Posted in People

Reasons

We ended up holding an impromptu Scuba-demo last night at our campsite… The same gaggle of youngsters who had gathered around our motorcycle a couple days earlier returned, drawn this time by our clothesline full of wetsuits and dive gear.

They were brimming with questions—what things we’ve seen diving, how we breathe underwater… So Jon pulled one of the air tanks back out of the truck, scooped up his regulator set, and hooked it all up to show the kids how it works. As they took wide-eyed turns breathing from the tank, I chatted with their mom, who had just as many questions as her kids.

img_4401In the course of conversation, I shared with her the comment from her son that made me grin the other day—that the reason he has to grow up is so he can get a motorcycle. Her answer gave me great pause. With an uplifted smile, she told me that he’s terminally ill, so she’s grateful for every reason he finds to fight.

What I had taken for a humorous kid-ism was in this case a literal truth. This little guy, all of five, is collecting reasons to grow up, because “growing up” isn’t a given. It’s a poignant reminder that really nothing is a given, even though we make assumptions about our futures… It’s a reminder to pay attention to all the reasons to enjoy today.

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Posted in Motorcycle

On Physics and Fear

Our next door neighbor is learning to play guitar. I know this because his open screen door wasn’t far from our open bedroom window at nine o’clock last night. As he worked his way through the opening chords of “Smoke on the Water” (over and over and over and over and over) I consoled myself with the fact that it couldn’t go on indefinitely, because he IS still learning. Meaning he probably doesn’t have the finger calluses yet, and he’d have to quit after a bit.

I can sympathize, because my “motorcycle muscles” are also feeling the effects of unaccustomed use. Well, let me be more accurate. My learning-the-motorcycle-muscles are feeling it. I recognize that on some level I was still trying to “muscle” the bike into staying upright, even though the bike can do just fine on its own, thank you very much. I may behave at some moments as if I’m holding up the bike with my arms, but of course that’s not what’s happening.

The bike will stay upright pretty much on its own when it’s in motion—basic physics takes care of that. And the faster you’re going, the easier that is. (It’s counter-intuitive, I know—but if you think about balancing a bicycle at next-to-nothing speed, you know how much harder that is than staying balanced when you’re pedaling down the street. Same principle.) Given that I haven’t yet graduated out of first gear on the motorcycle, I’m learning to control the bike at its most difficult speed.

My own “newbie” lack-of-confidence was my worst enemy before yesterday. I’ve been rather too aware that there’s a (literal) tipping-point, and if the bike’s center of gravity crosses it, I don’t have the muscle to hold it up. Yet I also know the rest of the physics involved, and the fact that the bike is designed to stay upright when you ride it! Truly, all I need to do is trust the bike (trust the physics) and not indulge in any herky-jerky reactions to my own fears. And therein lies the challenge. Some moments I’d been letting my fear drive—and Fear is not a skilled driver.

Trust is the antithesis of Fear. By the end of yesterday evening’s session I wasn’t tensing for every corner anymore, and that’s huge improvement. I was not just “managing to turn” the bike—I was turning it more tightly, and pretty precisely on the path I set for myself. More improvement.

Strange as it might seem, I actually think that those improvements happened because one of my fears got realized, early in the riding session. (Bless his heart, Jon would go to the grave without telling this to anyone… But I find it useful to stay REAL here, so I’ll tell on myself.) Continue reading “On Physics and Fear”

Posted in Motorcycle

The Catch-22 of SR-22

Well, I’m a day closer to getting my driver’s license back. I’m also a day past when I thought I was getting it.

Do you ever wonder who made up “the rules,” and what they were thinking?

motorcycle license
SHE’S ready to roll… Just not me yet

I knew I’d have to get SR-22 proof-of-insurance as soon as I got my license back (it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t rush right out and reinstate the license when I become eligible a couple months ago), but I assumed I should get the license first. After all, nobody wants to insure you to drive when you have a suspended license!

Turns out, I need the SR-22 to get the license. How backward is that? Talk about a catch-22. I spent a good chunk of yesterday online with insurance agents, and I now have insurance. In “ten to fourteen days” I’ll have the SR-22 mailed to the state. And then I get to go get my license.

