I made sure I had all the necessary tools in place. Because to not do so could most definitely evoke the frustration that has tried to infiltrate my head lately. Everything is a bit harder in an RV and proper preparation is key to success. I had been mentally psyching myself up for the task ahead. Let’s see…towel; face soap; bath wash and shampoo; clean clothes; bathmat in place. Yep, let’s get it done. Taking a shower these days is something I almost dread. Now, I feel ashamed to admit this because there are so many people in the world who would just love to shower, if they had but a shower and hot water and soap with which to do it. I have all three. I also have an adorable little skylight above my head in the shower which sheds plenty of light on the subject that completely fills the stall, from front to back and side to side and top to bottom. Okay, I am wholeheartedly ashamed now for my sarcasm. But in all fairness to moi, IT IS an elbow-bumping event. One particular shower, I found myself standing in two inches of bath water before I realized what was happening. The hubs had not emptied the gray water tank in the RV.
Ewwe. Double Ewwe.
Some would have the audacity to call me Filthy McNasty. My dad coined that phrase 20 years ago when he and mama moved into the house where they would live the 18 years before she passed away. When we finally made it to the house with the first load of furniture on moving day, we found it extremely dirty where the folks who inhabited it before had not so much as swept a floor for the new homeowners. My dad in his soft, understated humor voiced his opinion about the matter... "I think Filthy McNasty must’ve lived here!" Maybe the previous owners came up short on time or maybe they were just filthy mcnasties, who knows? It’s a good thing mama stayed back at the old house to finish the packing because she would’ve had a fit seeing that filthy place. But daddy’s remark made me laugh and gave me the energy to get to cleaning and at least make it presentable for mama when she got there.
When I travel with my best friend, which is usually about two to three times a year – once to the mountains in the fall and once to the beach in the spring and then maybe an extra trip here and there depending on what we’re celebrating with the other two gals in our posse – she simply cannot understand why I don’t shower every single day. Well, mostly I do but there is the occasional day where I freshen up, brush my teeth (always and without fail), and rake a comb through my hair (another saying I got from my daddy!). But I am fresh as a flower and ready for my day, even though some think it a mortal sin to not get under the waterfall every single solitary day. But, hey, what can I say? I’m a four to five time a week shower-taker and living in an RV full-time has not helped the situation at all. I am convinced when we get back into a house and I have a nice, large shower with a massive rainfall shower head, I may take two showers a day. Uh...probably not. When we were kids, we got in the tub once a week. Yep, that’s right. I was a country girl then, and we played outside barefoot all day, came in, washed the black Georgia soot off our feet, and went to bed. Saturday night we pulled out all the stops…got a bath, got our hair shampooed and set with prickly curlers and went to church the next morning for a fresh start to our week, both physically and spiritually (mama did remove the curlers first, though). This is inconceivable by some but, hey, we made it through life just fine and were hardly ever sick. It was life in the fifties and sixties and we didn’t know much about germs way back then.
So it seems living in an RV has probably lowered my standards even more unfortunately. Because you spend so much time outdoors, you begin to feel one with nature and realize that the great smell of the outdoors on your skin is not so bad. I’ve learned to relax my standards with my lifestyle right now (or I’ve been forced to…not sure which). I don’t scream at the hubs when he wears his outdoor shoes in the house, and this is usually a pet peeve of mine. We've even been known to wear our house slippers outside. I’ve grown accustomed to the smell of sweat on my clothes and the smell of hickory smoke in my hair. I’ve gotten used to wearing my jeans four or five times instead of my usual two or three between washings. Since laundry day only comes once a week, we even wear our socks a couple more times. I don’t mind putting my dirty hair under a ball cap because to wash it now and then hike outside on the trails doesn’t make much sense to me. But even I have my limits. As hubby hugged me goodbye a few minutes ago, he just happened to mention that my hair smelled like the neighbor’s dog.
Oops, I see a shower in my future tonight.
