Saturday, March 31, 2012

3/31/12 - Reply to Anonymous


@ Anonymous – I am so glad that you enjoy my blog.  What a huge compliment and honor!  It has certainly been an answer to prayer and I’m glad you’re here.  Welcome!

Thank you too for your kind expressions regarding Dad (and Dolly).  I wish you could have known him.  He was a wonderful man with a huge testimony and sweet spirit.  As a writer, I believe written words carry emotion.  Your comment emits the same gentle soul he had.

With humor, I must say that I’m glad you didn’t close your comment with “WINNING!”  I wouldn’t have been able to think of you as anyone else but Charlie Sheen.  LOL.

In my former life, I would have responded to your “purchase” questions with information such as my point ceiling and maximum rate, preferred terms and life of the loan, and I probably would have eventually haggled over contract verbiage, etc., but God has a way of bringing things down to base issues.  Doesn’t He?  On top of that, as the old saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.  :)

I must also say that in our skeptical world most people would be leery of your comment.  I am not.  Mainly because God is large and in charge of all this, not me.  I am just the porter, suiting up and showing up on a daily basis, putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing minute by minute.  God may provide through you.  He may not.  Regardless, I will be okay.  I don’t know how I know that.  I just do.  It's important you know that too.

Also, even if you choose not to help at all, I will forever appreciate the sweet sentiment - especially your reference to my furry family members.  That really touched my heart.

So here you go....

Q1 – “what size of RV or trailer you would need”
In my previous post I said in all honesty that, “I will take ANY size trailer or motorhome as long as it is in working condition and has good a/c.  I can live with and recondition anything else.”  So, and I don’t mean this to be flippant in any way, it needs to be bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a 747 – it really doesn’t matter.  Excellent a/c for my animals is my only requirement and is paramount.

Note: I originally was thinking it had to be big and open, but it’s amazing how priorities can change.  Plus, I’ve actually met some people with animals in smaller RVs and I get the “how to” now.  ;)

FYI - I am approved for parking but do not want to disclose that location on the internet.  If I get a trailer, my brother/nephew has the necessary vehicle to haul it to the park for me.  Then it will remain parked for another year or so until I can actually get a vehicle that will tow it.  However, if I get a motorhome, I will probably take it out to nearby lakes and parks (appx. once a month or so).  Both options are good.

Q2 – “approx. how much you could afford on a monthly basis for it”

I would like to keep my payments down around $300 ($400 max).  My only request on financing is no prepayment penalty.  Other than 2 minor short-term payments, I have no other debt.  So, when I am stabilized, my sole concentration will be to pay off the RV and I really don’t want to have to pay a penalty or lump sum interest for early payoff.  That being said, I will take what I can get and be immensely grateful and ecstatically happy.

It will all work out, no matter.  I want you and the rest of my wonderful readers to know that I spent time today researching and looking for an apartment – just in case.  There are only 6 complexes that will accept dogs, are near where I work, and are within my price range.

One is a low income community and by definition I thought I should qualify, but according to them, I make too much.  Go figure! LOL.  Another wouldn’t even talk to me once I told them I had lost my house (and that thing is still lost, grin).   It didn’t matter that I have lived at my current residence for 2 years, have an impeccable record with my landlord AND he’s willing to give me a reference letter.  They wouldn’t even discuss it.  I was devastated.

I work hard, am a good employee and am willing to do whatever I need to do to be self-sufficient.  It is mortifying to know just how close to street living I am.  Something is wrong with this picture.  America needs help.  And prayer.

On the bright side – I have an appointment Monday evening to look at an apartment.  It is 480 sq. feet and I'm not approved yet (they said they’ll have to run my application before they can make a determination) but it's something so we shall see.  They also have to meet Nonni before approving my app.  That I'm not worried about since she's such a sweetheart.  It's just that I'm a little weary at this point.  The other 3 offices were already closed.

Well, I think that’s enough for one day.  I’m going to take the babies for a long, slow walk and then come back and finish a project for a client.  Life is good.  Manana wonderful readers!

God is good.  All the time.

3/31/12 - Time To Go

MOVING
It has been an “interesting” week….. My roommate announced he is going to live with his girlfriend in San Antonio and my lease is up for renewal April 1.  My landlord decided to go up on the rent!  It is time for me to move. 

My last day at my current address will be Sunday, April 29. 

