home again!

It is certainly time for me to let you know that I’ve made it to Tucson safe and sound.  I’ve been here three weeks now and have spent most of that time unpacking, organizing and resting.  I might have been done with it all if I had the shelving I needed but it hasn’t arrived yet.  Well, technically the shelves are here but the upright parts aren’t yet so the shelves are useless in this moment!

Our very trusty and comfortable Penske rental truck with my less than trusty car behind it!

Our very trusty and comfortable Penske rental truck with my less than trusty car behind it!

I feel quite at home here, not just in Tucson but specifically in our apartment.  Given that I rented it sight unseen that’s a good thing!  One side of the apartment faces desert which makes me quite happy.  Every evening as the sun descends the coyotes can be heard singing their good night song.  I’ve seen a family of quail right outside my bedroom window!  Just tonight I saw an owl sitting on a chimney (yeah, we all have wood burning fireplaces in our apartments, something I doubt I’ll ever use but who knows?)

A rainbow as we left Sarasota.  I took this to be a good omen!

A rainbow as we left Sarasota. I took this to be a good omen!

The trip cross country couldn’t have been any better.  The weather was near perfect, the drive uneventful and I had only one questionable day.  That’s one day out of fifteen, two if you count the day we arrived here but that was just stress and overwhelm.

Storm clouds gathering as we left Sarasota, FL.  Our weather was near perfect with very little rain.

Storm clouds gathering as we left Sarasota, FL. Our weather was near perfect with very little rain.

There were several high points during the trip.  My favorite thing was finally getting to meet a Facebook friend (Linda Van Kampen) in Florida.  She was exactly the wonderful person I expected her to be.

A rainbow as we left Sarasota.  I took this to be a good omen!

A rainbow as we left Sarasota. I took this to be a good omen!

We spent extra days in San Antonio and Carlsbad, NM where we got to do the Riverwalk and explore the caverns, respectfully.  The caverns were a really amazing experience.

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

 

The Riverwalk.

The Riverwalk.

We ate wonderfully during the trip and neither of us gained any weight at all!  We ate at a Chinese buffet, had stromboli/calzone, indulged in filet mignon, enjoyed a night of Mexican food with a mango margarita and I had my first In-N-Out burger!  We had fun driving in the truck, talking about just about everything we could and singing Willy Nelson’s On the Road Again each morning!  Davette, my trusty driver and friend, now considers herself to be Picasso’s second mother.  They became close friends during the trip.  Davette took a video of Picasso jumping from bed to bed and has shown it to quite a few people like a proud mother showing off her kid’s newest antics.  And speaking of Picasso, he was nothing but a perfect gentleman on the trip.  I even felt comfortable leaving him by himself in hotel rooms, something I’ve not done before.  It was clear that he was going to be okay with it and, yes, he was perfect.

No photograph could ever capture the majesty of Carlsbad Caverns.  It is something that truly has to be experienced.

No photograph could ever capture the majesty of Carlsbad Caverns. It is something that truly has to be experienced.

 

The dim lighting in the caverns made for some interesting standing for me!  Let's put it this way - darned good thing there were handrails throughout!

The dim lighting in the caverns made for some interesting standing for me! Let’s put it this way – darned good thing there were handrails throughout!

Another one of the high points came when we were in our room in Carlsbad.  We hadn’t even gotten settled yet.  I was coming out of the bathroom while Davette was fiddling around when a man suddenly walked into the room!  Woohoo!  The first man I’ve had in my bedroom in quite a while!  Sadly he was there by mistake, the front desk having assigned him the same room they just gave to us minutes before.  Thankfully we were all dressed although Picasso certainly gave him a good barking, all while wagging his tail.  Great watchdog, ready to lick a intruder to death.  Good thing he’s so cute!

Sugar cane fields in Louisiana.  We just had to stop at a distillery where they make rum from the sugar cane.  Of course we had to test out their wares!

Sugar cane fields in Louisiana. We just had to stop at a distillery where they make rum from the sugar cane. Of course we had to test out their wares!

So here I am in Tucson…or is it Florida?  My brain has known I have “gone back” but sometimes thinks I went back to Florida, not Tucson, so at any moment I might be thinking of going to Publix rather than Albertson’s.  My driving has been limited to a very small area but I do manage to get out a bit more than I had been.  My trusty steed, my car, has been back in the shop for the last two weeks.  The loaner car looks exactly like mine except for the fact that it has been emasculated by having been given an automatic transmission rather than a stick shift.  Supposedly my car’s clutch is just fine, thank you (I’ve heard this before), but a part of the roof (an air dam) needed to be replaced and has taken a whole lot longer than I would’ve expected.

The clouds were truly awesome during our trip.  This is but one example.

The clouds were truly awesome during our trip. This is but one example.

While I’m quite tired and my body is complaining about all I’ve been forcing it to do (packing, sitting in a truck for hours on end for two weeks, unpacking) overall everything is good here.  I’ve gotten to spend time with old friends I’ve not seen in a while, rekindled lost friendships and appear to be heading toward making some new friends.

Arizona!!!

Arizona!!!

Picasso loves it here.  As much as he hates the heat he seems to be doing quite well in the desert.  He has developed some new routines and has resurrected some old ones (howling in the morning as I grab the leash for his first walk as well as howling when I’m getting his food ready).  There is a “racetrack” in the apartment, extending from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the hall and back to the kitchen again.  Picasso especially loves to run the racetrack whenever I grab a paper towel to clean his face after he has eaten.  Perhaps he thinks I need the exercise but all it does for me is make me more dizzy than I already am!  He has also found playing “monster” to be a whole lot more fun here.  Of course I am the monster and he is running away from me.  Seems that running away from me is a real theme here!  On any given evening Picasso can be found in his kennel in the bedroom after having abandoned me in the living room.  He seems quite content.

Again!  The only reason my car was back on the tow truck was for a dead battery which was completely covered by warranty!  Whew!

Again! The only reason my car was back on the tow truck was for a dead battery which was completely covered by warranty! Whew!

Well that’s the quick version of how things have been.  I’m going to try to get this up on my website right away since the previous ones I’ve written never got posted.  I’ll throw in a few photos taken with my iPhone and call it good.  My camera has been taking a rest while I unpack.  I’ll try to get back to you again soon, after I’m done with the whole unpacking and organizing thing.  I will say that I’ve no doubt I’m exactly where I need to be right now.  It is good to be home again.

A Tucson sunset as seen from my apartment.

A Tucson sunset as seen from my apartment.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

buen viaje!

The soul’s true happiness lies in experiencing the inner joy, and it will never be fully satisfied with outer, seeming pleasures. Its connection is with God, and nothing short of perfection will ever satisfy it.

Bowl of Saki, July 19, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

The above quote represents my journey so well.  While it would appear to have been a geographical one, the reality is that my journey is much more on the inner level.  The truth is this quote may have little to do with the following post but I really liked it and wanted to share it with you!

