Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The pace of life has slowed here at the RV Vagabonds; we've visited with family and gotten away from the house for a while. The garage still needs to be cleaned out and I have to start tagging items to price them to sell once the house sells. Notice that I phrased that positively? Because we're sure it will sell this year--after all, we buried St. Joseph in the backyard, as well as in the extra lot we have up for sale. When the realtor wrote the blurb for the house, he described it as being in "mint condition" which says a lot for all the work Denny, Connie and I put into it. It's nice to know that it is noticeable.

In the midst of the celebration of getting the house finished we were notified that we lost an uncle to diabetes and Alzheimers this weekend. It has been a difficult year for us as we've lost so many friends, co-workers and family members. That knowledge makes Denny and I grateful that we've had so many years to pursue our passion for travel and exploring new places. We may have to put down roots for a while if tests show that my mother is no longer capable of living alone, but Denny and I are both healthy and we feel that there are a few more years of travel left in us no matter how long we may have to hang up the RV keys.

This is the first time I've not had our winter itinerary planned months in advance. The only reservation we have at the moment is a month at Myrtle Beach and then we'll come back to Ohio for my mother's cataract surgery in early December. After that, there are no plans. That feels strange and some of it is avoidance. I know that my mother will probably need someone to live with her or at least nearby. Camping in Ohio in the wintertime would not be fun, but living in a closed up house with my mother while she stills smokes over a pack of cigarettes a day is not an option--there's too much lung cancer in Denny's family to subject him (or me)to her second-hand smoke. For now I'm living in the moment but sooner or later I'm going to have to come to a decision on what we're going to do. Procrastination is the word of the day. Sigh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


It's official; the house is on the market as of yesterday afternoon! Yay!

There is still work to be done.The top half of this large maple tree that was broken during the high winds two weeks ago still has to be cut up and removed. We also have a lot of trash that needs to be hauled out of the garage so people can actually tell that it is an oversized garage, not just a junk heap. However, the interior of the house is finished and it looks like a different house inside, which makes all that work worthwhile. Did we do before and after pictures? Of course not! Duh! But Connie, Denny and I at least know what we did and how much different the house looks now. And I must say, we're pretty proud of ourselves.

This weekend the three of us are taking a break from the house. Denny and I will visit with Darb and Net today and then go up to check on my mother on Sunday. Monday someone is coming to look at the extra lot that we have for sale next to the house and someone else is driving down to buy the stair lift chair. Denny and I will have a couple of free days after that, so we will schedule a tee time for the first time in six months and go smack some balls around the golf course.

As Connie said last night, what do people do when they work and have to deal with an estate? It's hard to imagine having to do what we did while dealing with your own place and working a full time job. We are lucky that the three of us are retired so we could spend several hours a day working on the house.

And now? We'll luxuriate in the thought of free time once again. Ahhhhhh.....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ah, the Autumnal Equinox on Lazy Sunday

With two people, our 36 foot long fifth wheel is plenty big enough. With three people it is crowded and claustrophobic at times. My mother had been staying with us since Wednesday since electrical service had not been restored to her neighborhood. Having her here made me realize how patterned and subject to routine our lives are, by dint of observing how patterned my mother's life is. I had to stumble out of bed at 5AM (which was late for Mom) to be able to assist her in walking down our four entrance steps to the driveway below so she could have her morning cup of coffee and cigarettes. There is no way in her currently shaky physical condition that she could have dealt with the steps, a coffee mug and preventing Patches from slipping out the front door. Mom and I did that for three mornings until her next door neighbors called with the news that the power was back on Saturday morning. I think we were all relieved.

Denny and I plugged in all the appliances the neighbors had unplugged for Mom while she was gone (they feared an explosion or fire when the electricity came back on), turned off all the lights that had been on and restocked most of the items in Mom's refrigerator that had been thrown out. Once Mom was settled in, Denny and I headed back to Cinci since we had a new stove ventilation kit to install.

Since nothing is ever easy when you are replacing 37 year old parts with new parts, that job took longer than we thought so the two of us didn't get as much done to the house as we'd like. The carpet installers will be here Tuesday, so we have to finish up the last minute jobs and then get all the tools and junk we have laying around up off the floor so those guys can do their work. Today we took the time to put the auxiliary fuel tank and tool box back in Black Beauty since the bed liner we had installed has had plenty of time to dry and cure. Then we took the rest of the day off because there were important things like the Bengals' game, and a NASCAR race and the Ryder Cup on television and hey, this is the seventh day of the week, right?

