Latest Entries »

Sea Changed Forever

I’ve been looking over my blog and noted that I haven’t had a response since March 2012.  Hmmm.  That’s almost 2 years ago.  I guess now that my Sea Change is complete, it isn’t very interesting to read about any more.

Thank you to those who have made the journey with me.  I have valued your comments and encouragement and I wish you well.  May you find all the tools required (both figuratively and literally) to make your hopes and dreams a reality.  I’ll close with Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata:

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

Image

Paine’s Creek, Brewster, MA. (my photo)

The balmy Indian Summer weather lingered into autumn, so some friends and I hit the road for more camping adventures!  One friend is my former schoolmate, Cindy, and the other is the same gal pal, Jill, who accompanied me on the first two trips.  We had a fantastic time!  Cindy is a fabulous cook and did much to improve our menu… homemade French toast made with bakery cinnamon bread, which she sliced thick for hearty slabs of toast, grilled lemon chicken, wonderful salads, grilled veggies, hot cider over the campfire….  nom, nom, nom…. she was amazing!  Jill is a widow who lives alone and often dines on bowls of cereal or a tuna fish sandwich, and I can’t say I eat very fancy vittles, either, so we were overjoyed to have some REAL food!  In addition to eating, we also hiked, took lots of photos, played games around the campfire, worked on arts & crafts, and talked and laughed a lot!  We also enjoyed our quiet times: listening to the coyotes howl and yap as we sat in a cozy circle of light by the fire; and one night, we heard the soft whispers and whistles as flocks of migrating ducks passed overhead… flock after flock after flock!   We searched the moon-lit sky for any sign of them, but we couldn’t see anything- yet it was an enchanting experience just the same.

Winter is still a few weeks off by the calender, but temperature-wise, it arrived not long after our final mid-October journey.  I’ve removed much of Parnassus’ camping supplies, gave her a good cleaning  and winterized her plumbing.   We’ve already had one snow storm and as I type this, it is 27 degrees- a far cry from our mild October weather.   She’ll be used for my errands, so she’ll still be on the road, but it’s going to be a long winter as I dream of next years’ woodland excursions.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 048                                                   3rd trip: great campsite and wonderful weather!

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 054                                                   All settled-in!

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 003                                                   Sammy looks in: “Are you coming out, now?”

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 060                                                   All ready for a good night’s sleep.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 061 Everything is stowed carefully away when we’re going down the road, so it takes a little time to get organized once we arrive.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 082                    This lovely lake is at the bottom of the hill by our campsite.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 084

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 091

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 112                       Now it’s time to hike back up the hill to the site.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 139

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 142                                                    Cindy and Jill.

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 148

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 152

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 189

9.30-10.3 Nickerson State Park 214

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 001                4th trip: Getting set up at new campsite.

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 002                                          Cindy brings fall decorations!

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 003                             Jill and her dog Baby in tent.

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 006           Jill in tent; Cindy, probably about to cook something delicious!

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 009

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 025                    Foggy start to the day as the sun starts to burn through.

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 028                      Our campsite and the steep ravine next to it.

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 029

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 034

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 052

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 058

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 077

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 085                        Our campsite from a slightly different angle.

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 092

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 098

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 107

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 121

10.14-10.17 Nickeson State Park 120Packing up the last camping trip of the year is always sad.  Here’s Parnassus, all ready to head for home.

Parnassus Spreads Her Wings

Parnassus has embarked on two adventures so far, and another is coming up soon!

A brave friend has accompanied me on the first two trips.  She borrowed my tent and some camping equipment and shared the site with me.    The following photos show something of our camping experience and the beautiful areas we visited.

Parnassus Sept. 2013

9.3 - 9.6.13 Nickerson State Park 002

Triton the cat makes himself at home.

Triton the cat makes himself at home.

Parnassus

Parnassus

9.3 - 9.6.13 Nickerson State Park 091

Sammy

Sammy

Triton

Triton

Doing the dishes

Doing the dishes

Skies don't get any bluer than this!

