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Thursday, July 24, 2014

we're watching....and we're waiting



This is how I've been feeling in our lives lately. Summer is here, and everyone else is off having great summer adventures, and we're home almost every weekend getting things ready for the house sale and the RV. And what's delaying everything? The RV.  I have been loathe to talk about this part, because it's been quite an upset to our plans, but here it is, and it's being handled, so what can I do. Haha Universe, you got us GOOD.

As I might have mentioned, my husband was redoing the interior, as in painting the walls, cabinets, and redoing the floors. There was some discussion as to whether we ought to take up the tile as well - I really wanted to redo ALL the floors, and he didn't want to have to do all of that taking up of the tile, because it's a PITA. But one day he said, "Oh, why not," and took up all the tile.

That was the beginning of the...adventure. He discovered that part of the floor was soggy and moldy. I'm allergic to mold. It is NOT a good thing for me to be around it. I get very very sick in moldy environments. Mold isn't good for anyone to be exposed to, but some of us are even more sensitive, and it can take us out in ways that take crazy amounts of time to recover from.

Oddly, I hadn't had any reactions to that rig, which is why we bought it - I have been the canary in the coalmine for all the RVs we looked at. I reacted to most of them, which is why we passed on SO MANY before buying this one. But this one was okay for me. The only thing we can figure about it is that because all of the damage was under the tile, that the tile was sealing it in.

So of course we freaked right out. There had already been delays in getting the flooring and how long it was taking to paint the cabinets, etc...now we had another one.  a BIG one, because did this mean we bought a rig we cannot even be in and use? Would we have to scrap it?

Our realtor gave us the name of a great mold remediation specialist she works with, so we called him and a couple of others and got an assessment. Yes, mold. Yes, could be remediated. No, not cheap. But yes, doable. The RV can be livable. But the mold was also under the slide, which the mold guys couldn't get to. We'd need an RV pro to jack up or take out the slide so they can do the work. Husband called all over town to different Rv places asking could they jack up the slide so the mold guys can do the wok? Would it be okay for the mold guys to be working on their property while the slide is up? Are you available now?

After many calls we found a place that said yes to all, and we thought yay, we're in business. It was worked out that the RV guys would do the work of taking out the rotted and wet subfloor an then the mold guys would come in and finish the job, then make sure there was no mold left (they have a machine that reads the levels and can tell us). The RV guys gave us a discount if w were willing to let them work on it between other jobs. We were.

Two weeks later, they finally started the job in earnest, and then discovered that the wet/leak had gone through the first subfloor to the second one. Apparently our RV is an anomaly in many ways, because usually there is one subfloor, then a layer of thick insulation, then the frame, the metal frame. Ours instead has one subfloor, then a thin layer of paper-like insulation, then a second subfloor that is also maybe the ceiling above the "basement" storage (the outdoor storage compartments below). So both layers need replacing and remediating. And all of a sudden the RV guys are hesitant to do anything.

Obviously this didn't thrill us, especially since after sitting there two weeks, they are just now hemming and hawing that they're not sure and we don't know what to do. Husband came up with plan B, which was just have the Rv guys jack up the slide so the mold guys can do what they need to do under it, then put it back and bring it home, and have the mold guys finish the work here on our property. Because they will hopefully actually do the work (they said they could originally, just their price was a little more and we're trying to save our $ here). But whatever, now we just want the work done already and no longer care so much about the $. Okay, we DO, but priorities. We have a house to sell here.

So today is the day that the mold guys are going out there and assessing the situation, hopefully doing what needs doing on the slide, then we figure out where to go from there. Meanwhile we had to put our estate sale on hold until we know when this work will be done, and that also means having our house on the market waits, too.

So we're watching....and we're waiting....

Sunday, July 20, 2014

best ice cream EVER


Holy cheebus. We interrupt this abandonment of blogging to tell you that this is seriously the greatest ice cream you will ever taste. Are you ready for this? It's Bulletproof Coffee Ice Cream. It IS. I found it here at Grassfed Geek, a nerd after my own heart. More extensive instructions for the base are found here at Bulletproof Exec. I omitted the MCT oil because I didn't have any, and honestly, it didn't need it, IMO. This stuff is insanely good. It's....like eating rainbows filled with happiness. It's bliss.

