summertime & the living is….

Yep, it is summer and the living isn’t exactly what I would’ve expected.  But I sit here with some lemonade that I made from all those darned lemons I seem to be accumulating and I’m ready and raring to go!  However, I’m still not quite ready to get there by driving since my wings are still temporarily clipped!

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream.  I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there.  I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one.  The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream. I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there. I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one. The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

Thanks to the wonderful things many of you mentioned to me about my photography and the very real reality that there is little I’m able to do until we find the right anti-seizure medication (currently on my 4th one), I’ve decided to plunge into photography because it remains one of the few things I can do.  Every day I try to get out and take some photos or, minimally, edit them on my computer.  You’d be surprised by how much there is to photograph here!  I downloaded some updated software programs, took some online classes to better learn how to use them and even decided to add a new lens to my kit so I could take telephoto images.  Given how my credit card got more than a little bloated with this extravagance, it had better be worth it, right?  I’m happy to report that I think it was both in terms of the joy it has given me so far and as well as the images I’ve gotten!  You will be the judge of that when I show you some of my new work.

I'm not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed.  I just liked its "head down" shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I’m not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed. I just liked its “head down” shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I will say that watching those videos on the new programs I had downloaded and then trying to implement them was more than just a little interesting.  Thankfully I was able to restrain myself from throwing anything at the computer or throwing the computer out the window!  I did a little at a time to keep the frustration manageable and finally did manage to learn what I needed to learn.  Well, mostly.  There’s still something in Photoshop I used to know how to do in the old program but no longer can make work in the updated version.  I still have to figure that one out.

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream.  I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year.  As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream. I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year. As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

My new life theme is a version of “Grow where you are planted” which, for me, has become “Shoot where you be!”  The longer I stay here without being able to get out, the more I see how very much there is here to learn about, get to know and photograph.  I’ve found an intimacy with the flora and fauna that has been a surprise with both yielding their secrets to me.  I hope that you can feel that intimacy through the images I’ve captured.  Hopefully through this intimacy you will be able to see their souls.

Enjoy!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream.  This photo was take around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream. This photo was taken around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

 

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

 

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.   There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it.  Kind of a still life.

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.  There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it. Kind of a still life.

 

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago.  After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him.  It worked.  However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago. After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him. It worked. However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

 

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them.  Don't ask.  Not intentional.  Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves.  So pretty!

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them. Don’t ask. Not intentional. Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves. So pretty!

 

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying.  I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying. I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

 

Sunflowers - such happy flowers!  I particularly liked this one with its floppy "ear", perhaps because it wasn't perfect and had character.

Sunflowers – such happy flowers! I particularly liked this one with its floppy “ear”, perhaps because it wasn’t perfect and had character.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

…and just like that – KABOOM!!!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

one year

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

 

Moving out of our apartment.

Moving out of our apartment.

 

Empty!

Empty!

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

 

RV number 1 in NC!

RV number 1 in NC!

 

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

 

The first time towing my Fiat.

The first time towing my Fiat.

 

The second time towing my car.

The second time towing my car.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

ten days

As I write this it has been ten days since my mother’s death.  Time behaves oddly after something like this.  At two days I couldn’t believe it was only two days and now at ten days it seems like it has been much less than that.  I cannot say it was unexpected since she was suffering from both COPD and congestive heart failure but in the end, it went very fast.  Just before New Year’s Day she was admitted to the hospital with an exacerbation of the COPD.  She was unable to breathe and the facility was not able to bring her back to any kind of comfort level so off she went.  While she was a DNR (do not resuscitate or re-sue-citate as she called it that day), that didn’t mean they wouldn’t embark on whatever other treatments they might deem necessary to help her.  They put her on a Bi-PAP machine, similar to the CPAP used for sleep apnea.  The difference is the CPAP is pressurized in just one direction (breathing in) while the Bi-PAP is pressurized in both directions (breathing in; breathing out).  I’m told that the treatment is quite intense and difficult for anybody but particularly so for an elderly person.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be there since I was in North Carolina at the time.  What I was aware of two main things in mom while she was in the hospital – an incredible amount of confusion as well as a lot of chest discomfort and pain.  The nurse assured me that the chest discomfort wasn’t a heart issue but rather from the treatment she received in the ER.  I guess that makes sense if you understand that she was unable to take a breath either in or out and this machine forced that to happen.  That would have to hurt.