If you know of anyone willing to owner finance a motorhome or trailer, $20K or less, please message me at debra-dickinson@att.net.  I have an excellent job and the President of the company is willing to give me a reference letter and verify employment.  I can also provide additional references as needed.  I just don’t have the credit rating necessary for a standard loan through traditional routes. 

I will take ANY size trailer or motorhome as long as it is in working condition and has good a/c.  I can live with and recondition anything else.  I have already been approved at a nearby RV park that takes older models.  All I need is someone willing to take a chance on me. 

GARAGE SALE

If you are local, or want to make a road trip, I am having a huge garage sale and getting rid of everything I own on Saturday, 4/21 and Sunday, 4/22.  Even if you’re not interested in buying, I could use the warm bodies to help with traffic control.  I will have items in my backyard (birding and lawn equipment, etc.), the garage (misc. other) as well as inside my house (furniture, higher priced items, etc.). 

Please let me know ASAP whether or not you can help out those days. 

FURRY FAMILY 

As you know, I have 2 wonderful dogs (Nonni and Bentley), and a great kitcat (Miss Hope).  They have been with me a very long time and they are family.  It limits my options, but I am not willing to give them up.  Keep them in your prayers too. 

If it were just me, I’d be willing to live in my car at this point.  Here we go wonderful readers.  It will be interesting to see what happens next. 

Love, hugZ and blessings to you all,
Debra (and Nonni and Bentley and Miss Hope)

Friday, March 30, 2012

3/29/12 - A&W Root Beer

Welcome to our newest wonderful reader!  Nicole Gould!  I met Nicole at CHSP and showed you some of her art (here).  Nicole, I am thrilled that you are following my blog.  That way I know we'll stay in touch.  :)  Let me know if you ever start your own blog and I'll update and post the information.  Welcome!

----------------------------------------

Well, I had some bad news this afternoon.  Dolly sold.  I knew she wouldn't sit on that lot long!  I hate to admit it, but I actually teared up.  Am I a silly girl or what?  ;)

I know God will provide my perfect starter RV, and that waiting for Him in His time and following His nods, can only bring me the one I'm meant to have.  Still, it hurt to learn that Dolly sold.  This may also sound silly, but I hope and pray she went to people that will love and take care of her.  And yes, I'm done now.  You don't have to log off to get away from my silliness.  LOL.  Bye Dolly!
Note:  I realize this post is a long one.  Sorry about that, but the truth is I have no idea how to shorten it.  There is nothing I want to leave out.  I can only hope that after you read it, you too will feel like it was worth it.  I'll say it again wonderful readers, "I am a very blessed woman."  Happy reading...
After regrouping, I did the only thing I know to do - the next right thing.  I concentrated on work and after work I came home and mowed my yard.  After that, I was going to walk my furry babies around the neighborhood before giving them a bath, but we had a surprise visitor - a HUGE male dog that fell in love with Nonni.  He turned out to be a neighbor's dog and had climbed their gate.  Nonni didn't want anything to do with this big guy however and it was getting ugly, fast.

It was a struggle keeping them separated even with mine on leash!  I somehow managed to get my own dogs back into our yard while holding the big guy's collar with 2 hands so he wouldn't follow right in behind them!  Man he was determined.

The owners weren't home so it took me awhile to get him back in their yard and get him secured.  By then I no longer felt like walking the neighborhood so I packed the babies up (their nerves were frazzled too), and I headed for our home away from home - CHSP.  Surprises and blessings abound in that park.

Wonderful readers, you know that I am Living In Grace (not religion), and I write all the time about how grateful I am for the many blessings God continuously gives me.  Tonight was no different.

For example, I will be camping at CHSP all next weekend (Th-S).  So, before walking the dogs, I drove the park scoping out sites.  The ranger at the gate recommended I choose at least 10 sites because "people usually don't get their 1st few prime choices."  I only drove through 2 camps and came up with at least 12 great sites that I would thoroughly enjoy calling home for a few days!  There are still 2 more camping areas I can drive through to choose even more!  I'm thrilled!

