effectively killing the front bumper, grill, radiator and a bunch of associated parts.  Thankfully, the air bags didn’t deploy.  The officer told me my car was not drivable.  A little while later my car was yet again on the back of a flat bed tow truck, the third time since moving to North Carolina.

Maybe my car is just lazy and likes to be driven around!

Maybe my car is just lazy and likes to be driven around!  She’s a DIVA CAR!!!  Note that the top is still down!

Three days after the accident I realized I wasn’t really okay and went to the ER where I was diagnosed as having blunt force trauma to the abdomen as well as post concussion syndrome (PCS), the diagnosis given after one has had a concussion and the symptoms haven’t abated within 72 hours.

It is now five weeks since the accident.  I have been to my primary care physician twice as well as a neurologist.  The neurologist confirmed my PCS diagnosis, added vertigo to the mix and has set me up for an EEG this week.  Hopefully there’s something left in there for them to measure!

I have all sorts of cognitive symptoms at this point.  I’m not going to elaborate since I don’t want anything taken out of context.  I’m not happy that I still have symptoms and I hope they go away.  The neurologist is hopeful but acknowledged that there is also a chance that there will be no improvement.  Bottom line is there is no way of knowing now.

At this point I’d say I’m about 60-75% optimistic that I’ll be good enough in a while, potentially a while longer than I’d like.  But then there’s that other 25-40% of the time when I’m overtired or have just overdone it in some manner or just plain frustrated.  It’s those moments when I feel like my life has been taken out of my hands and I’ll never get back to where I was the morning of April 4th, prior to the accident.  I fear I may not get better and the issues I’m now having will interfere with the writing I had been doing every morning before the concussion.  I keep expecting the symptoms to ease up.  So far they haven’t.

I waited to write this post, hoping I’d have some kind of better news to share but it has already been too long without my sharing so here I am.  For the most part I’ve done okay enough with my mood.  At first I was sure I was more or less okay until the symptoms started to ramp up in intensity.  The day I went to the ER my whole front right side was so sore I could barely move.  The seatbelt, while doing its job, must have dug into my right side and caused some real muscular contusions.  The adrenaline that kept me going right after the accident has now been replaced with something else.  I’m terribly disappointed that I hardly got myself back on track after mom’s passing when I find myself derailed again.  As I said before, I’m also scared.

Like you've never seen this view before (from my RV window) but you've not seen it in spring yet!  You can see one of the four barrels I planted with flowers, herbs and tomato plants.

Like you’ve never seen this view before (from my RV window) but you’ve not seen it in spring yet! You can see one of the four barrels I planted with flowers, herbs and tomato plants.  Things sure did get green!

I have managed to get some photos of spring.  It really has been beautiful but more of that in my next post.  I will say that each of the seasons I’ve experienced so far (fall, winter and spring) have been extraordinarily different.  Surprisingly, my favorite season at this point has been winter.  Why is that a surprise?  Winter was always my least favorite season.  Spring was my second favorite season but it has been booted to third place with autumn now coming in second.  I suspect that summer will remain in last place since I’m not really a fan of the heat.  Things really can change.

Home again!  All fixed good as new.  Well, almost!

Home again! All fixed good as new. Well, almost!

I’ve gotten my car back after over three weeks spent at the body shop and nearly $7000 worth of repairs.  I suppose one good thing to come out of it is finding that the guys there were surprised to see how well my car held up in the accident, calling it “over engineered” (referring to what they told me was more of a truck bumper as opposed to a normal car bumper) and a “brick sh*t house”!  Thankfully the other insurance company already accepted liability.  I neglected to mention that the guy who hit me was cited for failing to slow down.  My “repairs” (doctor bills) are not initially covered by the other insurance company so everything is out of pocket for now after my insurance pays their share.  I’ve already received bills that I have no way of paying right now.  I receive no money for them until a final settlement is reached and who knows when that will be.

Okay, funny stuff – my car has been on the back of a tow truck three times, my car has spent seven weeks away from home being repaired in one way or another (spending time at one dealer and two body shops), I have now had a total of six different vehicles in my driveway (my car, four rentals and my original RV) and my car’s rear bumper and backup sensors were replaced less than a month prior to having to get them replaced all over again…all since I moved here!  I’m starting to think my car believes that getting repaired is vacation time!

Well, I guess that’s about it for now.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon but if not, at least now you know why I’ve been missing!

[A week has passed since I originally wrote this post and I am very slightly better.  Still not close to normal but at this point movement in a positive direction is better than none at all!]

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

one year

On February 26, 2015 Picasso and I did something totally crazy – we moved into an RV to live in full-time.  It’s been a whole year since!  Happy anniversary to us both!

 

Moving out of our apartment.

Moving out of our apartment.

 

Empty!

Empty!

So much has happened in the one year since I’ve been living on wheels.  Notice I didn’t say “on the road” since that wouldn’t be exactly correct!  Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to review some of the things I’ve learned this last year.

 

It is hard to appreciate the difference in size between the two RV's in this photo but there is no comparison!

It is hard to appreciate the difference in size between the two RV’s in this photo but there is no comparison!

 

There is a huge difference between a Class C RV (what I started out with) and a fifth wheel (my current abode).  Now that I’m in the fifth wheel I can hardly believe I was thinking I could live in the much smaller Class C and be happy.  Let’s put it this way – I could NEVER go back!  Of course that brings up another issue – I’m no longer mobile, at least not without someone’s help.  That’s kind of a mixed blessing I suppose.

 

My first view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I sighed, "I'm home!"  Little did I know how right I was when I said that!

My first view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I sighed, “I’m home!” Little did I know how right I was when I said that!

 

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

 

RV number 1 in NC!

RV number 1 in NC!

 

While I cannot pull a fifth wheel with my little, itty, bitty Fiat I realize that this is actually okay.  Turns out I never realized just how little stress I can handle these days and driving a behemoth is more than just a little stressful as is moving every few weeks.  Now for some of you that wouldn’t be an issue but I have learned that I’m much better not having that extra stress on me.  Am I disappointed?  Well, yes and no I suppose.  The plan certainly was to move every month or so and find a new place to explore.  I also expected to be able to travel easily across the country, seeing places I’ve never seen as well as visiting friends from places I’ve spent a whole lot of time in.  While I wish sometimes that was still the case, for the most part I’m really good with it not happening since it really did take a huge toll on me.  It wasn’t until I started to push myself that I started to more easily see my limits.  That’s a good thing since it allows me to take better care of me!

 

The first time towing my Fiat.

The first time towing my Fiat.

 

The second time towing my car.

The second time towing my car.

 

On the other hand, how the hell did I end up in North Carolina?  I have to admit to marveling at that!  I was just on my way up to visit my family for a month when my car broke down and left me with way too much time to fall in love with these Appalachian mountains and the people who inhabit those mountains.  I knew I wanted to consider living here over the summer but I honestly expected to be heading back to Florida for the winters.  Living here full-time was not something I was even considering, especially in an RV.  They aren’t exactly known for their insulation!

 

Sitting in the fog!  It didn't occur to me how often we'd end up with fog here but with the stream in back I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

Sitting in the fog! It didn’t occur to me how often we’d end up with fog here but with the stream in back I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

 

Winter is officially 2/3’s over and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to have wintered here.  Has it gotten cold?  Yep, but it has also been really beautiful, too.  It’s also been far more expensive to winter here than I ever would’ve expected.  Between the things I needed to winterize the RV, me and Picasso I spent a small fortune.  Remember, I had NOTHING in the way of things of warmth and had to buy just about everything!  My first month’s bill for propane alone was nearly $500!  That included the tank rental, installation and propane as well as some other charges.  Not in my budget, that’s for sure!

But living here for the winter gave me something far more unexpected.  Mom had an exacerbation of her COPD just after this past Christmas and died not even a month after that.  Living here has given me a place to cocoon as I heal and mend and just get my energy back.  On nice days we go out and walk around the RV park.  On real wintery days we just hang out inside the RV, safe and warm.  I’ve felt extremely cared for in my humble abode.  I’ve been alone in the park for the most part although there is someone here now but I’ve not even met him yet so I can remain as unsocial as I would like at this point.  Jim the owner of the park either comes down to check on me every so often or emails me.  My journey hasn’t been easy and this has given me a place to unwind it all in safety.  I’m content and perhaps that’s one of my biggest surprises – being content while doing so little!