It has been one helluva journey but like all good journeys there comes a time when the end approaches and it’s time to go home.  And so it is with this journey.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

I started out in Tucson, hearing the call of the road.  I left and found myself in Costa Rica for two years.  So much to love about that country, particularly the people and even more so my friends Juan and Renan whom I miss dearly.  Mom came down which made things a bit rocky for a while until we were able to find her a place of her own and then, like magic, it all worked until we needed to leave Costa Rica for the States again.  Mom was no longer able to walk and getting her around was impossible.  She couldn’t be treated adequately in Costa Rica and we somehow found our way to Florida.  Once we got to Florida it turned out she was also suffering from congestive heart failure so the move was quite fortuitous.  And who could forget the craziness of my pilfered shipping container when it finally arrived from Costa Rica?  Certainly not I!  That was one hellish time, to say the least!

 

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

 

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

 

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

 

It still makes a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

It still makes me a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

The Bradenton/Sarasota area is vastly less crowded than many of the eastern Florida cities and I really liked the calm of the Gulf.  I met some wonderful people there, many of whom I still maintain contact with.  However, because of mom’s illness, which got progressively worse, it was a very stressful time with my having little energy for other people and new friends.  Still, I look back at my time there fondly and I will always love Publix (the local supermarket)!  Who every would’ve thought I’d get a motorcycle license but that’s just one of the interesting things I did while I was there!

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

 

A view from Bradenton Beach.

A view from Bradenton Beach.

I made the decision to get an RV and travel after three years in Bradenton.  I didn’t go very far at first – just up the road a piece to Ruskin so I could still visit with mom frequently and easily.  It was a journey of sorts but not a very distant one.  I learned a lot about how to live in an RV, albeit a relatively small one, during that time.  But if I’m really truthful about it, summer in an RV in Florida just wasn’t the easiest thing to do!  Between the mosquitos and no-see-ems I felt like I was too often sequestered within my RV!

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

 

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

 

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

 

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.  Can you see the little child?  He was playing within the sign and they are talking with him.

And then came the day for my first long journey in the RV – leaving Florida to go to Indiana to visit my son and his family.  Stops were to include Jacksonville in Florida, South Carolina, the western mountains of North Carolina, Kentucky and finally Indiana.  The plan was to go back by an entirely different route but that was not to happen.

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My car “conveniently” broke down while in Ferguson, NC and it took over three weeks to be repaired.  During that time I fell in love with the area and decided to remain here for a while.  I’ve always considered myself more of mountain girl than anything else.  I did manage to see the grandkids twice, once with a rental car in October and again in November for Thanksgiving with my car after it was repaired.  I also made three trips back down to Florida to visit mom including the last, final trip to take care of things after her passing.  There was a whole lot of driving during that time, less than four months and over 9,000 miles!

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I loved spending my first more or less real winter in nearly two decades here in NC after watching the leaves turn all sorts of beautiful colors the previous fall.  There was something about last winter that made my heart soar.  Out of all the photos I’ve taken while here, the ice storm photos remain my favorite as a series.  But that was also the time mom took her leave.  She was sure I was supposed to be there for her passing, as was I, but it was not to happen and she passed a mere five days after the last time I saw her.  I wished I could have been there but given the difficulty she experienced prior to her passing I think it was for the best that I wasn’t.  However, it still haunts me knowing she was screaming for me, begging me to come help her since I was always there for her.  The reality was there wasn’t anything I could’ve done anyway but I do wish I had been there.  Luckily she had two very wonderful surrogates who were able to hold her hand, literally and figuratively, as she passed through this difficult time.  I maintained contact with her throughout the day of her death talking with her (or to her) three different times, even when she was no longer really cognitively with it.  I also kept in touch with those who were watching over her.  It ended up being a peaceful death in the end but getting there was so difficult for her and all those around her.  I was told that was quite typical for those with COPD issues since not being able to breathe is quite terrifying.  I will never forget the story the man who came to pick up her body to bring to the crematory told me.  As he was taking her from the room, Emma, mom’s roommate, simply said to her, “Good-bye my friend!”  That really broke me up, and still does, since mom had so very few friends in her life but when she really needed one God provided!

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

 

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

 

The day mom died we had the biggest snow storm of the season here in North Carolina.  It was also the day the first cardinal arrived to partake of the bird feeder I had out there for about two months without any visitors at all.  I believe that somehow she managed to influence that first bird to come visit me that day.  Just two days after her passing, after the snow melted enough for me to drive, I made my way back to Florida to take care of all the arrangements.  When I got back home I took some down time for myself, time to just be on my own and mourn as well as rejoice in the peace mom finally found for the first time in her life, a peace I was also feeling living in the solitude of winter.  After only a week or two I started to write again in the mornings, something I couldn’t do for years because of taking care of mom, and I wrote furiously.  In the next ten weeks I wrote over 500 handwritten pages, most of it extremely good material.  Every morning I woke up thrilled to be alive and managing to get this incredible material down on paper.  I shared it with a few friends, all of whom seemed genuinely excited about it and how it could apply to their lives or to others they knew.  This, I was sure, was the reason I moved here, so I could get this epic written.  Deep solitude was the only way it would have happened.

Mom's cardinal.

Mom’s cardinal.

 

Here's my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

Here’s my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

 

One day I decided it was time to go to the DMV in town and finally switch over my plates and license from Florida to North Carolina.  I had been putting it off forever!  It was a mere three days before my birthday, the day my registration and license both expired, and a mere three days after I got insurance for the first time since I left Tucson six years previously.  I had put it off long enough!

It was a beautiful day so I was driving with the top down, really enjoying life.  Things were finally going well – the writing was better than I’d ever have expected, I was enjoying my life more than I had in a very long time and I was just plain old happy.  I knew I was on the right path and it felt great to be on that path.

And then a young driver in a red pickup truck changed it all.  He hit the back of my car twice and I hit the truck in front of me once.  Those three bonks have changed my life, probably forever.  I have since had what appears to be seizures.  I can no longer drive (doctor’s orders), at least for now.  The end of next month I will be going for a sleep deprived EEG (no sleep at all the previous night with testing early that morning; the idea is to stress the brain to see if it will produce seizures.  I absolutely, positively dread this test since the plain EEG was so difficult for me.).  If I have seizures, I will be diagnosed as having epilepsy.  (Which reminds me – I didn’t take my anti-seizure medicine yet…okay, done!).  If I have epilepsy, I will not be able to drive a minimum of six months.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

So now I’m looking at the next part of my journey.  Not being able to drive pretty much makes living here an impossibility.  Plus the intense solitude, something I longed for, is now starting to feel oppressive in some ways since there are few things I’m still able to do right now.  Both reading and writing the way I had been are impossible.  I’ve looked at potential places to move the RV where I’d be closer to town but none of those would work for various reasons.  I’ve known I needed to consider where my journey would take me next and ended up with two possibilities – Indiana to be around my son and family or back to Tucson to be with friends.

The next stop of this journey with all sorts of crazy stopping off points will be back to Tucson, thus coming full circle.  My son, while assuring me he would love to have me near them, believes like I do that friends would probably be even more important in the moment.  He also knows I never really did want to leave Tucson, certainly not permanently, but did so for a variety of reasons that no longer exist.  It is time for me to go home again.  My six year “vacation” is over.

I fell in love with Tucson much like I fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina – I barely entered into the area in both cases and it was truly love at first sight.  I would’ve been happy staying here in the mountains albeit without so much solitude but a young man in a red pickup truck kinda changed all that for me.  I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to leave here and, at this point, I’m still not really ready but I will be in another couple of months when the time comes to actually do this next phase of the journey.  Right now I’m shooting for starting the journey out of here around mid-September.