So here's what I did, which is pretty much what Grassfed Geek says to do combined with the bulletproof exec instructions. Go check out their websites, because if this is any indication, the recipes you will find there are golden.

Ingredients:

2-3 Tbs coffee beans, ground (we had some Trader Joe's decaf that I use for ice cream because I can't handle full caffeine)
7 Tbs grassfed butter (I used Kerrygold)
7 Tbs coconut oil (I have tropical traditions, because it's sans flavor)
6 pastured egg yolks plus two whole eggs (from our chickens - I used this quantity because I had the yolks leftover from making a double batch of chocolate macaroons for my husband)
2 tsp vanilla
10 drops apple cider vinegar
5.5 Tbs xylitol (I use Xyla from birch)
1/2 tray of ice

On the lowest heat, melt butter and coconut oil and add ground coffee. Heat for 5 minutes.

In the meanwhile, add all other ingredients but ice to the Vitamix. Once the coffee mix is steeped, pour into the blender through a cheesecloth or a fine strainer, to get out all the good fat without having actual coffee beans in your ice cream. Blend for about 1-2 minutes on high. Add the half tray of ice cubes and blend again, then pour into ice cream maker and let it go.

In our ice cream maker I noticed this took half the time of coconut milk ice cream, probably because the fat solidified much more quickly, and it was much easier to scoop out off of the sides - also because of the fat, I'm sure.

I cannot imagine ever making any other ice cream again, this stuff is way too amazing and delicious and the creamiest dreamiest yumminess EVER. I will just take molybdenum to handle the sulfur of the egg yolks, since I usually eat low sulfur.

Also you can NOT eat as much of this as you would regular ice cream (for me that means coconut milk ice cream). It is FILLING, and fast, and RICH. It doesn't take much at all to satiate a body. Too much will leave your tummy saying "why?". My husband said it's like eating frozen frosting, and I'd say yeah, that about sums it up. Which is why it's SO delicious!

You're welcome.

UPDATE: I've tried this a few times now, and have some new variations. for a less rich (and less tummyache if you eat more of it) ice cream, I'd go with the original recipe of three egg yolks and three eggs, and up to a whole tray of ice.

I also made it in chocolate flavour - 2 heaping Tbs cocoa powder instead of the coffee beans, but still melted in pan together for 5 minutes to steep. No straining necessary. I used 3/4 tray of ice, and also added a pinch of salt. It was delicious!

I swear this ice cream is like crack. It is the best stuff ever! (I know I tend to say that when I like a recipe, but it's true each time I say it. It really is!)

Friday, April 25, 2014

registering the RV - and driving it for the first time

Here was a fun day - we went to register the RV the other day only to be told that we needed to have the actual RV present so they could compare the VIN numbers. Oh!

When we bought the Rv, the previous owners delivered it to our house - we had actually never driven it before today. I guess it was time to learn!

We had to get it out of this spot and through the gate into our driveway. You can't see it from our photo, but the gate is parallel to the way the RV is facing, about 50' in front of it. Which meant we needed to turn the RV.

* I also need to say lest we look all kinds of wealthy, this is the first time in ever we've owned three vehicles. Ever. But the red one is on its way out because it's actually done - it has a blown head gasket, which is why we even bought the second little white car. The great thing about driving a car that is 18 years old is that even the cheapest 2013 car will be a huge upgrade in comparison. And we DID buy the cheapest 2013 car to replace it. We still don't have power windows or locks. But we DO have intermittent wipers! Which make us ever so happy. And way better traction in the rain. And a larger trunk. And the dealer's warranty, which is a first for us. So: upgrade!

And the RV isn't so much a vehicle as a home on wheels. So really, we still only have one car, despite what your eyes might be telling you from seeing this photo. I don't know why I felt the need to explain all that, but there it is.


We got this far and had to stop and reassess our plan. In this photo, the gate would be to the right of the RV, still parallel, and about 50' away, give or take.


We got it angled only slightly more away from the gate. We're still learning!


This took an inordinate amount of time - like more than 20 minutes, but it's finally pointed toward the gate! After this we still had to back up and angle a few more times to get it lined up exactly with the gate opening, so we wouldn't crush our irises outside the gate.


