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

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

a change in direction…

So here’s the thing about journeys – you never know when they might change directions on you.  And so it seems to be with this journey.

I’ve always had more than one agenda with this whole RV thing.  The first and most obvious agenda was to travel and get to see the country.  Then there was the thought that this would be a healing journey. Another agenda, which in the long run just might be the most important one for me, was to find a place that would become “home” to me.  I figured I’d travel for a few years, more or less, and find my place during that time.  Well, that’s where things may have changed.

A few posts ago I mentioned that as I was coming up to the top of the hill on the highway approaching the campground where I am now I saw the Appalachian mountains for the first time. I couldn’t help but feel I was home.  I felt that to the core of my being and it hasn’t changed.

Sure there has been a major hiccup in the process given my car’s lack of drivability, first with the clutch pedal falling to the floor and not working  and then with a secondary injury inflicted by the second tow truck driver.  But even in the midst of all the craziness I’ve been through, I still found myself feeling home and couldn’t imagine leaving here.

The "major hiccup" as it is being pulled on to the flat bed for the second time in less than a week.

The “major hiccup” as it is being pulled on to the flat bed for the second time in less than a week.  This is just prior to the “incident”.  Thankfully I took a lot of photos!

Let me fill in a few of the gaps for those who might not know the whole story.  My car blew a clutch nearly two weeks ago.  I was on my way to get it fixed when it did it again in Boone, only 30 minutes into a 2 hour trip.  However, when it finally got to the Tennessee dealer via flatbed tow truck (two hours away over the mountains), it decided not to replicate the issue so they returned the car to me unfixed five days later. I drove 40 minutes and it failed yet again.  This time I left the clutch pedal down on the floor as proof of the failure.  Unfortunately when the tow truck driver picked up the car this second time he broke off part of the face plate that the safety chains attach on to.  I cannot safely tow the car until that part is totally replaced, a $1,000 fix.  The owner of the tow company is not being cooperative so I got the state troopers involved since they called the tow company.  Now that the dealership has seen the clutch down they were finally able to get approval from Fiat to pull apart the transmission to get to the clutch master cylinder.  They had to order parts and it should be fixed by the beginning of this week – finally!  It will be nearly two weeks without my car at that point.  However, the part the tow driver broke is another story!  That could take up to two weeks before it can be replaced since they first have to verify the exact part (leave it to my car model to have two possibilities!) and then order and replace it.   There is so much more to the story but that is enough to catch one up on the overall details.

If you look really carefully you will notice there is a whole in the grill with  nothing sticking out of it which is where the part broke off.  The broken part cannot be replaced without replacing the entire piece.  Think of the part as a bumper with tow parts sticking out of it.

If you look carefully you will notice there is a hole in the grill with nothing sticking out of it which is where the part broke off. The broken part cannot be replaced without replacing the entire face plate. Think of the face plate as a bumper with tow parts sticking out of it.

 

This is the part that he broke off by using it for towing the car up the flatbed, something he was not supposed to do.  By towing it upward and onto the ramp, he put too much upward pressure on it and snapped it right off.

This is the part that he broke off.  He used it to pull the car up the flatbed, something that part is not designed to do. By towing it upward and onto the ramp (a combination of horizontal and vertical), he put too much upward pressure on it and snapped it right off.

This delay (close to 4 weeks in total) puts a real dent in my original plans.  So what’s a girl to do?  Time to check out the area!

I moseyed up to Boone, NC (as in Daniel Boone), a mountain town I hoped could meet some of my needs for both Picasso and me.

The Pet Place.  Photo taken from their Facebook page since it was pouring when I was there.

The Pet Place. Photo taken from their Facebook page since it was pouring when I was there.

