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Monday, April 27, 2009

Well, Spring is sprung and now summer’s here

Summer’s here with a bang.. right on the heels of spring.015  Heck, the  flowers are still hanging in there on a few varieties around here and we are definitely in the 90s… with humidity.  Where I come from (pretty much all over the southeast) that means summer.

013 Never mind the calendar, its no help in this matter. Besides, I can count on one hand the number of times in the past 10 years that both the calendar and the weather prognosticators have been right.  The rest of the time it has been “unusual” or “rare” weather and seasons.

I will admit that the ability to go out at 2am on a bright moonlit night and just sit in a chair among the pines in shirtsleeves is a nice experience I have never had before this year.  Usually, the mosquitoes would have driven me in before the seat of the chair had time to warm to my butt. 008

This year, however, no mosquitoes so far. Katie and I could just sit and enjoy watching the deer graze only a dozen yards from us in the filtered moonlight while listening to a light breeze whisper through the overhead pines.

001In all honesty, I do have to admit that this scenario actually played out about 2 weeks ago as the moon peaked and before this last bout of wet and then chilly weather hit. It was all the idea of Katie the Poo dog to get me up for a 2am rendezvous with her favorite potty spot but what the heck?  It was just too nice out there to rush back in and struggle to get back to sleep.

The rain dried up a few days ago and its 68 degrees out there right now … sans moon. We saw our first snake of the season on the street during our evening walk so I am not so tempted at the moment to rush out for an encore evening.  But the appeal is still fresh in my mind. The pics are from a few I took on a walk through the neighborhood a few days ago.

As we move towards getting on the road in October, I wonder where I will find other places that will offer such opportunities or maybe some that are even cut from a grander scale.   Whatever they are, I sure am looking forward to those experiences, too. 

ttfn

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing ! ? . !

Along the way to this point in my life I have managed to avoid almost all situations that required me to dance.  Now, don’t think I don’t have a love of music  or can’t carry a beat… Heck, I played Trumpet for 6 years in JH and High school and finished sitting solo chair.  It’s just that somewhere, in my wiring, anything that might trigger some self consciousness usually was like an “oops” with a weapons grade nuclear device and I would melt down. 

So the simple solution was to evade the opportunity for personal embarrassment by avoiding scenarios  that might develop into a “dance” opportunity which I successfully have done for the past 50 years…. I am now thinking this was not something to be applauded.

So what is different now?  I think that all along I have wanted to dance, particularly with the love of my life but just could not take the potential personal pain of being “out there”.

Once, when I was in Seattle to teach a seminar, My wife and I, while pursuing an evening mall meal happened upon a small band playing in the area while we ate, and folks were dancing to good old tunes from the big band era. 

By the time we were finished eating, I actually suggested we go dance .. and we did and had a great time at it until the band quit.. That was about 1976 and the last time I danced publicly.

Sure, I have gotten really hooked on Dancing with the stars. I only started watching it because I like John Ratzenberger and he was one of the celebrities on during that season. I quickly saw that he could do what I knew I could do and more, that his attitude switched from expecting an early dismissal to responding to his fans support that kept him in the running. In that I found an admiration and a lust for dancing and figured that if John could do that then It certainly would not hurt me. Several seasons since then I have found that I am now appreciating the whole beauty of the well performed dances without hardly noticing the lack of clothes on the female dancers.

Then, when #3 son Emery, III got married, there was a band and dancing at the wedding reception (actually a DJ, but that’s irrelevant). During the reception, I saw many of His wife’s family and friends dancing almost continuously and some of them were my age (and shape) and just seemed to be enjoying themselves without any apparent awareness that they were being watched.  They were just dancing because they liked to dance.

I was sitting there really wanting to dance. I finally got up and did so with Merrily and loved it… all the while I kept looking out for that 3rd foot of mine that kept getting in the way. Never did see it but the experience convinced me that one skill I definitely wanted to have when we got on the road, was to be able to comfortably hold my own on a dance floor.

So for starters, we signed up for a 12 week social dance class at A Step to Gold and tonight was the second week.  I have the slow dance (with promenade variation) under my belt and the rumba…. maybe. And we are totally enjoying it!  This is way better than it was learning this stuff on an asphalt basketball court in 7th grade PE… Believe me!.  This is really nice and now I really want to do it.

But I don’t think I will ever be doing any acrobatics (heck, at my age and condition, just taking a shower in the RV is pretty heavy on the acrobatics.

But we are having way more fun than I ever imagined I might.

ttfn

Monday, April 13, 2009

Katie the “Poo” is doing well

For those that have been concerned about how well Katie is progressing after her major surgery to correct a very large liver bypassing artery… She is doing extremely well.  Much better than was thought by most of the doctors by this point. He last lab work came back nearly normal in every respect.

She has been more than 4 weeks without a seizure and the 3 that she had prior to that time were progressively gentler and shorter. This is a very good sign for the future.

It seems that the opinions of her doctors varies as to her final stability and the likelihood of continued seizures after the liver shunt has been fully corrected. Those more in the General Internal medicine group have been very confident that she will be seizure free.  Those in the neurological specialty have been more certain that she will always have to have her seizures controlled and the surgeons are completely uncommitted either way.