 

This is a photo from my friend Juan in Costa Rica.  I feel as content and peaceful as this photo!

This is a photo taken by my friend Juan in Costa Rica. I feel as content and peaceful as this photo!

 

I’ve also learned that I’m not a friend of stink bugs.  Those little buggers continue to make their way into my RV on a very routine basis but I’m happy to say that so far I’ve not had a run in with their stinky side!

In the short time I’ve already been here in NC I’ve come to realize just how very much I’ve come to miss having four distinct seasons.  Tucson, Costa Rica and Florida are not known for their seasons.  It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time I experienced them.  Winter, my least favorite season while living in NJ, has come to be a good friend down here, particularly since this was not a terribly cold winter I suppose.  When I lived in Tucson I remember going to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale.  Of all the things I saw and learned there the one that has stuck with me the most was how he believed when you entered a home it should be more compressed (lower ceiling, smaller room).  Then, as you enter the living area of the home it should suddenly open up (higher ceiling and more expansive overall).  By doing so, one’s energy is compressed then allowed to sort of explode into the main living area, sort of like going through a tunnel into an exceptionally beautiful. open area.  It is all about the contrast.  This is what winter is like to me.  It is a compressing season which then opens up into spring and the new life one experiences in that season.  I remember how much I’ve loved spring and cannot wait to experience it again!  I’m pretty sure I’ve picked a truly beautiful place to experience that explosion into life!

 

I've shared this photo of my son Kris and mom before but I wanted to do so again here.  It was taken a week prior to her death.

I’ve shared this photo of my son Kris and mom before but I wanted to do so again here. It was taken a week prior to her death.

 

The timing of this is not lost on me either!  Mom passed right in the middle of winter.  I naturally have pulled inward as both the situation and season would dictate and I feel certain that when spring approaches I’ll be ready to expand into the beauty of the season and back into life.

I’ve been thrilled that you have been with me this year.  It hasn’t been a easy one in so many ways and I don’t know how I would’ve made it through without all the support I’ve gotten.  Thank you so much and now on to year two!

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

welcome to our home!

Yesterday was housecleaning day.  Somewhere along the line I realized this was actually the first time I’ve really cleaned.  Yes, I’ve swiped or vacuumed but this was the first front to back, top to bottom cleaning and I’ve been in this RV over two months already!  Yikes!  No wonder I could easily write in the dust!  But then I realized something else – yesterday was the first time I had everything completely in its place and organized since I moved in which is why I never got around to doing the whole photo thing.

There was a trip to Indiana immediately after moving into the RV as well as three trips back and forth to Florida and the time afterwards to recover.  I’m not as young as I used to be!  And then there were all the phone calls starting just after Christmas as mom began her final descent.  Yeah, all that to say that things have been just a little busy around here!  Oh, and I had to find homes for all the things I brought home from mom!  So, no surprise that I’m just getting to this now!

Okay, so having said all that, I owe you, my lovely readers, some photos of the new abode!  So here we go with narratives to go with each photo!  Welcome to our home!  Oh, and you might quickly notice that for me, it’s all about the view!

 

The view of the sofa with air mattress as you enter the RV..

The view of the sofa with air mattress as you enter the RV.  Picasso’s treat ball is easily in reach on the couch!  Hanging off of the cabinet handles above the couch and desk are chimes my mom gave to me.  The clapper is actually a piece of crystal and there are five different sized rods inside that make different tones when struck by the clapper.  

 

The front and only door into the RV.  There is a coat closet to the left in the photo with Picasso's rain jacket hanging off of the door knob!

The front and only door into the RV. There is a coat closet to the left in the photo with Picasso’s rain jacket hanging off of the door knob!  The first step down is inside the RV with the others outside the door.  When it is really cold I keep that opening covered to try to keep the draft down a bit.  And then there was the day I opened to door with the covering still on and, for some reason, decided I could step on it!  I could’ve really hurt myself but, thankfully, didn’t!  I doubt that I’d ever do that again!

 

Overview of kitchen.  Lots of counter space for an RV!

Overview of kitchen. Lots of counter space for an RV!

 

Love that I can keep my mixer out on the counter!  Probably the only way I would have brought it on the RV.

Love that I can keep my mixer out on the counter! Probably the only way I would have brought it on the RV.  The jars behind the sink are to grow herbs indoors during the winter months.  I still have hope for two of the three of them but I started them at the wrong time since I ended up spending weeks away from them while in Florida.

 

Knife rack behind the stove.  I have another rack that a hold more knives but I left them in storage and just took what was most important to me.

Knife rack behind the stove. I have another rack that would hold more knives but I left the rest in storage and just took what was most important to me.  The glowy thing on the toaster over is my essential oil diffuser.

 

Christmas in February!  Someone needs to change towels!

Christmas in February! Someone needs to change towels!

 

Picasso's favorite towel.  When he gets excited, usually because I've finally decided to feed him, he yanks the towel off the bar and flings it in gleeful excitement.  Now you know why he has his own towel!

Picasso’s favorite towel. When he gets excited, usually because I’ve finally decided to feed him, he yanks the towel off the bar and flings it in gleeful excitement. Now you know why he has his own towel!

 

My work space at night.

My work space at night.  The chimes are a bit more clear in this photo.

 

My printer on top of my wooden crate bookcase.  The printer is currently doing double duty as a card holder for now!

The printer on top of my wooden crate bookcase. The printer is currently doing double duty as a card holder for now!

 

The ubiquitous stink bug on the blind behind my lamp.  During the warmer days in winter they seem to wake up just to come into my RV.  Hopefully in spring they disappear again.  I'm not a fan.

The ubiquitous stink bug on the blind behind my lamp. During the warmer days of winter they seem to wake up just to come into my RV. Hopefully in spring they disappear again. I’m not a fan.

 

View of the lounge chairs when I'm meditating, praying and writing in the mornings.

View of the lounge chairs when I’m meditating, praying and writing in the mornings.

 

Ready to write in the morning as is my daily custom.

Ready to write in the morning as is my daily custom.  Yes, that’s a fountain pen.  Right now I have five of them each with a different color ink.  I use them exclusively for writing in my journal and love the varying colors.  I’ve more pens but they are still in storage.

 

The morning view as I come down the stairs to start my day.

The morning view as I come down the stairs to start my day.  My grill sits on the picnic table outside.

 

The daytime view from the corner kitchen windows.

The daytime view from the corner kitchen windows.

 

Love washing my dishes with the view I have of the woods and the stream.  What may not be quite visible are all the wild rhodadendrum bushes on the opposite bank of the stream.  I cannot wait for spring when they will all be in bloom!

Love washing my dishes with the view I have of the woods and the stream. What may not be quite visible are all the wild rhododendron bushes on the opposite bank of the stream. I cannot wait for spring when they will all be in bloom!

 

The view out the window when I'm watching TV!

The view out the window when I’m watching TV or reading!

 

IMG_3722

The view on either side of my computer. The desk was originally placed against the short wall on the left, at a ninety degree angle from its current position. I decided to move it so that the desk chair was sitting mostly on the floor of the main floor of the RV as opposed to the slide out floor. Just felt better somehow, more secure.

 

View downstairs as I get ready for bed.

View downstairs as I get ready for bed.

 

My bed!

My bed!

 

Opposite the foot of my bed on the right side are the bureau and bathroom sink.  Note the gold practitioner crystal singing bowl with mom's panda bear hugging it!

Opposite the foot of my bed on the right side are the bureau and bathroom sink. Note the gold practitioner crystal singing bowl with mom’s panda bear hugging it!

 

On the left side you can see the TV as well as some of the things I keep on the bureau including a ruby/kyanite crystal singing bowl.

