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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Our Smart car is on the horizon

Wahoo!   We just got the notification that our new Smart Car is on a ship on the eastern horizon and headed to the port of Jacksonville, FL. for delivery on 2/18/2009. We have been holding our collective breath that our other two cars hold together until we get the Smart home.  Today, only a few people know what bailing wire is (basically, the predecessor to duct tape) but it is literally the ties that bind the 93 Ford Aerostar van together.

As a refresher on why a image ?

To begin with, the Smart is only about 8 feet long and 5’ wide it can easily fit crosswise between the cab and the front of a 5th wheel trailer being towed without having to have massive modifications to the tow vehicle. Most small cars are over 10’ long including the Mini Cooper (12’).   This helps to keep the overall length of our complete rig under 65 feet.

image It has an advanced computer controlled traction system to give much better traction with varying road conditions (wet, snow, gravel, etc.) so even though it is not a four wheel drive vehicle, it has better traction and control than most other 2wd cars.

Another plus (for me) is that it is quite comfortable and I am not cramped at the shoulders or legs despite my 6’ 2” x 300lb frame. They stagger the passenger seats slightly so that we don’t quite sit shoulder to shoulder and can comfortably fit within that 5’ width.

Also important is that it can be loaded and unloaded from the tow vehicle without having to first disconnect the trailer. This should make it much easier to dismount to do some scouting when coming into an unfamiliar area or just to do some sightseeing, grocery shopping or visiting without having to first setup in a nearby campground.

There is a forum dedicated to using HDTs (Heavy Duty Trucks) as great tow vehicles for large 5th wheel trailers. There is a lot more great information in that forum about the Smart cars and adapting a truck to piggy back one for full time rving.

It is not an overstatement to say it is the most nearly perfect way to travel and live the fulltime RVing lifestyle for many people.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Whoosh! ... and there went another weekend

So what makes one weekend go faster than another? 

I don't know, either, but I truly believe that it centers around the number of days one has left in their life.  More days, slower weekends. It's not proportional, though, so there must be some other factors that affect what should seem to be a linear relationship.

I have to really focus to get a square view of such fast times. 

Since I last posted (Friday, I think) several big items have happened:

  • 1. Katie has retuDSC00709rned home!  Wahoo! We picked her up and she was more than glad to see us, of course.  They thought she was picking at her wounds and bandages so the vet put an E collar on her before we left.  Poor thing could not get close enough to anything to lick it or even DSC00725sniff it.  She looked like one of those automatic reversing toy cars that when they bump into something they back up, turn a bit and take off in a random direction. Between all of the hair that was clipped off of her to put in IVs and do the surgery, she looks like she got groomed by a 5 year old with electric clippers. The swelling has gone down, the pain patch was removed on Tuesday and she seems to be back to her old self of early 2008. She still wants help getting down from things like chairs and the bed but otherwise, the odd grooming and 7” incision are the only reminders of her ordeal of the past 3 weeks. A $pecial diet and meds will take her through the next 4-6 months and then we will see if she has any problem with seizures after that.
  • The van got fixed. Turns out that an earlier repair of a coolant hose failed, blew the slick coolant all over the engine and belts and made the power steering pump slip. That is what gave me the moment of double panic when I was rushing Katie to the VET the morning of her unstoppable seizure.  Just a new hose splicer and its working again…. now I just need to do something about all the other marginal and sub par systems and components… like the dedicated vise-grip pliers holding the broken ground clamp onto the battery post, Manual windshield wipers, Open window air conditioning and shot bushings in the front end.
  • Merrily, Carol and Shawna managed to get a fair amount done about my sister-in-law’s apartment and the massive amount of stuff it holds in boxes and stacked furniture.  It is certain that since her stroke she will not be able to live alone and definitely will not be able to navigate a two story apartment even with assistance.  New housing is being sought but it appears that she also needs more physical therapy. Unfortunately, Medicaid will authorize and pay for either physical therapy or an assisted living facility but not both. Odd place to draw the financial line… help you get better or store you in a rest home but not do both.
  • The three of them also got most of Shawna and Randy’s stuff packed up and ready to move to their new home next weekend. I am going to miss them being so close but they will still be only  a few miles away. It not like I am losing a son and daughter-in-law….more like I am losing renters and a steady supply of leftovers-on-wheels.
  • The X-rays of my back did not show anything definitive so I am now waiting for a MRI referral to see why I am having so much pain in my spine. This is real neurological type pain that happens unpredictably when I move and sends involuntary spasms into my rib muscles or down the back of my legs and hips. Pain meds help a little but don’t stop it. Neither do anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxants so I am stumped right now and not too mobile.
  • We have been looking into the whole idea of Workamping (working while rving) when we retire. To help learn the ropes of connecting with satisfactory work the Workamper.com website has a Workamper University area that provides information and has even started an online course via a Webinar. The first session of Workamper 101 was interesting and a little bit fumbly but it was the first webinar they have done for this and had a few logistical and user issues to iron out with the attendees. There was even some impromptu entertainment when one of the male attendees failed to mute his phone before visiting his toilet. Good thing it was not on a video link. I am sure it is going to be worth the cost for the 6 sessions over the next 8 Saturdays to get us up to speed and help us to decide just what we might like to do and where.