Success! We made it to the DMV parking lot! And by we, I mean my husband drove it while my son and I followed in the car - since the sofas are both ripped out, there aren't actually three seats in the RV right now, and he wanted us to follow in case something happened. Luckily the DMV is only 10 minutes drive from our house.

We're legal, and it's officially in our name once the title comes in the mail. One step closer to final!

Still to come: painting the walls and laying the wood floors. We still need to procure both this weekend.

Monday, April 21, 2014

it's coming apart - and together!

It's all becoming official. We have insurance for the RV. I am licensing it this week. The inside is torn apart - valances and blinds taken out, carpets taken out, smaller sofa taken out - so the floors can be done and painting can happen. Right now it looks like this inside:


I am trying hard to convince my husband that he wants to tear out that tile and replace the whole floor with hardwood, but he seems unconvinced. I told him we can even pay someone else to do it...there are some journeymen on Craigslist needing work that could probably do it easily. I just think that tile looks so ugly and boring, and hardwood everywhere would be so shiny.

It took a great deal of work getting that carpet up - two full days of the weekend! What a pain for my poor husband, doing it all himself. When an RV is built, it's from the ground up....so first they build the shell, then put in the flooring and wallpaper, then add cabinets, dashboard, etc. So the carpeting is all underneath everything, and in some places, impossible to get out. This is part of why I think he ought to pay someone - so much to do to get the house and the RV ready, and all at the same time - let's find relief where we can get it!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

At Home Wherever I Go

I was watching some RV videos on one of my favourite RV YouTube channels, Gone With the Wynns, and I came across this:



This guy is living the life. I had to share.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Rig Before


The bedroom, before we bought the rig. They took the mattress, so we need to get a new one - so all we need to do is find an affordable organic comfortable mattress that fits an RV queen. Easy peasy, right???

That sliding mirrored closet is fairly deep, and will be made into cubbies/private bunk space for K.


I like the little drawers by the bed. Now, do we take them out to make room for a king, or leave them and settle for the queen?


At the foot of the bed on the left. Double cabinets with a TV cubby on top. there is currently a TV inside the cubby, but not for long. We don't need a TV or any electronics where we sleep, except my CPAP and white noise machine. 


The drawers nest to the big closet. On the right of the foot of the bed. 


Window above the head of the bed. I will make this pretty. And also, block out the light.


Laundry cabinet, with washer/dryer combo inside. 


Bathroom kind of opens into the bedroom. I rather like this, actually, it gives it a more open feel. There is a mirrored door that closes - an actual door - between the bathroom and the front of the rig. 


The shower.


A view of the whole kitchen. We'll be taking out that microwave and adding a shelf for our toaster oven instead, along with a vent. A dishwasher below he sink? We'll see. Don't plan on needing the stove, so we might sell it. 


Next, we begin renovations....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

this is really happening

We did it. A few weeks ago after scouring Craigslist for months, I spotted this one. we were almost too busy to go look at it, but then we did, and as soon as I walked in, I said, "Yep. Okay, this is it."

I hardly looked at it. I saw the floorplan - it had all the things we were looking for, save for one, which wasn't a dealbreaker item. Lots of closets in the bedroom, lots of storage and counter space in the kitchen, two sofas, LOTS of basement storage. Door in the front, which allows for two sofas (which was important to my husband). It also has real cherry wood cabinets, which almost no RVs in our price range have - real wood? Most of them are particle board. Real wood!

We got an amazing deal on it because the couple who were selling it just wanted to pass it along so they could go on to the next phase of their lives, in Alaska. The tires are very recent, they had the generator serviced per our request, and it has two slides and plenty of space.


Every time I walk out my door and see it in the side driveway of our house, I think, "Is that real? Did we really buy it?" I'm kind of amazed and maybe still in shock. Still, we're getting right on redoing the interior, decorating, making it our own. And there will be photos! And a name! We have to come up with a name for her. I thought "Destination Unknown" but that's more of a blog name than a rig name, right? That's the name of our trip!

First we paint, then redo the floors, then compost toilet and solar added to make her road-ready. And a name! She must to have a name!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

a whole new world

I'm trying to process my world now.

Here we are at a four day unschooling convention - a nice small one with only about 30 or so families in attendance.

Because my health has been challenged with FIbromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, chemical sensitivity, I have had to learn to be extremely careful in the world, and my world of late has been limited to mostly my own home and the occasional trip to the grocery store or to see a movie, and really not much else.

