Friday, April 29, 2011

Wannabees, Newbies, Soon-to-Be, Dreaming of …Full-Time Rv’ing

It is a difficult transition, even though an exciting one, moving from a stationary home to an RV. These were a few of my early experiences. My main concern had been finding places where I could boondock. I should have spent more time getting familiar with my RV. However, it would not be until I ended up at Slab City, CA where there were many full-timers who were manna from heaven in the help department.

If I were to give any advice to newbies, it would be first and foremost to get acquainted with your RV and its many systems; at first they appear more complicated than pressing a switch for light or turning the tap for water. And they are. Speaking for myself, I was petrified for lack of clear instructions.

/I had sold my house and all its belongings. A friend loaned me the use of her backyard, where in early April we got snow. It gave me a chance to see that the furnace worked well. Great! A relief since it appeared that much else was troublesome. When I had first connected a hose to the intake for city water, the whole house got flooded! An internal plastic connection had dried up for lack of use for the previous 2 years in a very dry climate. With the snow and freezing temperatures, I was afraid that more damage would ensue.
I had read the owner’s manual but had found it pretty close to useless, except for showing where things were…. I don’t wish to diss the owner’s manual that I was given, but it contained at least 2 or 3 WARNINGS per page, to the point that it was not only tedious but downright ridiculous. It contained not one IOTA of practical assistance. On top of this, all the warnings made me quite stressed out with the fear of making serious mistakes simply pushing an unmarked button. But I had to wing it. I wish it to nobody else.

In a regular house or apartment, we are used to just plug in and presto, here’s electric power. Speaking strictly for me, I was at first bewildered by the many monitoring devices to which I had to pay attention. Enough water in the tank? Press this button to check. State of the batteries? Another button. Fresh or refuse or grey water tanks full.. or empty… as the case may be? Buttons and LED lights were my guides to so many things totally new to me. I was worried that I’d inadvertently forget something before going for parts unknown. Did I remember to lower the TV antenna? I can’t count the many times I was honked at because I’d forgotten to lower my TV antenna! For the solo RV’er, there is no ready assistance. Is the awning secure? Many an awning has been damaged for lack of securing it tightly, and so on, and on, and on….

Before I hit the road for more serious traveling, I made me a point-by-point list that I taped above the exit door of the house. I remember that there were 14 items on the list and I made a habit of always checking it. More than once, it was a device-saviour (not a life-saviour) but one that I and my devices surely appreciated. For my peace of mind and their longevity! Also, I recall reading many advice books and articles about full-time RV’ing that, to my novice eye, appeared more technical than I was ready for. What about the basics? It came through experiencing living in my RV. Weekend or vacation RV’ers never had to worry about LIVING IN AN RV FULL-TIME! Roll into any RV park, plug in and relax.

So, here’s my two-bits of wisdom learned from the hard-earned lessons of full-time RV’ing. FIRST, LEARN ABOUT YOUR OWN RIG. Figure yourself in a wilderness somewhere (even if you’re in your own backyard) and attempting to survive alone. You and your rig. LED red light on? OMG what’s it about? What to do? Enough propane? What about electric power? Are the dishes secure? I had forgotten to tell my daughter when she was drying the dishes (Corelle) to insert an anti-skid square between the plates. The first right turn on the road and all went flying to their untimely death. Water, the most crucial concern. Both getting it and getting rid of it. Sewage is the big one. I had read an article by a full-timer that you get rid FIRST of sewage, then of grey water. One of the many tricks that one develops with time.

I would like to cite an example of “ignorance is NOT bliss. This was related to me by the owner of an RV Park where water and dumping were accessible to visitors for a small fee. She had noticed that a visitor with a longish trailer behind a vehicle was going back and forth along the dump holes. She asked her husband to go check whether the driver was in difficulty. He had been attempting he said, quite annoyed, to line up the trailer as close as possible to a dump hole until he was satisfied that he could pull the handle and let the sewage find its not-so-merry way to the sewage hole. The husband was quite annoyed and remarked that he was supposed to use a HOSE. ‘What hose?’ the driver asked. ‘The one in your rear bumper’, the husband answered. To which the driver then retorted, ‘You should have put a sign!’

The idea is not necessarily to become proficient in running everything. This comes with time. It’s to r e a l l y familiarize oneself with the basic running of everything needed for living with the minimum of stress and hitting the road worry-free.

And it is exciting! I guarantee it!