While cruising sites, I saw a lot of people that I would have loved to stop and talk to.  I even saw 3 solo women camping!  That almost never happens.  One of them had a rig that gives me hope.  Since losing Dolly and coming to the realization that financing is not available, I'm starting to think maybe a trailer with a van or truck is the way to go.  Again, I'm open for whatever the Universe and God has in store for me.  Bring it on.  :)

The lady driving the setup that inspired me also had 2 dogs!  Hmmmm.... I didn't have the nerve (or want to impose) enough to ask her if she also had a cat.  Ha!  I also wondered if she was a fulltimer or weekender.  Hmmmm.... the things inquiring minds want to know.  Instead of imposing, I stopped in the middle of the road, hung out my car window, and took several pictures with my phone.  All of which probably had her wondering if she should call the Park Office.  Poor thing.  Hmmmm.... Glad I didn't impose!  But isn't her trailer just too darn cute!?!


Then I rounded the corner and saw a couple sitting outside their RV enjoying yet another painting by God of a gorgeous sunset.


I asked if they were fulltimers and the kind gentleman explained that they are local and come to CHSP as often as they can.  Like-hearted folk.  I instantly liked them.  He and his wife are a lovely couple.

All of this took place on a road I had never been on before.  How had I missed it?  It's not marked or named, but still, I have been to CHSP enough that I should know every inch of it by now.  I personally think it was a God thing, and you'll see why.

I walked Nonni and Bentley from one end to the other and we got back to the car just as it was getting dark.  Here's the kicker.... I was getting strong God nods to stop at the RV on my way out and give my card to the sweet couple.  Seriously?  I commenced arguing with God....
They don't need my card.  What are they going to do with it anyway?  Why would they want to get to know me?  They're going to think I'm strange, or at the very least rude for interrupting them again.  Blah, blah, blah, and blah.

The God nod only got stronger so I gave in and reluctantly pulled into the space next to them.  As I walked up I heard them singing.  It was beautiful harmony, angelic.  It stopped me in my tracks.  You see, my Dad and Mother used to sing harmony like that.  My Dad was an incredible pianist too.  He taught himself how to play and from an early age, he could hear just about any song and turn right around and play it note for note.  Music was his life, especially hymns.  I miss his voice.  I miss him.  Hearing that same sound from this incredible couple, rendered me speechless.  And motionless.  For a moment, I just stood there.

The guy didn't miss a beat.  He immediately stood up and offered me his chair.  His chair!  They are sitting there, hand in hand, privately enjoying a sunset and singing.  Then without hesitation he beckons me to join them.  Every bit the gentleman.  Again, just like my Dad.  He stole my heart.

I didn't take the chair.  I only intended to stay for a moment.  He sat back down and I pulled out my card.  It was then that I realized I had no clue what to say.  Why was I giving them my card?  They would think I was peculiar, at best, if I tried to explain my whole God nod scenario.  I opened my mouth and what came out surprised even me.
I just wanted to stop by before leaving and introduce myself. (I still had no clue what to say but I continued.)  Here's my card.... I thought maybe if you knew others that might have an older RV like this and were wanting to sell that you could pass my information on to them.
All I could think was, "Where did that come from?" But it started a wonderful dialogue of Grace and God.  We talked about them singing and my Dad and his music and his church.  Get this!  They know my Dad's pastor.  Small world.  They talked about their church and missionary travels.  The husband told me a story about how they had followed a God nod one time early in their marriage.  It seemed strange to them at the time, but it led them to their perfect vehicle and it fit their budget at the time.  Then he offered a prayer that I find my most perfect RV.  A prayer!  For me!  A complete stranger.  Right there, lake side, with that beautiful sunset as the backdrop.

The prayer was short, sweet, subdued and loving.

My Dad would pray with me like that from time to time, especially when he was worried about me.  For a moment, I felt Dad's enormous love and bear hug.  I'm not sure how you feel about this wonderful readers, but my life has changed so dramatically and my faith has grown so drastically since Dad died that I can't help but believe he is working with God and has a hand in all this.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit with this couple.  Out of respect for their request to remain anonymous, I am not posting their picture or sharing their name, but she told me to think of A&W Root Beer so I would never forget their names.  She's A and he's W.  A&W, I think it's safe to say that I will never forget you.  Period.

Jana Stanfield is one of my favorite song artists.  She says...

Coincidence is God remaining anonymous.
Serendipity is God revealing Himself.
Synchronicity is God showing off.

I close tonight with one of Dad's favorite sayings and a video of my Dad and his last time at the piano.  He died of brain cancer less than 4 weeks after I recorded this.

God is good.  All the time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/28/12 - Retro Weekend

I know I'm writing a retro blog and it seems as though I can't leave this past weekend alone, but it was SUCH a great weekend!  I hope you will enjoy it with me through a few more pics.  These are from our arrival to the park last Friday night.  It was Carolyn's first visit to my home away from home, and I couldn't wait to share it with her.