On the left side you can see the TV as well as some of the things I keep on the bureau including a ruby/kyanite crystal singing bowl.

 

Picasso's bed!

Picasso’s bed with his “sweater” (really made of fleece) for when it gets cold and treats!  Always nice to get a bedtime treat!

 

To the left of the head of the bed is my corner shower.  I believe they call this a "garden tub".  I would call it a foot bath at best!  As a shower, it works quite well especially for an RV!

To the left of the head of the bed is my corner shower. I believe they call this a “garden tub”. I would call it a foot bath at best! As a shower, it works quite well especially for an RV!  That’s my robe hanging off of the wardrobe.  The wardrobe is used for storage, not clothes, otherwise the robe might’ve found a home inside rather than hanging like it does but it works for me!

 

My small little toilet room!  On the back of the door you can see the shoe rack thingy I now use for a variety of other things, overflow that doest' easily fit anywhere else!

My small little toilet room! On the back of the door you can see the shoe rack thingy I now use for a variety of other things, overflow that doesn’t easily fit anywhere else!

Well, that’s the grand tour!  I’m so glad you finally got to visit!  Now I have to admit, I’m looking at that photo of the toilet and thinking that’s a rather strange place to end this post, visually speaking!  Oh, well!

 

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

just another day…

Life in an RV, while potentially fun, is anything but normal when compared to living in a sticks and bricks house.  Little things in a normal house can be more challenging in a rolling home, even if it’s not rolling in the moment.

Case in point – getting internet set up in a stationary RV.  Now you probably wouldn’t think it all that difficult, right?  I first made arrangements for them to come out here over a month ago.  I was told it would be 7-10 days before it would be installed.  At the ten day point I called them and was told that I would be hearing from them shortly.  A few days later Jim the park owner told me they were supposed to be coming that day but, instead, they wouldn’t be coming for another four days due to the weather.  Finally, on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, they arrived to start digging the trench and laying the fiber optics.  I left for Indiana and Thanksgiving with my family the next day with an appointment set up for the following Tuesday for the install.

As it seems to be doing all too often, the rains came and kept them from finishing their work on time, thus pushing the install for another two days.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet.  The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing.  To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet. The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing. To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

On Thursday they arrived exactly at 8:30 AM, as scheduled.  Now I should’ve known things were going to be different when a cable company actually arrived on time!  Two men in two trucks started to work outside the RV when Jim arrived.  I was quite grateful for his arrival since I had just found out that the technicians were not allowed to drill any holes in RV’s for liability reasons and I was about to wield a drill myself!  Jim had already gone through the various install options with me and so was ready to help right away.

The entertainment center where the wireless router is  now housed.

There were several holes to be drilled but the fun began when trying to determine just how they were going to do the interior install.  The wiring was going to come in from the far side, opposite where the hookups were located.  To accommodate them, Jim had to install a conduit under the RV so they could bring the wires to the other side while protecting them from weather.  After going beneath the RV, they emerged into a little cubby designed for the various hookups, all insulated.  From there a hole had to be drilled to allow the cable to then cross back to the other side again, but this time inside the RV.  They needed to reach the electric outlet in the “basement” storage area of the RV for the transformer.  Another cable was then fished up into the entertainment center, requiring hole number two to be drilled.  Now if this sounds confusing to you, well, that’s the point!  Those wires went back and forth either in or out of the RV three different times – first outside in the conduit, then inside to the electric and finally back across again to reach the entertainment center.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections. Beneath the RV you can see the white conduit housing the internet cables.  This shot was taken prior to the hole being drilled so the cables are all bunched up still.  

Now while this might sound simple enough, it was anything but.  Working within an RV, particularly when dealing with electrical systems, is always going to be a bit of a challenge, minimally.  Even the best built RV’s seem to use cheap labor to build them and electrical systems tend to be more than just a strange as a result.  I remember when I had work done on my other RV how the TV antenna system was more than just a little wonky and needed to be fixed prior to my being able to get TV coverage.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

 

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

In the process of fishing wires through here and there, I got to see some of the guts of the RV.  Plumbing runs, electrical runs and sewage lines were all quite visible.  The so-called insulation – a sheet of maybe 1/2 inch foam – surrounded all the vulnerable parts.  In many RV’s there is actually even less or no insulation around these items which is why most RV’s are not appropriate for winter camping.

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down.  What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down. What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

While expecting the job to take around 45 minutes, it ended up taking just over two hours.  Then the hard part came – they asked me to pick a name for the router.  Oh, I hate doing those kinds of things but somehow managed to come up with the name “Picasso’s Place” rather quickly.  Then it got worse – I had to pick a password for it!  Ugh.  Just as I was ready to give up, Marcus, one of the technicians, came up with a dog related one that works perfectly!  Soon enough they left and the fun was over….

….until the next morning when there was no internet at all and no more landline either.  Worse yet, Jim closed down the internet down here so while I was able to get online for a few minutes in the morning using his internet, it wasn’t strong enough for me to place a simple Skype call.  I ended up having to go down the mountain to get cell coverage.  I had to call Brian the RV guy and confirm that he was coming at lunch time.  He arrived not too much later to fix the water heater again.

After Brian left I ended up going back down the mountain again so I could call the communications company to tell them of my problem with the internet.  They asked me to try something so that necessitated a trip back up the mountain and then down again so I could call them to tell them it didn’t work.  Now here comes the surprise – they told me a tech would have to come up.  I asked them, “Today?” to which she told me yes so I scooted back up the mountain once again.  The tech was actually here in under an hour!  Wow for their customer service! It was Marcus again from the day before, the tech who gave me my password!

After going through it all he determined that the transformer indeed needed replacing.  Within moments we were up and running again.  I’m happy to report we are still running a little over 24 hours after the last visit!

Another story about how things are different in an RV – my hot water heater still isn’t working when on electric.  For those who don’t know, most RV’s have hot water heaters that work on either electric or propane.  If one is at an RV park and hooked up to electricity, one plugs in and uses electric to heat their water.  On the other hand, if one is out “boondocking” (not using any utilities), they can have hot water by using propane to heat it.  Propane is also a whole lot quicker to heat the water and can be used when hot water is needed quickly.  Hot water tanks on RV’s are typically significantly smaller than a household tank and usually hold either 6 or 12 gallons.  My first RV had a 6 gallon tank.  I quickly learned to take short showers, turning the water off between rinses.  Works well in the summer but a little less well when it is really cold out.  The new RV has a 12 gallon tank so in theory I can take a bit longer in the shower.

I mentioned that Brian was here yesterday to fix the water heater yet again.  On his first attempt he replaced the heating rod and figured it would be good.  Thankfully I now knew not to just hop in and hope for the best!  After determining the water was too cool to shower, I switched it to run on propane, waited a little while, took my shower and then called Brian to let him know of his failed fix.  Yesterday he replaced the two relays and, finding one to have a bit of corrosion, figured it was once again fixed.  Nope, not so!  We are back on propane once again while he comes up with the next fix.  At this rate we will be soon enough replacing all the parts in the tank!

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater.  You can see some corrosion but that still wasn't the issue.

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater. You can see some corrosion but that still wasn’t the issue.

The reality is that I enjoy when Brian comes over since I get to pick his brain about this or that.  He is extremely knowledgable about all things RV as well as automotive.  Brian is not only a good businessman, he is also a very fair and honest man besides just being an overall good person.  Let me give you an example – I was telling Brian how I had to go to Winston-Salem to pick up my desk but given the size of my car I really wasn’t sure I would fit it and figured I’d have to rent a car.  After picking up the desk I also had to go to another town to get the office chair.  I’d be driving probably something like four hours or so.  What does Brian tell me?  Well first he tells me that I really shouldn’t take my car since there was probably no way it would fit even with the roof open.  Instead I should take his truck.  Huh?  You want me to take your truck?  He goes on to explain to me that he buys one regularly from a dealer he is friends with and gets a fleet car with high milage but low in years.  For this he pays only $5,000 and he is very happy to loan it out when needed by someone.

