Friday, December 31, 2010

So this is my last post of 2010. Tonight @ work has been peaceful thus far. They asked if I wanted to stay tonight. If it isn't mandatory, I am not spending my time here. There is an old Roma antiqua custom to do your trade or hobby on the New Year so that blessings be upon you in your endeavors for the year, sort of like stepping off on the right foot which after Christmas is so important. I think it will be a good year, lots of changes but still good. My last discussion with a family member was about some of my family members unwillingness to move or follow thier dreams from fear of the unknown. I will be losing weight, exercising again, and exploring nature which I started to do this past summer and getting my travel on. I lose weight while traveling and I love the sun. 12 weeks left and its going fast. It was a month ago I started preparation and 2 wks that I started counting.
Ajah doesn't appear to be feeling well. She had a green really thick chunk in her normally clear eyes. Of course it is new years eve, I don't think its an emergency because she isn't running a fever. She just seems bleh. She has been lazy for a few days now so monday I will take her in and keep an eye on her. The kitten looks fine. But since they are both due for a visit, I will go ahead and take both which will finish the kittens shots and hopefully this will be the last visit prior to leaving for az.
Since germs can make a cat sick, I decided to clean from top to bottom. They got a new litter box, litter and fresh cleaned bowls. I washed the litter box floor area and vacuumed the room rug. I will dust and mop tomorrow and probably do a go through of my stuff again as I got gifts from family that I need to decide what to do with. I appreciate them but I might trade with friends for stuff I can use.
I downloaded an antivirus for my phone today and it seems to be working better. Time will tell all. I also got some cryptic message in my text. That is now fixed. The antivirus said it wasn't made for my phone but I pressed forth anyways. I didn't know I could get viruses on my cell. Maybe its the computer technology with the smart phone that makes it more vulnerable. Of course my phone isn't the common OS systems so I just go with the symbian option.
Today I do not have to work. I got up early, cleaned my 2 rooms which took all of 10 min to go through my laundry, clean the cat box, sweep the floors and make the bed. Its amazing how quickly little piles of stuff accumulate.
I did go to walmart last night, added a new camping roll over the trifold and thinner camping pad to add firmness. I got my foam to soft so I sink and I have been waking up with a sore hip as I sleep on my side but the trifold was almost 200 dollars so I would rather spend 12 dollars for a copper then a new foam pad. Plus the two camping rolls work well together with my sleeping bag. They are good enough for camping or staying overnight. I will probably if the weather holds use my back packing tent when possible so having van and tent space to sprawl out. Written 12 30 10
My cell phone is randomly calling someone a rediculous amount of times without me knowing so I have to keep my phone turned off and will have to call straight talk tomorrow about this problem. I had virtually no problems with my last phone except it got wet in the rain one day when I called for help when my van was broke down in an area I didn't feel comfortable staying inside.
I watched avatar for the first time when I bought the box set. It came in a pretty box and I enjoyed it. I also bought night at the museum 1 and 2 and salt. It is indeed cheaper to buy a few DVDs and workout gear than to keep going to movies or join a gym that may not have facilities from one town to the next. So its going to be interesting. My phone just tried dialing again. I need to get this figured out and then trade this phone in perhaps. Maybe time to go back down to the phone that does most of what this one does minus gps and has widgets. Oh yeah and my phone bill can be 30 again and not have to worry about this. Maybe technology is moving to fast. I will be staying with the qwerty but the 1 through 9 keyboard wouldn't break my heart and I am starting to type faster without needing to backpack every other moment or have cramps in my fingers. It sure took some getting used too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I have been pondering lately those that should retire and one thing Is for sure, when you get to the point you complain about everything, when no one can do right no matter how hard they try, its time to move on. Whether you need to retire, take a chance and see greener pastures or simply go back to school. Or maybe you need to take an extended trip while working or not To gain some much needed insight on what course to take be it professional, personal, spiritual or a change of scenery. Sometimes its not the destination but the journey. We spend too much of our lives punching the time clock, racing from one point to another that we never stop and enjoy the trip there. And then we continue to take vacations like we work. Its time to just relax and thats what I am doing tomorrow.
So I am still getting used to typing on this phone and I think the next one will be a touch screen with the 1 through 9 keypad. I like the qwerty but I miss easy dialing.
Otherwise all is quiet on the midwestern front. I am just at work doing the residents laundry, taking my lunch and stocking rooms. Pretty normal day.
We are doing a late winter festive get together. For those that don't know I don't celebrate christmas in the traditional sense. I celebrate the birth of the Roman sun God. Although I respect the right of others to celebrate their beliefs as they see fit and I will go along as the escense of the Roma is acceptance of others so long as they don't violate the other parts of the whole. Allowing everyone to believe and practice as they see fit gives way to harmony acceptance and inspiration for new ideas. So whatever your flavour enjoy the season.
So thank the Powers of be that so far this week is smooth. I am going down to a temp agency on tuesday of next week to see about some few week jobs just to see what my options are. I will also be taking a ancient Roman culture test next week. So I think thursday I will do some studying.
And for now I shall eat my mac and cheese from the microwave and diet mtn dew in peace and ponder the future. I know some of the posts lately seem less deep than past ones, but I have been incredibly busy working, visiting friends before I leave, getting prepared and sleeping in there as well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My rant post. Lol. I am still sewing. This new cell got me in a good mood for a few days. I missed christmas dinner w my family to be @ work. It wasn't my choice. But I got stuck with someone that was sleeping, on break the entire afternoon and on cell during DINNER with the residents and the entire night for that matter. Well, after not getting my break or no longer wanting to listen to her boo, I said something. She didn't take it well and raised her voice to me. I went on break at that point. And of course the other girl there is cool but it wasn't a good 2nd impression. Good grief. bah humbug. My posts will get better at new years, a lot of crazy stuff has happened at the holidays in the past.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas- Please Spay and Neuter