Here's Nonni and Bentley.  I swear they can smell the SP and lake from miles away.  LOL.  By the time I actually pulled through the gate, they were prancing in place and practically singing!  :)



The bluebonnets are gorgeous this year and they are everywhere! The perfect backdrop for lovely Carolyn.


And as I tend to do, we stayed until the sun went down.  It looked like a fireball!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3/28/12 - New People

One of the things I love about my blog is the new people it brings to my life.

With that in mind, welcome to our newest wonderful reader!  Sassy is her given nickname (read the story here).  She is an avid HD driver and carries her beautiful Heritage Softtail in an equally stunning 2010 Newmar Toy Hauler.  You can see pics of both (here).  I have learned a lot from her blog and enjoy reading it daily (here).  You will also love her adorable doggy, Bennie.  Welcome Sassy and Bennie!

After my friend Carolyn left this past Sunday, I went back to the SP and scoped out a new site for my next camping excursion (date TBD).  Pretty nice, right?   That's the lake just beyond the trees.  I hope I get it.  It's a 1st come, 1st serve basis.


It was Sunday afternoon and the park was practically vacated so I sat there for a long while and got some work done. I was in heaven.  Then, when I took Nonni and Bentley for a walk, I met my neighbors on either side of this site.

Nicole was in the site to my left and she is an artist and had come there for the weekend to get some work done.  She is a visionary and used no props whatsoever.  Nice!  Don is a brand new fulltimer, just retired.  He and his dog, Buzz, were in the site to my right and for now they are just hanging out in the area for awhile, getting used to the trailer before they hit the road. You should have seen Nonni and Buzz play and run and run. It was such fun!



Here is a collage of two more pieces from Nicole.  If you are interested in purchases, she said to contact her by email (here).





Sunday, March 25, 2012

3/25/12 - Two Dreams in One Day

My friend, Carolyn, came to see me this weekend.  She was in town for a conference and I was so glad she was able to stay with me.  You may recall I spent Thanksgiving with Carolyn and her son, and her wonderful husband, Chef Pedro. You can see those pictures (here, 11/24/11) and (here, 11/26/11).

We spent a lot of time at Cedar Hill State Park this weekend.  Here’s a picture of our campsite, and in keeping with the theme today of two for one, I played with it a bit to make it, well – 2 for 1.  :)
Campsite #65
The title of today’s blog comes from another huge blessing in my life.  You see, Carolyn’s dream is to have a quaint Vintage China/Thrift Store when she retires.  I can’t wait to see her store!   It’s going to be one of those places you never want to leave.  And with Carolyn’s touch, it will be something really special.
 
 
She’s been collecting a few things here and there for her store inventory, but guess what she decided to purchase as her first big investment?  My Currier & Ives Royal Blue China!!!  How cool is that?!?!?

Here’s a picture of it in my china cabinet.

My game plan is to sell everything I own that won’t fit into an RV.  I want the bulk of all my items gone by June 1.  There’s nothing special about that date, it’s just that I plan to have a HUGE garage sale in the beginning of May and I’ll sell whatever is left over on eBay or Craig’s List.
 
 
My only concern and heartfelt wish (and prayer) has been that my China be sold as a set, and that it have special meaning to whoever bought it.  I really didn’t want to have to sell the pieces individually (that would have broken my heart) and I certainly didn’t want to end up having to sell it to a broker (that would have broken the bank, LOL).  Voila!  Mission accomplished and prayer answered.
 
 
You see, I have been collecting this China for 35 years.  I have been told by Currier & Ives experts that it is probably the largest private collection in the country.  To achieve my goal of living fulltime in my RV one day, I was finally ready to let it go.  It’s the right time, the right place, and it went to the perfect person.
 
 
Here’s a picture from Christmas one year when my ex surprised me with a huge portion of my collection that came from an estate sale.  Look how young I was!  And skinny!  LOL.


Also, the timing of Carolyn’s decision couldn’t have been better.  I took Betsy, my ’93 Buick, to my mechanic yesterday morning.  You may recall that in January, I had to have the brakes done and then last month I had to have the front tires replaced.   I’m not exactly rolling in the dough so I put off taking my car in this time for as long as I thought I possibly could.  Well, it couldn’t wait anymore because the engine definitely had something wrong with it, and was so loud, that you could no longer hold a conversation in the car while driving.  Carolyn said it sounded like a jet on the tarmac gearing up for takeoff.
 