Because it is close the the autumnal equinox, today's Lazy Sunday post pictures are of the clear, deep blue skies of fall.

And yeah, I know. If I write a complete post, then it's no longer a Lazy Sunday pictures only post. Sue me.

The road leading to Zion National Park in Utah creates a sense of anticipation of the beauty within its boundaries with its mountains of red and white stone showing the way.

Awesome rock spires and clean air are what you see at Zion NP, thanks to the many trolleys that haul tourists inside the park, rather than thousands of individual cars clogging the roadways.

Basalt walls and distant mountains at Yellowstone National Park. Fall is a fantastic time to be there due to smaller crowds, but the cold air hitting the hot springs means many photographic opportunities are blocked by fog and mist.

Mountains fascinate me. They are as varied as people due to volcanic activity and upheavals and mineral content. I never tire of them. Here are white cliffs along the Yellowstone River.

Entering the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park I saw this small white cloud in the sky which reminded me of smoke signals.

Speaking of the difference in mountains, here we have the mountains of West Virginia at Pipestem State Park. Denny and I always suffer a form of "culture shock" when we return east after spending months in the desert. The lushness of the mountains in the southeast are a treat after the stark beauty of the mountains of Arizona. And the sky here gets almost as blue as out west.

While the primitive living conditions of the Native Americans who built the Aztec Ruins are not appealing to me, New Mexico is a state we are considering as a place to settle. Someday. Maybe.

But the place for the best sunsets and the bluest skies I've ever seen? Arizona. This, of course, is the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, but we found skies this blue in the fall no matter where we traveled in the state. Arizona calls to both of us.....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Rough Night

Yesterday I brought my mother back home with us as she still has no electric service at her house. The official word is maybe no power until the weekend, so she'll stay here until the power is back on.

We're not used to house guests here and Patches even less so. I normally leave the blinds up for Patches to look out the windows at night but with age comes paranoia, so I pulled the blinds down for Mom to sleep. Which she couldn't do because Patches was clawing at the shades all night in an attempt to move them so she could see out. Plus, according to my mother there was some sort of small critter skittering around in the trailer last night with Patches fast on its heels, so I guess we've gained a mouse now the the nights are cooling down. Something else to worry about.

What with Mom being up half the night with the light on reading (this is her normal sleep pattern) and Mouse clawing at the night shades, Denny and I didn't sleep well either. I finally gave up at 5AM, figuring Mom would want to go outside to smoke a cigarette and not be able to manage a coffee cup, the stairs, and being able to keep Patches from shooting out the door. I can see that if we need to incorporate Mom into the family due to her health, we're going to have to do it in a house, hanging up the keys for a while. This rig is just too small for the four of us.

Today I'll keep Mom busy by showing her Denny's dad's house and have her give me some ideas on pricing the remaining furniture and items for the estate sale. That will give her something to do while we continue to get the house ready for sale. The carpet installers will be here Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the realtor comes out next Friday for another walk-through before putting the house on the market. It's finally coming together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike Hits Ohio--Kinda

Hurricane Ike headed up the Midwest and met a cold front which resulted in extremely high winds in Ohio on Sunday. I mean scary-high winds. We only received a tiny bit of rain, but trees were creaking and cracking like gunshots for a couple of hours Sunday afternoon. We lost electrical power at 2:30PM Sunday and it didn't come back on until 5:10PM Tuesday. And it wasn't just the 800,000 households in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky that lost power--it was all the way up I-75 to Dayton, Ohio and even further. I hear that the storm turned eastward at Sidney, Ohio and my sister-in-law heard on the radio (her power was restored Sunday night) that one third of all the traffic lights in the state of Ohio were out. Pretty strong winds, huh? I can't imagine what the people of Galveston went through or why some of them didn't evacuate.

We're heading up to Kettering tomorrow to get a Rhino-liner sprayed on the bed of the truck and I'll bring my mother home with me if she doesn't have her electrical power back on by then since she can't be trusted not to eat bad food from her refrigerator. We haven't gotten much done inside the house since there wasn't any power to run tools and we've had a mess to clean up in the yard. The storm definitely set us back several days in our schedule for getting the house done and on the market. The powers that be say that power may not be restored to most of Cinci until the weekend. The only good thing about the whole situation is that the cold front brought in cooler temperatures so we weren't suffering from heat and humidity while the power was off.