Well, Merrily is up, now, and getting ready for work so I need to say TTFN.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

TGIF

This has been a tough week. Katie’s surgery (she comes home in the morning), Sister in law’s new stroke, 6” of snow in Raleigh, NC, and some sort of back problem that has slowed me down so much that I am watching snails race past me. Not exactly a typical week but not that out of the ordinary, either.

After Merrily’s visit with Katie, yesterday, they told her that she was very sad after she left. They also said that Katie is getting very katiecockapoo1 rambunctious in her cage and that means that she is doing well enough to come home (lucky us… we get to deal with the bolt of energy but can’t let her run, jump, climb, chase, pull or tug for at least another week, maybe longer).  I will certainly be glad to have her here, again.  I have really missed her by my feet every day.

Maybe that is why my back has been hurting so much  this week… just not having to bend over to pick up after her, clean her feet when she has been outside, leash her up for walks and unleash her after we return has probably made me stiffen up.

I swapped out an empty 40lb propane tank this afternoon. It was the last full one I had in stock so when the next one goes empty its off to F & G Distributing (the gas house) to get 3 empties refilled but that should be at least another week, maybe more.

Just 1 more week before Randy and Shawna move out and into their own place a few miles away. Their preliminary walk-thru went fine with just minor stuff to be addressed by the contractor.

Still a bit of snow on the shadowed places but the rest is now clear DSC00703and daytime temps are in the 50s for a couple of days so I was able to hook the shore water supply back up and take a good shower this afternoon…. Now if the water heater just held more than 10 gallons… oh well, another project to be funded later on.

I am thinking about an Precisiontemp RV-500 demand water heater. I have heard no complaints from the folks that use them other than when one is boondocking it takes a little bit more water to run before the hot stuff starts coming out.  LP gas usage seems to be about the same as for a regular HWH, though, so I expect that because I can take longer showers… I probably will.

This snow has pointed out some drainage problems that I have ignored up until now but its clear that I should address them before we get on the road.  Just little annoyances like the runoff from the big awning cover drips right onto the DSC00685 tab that holds the front basement compartment door open. Makes a heck of a racket 24/7 and also, when freezing, builds a solid ice dam over the lock and release buttons for that door.

Same sort of issues a couple of other places so I will plan to fix those when I am next on the roof checking for places to be recaulked.

ttfn

Quote of the Day:
If at first you don't succeed… make sure nobody finds out you tried!
--Unknown

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting back to normal

Katie, the cocka-poo is alive and well!  Her surgery went as expected and the liver shunt (a very large one) was easily found and corrected.DSC00022 Other than a little inflammation in her eyes and a very long incision she is doing great according to her Veterinarian.

She can have visitors today so I expect that Merrily will go over to see her at lunch time.  I am still sans-automobile and she works just a matter of blocks from the NCSU vet hospital and I doubt you could keep her away.

The snow is melting like the wicked witch of the west.. but more quietly.  An occasional chunk falls off the roof with a clunk but I expect that by this evening things will be back to normal.

DSC00702

More cold is expected but  not as bad as the last few days so maybe I can get a few outside things done, like fill the water tanks and dump the blackwater.

I have been suspecting that there was some pressure loss in the water system but the big icicle hanging from the shore water connector confirms its the inlet check valve that has gone south, first, and left us here.

During this “cave time” I have been installing Windows 7 beta 2 on my laptop. I installed it on an older laptop drive so I would not place my Vista ultimate system at risk and so far, it has been perfect.