First up – a pet store that is a distributor of the raw food Picasso has been eating.  I went to The Pet Place and quickly met with and spoke to one of the owners.  Yes, they can get Picasso’s food without issue although they do not carry it but they do order it for other customers.  They have all sorts of healthy items there, most all of which are made in the USA.  They regularly have professional visitors and today was no exception.  I got to meet with a veterinarian and his wife Debbie.  Together they operate the only 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area.  Besides getting information about their services (regular vet by day who magically turns into an emergency vet by night!), Debbie was able to provide me with a whole bunch of other information including an amazing acupuncturist, a man I really would like to see soon!  He sounds beyond fantastic from what she was telling me.  Debbie also gave me the name of a nurse practitioner she swears by in the area.  What a great start!  Then, before I left, I got the name of a holistic mobile vet but I do not know yet if she would come down to us or if I’d have to go to her. She has won “best veterinarian” in the area recently so that sounds quite promising.

The owner of the pet shop told me there was no way she would ever, ever, ever move off the mountain!  That’s how much she loves it.  Both of these women were wonderful in the information they shared with me.  I am so grateful that I got to meet them both today.  Gotta love perfect timing like that!

Bare Essentials Natural Market, photo from internet.  Again, too much rain to take a shot today!

Bare Essentials Natural Market, photo from internet. Again, too much rain to take a shot today!

Then it was off to the human natural food store after having made sure Picasso’s needs could be met.  This is a locally owned shop called Bare Essentials Natural Market.  It is a wonderful, clean store with very responsive staff.  I was told that basically if they don’t have it, they can order it!  When I asked about getting raw milk or cream I was told how to legally go about finding it.  I then asked about finding pastured, healthy beef and was told that it was best to buy it directly from the farm since they had to purchase it at retail and then add their profit on to the cost.  Evidently it is available at the local farmer’s markets and she said it is really good beef!  Got that all covered!

Local beef that I'm told is really excellent.

Local beef that I’m told is really excellent.

After taking care of things in Boone it was off to Mass for me.  I knew I needed to do some church exploration.  I’m in the south and naturally Catholic churches are few and far between.  The church I wanted to go to was over an hour from where I was in the moment but I had the time so off I went.  The church is well attended by a large Hispanic population.  Half of the masses are in Spanish and the pastor clearly speaks Spanish natively with English as a second language.  This would probably not be my “home” church but one I would visit on occasion.  Nevertheless, it exceeded my expectations.  At some point I expect I would also consider attending a local Baptist church only because all the Catholic churches are so far away.  I want the opportunity to meet people locally, not an hour away!

St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Lenoir, NC

St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Lenoir, NC

So this is all to tell you that I’m seriously considering moving here – soon!  This is still in a really early stage but it has some very real possibility.  I have already checked into what it would take to make my RV winter worthy (information for another post).  I might also consider trading this one in for a travel trailer which, for the same money, would not only be newer but roomier.  Again, this is really early in the planning stage but if I was to do this, it would have to be a relatively quick thing since winter isn’t all that far away and I’m not open to freezing to death!

The balance of my trip, by necessity, has to change.  I still hope to get to Indianapolis to visit my son and family but it will probably have to be without the RV since I won’t be able to tow my car for a while and the campground there closes by the end of October.  It would also only be for a week rather than the planned month.

Assuming I end up doing this truly crazy thing, I will also have to find out if and how I can move mom up here.  I know she would love it here even if she couldn’t see too much of it.  The air alone would be so helpful for her and the COPD she suffers from.  Everything, however, has to be one step at a time.  First, me!

Trooper JD Boone, the man who came to my rescue the second time around!

Trooper JD Boone, the man who came to my rescue the second time around!

As always there is so much more to tell but it will have to wait until another time!  I will leave you with this – since I’ve been on this journey (not even a month yet), I’ve driven four different vehicle types (RV, SUV, van and my non-performing performance car) with tags from three different states (Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee), rentals from two different rental car companies (Hertz and Enterprise) and towing by two very different towing companies.  I have met two state troopers and one local cop, dealt with two other state troopers on the phone and two different insurance companies  I have had to deal with two separate warranty issues (the clutch is under warranty while the face plate on the car is not a warranty issue since it was misused).  I had to pay for the first car rental since at time they could not determine the issue was under warranty.  Hopefully I will get that money back although the night I had to stay at the hotel will not be refunded to me.  I am now good “friends” with both the Fiat dealer in Tennessee as well as Fiat USA.  I have learned that there is something called a Wrecker Sergeant, a position that deals exclusively with tow truck companies ensuring that they have insurance and are complying with the various in and outs of the laws.  It has been one helluva learning experience.  But out of it all I may end up with a new home.  That would work for me!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

project ME!!!