And man, did I miss the Internet! Sigh.

The neighbor's tree fell into "our" driveway and was so big Denny had to use the truck to drag it out of the way.

Just some of the branches that were torn off. Most of the large tops of the trees that broke off were caught up in the trees lining the lawn.

It's difficult to see the large broken-off tree in the middle of this photo, but the top half of the tree landed ten feet from our trailer. Even though we are sitting only ten to fifteen feet from the edge of the woods, none of the fallen trees or big broken limbs fell on the trailer and none of the smaller limbs that did hit us tore the rubber roof of the trailer. I think Denny's dad was watching out for us.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Still Chugging Along

It seems like it's taking us forever just to paint the upstairs rooms at Denny's dad's house and it is. Part of the reason is that Connie had to wash all the walls before we could paint and part of the reason is that every entry door and every closet door and every shelf and built-in in the house is painted and therefore has to be repainted. Sigh.

It didn't help that Denny's step-mother wasn't a good housekeeper, which she herself admitted. How bad a housekeeper didn't come to light until we pulled the refrigerator out so I could clean the floor before Denny laid the Pergo flooring. Here I was halfway done cleaning the floor. Yuck.

We even had to replace the ceiling light panels in the kitchen because they hadn't been cleaned in years, if ever. Note the difference between the new panels on the right and the old on the left.

The good news is that the house is looking bigger, cleaner and brighter so all the hard work put in by the three of us has been worthwhile. I should have done a bunch of "before" pictures but we just started working right off the bat and I didn't think of it.

Today we're getting some of Hurricane Ike's leftover rain so Connie won't be able to weed. She's starting to work on the landscaping outside since that's been sadly neglected too. It's something she's good at and the gardens will look terrific once she's finished, I'm sure. Chugging right along....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Not Such a Hot Idea

Look closely at the picture above. You will see three screens, one with the screen pulled out of the spline and two with holes clawed in them. That's right, clawed.

Bringing in a new litter box worked like a charm on the "inappropriate urination" problem; Patches has used her litter box consistently since I switched them out. Our next problem is that Patches wants to go outside so badly that she claws her way out the open window and/or opens a closed but not locked sliding window by brute strength. Yep, she can do that.

Spraying her with a squirt gun brings a look of disdain, tossing a bottle filled with pennies only works to scare her when we are around. I purchased a Feliway diffuser and that seems to have no effect, other than Patches is still using her litter box well. So the vet said we could try a tranquilizer (which she was going to give me once it was discovered that there was no medical reason for Patches to be urinating outside of her litter box). Off I went to the pharmacy, where I had the prescription filled to the tune of $18. Once home, I shoved 1/4 of a pill down her throat as prescribed and went off to paint at the house.

Coming back to the rig that afternoon I watched as Patches "tracked" a bug flying through the house, only there was no bug. So I pulled out the brochure on the prescription and this is what I found: Patches was prescribed 10mg tablets of buspirone, which is also used by humans. Side effects in humans can be blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, excitement, headache, lightheadedness, nervousness or nausea. There can be uncontrolled muscle movements, chest pain, fever, fainting, irregular heartbeat, loss of coordination, memory problems, personality changes such as anger, hostility, confusion, depression, seizures, suicidal thoughts, restlessness and vision changes. What the heck did I just do to my cat?

Needless to say, that was her first and last dose of medication. We'll find another way to deal with the screen scratching. I'm thinking perhaps a Halloween themed remote controlled noise-maker of some sort might do the trick but whatever we do, it won't involve drugs other than the Feliway. *Shudder*.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lazy Sunday RV Dreaming

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." --H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Denny and I tout our lifestyle to those who ask. Yesterday at a 50th wedding anniversary party we ran into a husband and wife duo who exemplified many couples we talk to; the husband was enthralled with the idea of traveling by RV and the wife would never leave her children and grandchildren. She was proud of the fact that they had moved within walking distance of every adult child and said she had to see at least one of her kids or grandkids every day. That made me shudder internally. Thus the quote above, which appeared today at the bottom of this blog (have you discovered that?)

Our lifestyle certainly is not for everyone. And don't get me wrong; we love our sons and our grandkids. But they have their lives and we have ours. I know they wouldn't mind seeing us more often but I also know they wouldn't want us hovering all the time (this would especially go for our daughters-in-law since I have a rather strong personality).