It certainly seems faster in my environment than Vista (which was way faster than XP ever was on this same hardware) and so far, all of my hardware has worked ok on it.

Just prior to installing Win7 I had installed Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 on Vista and that made a lot of difference in how my internet browsing worked.  I will say that I have been using Firefox 3 for quite some time, more for the cool add-ons than for the “better browser” aspects.  IE has a growing set of accelerators that are similar to Firefox add-ins but not exactly the same ones. As for speed, IE 8 is definitely on a par with FF and the Windows 7 version (a different build of IE8 from the Vista version) is not pushing me to go back to Firefox without feeling that I am losing something.

Enough techie stuff. The Workamper 101 class is still set to start on Saturday night at 8pm EST and we are getting really excited. 

One other item on our list of preparations is connected to my Christmas gift to Merrily of dancing lessons for the two of us. DSC00704

I figure that once on the road, there will be a lot of opportunities to go dancing and though I resemble a hippo in a tu-tu, I have been inspired by Warren Sapp’s performance on Dancing with the Stars this past season.   I think I can get it down well enough to not embarrass Merrily every time we go out.

The more different we can make our new lifestyle the easier it will be to not try to compare it to the past 60-odd years and to just enjoy it. We have never done dancing in our 30 years of marriage so it will be exciting and new to us.

We had intended to start classes a couple of weeks ago but things have gotten a little too busy for the moment. However, it will not be allowed to slip away into that vast vat of well intended but never implemented plans.

ttfn

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To be… or not to be….. WARM!

So what is all this white stuff? I am told that, technically, it is called snow. However, if I learned anything in elementary school geography I learned that North Carolina is in the south and the only two white things that southerners have much of are cotton and dandruff.DSC00673

Surely this can’t be dandruff on Clifford, can it?!

DSC00663 Seriously, this has been a good test of DakotR’s weather resistance because even though the temperatures have made it into the mid teens outside, we have stayed cozy inside on two 1500 watt electric heaters    and an occasional burst from the two 40k btu LP gas furnaces. DSC00699I am sure that if I turned the electric heaters up just a bit more the furnaces DSC00700would not kick on at all but the furnaces are what keep the basement spaces heated so their use is more for caution than for comfort.

For reference, It’s 5:25am and I just checked and the outside temperature is 19.6 degrees right now with an expected high of 36 today.

Other than having to dump the accumulating snow off of the big awning before it could freeze into ice, we could be in Miami Beach.

On other fronts, Katie, the Poo, DSC00354 was dropped off Tuesday at the NC State Veterinary school hospital for her liver shunt surgery planned for Wednesday morning. She was excited to see these people, again. She gets so spoiled when she goes there that she turns her nose up at us once she returns home and it takes a few days before she stops pacing around looking for the copious handouts, treats and loving she gets from the student vets in training.

Another big step that was taken the past few days was in organizing Merrily’s sister’s apartment contents for disposal. She and Carol Ann spent the better part of two days over there along with Shawna (Randy’s wife). They got about 2/3rds of the contents catalogued and grouped for various destinations. Help from the church has already been engaged for the muscle and transportation when the time is right but we are still waiting to see what Geri’s stroke residuals will dictate in the way of accommodations, personal assistance and functionality after her rehabilitation is completed.

Shawna fixed baked Ziti for dinner in “the big house” for the 6 of us last evening. Merrily and I sure appreciated that as I am sure Christi and Emery did, also. I am going to miss that flow of leftovers when they move out and into their own place in a couple of weeks.

More on a full-timing note, we signed up for the Workamper 101 webinar class that starts 1/24/2009 (Wow! That’s Saturday!). I understand that Jaimie Hall Bruzenak is a real resource for those getting onboard with workamping. We are really looking forward to this class.

As a sidenote, a webinar is a class that one can attend remotely via the internet and a telephone line. Just prior to the start time, one just logs their computer onto the specified website (in this case, delivered by Webex.com) and dials the supplied phone number to give us an easy way to ask questions and make comments in real-time.