 
It turns out it wasn’t the engine, the wheel bearings were going out.  In fact, my mechanic, (One of the best ever! I love this guy!) took Betsy for the test drive, pulled out of the parking lot, went to the 1st street and turned around immediately to head straight back.  It evidently was so bad, and so dangerous, he wasn’t willing to drive any further.  He knew immediately what it was.  And when he explained that the wheel could fall off at any time, or worse, the car freeze up while still in motion, I knew I had to leave it with him and come up with the money somehow.

Later that day Carolyn asked if I’d be willing to sell my China to her as her first big purchase for her store.  She was ecstatic that I said yes, and overcome with blissful joy because it moved her closer to her dream.  Her purchase paid for my car repair and also put me closer to my dream of owning my RV and being on the road one day.  Two Dreams in One Day…. if that isn’t Living In Grace, I don’t know what it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

3/22/12 - Five Month Anniversary

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

I created this blog 5  months ago today.  I love my blog and all it has brought into my life.  I am very grateful for the direction it has given me, for the people it has brought into my life, and for the changes that have occurred.  I am so glad I was up all night haggling with God on October 22, 2011.

Happy Anniversary "Living in Grace"!

I think it is very fitting that I had my ribbon cutting for my businesses today.


Tami "Google" and Carol - Chamber employees extraordinaire
I told the people in attendance that I had 3 take-aways I hope they remembered:
  • My website:  dsdickinson.com (known as Living in Grace to my wonderful readers, thank you very much).
  • I do photo restoration and repair:  All Things Photo, and
  • On April 1, I will launch my Etsy store:  RVScrapper.
I didn't even mention My Writing, or All Things Admin, or that I want to do it all from an RV one day.  Not bad since I didn't even have a blog 5 months ago, right? ;)

This ribbon cutting signified the grand opening of my businesses, and I was graciously given a lot of "goodies" to commemorate the occasion.  When they gave me my membership window decal, I announced that I would save it until I got my RV.  I'm not sure, but I may have lost a few with that comment.  LOL.

Wonderful readers, I'm glad you're here and celebrating with me . BIG, BIG hugZ!  High fives!  Woot woot!  And all that.
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3/20/12 - Theraflu, Writing & Spring

 THERAFLU 

Well, I ushered in the first day of Spring with a carton of TheraFlu packages.  A huge thanks to my roommate for going to the store and getting it for me. I went to the doctor yesterday and got the prescribed Z-pack but couldn't afford the other 2 prescriptions. TheraFlu plus honey did the trick and I'll be going back to work tomorrow. Thank you Damian!


 WRITING 

I was ecstatic that I felt well enough this afternoon to write. Well, not "write" exactly.  More like "copy, edit, polish."  I originally wrote the piece listed below in April of last year.  I was teaching 7th & 8th grade Science at the time and the Tohoku earthquake had just hit Japan in March, 2011.

It was recorded to be the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan and 1 of the 5 greatest ever recorded in the world (several of which have occurred only in the last few years).  The resulting tsunamis reached heights of 100+ feet. I researched it daily, gobbling up every tidbit I could so that I could take the facts to class, and bring the environmental science and the humanity issues up close and personal to a student body that initially felt remote and removed from the catastrophic event. I changed my lesson plans to coincide with this world phenomenon. It worked.

My students became engaged and attached. They were eager to learn about tectonic plates, geology, weather, etc., and were equally touched by the human factor. They came up with writing letters to Japan on their own. I was very proud of them.

I did not get to show this South Sanriku video to my students. It only surfaced recently.  A huge shoutout to John for sharing it with me.  It vividly captures all of the factors involved. Beware, it is shot in real time, when the tsunami hit. God bless Japan, a nation still struggling to rebuild.


Unfortunately, all of the research took its toll on me and I had nightmares for several weeks. This story is the result of one of the nightmares that stuck with me. I am, if nothing else, a diverse writer.  ;)  Please feel free to leave a comment after you read it.  Your input can only help my craft improve and I appreciate it - no matter what you have to say.


 SPRING 

With the storms we've been having lately, and my sniffles and laryngitis, I clearly have not been able to get my furry babies out for our annual Spring flower picture, but here are a couple from last year.  Happy 1st day of Spring!

Bentley
Nonni

From us to you, wherever you may be.