I thought that this would be a better convention for us, because it's fewer families, and I would be able to manage the smaller amount of people (compared to the other one we've attended that has over 700 families and is completely overwhelming). The hotel is smaller, there aren't many people, and my son's BFF, who lives outside of Seattle, is here with his brother and mother.

I overestimated what I can handle.

Once upon a time, the word 'convention' meant me and a big group of friends in a hotel with thousands of people, walking the hotel ALL weekend long. The room was for 1) storing our stuff, 2) refilling our drinks, 3)changing our clothes and 4)sleeping (well, napping really). We were rarely in it, and if we were, there would be a dozen other people with us. I almost never stopped. Three days straight. We barely packed anything, sometimes even forgetting to bring a change of clothes. We brought alcohol in spades. If we ate, it was out at whatever fast food place was nearby. (I'm talking about science fiction conventions, these were our home away from home, and we looked forward to every single one that happened, several times a year).

Fast forward to now: we packed half our kitchen because eating out anywhere can be fraught with foods I'm unable to eat without reactions. Brought all of our own food, and the crockpot, an induction burner, a pan, dishes, our own beverages (NO alcohol), all my supplements. We have all the clothing we could need, toys to play with, our computers, my CPAP machine, my fan for white noise, my sleep mask, the toaster oven, and our own bottled water. Oh, and all our own bedding, including sheets for the bed, because we are sensitive to the bleach and petrochemicals in detergents. Packing the car, which my husband had to do alone because of my not having any spoons to help him, was like a live action game of tetris, because we have this small sedan and still had to fit three people in it after filling it with all of our stuff.

Once we got here, all we really wanted to do was recover. The first room they gave us had apparently just been cleaned with some kind of toxic chemicals, because within ten minutes of being inside it, I was lightheaded and felt sick. A friend across the hall let us smell her room, and it smelled much better, so my husband went to the front desk and asked if we could switch rooms. Luckily they were really understanding about it, and switched us to one that "hadn't been sanitized" that day, and she said they have other guests like that, who call ahead and ask for no chemicals. she even offered to go get us linens that were different, but we said no worries, we brought our own. So we opened the window, which looks out to the mini-golf course, and we were good.



We saw kiddo's BFF for awhile, then bed, and yesterday was the first full day. We went back and forth between their room and ours. Their room is upstairs and in another building - above the pool and down the hallway from it. You can smell the chlorine in their room. After the first visit of only a half hour or so, I couldn't be in their room anymore for the chlorine smell. Again: dizzy, nauseated, room spinning.

We went to see The LEGO Movie at 2, and when we got back I was completely spent for the rest of the night. Just - ZERO spoons left. I spent the time in the room while the boys visited friends. I was just WIPED.

So today I'm here in bed again, in the middle of the day, watching hotel cable and typing this. Noticing that although I can hear the people playing mini-golf outside, and the kids playing in the hall, and there is a whole convention of people out there, and I WANT to go meet with them and interact and play....I just need this downtime right now. I need the recuperation time between events, because there is just NOT the energy in my body to handle being ON all day, even for one whole day, let alone two in a row.

So instead of reaching out and making new friends, I am choosing self-care, and just trying to make peace with my needing this time in the room to rest until we maybe go to the beach today (we're on the coast right at the ocean) or whatever we end up doing that does require my moving and being up and around. And even here, as far away as our room is from the pool (it's actually in the other building, so down the hall, out one door, across a 5 foot walkway, in another door, and there's the pool), I can smell the chlorine - it was burning my eyes last night until I realized Husband had closed the window while we were out, and I opened it. In addition, I was having pretty intense brain fog - within a half hour of opening the window, I could think again. It was noticeably different. amazing, right?

So I'm the canary in the coalmine. And until I figure out the way to healing (believe me, as I sit here I am working on THAT), this is my life now. There are some things that sadden me about it, like the part where I don't get to connect with the people I want to connect with, or do things like stay up talking to people until the wee hours. It's lonely. An there are other things I am glad about, like that I WAS able to make it here, so my son could be with his friend, and my husband is here to accompany him and is a great support.