I’ll let you know how this first class goes. Even though we are not anticipating workamping this year, a lot of the longer term plans will certainly involve finding jobs here and there to help support our cashflow needs. Knowing how to find and successfully get a satisfactory job will be vital to how we plan our travels. I expect that we will use our initial travel destinations to investigate future job opportunities in areas we are interested in future workamping positions. It is also for this reason that we signed up for the Workamper News and hotline resources a few months back. So far, we have learned a great deal just by investigating the various jobs that are posted daily on their Hotline service.

ttfn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bad Dog Day

Katie the cockapoo, woke up at 8am on Wednesday and proceeded to go into a seizure that did not stop. At the 10 minute point, I rushed her to the vet (fortunately, just a few blocks away) and they started working on her but it took another 3 hours before they had them stopped.

By this time, she was in la-la land from the meds. They watched her all day, called me with updates and arranged for her to go to the NCSU vet school emergency room for the coming night so that she would be under full observation.

We picked her up at 6pm, drove her to the school emergency room and finally left her there about 8pm. She was resting when we left but very drugged. We should know more sometime Thursday about whether she will go into surgery for the liver shunt.

The liver shunt problem is thought to be at the bottom of her seizures. Of course, no one can give us a 100% guarantee that fixing the shunt will fix the seizures, too, but all the doctors have been very confident that it will and that the seizures will stop once she has recovered from the surgery.

We are facing a very challenging set of problems, here. Our travel plans for at least the next few years include a lot of time "off the grid" and away from civilization. Vets are not going to be available in many of these places and should she still be having seizures, even occasionally, there is always the possibility that she will go into another unstoppable one that will kill her or leave her with permanent liver and even brain damage.

At the very least, if she is still having seizures she will have to be on meds the rest of her life and that will require regular monitoring by doctors to make sure she is not going into liver or kidney failure territory with the side effects that these meds cause. Again, this will be something that will not be possible with her traveling with us on the road. So I see some hard choices looming on the horizon and I don't like the list of actions we will have to choose from.

On a more (or less) positive note, on my rush to get Katie to the vet this morning, I blew some hose or fitting under the hood of the Aerostar and lost the power steering just as I had to make a sharp tight u turn into the doctor's parking lot. Boy! That is a really small steering wheel when the power is off. Unfortunately, traffic was coming and I thought the engine had died so I had to take it hard and sharp to coast out of the way of oncoming rush hour traffic and that tossed the still seizing Katie off the seat and onto the floor of the van.

She was not hurt but in her condition she could not right herself and it just added to the severity of her struggles.

The vet took Katie back right away and started working on her problem and eventually said she should stay there for the day so I left for home. The van ran but had no power steering. It turns out that it was losing fluid somewhere and the belts had all gotten coated and slick. Once back home I was not able to see where it was coming from but it did not smell like coolant. This may be the last straw for the 93 van. It has served us well but is so decrepit now, that running to the grocery store in it is a little scary.

The more positive side of this was that now, I had to get Clifford running in order to get around town on other errands of the day. I have been wanting to take him out for a nice drive for a few weeks now, but just never could get around to it because of more pressing business.

As soon as I got him started, I felt better. And once warmed up and checked over for problems before pulling out (I always do a pre trip inspection (PTI) before moving him, even if its only been sitting unattended for a short while in a public parking lot. It is surprising the pranks that some people think are funny.

I drove Clifford to have lunch with Merrily, Randy (#3 son) and a friend of his, Ryan. By the time I had gone 2 blocks from the house, I felt a lot better and a lot more in control. Folks can say what they want about driving a HDT for a tow vehicle and daily driver but it always makes me feel back in control no matter what else is going on in my life. It has a theraputic value to me that even Sigmund Freud could not connect to my mother or penis envy. It just feels RIGHT!

Merrily has known how much I have been wanting to get out in Clifford and she suggested that I go home "the long way" which was just what I needed to hear. I had planned to check out a place that had cheap diesel fuel on Gasbuddy.com and it was kind of out of the way home, anyway. At current fuel prices, $2.21/gallon for diesel would save $10 per 100 gals over the next best price in the area and more than pay for a slight detour on the way back home.

The short story is that the price had jumped to $2.39/gallon so I did not buy any but it gave me a chance to take the really "long way" back home... and I did.

By the time I reached home, all was right with the world again and the day of Katie was just a small speed bump and not a show stopper. We will deal with whatever needs to be done next.

ttfn

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Details, Details, Details

Sunday Night's dinner was great and we both enjoyed the positive time putting it together and eating it. I postponed cleanup until the next day and Merrily's Christmas Present (big, new single bowl stainless steel sink) made that possible. Everything from cooking to eating was in there and still not in the way of using the sink. I'll have to tell you about this project sometime.