It was at that time that I decided it would be more merciful to not have her undergo that treatment again and began to explore the option of hospice.  From what I understood, hospice would be able to keep her far more comfortable, using morphine to help ease her breathing and Xanax to manage the anxiety that is so ubiquitous to COPD.  Hospice was implemented prior to her return to the nursing home.  By consenting to hospice I knew she would not go back to the emergency room but, instead, would have the opportunity to hopefully die with dignity and grace whenever that time would come.  Admittedly, this was not an easy decision to have made especially without support.  I just knew she didn’t want to go through what she had in the emergency room and ICU again.  Nor did I.  There had to be a better way and hospice gave us that option.

After returning to the nursing home, mom questioned me several times about why they didn’t let her die in the hospital.  She was clear that she no longer wished to live this life as it was now presented to her.  My brothers made arrangements to visit with her.  I arrived in Florida the day they were leaving, our paths paralleling each other rather than crossing so we did not see each other.  The day before I arrived she evidently had new issue.  This time her blood pressure dropped to something like 70/30, a level that caused no small amount of concern to the nursing staff with one nurse calling me to confirm my decision not to send mom to the ER if it got worse. Again, that’s a very hard thing to affirm although I did.  The finality of that statement hung over me, making me question my original decision to go forth into hospice.  I stuck with hospice knowing that was what she wanted as well as the right thing to do overall.  There were some who told me that with my brothers’ presence she totally overdid it and felt this drop in blood pressure was the result.  I’m sure mom’s tiredness was not quite as visible as it would be to me since she was so excited to see the two of them.  Her excitement would overcome her tiredness, at least while they were there.  After they left for the day she was exhausted and fell into a deep sleep.  It had been years (two and three years) since she had seen either of them.  I was concerned since I was the one to see the tiredness between their visits on the three days they were there.  I kept trying to tell her to bring it down a few levels since she was so tired but she wouldn’t listen since she was happy to finally see the two of them.

When I saw her that Tuesday evening after my arrival I have to admit to being shook to my core.  She looked awful and sounded a whole lot worse.  Her speech was slurred and she was more confused than I had ever seen or heard before.  Mom had no idea if it was day or night even though it was obviously sunny outside.  If it was really 3:30 in the afternoon, she told me, why was she still in bed?  She kept telling me, “I’m so confoosed” which was how she pronounced it.  I actually videoed our conversation since I was sure no one would believe how she sounded and was acting.  I feared the mom I knew not that long ago was gone forever.

Picasso didn't care how mom sounded, he loved her nonetheless and unconditionally.  She always said it was Picasso who taught her how to laugh again!

Picasso didn’t care how mom sounded, he loved her nonetheless and unconditionally. She always said it was Picasso who taught her how to laugh again!

That night I spoke with a friend, telling him I knew she was still terrified of death, something I had been trying to help her overcome.  Now with death pounding at the door something had to be done to help her, but what?  I knew words wouldn’t work since her mind, even if confused, would find a way to block my words and defend against them as has always been the case.  I told him how I wished I had some of my crystal singing bowls to play for her knowing how well they worked with her in the past, going right past her cognitive objections and defenses and directly to her heart and soul.  We went back and forth with various ideas when I remembered I knew someone, William, who played the crystal bowls as a Divine offering to others, even working with hospice patients in the past.  I called him that night and he returned the call the following morning.  William was available that very evening.  The timing was perfect.  Of course!

Mom was excited about having the bowl concert but forgot all about it almost immediately after I told her.  We were allowed to use the conference room since it would not be occupied at that hour.  Using the conference room and particularly the large conference table allowed William the room he needed to spread out all his sound therapy instruments.  It also gave us privacy.  Mom had again been in bed all day until 4 PM when they got her into her wheelchair as I had requested earlier that day.  Even though I told her about the concert just moments before, when we arrived in the conference room mom was convinced we were there for a conference for her, one that already happened the day before, immediately after I arrived in Florida.  I reminded her why we were there.  When she and William first saw each other it was love at first sight!  The two of them fell into a state of love that would have to be experienced to be understood.  Their two souls met and recognized each other instantly.  Oh, the love!  It transcended everything.  There are no words adequate to describe their experience nor mine as I watched.  It was love personified.

Just after William and mom first met.

Just after William and mom first met.

William and mom prior to the concert.

William and mom prior to the concert.

A conference table full of singing bowls and other sound therapy tools.

A conference table full of singing bowls and other sound therapy tools.