Now I’m not at all used to this kind of kindness and generosity.  Yes, I do believe this is how we people should all be but, sadly, it rarely materializes like that.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into so many genuinely good-hearted people as I have here in North Carolina.  Just writing about this brings tears to my eyes, tears of gratitude.  After everything I’ve been through in the past one of my biggest fears had been that I would die while still not healing the wounds from the things I’d been through.  People have really hurt me, taken advantage of me, broken my trust and proven that humans just aren’t all that nice in many cases.  I’m a trusting person but it has been so very long since my trust has been appropriately placed.  But now it appears healing is coming and I have no words to adequately express my gratitude.

Slowly my RV is becoming my home in a way the first one never could.  It is more than a function of size although that figures into it greatly.  I think it has to do with the usability of this RV as well as finding some really good people to help support me when I need it.  As a result, the RV life feels a bit more safe to me.  RV’s are not like homes and can always find new ways to show you their differences.  Part of that is the issue of taking them out on the road and bouncing them all over the place.  Imagine if you put your house on wheels and then drove at 60 miles an hour, the equivalent of a tropical storm, for hours on end.  It is no wonder they develop issues.  The other reality is that they are built terribly, even the more expensive ones, and that causes issues over time.  Staying stationary will help to ease some of those issues but there will be others.  That is the nature of an RV.

Once I’m fully settled and am ready to put the move-in process behind me, I hope to take some time to give you a tour of my home as well as the surroundings so you can see why I’m so enamored with this place.  The peace of nature here truly nurtures my soul.  I cannot wait to share that with you!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

moving – the good stuff (part 2)

[This is part two of my moving process.  You can read the first part here.]

Well, the last post covered the drama.  Now, to the other side of things.  While going back and forth between the two RV’s I couldn’t help but notice the size difference.  But rather than thinking how large the new RV is in comparison to the old one, which I would think would be the more normal response, I found myself blown away by just how small a space I was moving from!  How did I ever live in that little space for 8 months and find it to be okay?  I still can’t believe the difference!  I feel like I’m coming out of a cramped hotel room and into an actual home!  There is no comparison.  Two very different experiences.  But the first RV really did serve its purpose and I’m very grateful for it!  It got me to the beautiful mountains in North Carolina!

The next thing I couldn’t help but notice was how much stuff I crammed into that little RV!!!  It just kept coming and I thought for a while that I’d never get done – ever!  Yikes!  The thing is that while I was able to pack all this stuff into that RV, I didn’t use a whole lot of it because I couldn’t get to it easily enough.  Now things are much more spread out and more accessible.  It will be interesting to see how this affects me and how I use things differently.

As I write this I am almost completely done with the move.  I have only the desktop computer and my TV to be moved.  I need some help with the computer for sure since it is probably a two person operation to get it off the table with its monitor arm.  On my own I’d risk dropping it since I just don’t have enough hands!  The TV I could probably do on my own but my back really has had enough and if I can get a little help, why not!  Better still, pretty much everything is put away in the new RV.  Now that doesn’t mean the move-in process is actually done. Because I have to leave Tuesday (tonight is Sunday) I don’t really have the luxury of doing a great job of things.  Tomorrow I have to spend doing a bunch of errands, things that have to get done before I leave.  I’ve got all winter to reorganize things!

Now to my conclusion – I am so happy that I swapped RV’s!  I wanted a fifth wheel to begin with and now that I’m in this one I can really see why.  I feel like I’m in a real home now, something I never felt with the other one.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved that little RV but I quickly outgrew it!  The views from this RV are nothing short of stupendous!  Every window with a view!

The view out from my  current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.

The view out from my current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.  I didn’t get to take a shot of my favorite view yet so we will have to save that for another time!

I’ve only been here for three nights but already it feels quite a bit like home to me.  I’m pretty sure it will continue to grow on me since I’ve not done a whole lot other than unpack so far!  I cannot wait to begin to use the kitchen with its expansive counters!  When I get back I still have to get a fair amount of winterizing done.  The drafts through the windows are horrible so I’ll need to work on that.  I still need to get a skirt for the bottom of the RV to keep the wind from blowing underneath it.  But I love it here even if I’m a bit chilly and wondering if I will need a mortgage to pay for the propane to heat it!  Once I get to working on it, though, it should be fine.  Oh, and Picasso loves it!  He likes to romp and stomp throughout it and seems really happy here!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course).  As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course). As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

I found it utterly weird to move but still be in the exact same location.  That’s a first for me!  I doubt there are too many who’ve done that!  I kept thinking I’d walk out the door and be somewhere else but, nope, I was still here but my experience of “here” was quite different now since the outside was now part of my inside experience because of the windows.

But perhaps the piece I cannot help but notice is the healing that being here has brought to me.  I’ve had such a hard time trusting people as well as my own intuition ever since I lost my business.  By nature I’m a rather trusting person so this has been tough on me.  Throughout this whole process I kept doubting either myself or that Brian could possibly be who he presented himself to be.  I thought I’d be snookered or that this RV was going to be a piece of garbage.  Having some of those odds and ends going wrong didn’t help but I stuck with it.

Tonight (Monday now) Brian came over and this RV is officially mine and the old one is gone.  The swap has been completed.  Brian was here with Scott, his employee.  The hot water heater turned out to need a new element, just as Brian predicted.  [Update on the hot water heater – although it appeared to work after the element was replaced, by morning the water was again only lukewarm.  Not willing to make the same mistake twice, I didn’t take a shower that morning!  Brian will be back again to fix it after Thanksgiving.) The door got fixed needing just a little adjustment.  The circuit breakers were checked and all was good.  The thermostat turned out to be working properly although the LED was a bit wonky so numbers appeared different than they should.  I now know how to work it while Brian looks for a fully working replacement.  Furthermore, Brian is here for the long haul and will be available to help with whatever work might be needed and at prices that will be much more realistic and reasonable.

I cannot tell you just how grateful I am for the help I’ve received since moving here.  Brian singlehandedly has helped my broken truster to start healing.  I followed my intuition, also broken, and have been well rewarded. I have to admit that my life has been just a little strange since I decided to go for this adventure and has been absolutely nothing like I would have expected it to have been.  My favorite activity so far in my new RV is to just sit in one of the lounge chairs with a cup of tea and just take in the wonderful pine tree outside my window as peace envelopes me in her loving arms.

My new kitchen!  Just look at all that counter space!  And speaking of counter space, it's all Corian!

My new kitchen! Just look at all that counter space! And speaking of counter space, it’s all Corian!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I leave for Indianapolis to be with my family.  I am so grateful that we will be seeing each other again after such a relatively short period of time.

I cannot express fully how grateful I am to see this healing come over me.  It has been quite a long time and, to be honest, there were many times I had lost hope that my life would ever come together again.  I just had to keep holding on while moving forward, neither of which was easy at times.

I have to admit to wondering what will be next on my agenda.  I’ve been asked what I would be doing here all on my own for a whole winter.  The reality is I don’t have a clue!  I’m hoping to be writing but I don’t know yet.  Seems whenever I have an idea it turns out to be something different anyway which makes me wonder if I should make plans at all!

I’m also very grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to read about my crazy, adventurous, healing life.  It’s a real pleasure to have you with me!  Life can be good again even after falling apart.  When I first decided to get the original RV it was because “my body” told me that the experience would bring healing.  I thought it would be about the travel but apparently that isn’t the case.   I just needed a new, healing location.  I feel like tremendous healing is and will continue to take place in my life while I’m here.  I’ve met some wonderful people and I’m grateful to each and everyone of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked!  Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked! Yum!  My son Kris did a great job on this bird while Elizabeth my daughter-in-law did all the rest!

May this Thanksgiving season find you with people you love enjoying each other’s company.  May there be a great many things for you to hold in your heart with gratitude and, if not, know that things can really change.  They have for me; they can for you.  Blessings and love to you all!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

moving – the drama (part 1)

[It has taken me much longer to get this posted than I expected since my internet service was quite intermittent “on the mountain”.  That is about to change as I will be getting my very own internet service in a few days!]