And so my decision has come to end this blog.  It is up for renewal by the end of this month anyway so the timing is right.  I really debated this since I’ve loved communicating with you in this format.  However, writing has gotten so much more difficult and I really don’t have that much to say right now.  If I change my mind, I will save the whole website so I can bring it back to life once again.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

Thank you so much for your love and support.  I have loved sharing my journey with you.  Hopefully we will remain in touch one way or another after this but if not, I’m so very grateful we have met.

¡Buen viaje!  May God bless you on your journeys!

[Okay, so I realize I can’t really just say goodbye to you at this point since my journey will be continuing.  I just got off the phone with BlueHost, my web hosting peeps, and negotiated a much better price so we will be here for a while longer at this point.  I’m pretty sure it was the right thing to do!  So, journey on!]

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

© 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

 

…to the best!

When last we met, our protagonist was barely making it to the campground in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.  As we see our heroine it is obvious that she has had the crap beaten out of her.   Oh, my!  What will happen to her next?

So let’s go to a point just prior to the getting lost part.  I’m driving the RV down the last part of the last piece of highway.  The road was hilly – up and down, up and down.  Suddenly we reached the crest of one of those hills and the Appalachian mountains were visible in the distance all covered in their smoky haze.  I looked at them, smiled and softly pronounced  – I am home!  It was an interesting statement considering this was my first time ever in North Carolina other than driving through what was probably Route 1 as we were going to Florida when I was 11.  But, yes, I knew this was home and my heart was full!

This is the crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time!

The crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo because they blend into the clouds. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time and the windshield was quite dirty!

Not long afterwards I missed that fateful turn (see my previous post) and my trip was suddenly extended by another hour and a half.  I didn’t feel “at home” after we got to the campsite nor while we were getting settled in.  I was beyond tired at that point and actually felt pretty much nothing at all, very much a state of “left foot; right foot”, just getting the job done.  But later that night, when I took Picasso out for the last time, I heard the nighttime symphony of the owl and various insects and then I looked up at the sky.  Oh, that is heavenly!   Stars filling every space in the universe!  Yes, I felt like I was home, certainly more like “home” than I have felt in many years.  Oh, this is heavenly!

I have always thought of myself as a “mountain” girl.  I have lived in the more suburban/urban setting of New Jersey with New York City as my backyard, then moved to the desert (an environment I still love although the summers are too harsh for me), then lived in a rain forest (Costa Rica) and finally a swamp called Florida.  Okay, to be honest that “swamp” does have some great looking beaches but, no, I’m not a beach person.  I love the feeling of power as I look out at the ocean but have no need to be there as some do.  No, I’m a mountain girl and always feel most alive when I’m in the mountains surrounded by trees and breathing in the air that is somehow so energized by all those trees.  It’s my place and yet I’ve never lived there.  For years I’ve promised myself since I’ve lived in just about every other environment that I would some how, some way live in the mountains before I died.

This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn't it?

 This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn’t it?  I’ve lived in houses with smaller side yards!

Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that I feel so at home here.  To say I’m in love would be an understatement.  There is an energy that I’ve not experienced in 20 years since the last time I visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  Shenandoah forms the northern part of these Appalachian mountains and so there is some similarity.

In all that time I’ve not once experienced the turning of the leaves, the smell of the leaves as they decompose on the forest floor, nor the anticipation of spring after a long winter.  Spring is my favorite season and whether we are speaking of the desert, the rain forest or the swamp each offers a rather insipid version of spring.  My whole being craves these cyclic events.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I'm here.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I’m here. The stream is just behind those trees and quite audible.

At this point, I am expecting to come back here next summer for the season.  I will make up my mind as the two weeks progress.  I should mention that one four-footed little guy better known as Picasso seems to really love it here.  When we are outside he pulls me all over the area to see what new sniffs he can find.  I’ve never seen him so excited to go for a walk.

I have to admit to thinking that I might want to actually consider the very real possibility of moving here on an annual basis, even living here through the winter.  I love and miss snow.  I don’t want to be snowed in for weeks on end or break my back shoveling but I want to have fun in the snow and watch Picasso romp through it.  He’s not seen too much snow but he did seem to like it once he figured out where to do his business!  If I do decide to seriously consider this as a full-time place to live, I’d probably want to get a different type of RV, one that would afford better protection from the cold, and just park it here without moving it.

All this is a bit like putting the cart before the horse but I really do think I could live here.  The peace, calm and joy that are inherent with being in the mountains are all here.  Yes, too soon to tell at this point but while I’m here this remains always in the back of my mind – can I live here?  Jim, the owner, was telling me yesterday that if I thought I was relaxed, give it a little time and I’ll find out what true relaxation is!  He went on to tell me how there is no real crime up here and how very safe it is.  Yes, I can feel that, too.

My backyard.

                                                  My backyard.

For now I just need to slow myself down and allow nature to soothe and heal my tired being.  The stress from the journey here is still affecting me, even more than yesterday.  But in spite of the tiredness I feel alive.  There’s no TV or telephone so I’m cut off from the world and even that feels good.  Assuming I do make it back here next summer there is supposed to be a new cell tower that will provide cell coverage and I’d get a satellite dish for TV so that would all be taken care of.

Earlier today all I wanted to do was get a blanket and spread it out on the ground and lie down on it.  I’ve not laid down on the ground since leaving NJ 20 years ago.  Too many snakes, stinging bugs or other hazards.  I long to embrace Mother Earth.

That’s my story for today.  I wanted to leave you with something more upbeat than yesterday’s story of how I got here.  That was the worst but today, well, you got to read about the best!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

and so the first chapter is OVER!!!

[Tuesday]

Living on an RV is very different from living in a sticks and bricks home.  I guess the biggest difference is the degree of awareness of how one’s life impacts their environment.  For instance, one cannot help but become more aware of their water consumption, partly because it is certainly severely limited if not attached to city water but also because it eventually has to be dumped.

Temperature is certainly another issue.  In a sticks and bricks home the weather is mitigated by those sticks, bricks and insulation.  Not so in an RV.  If it is hot out, it is probably hotter in the RV (think car in the summer heat), at least without air conditioning.  If it is cold out, well, think camping out in a tent in the cold.  Yeah, you feel the cold.

Picasso is his puppy prison.  This has nothing to do with anything I've written but I thought it would be nice to see Picasso in our outside digs!

Picasso is his puppy prison. This has nothing to do with anything I’ve written but I thought it would be nice to see Picasso in our outside digs!

So one of the remaining issues with my RV is the shower curtain.  when I first moved into the RV I taped the shower curtain as a temporary cure since I could not come up with a better solution.  There’s a rail on the ceiling that requires a tape (it fits into the track) that supposed to be sewed into a shower curtain.  Only issue is that the tape no longer seems to exist so I could not buy one.  The rail is therefore useless as a result.  There have been other potential solutions (new rod, new rail, glass enclosure) but they tend to be rather expensive.  Now that I have the new shower head I would like to shower comfortably without being concerned about whether the curtain is going to come down in the middle of the shower as well as finding out I’ve created a major lake outside the shower.

I know this is really hard to see but the concept of using a sewed in tape is hard to imagine, I thought I'd include a picture of it from the curtain that hangs over the over cab bunk.  You can see how it is attached to the curtain and then attaches to the rail.