William walked over to her, hugged her and held her hands for what seemed like a very long time.  Finally he began to play the bowls and mom was immediately transported into another world.  Her face, previously contorted with pain and confusion, now showed what could best be described as ecstasy.  The sounds of the bowls brought her into what she said was heaven.  For the first time in her life she told me she was no longer afraid of dying.  Mom told William how very long I had been working to help her get to this place and now she was finally here.  Her gratitude for both William and me was deep and obvious.  It was a very touching moment for me knowing all the work I had been doing finally reached its culmination.  On top of that, mom was suddenly coherent again.

Mom during the concert.

Mom during the concert while I prayed for her.

William and mom hugging it out after the bowl concert.  Mom was so deeply grateful!

William and mom hugging it out after the bowl concert. Mom was so deeply grateful!

Upon reaching her room afterwards it was amazing to see how quickly she went back to complaining about how she was feeling.  No longer in the spiritual realm, she went back into the physical which wasn’t feeling all that well. It almost seemed that she had been stockpiling those complaints which went unexpressed during the concert and now could not hold them back a moment longer.  I feared the work done by William might have evaporated just like that!  It was such a contrast from just a few moments ago.  My heart nearly broke.

I needn’t have worried.  The next day she was in much better spirits.  She was happy, joyful and in full control of her thoughts.  Later that afternoon, my son Kris arrived for a visit with her.  He later told me he couldn’t believe she could possibly be that sick even though he knew on another level that she was.  The intervention with the bowls clearly brought her to a very different place than she had been.  I’d not seen her this well for quite some time.  Of course seeing Kris also helped but the reality was that she wasn’t tiring out from our visits which was quite different.

Kris and his grandmother.  Only a week after this photo was taken she'd be gone.

Kris and his grandmother. Only a week after this photo was taken she’d be gone and you would never know it to look at her!

That Friday evening after Kris and I spent the day helping mom decide who would get what from her crystal collection, Kris and I went out to dinner.  For three hours I told him about mom (at his behest) and what her life was like growing up and her experiences as an adult.  Once learning just how difficult her life had been he experienced a new found respect for her.  Up until this point they never really had a strong relationship but now it changed for him.  The following morning, prior to his departure for home, he told her multiple times that he loved her, something he never remembered doing in the past.

Sunday morning came and it was time for me to start the journey back home to North Carolina after my visit with mom.  The week had been well beyond anything I could’ve imagined.  There was a closeness between mom and me that went beyond words.  We also both knew this would be our last time seeing each other in this life.

I planned on being there for only about an hour or so but it ended up being over four hours before I could leave.  When I arrived it was clear that mom’s body was not able to maintain that higher level of energy from the bowl concert and showed signs of deterioration, as I fully expected.  She was also frightened again.  I was leaving her and she expressed her disappointment that she hadn’t died while I was there, something we both hoped might have happened.  With all the journeys we shared together, if felt right to both of us that we would share this, her last journey.  It was obvious that she was afraid to die without me being present.  She wanted my support.  During those four hours I looked to calm her and support her again.  Once I saw improvement, I left.  Since we both knew that we would never see each other again my departure felt so much more difficult but everything that needed to be said and everything that needed to be done was taken care of.  I left feeling peace in my heart.  I felt sadness, too, but the peace really was the prevailing emotion.  No matter what, I knew everything would be okay for both of us.

Before I even drove out of the parking lot of the nursing home she called me on the phone.  The first leg of my journey was about 4.5 hours and we talked for probably 3.5 of those hours on the phone stopping only so she could eat dinner.  She needed that contact from me and perhaps I needed it from her, too.  We shared stories from our journeys together, again expressing disappointment that this final journey we would not do together.  At one point I shared a story about her on our trip to Mt. Shasta, California.  I made her laugh so hard that she started coughing and couldn’t breathe!  I felt bad that I made her cough that badly but, on the other hand, hearing her laugh that hard and probably for the last time in her life, felt good.  It was the last time I’d ever hear her laugh.

The following day, Sunday, she really started her downward descent.  It was clear that things were different.  We spent practically no time on the phone that day since she couldn’t maintain enough energy to do so.  For the next few days she required morphine more often (used to help with her breathing) and more Xanax (to control the anxiety from not being able to breathe normally).  When I was there she was having great difficulty swallowing her food or drink and would constantly spit it back up, a well known issue with those with COPD.  Very little food or liquid actually made it into her stomach.  Now, even though she was going downhill in most other areas, eating and drinking actually became a little easier.

