Thursday, April 23, 2015

Simply Wednesday's Weekly Update

What a whirled wind week - well kinda sorta! At the least the last few hours!  So what's been happening is that I'm blowing through my EMergency Fund like crazy (sigh). My eyes have been bothering me incredibly for a while.  I'd just been putting off dealing with it because I bought a pair of glasses in Mexico over a year ago and just couldn't see (ha) spending more money.  Though its just not been working. The first few minutes with those new glasses had me dizzy and nauseous and going back to the shop to have them adjusted.  I was told that I would get used to them.  I never really did.  I hated going for any walks because I was afraid of tripping over something silly because I just couldn't see much of anything except at a distance.  Nice clear mountain tops or birds but don't look down! 

After having Vantucket's Check Engine light checked - it had been coming on once in a while ever since I've had her.  After learning that both Mechanic Mike's Chevy with a Check Engine light going on and off needed the engine rebuilt (hope that is the right term) AND Ed Hevley's McVansion's Check Engine light going on and off resulted in him needing a NEW Engine (yikes), I thought it only wise to do some checking and possibly preventative maintenance.  I just don't want to test the Van gods with wearing out some silly thing that could have me rebuilding or needing a new engine.  We found a vacumn hose that needed replacing to the minor repair bill of $45! Whoohoo! According to the mechanics my engine is in great shape. The Check Engine light no longer comes on when driving in town. 

So my next priority was finding out once and for all (if that is possible) what is going on with my eyes. I was hoping to get a little help from Medicare or Medicaid (AZ-AHSCCS) because being on low-income SSDI (Social Security Disability) anything medical I try to get help with if that is possible.  Well, Nope it's not possible to get any help and only the Lion's Club from the community will help with getting simple glasses using donated frames.  I stopped into the Payson, AZ Walmart's eye glass shop to ask questions.  Mostly like how much will an eye exam cost, can I afford a new pair of glasses if that is what I need - stuff like that.  While talking with the employees, one of them asked to take my glasses and just touch them up for me, she cleaned and adjusted the frames. I got my answers and clean glasses and left, wondering when I should try to deal with this - now using my EM Fund or later with monthly money.  I got to the van and drove off - but feeling my eyes were achey and wierd.  I wasn't even out of the parking lot when I decided to clean the glasses again thinking that I had gotten them dirty.  And to my amazement - there was a lense missing.  I went back and looked all over to find it. Nope - so I left. I wondered if I could just go on with life without the glasses - well that only lasted a couple days! So I scheduled an appointment.  I was thinking that the exam would cost $68.  Nope - with my challenges and all I had to have both a glasses and contact exam to the tune of $168! Yup - EM Fund! I walked out with blurry vision from the exam and a set of trial contacts along with a starter contact set up and an appointment for a week from then.  I was instructed to try wearing a distance mono lense in my left eye, but to wait until the next day to start. Wow the next day after putting the contact in - I could see what I needed to to function! Omgosh Ozzie and I went for a nice long walk!  The year that I became disabled my eye doctor in Augusta, Maine had prescribed a similar set up.  My eyes were not much different and for my age they are not very bad although I am, at 56 yrs old, begining to need a little assistance reading close up or threading a needle.  Who am I to complain though when I only need a +1 reading glasses?

Fast forward though a week of camping at the 260/260 campsite and a new one not much further out of town.  The drive back to town and - darn - the light came back on but I turned the van off when I stopped and the light went off. Being the age of Van that I have, the light needs to be ON for the computer codes to be read.  So I had to stop in when the light came on again.  It's been two weeks, and I was coming in town for Ozzie's pre-dog training class and the light was on so we stopped in at Payson Tire &  Automotive and Southwest Transmission - my new favorite shop!  Danny put the OBD1 reader right on and read the codes and Brian and I worked up a plan of action.

That was yesterday - I had a 9 am appointment with Dr.Savery, my eye doctor at Walmart. To Dr. Savery's surprise, my eyes are doing great, I feel like I can have a life again because I can see both distance and relatively close up.  I use a light reading glass for fine print, cellphone 'work' and reading a book.  He gave me a weeks worth of daily contacts to try out and we decided that having a pair of distance only glasses and a pair of the correct strength reading glasses was a good plan of action.  So I ordered a three month supply of contacts, a pair of relatively inexpensive single vision glasses and a pair of +1 strength reading glasses - only $200. Bringing my eye - 'emergency' to a grand total of $368! Thank god for my EM Fund!

Then I had to get right over to the Auto Shop. We had scheduled the replacement of my EGR valve for this morning. It should be about a $200 job.  During the past two weeks I had made a run up past Pine to deliver a 12V Refridgerator to its new owner. While driving back down the twisty mountain roads, I noticed that everytime I used the brakes the van pulled left pretty badly.  So I had asked Brian to check and see what was happening with that as well.  He did a visual check and couldn't see any problems.  So he did a test drive --- yup, I wasn't nuts - it pulls and he was hoping it was just a brake pad or something, though he said it was possible that it was a caliper.  This morning the guys put it up and sure enough it was (sigh) and some feelings of relief that it will be okay --- $265ish more .... my EM Fund is gonna be kinda slim after today.