I know this is really hard to see but the concept of using a sewed in tape is difficult to imagine, I thought I’d include a picture of it from the curtain that hangs over the over cab bunk. You can see how it is attached to the curtain and then attaches to the rail.  Personally I think that must be a strange solution for a shower curtain.

This morning was a rather cool morning.  Suddenly I found myself feeling like I was on a mountain waking up in a cabin.  I pulled the blanket up around me rather than getting out of bed.  Soon enough it will be warm and even hot in the mornings so I wanted to enjoy this for as long as possible!  And then it came to me!  A potential solution to the whole shower curtain issue emerged!  (And you thought I digressed!  Ha!)

What if I drilled holes into the rail and then inserted shower hooks, real skinny hooks, upon which the shower curtain was hung?  Sure it would be immobile but that really didn’t matter to me.  I grabbed my phone while continuing to nestle into the blankets, keeping warm, and immediately explored Amazon for ideas.  I finally found what I was looking for and ordered a set of shower curtain hooks.  It’ll be two days before I get it and I hope it works!

Then there is the reality that everything that goes in must come out.  That not only holds true for the human body but also for the infamous black tank!  Remember how I mentioned that not having the RV leveled was proving to be a problem for the black tank?  Draining the black tank produced only clear liquids, not a good sign.  Then a couple days ago there was yet another smell in the RV, clearly coming from the black tank.  I’m pretty sure it was the smell from the product I was using in the tanks, recommended by the RV tech.  The other issue that emerged was the fact that the sensors were no longer working properly.  Rather than going to “E” when I emptied the tanks, the readout showed 1/3 no matter what I did.  Who thinks about these things when in a sticks and bricks home?  You flush the toilet and everything is gone, right?  Well, not in an RV!

After the black tank was emptied it continued to show that it was 1/3 full.

After the black tank was emptied it continued to show that it was 1/3 full.

So Saturday afternoon I spent time investigating how to take care of this problem.  I read this, that and a whole bunch more until I found a video from RVgeeks called “HOW TO: Dump & Clean an RV Black Tank”.  Basically what it says is that water is the best cleanser.  Simple.  Empty the tank, fill it, empty it, fill it – well, you get the idea.

I decided to follow their instructions but once I was done, I filled the tank one more time, this time adding the cleansing enzymes.  I allowed it to sit overnight.  Well, it ended up over two nights!  I emptied one more time using the empty, fill, empty, fill technique until the water coming out was crystal clear.  Then the best thing happened – I went into the RV to check the readout and it registered “E”!  That’s the first time since getting the RV that this happened!  Now I know what I need to do to keep my black tank healthy and happy!

The black tank is empty and that's exactly what the indicator shows!  Yay!

The black tank is empty and that’s exactly what the indicator shows! Yay!

What a great day today has been!  Wonderful weather, a solution for the shower curtain issue and finally getting the black tank to work properly!  So far the shower doesn’t seem to be leaking into the kitchen anymore either so I may have also solved that issue by getting the new shower head!  Slowly but surely I’m finding my way in this new world of RVing.

[Thursday, two days later]

It worked!  It worked!  Brilliant, easy solution!  I drilled holes into the track, inserted the hooks and they fit!  I put the shower curtain onto the hooks and it is done!  Well, almost.  After attempting to tape up the shower curtain as many times as I have it is overly sticky and in need of replacement.  I will just get another cheap curtain so that’s no issue.  The hooks cost something around $10 and a new curtain will cost about the same so for $20 I have a fix!  The dealer from whom I bought the RV had a solution that would have cost me nearly $300!  Now to take a shower!  I’m hot and sweaty but I finally have a permanent shower curtain fix!

Holes drilled into the rail with shower curtain hooks inserted and holding the shower curtain.

Holes drilled into the rail with shower curtain hooks inserted holding the shower curtain.

[Post shower]

Ah!  Totally amazing!  I just finished my first shower in the RV while using water for the entire shower!  No more on/off, on/off, etc. unless I choose to!  I’m in heaven.  After five weeks of showering with intermittent water and always leaking water from around the shower curtain I was finally able to take a real shower.  The curtain works perfectly now.  It is well nestled into either end of the shower and long enough to amply keep water from escaping from the bottom.  I’m a very happy camper!  My idea worked and the shower was great!

And just like that all the initial fixes are DONE and I’m fully moved in and functional!!!  Now on to some of the fun adventures!  Oh, yeah – first I have to do my income taxes.  Oh well.

[Just a quick addendum to this post – A few people have commented to me about the fact that their tanks have smelled at one time or another.  With my extensive experience (lol) I can tell you this doesn’t have to be the case.  Cleaning the tanks properly will go a long way to keeping things nice and sweet.  Add to that the wonderful enzymatic cleaner I’ve been using – Happy Campers – and you will get some really good results.  It can be used for both black and gray tanks.  There is no smell at all with Happy Campers which, for me, is a huge plus since I hate chemical smells! If you decide to order Happy Campers, please use my link so I can get credit for it!  No cost to you!  Thanks!]

 

 

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

just do it!!!

Today it’s been three days since I moved to the new site and everything is not yet as it should be – I still have to get the RV level!  All RV’ers know this is supposed to be one of the very first things you do when you move into a new site!  I feel a bit like a drunken sailor trying to navigate a ship that is being tossed about on the waves of the ocean.  Okay, perhaps not quite that dramatic but similar!  I have to walk uphill to the kitchen and downhill to the couch.  The shower is the funniest part since it is small to begin with and the floor is a bit lumpy so I find myself losing my balance.  Admittedly I find it somewhat entertaining as I walk uphill or down.

Picasso doing what he does best - relaxing and keeping the homestead safe from marauders!

Picasso doing what he does best – relaxing and keeping the homestead safe from marauders!

Now this may not sound like a big job to those who have been RVing for a while but for me getting the RV level has felt huge.  I didn’t have to level the RV at the other site but here is a different story.  On top of that I didn’t have anything with which to level the RV.  One of the employees here told me to ask one of my neighbors and he would be very happy to help me using wooden boards but I knew this was something I had to do on my own.  And so I started to put it off.

I planned on taking care of it yesterday knowing the RV works better when level.  Some say the refrigerator won’t work properly without being level but I’ve also read otherwise.  But I can tell you one thing I know doesn’t work as well – the holding tanks!  Even though I had just emptied the tanks, I checked them when I moved to the new site.  They were supposedly nearly full!  Knowing this couldn’t be true, I nevertheless decided to empty them anyway.  The black tank, the one with all the toilet waste, emptied nothing but clear water, a sign that any solids weren’t actually sitting in liquid.  Now this is a major problem.  If solids aren’t in liquid they aren’t getting enzymed (I know, not a real word) and if they aren’t getting enzymed, they are baking on to the black tank, not a good thing.  So I need to get the RV leveled NOW!!!

Next problem – remember how I seem to have water issues?  Um, not me  personally but rather the places I live!  Yeah, well, something from the shower has been leaking.  I caulked around the shower floor thinking that would do it.  Nope.  Instead, because of the listing of the RV, I ended up with a little rivulet flowing across the RV.  Great!  I go from a lake when the RV was level to a flowing stream!  Well, at least I finally have flow, right?  I am frustrated and tired of things that keep coming up.  I want a break from move-in fixes.  I was talking to a friend about it yesterday and suddenly another potential solution came up – perhaps it has something to do with the hand held shower head and its hose.  Worth replacing it to see if that would be the fix.

