Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 1/1 - 1/10 2013

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Tuesday Jan 1 Mission, Texas

Rainy New Years Day


Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick yesterday to contrast the weather here at Retama and in Ohio. What's that saying that goes something like, if you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours. Now I know the corollary that they leave out, which is, if you like the weather, just wait a few hours and you won't.


Another day, another plate of scrambled eggs, only fresh spinach has been added, topped with a secret sauce. Maybe it's not exactly secret, but it isn't that easy to come by. Terrapin Ridge spicy chipotle sauce is something that we order direct.

Linda knows how to save money so she waits until they offer free shipping then adds in one or two of their other products. What this really means is that what saves money in the short run ends up costing us more in the long run since there are now more of their products on our must have list. Guess this might be called a shameless plug, but we do really like this sauce.


This is a photo for Linda. As you might imagine, she left me a long list of things to do when she was gone, and this was one of them. There was also a strong reminder for this specific job in the fact that she left the new water filter on her seat by the door of the coach so I would see it every time I went in and out.

Wanting to get off on her good side at the start of the new year, I changed it out today. Of course I had to search some to find the special wrench, but finally found it right where she had told me it was be the last time I couldn't remember where it was. I was so happy to get it done because now when she comes back and accuses me of not doing anything on her list, I can show her that she is wrong and I changed the water filter. Smart Bob.


This brought back memories. My annual New Years Day job when we had our house was to prune back the roses and strip off any leaves, giving the plants a brief rest. Today I trimmed the rose bushes, meaning I cut off all the dead blooms. The best memory of all was that there was someone else who now owned that house and had to care for that yard. Do we ever love this Life or what.

Wednesday Jan 2 Mission, Texas

The Day after New Years Day


Faucet clean out time, and it wasn't even on Linda's list. Everyday the amount of water coming out of the kitchen faucet has been less and less, so today was the day to take the nozzle off and clean out the little filter. It wasn't very hard to do, but I was glad that I had checked with the instructions that came with the faucet as they said to only tighten 1/4 turn with pliers after it was hand tight.

We had replaced the original faucet early last year, and this was the first time it needed to be cleaned out. It also reminded me I needed to flush the hot water tank. If it isn't one thing, it's another, but at least I'll have an even better excuse for not having Linda's list done. Smart Bob.


Katherine's backyard looking our through the back door. Sisters think alike, and you can see the remains of Katherine's tomato plants in her cages. The backyard is also where Katherine's three dogs used to romp. Two have been adopted out and the third is going to be picked up in a day or two. I talk to Linda everyday and can tell from her voice that even though this is something she really wanted to do, it has not been easy for her. Please keep Linda in your thoughts.

Thursday Jan 3 Mission, Texas

Home Alone


With the slowhounds wearing their coats, you can tell it was cold out there this morning. They weren't the only ones bundled up, as the few walkers that braved the cold were also wearing more clothes than usual. But all things being relative, it was only 42° out there, not really cold compared to much of the country.


This one is for Linda, and it proves I was listening to her when she called yesterday. She told me to make sure her tomato, basil, coneflower and Christmas Cactus plants were well protected from the predicted cold weather. As you can see, some of them were safely tucked inside the coach house. But there is more to the story. (Isn't there always.)

During our phone calls I have been accused, or should I say, convicted of continually interrupting her as she talked. Two days ago I vowed to correct that obvious defect in my personality. Yesterday I paid very close attention during our phone calls for any lengthy pause on her part, resulting, at the most, in interrupting her only once or twice. Good Bob. Today I learned that because I was concentrating so much on not interrupting her, I hadn't paid much attention to what she was telling me, since she asked me further information about what we talked about yesterday, and I had no clue as to what she was talking about. Bad Bob.

Postal Boxes

With the weather still so cold and windy I really wasn't going to go out today, but after getting the third degree about picking up the mail yesterday, out I went. I took the backpack and it was a good thing as there were three boxes, two of which Linda had mailed to herself when we were in California. The most important one was the box of her almond butter. I would have questioned why it was so important for me to pick up her almond butter today when she isn't going to be home until Monday, but that would only have gotten me in more trouble. Good Bob


The most important package as far as I was concerned, contained the replacement charging station for my hearing aids. When Linda and I talked this afternoon she was insistent that I make sure it worked, something I assured her it did. Just to prove that is case note that all three charging lights are on in the photo. It is one of the things I love about my hearing aids, just put them in the charger at night and they are ready to go in the morning.