And we will be okay!
Because I am spending it wisely. I am assuring our safety.  And with the tight budget plan that I am on, I have been doing very well at only spending $50 a month on groceries and using food pantries to suppliment that. I have been stretching one tank of gas sometimes into two months. I am making great progress on paying off the Credit Union loan and the two credit cards that I had been using over the last three years. I also recently chose to spend my entertainment money for the past couple months on another passion of mine - traveling light and often (yes that is a blog teaser!)

   And Ozzie

Friday, April 17, 2015

Simply Answers to Roberta

Hello,  I came upon your blog by  linking here and there after watching the documentary about mobile living.  I often dream about buying a small RV or conversion van that I can handle myself on the road.  Your lifestyle  is a dream for me.  There is just one thing, well two, that is holding me back.  Since there is no water hookups personal hygiene is a concern.  I did mention a second concern - make the decision to ACTUALLY commit to doing it.  Any insight would be most welcomed.

Do take time to learn what you love! Then keep in mind that you have the ability and time to just try out anything that you want to. Not much will change about daily life. You will sleep and wake up. The sun will shine and it will rain...that kind of stuff won't change. You can choose to live the way you are now and never change if you want to.  Orrrr you can just jump in and make a change. Most adventures are like that. Jump in.  Do your best. Work out what you can. And have faith that if you don't like this choice you can just choose something different. Oh and do pay attention to your concern about choosing a rig that you can handle. My choice is not popular though I have been learning that I would be miserable driving anything bigger and especially taller! At times I wish I could go smaller though realistically this is a great size, great mpg, and the ground clearance allows me to go places other vans can't go! Do what is right for you. ...

I carry between five and seven gallons of water in the van.

Personal Hygiene

There are times when I visit a truck stop or Rec Center and pay for a shower. The town I'm hanging around right now has a nice $2 shower at a Casino with $2 daily breakfasts - not too shabby!

I took a bunch of pictures this morning as I was preparing for my day. The back corner of my van is sort of my bathroom.  It is stocked with toilet paper, towels and clothes, lotion and stuff. I use my porta potty as a stool, covered with a towel when bathing. Of course closing the shades and curtains. I place the rug that normally covers my porta potty on the floor. I heat water on my stove and set up the little table with a bowl and wash cloth. I can use the striped water jug if I want to.  When my bowl of water is dirty I simply lift the porta potty lid and dump the water in. I do the same with my toothbrush water. When I'm completely finished I take a moment or two to straighten up and to wipe down the porta potty.  Everything is nice and clean for the next use.

Simply Friday's Food

I'm posting a little late in the day, better late than never!

Last week I had the opportunity to play with some Amaranth seed.

I didn't care  for it cooked like a cereal. I think that it is better to pop it.  Popping it is best done in small batches. It tastes pretty good just simply popped and I will likely use it for cereal or as in a tabouli style salad.  Anyway I decided to try making both granola and bars with it. Both were successful though rather sweet with honey.

It was pretty simple and fun.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Simply Friday's Fabulous Food

Today has been Passover day. When I was younger, my family as members of the Worldwide Church of God, kept the Night to be Much Observed more commonly known as the Seder dinner. I continue this tradition.
Tonight I was joined by my neighbouring campers Ed and Carl. We shared a simple meal of grilled lamb chops, whole wheat matzos and fresh butter, grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, red wine, grape juice, and coconut macaroons. It was yummy and Ozzie got the bones and meat scraps - he's resting his full tummy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Simply What's been Happening!

Okay, so I am beginning to get phone calls and emails from my friends and readers wondering what has happened to blog has been too quiet for many people since my last posting about Passover.  BTW (by the way) I do appreciate hearing from the people in my life and those that follow my blog.  I am often 'separated from my phone' as I choose to have a life filled  with experiences that will become stories to both write and talk about.

So what HAS been happening?  This is gonna be a long post!

I came up to the Payson area around the end of March.  I was wanting to watch the cactus bloom and visit this area again.  I, also, wanted to visit and spend some time hanging out with my friend Steve-Nemo (of  fame). Steve has been wanting to talk about long distance hiking which has been on his mind and is the subject of one of his blogs http:\\ 

During early spring of 2011, I spent three months hiking on the Appalacian Trail.  I was asked to join in his conversation on the subject. 