My good news is that, thanks to my DMV trip, my new bike is now legal! New title, registration, plates in place—she’s ready to roll! Just not with me at the front just yet…

imageIn the meantime, I’m blessed to have friends and neighbors who are amiable and willing to ferry me to my new job at Home Depot. I’m enjoying my orange-apron experience, being out of the house, wielding the scanner and interacting with people! The Home Depot and RV-park jobs are fitting around each other easily enough, though I’m not sure I’ll manage to keep up the freelance writing…  I was writing about Bitcoin IRAs till two in the morning the other day, and that’s not going to keep happening! I need time for some other things… like sitting on my parked bike making “vroom vroom” sounds!

 

Posted in People

Jesus Meets a Harley-Riding Rabbit

Regardless of what the retail-store displays would have us believe, Easter really isn’t about chocolate, baskets, or long-eared hopping mammals. Nevertheless, our church chooses to host an “Easter Eggstravaganza” for the neighborhood, staged in the park right behind the church.

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our Easter Bunny arrived on a Harley!

It’s part of our mission to reach out to the neighborhood, and be a presence. It’s not intended as a recruiting tool per se (although plenty of new folks also showed up for the church service beforehand)—our focus is on being a part of the neighborhood around us, doing some good where we can, and letting people experience Christianity-in-action.

It’s the same reason we partner with the grade school a couple blocks away, which has one of the highest “free-lunch” populations in the city, and a heavy demographic of refugees. We bring teams of volunteers to help at their events, provide backpacks full of school supplies at the beginning of the year, and adopt needy families with clothing and gifts at Christmas. There’s never any “propaganda” accompanying our volunteer work or giving at the school; it’s purely a program of Christian living, embracing the neighborhood where we’re planted.

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ten THOUSAND eggs!

Last year we “egged” several hundred nearby homes, leaving plastic Easter eggs on their doorsteps with invitations to the Easter event. The three thousand eggs we stuffed with candy for last year’s egg-hunt proved insufficient, so this year we gathered our forces to stuff candy into ten thousand eggs. We had a bounce-house and face painting and a photo booth and a raffle, and the Easter Bunny arrived on a Harley Davidson (we’re that kind of church) to meet-and-greet and take pictures with kids. Continue reading “Jesus Meets a Harley-Riding Rabbit”

Posted in Lists, RVing

Like a (Dry-Docked) Sailboat: RV Living

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sailing with my mom & daughter 10 years ago

Because I’m a sailboat skipper, I’m amused by RV terminology that borrows from the marine arena. Like the “shore cord”—the cord we plug in at an RV park to power the rig’s electrical system. On a sailboat a shore cord (which you’d plug in at the dock when you stay in a marina) makes sense—it goes from the boat to shore.

So today’s list is about ways that RV-living reminds me of sailboat-living. (Just add water.) And some ways that RV-or-sailboat-living is different from living in a house…

  1. The toilet flushes with a foot pedal. [What does it say about me that this is the first thing that comes to mind?] This is reminiscent of every sailboat I’ve ever chartered. And to add to the illusion: the skylight over the shower is just like a sailboat hatch.
  2. image
    spaces have multiple uses…

    We have to pay attention our blackwater tank. We leave our gray tanks (sinks & shower) open all the time, but we empty and rinse the black (toilet) tank about once a week, keeping it closed and dosed with a chemical treatment between-times. Most people pay extra money for “RV toilet paper” that’s supposed to break down more easily in the blackwater tank. We opt to use the trash can instead—that way we never worry about our tank getting clogged. I don’t even think about it any more, until I find myself reaching for a trash can when I’m on a “land-based” toilet. (TMI?)