So this seems like an odd title to some, but it narrows down the story for those wanting the clear, concise truth of this post. And from memory, that's what they told me to do in Journalism, get to the point. However, this is my blog and I can be a chick giving you all the details you may or may not care about. Please forgive me as I just worked 16 hours. And I work another 8 tomorrow so I decided since everyone is having Christmas more miles than I want to commute, I would hang at the empty house and chill with said relatives lonely cat.

My loving aunt whose name I choose to leave off this blog for privacy reasons, has a tabby cat that she adores. She got said cat, called A for short here, from a trip to her brothers in the country. A road in her tail pipe and by some miracle survived the trip. She was an infant and my aunts baby. She still is 10 years later. But the one thing she didn't do was get her spayed saying it was surgery and something she wasn't interested in putting A through. Except over the past week A has a very large stomach. She was acting fine, just seemed gassy and was eating way more. I figured false pregnancy but suggested a vet visit just to be sure as A is much older. The vet diagnosed her with pyometra (pyo for short in the cat community) which is a cats ovaries filled with puss. 3 days after being at the vet office and an emergency spay, she is now at home. Furthermore, they found a tumor in her throat that had to be removed and had it not, she had days to live. So I don't know if A developed said tumor because of her stress levels and hormones affecting her immune system or if its a blessing she had one problem as they wouldn't have found the other until far later.

However, A has constantly been in heat for most of her life, dealing with the stress of hormones and moodiness and it nearly took her life. Let me break it down: the infection gets in the ovaries and eventually the rest of the body when the vulva of the cat is expanded while they are in heat, bacteria gets in and the rest, as they say, is history. Cats are induced ovulators meaning they continue to go into heat until they are bred. And trust me when I say there is nothing pretty about cats breeding, they don't need to become mothers for the sake of motherhood like humans are taught to do. Lets just say a female screams in pain during the process, the males are rough the majority of the time and then 9 weeks later, the mom has a risk of c section (2000 + in vet bills), the risk of loss of life, besides lethargy and if she wasn't mature enough for kittens she may sit on them or other things I won't talk about here. Then there are blood type differences, rare but do happen, transmitable diseases and the daunting task of finding homes for the kittens. And lets just say, there is no shortage of kittens in this world.