Skies don’t get any bluer than this!

Are You Who You Want to Be?

998433_621408081217209_458488244_n

“Are you who you want to be?”

This takes some soul-searching  for some of us.  My automatic response is that who I am is based on a lifetime of experiences; but I always strive to be a better person and continually seek to expand my knowledge base.  I will never be perfect: there’s always room for improvement.  And parts of me will always be fighting to overcome some of those nagging, negative life experiences so that their impact on my existence is minimal.

“Are you where you want to be?”

I’m in the physical part of the world where I want to be, but if by ‘where’, the meaning is where you want to be in life; well, this isn’t exactly where I thought I’d be, but it’s where my decision path has taken me and this is my departure point for my future decisions.   Not all my choices have been or will be the best ones, but I hope that most of the new ones will help me achieve my current goals, which are to help my daughters get their children raised (I babysit a lot, especially for one daughter who works some overnight shifts at a nursing home), take care of my job, pets and household and make my camper and workload compatible with some long range travel in my beloved Parnassus.  I hope to semi-retire as soon as possible- I’m aiming for 6 to 10 years- and at that point, I would like to have my self-employment cut back to a handful of monthly columns and I would like to be on the road for at least a portion of the year.  We’ll see… Parnassus is a work in progress, too- but she’s getting there.  I took her for her annual state inspection last week and the normally taciturn (but very nice) middle-aged guy at the shop was really enthusiastic.  He kept saying: “Wow!!!”  “Wow!!!”  “She’s in good shape!”  “I want one!”  He asked if he could peek inside, and, of course, I’m more than happy to show her off.  She’s my baby.  Like a proud mother, I’ve also been gratified to get some thumbs up from the people I pass on the road.

As my only vehicle, lately all my road trips have been to various medical offices.  (Even at my family doctor’s office: “I saw your little rig out there!  I want one!”)  The good news is that my health is basically fine; the so-so news is that my cardiologist has recommended that I have a procedure to cauterize the part of my heart that has been causing an irregular heartbeat for the last 12 years.   I’m considerably less than thrilled about this latest development, but I’m trying to look at it as a positive; I”ll be healthier and if it cures the problem, potentially, I can get off my medications- and that would be wonderful!

So, for now, I am biding my time; trying to get as far ahead on work as I can as possible in order to take time off to make my escape and do some local camping in Parnassus and also, so I can have the surgery this fall without worrying about keeping up with my work load.  I am happy with where things are going in my life at this point and I am ever-hopeful that the future will hold many wonderful things!

???????????????????????????????

Parnassus Slowly Blossoms

Looking Forward

Looking Forward

Parnassus is slowly taking shape as I clean, paint, sew couch cushions, and add some useful and decorative touches.  The couch is made from lounge chair cushions and the pillows that form the matching armrests are stuffed with ragged old (but clean) blankets.  The rope netting for the overhead bunk/storage area is also handmade (thanks to my net-hanging days in the commercial fishing industry) and keeps all my bedding, etc., from falling on the floor when on the road.  All the curtains are made from extra drapes, leftover from moving out of my beloved Little-Apartment-on-the-Pond to my little loft, which has fewer windows.

Parnassus came with a lot of dark orange in her interior, which I have painted white.  She’s a lot easier on the eyes, now, and much more bright and airy.  I’m not going to make too many more changes, other than I would like to raise the bunk about 8 inches so I could have some drawers underneath and plus, make it less attractive for my dog to jump up on.  Otherwise, he will want to claim it for himself… and it’s mine- MINE, I tell you!  🙂

IMG_0219IMG_0225My grandkids are totally entranced by the Kitty Kat clock which graces Parnassus’ galley kitchen wall.  Actually, I really like it, too.  This is a miniature version of the vintage Kitty Kat clocks many of us grew up with and just the right thing for keeping time in my cute little camper!