For 45 years I've always had to lift the seat when I go No. 1 so she never had to lower the seat when she did. Call it old age rebellion, but the toilet seat is now up. At least it is until Monday evening when I will be back to my old habits. For now I almost feel like bursting out in Sinatra's song, My Way.

Being serious for a moment, Linda's situation at her sister's has improved greatly as it has reached the stage where there are now nurses there 24 hours a day. Life is precious and Linda says she has been able to spend a few good hours each day with Katherine up to now.

Friday Jan 4 Mission, Texas

Rainy Day


Another cold rainy day in the valley, one where I got more of the things I didn't think I would get done, done, and less of the things I thought I would get done, done. Hope you followed that one, because I may have even confused myself.


One of the things I did accomplish was to get some shopping in, though it wasn't without its moments. Take WalMart for example. There weren't many cars in the parking lot, so I was able to park close to the store, which was nice since it was indeed raining. About half way to the store I discovered I wasn't paying attention to where I was going when I stepped in a large water puddle. Then in the store I couldn't find what I was looking for, but that was because it was at the HEB. What can I say, no one's perfect including me.

The day did have its moments, like the meeting on the mystery dinner, which should be a lot of fun. Unfortunately since I am going be participating as one of the characters I can't talk about it, but it looks like it is really going to be interesting to say the least. Some days not much goes on and this was one of them, though the baked white fish topped with tapenade I fixed for dinner was a 10 in my book. Proving that even in the gloom of a rainy day there are moments of joy.

Saturday Jan 5 Mission, Texas

A Nothing Day


Another cold rainy day in the valley, at least in the morning. In the afternoon it was just cold, guess that was an improvement over the morning. As far as what the day brought, the title says it all, so I'll just call this post a placeholder.


This photo is to prove that it didn't rain all day. But let me change the subject to printing. That is printing as in using the worthless piece of junk Kodak printer on Linda's computer to print out the script for the mystery dinner who dun it that I am part of. I received an email of the script and needed to print it out. Now understand that since the printer is attached to Linda's computer, she does all the printing.

Sure it is a wireless printer and theoretically I should be able to print to it from my computer, but despite countless hours trying to achieve that end, it has never been attained. With Linda at Katherine's, it fell to me to figure out how to print the script. I will preface what follows by saying that there are times when Linda tries to print and usually succeeds, but not before some very unlady like utterances are heard.

The script was 44 pages long and I was going to be darned if I printed it on just one side of the paper. By printing it on both sides of the paper I would save 22 sheets, and that is what I set out to do. Let's cut to heart of the matter and say that by the time I had learned how to turn the paper to have it print properly on the second side I had used 43 sheets and had printed a total of 61 separate pages.

That means I used one less sheet than I would had I printed on just one side. And in addition I used almost half again as much ink as I would have. My conclusion from all this was not blame it on my stupidity, but on the stupidity of Kodak for putting out something that defined all logic, or least my logic. It is no wonder they declared bankruptcy with products like this.

Wow, was that good for me, haven't had a rant for while, and now I've got my system cleaned out and refreshed before Linda returns home. The biggest problem was that once I worked through all the printing problems I didn't feel like reading the script. But that is what tomorrows are for, and I know absolutely that tomorrow will be better than today, but you'll have to wait until then to find out why.

Sunday Jan 6 Mission, Texas

A Very Special Day

This was a very special day, though it wasn't because of what happened today. Well maybe in a way it was, but really it happened tonight, though it wasn't today. It was 46 years ago tonight that Linda and I met on a blind date. I realized within a few minutes of meeting her that she was a very special person, and she still is that same very special person today. Very Lucky Bob.


View out the front, note what a nice day it is for a change. The fact I was out in a tee shirt this afternoon testified to just how warm it was, and it was about time. Truthfully it was probably a little too cold to wear the tee shirt, but it had been so long, I just pushed the envelope a little. The big black arrow? It points to the site where our good friends, John & Judy, will be staying when they visit us at mid month. Good things happening all around.