And hopefully later today, we WILL be able to go to the beach.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

what we're looking for in an RV - geek out edition


We have our RV search narrowed down - WAY down. It took a couple of months of scouring every RV classified site I could find: eBay, RVT, Craigslist, and even some facebook groups.

Ebay is wonderful because many of the sellers there seem to have it down as far as representing a rig with photos. So you can really get a sense of what a rig looks like inside without seeing it in person.

RVT, like Ebay, is thorough because it gives listings from across the US, and is only RVs.

Craigslist is better for local listings and private buyers, IMO, but has also been a great resource for investigating rigs. Just with many less photos.

Sadly, dealers seem to be the best at taking ALL the photos, because they've done it so many times and know what people want to know. Yes, I really DO want to see that floor, and what all the cabinets look like INSIDE, and what the storage bins look like INSIDE. You just really CANNOT take too many photos of an RV - there are so many different things that photos can show, sometimes even better than looking at it in person, believe it or not. Because in person you get swept up with being in the rig, and the seller, be it private or dealer, will be talking to you and distracting you from really taking a close look. With photos, you can look all you want, and there's no one taking your attention from what you're seeing.

Of course, you can't SMELL through the photos, or REALLY feel what it's like to walk through that pass way, or shower in that shower, so seeing rigs in person is definitely valuable, too. Of course! And if you can manage to get a test drive, all the better, because driving comfort is SO important!

With my limited spoons, and actually seeing RVs in person being really really difficult on me (salesmen LOVE cologne! And used RVs tend to have lots of interesting smells - spending a day in them takes me out for a week), I have LOVED the internet options that are out there. We only go to look if there is a rig we're REALLY interested in - and of course when there is an RV show.

All of this looking around has given me an idea abut what rigs have floor plans we like, and has even let me know what we prefer. Going to an RV show and looking at different rigs also helped us feel a sense of the space and design to give us an idea of the type we want.

For us and our needs and comfort, it's a Fleetwood Bounder. I've been drawn to them from the beginning, not really knowing why. But closer inspection has given me allthereasons: the layout and design, the storage both inside and out (there's so much!). As diesel pushers go, this is the one that for our price range, seems to come closest to actually having full time living in mind when they were designed.

We already decided we want a diesel pusher. They can be more expensive to maintain, but they are also more durable and long-lasting and in our opinions, more suited to full-time living. The engine is in the back which makes the drive quieter (we can talk to each other without walkie-talkies!), and also adds to the ability to get up those hills. Diesel engines can last a million miles, so mileage on a used diesel, at least engine-wise, isn't very relevant. And they tend to have a much better resale value.

The features we find most important are:

~ door in front of rig, for maximum living room space
~ 2 slides, for more room when parked
~ counter space! what we love about the bounder is see up there? pull-out extra counter space! since we don't really eat out the kitchen is of utmost importance. I gotta have space for my Vitamix!
~ big fridge - this is something we could replace ourselves relatively easy, but man it would be great to have it already done for us
~ an oven. We don't do microwaves, and I don't know enough about convection microwaves to feel that they're safe (for us) to use. So I gotta have an oven.
~ washer/dryer or at least the space and hookups for them. Again, with my chemical sensitivity, is important to have our own.
~ ability to convert bed to King (almost no rigs in our price range come with a king bed, but most of them come with a queen and the modifiable space to upgrade it ourselves
~ big ol' closets in the BR (which can be converted to a bunk/play area for K)
~ enough extra closets in BR that converting the big closet won't lose all of our space for clothing
~ a good location for the flat-screen TV in the living room. In an RV where space is at a premium, it's difficult to find a good location for the TV. And given that ours is usually also hooked up to the gaming systems and HDD drive, we need space for those, too. Sometimes this might require some modification.
~ relative ease of converting carpet to wood floors. Bonus if this has already happened - it's rare, and something we expect to be doing ourselves. And by 'ourselves', I mean my husband will do it.

Then there are mechanical things as well, but inside, the space we will be living in, that is important space!
Mechanically we ask things like:

~ Have the recalls been fixed (there are a few recalls for this model and year - minor things that the dealerships fix for free, like fridges)
~ What type of generator and how many hours are on it (this should be included in the description but often isn't)
~ How old are the tires (they need replacing about every 10 years even with low miles because the UV rays can break them down - this might be changed if they were stored inside, but I don't really know)

We got a lot of great information about buying a used motorhome from the book "Buying a Used Motorhome" by Bill Myers 



Right now the Kindle edition is only $2.99! And it was so worth it! It gave us so much to think about that wouldn't have occurred to us had we just been figuring it out on our own. 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

well, I was going to write about RVing, but...