Just after the NTBMO-Passover dinner that I blogged about, Steve brought his newish kewl tent set up and his dog Tori out to the 260/260 Campsite. I had been in that area camping with my friends Evelyn & her Giant Standard Poodle Charlie as well as Ed Helvley (of fame) and his friend Carl who is also a full-time RubberTramp/Vandweller! We enjoyed a few days of just talk talk talking and visiting. During this time I was, also helping Carl to re-organize and re-decorate his Tiny Home which was formerly a handicap bus.

Having already made the decision to stay in the Payson area so Ozzie and I could get dog training, I was starting to wonder if I had made the right decision because I was getting antsy to go somewhere!  Ozzie's classes have not started yet. In fact, I just yesterday got the official start date which isn't until April 29th and then the 10 week count down starts - really? Wow that is challenging to think about when I like driving and visiting and seeing and doing new things.... well, Ozzie has the permission of the dog trainer Lori Chandler to attend her current classes, we kind of hang out on the outskirts and practice the things Lori has taught us already.  We are especially working on ME-Lesa being a better leader (this applies to other areas of my life as well).  When Ozzie feels safe he has less tendency to try to say hello to some other dogs by going straight into attack mode, which must have been a habit he formed in his former shelter life.  We are continuing this schedule until his classes begin.  After last Wednesday's experience, when I froze in a PTSD kind of way when someone yelled at me - I realized that I need this class just as much if not more than little Ozzie does.  WE ARE STAYING for the class!  I will figure out a way to be happy and explore close enough to attend these classes. I will have more to  say about both animals and humans healing from trauma as I blog about our upcoming class experiences. I have a hunch it will be a big part of this learning experience.

Last Wednesday I, also, needed to change campsites as I had already been in one location for 14 days. After a morning spent hoping to get to dog class and not making it, and spending time with some great mechanic's reading OBD1 engine codes. I needed a different kind of break.  I may have been needing it for a while.  My van seemed to be a disorganized mess, though not really, just it had become cluttered with dirty laundry, shoes, dog blankies,lawn chairs and rugs and collections to take to a donation center and boxes of food from a visit to the food pantry (which is part of my budgeting plan for this year).... Steve had extended a friendly invite to visit his family cabin in the Christopher Creek area a short drive away.  I accepted the offer, especially since the weather was threatening to be in the 30's at night - I no longer do cold without a plan for being nice and toasty warm! I was tired, with a cluttered van and I just didn't want to deal with it for a couple days. 

I need to wrap this up - there will be more to tell ----- while visiting Steve's family cabin, I had the comfort and opportunity to go through some electronics and computer stuff.  I have made incredible progress re-organizing what I felt to be a mess that was possibly 4 years old.  I'm not completely finished....but wow to have a solid couple days of work finally finished and stuff like my old phone that came back to the States from Panama with me gone! And my Tablet cleaned off, reset to factory setting and ready for sale, with a CraigsList ad just feels wonderful.  Tieing up loose ends is so liberating --- yeah freedom!
And I played with food too --- no big surprise aye!

And I am pleased to becoming aware of the things that make my eyes light up and give me energy ---- oooh that I am Passionate about.  (More later...yes thats a blog teaser!)

What is a RubberTramp?  Tramps love to travel and do not work.RubberTramps travel and live in some form of wheeled vehicle.  LeatherTramps tend to wear shoes hence the leather reference, they live on foot.  I think that Andy Graham of has one of the definitions of Tramps, Hobos, and stuff....   Vandweller is a term that has come up in the past few years as people find ways to create mini RV's and Tiny Homes out of Vans (New, Old, Chevy's, Fords, Tall, Mini, Sprinters etc). Personally I don't like the Vandweller term, but I haven't found any other term I like so--- saying I'm a full-time RVer in a Van or Vandweller...well it's easier to say one word isn't it.

Where is the 260/260 Campsite: actually this campsite is at the 260 Mile Marker on 260E just East of Payson and Star Valley, AZ.  There is an Elk Crossing with a flashing light just after the turn off road.  The road that you turn on is unmarked although it is paved for a few feet and has a stop sign.  When you turn onto this road you will see a very wide cattle guard and the road becomes dirt after that.  Stay to the right, drive slowly and follow the bumpy dirt road past a chain link fenced burn area on the right and another fenced area on the left.  Watch for turn offs to camping areas after that.  We camped closest to the watering hole for the cows.  If you choose to camp in that same area, be aware there will be big cows - nice or not.  There will be some cow patties.  There are wild animals, especially a large pack of coyotes - watch your dogs please.  There are some beautiful trees and possible shade.  Please be very careful to follow the area fire ban rules. Clean up behind yourself AND if you can clean a little extra so we have a better campsite in the future. And be aware that a mostly stagnant watering hole will breed mosquitos so you might not be sitting out chatting during the early evening.

As I re-connected with my NYC and Raw Food email listings, because I finally got back into my old Yahoo account,  I visited a friend/aquaintence's website....(I don't know if she would remember me or not). Here is a silly fun link from her site My Zodic Map....  Yes this is sooooo true about me!