By Thursday she found herself pretty much unable to stay awake the whole day.  In spite of that, she still insisted on going to Bingo twice, her favorite activity, once in the morning and again in the evening.  She slept through the two different sessions she attended but it didn’t matter to her – she still wanted to be there.  Mom loved her bingo!  Her roommate Emma, the first and only roommate mom ever got along with, tried to keep watch over mom but mom was still insistent on doing whatever she wanted to do.  She was like that in life and so now, too, in the dying process.  That night, mom and I were on the phone as was usually the case.  I was in the habit of talking with her no less than three times a day most days so I could assess how she was doing.  Depending on the outcome of those conversations I would then reach out to staff for help since I wasn’t there to do things myself.  In those final days I’d also reached out to Emma, my eyes and ears, for her assessment.  After determinating her physical state what became clear was how she wanted to talk and needed to have contact with me.  As much as I thought we should hang up so she could rest she would not consider it, asking me to please talk longer.  I remember thinking to myself that one never knows when the “last time” might be.  Since something felt quite different about her request, I stayed on considerably longer.  I’m so glad I listened to that quiet voice within since it turned out to be our last real conversation.  She obviously knew on some level what was about to happen.

The following morning, Friday, I called her to find her not doing well at all.  We talked for a little while but it was obvious to me that something was quite different.  She barely responded to what I had to say, remaining caught up in what she was telling me.  It was not what I would call a conversation although she could acknowledge my presence.  I spoke with Emma to see how she thought mom was doing.  Emma told me that it wasn’t good.  I could always trust Emma to tell me the truth about what was happening and not sugar coat it to make it easier on me.  I’m so grateful for her honesty and courage to always speak the truth to me.  William and I were in contact earlier that morning and he told me he planned on visiting with her after lunch.  I told him that mom had declined since the last time he saw her.  By the time he got there, she had declined even further, becoming pretty much non-responsive.

Around 1 PM I made my second phone call to mom.  She was able to pick up the phone but could no longer respond to me.  Emma continued to keep me up to date as did the nursing staff and hospice team but Emma was much more helpful in general with painting a picture for me of what was happening.  She told me that mom had been yelling for me to let her go, something I was praying for her to know just the day before.  After Emma and I spoke I launched into another round of intense prayer for mom to know that I wasn’t holding on to her and that each of her children would be fine.  It was sometime after all that when William arrived at mom’s bedside.

William later told me that he brought his bowls but mom no longer seemed to respond to them at all.  So he sat with her while she mostly yelled the whole time as he looked to comfort her.  She had a litany of yelling that she would do.  The first yelling was for me – Deborah, help me – yelled over and over again.  Eventually she then launched into the same pattern but this time for Eddie, her brother I assume (unless she knew another Eddie I didn’t know about).  This was followed by calling for Mother and finally she called for Mother of Pearl.  I’ve no specific idea what Mother of Pearl was about and have assumed perhaps it was the morphine making her mind a bit more wonky than it already was. Energetically, Mother of Pearl is a very comforting gemstone, exhibiting a mothering type of energy.  Perhaps mom was actually calling for that energy but there is no way of knowing what her seriously addled brain was thinking.  This went on for hours with just a few short breaks.

The nursing staff was concerned for William who was there for over four hours as mom continued in this manner.  Whenever she would fall asleep for just a moment or two she would then wake up screaming how she didn’t want to die yet!  I spoke to Emma several times during this period to make sure Emma was doing okay.  I was worried about her.  After all, she is a patient in rehab, not a staff member.  Her training, however, while not medical was spiritual – her husband is a pastor at a local church.  Between the church and the people I asked to pray though Facebook mom must have had well over two hundred people lifting her up in prayer during this time.  I’m so grateful for their faithfulness.

William left only after a hospice vigil volunteer arrived to relieve him.  He told me he would’ve stayed if no one else showed up to remain at mom’s side or if he wasn’t comfortable with the replacement.  After four hours he was naturally exhausted.  Emma, God bless her, remained in her room the whole time to watch over the process and offer support when needed.  She was mom’s guardian angel, along with William, in human form.

With all the yelling and screaming mom was doing I felt certain that the end would be imminent.  No way her body was going to recuperate from the energy expended by yelling like that.  The last time I spoke with her was sometime after dinner, not that mom was capable of eating.  At that time she was repeating what I think was “Aid, PLEASE!” over and over again.  The “please” part was quite clear and emphatic; I was less sure about the first word.  I joked with her that I didn’t think she could hear me with all that racket she was making.  Briefly she stopped and then resumed again.  This happened three different times.  In talking with Emma, she felt sure mom was responding to my talking with her since she didn’t stop like that other times.  I ended my talk to mom telling her how Picasso and I loved her and we were with her even if not physically.  I said it several times hoping that she would be able to hear it over her noise.  I never spoke to her again.