  3. Spaces have multiple uses. Our bed lifts up to reveal storage beneath. Our garage has seats and a bed that can be lowered from the ceiling when we need more “living” space.  The stove and kitchen sink convert to countertops. We set up our Total Gym in the garage when the seats retract to the ceiling. The bench at the foot of the bed holds our linens. The bunk above our kitchen doubles as storage space since we don’t host overnight guests. Even the back wall of the garage can be lowered down to create a porch, complete with railings. (It also doubles as the ramp up which we drive the motorcycle when it’s getting parked indoors for a move.)
  4. imageThings have multiple uses. We don’t own a dozen pots and pans; we own one “red copper” frying pan and one deep square red copper pan (which can go in the oven, be a stovetop pot, or serve with a frying basket). The stand for our bedroom space heater is really a stack of boxes that hold photos and sewing stuff. The sewing machine in its case is the “shelf” where I perch my purse. Our TV trays serve in roles ranging from dinner-table to computer-desk. Almost everything does more than one thing.
  5. We have power back-ups. When the “shore cord” is unplugged, our fridge and water heater switch to propane power and our lights run on solar. If need be, we can run the onboard generator. (“Onboard.” There’s another marine-echo…)
  6. image“Outside” is part of the living space. It’s not a sailboat deck, but we eat dinner and hang out on our patio for most of the year. We didn’t host dinner parties during the winter, but we do have some merry patio-parties under the “fairy lights” built into our awning.
  7. We hear the weather. Rain on the roof is a lovely sound, though we couldn’t even converse through a hailstorm last fall! Combined with the outside living, I feel closer to the weather and the world than I ever did in a house.
  8. We don’t buy many things in bulk. Just toilet paper and coffee. For the most part, we buy other things as we need them.  We don’t keep a cupboard full of canned goods or “stock” supplies—we buy them as recipes call for them, or as we’re actually going to use them. (The glaring exception here would be the pickles, which we canned ourselves last summer and have in abundance!)
  9. imageWe can’t move the furniture. Everything is built in, from the bed to the couch to the huge surround-sound TV in the garage that we’ve never turned on. This is one reason to choose a rig with a configuration you actually like. (And yes, we have a few notes about layout that we’ll keep in mind when we decide to trade this one in… Especially the kitchen.)
  10. Space gets cluttered easily, but clean-up is quick! There’s just not that much house to clean. By the same token, it usually doesn’t take long to find something I’ve misplaced. There just aren’t that many places to look.
  11. We’ve learned to live without an “entryway” for dirty shoes and without a coat closet for the helmets and motorcycle jackets. I just vacuum more often, and the otherwise-unused end of the couch collects coats.
  12. When someone knocks at the door, they’re looking at our knees when we open it. The steps up are so steep, the front door is most-of-a-person taller than the person standing outside. I usually come down the steps to talk because standing elevated in the doorway feels awkward.
  13. image
    moving without packing!

    We never have to pack. Well, OK, “never” is an exaggeration. We still have to pack when we go camping (to the mountains where we wouldn’t drag the monster RV), or on a motorcycle trip, or to visit my mom. But we’ve moved four times without packing a single box. And if we wanted to, we could take the whole house on a trip with us—we can go almost anywhere without “leaving home.”

  14. imageRVers are unabashedly interested in each other’s homes, in ways that brick-house-neighbors would never admit to.  Even models with the same name come in different configurations, and we all seem to get a charge out of seeing how individual rigs are laid out. Home repairs (like last weekend’s replacement of our roof-fan to the bathroom) are carried out publicly and discussed in detail (our near neighbor, who also has a Grand Design Momentum, called for Jon’s help for the same repair, just days later). We commiserate about design flaws, brainstorm solutions, swap stories of difficulties, share winterizing materials, and unashamedly ask to see inside each other’s homes. It would never cross my mind to ask a casual acquaintance to show me their bathroom or closets in a brick-and-mortar house, but it doesn’t even phase me to be asked the same here. All in all, it’s the same sense of shared adventure and camaraderie (maybe minus the bathroom-tours) that you’d find among sailors moored at a marina.
  15. image
    I choose closet-space over washer/dryer

    We don’t do laundry at home. I thought this would be a major pain in the neck, but truthfully it’s not that much more work to walk a basketful of dirties over to the park’s laundry than it would be to walk it to a laundry-room in a house. Initially I thought I’d be begging for a washer/dryer in our rig, but now I wouldn’t trade the closet space for that minor convenience. An amusing side-note: thanks to the coin-op laundry, quarters are a hot commodity around here—definitely higher-than-face-value. Part of my pay, working for the RV park, comes in the form of rolled quarters every month!

  16. image
    My Useful Person! I’m grateful for his skills

    Getting professional home-repair done is a pain, because it can involve dropping off your home somewhere, and being homeless while it gets worked on. Our rig has a number of issues that are covered by the warranty, but we’re waiting for our vacation-week this summer to take it in to the dealer while we’re out of town. There is a mobile RV-Repair guy who makes frequent visits to the park—but Jon can do pretty much everything Jake does. (Side-note: it’s an unbelievable blessing to be married to a Useful Person when you’re living in an RV! Jon’s “automotive technician” skills spill over to a lot of handy-work for which other people are calling Jake.) For the major stuff (e.g. rear A/C unit that hasn’t worked since we bought it) it’s a shame to let that warranty go to waste, but I’m betting a lot of people pay Jake rather than hand over their homes for “drydock” repair.