But in case by now you’re thinking you don’t wanna visit my house (when I get one), or eat my food (when I cook some) or give me a hug (if you see me and aren't inclined to run the other way), let me set the record straight. When it comes to clean hands, clean food, clean dishes, and a clean house, I fall somewhere between anal and full-fledged OCD. I probably wash my hands at least 20 times a day whether they need it or not, and I am a total sanitizer freak. I sanitize everything…faucets, sinks, countertops, toilets, door handles, you name it. Anti-bacterial hand wipes are my best friend and I invest a good bit of cash every year in their stock. Letting the floors go is the only thing separating me from being a complete clean maniac when it comes to my house. I’ve let the floors go because to take your shoes off and on when you reside in an RV and are going in and out a hundred times a day is just not feasible. So why even try, right?
So antibacterial wipes have become a staple in my life and heal pretty much anything that ails you. They’re even good for the occasional sponge bath if showering isn’t an option, or even desired. Just pull straight up, tear off, and enjoy a burst of feel-good freshness.
Wishing you health, happiness, and a long, hot shower. You probably feel like you need one right about now.
After living in a state park for three weeks, I am reminded once again that so much beauty is found in the outdoors. I have seen the tender sprouts of trees and forest vegetation magically morph from tiny chartreuse buds to floppy fans of a deeper shade. I was thinking the other day about the seasons of a tree's life and how in a few short months those same tender-green leaves will dry out, turn all shades of gold and red and orange, become brown and brittle, and fall to the ground where they will deteriorate into mulch and once again become one with the soil to be rich nutrients and life for the tree to repeat the process for the umpteenth time next spring. The circle of life. The amazing consistency of nature and her propensity to repeat the process season after season, year after year, decade after decade, has never ceased to impress this city girl who resides (at least for now) in the wilderness.
Maybe I'm just a romantic old lady at heart, but nature brings out the romance in me and the ability to look at things in a new way with a new perspective. Being out in nature inspires, soothes, comforts, and refreshes the soul and when done in daily doses gives one a much better outlook on the present challenges at hand, if not life overall. I've enjoyed watching the birds, squirrels, and an occasional resident kitty or two wander through the campsite and think about the beauty of God's creatures and how they don't worry about the future or, better yet, they don't even worry about the moment. I don't know if it's because they have the daunting task of hunting for their daily bread and have no time for the foolishness of worry or if they just inherently know that their maker will take care of them. Makes one ponder and we could all learn a lesson from our animal neighbors.
Which brings me to the yellow butterfly. Now, I would love (in my romanticism) to think that there is one yellow butterfly residing in this park that continuously accompanies me on my journey for my pleasure alone, but my logical mind reminds me that in the spring yellow butterflies abound and, truth be known, there are probably hundreds who reside in this wooded metropolis and call this park home for their short but magical lives. But more than once, and most times when I was wallowing in self-pity or my present plight, a yellow butterfly has approached me and, in her fleeting beauty and reckless abandon, reminded me that change is inherent in life and that new things will lead to new joys found and new peace and confirmation that everything will be okay. The butterfly to me has been a constant reminder of the fleeting seasons of life, and that I am to embrace change because change is almost always a catalyst for growth. But what are the odds that those yellow butterflies with all these acres to roam just happen to approach me like the warmth of a best friend when I need them most? You do the math.
So my journey continues and I have good days and I have better days, but the fear of I-gotta-get-outta-here crazy days has subsided and for that I am thankful to have fallen into some semblance of a rhythm. But on the occasional semi-crazy day that still tries to surface, I might be pressed to proceed to my next best tool (after nature-chasing) to bring the day into perspective...I make myself a triple-slice provolone grilled-cheese sandwich on whole wheat.
What can I say? Food is also one of my very best friends (along with J, quiet solitude, and ample sleep), and I don't see that changing any time soon.
Happy Wednesday, peeps!
"Be thankful for the little things in life..."
Sometimes my heart feels as big as the sky above me and sometimes it feels as tiny as the house I now call home. Sometimes my patience is as wide as the lake that borders my present neighborhood and other times all the patience I can muster up in a day would fit into that adorable little sink in my adorable little kitchen. Sometimes it is well with my soul and other times my soul is a little under the weather.