I got the call that evening around 10:15 PM.  The nurse was hesitant and unsure of how to tell me that my mother had “expired” at 10 PM.  My response was, “Oh, I’m so glad!”  Probably a little unexpected but I quickly added how I was happy mom was no longer suffering.  After we hung up I sat there for moment marking this momentous occasion in my mind before starting to call everyone, saving my west coast friends for later since they’d still be awake.

At 11 PM my phone rang again.  This time it was Emma.  She told me how she wanted to call me sooner but the aides wouldn’t allow her fearing her blood pressure could become problematic.  As soon as the second shift ended she picked up her phone to call me.  Oh, how I love this woman!  In the end, even after all the noise mom was making, her passing was peaceful.  Mom had been asleep for about 15 minutes when Emma heard mom take her last breath.  Emma immediately knew this was it and called the nurses.  In the end, it was just the two of them – Emma and my mom.  I am so grateful it worked out that way.  Emma kept reassuring mom, telling mom not to worry since God loved her.  At some point during the day Mom told Emma she was ready to die but was still afraid of the process itself.  Emma eased her into the transition.

At around 2 AM the man from the crematory came to get mom’s body.  After doing what was needed, he pushed her past Emma’s bed and heard Emma tell mom, “Good bye, my friend”.  I still cannot recount that without tears in my eyes.  Mom never had a real friend in her life…until she absolutely needed one and God provided her with the perfect friend!

Goodbye my friend!

Goodbye my friend!

And so after 91 years of life, mom, probably for the first time in her life, finally surrendered.  She was always the perennial fighter, even to the end.  There is so much more I’d like to share with you about mom’s journey in life so you would be able to understand how amazing the end of her life truly was.  For now, this is all I have in me.  Picasso and I went back to Florida again only a week after getting home from the last trip to get everything of her’s in order and take care of her final arrangements.  We are now home again to begin our mourning process.

Helen Gutowski Jones Weitz

                                                          May 29th, 1924 – January 22, 2016

When I think of mom, this is the song that comes to mind.  The rose in the background image is one of 80 I gave to her for her 80th birthday.  To hear the song performed by Coldplay, please click the photo.

When I think of mom, this is the song that comes to mind. The rose in the background image is one of 80 I gave to her for her 80th birthday. To hear the song performed by Coldplay, please click the photo.

Mom, Picasso and I love you and miss you very much. You are finally free to soar with the birds!  Fly on!

©  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

‘shrooms, ‘shrooms and more ‘shrooms…

This is a photo heavy post so please be patient as it may take considerably longer than usual to load!  

Oh, hell has it been raining!  And for once I don’t mean it metaphorically!  After three and a half weeks I’ve finally gotten my car back with the clutch master cylinder repaired but the baseplate, needed for towing, has yet to be replaced after being broken by the tow truck driver. I’m waiting for the adjustor on that.  And I’ve been to Indianapolis and back for a week long visit with my grandkids and their parents, a wonderful visit.  Unfortunately I had to go without my RV so rather than a month long trip it was only a short week! But back to the rain…

I’m pretty sure someone’s looking to make up for the drought here in North Carolina all in one month!  Of course poor South Carolina has had it so much worse.  But when it rains, the mushrooms come out – and come out they did!  The day before I left for Indy I took my camera out and took photos of a whole bunch of mushrooms and they were GREAT shots!  Sadly you nor I will never know just how great they were since someone (must’ve been Picasso!) forgot to put  the memory card in the camera.  Sigh.  Well, today I finally got back out to get a few more shots of the mushrooms and you won’t believe just how many different types there are out there!  All of these ‘shrooms were shot within less than 25 feet of the RV!

So, without further delay may I present ‘shrooms!  As usual know that you can double click any image to see it larger.  I hope you enjoy them!

Shrooms!!!-141

 

Shrooms!!!-137

 

Shrooms!!!-124

 

Shrooms!!!-108

 

Shrooms!!!-107

 

Shrooms!!!-90

 

Shrooms!!!-85

 

Shrooms!!!-74

 

Shrooms!!!-43

 

Shrooms!!!-32

 

Shrooms!!!-20

 

Ferguson, NC-212
Shrooms!!!-157

 

Shrooms!!!-165

 

Shrooms!!!-171

 

Shrooms!!!-208

 

Shrooms!!!-210

 

Shrooms!!!-250

 

Shrooms!!!-256

 

Shrooms!!!

 

© 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