Gone, But Not Forgotten - March 2012


This story is the result of several nightmares I had after the earthquakes and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011.

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GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

The priest was asking me to talk about it. "It helps sometimes," he said.  And then he gently urged, "You were one of the few that survived the initial blast.  Can you tell me about it?"

Even with my eyes closed I could tell he was probably more curious than genuinely trying to be helpful.  It didn't matter.  I couldn't do anything but string together a few words anyway. They weren't even enough to form fragmented sentences, but I offered them to him in raspy breaths nonetheless.

"Bombs everywhere.  Dropping.  Chaos.  No visibility.  Dust.  Nothing normal.  So much noise.  Screams."  I quit trying to talk and tried to swallow instead. The priest sat there a moment.  Maybe he offered a prayer.  Maybe he didn't.  I didn't care.  I never opened my eyes and finally he moved on.

I went back to sleep and the nightmares returned.  They always began the same way.

I'm on foot, running; to where, it doesn’t matter.  It was just important to get there, as fast as I could.  Another bomb was about to drop.  I don't know how I knew; I just did.  The streets and sidewalks were no longer visible.  Everything was blurred.  I yell at the driver of a Chevy S10 pickup, “Get out! Get out!”

It’s a nightmare, but I’m reliving it.  I’m back in that moment of time, remembering every detail.

There we were, crouched down beside his pickup. The last bomb was different, creepy.  It made everything that had turned to dust seem even more eerie. It seemed to be a sonic boom followed by a bright light.  The brightest I had ever seen.  Then complete, utter silence. For a brief moment, the world was absolutely devoid of sound.

I looked over the cab of the truck to see the nuclear cloud several miles away.  For a moment, all I could hear was my heartbeat, my labored breathing and the blood running through my veins. They were all pounding warnings into my brain. I could see the mushroom cloud, but didn’t want to believe it.  Realization set in.

I crouched back down next to the voiceless stranger. His eyes were bigger, dilated, but nothing else about him had changed. He was motionless. He was already in shock. Poor bastard, I envied him.

I looked all around me.  Some of the dust had settled.  We were too far away from any other shelter.  The truck was going to have to do.  It wasn’t much.  Nothing really, and there was no way to fortify it.  In a futile attempt, I braced my back against the side and poured all my strength in to my thighs.  I laughed because I knew it wouldn’t do any good – against the initial blast or the radiation, but I had to do something.

Then all hell broke loose.

The world blew by us, through us. There was such power in the waves of energy that passed us, it was surreal.  The waves didn’t take anything with them. They just consumed everything.  It was power at its finest and was so forceful it almost demanded reverence. Then it was over.

I don’t know why, but the first thing I did was look at my arms and hands to see if they were burned.  I couldn’t tell any difference, at least not initially.  Then I looked at the man next to me to see if he was burned.  Nothing about him had changed either.  In fact, if at all possible, he seemed paler, his eyes were wider, but he was still listless, frozen in place.  Then I slowly began to look around me.

The cloud that had just blown by us was stampeding the horizon, blocking my view of anything beyond it.  I watched it for a moment, awestruck again at its power but already fearing its legacy.  As it revealed the objects it left behind, they each look stripped, barren, lonely.  It was a strange viewpoint.  How could buildings look lonely?

Then I realized the cloud was leaving nothing behind that could be classified as living.  There were buildings, vehicles, other structures, but no trees, no plants, no birds, and no humans.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that we were still alive.  Once again, the silence was deafening.

Movement to my left caught me by surprise.  A pink, hairless dog walked up.  His quivering body and bewildered eyes were asking me for help, but I didn’t know what to do.  He was begging for me to do something, anything, so I opened the door to the cab of the truck and let him inside.  Once again I knew my actions were futile, but it was something.

There was more movement.  I began to see more bewildered creatures, some human, some not.  There were no birds, no vegetation, but at least there were some forms of life.  I tried to convince myself that it meant something, but I knew better.  I turned from the wake that the storm cloud had left behind, and looked once again over the truck to the source.  I looked at the horizon and realized that it would be forever called Ground Zero, the drop zone.  I was staring at oblivion.

From underneath the clouds of rolling ash and debris, I could see something oozing toward us on the ground.  It was thick and globular, moving slowly, emitting steam or gas.  I couldn’t tell which, but it covered most of the sloping hill and was headed in our direction.