This division is interesting because all along the way, our choices in deciding whether it was kinder and cheaper to work towards a seizure free life or just put her down (horrors! I hear out there!) would be the right choice. Those chartered with the early investigations and recommendations were all for a simple permanent solution with surgery but as we drilled deeper into the problem (all the while gushing $$$$ like an artesian well) there were more and more “well… but…” responses and the odds kept changing as to her anticipated permanent quality of life (and ours).

By the time we were up to initiating the surgery we were already more than $2600 into her diagnosis and care and the surgery was expected to run from $2300 to maybe $5000 … or more, depending on complications and what they found once inside. Even after the surgery ($2500 in the end) there continued to be speculation that she might have to have additional surgeries and a growing certainty that her seizures would always have to be controlled to some degree.

I am a kind person by nature but this whole scenario of decaying optimism over the course of her diagnosis and treatment has left me with a real “doesn’t anyone actually know anything?” feeling.  When it got to the day after surgery and the surgeon says that they have never seen such a large liver shunt before and don’t have any real evidence as to  how fast it will close up nor how completely, nor how to titrate the after surgery medications to keep her seizure free while she heals, I was feeling like we had really been had as guinea pigs and would continue to carry an unknown financial and emotional burden for months or years.  Not a happy camper am I right now.

Yes, Katie is doing very well. Better than expected (but consider that they had no reality based expectations in her case) and tapering off of the meds. Actually,  she is on about 1/8th the dosages she started with and completely off of one med and her personality is coming back to normal.

The final outcome is still out there 8 months to a year before we will know for sure if she is going to live a normal life from there on. Right now, we hope so.

In the interim, my previous blog about perspectives is very much in action.  Had we not been already living in the 400 sq ft of DakotR while we worked through all of this we truthfully would not have had any idea what the best and worst case endings for this might actually mean to us once we are on the road.  Seriously, working around a sick or impaired animal 24/7 is a real challenge under normal conditions.  in the limited space of an RV what affects one affects all 24/7.

So, The perspective we gained from this whole experience set in the context of living and being full timers already is that a pet is not a great attribute to have along while trying to travel and see new things and workamp and generally spend much time away from the RV. Sure, that wagging tail, slurpy kiss and totally glad to see us is something hard to deny as a benefit. But, spontaneity is generally not on board and a full night’s sleep is mostly out of the question without Ambien.

Everything has to be planned in advance with the pet’s wellbeing at the top of the to do list and whose needs are always more important than our wants.

This perspective is one of those things that we have learned on the way to fulltiming and something that would have been completely invisible on the radar if we had owned the resources to just get on the road in the beginning.

Katie is now a part of our family and even the occasional curious thought that we might be better off if she was “rescued” again gives us uncontrollable shudders.

ttfn

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So maybe its time for a little perspective?

I realize that quite a few of my more recent posts seemed to have little to do with fulltiming and a lot to do with my more personal problems and quirks.  Its all part of the same picture….. what its like getting to fulltiming from somewhere else.

Over the past 10 years that we have been seriously planning for this new lifestyle a lot of material has passed these eyes and most of it has been narrowly focused on the details of fulltiming. Whether these details have been in the form of financial preparations, logistical scenarios or “do-overs” as the writers discovered better information or products, it all represented a process of growth and maturing into the new life.

Only a few have tried to fill in the areas confined by the dots they have been connecting. Let me be clear because I am not criticizing those that connect the dots.  That is essential.  What I am trying to convey is that it is absolutely important that one keep checking the picture on the box cover to be reminded what the work should look like when finished.

People, by nature, tend to run with the associations they have at hand and that is an essential adaptive survival mechanism. But succeeding in an overall project is about keeping these associative digressions actively connected to the overall goals.

The excitement, urgency and sheer thrills of changing one’s lifestyle can be intoxicating and can be infatuatingly distractive to the overall process if not kept in check and on task.

Here I sound like a know-it-all and yet I am not even on the road… yet so it may be hard to take me seriously.  To be honest, though, I have a lot of experience with accomplishing long term projects. Particularly those which, in the beginning, I had no experience with the subjects nor any ideas about how to accomplish the goals but I did have a belief that it was a good thing and important to accomplish.

As I see it, the same holds true of changing to a life of fulltime RVing… almost no one that is pursuing it has actually done it before so I feel fairly comfortable that my perspective about “getting there” is about as valid as anyone else’s.

As is true of most journey’s it is the trip that teaches and not arrival at the destination.  That is only a date on a calendar and perhaps a benchmark to bigger things. It is the journey to fulltiming that teaches and changes us to fit that new life.  I suspect that this may be one reason that some folks actually get on the road quickly (money is a good lubricant) and then give it up quickly.. they may not have spent enough time “learning” what it really is and is not and fitting their lives to its requirements.

So, Going more slowly is not a bad thing but it can be frustrating to the impatient.  it can also help investigators to better flesh out what their lives may actually become once they are living a fulltime RVer’s lifestyle.  I truly believe that one must pay attention to this process and monitor not only their progress towards their goal but how they have been changing within themselves as part of the preparation for a new life. If they do then they will not arrive in a state of disappointment and disillusion because their expectations never matured as they progressed. 

It is more important that one be happy and fulfilled with the new life than to have all their lists checked off and purchases made.

TTFN