Between the need to get the RV leveled, not having what I needed to accomplish this and now to needing to replace the hand-held shower head, it was clearly time for a trip to Camping World.  I tried to get out earlier yesterday but that wasn’t going to happen.  When I finally did get out I was hoping to make it back prior to the rains moving in.  That didn’t happen either.  I wasn’t going to level the RV in the rain and so I still have to do it along with changing the shower head, something I’m hoping is a relatively easy task.

But I’m writing all this to come to another point – I see I can be my own worse enemy.  Yes, there is work to be done.  Yes, I’m tired from everything and I’m wanting things to go smoothly.  Of course.  But when something as simple as the need to level the RV comes up, something I’m not yet prepared for since the RV didn’t come with hydraulic levelers, I find myself feeling overwhelmed and, as a direct result, putting it off.  I know that can be easily understood given how I’ve embarked on this whole thing on my own, knowing nothing about any of it other than whatever I’ve read, but at the same time there’s something about what I do that can make this whole thing much worse on myself.  Things put off have a definite tendency to grow bigger and bigger as an issue until they appear insurmountable!

It’s the dreading, the fear, the not moving toward a solution that is quite debilitating, much more than the actual issue.  I can sit, even if just for moments or, too often, for days, in this place of dread and inactivity when I know if I only chose to move forward with it I would feel so much better instantly.  Yes, I’m tired but that isn’t the sole issue here.  It is something much deeper that interferes with my ability to move forward more quickly.  It is something that in one way or another has plagued me forever.  But it isn’t until I’ve been living here in the RV that I see the ramifications of this piece of well-entrenched behavior.  Literally my crap can get pretty backed up (again, not personally but in the black tank!) when I don’t do what I need to do!  And, it is time to make a change because it no longer serves a good function!

So this morning it is time to finish getting out of bed (yep, I’m writing this while still sitting in bed!) and get showered and get this RV leveled.  I expect to find that it was no where near as difficult as I somehow expected it to be (oh, how the mind likes to exaggerate things!) and it will be over and done with in no time.  Easy peasy.

My lesson is therefore obvious – just do it!  Left foot; right foot and get it done!  It’s that place in between, the place where no real action is taking place other than the mind’s craziness, that will get you every time!  I will let you know how it goes!

[A few hours later]…

Yep, perfectly easy leveling the RV.  Really simple.  I had to bring the slide back in so I could reach the wheel but that was the toughest work.  I took my Lego-like levelers, put them together and placed them in front of the wheels, front and back on the driver’s side.  I had already used the level to get a sense of the height I would need.  Once they were in place I got into the driver’s seat and pulled forward a whopping 12 inches so the tires were right on top of them.  Done!  Now tell me once again what all that dread and fear were about?

Leveling block before linking them together like Legos.

Leveling block before linking them together like Legos.

Three blocks interlinked like Legos just before I moved the RV onto them.

Three blocks interlinked like Legos just before I moved the RV onto them.

 

Done!

                                                                           Done!

Close enough for me!

Close enough for me!

But isn’t that just how life can be sometimes?  Something that can really change our life for the better we avoid for some inane reason and once we finally get it done we wonder why it took us so long and why we were being so silly about the whole thing.  I wonder what life would be like without all that procrastinating.  I think I’m going to do what I can to find out!  Tomorrow!  Oops!  No, not tomorrow – now!  On to the shower head!

Shower head installed!  Hopefully the leak is corrected!

Shower head installed! Hopefully the leak is corrected!

©  2015 deborah kauffeld

oh what a day it was (or how I moved across the RV park)!

It was an interesting dream this morning.  I was in the shower, getting ready to turn on the water.  Suddenly “my man” (whoever he is!) opens the curtain to join me.  I wasn’t expecting him and jumped sky high.  I jumped so intensely I actually woke myself up!  But that’s not the worst part – not only did I not find out who this lovely man was but I never got to take that shower!  After living in the RV for a month the idea of a real shower is just too sweet!  So that’s how I started my day today.  Since I couldn’t fall back to sleep I decided to cruise me some YouTube and see how to back my RV into a parking place.  Doesn’t everyone do that at 5 AM???

This is the old site after we moved out of it.  You can really see how empty it is - no shade, too much dirt!

This is the old site after we moved out of it. You can really see how empty it is – no shade, too much dirt (or sand)!

Eventually I figured I’d better get up and start my day.  Yep, it’s moving day and after only a month I’m already feeling pretty entrenched in the RV life.  However, getting everything together to move feels a bit overwhelming.  First I dumped my tanks while walking Picasso in between doing this and that.  I had to sweep off the outdoor rug and tried to fold it and put it back where it was stored before getting here.  Um, yeah, right.  Guess again!  Well, I did get it back in but not without a whole lot of pushing and shoving!  I folded up the expen and my chair which ended up in my car’s back seat and the outside stuff was done, more or less.

I went back around to the hoses and got everything put away with one small incident – the sewer hose. I replaced the old sewer hose with this new, super good one.  Unfortunately it wasn’t going to fit where the old one did.  After a lot of pushing and pulling I finally  managed to get it into its space, more or less.  I was already sweating and it was only 10 AM!  Oh, and RV sewer hoses don’t exactly smell like roses but I’m sure you already knew that!

Inside the RV were things that I had to rearrange and put into some kind of order for moving.  There was quite a bit of work that I needed to get done but I managed to get everything finished by noon, the time I was expecting the cable company to disconnect and reconnect the cable.  Noon came and went then 1 PM and 2 PM.  I finally got a phone call from someone telling me they were running late and would be there between 2:30 and 3.  By 3:30 I called the cable company and was told I had cancelled my appointment and rescheduled for the following day.  Supposedly the person who called had the last name of Manning so clearly not me.  Then I was told that I needed to get to the other location since that’s how they worked this stuff.  I couldn’t because the last tech attached things to the RV that I couldn’t detach.

After around 45 minutes of phone call craziness I was finally told that they would still come if I wanted.  At this point I’d been sitting in an extremely hot RV all afternoon and really didn’t want to have to stay there any longer so I agreed that they should come even if it was going to be quite late.  I wished I had left the air conditioning on but who knew they would be so late?

Finally at around 5 PM the techs arrived – two men rather than just one tech.  Turns out they are brothers from Chicago.  During the warmer months they did construction work in Chicago and come here for the winters to install cable systems.  We hit it off right away.  In fact, after a very frustrating, not to mention hot, afternoon for all of us we were having fun!

Our RV in our new home with precious shade!!

Our RV in our new home with precious shade!!

They disconnected what had to be undone and I moved the RV to the new site.  When I got there I remembered what I watched on the video that morning.  I lined up the RV perfectly.  I pulled forward, put it in reverse and couldn’t help but notice the faces of the people across the street, something akin to horror and fear!  All that just because their car was mere feet from the front end of my RV!  Yeah, well, not exactly a success.  Not entirely my fault since I’d been previously told this was a really tough space to get into.  Thankfully one of the techs came to my rescue and asked if I’d want him to back up the RV for me!  I jumped out of the RV so quickly so he could get in and nearly forgot to put it in gear!  Okay, not really but that’s what it felt like!  Before you could say….well, he got it backed up really quickly and easily.  Done!  One grateful woman here!  And just because I want you all to know, it really was all under control; I saw the neighbor’s car which was why I stopped but you should’ve seen their faces!