PS. Yes, you too have a hose in the rear bumper…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Telcel, Skype, and Construction

About a month ago, my connecting by phone from my computer was… scrambled… by Telcel to prevent Skype users from communicating. Today, I read that Carlos Slim is being fined for $1 B and frankly, I hope he gets rapped really hard for making it so expensive and now, for messing us up so that we can no longer use Skype.
I signed up with Telcel more than a year ago and activated my Skype account for use on 3G network, this to continue speaking to family and friends in Canada and the U.S. Up to a month ago, no problem. Then no conversation could not be heard at either end. I contacted Skype thinking that they were the culprit. Today, I learned from Jimena that she has the same problem. And I’ll bet that any Telcel user who is also, or was using Skype can no longer communicate. @!#%*&!!
When I went to Calgary and spoke to my granddaughter’s husband who has a degree in Computer Science about it, he had an immediate reaction. The 3G broadband connection had been interfered with by Telcel to prevent its users from using Skype. I’ve been busy on the internet attempting to get resolution, without any success. I’ll keep at it, though, because I’m determined to have access to a service for which I have a contract and that I have been using for well over a year.
Things are looking up to begin construction of my little house this month. Pete, Jimena’s husband, built a huge fantastic house and had A-One workers. He’s lending them to me for a week a month for now, more later. I hope that they accept to work on my small lot, on my small house-to-be. Now, I’m doing some more running around to find out about permits, whether an architect’s plan is required, bureaucratic red tape require, etc.
I’ll keep you all informed, on Skype/Telcel, and on building.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Comic Relief

Last Sunday was an all-day laugh watching my favourite stand-up comic Russell Peters. He’s a Canadian born of East Indian parents and his take on life covers a multitude of situations and various ethnicities. He’s hilarious. You can watch many clips on YouTube. Just key in Russell Peters. To get you started, here’s one of his funniest right here:
Trust me, you’ll thank me. Enjoy!
If this one takes too long to download, here's the link, which should be without too many interruptions.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Revival

I had a lot to do returning from Calgary; still do. But I wanted to take photos of all the changes that spring brought to the blooming plants and fruit trees. They had shown so much damage from the dry and freezing weather during the winter that I thought the situation hopeless. I was quite devastated by what I saw then as a total loss.

My bougainvillea, called here camelinas (which I like better), looked like so much dead branches. After Don Samuel had removed the dead dried up shoots, little was left and was so close to the soil that I had grave doubts about their viability. Same for the llamarada and fruit trees. They all looked so forlorn.

But blooming plants, and fruit trees, have revived beyond all expectations.

As well, Tasha is transforming quite rapidly and looks so much healthier. It seemed more important to record these changes than attending to chores.

Without more ado, here are the results:

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This camelina has two colours. An orangey hue that changes to pink.

The metal fence is so that plants survive doggy onslaught! By this I mean digging, chewing, tearing, etc. This way, I get to enjoy both.


I love this brilliant purple. Admired it so much in various places in Tequis that I simply had to have one.

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Don Samuel had previously installed wire fencing and surrounded it with stones. Queenie quickly found that she could easily paw away the stones and lift the fence to gain access to ‘sticks’, sometimes a bamboo support, at others the plant stem. Naturally, all four-legged enjoyed them to my desolation. This year, he did the opposite, piling stones inside the fence and anchoring the latter with rebar. Dog-proof. This way, I can enjoy both plants and dogs.

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The plum tree below looks promising. So does the peach tree but I failed to capture it in photo.

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The llamarada is clinging to the fence wall. It normally blooms later in the year, more towards the fall.

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I thought the pear tree dead as a doorknob. Fortunately Tesaje, a reader, informed me that certain plants run their growth cycle based on light rather than temperature or moisture. So I didn’t give up on either the pear tree or the lemon. Lemon? RIP. It will give me the space for a fig tree.

I was ready to give up on the pear tree but noticed a few leaves, first at the bottom, and later a few more up. There might still be hope! So the jury’s still out on this one.

This is a potted plant that has remained nameless. It also looked beyond hope in the winter. Living as I do in my RV, there was no room inside for this one and another, a fuchsia I think. A while ago, I cut all that appeared dead, which actually left only meagre stumps on both plants, and kept watering. A few leaves appeared and soon it was blooming again. I wish I knew its name.

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And now below are some photos of Tasha. By the time I got back from Calgary, her woolly pelt was halfway from below the ribs to the tail. The forward part was shiny and her ears were completely up! I resumed giving her 4 or 5 feedings a day with Omega 3 and 6 acids, plus vitamin E, and the result is dramatic. Shiny all over! Her photos will speak for themselves.

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Her head, which seemed out of proportion with her body, no longer appears abnormally large.

On the other hand, her paws have become quite large. I expect that she’ll most likely grow larger than I expected. She was so skeletal, it was hard to foresee. And she’s grown some muscle! And is quite vocal!