It has been entirely too long since I’ve last written so here I am to correct that issue!

I’ve been quietly busy for the last few weeks.  I’ve just finished a two week fast using the Master Cleanse or, as some people call it, the lemonade fast.  It’s a rather simple program where you make lemonade using fresh lemons, Grade B maple syrup and a dash of cayenne, all in water.  You are supposed to drink 6 or more glasses of it a day.  Yep, I actually did a whopping two whole weeks and I would have continued but I was getting antsy to get back to doing some real work.

Today is my third day post fast.  Each day finds me gradually getting back to normal eating but I’m finding that a little difficult.  Small amounts of food seem to be too much for me so I’m not eating all that much yet but I am eating very healthy things, mostly raw vegetables at this point.   What I do eat is tasting absolutely heavenly to me!   After drinking all those lemons I have to tell you – what it does to one’s skin is not to be believed!  My face in particular feels great – smooth and silky!

People have asked what would make me ever want to fast without any solid food for 14 days.  I suppose there are many answers but today the one I was thinking about had to do with my needing to hit the “pause” button.  With the moving process I found myself too often resorting to either quick meals of whatever I could grab or, worse yet, maybe just some ice cream (Talenti gelato to be precise and only Sea Salt Caramel!).  Whatever was quick and gave me easy energy was what I found in my hands and mouth.  Some speak of a slippery slope but for me it isn’t a slippery slope.  Nope, it is more of a 100 foot cliff that comes out of nowhere.  Suddenly I’m in a totally different place and all the time spent eating healthily is a distant memory that is fading quickly.

I needed a change and I needed one that would be just as sudden as the cliff from which I descended.  For me, that change is a fast.

Self explanatory I suspect!

Stop eating!

The first three days found me craving everything and anything I’d been eating just prior to the fast.  I wanted some of that lovely soup I just made or something else.  The cravings aren’t necessarily for bad foods but may indicate some allergic process I’ve developed that has me craving more of those foods or maybe I really DO need them (that soup was made with really good bone broth and was therefore packed with lots of minerals).  Then, almost like magic, those cravings are gone and in their place emerge thoughts about healthy foods.  It has happened just like that every time I have fasted.  The first three days are tougher since those cravings are driven.  I WANT ____ AND I WANT IT NOW!!! FEED ME!!! I don’t pay too much attention to them although they try to make their presence well known.  Besides, there is nothing in my freezer or refrigerator worth eating other than lemons.  Lots and lots of lemons along with a jug of maple syrup.  Cheating is not even a concern for me nor is going off the fast since I do not allow for that possibility.  The only reason to go off the fast prior to the ten days of my original goal is if somehow something isn’t going well.  In this case I actually extended it an additional four days since everything was going so well!  As for hunger, sure, I feel some hunger but drinking the lemonade throughout the day really helps with keeping hunger at bay.

A cleansing site!

A cleansing site!

I experienced weakness this fast, something I normally haven’t felt too much of in my other fasts.  I found myself not wanting to do much of anything as I sat in this very blissful state of contentment.  Everything seemed to be rather blunted, especially my emotions.  While I wouldn’t want to feel like this all the time (I would miss feeling things more intensely), for the two weeks I was fasting it was fine.  It is like a reprieve from my life where everything seems to just stop for a while.  Whatever may come up will still be there when I come back from this place.  Don’t bother me, please.  I’m taking a break from life.  Not only does my eating pause, but in many ways so does my life.  No eating, no thinking, no emotions, no worries; just very pleasant peace.  It is a time I give to myself as a wonderful gift, truly a full body cleanse.

I do no writing during this time other than my journaling.  I had hoped to continue my writing project but that couldn’t happen since I’m incapable of writing from this place, at least not anything anyone would ever want to read!  So I hit the pause button on writing also.

A still life I found on one of our walks.  It felt very quiet and peaceful to me, much like I've been feeling during this fast.