Sometimes it's difficult to remember how to keep a blog. Life gets in the way - health, trying to stay afloat, just staying functional. I struggle with chronic illness. One of the myriad of reasons we are wanting to get on the road is to find an environment more conducive to my health, as I am incredibly sensitive to mold and wet climates (NOW you tell me!). The past two years have made me very aware of just how much my environment IS affecting my health.

Have you heard of The Spoon Theory? I hadn't, until a few months ago. But it is a brilliant theory, in my opinion, because it really does explain what life is like when one has a chronic illness. When my own husband read it it helped him understand what I am going through in a much more profound way. I highly recommend clicking on and reading (and even bookmarking) that article, it is well worth it. Go ahead, I'll wait.

You see? That's it. That's my life now. Most days, even though I am probably sitting here on the sofa doing nothing, because that's what I have the spoons for, I cannot even brain enough to write blog entries, and instead I either read Facebook because it's brainless, or watch silly sitcoms, because they keep my mood up. If I do have the ability to brain anything, or any energy, I'm not at my computer - I am doing stuff with my son or getting some laundry done or catching up on chores that pile up while I'm down. (My husband, though valiant and tireless during this period, is only human, and cannot manage allthethings while also working outside our home full time).

And then there are days like today: my brain works, but my body feels exhausted - like I've been hard at work or am completely sleep deprived, despite having had a full night's rest. I'm just tired. But deeply, bodily tired, like I just can't move, and even walking to the bathroom is a LOT to ask of my body.

The official diagnoses are: Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroid, Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, PTSD, Anxiety, Sleep Apnea, Bursitis and Depression. It seems that when one has one major diagnoses, they become like those famous potato chips - no one can have just one. I also have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which makes going out in the world akin to trying to navigate a minefield: all of the scents, chemicals, lighting, sounds, emissions....it overwhelms my already overloaded body and it can take me down for days. I have to be so careful about where I go or who I am around (perfumes and colognes), or what I put into my body. I can't go out at night because the lights from the cars against the darkness will send me into migraines. Which is almost irrelevant, because what little energy I have tends to crash around 3pm, leaving me unable to do anything but rest for the rest of the day anyway. What social life? 

I use a combination of allopathic (that's traditional western medicine), biomed, naturopathic and chinese medicines to foster my healing. I see a therapist, and a GP, a naturopath, a rheumatologist, sleep experts, a chiropractor, and massage therapists just to keep at this level of function. Because it was even worse before. My brain fog was so bad and my energy was so low that even doing something as seemingly simple as typing a blog post seemed herculean. Everything in the world was overwhelming. My anxiety was so bad that even making a phone call seemed impossible. My husband was making most of my appointments and then even taking off work to take me to them so I would be able to go.

I take an amount of supplements I cannot even talk about because it is so far beyond anything I ever thought I would see myself do. Food is medicine if one's body is functioning properly and can absorb the nutrients in the food...but when one's biochemistry is all out of whack and one's health is a multi-layered onion...well, it seems food can be thought of as Step 1. I am very VERY careful about my eating - my body does well on only a handful of foods, all of them grown in nature and unprocessed. I have learned in these past two years what my triggers are and I work hard to avoid them all.

My goal now is to keep working and keep finding where I am unbalanced, and do my best to correct that imbalance. So that I will have energy again And be able to move my body again. And go out into the world safely again. And I can see that it can happen...albeit it slowly, I can see that it just takes careful tweaking of this and that until it takes me up a level, then I can address the next layer, and so on. And as much as I love my beloved Pacific Northwest, I think that being in the wet and mold and lack of sunlight isn't working for my body, and I need to find somewhere that I can heal a little faster and more completely.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh Canada!

Today, we took the oath of Citizenship and became Canadian Citizens! We are official! No longer are we mere permanent residents, but now we are truly and officially Canadians! 



One of our lovely fellow new citizens offered to take this photo of us.