Parnassus’ work continues, both inside and out.  She’s a true labor of love; I couldn’t be more thrilled with her and I’m still eagerly awaiting some time off so I can get out on our first excursion.  If for no other reason that the parks are full of summer tourists, it may not be until after Labor Day.  But that okay.  I can wait.  🙂

Parnassus patiently awaits her first adventure.

Parnassus patiently awaits her first adventure.

Parnassus on Wheels

Parnassus on Wheels

Parnassus on Wheels

It’s been a few months since I’ve had a chance to add to my blog, mostly because of my new babysitting duties.  My youngest daughter is the single parent of three girls between the ages of 2 and 10 years old and since her ex doesn’t contribute to their welfare, she is forced to work -currently- three jobs.  One is a 11 to 7 shift at a nursing home, at least 2 to 3 nights a week.   This is in addition to working in a nursing home kitchen 4 days a week and cleaning houses on the side.  She takes any extra shifts she can get.  The three girls stay with me while their mother works at night; they live next door, so it’s no big deal to walk across the lawn to sleep at grandma’s house.  I worry about my daughter, but I remember working all kinds of crazy hours when I was young, too- I just hope she can hold up until she can work herself into a better schedule.   In the mean time, my blogging has been cut a little short- but I don’t mind.  I adore my sweet granddaughters and I love spending time with them.  I haven’t had much to blog about, anyways; my only big news is that I’ve sold my little pickup truck and purchased a used camper-van.

I’ve missing camping and RVing terribly over the last few years and even though I was broke, I still watched the local want-ads to see what was for sale.  This last April, I had an unexpected tax return at the same time I saw a small Chinook camper van for sale.  It was just what I was looking for, but the $2500 price tag was out of my range.  A few weeks later, the price came down to $1500, so I first called my mechanic to ask what he thought about the vehicle and contacted the owner.  We made arrangements to meet and my mechanic (a longtime friend) volunteered to go with me.  As we went over the vehicle, and I did some mental arithmetic… I realized that I couldn’t afford to fix it up and buy it, too.  But, the owner asked if I’d like to make an offer.  I thought a moment and hesitated, then explained my circumstances.  He still encouraged me to make an offer,  looking around meaningfully at the other two RV’s in the yard… his neighbors were not appreciating the view, so he was under some pressure to clean the place out.  I shrugged: “Well- would you take $800?”  And the rest is history.

Parnassus "before"

Parnassus “before”

So, I named the camper Parnassus in honor one of my favorite books Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley and went to work on her.  She needed a new carburetor and a few mechanical tweaks, new tires and a visit to a RV shop to go over her systems and see what was what.  My tax return purchased the vehicle outright.  Selling my little ten year-old truck paid for everything else.  Plus, I started to renovate the orange and brown interior with light and airy colors.  The outside has also been changed from white with brown and mustard-yellow stripes to white with teal green and sea foam green stripes.  It has a long ways to go before I’m going to journey too far from home, but for now, it’s transportation and a means to do some local camping.  All I need now is the time and the money to go!  But, hey- she’s all mine- and when the time is right, our adventures will begin.

Parnassus "after"

Parnassus “after”

Renegades

Ugh.  This is my fifth cold since January.  I’m so tired of having a runny nose and a cough that won’t quit!  I’m exhausted from endless nights of coughing my brains out.  I’ve heard that this has been an especially bad cold and flu season; probably due to a severe winter which has kept people cooped-up coughing and sneezing on one another and otherwise sharing germs.  I hope that spring comes soon and brings lots of warmth and sunshine.  I’ve about had enough of this; both the weather and being sick.