I have a new sense of admiration for the people who can take good photos of fish inside aquariums. Even though we haven't had Red very long, it is very obvious, even in this slightly blurry photo, he has grown. He is also much more brightly colored and his fins are getting a slight tinge of pale blue at their ends. It is also amazing how much the plant has grown. The only problem is I don't know what it is called. From what I can it tell searching the Internet, it looks like an Anubias, but that is just a guess.


Water heater clean out day. I had been putting it off until it got a little warmer and also when it wasn't raining, which meant today was the day. What makes it really easy is the gray device you can barely see in the photo which attaches to the end of a water hose and has a flexible section that you insert into the tank. It even has a shut off valve to make flushing the tank easier.


The amount of crud that came out of the tank was unreal. Not only was there lots of it, some of the pieces were huge. It was hard to believe all this build up was since May of last year. The water here in Retama is, to put it mildly, terrible tasting, maybe this is what gives it that taste.

I really flushed the tank good, and then left the plug out and turned the main water supply valve back on to flush it some more. If I thought that would take care of it I was wrong. Once the plug was back in the tank and the tank had filled, I turned the hot water faucets on in the coach only to find the aerators immediately became plugged with the same crud. Sometimes nothing is easy.


I have to say I was proud of what I came up with for dinner. Diced chicken coated with egg and then tossed in cumin and Spanish paprika before being cooked in a skillet. Homemade salsa that was then cooked in the same skillet, both of which were place atop some diced sweet baby spring mix and topped with a dollop of sour cream. It was based on a recipe I found, but even so, sometimes I amaze myself. Good Bob.

My happiness at how good the meal turned out was soon dampened however. Facing a literal, sink full of dishes, I started to draw the water to wash them only to discover I forgotten to turn the hot water tank back on. That was quickly rectified, and an hour later the dishes were done and all was well. Isn't Life Great!

Monday Jan 7 Mission, Texas

Oh What a Day


Out working today when I started hearing a strange noise. For the longest time I couldn't tell for sure what it was. Eventually realizing what it was I looked at the sky and couldn't locate them. When I finally did, there was vee after vee of geese honking and flying east. I never did manage to take a good photo, nor did I figure out why they were flying east. It was an omen for the day.

Once it got to be 9 a.m. I took off for some shopping, stopping first to have the leaking high pressure power steering hose replaced. Only problem was the auto shop I took the Explorer to was backed up. Wanting it installed today, I left the Explorer at the shop, Angels Car Care, and they drove me back to Retama saying they would call when it was done.

That was all fine and dandy, the problem being that I had left the coach key with them along with the key to the Explorer. Not good, not good at all. Bad Bob. Luckily I had a key to the coach house so I was able to get into it. Putting on my thinking cap I remembered we had a key secreted under the coach, the problem was I wasn't sure where it had been secreted.

The first place I checked proved that either my memory was faulty or somewhere along our travels it had fallen out. There was another place to look, and this time there was key. My hopes were soon dashed however, when the key failed to unlock the door. This was quickly turning into one of those nothing's easy kind of days.


It had been a while since I had last given the new plants an extra watering, so soon I was repeatedly filling the watering can and giving each plant a good drink. I was about half way through this exercise when I began to notice something else. It seemed that every time I heard the sound of the water filling the watering can, I was feeling a twinge to get rid of the water in my own system. Another can of water, a little stronger urge to go, another can of water a little stronger urge to go. This was definitely not good since the bathroom was inside the coach and I couldn't get in there. Finally I watered the last plant and coincidentally a certain urge began to subside.


Having not yet received a phone call that the Explorer was ready, I undertook another project, installing the water softener. Following the instructions, I first had to flush it out, something that caused my personal situation to worsen. I could find no way to hold the outlet hose over the sewer opening other that to squat down and hold it myself. The instructions said to let the water run for 10 minutes. Needless to say, before those 10 minutes were up I was running myself, and it is easy to guess why.


Thank goodness for bicycles and the restrooms in the clubhouse, which meant I was relieved of a potentially embarrassing situation in a timely manner. Note to self: If locked out of the coach in the future, do not engage in activities which include the use of running water.