A still life I found on one of our walks. It felt very quiet and peaceful to me, much like I’ve been feeling during this fast.

Now that I’m in the post fast phase I find myself only wanting to eat healthy foods again and so far all vegan.  Actually, the idea of eating any meat right now seems to be quite repulsive to my body so I’m going with it in the moment.    I’m still in that place of peace, almost like a high, and find I do not wish to lose it by eating the wrong foods (“wrong” as defined by my body at this time).  My goal for now is to do two days a week of fasting while eating normally the other days.  It is something I used to do years ago and found it to be quite positive.

And so I’ve begun “project ME!!!”.  I’ve mentioned previously that my body told me I needed to do this whole RV thing for healing purposes and apparently this has been the first step.  Project ME!!! will no doubt continue to unfold as I progress.  I feel this lovely sense of groundedness right now and I really want to hold on to it.  Over the years I felt like I had lost huge parts of myself for a variety of reasons.  One of the things I lost was my way when it came to eating healthy foods.  It is my hope that I have now reclaimed that part.  Stay tuned to see what comes next!  Even I’m curious to know what happens after this!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

surprise!!!!

Seven weeks into this full-time RV thing and I’ve had a few interesting surprises.  These are the fun surprises, not the ones that give headaches!

Picasso and I went out to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday and this is his way of begging for food!  Of course he is in his stroller and, as always, very well behaved!  I include this photo "just because"!

Picasso and I went out to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday and this is his way of begging for food! Of course he is in his stroller and, as always, very well behaved! I include this photo “just because”!

[A friend asked me to insert the link for the stroller so that’s what I’m doing!  First, a little about this stroller – it is lightweight and relatively small.  Only one dog will fit in it.  Its biggest advantage is that it folds up like an umbrella stroller.  With moving into the RV I needed something that I could actually fit in my small car full time and this fits the bill perfectly and is the only one that folds up in this way, something you can easily see with the photos on Amazon.  Don’t let the reviews scare you off – if you need a stroller that folds up smaller than any other, this is your stroller.  Covered Pet Stroller]

First surprise I’ve briefly mentioned before, at least on our Facebook page – it is different living in an RV that rock and rolls with every movement!  If you are going to boil water, DO NOT fill a pan to the tippy top since when you walk it will spill!  Along with that surprise is a subset – even little Picasso can move the RV!  My little dude is not even 11 pounds and yet his walking can be felt throughout the RV!  And when he jumps, forget it!  Now here’s another part of this whole rocking thing – as the black and gray tanks fill up, the rocking gets more exaggerated!  I never would’ve guessed this but it makes sense if you think about it.  While the RV would stop moving after a few times back and forth if the tanks were empty, the water in the tanks continues to move for a while like the waves of the ocean and it seems to keep moving forever.  The reality is that if you are quiet enough you can feel the subtle movement of the RV even when Picasso and I are still since it is always in motion.   For the most part none of this is an issue and basically just causes me to giggle here and there as I walk through the RV like a drunken sailor.  But when I’m in the shower and the tanks are nearly full things can get very interesting!  Eyes closed and the RV rocking and rolling and it can be a bit of a challenge.  But, honest confession – I think it is fun and I somehow feel more connected to the earth with the swaying, perhaps because it’s a bit like being in the ocean.

Now it is true that one can stabilize the RV to keep it from moving but I didn’t know if one had to do so to protect the RV.  From what I’ve read it isn’t necessary to stabilize the RV.  But while reading I found that some people actually get seasick from being in an RV.  Now that was a real surprise to me!  I actually like the movement but I can see how some could have issues with it, particularly if they have another adult in the RV with them.  For now I will keep it as it is!

 

My extremely limited counter space!

My extremely limited counter space!

Another surprise to me has been how much I’ve been enjoying cooking here.  Why is that a surprise?  Well, for one thing it is utterly cramped!  The work space is quite small and requires a new way of organizing how to go about things.  Maybe it’s because it’s a bit of a challenge.  Since I use an induction cooktop, once I put that on the counter there is no more counter space!  What that means is taking time to prep everything first, before I take out the cooktop, and stage it on the table.  That seems to be working perfectly.  Cooking now requires just a little more organization than usual.  Oh, and there are more bowls to wash, too, since I have to use them to hold everything I’ve staged!