That being said, there's still much too much out there for us to see so the kids will continue to have to tell folks they are RV orphans whose parents are lost to the road...

Okay, admit it. When you saw this picture you immediately saw Julie Andrews standing there singing "The Hills are Alive", right? If you didn't before you do now, right?

I have titled my pictures in various ways over the years, finally settling on a format of year/month/day/descriptive name. This picture was titled "bubbling rocks, Red Cliff Recreational Area". Can you see why?

There are many areas of the country where red rock formations rise from the earth in majestic beauty; Sedona, AZ, Grant, NM, between Pahrump and Las Vegas, NV and here near Harrisburg, UT at the Red Cliffs Recreational Area.

How can you not want to travel when you know there are waterfalls out there like this one at the Newberry Volcanic National Monument near Bend, Oregon? The sky is truly this blue and the air is crystal clear. You find yourself inhaling huge deep breaths just to taste it.

The wharf at Victoria, British Columbia is a great place to people watch. You can explore much of the town on foot if you choose to leave your vehicle back at the States.

The optical illusion of Mt. Rainier floating over the city of Seattle probably has a scientific explanation but I still enjoy the magical effect.

The once verdant slopes of Mt. St. Helen are slowly replenishing themselves with grasses and wildflowers. Nature works hard to recreate what once was before the horrific volcanic eruption of May 18, 1980.

A blue heron waits patiently for an unwary salmon to swim by near the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Washington.

This Calls for RVers

There's an article online today that tells of a desert tortoise that was somehow moved to Idaho but left at a rest stop along I-95. The tortoise, now named Sadie, was taken to an animal preserve in Washington but that climate will soon be too cold for a desert creature. The preserve is looking for someone to adopt Sadie since she now has to be considered a domesticated pet from being in captivity for this long, but the owner has to live in a desert climate.

A willing volunteer has been found in Blythe, CA but that's on the border of California and Arizona way, way south so a way down there is needed for Sadie. Here's where a cadre of RVers would come in handy; Sadie could be moved south in stages by those who will be heading for warmer climes themselves.

Hey Bill and Diane, want to take the first leg?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Hitch in Our Giddy-up

There be gremlins in our life right now--arrrr. The car left behind by Denny's step-mother will not start, a tire blew out on our trailer as we're sitting here parked in the driveway, and nothing is where we left it/put it in the house when we return in the morning. Sigh.

Today we dropped all pretense of work on the house to go pick up a new tire for the trailer so that Denny could change the flat. That scares the heck out of me; him raising a 17,000 pound trailer with a little bottle jack. Fortunately there was an old cast iron house jack in his dad's garage to use as an additional support, but since that side of the trailer was already riding on seven inches of leveling boards I was not comfortable with Denny changing the tire himself. However, the manly man got her done. Then it was onward and upward to installing the new marble top for the bathroom vanity where we discovered that a 37 year-old vanity base just might not work with a new top. The cabinet has two small drawers at the top and the basin of new top is much larger than the old one so the drawers are in the way. Hmm. Only one drawer was a problem actually, so I had Denny remove the drawer, took the front off the drawer and then we screwed the front of the drawer back onto the vanity. Voila'. False front that matched the drawer that still can open. New faucet and drain installed, a little leak in the old plumbing to be worked on tomorrow. New faucet handles in the shower, but no luck in pulling the old drain out--it's stuck in there good with years-old mastic. Denny will probably have to take a hacksaw to that to get it out with a lot of muscle after cutting through the male threads.

Some phone call hassles occupied the afternoon and then we ran out to get a new battery for the car to see if that was the problem. Fortunately, it was so we don't have to worry about an expensive car repair for a vehicle that is going to be sold as part of the estate. We treated ourselves to dinner at Red Lobster and had a great evening chatting with one of the managers who we had teased upon our arrival. All the employees there were friendly and smiling and it was a nice dining experience after a very frustrating day. Other restaurants in the area could take a lesson from the folks at this particular franchise.

The painting is going well, but it's the "two steps forward, one step back" routine on all the jobs that we find frustrating, like installing the vanity top but having to create a workaround fix to make it fit. Nothing has been easy in this rehab of Denny's father's house. Which makes us ask again, "Why do people own houses????"
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