Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chores Around the House and a High School Reunion

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

We have finished the doctor visits, and I am now awaiting another appointment or two with my dentist, Dr. Philno Payne (get it?), who obviously has a payment due on his Mercedes, as he is working on a new crown for me. While my upper right third molar is under construction (my teeth are now officially worth more than Phannie), I have been busying myself taking care of chores around the house. I can testify that such activity continues to be w**k--about which I've already posted as being something that is really meant for someone else.

Since we have a number of friends who are fulltime RVers--a lifestyle we have contemplated ourselves from time to time--I thought I would throw them a bone and post a few photos of my performing these chores, in case they have forgotten why they jettisoned their stick and brick houses and became fulltimers.

Bear in mind that we designed the house and grounds to be as maintenance free as possible, but that doesn't mean there isn't any w**k to be done. I already posted this photo of my weed control technique, which is as close to "mowing" as I plan to get:

There are also cobwebs to be swept:

Hedges to be trimmed (I'm sort of smiling in this photo, but trust me--it's a fake smile):

I was so exhausted from all this w**k, I had to press the lovely Sandy into service cleaning up twigs that fell from the trees during all the rainstorms we've had:

While a good sport about it and smiling sweetly, she has some long held opinions about what constitutes "pink" chores and what constitutes "blue" chores. I can tell you that yard work doesn't fall into the "pink" category for her, and neither does anything on the exterior of Phannie, either. And that's fine with me, as she does the "pink" things inside our abodes very, very well.

Is it coming back to you yet, fulltimers?  Well, if that's not enough to validate your having simplified your lifestyle, maybe this will:

If you've followed this blog for a while, you are aware that we have been victims of burglaries both at home and in Phannie. That, of course, is what caused us to install a rather sophisticated security system and video cameras that watch and record the goings on in and around the house along with some other security features about which I don't need to elaborate here. I'm pointing to a couple of cameras that monitor the driveways:

When we're away, the camera feeds are not only recorded but sent via the cloud as video on our cell phones.

Well, there you have it, fulltimers; you should be feeling pretty smug by now. Do I envy your freedom from this kind of w**k and worry? The answer is yes, but even so, I don't think we will be able to give up what has become a perfect house for us as part-timers. I can't think of anything else we can do to lessen the upkeep and increase our peace of mind. The w**k? I whine a lot, but none of the chores above takes more than a half hour. I probably should just give the complaining a rest, don't you think?

We also made a quick trip to Nacogdoches, Texas to appear at my 50-year high school reunion. It was a fun evening, seeing whom I could recognize; this wasn't always easy, as the years have not been kind to some of them. Others hadn't changed at all, and I'm not sure where I fit in as being recognizable.

We did have the good fortune to be seated at the table of beloved friends Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Sitton and their daughter Pam, whom I have known for more than 50 years. Jerry was not only a high school teacher while I was there, but he is also a pilot. He was one of my instructors when I was learning to fly at age 16. In fact, it was he who signed off on a required instructor's recommendation to take my flight test for a private pilot certificate. A couple of years later, I obtained a commercial pilot's license and multiengine rating before I graduated from high school, and he was a part of that training as well. I thanked him for helping me prepare for what turned out to be a very rewarding career. It was great to catch up with these wonderful folks.

Mike and Sandy Visiting with the Sittons

Mike and Jerry Sitton
 I've also begun to do some planning--something I only do when necessary--for a long trip this summer up through Colorado to Yellowstone and on to Seattle, where we will be boarding a cruise ship to Alaska in July. But more about that later.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life, and please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

We find ourselves at home for a while, taking care of an unusually full agenda of chores that must have some attention from time to time. These have mostly included medical and dental checkups, except for Sandy's also seeking out an arthritis specialist to deal with some chronic neck pain. Additionally, my dental checkup revealed two cavities that will have to be taken care of with a couple of extra visits. I remain astonished at how much "maintenance" is required when our old bodies begin to wear out. And then there are the prescriptions; I think we are being held together largely by chemicals. 

We have also been using this time to perform a little housekeeping on Phannie. I removed and repaired a pantry cabinet door that had been left open and damaged by an extension of one of the slides. Yes, I know you know the sickening feeling when something dumb like that happens, especially since it could have been so easily avoided if I had only been a little more careful.

We also performed the yearly ritual of cleaning and oiling all of the wooden surfaces, of which Phannie has an overabundance.

Bob Tiffin really puts a lot of wooden cabinets in his motorhomes, so I'm surprised there are any trees left around Red Bay. I also gave Phannie another wash job, which is no small undertaking. I honestly can't explain why I have done this again so soon after the last one, given that it is so much like w**k. I normally avoid w**k at all cost. Speaking of cost...that's probably the reason, now that I think about it. I have to conclude that I am such a mercenary that I can be bought for $125, which is roughly the cost of a wash job around here. Am I becoming a cheapskate in my old age? Maybe so.

From time to time, I have included in these posts some shout outs about certain accessories or products that we use in RVing. Now, since we have a little time here between trips and I need something RV-related to write about, I thought I would fine tune these "must haves" to include a top ten list. So here is that list--the ten things we would not want to be without after ten years of RVing experience. (These are in no particular order.):

1. MCD shades. The relief we got from the frustration of the old accordion shades is priceless. The motorized MCD front and side shades for the cockpit are even more priceless. Getting those was a really good call, as they also serve as sun visors. I can't imagine how you would deal with a sun visor that is not motorized without pulling off the road. 

2. AT&T hotspot. Let me just go ahead and get this out of the way: I am a data hog. I'm not proud of it, but that's the way it is. With 30 gigs of data on a monthly plan, I am never a prisoner of an RV park's unreliable wifi, and it can serve all of my wifi devices at once. I can even stream to the TV if I like.

3. Third air conditioner. In Texas, we air condition everything, and I mean everything. Down here, having a frigid house in the middle of summer is a status symbol, and so it is with our motorhomes. When we purchased Phannie (it was in the summertime), it became clear immediately that the two factory-installed roof units were not going to do the job as we like it (being able to see our breath, that is) on the hottest days. So, before we even left the dealership, we had them drop in a third a/c unit in one of the skylight holes. Problem immediately solved; we can hang meat in there now.

4. LED Lighting. Replacing the old florescent fixtures in the ceiling and underneath the cabinets was a great idea, and it wasn't very expensive.

5. Power cord reel. Do I need to say more?

6. Surge Guard electrical power monitor. No more worries about funky shore power. This puppy is foolproof; it is very picky about power and won't allow into the coach any electricity it doesn't like. Good to know that I won't be frying any of my electronics.

7. The holy trinity of cooking: A Breville oven, an electric skillet and an induction cooktop. The best arrangement we have found to cook anything we want without having to press the rig's gas cooktop or oven into service. The Breville oven has no equal; don't waste your money on a lesser one.

8. The Winegard Traveler automatic satellite dish.  I don't know how we lived without this. Push a button and you've got satellite TV in about two minutes. Push the button again, and it stows itself, ready for the road. Nice.

9. Oxygenics shower head. I don't have any idea how it works, but this thing seems to make more water come out than goes in. Amazing.

10. Strongback folding chair. If you didn't know about a folding chair that also provides excellent back support, you do now. And once you try it, you will gladly toss the others. Just Google "Strongback chair" and order your own. You can't have mine. 

Limiting this list to ten favorites was not easy. You already know how much I like my Shurhold Industries flexible squeegee and my Pro-Fil battery filler, so I'll give those honorable mention. There are probably others, but these are clearly must-haves, in my book.

Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful life you've given me.
Please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough each day.