My hand hammered wok sitting atop the induction cooktop!

My hand hammered wok sitting atop the induction cooktop!

Max Burton 6400 Digital Choice Induction Cooktop 1800 Watts LCD

Other cooking surprises for me include loving that I have my wok here.  I didn’t bring a large frying pan, figuring instead to use the wok.  Just tonight I used it again.  I made Pasta with Tomatoes, Spinach and Goat Cheese.  First I prepped the ingredients and put them on the table (AKA my desk!).  Then I pulled out the induction cooktop and placed a pan of water on it to boil for the pasta.  After cooking the pasta I drained it and left the pasta in the colander in the sink while I “wokked” the other ingredients.  Finally I added the pasta into the wok.  Everything worked perfectly and dinner was incredibly good!  The thing for me with the whole organization thing is that as I’m cooking I’m also washing and putting away dishes.  There isn’t the luxury of piling up the dishes for later but when I’m done with eating there really isn’t all that much cleanup left either!  I should also mention that the induction cooktop is the first time I’ve been able to get my wok really hot!  This is a big deal in wok cookery.  Too often after adding food into the wok it cools down and rather than stir frying the food it is more or less steamed from the water the food releases.  It is quick and easy to get it hot and it quickly reheats after the addition of food.  If you need it to cool down, as soon as the temperature is changed on the cooktop it pretty much instantly changes.  It is extremely responsive.  If you’ve never cooked with an induction cooktop it is pure joy as far as I’m concerned.  Again, I’m a happy camper!

Some have questioned the wisdom of using an induction cooktop that pulls 1800 watts of power since there are always power issues on an RV.  The reality is that it rarely actually pulls that much.  Since I’ve already discovered how to blow a circuit breaker (be sure to know where your circuit breakers are on your RV; mine are under the refrigerator, near the floor), I’ve figured when I use the induction cooktop I will start by turning off the A/C.  While the cooktop is at its highest level I’ve decided I’d keep the A/C off just so as not to blow any circuits!  Once I turn the temp down on the cooktop I can turn the A/C back on again. Potential problem solved!

My Instant Pot!  Highly recommended whether you live in a house on wheels or not!

My Instant Pot! Highly recommended whether you live in a house on wheels or not!

Next surprise – I LOVE my Instant Pot!

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W, Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior, Latest 3rd Generation Technology

What is an Instant Pot?  It is one of those wonderful multi-use appliances that really is great for an RV since space is always at a premium!  Since it only pulls 1000 watts there is no issue with running it while the A/C is on.  I would guess that it only uses those 1000 watts when it is first heating up, not to maintain heat.  I’ve used it five times at this point although I plan on using it a whole lot more!  My main use for it so far has been as a pressure cooker although I’ve used the saute function to brown foods before pressure cooking them.  It can also be used as a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, porridge maker and food warmer.  It comes with a heavy weight stainless steel insert that speaks of quality.  I’ve used many pressure cookers in the past, including a first generation electric one, and this is nothing like any of them.  First of all it is near silent!  No more heavy duty whooshing sounds from the weight on the lid.  I’ve never been particularly scared of using a pressure cooker but I do respect the fact that used incorrectly things can go very bad.  The new units are designed to have several back ups to keep anything bad from happening.  Another great thing about using this appliance in an RV is that it produces very little heat.  Steam stays locked within the cooker thus keeping moisture from accumulating in the RV.  There are only a few moments in the beginning of the cooking process when a little steam escapes and then nothing more!