This whole day really surprised me with how BIG it felt, and how emotional it was. Apparently citizenship isn't just this piece of paper. It's....being a part of something. A part of a whole. And it's important. And big. And a really big deal. And today I felt so amazingly proud to be a part of Canada, and a part of the Oath of Citizenship, and just...alive.

It was a long line to get the paperwork sorted  - everyone has to present their PR cards and their landing documents and sign a paper that says we give consent to being photographed. And there were 81 of us today becoming citizens. 81!

Once we were all seated and ready, the clerk told us how the ceremony would go  - how important it was for us to hear everything the judge said - and how we would stand up, say, “I, __our name__,” to the judge, because we were all agreeing to take the oath of citizenship. The judge then spoke about what it means to be a citizen, an how important it is, and a bit about what makes Canada a great country, and what that means to Canadians. He spoke about the aboriginal people and about the men and women who fought to keep Canada a sovereign nation, and how his father died in service to Canada. Tears! It was so beautiful and moving, and with Rememberance Day coming up...oh my goodness. I think he even teared up a little bit, the judge. When it was time to begin the oath, we stood up a row at a time, everyone saying our names individually. I let K know that he didn’t have to say his name, but that he could, and I sort of emphasized that he could - because it was really feeling like a big deal to me, and although I don;t want to coerce him, I do want him to know what he is capable of. I went over with him what to say. See, kids under 11, they don’t have to say or do anything if they don’t want to. And usually in situations, K would feel shy….

But it came to his turn, and he raised his right hand, and he said, “I, (his name),” and looked right at the judge when he said it, and I was SO proud! I got all teary and then almost forgot my own name because I was just beaming that he did it! SO PROUD. And he was proud of himself! Then when everyone had said their names, we all repeated the oath after the judge, in both English AND French, and it was so affirming and moving. And the judge had given such a moving and powerful speech about the responsibilities of being Canadian, it was SO emotional - and I really felt like yes, this isn’t just a piece of paper, much as a wedding ceremony isn’t just a piece of paper - this is symbolic of something big and important and REAL, and my big kid just took full part in it and really participated, and it was just….an amazing day. So you see that photo up there - that is what we all looked like the day we became Canadian Citizens. That is an important photo!



I know this judge must do this ceremony hundreds of times a year, but it felt like THIS was the most important ceremony ever, and it didn’t feel trite or overdone….and he was engaging and moving and I cried so many times as he spoke. And I was reminded of why I love Canada so much, and what I love about its citizens. And I am so, so proud to now be one of its Citizens. What a gift.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

so you're thinking of buying an RV...motorhome or trailer?

One thing I am learning in looking into all of this road travel business is that there are really a LOT of options for which type of travel one prefers. The three I am considering are:

 1)Motorhomes, which have the driver's seats right in the motorhome and are a part of it. And then one might pull a "Toad" (towed vehicle) behind, for running errands when the motorhome is parked. Run on diesel, so can be converted to veggie oil.

2) 5th wheel - which is a trailer that has a bit that goes over the truck bed (sleeping quarters?) that is pulling it. Needs to be pulled by a truck, preferably a diesel, because I have learned that they are workhorses. Bonus: diesel can be converted to veggie oil. 5th wheels often have pullouts (at least the newer ones), which make them much heavier but also provide more space when parked.

3) Trailers, which are also towed by diesel trucks or SUVs, and are similar to 5th wheels in that the newer ones can have slideouts. They're just flat on the front, nothing hanging over the towing truck. I believe thats the difference anyway. Again, diesel truck can be converted to run on veggie oil.

At first I thought I wanted a motorhome because of the fact that it is all self-contained, and I liked the idea of being able to hang out "in the house" while we were also driving. Everyone is always all together, etc. But there is also the part where if the engine breaks down, then ones entire house needs to go into the mechanic....and then what does a family do if it takes days or more to fix?

What really changed my mind actually was watching this video:
The Happy Janssens: RV Veggie Oil (WVO) System from Sara Janssen on Vimeo.


Now, that is an awesome veggie oil system, yes? But also, Scott installs those systems and has some skill with maintaining them, I assume. AND it becomes complicated with the RV towing the truck that also holds fuel, adding to the total weight and and and. So I did some more reading about towing and at the same time remembered that long-buried dream of touring the country in a silver bullet trailer. And it seems worlds less complicated to just tow a trailer behind a truck which itself is converted to veggie oil. Then when you need fuel, you just unhook the truck and off you go, and no extra steps - it's all on the vehicle itself. Plus there's all that extra space in the bed of the truck. Why not use it for fuel?