As I scrambled to get in the bed of the truck, I started screaming at the man who had remained stationary, “Get up!  You have to get off the ground. Come on!”

I pulled and clawed at him but got no response, until the strange liquid made first contact.  He showed signs of life for just a moment, as if regaining consciousness, but it was too little too late.  I had to let go and turn my head as the strange ooze slowly ate him, inch by inch.  I prayed for my own life then.  Not for it to be saved but that it might go quickly.

I grabbed the side of the truck as it began to sway.  If it turned over, I would meet the same demise as my anonymous partner had.  There was a part of me that welcomed the end because I knew what the near future would bring.  Yet another part of me still struggled for survival.  Unable to choose between the two, instinct kicked in and I held on for dear life.

The truck swayed and bobbed for what seemed an eternity then settled in the cooled ooze that was no longer rolling.  Everything was still, even the dog in the cab.  He blinked and looked back at me through the window.  For a long while, we just stared at each other.

That’s where the nightmare always ends because I honestly can’t remember anything else.  All I know is that after staring at the puppy for what seemed an eternity, I woke up in a makeshift infirmary with no idea of how I came to be there, or even where “there” was.  Except for the priest that had just stopped to talk to me, everyone seems to be hurrying to get somewhere yet no one is leaving.  People all around me seem to be shouting orders yet no one is listening.  I feel cold and hot all at the same time.  I close my eyes again for just a moment, but now, even they hurt.

I open them again and look at the cots beside me.  To my left is a stylish, elderly woman with white coiffed hair that seems to be sprouting out in all directions.  Under other circumstances, she would probably be quite manicured and lovely.  She smiles a faint smile as if to comfort me.

To my right is a guardsman, or marine, or is he an army man?  I never could keep them straight and with most of his uniform missing, it is impossible to tell.  What is unmistakable however is the alarming reality that his gun and holster are seared to his body, as are the remaining shards of his uniform.  It is horrifying to see and yet hard not to look.

Remarkably, he is able to pull his gun out of the holster and is doing so repeatedly.  It is as if he is practicing for a part in a play at some western theme park.  I wait for him to stop.  He doesn’t.

The aristocratic lady wretchedly throws up in the few inches between our cots.  That catches the gunslinger’s attention and he stops unholstering his gun.  The sick, pretty lady struggles to get back center of her pillow.

I take advantage of the opportunity, and turn back to the gunslinger.  I wait until he looks at me and I thrust my chin in the air toward his gun.  At first my vocal chords will not cooperate.  They seem to be swelling by the minute, much like my skin that gives me the appearance of having been dipped in a vat of boiling lard.  Finally, I speak.  My voice is barely audible.  I am pleased that both of them strain to hear me.  That means they are interested.

I ask, “How many bullets do you have left in that thing?”

I have to repeat it when he doesn’t respond, “How many bullets?”

He looks at the woman who had once been beautiful, then looks at me as if the horror is just setting in.  “At least three,” he replies.

I look at the pretty lady with faded blue eyes.  She gives me that same faint smile once again and says, “Ladies first.”

Almost in sync, as if on cue, we reach out and hold hands.  I see him get the gun out of his holster one last time.  I look him in the eyes with heartfelt gratitude and the lady on my left squeezes my hand as if to say the same.

There we lay, straight in our beds with chins up as if to signify pride, three nameless strangers waiting for the end that is blessedly coming sooner than later.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3/17/12 - from FB to Blogland, Luck O' the Not So Irish


I Feel Like I’ve been whining quite a bit lately.  I believe in staying in an Attitude Of Gratitude and after whining and crying for most of the day, I spent a lot of time tonight asking God to help my Heartfelt Gratitude and Love of Life return.

It wasn't easy to get there. Among the struggles I'm facing with my life in general, my vacuum cleaner decided to die earlier today.  With three animals in the house, that is catastrophic. I would say it sucked, but that was the problem. It no longer would (insert humor). Then, a couple of hours later my washing machine also crashed. It had a full load, water still in the tub, and wouldn't drain. It was making a horrible screeching, grinding sound. I turned it off and contemplated my options.

First off, it turns out my roommate has a brand new vacuum cleaner he has only used a couple of times. It's bigger, better, newer than mine and he gladly dug it out of the back of his closet and has no problem whatsoever letting me use it. Problem solved.