Hey, just tryin' to keep it real.
As we enter into our third week as full-time campers, I can’t deny that I’ve had my doubts as to how long I can actually live in 300 square feet with another human being. I’ll be honest…the thought that I've had a good time on vacation but now I'm ready to go home has crossed my mind at least a hundred times. Even though it has only been two weeks, here's another confession…it feels like it’s been two months. There have been some really good moments, like Friday evening as we sat around the campfire sipping hot cocoa, waving to all the campers who passed by. I didn’t realize until we began this journey what a big family campers are. But campers are a brotherhood so to speak. They share the great outdoors like family and watch out for each other like family. When new campers come in, you know you already have something huge in common and that is the love of camping. I've also enjoyed the carefree feeling of living with and caring for less stuff. That thought is fleeting, however, when I remember I have a huge storage unit housing our other possessions right down the road. There is no comparing the feeling I get as I smell the burgers on the neighbor's grill or the sheer joy on a child's face as he zooms down the hill for the 10th time on his bike. Or the look of contented pleasure as a family returns from the lake and, even though they may not have caught any fish, they have caught new memories to hold. The pros definitely outweigh the cons most days. And for two people who have never camped before, I think it quite the miracle that we are able to say that camping is something for which we’re cultivating a love and will continue to be something we will enjoy in our future. Just maybe not full-time.
There have been some really tough moments this week. Like when the seven-foot ceilings begin to close in and I realize that cabin fever has come upon me and the only thing I can do to heal the fever is to get outside in nature or in my car and go to the grocery store where the ceilings soar some 20 feet above me. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I adore high ceilings in a house. Almost every house we’ve purchased and lived in has at least nine-foot ceilings, if not vaulted ones. You might also know that I have a fantasy of living in an old church or warehouse where the ceilings are so high they feel as though they do not exist. But just as any fantasy has its own set of disappointments, I’m sure mine will as well if I ever see that one become a reality…like great big ol’ power bills from trying to heat and cool all that empty space between the floor and ceiling.
I have dreams, but I am also a realist.
I would in no way try to make anyone think this new adventure has been a piece of cake for me, because it hasn't. But am I quite ready to throw in the proverbial towel? That would be a negative. I like to think of myself now in my latter years as one who doesn't give up as easily as I did in the days of my youth. When I was younger I was one (much as I hate to admit it) who gave up pretty easily on things. I didn't realize then that the struggles in life (as the successes) mold us into the best human beings we can be, that growth is hardly ever easy and sometimes riddled with hardships which are entirely necessary to see the fruits of personal growth ensue...I've said that a hundred times, if not a million. This experience, this slice of my life journey, will be one I look back on one day with fond memories, if for nothing else but that very growth I acquired along the way. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we wish we could just step away from, be catapulted out of, or maybe have Scotty magically beam us up to a safer space on the mother ship where comfort abounds. But it's in sticking it out that the growth comes. The best kinds of growth come from the hardest challenges, hands down.
So there are a couple of things absent in RV living that I look forward to once again and took for granted in my past houses. Like having space to hide all the wires required for internet accessibility and TV-watching. And being able to thunder through the house on a solid foundation without feeling like you're in a rowboat with King Kong. The weekly trip to the laundromat and not having your washer and dryer in the next room because there is no next room. And being able to make a bed with no wrinkles but with the tautness required by the sergeant of a boot-camp private (I would've made a great sergeant when it comes to bed-making!). But then there are those experiences only acquired by living in the woods for a season. Like home fires burning and something delicious cooking on the grill. And coziness and togetherness and quiet moments. And lessons in community and how to be a better neighbor. And carefree outdoor-filled days for which there is absolutely zero guilt. And for those I am truly grateful. We are where we need to be at this moment in time, experiencing this lesson that life is offering.
Will week three bring the balance and rhythm I crave? That's my hope...stay tuned.