While I’m complaining, I’m also tired of buying things that do not work as designed; example: a brand-new vacuum that will not pick up dirt and pet fur (and I mean at all- even if I try to manually feed it a bit of fluff, it spits it out like a baby rejecting a spoonful of strained peas), my new laptop with a Windows 8 Operating System sucks even worse than the new vacuum, a crock pot that doesn’t come up to temperature, the washing machine that leaks water and functions badly and now just plain refuses to do anything, an electric  space heater which upon being fired-up, smells like it’s going to literally ‘fire-up’ and makes more noise than an older heater I’ve used to take the chill off my bathroom for years. What is with quality control these days?  Is nothing made to last?  Even my faithful ten year old truck has had assorted problems this year and spending hundreds of dollars on it at a time hasn’t totally cured it yet.  My toilet leaks and has to be babied and cajoled into doing it’s job, but at least it has the excuse of being at least 40 to 45 years old.  I should add that every one of these things were made by well-known name brands.  This is really frigging depressing.  I just want to clean house and get rid of all this uncooperative crap.  Some of it, like the washing machine and the new vacuum are being returned.  The computer: Microsoft isn’t offering Windows 7 any more so I have to stick with this diabolical OS until something better comes along. My truck: I’m just going to have to hope for the best.  It’s paid-for and I can’t afford to buy another vehicle.  The toilet has earned a well-deserved retirement; either my landlord or I will replace it.  The rest of the junk: I stupidly waited until I’d had it too long to be able to return it, so I can either give it away with dire warnings, deep-six it or keep it around in hopes it might prove to be useful someday.

Those renegade household items have pushed me into making the decision to take more steps to simplify my life.  I’ve already downsized quite a bit, but I want to downsize further to make my new, efficiency loft apartment more efficient and less cluttered.  Quality products are harder to find these days and it seems that what is available is often responsible for eating up our time and serenity.  It may sound like a funny thing to say, but, just think of the time I spent working to pay for that vacuum; the time I wasted trying to make it suck up dirt; reading the manual to see if I was doing something wrong; taking it apart to see if it was clogged with dirt; looking on the Internet to see if this machine was prone to problems and finally, what it boiled down to was that it just doesn’t work and I should just return it and get my money back.  But, I’ll never get those lost hours back, never mind all the aggravation it’s caused me.  And that’s just dealing with one of these poorly made items.  This leads me to believe that the fewer items I have around, and the more basic they are, the less time and aggravation I’ll waste on simply trying to run a household.  I have no more time for renegades.

IMG_0004

Escape From a Season of Storms

What a winter this has been!  Wild winds frequently near or beyond hurricane force, temps down to single digits, snow several times a week…. our mild Cape Cod winter was replaced by the kind that the mainland usually suffers through and it makes me realize how spoiled we have been.  But, thank goodness- spring is just around the corner!

Bridge

A friend & I managed to get away to Florida for a much needed vacation.  It had it’s good and bad points, but overall, it was definitely worth it.  We had some wonderful times with good friends and the weather was amazing!  We savored a sunny day on a Sanibel beach, dipping our toes in the miraculously warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico (which is warmer in January than the north Atlantic is in August!) hiked lots of tropical trails, ate lots of really delicious foods, shopped in some really fun stores- it would have been easy to stay longer if we could have finagled it!

Peace River

Now that I’m home again, it’s hard to believe that I was ever there; that it wasn’t just some pleasant dream or book I’d read.   The trip was also a poignant reminder of how many good friends I left behind.  *sigh*  If only I could live in two places at once!  But, as much as I may miss Florida, I know my home is here.  I do hope to be able to return much more often, though; to reconnect with people and places that will always own a bit of my heart.

Trail

Seeing Change

Image

When I titled this blog, it was with the idea that my life would go through many transformations over the coming years and I hoped it would also mean embarking on new adventures.  Well, Adventure #1 is coming up next week when my life-long best friend and I hit the road with my dog Sammy and travel to Florida.  It’s about a 3000 mile round trip and once we reach Florida, it will begin with a few days at the State park where I used to live and work.  We will explore my old stomping grounds where I used to walk Sammy as soon as it was daylight (to avoid the mid-day heat) and see deer, bobcats and various other critters on a daily basis, enjoy the wildflowers, gaze at the fish (and gators) in the rivers and see my old friends who still reside and toil there.