On the way back to the coach I stopped to take a photo of the lot where our friends, John and Judy will be staying when they visit us later this month. I vaguely remember Linda telling me to do this while she was gone, so now it was done. Okay, so maybe it wasn't vaguely remembering, it was more like waking in the middle of the night last night and remembering that I'd better get this done before Linda, who remembers everything she ever asked me to do no matter how insignificant, returns home in a few hours and asks me why I didn't do it. Sometimes I wonder why I miss her so much when she is gone. Just kidding Linda, just kidding.


Yes, it's a photo of the toilet with the seat down for Linda, now that she coming home, but it also more than that. It is a continuation of my water problems, meaning that the flush valve has something in it so that it doesn't completely shut off. Fortunately I noticed before it overflowed, but it is looking like it sure isn't my day.


It may have been after dark, but at least I was finally able to get the water softener hooked up and working. I hope this, which was not on the list of things she wanted me to do, makes up for all the things on her list that I didn't do. Of course since I can't remember what was on her to do list, maybe this was actually on it, or maybe I really lucked out and managed to get everything done. Time will tell.


She's back, and true to who she is, the first thing she did was look at all the mail and boxes I had piled beside her chair. Unfortunately her heel was really hurting her, but with an appointment early tomorrow morning at the podiatrist's, hopefully she will soon have some relief. She had an easy trip, with long connection times and easy flights. She had said her final goodbye to Katherine, and was expecting a phone call within the next 24 hours to let her know Katherine was in a far better place. Life, it is too short not to be Lived to its fullest.

Tuesday Jan 8 Mission, Texas

Life Goes On

The call came from Linda's niece, Susan, in the middle of the night, Katherine was now in a better place. Because of their age difference Linda and Katherine had not been close when they were growing up, but that had all changed about 35 years ago, and they more than made up any lost time. I know there will be an empty spot in Linda's heart, as there will be in mine, but in a way Katherine paved the way for how we now live.

You see, Katherine was someone who, after the death of two husband's, understood that Life is not a dress rehearsal, and wasn't afraid to laugh, love and retire early. She bought an RV and traveled to the places she'd dreamed about and she spent time during the winter down south. When cancer robbed her of the ability to do those things, she wasn't filled with regret about not doing them, she was able to happily recall that she had done those things. She lived Life, what more could a person want, and what better legacy could they leave.


Early morning found us in McAllen at the Podiatrist's office. I was so engrossed in the magazine I was reading that I didn't notice Linda was standing in the waiting room after her appointment. When I did look up, the smile on her face told me that something good had happened in there.


It turned out that while she certainly has a problem with her heel, it is not major in the overall scheme of things. While it is certainly major to Linda, it could be much, much worse. They wrapped her foot to immobilize the heel. They want her to wear shoes with heel support to keep it from moving, and she has a special shoe insert to help do that. Quite a change for someone who only ever wears sandals.


A shopping trip was next. First it was to Lowes to buy the Pex fittings I would need to install a filter in the water line to the toilet. I was going to make sure there wasn't going to be anymore repeats of the sticking flush valve. Another stop was at Sam's Club, the results of which you see above. I call this the view with something for everyone. Three bags of her favorite chocolate chips for Linda, Newcastle Ale for me, Mexican beer for John and I, Sol for John, and some of that delicious Spanish sheep's cheese for Judy. Not that it won't be share and share alike, especially with the chocolate chips and sheep's cheese.


In the afternoon we got an email warning of potentially very severe weather over night. A quick check of the weather websites indicated the weather service had updated their forecast, and the likelihood of extreme winds, hail and possible tornados was fading fast. That didn't mean anything to Linda who wanted to make sure her things were not going to be jeopardized by any freak weather.

That meant everything had to go into the coach house, and everything did. Just to prove it, as she seemed skeptical that I put everything away, I took this photo. The winds may blow, the hail may fall, the tornados may twist, but Linda's things are going to safe and secure. It sure is good to have her back, my life was just so mundane when she was gone. With that and the fact the coach is rocking from the winds, I will leave you with this thought: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.

Wednesday Jan 9 Mission, Texas

Good Weather at Last

This week is an anniversary of sorts for us as we begin our eight year on the road. It is hard to believe it has been that long, yet we eagerly anticipate the future and what adventures it holds. All we can say is that if it is your dream, do what we did, make it happen.