As I start to write this it is the beginning of the week leading to one of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving.  And tonight (Sunday evening) finds me nearing completion of the move into my new (to me) RV.  On Thursday Brian, the seller, brought the new RV to the same site I’ve been on for the last three months.  First the old one was moved out to make room and then it was moved back, behind the new one.  This made moving all my stuff a bit easier since both doors were on the same side.

The two RV's end to end, doors on the same side, with my car in the foreground.

The two RV’s end to end, doors on the same side, with my car in the foreground.

Brian got here earlier than expected on Thursday, well before noon.  That gave me a bit more time to get started with the move which was good since I had no choice but to sleep in the new RV that night.  The old one had no utilities so no heat, water or electricity.  It was no longer level either which could probably make sleeping a bit funky!  I didn’t think rolling off the bed in the middle of the night would be fun but it would’ve made getting to the bathroom quicker!  Prior to Brian’s arrival I admit to having been a little nervous that morning wondering if I was totally crazy or what!  But once the RV arrived that all evaporated.

Brian was here quite a while which I found surprising.  Part of the deal Brian and I had was to have new decals installed on the RV before I would get it since many of the original ones were peeling off.  The decal issue was a well known problem for this company for those model years.  While the inside of the RV was in good shape, the outside left much to be desired.   When Brian drove up with the RV I was blown away by just how great it looked with its new decals!  He commented, not complaining, about what a difficult job it was to get them done, never wanting to do it again even though it probably added at least $2,500 to the value.

The full side of the RV.

The side of the RV.

All the peeling decals had to be removed first.  Afterwards, the adhesive was removed using some kind of really nasty product designed to remove the adhesive as well as layers of skin!  Finally, the decals were applied, a process  that required perfect weather  so the decals could properly dry in place.  The decals themselves were actually composed of many different little ones and had to be put together much like a jigsaw puzzle.  I believe it was something like 50 decals in all!  Summer would’ve been the best time to get this work done with the extended daylight hours and warm temperatures.  Well that wasn’t happening and the rains kept coming, totally delaying the application of the decals.  While I can normally be fairly patient under these circumstances, my timeline was getting pretty crunchy given the fact that I had to drive (in my car) to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving and there was much work to be done prior to my departure.

This is a close-up of the decals. Each one of those mountains is a separate decal so you can imagine how challenging it was to get them up correctly!

This is a close-up of the decals. Each one of those mountains is a separate decal so you can imagine how challenging it was to get them up correctly!

When Brian finally got here we all admired the great job that was done on the decals.  It made a huge difference.  I never took a single photo of the rig with the peeling decals but it was not pretty.  The RV then was moved into its new location, leveled and the utilities hooked up.  One of the more important issues was getting the heated water hose installed so that while I was gone the water wouldn’t freeze in the hose if the temperature went below freezing.

Not long after its arrival, Jim and Kathy (owners of the RV park) excitedly came over and asked if they could go inside and check it all out.  Afterwards Jim took me aside to tell me that I did a good job with this RV.  I think he was a bit surprised.  Yesterday he told me he admired me and that he was proud of me!  You never know the impression you make on people unless they decide to share their thoughts.  To be honest, I never would’ve guessed he felt that way!  Jim also told me that he really liked Brian and later was busy picking his brain about his own rig.  What I haven’t told Jim about yet was the fact that I also got a screaming deal on this RV.  Brian bought it for a really good price since Camping World, having taken it in on a trade-in, wanted nothing to do with peeling decals.  I was the recipient of this good deal since Brian passed on the savings!  Brian and I did an even swap of the two RV’s even though the wholesale price of the new one was $5,000 or $6,000 more than the one I was trading!  It’s funny, I didn’t think about it until now but it reminded me of a house that needed a bit of rehab work done to it.  While others couldn’t see the potential, I could and, in this case, it really has paid off!

Eventually everyone left and I was alone with my new home.  Wow!  I really did it!  I was floored by the wonderful views!  Well, enough enjoying things!  Time to get to work!  The first thing I did was get my mattress into the RV (thank you, Jim) and I then had to open the box.  I got a latex mattress and I’m always amazed at how small a box they can get those suckers into!  But now that the box was upstairs in the bedroom I had to open it and get it situated on the bed.  Believe me, this was no easy task!  The mattress, by Jim’s estimation, weighed somewhere around 100 pounds!  Believe me, my back wasn’t at all happy either!  Try as I might I couldn’t get the box open!  I finally pried off the staples from both ends but there was still no getting it out at that point!  I finally took my scissors and began to carefully cut down the side of the box where it was seamed.  It took forever since I had to do a little bit at a time so I wouldn’t accidentally cut the mattress.  When I eventually got it out of the box I then had to get the box out from under the mattress!  Now the next task emerged – getting the mattress out of the plastic wrap that kept it from exploding into a queen size mattress while being shipped!  (What a visual!)  That plastic was quite thick and in several layers.  Again, care was important!  After I got nearly half way done it appeared to have its own life as it began to expand and rip the plastic that was left intact.  I briefly wondered how I was going to manage if the mattress was upside-down.  Realizing that was exactly what was going to happen, I quickly reversed it before it finished coming to life!  Fully open I never would’ve been able to flip it by myself.  Now I had to remove the plastic from beneath the mattress, a slightly easier task then the cardboard since the plastic was much more slippery than the cardboard had been.  After arranging the mattress on the frame it was time to make the bed.

Now you have to understand that this was the first real mattress I’ve had in over six years having slept on either a futon or a sleeper sofa.  There’s a whole lot more to making a real bed!  First the heated mattress pad went on followed by the waterproof pad (my insurance that Picasso won’t mess things up.  He’s been good but, who knows?)  After that, the bottom sheet then the top and then getting the duvet into the duvet cover as well as the pillows into their shams!  Let me tell you, prior to even moving anything my back was already getting quite grumpy about the situation. But, hey!  My bed looked great!  Better yet, it feels great!  I did a good job of choosing and I’m quite happy with it.  Yay!  Thankfully mattress pads don’t have to be done all the time.  Oh, and that heated mattress pad?  Just a little bit of heaven!

My trusty moving helper! couldn't have done the move without it!

My trusty moving helper! couldn’t have done the move without it!

About a week prior to the move I picked up a foldable wagon that I had originally seen in Florida at Bed Bath & Beyond when I was there last month.  It’s one of those with chunky, fat tires that enable it to go through sand and good for up to 150 pounds.  I figured it would work well for what I needed.  I cannot carry much without risking back pain so this would be my transport between the two RV’s.  The best $80 I’ve spent in a long time since it literally saved my back and allowed me to get the move done!  I wish you could see how I have to move things!  I used big plastic containers to put stuff into and then slid it to the door.  I slid it down the steps while using my knee to keep it from getting away from me and then slid it into the wagon.  I then pulled my little blue wagon over to the other RV and did the whole process the opposite direction, careful the whole time not to stress my back any more than the bed had already done.  I am happy to report that my back survived thanks to my crazy ingenuity!

But life hasn’t been without some drama, naturally!  What would my life be like without drama!  First issue – I blew a circuit breaker and it wasn’t even more than a few hours after I was in the RV!  I made some tea for myself and had the heater on the same circuit.  I didn’t realize they were on the same breaker and – boom!  Circuit breaker flipped!  Thankfully I knew where the breakers were so it was an easy fix.  But later I plugged into a different circuit only to have that breaker also flip.  Hmm…I called Brian who told me he figured the circuit had too little amperage to support the heater.  I was a little worried since the breakers were relatively warm.  He told me he would check the breakers when he came back on Monday to pick up the old RV, the day the swap is totally official.

Okay, issues over, right?  Well, I couldn’t get the main door to close easily.  It took some really nasty slamming before it would latch and I was actually getting concerned that I’d destroy something in the process.  Another call to Brian who told me it probably needed a good dose of WD-40. When I found it and sprayed it on it was like magic.  Suddenly the door closed normally although we determined it also needed some weather stripping, something they didn’t have at the time.

