Monday, March 31, 2014

Finding Peace in Reality

"Gas prices will be $10/gallon by Summer." "The housing market will never recover." "We will be rationing water for years. " "They will take all our guns." "There will be no Social Security." "The plane will never be found."

These sentiments and many more like them were all expressed in the last few weeks. Some by media, others by individuals. Clearly we are facing a gloomy future just around the corner. No point making any plans other than finding a sturdy refrigerator box to live in down by the riverbed - not by a river as there won't be water left in any of them. One would have to be nuts to plan a life that includes extensive travel, selling a house, having enough income without employment, staying in remote areas with wild critters, or in general enjoying a peaceful life.

I don't watch the news - ever. I don't read a newspaper or subscribe to a news feed. Still, I get the message: we're doomed. I do go to the grocery store and other public places. I'm on Facebook. I read blogs. Opinions are everywhere. Most of these opinions have a common theme: we're doomed.

Those who know me have heard me quote my mother on numerous occasions: "The key to success in everything is 'pay attention'". This mantra has served me well in all areas of my life and I plan to keep doing it. So when bombarded with these sour predictions for our future I can't just put my head in the dirt (the worms have opinions about the future of the soil - you're not getting away from it down there). I also don't spend hours researching economics or climate change or global politics. Maybe someday, not today. So what do I "pay attention" to when it comes to our future plans?

Reality. Today. Right now. We are currently living what was yesterday's future.  I know, profound.  You can quote me.  But really, it is the answer that works for me. Every one of the quotes above was expressed recently. Every one of them was also expressed several years ago. Every one of them. About the future. Which is now today. And none of them are true today. (There have been other planes.)

Could our future be doomed? Sure. Some dire predictions have come to fruition. They did so without me putting my life on hold. It's not like these things could never happen and some of them certainly seem plausible. Looking at the reservoirs in California makes rationing seem imminent, although a summer of record rainfall is just as likely.

A big part of paying attention is seeing where you can impact outcome and where it is out of your control. If I can impact outcome then I believe it is my responsibility to do so. I turn off the water when I brush my teeth and I vote. There are a few other things in between. If it is out of my control then I put it aside, move on, let it go. Some things require repeating that process to be successful :-).

Making a major change in our lives is exciting and challenging. The fulltime RV life is a complete unknown to us. We plan, we dream, we research, we make lists. We have no clue.

When will this be the best choice for us?  Today. What is that based on?  Reality.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

She Can Be Taught

and so can Tessa.

Yes, we have concluded that Tessa will go potty away from the privacy and comfort of her own backyard.  We're so proud.  And relieved (pun sort of intended).  There was even a single incident of said act being performed while on a leash!  This is particularly good news given the likelihood that during our travels there will be multiple locations requiring "potty-while-on-leash" skills.  We will continue to work on this until expert status is achieved. It is still not a quick activity. The real challenge has turned out to be distraction more than privacy.  Dogs barking blocks away, birds singing, children laughing - this dog takes "Squirrel!!" to a whole new level.  I need to learn the command for "FOcus" or get her some earmuffs. Then there's the sniffing.  Same piece of turf she just covered a couple hours ago, but must check for signs of vermin.  As a Wheaten Terrier I understand it is in her DNA, but Tessa got extra where her "squat-and-go" strands should have been! Damn good thing she's so cute.

Stop typing and pet me
However, Tessa is not the big story here.        Humor me.
I also can "be taught."  After 40 years of unlimited vehicular-independence I am truly comfortable with our having only one car.  Planning which days I have the car to run errands or go play is very do-able.  The transition has been an easy one so far, and having that extra money each month makes it even easier.  Nice to get a "raise" for doing less!  Admittedly there have been no urgent needs for transportation, no maintenance issues with the Jeep, no last minute opportunities missed - so easy is relevant. I did worry about feeling a loss of independence.  No longer working, no longer having my "own" car.....those are some big life-changes in less than two years. I think timing is key. When you're ready, and it's on your own terms, these changes are pretty smooth.  Knowing I could go back to work or get another car, that I made the choice to give up both, maintains my feeling of independence and enables me to really enjoy the change. 
It is these somewhat simple "accomplishments" that keep me sane during the last months before we launch.  Looking back I guess they will seem silly and unimportant, but today they keep me moving forward.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Lure of Windows 8.1

The ease of Windows 8.1 makes me skeptical. If it's this easy for me to navigate then there must be some inherent flaw in the system. I have never enjoyed learning new technology, and was really dreading 8.1 on the new laptop. Before picking it up I read a couple articles on the significant differences between 7 and 8.1.

The really big difference was the look. Designed for touchscreen computers/tablets, 8.1 opens to a bright page of multi-colored tiles. As a very visual person this immediately appealed to me.  On my 17" Toshiba it's pretty sweet.

From Google Images

I wanted another laptop, not a tablet, so I definitely didn't want a touchscreen. Still, the articles indicated the system was pretty intuitive for a keyboard and mouse. Since I wasn't learning it for a job and could take my time, I figured I'd actually follow the tutorial and learn how everything works. I was prepared to take a couple days.

Within an hour it was already easier to use than Windows 7, and I never opened the tutorial. After a week its like I've always used this system. I've tried new Apps and customized a few things and am thoroughly enjoying it.

Enjoying a new operating system? Agreeing with my techie-geek sons that it's easy to navigate? I suspect the earthquake this week is related to this shift.....

No I haven't figured out everything and really should do the tutorial to learn the stuff I don't even know is there. That would also be a first. I didn't use all the features on my clock radio in the '70's and haven't made my way through half of what my IPhone is capable of today. Still this 8.1 has me intrigued with its simplicity and I am lured in to find out more. Perhaps that's the answer to this phenomenon? The technical equivalent of catnip in the program!