I've missed this view the past week. Linda wasn't as much behind as she might have been because she took the computer we had in Europe along with her to Katherine's. That meant she was up to date on reading all the RV blogs she follows, and that was good. It left time for her to order all the things we need, like water filters, awning straps, two more outdoor tables and because we are ordering so many items from Amazon rather than shopping in the stores, she also joined Amazon Prime.


Yesterday I was ordered to move them inside because of the anticipated bad weather. Other than rain during the night and this morning, there was no bad weather. Today I was ordered to move them back outside. That's what being separated for a while will do. My answer was "Yes dear," with a smile. The best part is Linda is really wondering how long it's going to last. You'll not get the answer from me.


With all the rain we have been having, the ground has become very soft. In the afternoon I took advantage of it, pulling most of the weeds in lawn. I was thinking what a good job I had done when Linda came out. "What have you been doing," were her first words. Happy with what I had done even if I did have the beginnings of a sore back, I replied, "Pulling the weeds. You wouldn't believe how many there were."

She looked around, took a few steps, kneeled down and said, "You missed these." What do you say to something like that, and there were several comments that went through my mind. Knowing what the result would be, I did not voice any of them. After pulling a few weeds she stood up, proud of what she did. Looking around I spotted several weeds she had missed. Me say something? Never. Good Bob.


Warm weather means it's time for a happy hour, and that is what we did. Or I should say Roger and Dianne did, but you can bet we showed up. We were having a great time getting caught up on the events of the past week when we heard it, the patter of rain. Fortunately that was all it was, a brief patter of rain, then it was back to enjoying Life.

Then Roger had to comment that the weather report had said it wasn't going to rain tonight. Big mistake, as within minutes the patter returned, and just kept increasing till it was a semi downpour. Needless to say our happy hour concluded with us scurrying back to the coach as Roger and Dianne carried things into their coach house. As Linda likes to say, "It makes for a good story." Do we ever love this Life or what.

Thursday Jan 10 Mission, Texas

Gathering Supplies


The major event of the day was a lengthy shopping trip. With Linda's heel condition, it means dropping her off at the entrance and picking her up at the exit of the stores. It's called whatever it takes to help her heal faster. No one wants her to be able to walk normally faster than she does.

First it was WalMart, where Linda had her list and I wandered all over the store trying to find what she wanted while she stayed up front. The last item on her list was TurboTax, which wasn't the easiest to find, likely because we never buy any software, so I didn't know where it might be other than somewhere in the entertainment area.

Going back to the front of the store, I didn't see her at first, then she appeared from the end of one of the aisles. I started to tell her what I had found when she held up a TurboTax box for me to see. It turned out the main display of TurboTax was right up at the front of the store. I'll look at the good side and say that walking all those aisles was good exercise.

After a stop at HEB, we ended our trip at Home Depot. It was time to buy what we needed to make the outdoor bar for the patio. By now her heel was a little worse, so she waited in the lumber department while I set off in search of casters, screws and several other items on the list. And I need to state Linda was really impressed that I had actually written down a fairly detailed list of what I needed. I just keep surprising her. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks. Or to put it how she would say it: Bob may be teachable after all.


Things we take for granted assume a greater importance when they are no longer available. Normally Linda would be on the other side of this piece of plywood, making it very easy to load. It still got loaded but with more effort than is usually the case. Once I got it started inside and over the wheel wells, it was just a matter of pushing the end that was sticking out and in it went. She's not the only one who wants her get better.


Just to prove everything really did fit. The rear door did not close all the way but a bungie cord took care of that.


When you don't have your helper to help you, you get another helper to help you. In a way I could say Linda was helping me because the rolling planter stand I was using to move the plywood around was what Linda had insisted she needed under her tomato plants. It may not have exactly been what it was designed for, but it sure did exactly what I needed it to do.


Linda was so proud of the colorful placemats she had brought back from her sister's home that I just had to take a photo. It was day when we had to change what we usually did in some instances, celebrated what we had in others and in the end we had a great day capped by a wonderful happy hour over at Roger and Dianne's. It's like Oscar Wilde said: To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

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