Picasso in his puppy prison!

Picasso in his puppy prison!

I couldn’t have picked two better people to help me.  I wished I could’ve kept my cable guys around a whole lot longer.  They were good for my soul!  Unfortunately they had other customers waiting for them so I had to bid them adieu.  Very quickly I put things back in order surprised at how quickly putting it together went, especially compared to the first time!

And the verdict is….I love the new site!  What a difference!  It is more like living in a real neighborhood.  I visited my new neighbors across the street, the ones who owned the car I nearly hit.  I apologized for scaring them, assured them I really did see their car and we went on to talk about other things.

Our outdoor dining space!

Our outdoor dining space!

At the other site I never really sat outside for any length of time.  It was dusty and way too sunny for my taste!  Here it is more grassy and there’s a lovely tree over the area where I set up Picasso’s puppy prison and my chair.  Not only is it a lovely tree but it is also dripping with Spanish moss for a real nice effect.  Absolutely everything feels better about this site and I can easily imagine being here for a few months.  While I’m writing this tonight (Wednesday), I won’t get to posting it until tomorrow and I’ll be able to add some photographs to it them.  Oh, and as an aside, you should’ve seen Picasso’s face when the slide on the RV came in!  His little doggy mind could not get what was happening – the walls are coming in!  So funny!  Now I’m curious if he’ll pull me back to our old place or to our new place tomorrow after our walk.  [When we got to the old site, Picasso stopped and just stood there, he sniffed and then walked off again!]

Isn't the Spanish moss over the RV beautiful?

Isn’t the Spanish moss over the RV beautiful?

©  2015 deborah kauffeld

getting in the flow…

I took a shower this morning like I do pretty much every morning.  Taking a shower in an RV is an interesting experience.  With a six gallon hot water heater there’s no lallygagging in the shower which is why they put an on/off switch on the shower head.  Water on; water off.  Shampoo hair. Water on; water off.  Rinse hair.  Repeat process for face and again for body.  After the shower is over I do the standard stuff followed by having to wipe the shower floor dry so I can move my hamper back into the shower.  Afterwards I walked (just a step) to the other side of the shower (the kitchen).  The floor was wet.  My heart sunk.  Hopefully just a caulk job needed so I bought the best caulk I could find and tomorrow, well, I guess you know what I’ll be doing.  (Caulking done – success!)

 

The hamper inside the shower.  The area that needed caulking was where the wall of the shower reaches the floor.

The hamper inside the shower. The area that needed caulking was where the wall of the shower reaches the floor.

And so it goes.  There have been quite a few things like that.  The toilet was leaking.  The RV tech, Drew, came to fix that and now it doesn’t leak.  Notice a pattern here?  No leaks in the apartment but I didn’t own that.  Seems things I own have water issues!  Always about flow – too much or too little flow!  In my house in Tucson I had all sorts of water issues – too little pressure as well as too much.  I remember sitting in the kitchen when all of a sudden – BOOM!!!  I got up to run toward the sound only to find water pouring out of the ceiling light, obviously coming from upstairs into the media room via the one opening the water could find.  Seems my pump from the well was somehow over pressurizing the water and it exploded at the weakest point – my reverse osmosis filter upstairs.  Sheared the sucker right off.  The guy who came to repair it told me that he’d never seen anything like it before.  So you can be sure when I read about RV’s having potential issues with over pressurized water I ran right out to get a nifty pressure regulator.  Yeah, lesson learned!

Then there’s the awning, the one that was supposedly fixed by the dealership.  When Drew was here to fix the toilet he noticed a part missing on the awning which started a whole review of it.  Actually, several parts are missing.  After he is done (he’s still ordering the parts) I’ll go back to the dealer since they never finished the job but I’m not too hopeful about that one.  We’ll see.

Oh, then there’s the air conditioning.  I told Drew that it didn’t seem to be working very well.  It was on a very long time and seemed to cycle on and off too often.  Before it would go on again I was usually sweating so I found myself truly dreading the decision to stay here in Florida over the summer.  Thankfully Drew is quite smart and fixed it very quickly.  Who knew you had to have the vents open?  Um, yeah.  I actually had all the vents closed and, yes, I felt pretty stupid.  Drew has  had to remind me several times that I really do need to remember that I’m a first time RV owner.  I think he’s being nice.  After all, um, all the vents were closed and I’m complaining that the air conditioning isn’t working.

The air conditioner with the vents OPEN!!!  Funny how much better it works now!

The air conditioner with the vents OPEN!!! Funny how much better it works now!

I noticed water collecting in the refrigerator.  Every time I’d pull something out of the refrigerator there would be a puddle that would spill from the top of whatever it was I was getting which then spilled all over the floor!  Yeah, more water!  I realized that the door wasn’t always closing properly.  Drew looked to fix that by shimming up the door on one side.  Hopefully the fix holds.  Cheaper than replacing the part.

Then there are my newest friends.  They seem to be a little clingy and are always hanging around, always overstaying their welcome.  Okay, so the mosquitos are a bit nasty but it’s the no-see-ums that are really getting to me.  I’ve had bites from the second day of being here.  Lots and lots of bites.  The inside of just one ankle had over 20 bites at one point.  Seems they are really loving me and want to fully welcome me.  Not sure I’ve ever gotten bitten by no-see-ums prior to this and clearly I’ve not known what I was missing.  I don’t have a solution yet.  I’ve been using various repellents to no avail.  I just read about using baby oil.  Seems the no-see-ums, who have no issue getting through my RV screens, get stuck on the baby oil and are then unable to bite.  I meant to get some baby oil today but forgot after my stop to get the caulking.  I wonder how much it would cost to replace the screens with screens with smaller holes so those nasty little no-see-ums can no longer get into the RV.

The new television mounted beneath the cabinet that had held the old TV.  I'm watching The Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball.

The new television mounted beneath the cabinet that had held the old TV. I’m watching The Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball.

Oh, and the DVD player turned out to be broken, something I have to admit I kind of expected.  The tray won’t open so no getting a DVD in there under the circumstances!  I’ve already replaced the 19” TV that was here with a 28” lightweight LED TV.  I first had to install the under cabinet mount and then the TV.  All went smoothly as opposed to the installation of the computer arm that I installed a few days prior to that.  Now that was some tough work!  Seems Apple forgot to mention that there was a little trick to getting the Vesa adaptor installed, needed for mounting my iMac to the arm.  Well, that took a total of over four hours of hot, sweaty work but I did it all on my own!  Well, with the help of a few trusty Amazon reviews whose writers evidently ran into the same problems and chose to share their findings.  Oh was I grateful for that!

The mount that holds my computer in place on the table.  Looks pretty intense, huh?

The mount that holds my computer in place on the table. Looks pretty intense, huh?

Things are going about how I would’ve expected except for some of those additional challenges.  Seems there’s always something.  I found out the roof is in good shape and now that it has been caulked it should stay like that for the next year until it gets caulked again.  Do I sound a bit disjointed?  Yep, that would be accurate!