The first night was more or less uneventful.  Well, almost.  I went to set the thermostat because heat was an absolute necessity.  Well, another issue!  It seems I could set the temperature at any setting I wanted as long as it was in the 70’s – 90’s or in the 40’s.  The digital thermostat evidently didn’t like the 50’s or 60’s which was a bit of an issue since I wanted to set the temp for 55 that night.  I didn’t think 71 was a good sleeping temperature so 49 it was!  I forgot to put on Picasso’s sweater so the poor little guy must have been a bit chilly but no complaints from him!  When I realized I turned on our little space heater so we were all toasty once again!  Not surprisingly, there was another call to Brian that morning!  He will replace the thermostat when he is here on Monday!

I did a little work around the RV and decided it was time for a shower.  This shower is a bit larger than my last one and has a glass enclosure.  I was looking forward to my inaugural shower.  I got in and ran the water.  I was a bit surprised that the hot water was more lukewarm but given it’s distance from the hot water heater I wasn’t particularly concerned.  About halfway through my shower while I was all soaped up and had conditioner still in my hair, the lukewarm water turned icy cold!  AHHHHH!!!!  I practically cried with the idea of having to rinse off in water that was frigid but I managed, just a little worse for wear!  Brr!!!  Another call to Brian.  He explained how when they are showing the RV sometimes they run the hot water heater either with no or little water and the heating element then dies.  But that doesn’t makes total sense to me since I had hot water prior to that.  I have this weird idea that it really isn’t the rod in the heater but rather something with the circuit breaker from the day before or something else.  It’s just one of those feelings and I could clearly be wrong but I’m too often right to not pay attention to my thought.  I will make sure Brian checks out those circuit breakers well.  Better safe than sorry!

Stay tuned for part 2!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

visiting mom in florida

I’m still sitting in my (uncomfortable) Airbnb bed in Riverview, Florida this morning.  I’m waiting for the other visitors to clear out so I can emerge from my cocoon and begin my day. There are three others here – a man who is working here while waiting for the family to join him and a couple attending a nearby Bible School.  I figure they have hard and fast times they have to deal with and my day can start whenever it starts at this point.

 

Our welcoming committee here at the Aribnb!

Our welcoming committee here at the Aribnb!

 

This is my last full day here.  I was originally supposed to leave on Wednesday but I decided to split up the near 13 hour trip back, spending the night somewhere just into Georgia.  The trip home will be two hours longer than the trip here since I’ll be going back to my storage to get my things prior to leaving.  The owner of the storage company will pack everything into my car and we will know without any doubt if it will all fit.  The facility is an hour from here going south, not north, hence the additional travel time back to North Carolina.

On the trip down last week I stopped at a gas station not too long after getting into Florida, just outside of Jacksonville.  It was then that it hit me – I am moving to North Carolina which is exactly where I need to be.  It is the beginning of November now and the perennial summer continues in Florida.  For those who love summer no doubt this is a great thing but for those like me who don’t thrive in the heat, it gets rather stale!  The feeling of life I have found within me in North Carolina seems to quickly flow out of me once I hit the heat and humidity.  As I said, I am doing what I’m supposed to be!

There is a Weimaraner living here who is untrained.  Picasso's only refuge has been to quickly run into his career when Bailey is about to attempt to play with him!

There is a Weimaraner living here at the Airbnb who is untrained. Picasso’s only refuge has been to quickly run into his carrier when Bailey is about to attempt to “play” with him!

Picasso and I have visited mom daily while we’ve been here.  It’s been nice seeing her daily like that since we normally only saw her weekly.  Her excitement with our presence is more than palpable and I find myself wondering how it will be for her once we leave the area.  In terms of her physical health, it is obvious that things are continuing their slow descent, made more obvious by the time that has elapsed since our last visit.  Mom showed me her left foot.  She has lost much control of that now unruly foot.  It curves inward from the ankle, the bottom of her left foot facing the right one.  If she stood up in this position she would stand on the outside of her left ankle.  It is only with great difficulty that she can get the sole of her left foot down onto the floor and even then it seems to make its way back to the other position very quickly.  I asked her to straighten her left leg, then the right one.  The difference would be hard to miss with the left one considerably weaker.  Why this big difference?  A stroke?  No other symptoms so I’m doubting it.  Evidence of “use it or lose it”?  I really don’t know.  In addition she has started occasionally talking in this very strange way, usually when she is more tired than usual.  It sounds like she is actually exhaling while she speaks!  It makes hearing and understanding her quite difficult.  I do not remember this happening previously.  I cannot help but be aware that there is no way of knowing if I will ever see her alive when I leave and that makes me sad.    I suspect she feels the same but won’t express that thought since she doesn’t do well with the finality of life.

"What do we have for dinner, grandma?"

“What do we have for dinner, grandma?”

In the meantime I’ve been working from here to get the whole RV move ready when I get back.  I still need to get my North Carolina driver’s license before I can register the “new to me” RV there.  Because my back hasn’t liked the bed I’ve been on and has been quite vocal about its unhappiness, I called Brian who is the RV seller to ask him if he had any issue with moving the delivery date a few days to allow my back to get happier again.  He was fine with that so rather than getting it the end of this week I’ll be getting it the beginning of next week.

When I think about the whole move up to North Carolina as well as into a different RV I have to admit to feeling quite excited about the future.  Something very positive feels about to emerge into my life and I cannot wait to see what it will be!  I’ve already started to make a couple of interesting friendships and look forward to seeing where they end up!  I’m also very aware of the healing effects that I’ve already experienced while in North Carolina, an awareness that is further deepened when I come to Florida and see those effects start to disappear.

Picasso finally getting to give his grandma some love!  His reunion was delayed since we met her at the vision center.  I helped her pick out eyeglass frames.  Picasso went a bit nuts having to wait!

Picasso finally getting to give his grandma some love! His reunion was delayed since we met her at the vision center. I helped her pick out eyeglass frames. Picasso went a bit nuts having to wait!

North Carolina totally feels like home to me while Florida feels quite the opposite.  It has been in the upper 80’s here every day since my arrival.  I was so happy to leave summer behind when I left here and will be happy to do so again tomorrow.  Yes, I’ve found my home – at least for now.  Who knows what the future will hold?!  My time here has been bittersweet.  Seeing mom’s steady decline is not easy and leaving her is definitely difficult.  On the other hand, coming back here to Florida really validates my decision to make this move.  It is not my place.  And so the next time you hear from me I will be an official North Carolina resident!  Woohoo!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

surprise!

Well, I have some news for y’all!  By the way, that’s my Jersey girl accent doing southern.  What d’ya think?  Give me time; I’ll keep working on it!

I’ve gone back and forth on this issue but ever since Tuesday and my trip up to Boone and Blowing Rock I’ve been resolute and very sure of my decision.  I’m officially moving here to Ferguson, NC.  What do I mean by official?  Well, a couple of things.  First, I will have to be getting a local driver’s license and give up my Florida one.  Why?  Second, I’m getting a different, new (to me) RV in three weeks and in order to get NC tags I need to have a NC license.

So let me back up and start from the beginning of the story.  When the car first broke down I had already recognized how much I loved being here.  I spoke to the owners of the park about my desire to do something totally ridiculous and stay here for the winter and even longer.  We quickly came to the thought that if I were to do that I should probably consider getting a bigger RV since winter living will have me inside more than summer would.  As a result of that conversation I decided to go on a search to find what was out there and how that would work financially for me.

Two different people told me about a particular RV dealership that they both felt was quite honest and reliable.  After researching their website for a while I found one particular fifth wheel that I thought could fit the bill very well.  I went to see it the next day only to find out they were closed so I returned the following day.  While the layout was close to perfect, I couldn’t help but notice a smell in the RV, one of cat pee!  Yuck!  True it had been raining for days and that would certainly accentuate any smell but cat pee is totally unacceptable to me.  Since they had no other RV’s the salesman referred me to another dealer, one working exclusively with resales, not new.  He was just down the street.  Off I went.