Another surprise for me was just how much I hated the Zero Water filter I bought.  The lid never stayed on properly and I wasn’t sure if I even liked the taste of the water.  The whole thing just felt like a pain in the neck to use.  When I tried to use a small amount of water, I would get an avalanche. When filling ice cube trays I’m pretty sure I got more water on the counter than in the tray.  I don’t tolerate things I don’t like very well so I returned it.  I then bought myself a “baby” Berkey water filter (Travel size, holding 1.5 gallons).  Yes, I had one and packed it for storage but it was a bigger size and wouldn’t have fit in the RV.  This one fits perfectly!  While it takes up more room than the Zero Water filter (and costs more!), it is what I’m used to, is the highest rated filter, requires no electricity and makes me happy!  Among the impurities it filters out are arsenic and fluoride (requires secondary filters).  It is recommended for survival situations when clean water isn’t available.  Yes, it’s that good!  When it comes time to drive I will have to put it in the sink so as not to have any issues with water spillage but otherwise it won’t be an issue.  I refuse to buy bottled water for conservation reasons (those nasty plastic bottles) and now that California is in such a nasty drought I don’t want to further contribute by drinking the water that companies are taking from drought stricken areas.  So with the purchase of my Berkey I’m a happy camper and have total water consistency wherever I go!

Travel Berkey with 2 Black Filters and 2 Fluoride Filters and Water Purifier Bottle

My  Travel Berkey Water Filter with the additional fluoride filters.  Just because I know someone will be curious, that interesting thing to the left of my Berkey is a wok scrubber, used to clean food off the interior of the wok after cooking.

My Travel Berkey Water Filter with the additional fluoride filters. Just because I know someone will be curious, that interesting thing to the left of my Berkey is a wok scrubber, used to clean food off the interior of the wok after cooking.

And finally my most recent surprise.  Unfortunately no matter what I do the sofa bed is not working for me.  I’ve all sorts of things going on related to being uncomfortable on the sofa bed – my neck hurts as do my shoulders, head, arms, ribs, left knee and pelvis.  I’m even super clenching my jaw from the overall discomfort and that is causing TMJ pain.  I’ve invested a fair amount of money in my attempt to make it comfy but, alas, all hacks have failed!  (The cushion thingy that I bought for underneath the mattress actually is a huge help since without it I probably wouldn’t be walking because of the back pain I started having.  It just isn’t enough, probably since the sofa bed is fairly old!)  I’ve been debating what to do about it.  Another sleeper sofa could present the exact same issue and then I’d have invested another pile of money into this situation.  I debated this and that and finally decided that perhaps the better solution would be to get a twin mattress and use it as a day bed!  There would be just enough room for it in terms of wall space!  Unfortunately I don’t see this solution as coming in under $500 and could be considerably more.  So the other morning I was still in bed and thinking about how I didn’t have the money to do this.  I asked for financial help while I was praying.  That afternoon I got a phone call.  One of the things I’ve had on consignment for over 6 months just happened to sell that afternoon giving me enough money to get whatever setup I decide would work with some money left over!  Isn’t that great?  So now on to go test drive some mattresses!  Yay!

Interestingly, I have found that so far I don’t mind doing the laundry here one bit!   Believe me, this is one huge surprise for me!  I even got to meet a woman there I have since nicknamed Purple Lady since every thing about her is purple!  I’m pretty sure everything in her laundry basket was purple including the laundry basket itself!  Well it turns out that as of yesterday she and her husband moved directly behind us into their own park model.  I happened to be dumping the black tank and she saw my hose.  She immediately asked me if my hose was purple and I answered that it was.  She told me that she had to get one and asked where I bought it.  Amazon, of course!  I have to admit to being very curious if she decorated in purple also!  I’m kind of guessing that she does!

Water Right PCH-075-EP-4PKRS Polyurethane Lead Safe Coil Garden Hose, 75-Foot x 3/8-Inch, Eggplant

My purple (eggplant) hose, courtesy of Amazon.com!

My purple (eggplant) hose, courtesy of Amazon.com!

Well I think that’s about it for the surprises so far!  Ah, one other surprise – it is just past the middle of April and this place is clearing out rapidly!  I cannot get over how much more empty the place is after each weekend!  Pretty soon I’ll be all by myself!  And I’m not complaining about that!  But I probably will complain about the heat!  Consider yourself warmed (um, that was supposed to be “warned” but I suppose that works, too!)!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

If you are going to purchase one of my recommendations, please consider doing so through the links on my blog so I can get a little credit for the sales.  I would really appreciate it and it wouldn’t cost you a thing!  Thank you!