Katie goes in to the vet in the morning for her re-evaluation to see if she is ready for surgery to correct her liver shunt. I had my annual visit to my cardiologist this afternoon and that was good, too. He is quite pleased that I have been able to start walking again. A mile a day is not much but it is more than I have been able to do for 5 years or more. Thank you prestiq!

The auto insurance is squared away, now, and so is my medicare stuff. That was one that was worrying me just because there are so many choices that have to be made by specific dates. Thank you Carol Ann (daughter).

I spoke with Merrily's brother, RWJ, about helping with his other sister's stuff and he seems very positive and has already been a lot of help in guiding us through this unfamiliar territory. He has had to do similar things with several deteriorating family members so he helped us work up a todo list. Thank You, RWJ.

My birthday present this year is a copy of the 2009 Big Rigs Best Bets - RV parks info for us folks with the big dogs. Unfortunately, they are not planning to put out a CD version this year so I will have to settle for the paper version.

More to tell, tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ah! Sunday.... a day of rest..????

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today... because you may end up having to get it done on Sunday. Some of the back burner stuff has suddenly appeared up front so we have to deal with them now.

The first list item was to get the current auto registrations renewed. This one has been simmering back there for several weeks but now must be finished. Same with the Auto insurance renewal which I spoke of earlier. At least it has now been decided that #2 son is moving to his own family policy tomorrow so its just Merrily and Me and I am hoping that will cut a little more off of the premiums.

Also, its time to start dealing with Merrily's Sister's two story apartment contents. It is not probable that she will be able to move back into it when she gets out of the rehabilitation facility for her right side stroke. It is also not likely that she will be able to even participate in the decision process of disposing of the present contents. We went over and spent about an hour surveying the task and talking about possible means of managing to empty the place without upsetting relatives or ourselves too much.

This is the sort of work that one usually has to perform after a relative has crossed over. While that is always very difficult it seems to be even harder when they are still here but unable to participate or guide the process a little. Much of this struggle is just identifying what will still be needed or wanted.

The rest is mostly a parallel to what Full Timers go through to pare down their life's collections to what will go on the road with them, what will be stored and what must be disposed of or distributed to friends, relatives or ebay. The sheer number of memories one encounters shaped into jewelry, kitchen, bath, bedroom or living room accessories and fixtures is quickly overwhelming. The strongest resolve to "just do it" and get out, quickly withers in the brilliant light of a fading past. It makes me think of Chevy Chase wrapped in old clothes and watching old home movies while trapped in the cold attic in Christmas Vacation.

I will say that there are benefits to being able to take time to do the job but it eats more of one's life than could ever be expected. Every little thing becomes bigger and bigger the longer one has to contemplate its history and dispensation.

We did come away with some ideas and rudimentary plans for our next attack on it and possibly even reduce our own angst by involving certain others in limited parts of the process. I may have more in this in a later post.

Another of those hard to start tasks involves food and weight and the reduction, thereof. Yeah, I know, I should just call it a broken New Year's resolution and ease back into the comfort food zone, again. But Merrily and I want to be able to fully enjoy these next years and experiences and I have to say that the plight of her sister has had a sombering affect on our commitments to better health. Her age is right between Merrily's and mine and that is definitly a wake up call to stop postponing and waiting for "the right time". "Just Do It!" really does apply to this one.

To this end, we decided to take baby steps by starting with one or two meals a week that we can gradually build into a better set of eating habits than we now have. Intellectually, this will let us develop some skills at planning meals instead of waiting until we are hungry to decide what and where to eat. The reality is that it is a very small step and to many would seem laughable but our 30 years together has clearly shown us to be chronic avoiders. Much of what we do together is out of long life habits and even when we may be aware of it at a moment we are not prone to disrupting the comfort and security of the habit at that time.

Tonight's dinner will be George Foreman grilled chicken breasts with brussel sprouts and green beans with a few raw carrots and a dip for an appetizer. George does a great job with chicken breasts and the cleanup is easy. Its the 1 ton crane you need to get the darn grill up on the counter and then later to put it away.

I will let you know how this all turns out, tomorrow. Meanwhile, I need to get cooking.

Chow, as they say.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A fire full of Irons.