I woke this morning to the construction going on beside us (park improvements). And though I could've lay there longer, I feared the wrecking ball (or something of similar size and capacity) might come through the tiny window in our tiny bedroom and send me to my eternal home (which will not be tiny). So I dragged my tired booty out of the bed from the warmth of my comforter and was greeted with a 56-degree reading on the thermometer...two degrees higher than the outdoor reading. But, hey, a flick of the switch and my chilly turned to toasty as the warmth rose from the floor vents beneath my size 9 slabs of ice (no building of a fire necessary!). Next order of business? Coffee, of course!
This week has been a huge learning curve for this camping/tiny house novice. For someone who has never camped (well, except for the family vacation to Lost Horizon when I was a child) or lived in a tiny house, I've had to learn some things the hard way. Like how to duck your head in the right timing after hitting it on the kitchen shelf for the twentieth time. Or remembering to turn on the bathroom fan when showering to let out the humidity (very important I've learned for an RV). And reminding yourself every time you do dishes that you simply cannot splash around in a tiny sink like you did with your deep double-wide. But, hey, my sink is so darn cute! But, most of all, learning that camping folks are like family...they may show up unannounced at your door any time and fully expect you to throw open the door with great enthusiasm for the day. Needless to say, it's been a lesson in the art of camping.
But in case you think it's been all concentrated learning and no serendipity, I'll remind you...it's the camping life! And I don't know of anyone who camps, whether you're like me - an RV kind of camping girl - or a die hard who only camps in tents with no electricity, who doesn't feel just a wee bit closer to nature and all its pleasurable offerings. You are ALWAYS in the great outdoors, and this is the beauty of the camping experience! There is absolutely not one camper here who doesn't want to be here. Well, I did see one young teenager who was trying to look dissatisfied as he rode in his grandfather's golf cart but I could tell he was doing his happy dance on the inside! Most people are sporting a huge grin, the kids are footloose and fancy free as they fly down the hill on their bikes, and the adults have a stress-free look on their faces that you simply cannot find on anyone in the city. You see folks sitting out around the campfire well into the late hours of the night, cooking food, laughing, making s'mores, and rising early the next morning to do it all over again. As I told one camper who was leaving the other day that I hoped he had a good week, he replied in his most ugh-ish voice: "Gotta go to work tomorrow." Poor fellow. I didn't tell him I have plans to be here six months.
So here I sit in my tiny house in the great big woods once again putting my thoughts down on cyber paper, thinking Hey, I think I can do this... The forest with its glorious spring wonders is right outside my front door, the glistening lake can be seen from my window as I drink my morning coffee, and I've learned to embrace the smell of hickory smoke in my hair when I go to bed. One of my favorite things about his week? Not having cable yet. Yep, you heard me, no loud newscasts with politicians arguing, just me and the hubs sitting on our tiny sofa with a movie on the telly (luckily, Fixer Upper finished up their current season the week we moved!). Don't get me wrong, I've had my moments. Like when you stretch with your hands over your head and your fingers bong the ceiling, as you remember your nine-foot ceilings in your house and wonder if you can really and truly be contained in this little box for six whole months. You wonder if tiny living will make your brain tiny as well, as you struggle to find balance in such tight quarters. The verdict is definitely still out on that, and we'll see. But for now, I'll simply try to bloom where I'm planted like the wild dogwood outside my window and continue to count all my camping blessings.
Except for the sore spot where I keep hitting my head. Gotta get a handle on that one...
Happy Tuesday, friends!
Just when you think not much surprises you anymore, something happens that reminds you surprises are always around the corner and that you can still, at the age of 60, feel like a schoolgirl with the thrill of a new adventure. And just when you think you no longer have fantasies that could possibly become reality, one that you used to dream about surfaces with imminent possibility and you’re reminded that everyone has dreams -- even you -- and that, once in a blue moon, they do come true.