I’ve really gotten quite a bit done in the three plus weeks that I’ve been here.  Wednesday we move across the RV park to our new site.  Picasso and I walked past there earlier today and it really is a nice little area.  I have to admit that when I found the water on the other side of the shower today I was a bit crestfallen.  After getting the silicone caulk and bringing it home I feel better again – I have a plan!

I think the strangest part of living on the RV so far is how dramatically my routines have changed.  I’ve been developing new ones (how to get out of bed; when to make the bed back into a sofa and how; how to shower; etc.) but some of the old ones were necessary for one reason or another and need to be resurrected, hopefully soon!  I’m kinda feeling a bit like a fish out of water which is why I might sound disjointed.  However, my dream life has spiked dramatically!  Boy has that been interesting!

There are all sorts of bits and pieces of things going on.  No move I’ve ever done before has felt even close to as different as this one has and I suppose that’s to be expected given the degree of change.  Like I said before, I feel a bit out of sync but, then again, not really.

Life is certainly interesting!

©  2015 deborah kauffeld

the first journey is to…

So I’ve finally decided where my first journey will be!  It took a bit of finagling but I think I’ve got it now.

My first journey will be….to the other side of the RV park!  Yeah, I know, not very far away and certainly not exotic but it is where we will be going in another week or so.  And the part that might be a surprise – I’ll be there until the end of September!

While this doesn’t seem very exciting it is a necessity.  The overly expensive tow bar that I had to purchase for my car is sitting on my credit card, accruing interest.  I’ve not carried a balance on a personal credit card for probably over 30 years and I really hate doing it now but that’s where I am.  Staying here at this RV park for the summer is very cost effective.  As you can imagine, few people decide to come to Florida for the summer but that makes rates quite inexpensive.  Staying until the end of the summer will allow me to pretty much pay off that debt and be ready to fly when the time comes.

I made the decision three nights ago and I have to admit I was a bit concerned about how I’d feel about it the next day since I’d be giving up traveling for the time being.  The next morning I didn’t spend any time at all thinking about it but couldn’t help but notice that I felt like a weight had been lifted.  After walking Picasso I went over to the office to tell them of my decision.  After discussing the initial particulars, Brenda took time to find five different sites that would be available the whole time as well as having shade.  She then marked them off on their map.

 

The end point of our first journey!

The end point of our first journey!  Our future RV site!

I went back to the RV and fed Picasso.  Afterwards we went out to look at the sites.  I had my eye on one site in particular.  It was oriented the opposite of the site I’m on now.  What that means is that rather than getting blasted with the sun on either full side of the RV, it would only get hit on the front and back, a much smaller area especially since the back doesn’t have any windows.  We went to that site first.  Sure enough, when I saw it I immediately knew it was the one!  It is in the middle of quite a few park trailers (trailers that are permanent residents of the RV park).  The loop it is on should be very quiet since there won’t be all that much traffic on it.  The whole park is rather quiet to begin with so this should be nice.  I’m actually looking forward to it!  This place has its own kind of wildlife and I’ve not begun to explore it at all.  Today I found a turtle crossing sign and then actually found a turtle crossing there!  Yesterday I saw signs for cranes and then I saw them.  Now I have to tell you I did see signs for alligators.  I’ve not yet seen any but I will take it to heart and be on the alert!

Yep, it's a real turtle crossing at the turtle crossing!  Do you think he can read and that's how he knows where to cross?

Yep, it’s a real turtle crossing at the turtle crossing! Do you think he can read the sign and that’s how he knows where to cross?

I’ve been here 12 days now.  During that time I’ve been busy feathering my little nest.  The kitchen, as in any move I’ve ever made, was finished first along with the bathroom.  I then set up my desk area and today I reorganized my living room area.  I’ll be installing a better TV in the next couple of days, the last of my current modifications.  I still have to go through the storage bins outside and see if they need some reorganization but I can do that as I get to it since it isn’t part of my living area.  I’ll post some photos once it’s all done.

The local calico kitty.  Pretty little girl, isn't she?

The local calico kitty. Pretty little girl, isn’t she?

So just a few days short of two weeks and I can tell you that there is something about living in this small space that I’m really liking so far.  The learning curve continues, of course, but I’m happy in my small space.  There are bigger RV’s all around me but I’ve no desire to have a bigger RV right now although newer might have been nice.  The reality is that this space seems to suit me just fine.  Picasso is enjoying it also.  He quickly figured out how to get back to the RV even before I did and always looks to drag me back rather than walking any further!  I suspect he isn’t too sure about my sense of direction and so figures he has to help me find home.  He’s such a funny boy!  So far he hasn’t really met any new friends although there are those who clearly recognize him and look to say hello (canine but mostly human so far).  Actually I’ve kinda been missing him.  He loves his crate (kennel) which is his den and place of safety.  When we got here I would take it down from its storage area over the cab just before going to bed and then put it back up the following morning.  During the day I would catch him looking at it longingly, clearly asking me to bring it down for him.  I’ve decided to allow him to have it full time right now.  Only problem is how he likes to be in it nearly all the time!  So, yes, I miss him!  After he gets more acclimated I will probably put it up there again so he will spend more time with me instead!  Of course when I was eating salmon tonight he did manage an appearance!

I’ve had to play grooming catch-up with Picasso.  With me being as busy as I got with moving I found he was more than a bit neglected on that level.  Since he really hates to be groomed, I’ve decided to attempt a whole different approach and groom just parts of him every day.  I’ll continue like this until we are completely done.  His coat really isn’t all that bad but given how he hates to be groomed, this seemed like the best approach for both of us.  Pretty much all parts are done now except his two front legs, the most difficult part of his whole body.  Once he is done I will finally get to bathe him and believe me – he is one very dirty dog at this point!  I cannot wait until he is my clean boy again!

I guess that’s it for now.  In case you are wondering, it is calm that you hear in my “voice”.  My life feels more or less calm in the moment and I like it.  While seven months may be longer than I planned here, I have a feeling that there will be some very real benefits that will make themselves known as time goes on.  I’ve got a project I’m supposed to get done for a friend of mine and I’ve got plenty of my own work I can start.

Yeah, life is good and I haven’t felt like that for a very long time!

The end of a wonderful day!

The end of a wonderful day! (That’s a park model in case you were wondering!)

Please feel free to comment on any post!  Afterwards, be sure to stop back again since I will almost always comment on your thoughts!  I really do love to hear from you!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

…and the adventures begin!!!

Okay, so maybe not the adventures we all had in mind for me!

The first morning I woke up in the RV I was impressed with the peace that seemed to envelope me.  There was no one upstairs pouncing on the floor and every one around me was rather quiet.  Then I heard the woodpecker doing his thing, a sound I’ve not heard since I left Tucson over five years ago.  Then as if on cue, all the birds started to sing.  I’m home!

Picasso and I eventually got out of the RV for his walk.  Without a routine everything seems to take longer!  First I’ve got to make the sofa bed so we can get out the door!  I couldn’t take a shower in the RV for the first few days so I just threw on my dirty clothes to walk Picasso.  We walk along the road and take a turn toward the Little Manatee River for our morning walk taking a moment to say hello to everyone who goes past.  I quickly remember that I prefer quiet in the mornings and this “hello” routine, while quite pleasant, goes against my natural morning desire for quiet.  A head nod would be more my style, at least in the morning.