Busy, Busy, Busy.. is the only way I can describe the past few days. Between refilling propane tanks, heavily discussing future RVing issues (insurance, $$$$$, education, Post-Disney World plans), wrapping up once a year records and money movements, medical transition to medicare issues and cocka-poo coddling, a couple of days have just slipped away somewhere.

I am very glad that I bought 2 extra 40lb propane tanks a couple of months ago for about $75@. Taking 3 empty tanks in at one time got me a per gallon price of $61.20 for the 27.2 gallons it took to fill them. That's about $2.26/gal. The price would have been $22 per tank at the same place for less than 3 tanks. I periodically check LP prices around town and the next cheapest place was $2.99/gal so I figure I saved more than enough ($20 appx) to cover the cost of the gasoline to get there and back here. With that kind of savings I will have the 2 new tanks reimbursed in less than a year and I don't have to make the trip nearly as often, either.

BTW, a 40lb tank's capacity is 10 gallons (appx) but the OPD (Overfill Protection Device) only lets it fill to about 9.1 gallons when empty. In 2007 I had the 2 original (1999 vintage) tanks refurbished and recertified by having the complete OPD valve assembly replaced. The original valve stems were leaking and that was a lot worse than just a nuisance. It only cost me $18 per tank so it was cheap insurance against a more lethal nusiance.

Katie is back to her old self and doing well. We go back for a blood check next wednesday to see if she is ready for the surgery to fix her liver shunt. It sure is a relief to see her feeling better.

We are definitely heading down to SW florida after we leave Disney World in November. In searching for some satisfactory spots to stay it is turning out to be a lot more difficult than we originally expected. There are a lot more RV areas down there but a very large percentage of them are mobile home parks that accept RVs, too. This makes the pricing really skewed in most of them for the winter months (not that I expected anything different) and the RV sites are very often small with overgrown trees, low clearances and tight turns. Finding the right needle in that sewing box is going to take a lot more deep research than I was planning to spend right now to be sure we can get in during the "high season".

I was hoping to find a lot of personal references from fellow Escapees and the like but that is going to just take a lot of time reading individual posts in the appropriate forums.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Katie - the cocka-poo has a good prognosis!

Katie had her battery of tests yesterday and its now proven that she has a single liver shunt external to her liver so it will be easy to fix. The blood tests they did confirm that she was deteriorating rapidly from the same tests done in October. Many of her key factors were now seriously out of the normal range due to the failure of her liver and kidneys to function properly.

We have been assured that one the shunt is fixed she will stop having seizures because they are being caused by the abnormal buildup of ammonia in her bloodstream.

They gave us (well, we actually had to pay for them) 3 meds to start her on to prepare her for the surgery in two weeks. If all goes properly, she should have no more seizures nor have bladder control problems which has plagued us off and on.

My daughter, Carol, came over today to help me finish up translating my life to the 65 and older crowd. So much to do to get social security setup correctly and make the transition to a retirement pension from my company. Lots of T's and I's to be done correctly and still, they got my name wrong on the medicare card. Guess where they have been trying to save money has been on training of SS processors.

.. But I won't go there! Just suffice it to say that after 4 months of working on all of this, we are 2/3 of the way to completion.

I will say that one thing that caught me by surprise was when I found out that my $83,000 life insurance coverage from my company gets reduced to just $5,000 when I turn 65. That blindsided me, completely. Sure, they have a rollover program so I can pick the difference back up without having to take a medical exam but it will cost me $384 per month just to keep my life insurance. I have to explore other options... maybe AARP. I have heard that they have a fairly good program.

Merrily is out with the girls tonight to see a chick flick at the $1.50 theater over by the NCSU campus. I am very glad to go with her anytime she really wants to see something but our tastes in certain areas don't line up perfectly and its great that she is ok with not inviting me to certain events but goes with friends.

I, on the other hand, get leftover chinese sweet and sour shrimp (or something) for dinner. Yummo!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The initial Florida plans

Dates have been picked for our launch into full timing. Our intent is to be in Disney World for Merrily's birthday and get that free entrance ticket for the day. It's worth $75 in today's money. Of course, it means that actually being in the park for our anniversary and her birthday will not work..(well, it would work if we were willing to spend the money for an additional 6 days stay in Fort Wilderness Campground.)

Save a buck no matter how much it costs!!!????