Tiny-house living is all the rage! In case that saying is foreign to you or you’re too young to be familiar with it, "all the rage" means extremely popular. So it is with tiny-house living. Being in the business of buying and improving houses for resale, this tiny-house phenomenon has recently been on my radar and has had me quite intrigued. Could a couple of individuals peacefully co-exist in a mere 200-300 square feet? Unlike staying in a hotel, these brave souls are doing this as a permanent way to live. There are many reasons for choosing this way of life…living in something you own, free and clear…saving on housing costs to have more money for other things…a desire to have a smaller footprint on the planet. The reasons are many and varied. But I believe the main reason for most of these daredevils is the desire to pare down, to live with less, to be less-encumbered with things and more engaged in life. This is not an unfamiliar subject in my recent posts. Could it be that this upcoming generation is less impressed with moving ahead in the “things-acquired” category and more impressed with making life more meaningful? I think they find tiny-house living a way of focusing on experiences and things other than -- well, things. They are not concerned with keeping up with the Joneses (another old saying) or moving up the "house ladder" from a beginner's home to their forever "mcmansion." I am tending more and more to agree with them and love the episodes on HGTV of people making their tiny-house dreams come true.
For several years now, the hubby and I have enjoyed hiking at state parks in Georgia and are fortunate to have one very close to where we've lived. More than once, we’ve walked past the campers and dreamed about what living in a camper full-time could be like. We’d be forced to live with less, be forced to practice our politeness skills instead of going to opposite ends of the house when we've had words, forced to share more things (like the bathroom!) but, on the fun side, free to be in the great outdoors where we love taking in the many pleasures of nature. But, alas, we have continued with the status quo where we do the same old things everyone else does. But recently as we’ve calculated the times we’ve moved into houses to fix them up and re-sell them (about six times in seven or eight years, including apartments), we have discussed the fact that we are tired – TIRED! – of moving so often.
May I introduce you to my new home?!!! Yes, it's true. We are becoming full-time campers while we purchase our next house and prepare it for resale! It has absolutely everything two people need to co-habitate (is that a word?): a comfy queen bed, a complete and well-appointed (mini) kitchen with a stove top, oven, fridge, and microwave. It has ample storage and cabinet space; a working toilet and shower; a comfy sofa, flat-screen TV, and table to seat four. We are beyond excited to announce that we are denouncing the status quo! I'm sure it will not be forever, but it's our present forever! And the best part? The park is our neighborhood! Out the front door and into the wilderness in less than five minutes...oh, yeah.
This is happening, baby!
This is one of those times where you see how things come together producing a situation that becomes no less than what was obviously meant to be. A few days ago we pulled in to the apartments where we had reluctantly decided to make a down-payment on a short-term lease, only to find out they had given the apartment to someone just seconds before we had gotten there. Just seconds I'm telling you, and it was their last available one! And it's no easy feat finding an apartment where they offer a short-term lease. But through other circumstances as well, we now find ourselves first-time travel-trailer owners and that travel trailer is now our home...our hub for work, house-hunting, and recreational activity and fitness (the many hiking trails) -- our home sweet home. Would you like a tour? Thought you'd never ask!
So how's it going after our first two nights here? There are positives and negatives. For one, you feel like you're on a boat at times because, being a non-permanent structure, there is movement when you walk around -- not too bad but movement nonetheless. You have to keep things really tidy or the place gets trashed in like 20 seconds. You realize that you not only have to love your mate to live like this, but like him as well! The biggest plus? You realize that you really can live with less...fewer dishes, fewer novelties, fewer products, and fewer feet of personal space (ask me how that's going in a month!).
And you very quickly notice that alone time for yourself is now a bit scarce. I told the hubs before we moved in to not be offended if I find myself needing space and send him out for awhile. He said he understood.
So when that happens (and it already has!), he just goes out in the yard...and we have a really, REALLY big yard!
We are not big-business investors, we are just normal everyday people following our dreams. We are ordinary, less than perfect human beings, desiring to make the most of our resources and live out our passions.
So follow us on our adventure..it's gonna be fun (I hope!).
Posted by CC
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