We get to the river and sit on the bench as seems to be our new “thing”.  Now, this I like!  The river slowly meanders past without any need to strike up a conversation.  Across the river are mangroves, better seen at the other end of the day when the sun shines upon them.  Birds continue their morning songs.  I relax onto the bench with my faithful companion next to me.  This is what I signed up for, something I’ve missed for such a long time!

Our second morning it had been foggy.  Picasso and I are sitting on "our" bench watching the Little Manatee River.  A few moments after this photo was taken the sun began to come through and finished burning away the clouds.

Our second morning it had been foggy. Picasso and I are sitting on “our” bench watching the Little Manatee River. A few moments after this photo was taken the sun began to come through and finished burning away the clouds.  The black specks in the sky are birds, not dust on my lens!

Back at the RV there is work that still needs to be done, work that might have been done upon our arrival if I knew what I was doing!  Ah, the inevitable learning curve!  I actually managed to hook up the electricity without issue that first night!  Woohoo!  Don’t be too impressed – it’s just a big electric plug going into an big outlet.  Water was just a little bit more tricky since the connections continued to leak no matter how much I tightened them.  Finally I get them tight enough.  The water here has a horrible amount of chlorine.  I have a filter but didn’t install it immediately.  It is now installed but I cannot install the pressure regulator at the same time for logistical reasons (neither the regulator or the purifier fit at the connection to the RV while allowing the door to close).  I decide to leave the filter on since the water is horrible without it – when I have washed my hands they ended up smelling like I was in an over chlorinated pool!  I order a 4 foot hose so I can later hook up the water pressure regulator also.  Don’t want to blow up the pipes in the RV!

It took me four days to fully hook up the sewer hose.  I bought a new one and wanted to install that prior to hooking up.  Since the tank was no where near full it really wasn’t an issue to wait.  Well, yesterday I took on the task.  I took off the old hose without issue but when I went to put on the new one it didn’t fit!  I tried this, then that and still no luck.  So I did my own attempt at retrofitting it!  I cut off the end figuring I could then use a metal thingy (yeah, I don’t know the name of the part!) to make it tight.  Good, creative thinking!  It still didn’t work and now I have a ruined sewer hose!  My neighbor Stu saw I was having some difficulty and did the neighborly thing – he came over to help the damsel in obvious distress!  He promptly pulled off an adaptor from the RV and like magic the hose would have fit if I didn’t decide to go all creative on it and remove the fitting!  Oh well!  Amazon is my friend!  I ordered a replacement.  I still had half of the hose that I didn’t destroy (it came in two separate 10 foot pieces) so we attached that one and ran the hose to the sewer dump thingy in the ground and guess what?  That didn’t fit either!!!  Prior to destroying anything again (I learned my lesson!) I found I needed a foam sewer collar which would then keep the sewer hose from flying out of the hole in the ground and spewing….well, you get the picture, right?  I got the part I needed from the front desk and I’ve now successfully dumped the gray water tank (holds all the used water with the exception of the toilet which goes into the black tank).  The black tank isn’t supposed to get emptied until it is more full.  Stay tuned for that update!

The black tank continues to not smell and for that I’m quite grateful!   For those interested in giving The product I used a try, it’s called Happy Campers Organic RV Holding Tank Treatment – large 64oz tub (64-treatments) for RV, Marine, Camping, Portable Toilets.  Not only does it work really well, it doesn’t have any kind of smell to it at all!  No nasty perfume-like smell!  Just remember to use the required amount of water!

Then there was the plastic covering I bought that goes outside the RV, covering the windshield and two side windows.  I went to put that on yesterday, unsuccessfully!  Honestly this process shouldn’t have been all that difficult.  First one end slides over the top part of the door, you then bring it across the windshield and attach it to the  second door.  Simple, right?  Well, it wouldn’t fit over the second door.  Frustrated I decided to put it away until today.  I went at it again and it went on perfectly!  So what was the problem yesterday?

It’s gotten hot and muggy here, in the 80’s which makes the RV too hot to go without air conditioning as far as I’m concerned.  All this work outside in the sun and trying to keep my cool hasn’t worked too well.  I have to believe that’s why I couldn’t get the windshield cover on yesterday.  Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Today I decided to take a shower in the RV for the first time since I finally got the sewer hose hooked up.  That enables me to leave the gray tank open and flowing directly into the sewer so I don’t have to worry about overflowing the tank.  Having a shower curtain on a shower curtain track would be nice but since I don’t have an operational track (or a rod) I decided to attach the curtain with tape temporarily.  I started to shower and almost immediately the curtain started to come down.  I now have my own little lake in the back of the RV in the bathroom.  I took care of the leak, taped the curtain up again and showered.  Not quite the sumptuous shower I had before starting this adventure but I’ll manage – once I get a more permanent way to keep my shower curtain up!  For now I’m thinking I just might try some Velcro, that is if I can remember where I put it!

The shower curtain, still taped up to the track.  No one seems to know where I can get the hardware I would need to actually attach the shower curtain properly.

The shower curtain, still taped up to the track. No one seems to know where I can get the hardware I would need to actually attach the shower curtain properly.

And then there was the time I went to flush the toilet and the water, which started out clear, turned BLACK!!!  Okay, so what was that about?  I tried to keep myself from freaking out completely!  Is the tank overflowing?  No, it’s not even half full.  I flushed it again and it turned clear.  I’ve decided to ignore it for the time being.  Maybe my eyes are deceiving me.  It wasn’t really black, right?  Thankfully there was no smell to it so that’s a good thing!

I’ve still some things I need to set up in the RV, most importantly my computer.  I brought my desktop with me and it will be attached to the table using a monitor arm.  I’m waiting for a part to come tomorrow enabling me to attach the computer to the arm.  I’ve got more stuff coming from Amazon tomorrow and I’m thinking they will have to send a truck out just for me!  But I’m still smiling and laughing.  I just need to work out the kinks and figure things out, right?  I like it here well enough and so decided to extend my stay another two weeks for a total of six although I’m thinking I might still extend that to a full month for a total of two months.  That serves a couple of purposes.  First, it obviously gives me some time to finish settling in, develop those day to day routines and rest, rest, rest.  Second, it allows me to get out of high season here in Florida.  I really want to hit some of the state parks but the reality is that they are still booked up with Snow Birds.  By the time six weeks are over, and definitely a second month, there will be spots opening up.

So am I happy that I’ve done this?  Yes, I am.  The learning curve is a bit steep in the beginning and sometimes I freak out a little but I’ll get there.  There are a lot of wonderfully friendly people here I’ve barely started to meet and I know they are more than willing to help just as my neighbor did yesterday.  I will still need to put down the exercise pen I purchased for Picasso, arriving in two days, and get my awning down!  Well, I got it down yesterday but couldn’t figure out how to keep it down!  It kept flipping up again!  I figured that would be for tomorrow!

One of my little wall hangings that just had to be in my new home!  It says it all!

One of my little wall hangings that just had to be in my new home! It says it all!

Sorry there aren’t more photos.  I’m still using my iPhone rather than my regular camera until I get my desktop computer up and running.  I use that for all my “real” photography work.

©  deborah kauffeld 2015