I also read that diesel trucks are workhorses, and go forever and ever apparently, so getting one with 148K miles is "just getting started" on their capacity and that the silver bullet trailers were built to be towed behind cars (in the 50s, 60s and 70s, which meant big steel boats, but still CARS), and so are fairly light, even with allthethings we would be putting inside. And again, having the trailer separate means being able to send the truck in by itself to be fixed when needed while still having the ability to live in the trailer wherever it is parked. And what I read about handling when pulling a trailer in a diesel made me say yep, this is the way to go. For us, anyway.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

thinking about choices: where do we go from here?

Once upon a time I had a dream that I would travel the country selling my wares at festivals, and when I did, it would be in a silver bullet trailer. Remember that, Sharon?

I honestly believed that that dream had died a long time ago. I haven't had the urge to travel since I started getting motion sick, and my family, they are the rocks that really just want to be in one place. I often say they are the trees (rooted deep in the earth, staying in one place) and I am the bird (fluttering around them, wanting to take them places and show them new things and never really wanting to be in one place too long). I get restless and I like to shake things up.

And I was ready to root down with them, I really was. I AM, actually. We bought this big beautiful house on this big beautiful property and we were working to make it a space we would love for years to come. But my health has not been improving since my concussion. And that puts my dear husband in the role of caregiver to me at times, and of course to our son, and having this big 'ol property on top of it with systems we aren't used to caring for and all the work they require....it hasn't been working for us the way we had hoped. We had to concede that we need something smaller and that requires significantly less maintenance.

And then there have been all the issues we have had with the neighbours. It's been a huge mess, and we don't quite understand it, and I really don't want to rehash it here, but let's just say we have been sufficiently traumatized by their incessant need to ignore all boundaries, and if it wasn't the property itself needing so much more than we are able to give it, it would most certainly be the neighbours driving us away from here. And because of the (actual) trauma of the situation, I am feeling a need to explore other options and just NOT own any property for awhile.

We aren't able to sell until July because of capital gains tax, but that gives us time to get all our ducks in a row and really figure out our gameplan. AGAIN. We are honestly SO tired of moving, you know? But this isn't working for us, and we are in over our heads, and that is just what is so. Living here has been stress after stress, and the beauty of the property is not outweighing the amount of stress it brings us. So....what about going in the opposite direction....now for something completely different?

What if we just explored our options for awhile. Literally? We have always wanted to visit my biodad, for example and haven't been able to afford it. Or my dear friend in Florida. Or our relatives in various parts of the country. How about Legoland, or the beautiful National Parks, or any of the events we miss that we used to attend, but we don't anymore because $ and we live too far away? Kiernen wants to go to NYC to Nintendo World. What if we actually could?

My health has been a big thing for us these past couple of years. since my concussion, I haven't been the same. I am 42 now. That's young in many ways but it's also close enough to retirement age that we have this awareness of how short life can be. and because of my health issues, we are also quite aware of how fallible we are. In my family there is a degenerative brain illness that is hereditary .My mother, my uncle, and my youngest brother have it. There's a 50/50 shot any of us in my family do. I haven't been tested for it, nor has my other brother - we don't want to know (yet). But it affects the cerebellum - that means motor coordination, speech, ability to walk, causes severe vertigo and issues with sight. It hits in the 50s. That's ten years from now. Just ten years.

So I might not have much longer of a time in which I can do those bucket list things....like travel in an RV across the country. And because of technology and seasonal work, there are actually a lot of different ways to make $ on the road. So why not? In my research (because I am me and once I am interested in a thing I like to spend hours and hours finding out as much as possible about it) I have discovered that there are SO SO many people who are full-time RVers. Couples, families, singles, all ages and backgrounds. There are tons of resources for doing this - so many I am overwhelmed by my options for research at present - and I will find my way through them so as to be as fully prepared as possible before (if?) we do this (also an incessant need of mine).

I even have friends who are doing it!

So this is the beginning. Who knows what might come of all of this, but right now I am in the "let's do this!" phase because that's how I roll. In this family, we throw our hat over the fence and then follow, and it works for us (mostly).