Clyde was sitting in the office when I got there, a small manufactured building that looks like so many other used car lot buildings I’ve seen before.  Clyde is a man in his 60’s, very friendly and with a thick North Carolinian accent.  I suppose he is the equivalent of a “used car salesman” but I actually liked him immediately.  Knowing what I was looking for, he showed me what he had on the lot.  My list – trailer of some type, one that can handle all four seasons, bigger than what I had and hopefully newer, too.  The kitchen had to be bigger than what I had and I needed more storage.  Of course I also needed a home for my computer which is always an issue since it is so big (27” screen).

Not a great photo because of the lighting but it still gives you an idea of the size of the kitchen.

Not a great photo because of the lighting but it still gives you an idea of the size of the kitchen.

There were several trailers but none that could possibly work for me for various reasons.  Then we got to the 5’er.  It is six years old and overall in pretty good shape.  It is considered a high end model and rated to handle temps down to zero!  The layout, while not perfect, was more than adequate.  It even has a nice little fireplace (electric, of course) under the TV.  It has a rear kitchen which is considerably larger than what I now have.  The refrigerator is supposedly a third bigger than the one I have but I remain dubious about that.  It seems about the same size to me.  There is no dedicated desk but I have a few thoughts already about how I will handle that.  The windows will take good advantage of the views from my campsite which will be nice.  For me, one of the things I’m most excited about is the fact that finally I’ll be having a normal, full-time bed.  Not a futon and not a fold out couch but a regular, real bed.  Well, after I buy it!  Right now it has the typical, nasty, horrible RV mattress that is begging to be replaced!  For those not in the know, most RV mattresses are more of a place holder, waiting for the new owner to choose their perfect mattress.  No doubt that will have to be one of my first investments since I’m the whole Princess and the Pea thing.  I briefly thought about the possibility of just getting a good topper until I decided to lie down on the bed today.  Immediately my hip cried out for relief!  No sense throwing good money after bad!

Media center with fireplace beneath the TV.  I'm probably going to have to replace the TV that's there since it doesn't have any HDMI inputs, something my equipment requires.

Media center with fireplace beneath the TV. I’m probably going to have to replace the TV that’s there since it doesn’t have any HDMI inputs, something my equipment requires.

 

A REAL BED!!!

A REAL BED!!!  Right now it is a king size mattress but I’m going to replace it with a queen mattress and will need to cut down the frame 6 inches on each side.  So now I know why I brought that jig saw with me!  

Now you might be asking yourself how I will pull a fifth wheel with a Fiat and you’d be right to wonder about that.  Obviously I won’t.  The reality is I don’t expect to pull it at all at this point.  Things do have a way of changing in my life, however, so nothing is cast in stone.  I’m in love with these mountains as I’ve said before.  I’d like to spend a good long time here.  At this particular park?  While it would be nice I’ve no way of predicting that.  What I’ve come to realize is that I can still have options even if I don’t have a pickup outfitted with the necessary equipment to pull a fifth wheel.  The owner of the place where I’m buying this RV, Brian, told me he would bring it here as part of the deal so that’s a good thing.  Also, if I ever want it moved again in the area he will charge a nominal fee to do that for me, like $200.  Furthermore, he has a buddy who would pull it cross country if I ever decided to do that.  While I won’t be able to move with the freedom I might have now (when the car is working as it should be!), I’m actually quite okay with that in the moment.  I’m actually believing I’ve accomplished the first step in what I was supposed to be doing – moving to the mountains!

Now, having gotten everything settled in terms of a new homestead for Picasso and me it is time to look at other things.  It’s been almost two months since I’ve seen mom and it is time to go visit with her.  My November is looking quite booked up in the moment (winterizing the RV and going back to Indiana for Thanksgiving with the family) so I’m thinking of heading down there in the next week or two.  There is some work that has to be done on the RV before I can take possession of it, but that will be no later than November 7th, three weeks from now.  It makes real sense to head on down there now.  I’m figuring I will also pick up some of the stuff from storage I now have room for.  Not too much since I have to get it back up here in my itty bitty Fiat!

I’m excited about this particular change but I have to admit it feels a bit of a whirlwind decision given everything else that has been going on with the car and the trip up to Indiana in between everything.  In order to get the RV registered in North Carolina I need to actually get my driver’s license first which is the official act of becoming a resident of the state.  While bringing with it the opportunity for lower insurance rates (partly because I’ll no longer need liability insurance and also because rates are lower here in general – think no hurricanes!) it also brings with it personal taxes which I’ve not had to pay before this.  So, probably a wash there.  In addition, becoming a resident here brings with it another opportunity – paying state income taxes.  It’s been a bit since I’ve had to contend with that.

After signing all the paperwork today I was hungry and decided to stop for lunch.  The handful of times I’ve gone to the dealer I had to pass this nice looking Mexican restaurant.  I’ve been having a craving for Mexican food so today seemed like a good day to check it out.  Mexican food in western North Carolina?  I was quickly seated since it was between lunch and dinner and no one else was there at that point.  The ambiance was perfect, very Mexican with the music heavily adding to the feeling.  I felt like I was back in Tucson with their amazingly good Mexican restaurants.  The restaurant was very clean and felt good overall. The wait staff were all Mexicans plus they have been in business for 8 years.  All good signs, right?  The menu was extensive with far too many things to choose from.  I finally decided to get Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken).  Do you want cheese on that?  Um, I guess so.  Yeah, why not?  The huge bowl of chips came out and they were just as good as the best I’ve had in Tucson, my measuring stick for good Mexican food.  Then the food came out.  Holy cow!  What a huge serving of food and it smelled great and looked beautiful!  And it tasted even better!  The manager and I had a great time talking and he even brought out a sample Margarita for me to try, free of charge!  So glad I stopped!  Believe it or not, I’ve found better food places here in North Carolina than I ever did when I lived in Florida.  I’m sure Florida has some great restaurants but I just somehow didn’t find any of them.

Arroz con Pollo with a salad and tortillas.  A huge serving and only $10!

Arroz con Pollo with a salad and tortillas. A huge serving and only $10!

So now I have a place where I can get a great burger with fries (as well as other food from what I’ve been told; have to try their fish and chips!) and now a really good Mexican restaurant.  While I was there today, the manager even told me where there was a Hispanic supermarket, something I’ve been looking for since I got here.  In addition Picasso and I now have a new place to call home and a great place to put that home!    I’m thinking it’s been a pretty darned good week!

Now to start winterizing ME!!!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

coming full circle

I went to a kitchen supply store this afternoon and saw a rather stunning young man.  His shoulder length blonde hair was pulled back into a pony tail.  (Should it be called a “stallion tail”?)  He looked a bit like a surfer dude with his attitude and gorgeous good looks but there he was instead, acting as a cashier in a kitchen store in a mountain resort town.  Something about him caught my attention the moment I walked into the store, some kind of energy that only those in their early twenties seem to possess coupled with a belief that anything is possible.

Mini bundt pans made by Hamilton-Beach and purchased from Kitchen Collections.

Mini bundt pans made by Hamilton-Beach and purchased from Kitchen Collections.

I picked up some small items that I thought I could use in the RV, weird little things.  One item was a four inch bundt pan with a springform release, perfect for those times when I might just want a small sweet snack.  After I put it on the counter, this lovely young man seemed enthralled by the fact that it looked like a  combo cheesecake/bundt pan with the springform along with the center piece of a bundt pan.  I told him I was getting it to use in my pressure cooker, an idea that seemed to throw him.  I went on to explain that I actually do some baking in my pressure cooker since I live in an RV and it is just easier.  His whole face lit up (even more than it had already been!) as he went on to tell me that he is currently saving up to buy a bus to live on, a school bus!  From there the conversation escalated as we discussed how he was going to refurbish his bus (“Is there any other way?”, he told me) with the goal of eventually moving to the Rockies and becoming a guide out there.  The energy between the two of us was palpable to any who might have been around us.  Kindred spirits sharing an interest too few people would even consider.