As far as the washing machine? It's an OLD Kenmore from the now defunct Sears and Roebuck Co. I have no idea how old it is, but I called a repairman that had been recommended by a friend of mine. This guy had helped me when I first moved here 2 years ago. It turns out that he was last here on 3/20/2010. (That doesn't matter and doesn't mean anything one way or the other. I just thought it was interesting. LOL.)

What is significant is that he remembered me and was willing to help.  He sent a technician to my house within a few hours, and only charged me $49 for the service call - on a Saturday!  Some sort of connector fuse or fuse connector or connector that fuses, whatever, to the motor needs to be replaced. He has it in stock from another washer that recently died. Otherwise I'd be out of luck because they don't make the parts for this machine anymore. Wow! Am I blessed or what?!?

Not only that, he is coming out on Monday to replace the part and the whole thing is only going to cost me $119 - Saturday service call included. My roommate is willing to help out with the bill and meet the guy on Monday since I will be at work. It wasn't hard to start feeling pretty darn blessed after all that.

By the way, I should point out that my sister found this washing machine for me through her church's thrift store two years ago. They delivered it for free! The tub on my original one, the new one I brought with me from Austin, somehow suffered a crack during the move that wasn't covered by warranty.

My point is - look at all the wonderful people God puts in our lives. I suspect you have them all around you too.  I know I am truly blessed.

Here is one of my favorite quotes. I even have it listed on my Facebook profile. It's by Thomas Keating.

God constantly speaks to us through each other,
as well as from within.

Still, with all of that, I was ending the day feeling less than, and further behind than ever on all the things I need to get done to get where I want to be. I didn't want to go to bed mental and decided to get out of myself for awhile and see what the rest of my family and loved ones were up to. So I made some calls and checked the rest of the good people out on FB.

Lots of good news there, and lots of love. One friend is now engaged, another got her new puppy she's been waiting on for weeks and my wonderful, beautiful, cherished cousin in NC posted the video I've linked for you below.  It did the trick for me folks.  After watching this, I realize I HAVE NO PROBLEMS and I am going to bed full of good cheer, gratitude and love.  I am ready to tacke the day tomorrow and move forward with my life.  I can do anything!

God is Amazing and I'm grateful to live in His Grace (not religion!). Enjoy the video.



3/17/12 - The Little Things

Sometimes it's the little things in life, you know?

These are just a couple of things I am grateful for.

A beautiful sunset last night--


And weather nice enough to have the house open so I could wake up to birds singing outside my window this morning.  If you listen closely you will hear a wren, a finch, a mockingbird, and at the very end, a chickadee.

(You have to turn the volume way up or plug earphones in.  Sorry but I didn't want to get any closer to the window and run them off.  The volume gets louder toward the end.)

Warning, if you have a cat, be prepared:  Miss Hope tried to get inside the laptop. LOL.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

3/15/12 – Goodbye to Dolly

I have exhausted all possibilities and it does not appear I will be driving off in Dolly. I am very sad today.
 
And it doesn’t help that today marks an ominous anniversary for me. Two years ago, family and friends helped me pack my belongings and I left Austin; leaving my home and my then, soon to be ex-husband.
 
I had wanted my own home my entire life.  You see, I went to an average of 3 schools per year growing up. Needless to say, we moved around a lot.  Having my own home was very important to me.  It was mine, not ours.   It was in my name, and it nearly killed me when I lost it.
 
Now, exactly two years later, I am told that I cannot get financing for Dolly - or any RV for that matter.  I’ll climb out of this mess, eventually, but for now the dream is dead.

I still have a LOT to be grateful for, and I still feel very blessed. On bad days I sometimes joke that "at least I'm not a vegetable", and since that was a very real possibility for me, everything else seems to pale in comparison.

I'm just licking my wounds a little right now.  Some favorite sayings come to mind:

This Too Shall Pass. 
(by Abraham Lincoln and many others)
***
Remember, wherever you go, there you are.
(by my friend - the late, great R.T. Miles)
***
If your problems have only to do with something time or money can solve,
then you "ain't" got real problems.
(anonymous)
***
God is never early. He's never late either.
 
From now on, I will blog about my day-to-day events and my preparations for the dream life, but you will see no more posts from me about RVs until I know it can actually happen.

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! 
(Psalm 27:14)
***
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass.
(Psalm 37:5)

I'll be back on a happier note soon. I'm not giving up and will continue doing whatever I can to move forward. But for now my wonderful readers, I close with two songs by Carole King (right click and open in new tab, IE works best):

and