  17. image
    decals & velcroed angels

    “Home decor” mostly means decals (which won’t fall off the wall) and velcro under knick-knacks (so they won’t fall off the ledge). It also means we don’t have a lot of knick-knacks, because horizontal space is scarce. My Willow-Tree angels and his dad’s service flag are all velcroed in place so we don’t have to fuss when we move.

  18. Internet connection is precious. Theoretically the park has free wi-fi, but it doesn’t really reach most of us most of the time. Since we can’t hardwire a cable, I finally invested in a wifi hotspot so I could get my freelance writing done (and yes, blogging too) but I spend my online-time watching the “meter” running in the corner of my screen, trying to get my gigs to last as long as possible.
  19. imageWe’ve gotten creative to keep things organized and accessible. Lacking bedside tables, we used to keep a basket by each side of the bed with the various things we’d use there—books, medications, phones, water bottles, kleenex… And we’d always be rummaging to find what we wanted, till I made us each an organizer to hang by the bed, with pockets for those items. I’m thinking I should market these things! (And send a cut to my mom, who used to make similar organizers for our crayons and coloring books in the back of the car…)
  20. Christmas-shopping just got challenging. My mother expressed as much when she asked, “What do you get for the person who’s already gotten rid of almost everything I ever gave her?” For the record, I’ve kept lots of things she gave me—but she does make a point. When space is scarce and belongings minimized, gift-giving takes on a whole new aspect… So one of these days (before next Christmas!) I’ll do a list of ideas.

This list could go on, but if you’ve made it this far you’re already a tenacious reader…

When I was a kid, I used to pretend my bedroom was a sailboat. That particular game-of-Pretend requires rather less in the way of imagination these days! (A girl’s gotta have dreams… Just sayin’.)

Posted in RVing

Views From the Roof

the fair from our roof
the fair from our roof

On the list of things-I-didn’t-think-about before living in an RV: we have a great balcony with a great view. OK, it’s our RV roof, but the “great view” part is true.

Our park is situated right next to a semi-pro baseball park (Boise Hawks, a farm team for the Colorado Rockies) so we have front-row seats to the fireworks displays after games. (OK, I’ll admit that would be more fun if I weren’t married to a combat vet. Apparently some of those fireworks sound just like incoming mortar rounds…) We’re also next to the state fairgrounds, so we got to know the carnival workers (“not carnies,” we were told, working at the park office) while they stayed at the park, and had a fun view of the fair itself from our roof.

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winter from our roof

The last few months it was a very different view! Same neighbors (many of them, anyway), different landscape. With a record-breaking series of snowstorms, we have now officially had the most snow Boise has seen since someone started measuring in 1875. Did we pick a great year to start RVing, or what? But hey, this way we know we can do it!

As I was just writing to another blogging RV-er, I’m glad now that we chose a “toy-hauler” rig, meaning we have a garage section at the back. I initially thought that was just so we could take the motorcycle with us, but it turns out to be so much more useful than that. We can keep dive gear back there (it was Scuba-and-RVing that sparked the discussion), camping gear (we still like to head further into the mountains than we’d want to pull the fifth wheel), rapelling gear, my mechanic-husband’s tools, snow pants and snow boots and sleds while we were buried in snow this winter, even a Total Gym set up… In other words, all the things I wouldn’t want cluttering my living room!

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last month’s view of Home

Of course, using that back space as “garage” means that we have less living-space… but we have enough. And although we got rid of tons of stuff (literally) when we moved into the RV, neither of us was willing to offload the gear. We’re in this for Experience–and (as my fellow blogging-RVer and I agreed) that’s what that kind of gear is for! Continue reading “Views From the Roof”

Posted in RVing

On Mobility

fifth wheel weatherproofing
weatherproofed, built up, and staying put. (Or… maybe not…)

I used to say I hated moving, when “moving” involved packing and hauling and unpacking boxes every time… But moving kept happening, even while I said that. I averaged more than a move-a-year in the decade before I married Jon—never mind that with every move I earnestly swore my intention of staying put!

I blamed circumstances for each of those moves, and it’s true that my life has just not followed any “expected script” from one year to the next, and circumstances kept changing after each oath to stay put.

But now I’m kind of shaking my head at myself and wondering if maybe the common denominator in all those moves… might be ME.  Jon and I just made our fourth move, in the year-and-two-weeks we’ve been married. Continue reading “On Mobility”