And so I realized I had lost my way yet again.  His energy and enthusiasm for life were totally contagious.  I had gotten stuck in the morass of life while getting the car fixed and feeling stuck rather than being able to move forward.  He reminded me that all things were possible if I merely chose them and put some energy in that direction.  I loved that guy and wish I could meet him again.  I’d love to talk with him about life, sure that he’d have some real pearls of wisdom to share.  If nothing else I’d just want to be in his energy field a bit longer until I could more fully remember that all things really are possible!  Evidently it is hard for me to hold on to that reality recently.

I went on from there to look for a particular store.  I must have put the wrong address in my GPS, using their mailing address rather than the store address, and ended up in a residential area.  When I finally turned around and headed back in the correct direction I found a “rest area” like none I’ve ever seen before.  I drove in because I sort of had to use the facilities.  You know, one of those times when you don’t really need to go yet but as long as it is there you take advantage of the opportunity.

This rest area was more of a park than a rest area

This rest area was more of a park than your typical rest area.

As I drove into the area looking for a parking space I was amazed at just how beautiful this little slice of heaven actually was.  There was a small building with both male and female bathrooms in it surrounded by trees of all sorts and all colors – green, red, yellow and orange leaves.  The breeze blew the leaves off the trees and onto the ground.  This was fall in all its glory!  After making use of the facility I just couldn’t get myself to leave.  I walked around the area kicking leaves and also looking up at the glorious colors.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect – high 60’s, nice breeze and rich blue skies. I had just taken a photo of a tree with bright red leaves when I ran into an older man who was working in the area to keep it clean .  He commented on the beauty of the red leaves I had just photographed.  He was from Florida and told me he moved to the North Carolina mountains 6 years ago after falling in love with the place.  He told me I wouldn’t believe just how many people were there from Florida, either full-time of half-time, still returning to Florida for the winters.  He could never leave the area.  Between talking to this older gentleman and my younger friend it was as if this day was there to remind me what I felt when I first came into the area – I am home!  My heart was filled with joy!

Four days ago I wrote a blog but I couldn’t post it.  Just as I had finished writing it somehow it disappeared from my computer.  I now see it disappeared with good reason since in it I was writing about how I was going to return to Florida as soon as I could.  Tonight it reappeared as if some magician was here sharing his acts of illusion with me but not before I made my final decision to stay here.  I had looked everywhere for it when it vanished but to no avail.  And now, there it was!  Obviously I was not supposed to post about moving back to Florida.  I wrote it the day following my return from Indiana for a week long visit with my son and his family.  I was tired at the time since it was a nine hour drive back here to North Carolina.  But now as I look at it again I realize there is no life in that decision, no energy.  It was an act of resignation born of fear.  The truth is that I got scared thinking about staying here and just moving like that (snaps fingers).  It’s a big change particularly since I’m really not sure what will happen with my mom.  In fact that may be the biggest reason why I made the decision to move back to Florida but, as I already said, there really is no life in that decision.  It seems it was the path of least resistance.

And so it is that I’m here to tell you that I’m going to be staying in the North Carolina mountains.  I am moving here and will make this my permanent residence.  I will work out the details as they come.  For the time being it is enough for me to come to this recognition.  Winter is rapidly approaching and I need to prepare for it.

In case I needed another reason to love this area, I had what was probably the best burger I've ever had. It was made with organic, free range beef and was unbelievably sumptuous. Even the fries were superb! Thankfully this place is not around the corner or I'd be there every day!

In case I needed another reason to love this area, I had what was probably the best burger I’ve ever had. It was made with organic, free range beef and was unbelievably sumptuous. Even the fries were superb! Thankfully this place is not around the corner or I’d be there every day!

I have to admit to wondering just why I’ve been stuck here so long. Prior to my even leaving on this journey I remember saying to myself that I wish I had more time to spend in North Carolina.  Be careful what you wish for!  This wasn’t exactly how I expected that to work out but, hey!  What can you do?  My two week stay has been extended into what will end up being 7 weeks since I’ve paid for this site through the end of October.  I planned on leaving then but only if my car was fully repaired.  At this time the master cylinder of the clutch has been repaired under warranty but I’m wondering if while they fixed that they managed to unfix a couple of other things.  The second tow truck driver managed to break off the base plate on my car having decided to tow using that rather than going underneath the car to hook it up there as the first guy had done.  The base plate has still not been repaired, a job costing over $1,000.  I finally met with the insurance adjustor today and will hopefully hear from them shortly in regard to the repair if all goes well.  However, the RV place that will do the work for me is severely backed up and that might take a while if I’m on the end of the line.  Oh, and did I fail to mention that the place is two hours away from here, just a couple blocks from where the Fiat dealer is located?  Seriously, everything seems to be saying to me, “Stay here!” and so I’m heeding the call.  Just to be clear – with the part that is still broken I cannot safely tow my car so until it is fixed, I’ve no choice but to stay here anyway!

Wanna know why I went up to Blowing Rock today to begin with?  I wanted to look for a dulcimer.  What’s a dulcimer you ask?  It’s a stringed instrument originally created by the Appalachian mountain folk for their music.  It is ubiquitous to the Appalachian area and used for traditional music.  I’ve been enthralled with it ever since I realized there were several dulcimer stores in the area.  So I went there today to check out a dulcimer.

I met with Bill from The Dulcimer Shop in Blowing Rock.  His dad started the business and he took it over but is now looking to sell it after a number of years of working it himself.  I told him I was possibly interested in obtaining a dulcimer and admitted to having no history with them whatsoever.  Heck, I’ve never even heard one in person before!  (I had no history with Havanese dogs prior to meeting Picasso and see how well that worked out?)  And so the musical tour began!  He played and I listened to nearly a dozen different instruments and even though many looked quite similar, every one sounded different.  There was one that was so visually beautiful but just didn’t have the tone I was looking for.  Then there was the walnut one that caught my ear!  Its lower register was totally different from any of the others having a fullness and resonance that set it completely apart.  Then an old customer came in to thank Bill and tell him how much getting a dulcimer has changed his life.  He and his wife often sit with it at night in their Maine home playing and singing songs together.  There was some joking about how much this guy was getting paid by Bill to come in and tell his story but the reality was that Bill was having trouble remembering the man until he told Bill about being a retired pastor and then it all came back to Bill.  It was wonderful to hear how much this instrument clearly touched this man’s heart, so much so that he had to come in and share his experience with Bill and offer up his gratitude.

The dulcimer is a special instrument.  It has its roots in music that is indigenous to the mountain folks of this area.  More than that, it is an instrument that almost begs for a social setting in which to be played.  And this is why I brought home that lovely walnut dulcimer with the incredible lower tones – my goal is to use it as a social tool to help me meet people!  It is the easiest stringed instrument one can learn and groups of people are always getting together to play plus they even tolerate – and actually welcome – newbies!  Bill’s daughter, Caroline, came in to the store to eat her lunch – a HUGE hot dog that smelled extremely enticing!  She plays the dulcimer and, as one would expect, actually has one quite similar to mine, made by the same company and also in walnut!  I have to admit to hoping Caroline and I are able to get together again at some point.  Since she works directly next door to The Dulcimer Shop at a candle shop I’m thinking this should be easily done!

This isn't my photo but shows exactly what my dulcimer looks like. It is from the manufacture's website.

This isn’t my photo but shows exactly what my dulcimer looks like. It is from the manufacturer’s website.

One last story – as I was coming back here late this afternoon I stopped at a produce market I’ve not been to yet.  I was on my way over there a couple days ago when the fog forced me to turn around since I couldn’t see the road much less find the store!  As I was paying for my produce I was telling the cashier how I was going to move here full time in my RV.  She seemed absolutely gleeful and told me how there’s always room for one more!  What a difference from places I’ve lived before where people often said things like, “Now that I’m here, they should shut the door so no one else can get in!”  I truly felt very welcomed by this woman.

So now perhaps you can get a little idea just why I find myself unable to get away from this place.  While I keep trying to extricate myself clearly there has been some other Divine plan that seems to keep getting played out.  I will be staying.  Now to start getting ready for winter!  Brrrr!!!

©  2015 deborah kauffeld