I probably should be appalled at such a thought - the intrusive mind-altering gall of such a plot! Instead I'm thinking "Wow, good job. Wish you'd done this earlier so I could have enjoyed your other systems!"

Note to family and friends: If I start using technical terms and recommending cool apps please have me tested.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Last SoCal Summer

Mild in the winter, beautiful in the spring and fall, low humidity - with very few extremes - the weather in Southern California is something natives of other states dream about with envy.

Who could tolerate such a place?

Mountains, deserts, beaches, cultural events, trails - we've got it all in a 45-mile radius. Yes the taxes are high to support an infastruture that in turn supports the largest population in the
country, but really we're okay with that.  Gas prices suck, but we got rid of one car.  Although still lacking in many areas, diversity and tolerance are the norm and we like that in a
community.  Most of our history, combined and individual, is here.  Our fully-paid medical plans are here.  Five of our six sons are here. There are favorites and familiars here.

Why would we ever want to leave?

Freedom, inspiration, variety, challenge, wanderlust, daring, peace, surprise, community, fun, exploration, education, stimulation, immersion, stretching, local breweries.  All of this calls to
us.  Loudly.  SoCal is not going away (unless it slides into the Pacific as predicted for years, but then just another reason not to be here), and we will still return whenever we want or need
to. There are places here we still haven't seen and we look forward to returning with a traveler's eye to see them. 

Yes, Fall and Winter and Spring are pretty wonderful here, but neither of us are fans of the summers.  High temps and smog are just gross.  Like those in other areas who are housebound staying warm and dry in Winter, we are stuck inside in Summer to stay cool and dry.  We know we will encounter weather on the road, it's why we will have a heater and A/C, but because we don't have to work or have a set schedule, we can move to better temps when we need to.  Actually, I figure wind will be the greatest challenge over hot or cold, but time and experience will tell.  Bill loves the cool while I love the warm, but we both hate the hot and will attempt to avoid it in our travels.  The cold?  I'll be hunkered down with four blankets, Bill will walk the dog.

With the first day of Spring approaching on the calendar (still a week away), and the first days of Summer approaching on the weather forecast (89 on Sunday), I think about this being our last full Summer in SoCal.  Next year at this time things will be hopping for sure (unintentional easter bunny plug).  Bill will be winding up his 30+ year career with only a couple weeks of work left.  Hopefully the "stuff" will be shrunk down to only what we're taking and what fits in the small storage container.  If current plans hold firm, the paperwork on the house sale will start with the buyer we already have (fingers and toes and eyes crossed). The deposit on the motorhome will be paid, and we will be scheduling a pick up date.  Reservations at the local RV park will be made to cover the weeks until high school graduation.  Of course all of this will be a jumbled mess of chaos that looks little like the picture painted here......but indeed next year will look very different from this year.

Many current full-timers caution us wannabes to avoid concentrating on "last" anything in preparation for this huge life change, and I certainly see the wisdom in that.  In most cases.  The "last summer" thoughts for me however are positive and exciting.  I'm actually looking forward to Summer for the first time in a long time.  Not just to get through it and be even closer to launch time, but to spend the summer in SoCal.  Like a last cigarette or a last goodbye, this last summer has meaning in our lives and is something we will always remember.  So I choose to make a good memory of this moment in time and embrace the summer.
How will I do that? 

No clue.  There are new things to see and do certainly, but my first thought is that memories are as much about our attitude at the time.  The "how" we saw and did something as much as the "what".  So initially I will approach the onset of summer with a change in attitude.  Today I look at that Sunday forecast and think "I could really use a little color on these white legs before the reunion next month" so yay to 89 degrees!  They're really white so I bet I can use that one for a couple weeks just to get started :-).

Summer in SoCal - it's going to be great!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quick! Get a New One Before It Dies!

I’m not sure when it happened.  There must have been a turning point, but I don’t know when it was.  Certainly in the last year, since I retired, since many of the projects around here were completed, but there wasn’t a specific date or event that stands out. 

I have become one-with-my-laptop.  Or one-with-the-Internet.  No matter what you call it, I now spend a significant amount of time with my face in a computer screen, mostly reading and sometimes writing.  Oh, and sometimes shopping.  And of course “socializing”……..

Now I still hang out with Bill every evening and nearly all day on weekends, and a lot of that time we are both on our laptops.  Facebook for both of us, but while I’m usually reading blogs or window-shopping for motorhomes, he is working on his music library.  So he actually has something to show for his hours at the keyboard – me, not so much.  The family and the house and the yard are well taken care of.  The dog does get walked every day.  No one goes hungry.  I don’t know what I used to do with the time I now spend on the Internet and it’s interesting that I don’t know.  But alas, there it is.

This is only relevant at this time because my laptop has been dying for a couple months with increased signs that its time is very near.  When the realization came last night that it wouldn’t be long before I would be facing a blank, black screen I panicked!  Whatever will I do?? 

I still have an e-reader with access to thousands of books; I have book-books on the shelf; and I love to read.  Netflix always has a movie or old tv series to get caught up on.  Although nearly all the projects around here are complete, there are certainly a fair amount of things to be done.  The weather is improving daily and there are numerous walking and biking trails to enjoy in the area.  I can still have a car every day if I want to drive somewhere.  We have that very large tax debt to payoff. But…..OMG! I can’t possibly be without a computer – not for a week, or a day, or likely a couple hours! 

So sad.  Really.  I don’t know when this happened.  I do know when the new laptop was purchased though.  That would be tonight.