Getting down there from Raleigh is what we are working on, now. We will probably swing through Jacksonville and St Augustine and see her brother and his family for a few days before getting to Disney. But there is some possibility that they might actually come down there and spend a few days in which case we may just go straight there from Raleigh. Meeting family is always more complicated for some reason but the payoffs are usually the best.We always have such a good time when we get together and laugh so much that our sides ache by the time we part company.

Next, is nailing down where we would like to go after Disney. Independently, we preferred to go down near Ft Myers area for awhile so we were in perfect accord when it was first mentioned (have I mentioned that I LOVE this woman?). How long? Who knows... who cares....? It's just that we have heard that going there in the December - February time frame usually needs some solid reservations if we are going to be particular about where we stay.

For quite a long time I have suspected that this planning process is a lot easier for those with some experience in full timing, at least it sounds like that from the many forum posts I have read. I can only surmise that it must be due to how much the lack of personal experience on our part causes a lot of "over-think" in the planning stages.

Merrily is still thinking about getting her Commercial Driver License so we will have the option of making a little money on the road if the circumstances permit. The classes here are a very tough 8 weeks at the NC Truck Driver Training Class but one leaves it with a confidence and capability only matched by a few of the best schools in the country.

Katie the "poo" had another seizure this afternoon. It's a good thing we are taking her in to be evaluated tomorrow at the NCSU Vet School. I sure hope they can quickly find exactly what is wrong and fix it permanently. She is so pathetic when struggling just to breathe and I am sure that the intense muscle spasms must hurt, too.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 is all over but the cleanup

Friday was a wet, cold, day with too much time between things of interest. Katie the cocka-poo has been having a bit of a renal problem during sleep so we took her in to the vet. Since she also has seizures that seem to be due to a liver shunt problem, we scheduled an appt with the NCSU Vet school to have her evaluated for treatment.

A liver shunt is a growth problem in some animals. Before birth, the waste byproducts that are carried in the bloodstream of the unborn, are passed back to the mother's blood system via the umbilical cord. To facilitate this, much of the blood bypasses the liver by way of one or more arteries that allow the blood to go directly to the placenta.

About the time of birth, these shunts normally close down and force the blood to be processed by the now, well developed liver. Occasionally, these shunts do not close up completely and keep allowing waste carrying blood to bypass the liver and continue circulating in the new born.

The fix is to find where these are, usually with an ultrasound scan and possibly a radiographic CT scan, and then surgically close them off so the liver can do a complete job.

This was probably more than you really wanted to know about Shunts and seizures but we are living it daily so its in here. Seizures are only the tip of the iceberg and if nothing is done, liver and kidney failure will eventually result along with a host of other very unpleasant side effects and discomforts to the animal. We are now pretty sure that this is why we found Katie in a rescue program.

The post Christmas take-down/put away effort happened, also. Normally, our Christmas decorations stay up a long time. Its not unusual to see twinkle lights on in February but this year, DakotR is so kind to us that it takes very few decorations to make it festive looking. I realized after it was over that maybe the reason that we have always left the decorations up is because it has always been such a chore to get started on in the stix and brix house. Here, 15 minutes and the whole job is done and out of sight without any stepladders, extension cords or angst... one more plus for the Full time lifestyle!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!!! Wahoo!!!!!!

What else can one say, today? Its a tradition just like over eating on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New years day and if one does not do it I am certain that the bad luck fairies will make me pay the rest of the year.

Last night was very nice, though Merrily was a little uncomfortable with some bug she is fighting. We were invited to celebrate with 3 different families but chose to stay tucked into DakotR rather than go out and test Murphy's law on the roads on New Year's eve.

The night did start with a nice but early dinner at Lonestar, except for the choking tobacco smoke from someone over in the smoking section or the bar. Never could tell exactly where it was originating.

We split a good Margarita and had very good and lean San Antonio 8oz steaks with a lettuce wedge covered in blue cheese crumbles and Italian and blue cheese dressings on the side. It jumpstarted the evening nicely.

Back at home, we caught up on a few TiVOd shows and then caught the last 5 minutes of Carson Daly's New Years celebration... that was enough of that. Bedtime then followed immediately.

I guess this is what happens when one chooses to have New Year's at home, alone. To be honest, Merrily makes each day a new experience for me so the common New Year's eve just pales by comparison and holds only slight interest for me.

Still, tradition dictates that I sincerely wish all that read this a very Happy New Year. I know it will be so for us.