I hope that she grows into her ears. They do appear quite large. No matter, I love her just as she is.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming Back Home

While I was preparing for my trip back to Calgary, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. More particularly, I feared that my dogs would have a hard time adjusting to sporadic visits to provide food and would manage to escape. Although I had trained them to sleep through the whole night, I was afraid that one or more would have ‘accidents’. That would not have been fair to Lupe. I felt anxious to have the trip over and done with.

Now I realize that the premonition had nothing to do with the dogs. First, the flight from Mexico to Vancouver was delayed by more than an hour. I had caught an early bus to Mexico City and had checked my luggage upon arrival. Which gave any potential robber more than 3 hours to check for goodies. I had been under such tension preparing for the trip and my dogs with Lupe and the million things that one thinks of a few days before a long trip that I innocently put my jewellery in my checked luggage. I should say ‘idiotically’ rather than innocently. The loss is mine.

I had a list of things to do in Calgary and at least all that I had planned got done, despite the weather. The return flights were without incident. I was awfully short of time arriving in Mexico City to make it in time to Terminal del Norte to catch the last bus to Tequis but made it with only minutes to spare. Lupe had offered to pick me up upon arrival in Tequis which was some time after midnight. Finally I’d made it!

Here, I simply cannot describe the joy, the ecstatic jumping up of my dogs when I came home.  After the initial excitement, they wouldn’t leave my side. Forget about unpacking! I had removed my single mattress from the wooden base integral to the RV before leaving; Lupe helped me get it back and told me that Queenie would not sleep on her customary blanket over the dog couch. So she’d transferred her blanket to the platform and there slept Queenie the whole time that I was away. It was evident that they had missed me. As I had them.

They had all lost a bit of weight, particularly Tasha who couldn’t really afford to lose anything. All is in order now that mom’s home. I’ve been very busy getting the routine back to normal and I can say with immense relief, IT’S GOOD TO BE HOME!

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Exercising a Right

I had my trip all lined up when Canadian federal elections were announced for May 2nd. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to exercise my right to choose. And for once it bothered me. When one thinks of the rebellion of common folks in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and a host of other countries, because they are literally dying to have the right to self-govern, I felt at once privileged and ashamed to have disregarded that right in the past. Made little of it. Selfishly.

I had justified my attitude by cockamamie reasons such as “… not a single one of the candidates impresses me”, or “…I’m way too busy to spend time in a futile pursuit”, or “…what’s one single vote among millions?” and other fallacious reasons. Those that many of us often utter shrugging our shoulders when surrendering this hard earned right so casually. Then my electoral id card was dropped in the mailbox.

So I enquired whether I could vote in advance. Of course! I was told. Where? Just a couple of streets down from the house. So I went. It was a breeze. And I thanked my benevolent stars to have been born in North America where democracy might not be perfect; but it is notches above dictatorship, even tyranny, and a host of curses affecting millions. Right now, there are those who are ready to give up their life for the privilege (or right?) to self-govern. And there was a time when women were not even allowed to vote. We’ve come a long way and I, for one, should appreciate having a voice.

I will never surrender that right by neglect. Perhaps it is a bit late but not TOO late.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back to the Great White North and a Bummer

Before leaving Mexico, I had checked and re-checked the weather forecast for the next 14 days. It looked quite nice, with daytime weather over the freezing mark and sunshine. Okay!

After a delay of a few hours in Mexico, we reached Vancouver in pouring rain. Fortunately, the flight that had been reserved for a quick connection had also been delayed and I made it to Calgary a tad after 2:30 in the morning. The temperature had dropped to 2 Celsius, or something around 35 Fahrenheit. I had to open my suitcase to dig out warmer covering. Immediately I noticed that my jewellery case had been moved on top of everything and was now gloriously empty, save for a single gold earring that had already been an orphan. All my lovely accoutrements had been stolen. What a bummer!

I will present a claim to Air Canada but the agent hinted that I may never be compensated for any of it. However he added that the airline wanted to be advised, even of such “unsecured” stolen items, and that they took this very “…seriously”. However, not seriously enough to compensate the traveller? Double bummer! I’ll put in a claim anyway.

I was way too tired to have any kind of reaction after more than 20 hours without sleep. We arrived at my son’s and daughter-in-law a bit after 4:30 and all that I could muster was a beeline to the bed.

The next day, which in fact was only hours away, was overcast. I had planned to go the the passport office on the day after my arrival, which turned out to be Friday. The forecast was for 20 cm. of snow over the next two days. Here’s what it looked like on my birthday, Saturday April 2nd.







As wintery as it was, we still all headed out to Red Lobster for a birthday celebration of my 72nd, all three generations and the fourth one well on her way. It’s a girl whose name will be Brianna. I feel quite blessed. I’m a great-grandmother!

I’m relieved to see that today, Sunday, the sun has already melted some of the snow and I expect that in a day or two, it will be all gone.

I do miss my dogs though…

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