Image

Then, we will drive further south to my Dad’s house, where we will stay for 5 days and he’s promised us a jaunt in his sailboat up the Peace River, where he used to give guided tours.  We’ll see the birds’ rookeries, white-sided dolphins splash, manatees and gators skulk along and the wonderful tropical greenery before fetching-up at a riverside restaurant.  Our week’s activities will include an excursion to the Fish & Wildlife Management Area where I was employed for several years and a day on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva where we plan to wander around, go shell-hunting and eat yummy food at the Bubble Room!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been working really hard lately, often not finishing until 11 o’clock at night and I’ve been putting hours on weekends, too.  I’m exhausted and I’m ready to break away from the grind and just go have fun!  My best friend and I are both (relatively) newly single and this has been our first chance to get away together and we intend to make the most of it.  After all these years of standing by one another through school angst, young married years, raising our families and break-ups of marriages, it’s time to finally leave the nitty-gritty of life behind and just enjoy.

Yes, I can see change.  And it’s good.

Image

Another Year Gone By

Oh, how wonderful it is to say that 2012 was so much kinder than the previous year!  It was a time of many changes and personal growth- although I still wonder at times if I’ll ever be normal- at least I can say that I feel I’m headed in a good direction.  I have work, I have a monthly column in a local magazine and I have family and friends close-by;  I’m living in a cozy loft apartment in a lovely New England seaside village; what more could one ask for?

As I ponder 2013, I think of my goals for the new year.  So far, there’s nothing terribly spectacular on my list.  My life-long best friend and I plan to take a road trip together where we’ll be visiting several of my family and friends and crossing off a few things off her bucket list while we’re on our travels.  I hope to grow my professional writing resume as well as expand my job horizons.  I’m still working on my self-improvement; something which has been on hold as I struggled financially through the last year.  This year, if all goes well, I should be able to get back into a really healthy diet.  2012’s vegetable garden wasn’t all that successful; which meant that I had a lot less nutritious, free food to consume so I was stuck with living on oatmeal, pasta, beans and rice for the most part.  It wasn’t terribly unhealthy, but I really missed eating two meals a day out of my garden all summer and fall and had a lot less to put in the freezer.  As of now, I just have about a gallon of mixed beans and peas in the freezer and a few carrots left from the summer.  With luck, next year’s garden will produce well and also, my income will be more dependable so that I may eat what is good for me and instead of what I can afford.

I’m going back and forth with myself about possibly joining a gym, but I really don’t have time to actually attend one.  I would like to get back into a daily exercise routine; something more than just walking the dog and I’m trying to figure out how to work that into my schedule.  I believe that it’s one of the best things I can do for myself to preserve my health and stave-off aging.

I will turn 52 soon.  I have wrinkles and lots of white hair.  Recent photographs drive home what I’ve been able to ignore in the mirror: that I’m no longer even middle aged (unless I live to be over 100 years old) and that I’m slowly turning the corner to being “old”.  How long to I keep hennaing my hair and wearing my hair long?  Do I give in to the old lady short ‘do’?  (Nah!  I would look terrible with short hair!)  These may seem like silly questions but I look at my contemporaries whose dyed hair is glaringly dark, frosted, bleached or brassy and I wonder if I look that bad.  That’s what makes me think that I might do just as well as to let my hair go natural- which is mostly white at this point.  I’ve never been enthusiastic about artificial cosmetic options but the only thing that has had me dying my hair this long is that my skin is so ghastly fair that I need the color to keep from looking like an albino!  The big thing that worries me is that I’m just going to look like a ghost!  But, I guess I’ll just have to figure out how to make it work for me.  I think I’m just going to go through what remains of my one pound bag of auburn henna powder and then I’m going to figure out how to rock the white hair!

As the old saying goes: “Happiness is a choice” and I intend to choose to be happy- even if it means acknowledging getting older!

May you all have a wondrous new year full of love, laughter, prosperity and adventure!

301864_222415951203217_1526320532_n