So unless you are showing a pedigree (papers from a registering body like TICA, CFA, CFF, ACFA or some other show registering body) cat that has exeptional type and has proven it in the show hall, a cat in excellent health and KNOW for a MATTER OF FACT  that the pedigree is sound and without defect (meaing you need to know how to read a pedigree, score a show and have someone to coach you for starters) and have the MONEY, emotional stability, network and time to dedicate, please do us all a favor and spay or neuter your cat. Your cat is unique to you, is loved by you and yours and that's great, they all need a home, but kittens and the risk to your beloved pet or explaining to your kids why they lost their cherished family member just aren't worth the risk. And for the ferals, visit a shelter and see how that ends up. I guarantee you if you are feeding ferals and not getting them fixed or seeking help, those cats are bound to be road kill or death row at the shelter.  And if you rescue a feral, congrats, you did a good thing, but get it fixed and stop the cycle of useless killings, wasted tax payer dollars, and humans that see their cats are nothing more than an object.

And now that A needs a million meds, 4 to be exact, is battling for her life and my aunt has 3000 in vet bills, I will spend my Christmas worrying over A and coaching her on how to mix meds in food, spend every evening for the next 10 days helping her pill her cat as she doesn't have the demeanor to pull it off, teaching her how to take temps and help her babysit A while she gets anything else done so she doesn't rip out her sutres.

So to you and your loved ones, hold them close, be thankful you can be together and pray for those you can't so that you can in spirit. Be thankful everyone is safe and keep the Poinsettas away from kitty, they are deadly.

Now that Saturnalia is over, it was December 17-23, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holidays whatever your spiritual flavor. Until we meet again....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Cats New Pictures


Ajah and Julia 12-23-10. I will do Christmas photos very soon. Its hard to believe Julia is already 13 weeks old, such a unique little girl but finally starting to calm down. Ajah has fully accepted her and things are developing a routine which was my goal before we set out on our move. It will make the journey easier as its just transitioning from one home to another.

Back to a computer for a moment

I have been updating my blog from my new cell phone which is spiffy although I am finally figuring out how to use it so I can spend less time staring at it. I am now getting days off and have been getting out more and I am only picking up shifts on the days I am scheduled to work. I have been visiting old friends, seeing movies every now and again and in general attempting to visit and get as many things done before I head out. I have 99 days left.

I went and saw the Black Swan, a truly mind boggling movie and rightly so rated R. I am still pondering how I felt about it. I went to see the Chronicles of Narnia but their projector for it was down so I had to pick another and I already drove that far to see a movie, so I did. And Monday and Wed night I went and hung with an old friend in her new townhouse, its very nice.

Then I went to get the last of my laundry, and that's pretty much it. I am still wrapping my head around the whole fired after 3 years thing, how I want to handle it and have been trying to remind myself to eat more as I haven't been feeling like it, although I can't say shedding a few pounds won't break my heart but this is entirely unnatural. Ah well, guess time will tell. I have been sleeping more, its winter though so I guess it makes sense.

The van is the van, its still there and so I am here. I have been getting clusters of things lately which I don't feel like going through. I think its setting in, the stress is kicking in and time in winding down. I have never liked Christmas, its a rough time for me and mine, but we dredge through it and the guilt trips I knew were coming from family are starting in. Also trying to pay attention to the dogs but not get too attached. And the cats I was planning on letting stay with a family member but I still have thoughts on that, like maybe its not a great idea plus the cost of shipping or driving back will be expensive, time consuming and take time away from school. I am also still figuring out the cello issue, I just have a feeling I don't want to leave it here. I should either store it, ship it or sell it. If I sold it, I would have plenty of money but I love it and spent my high school career paying for it, so I don't see that as an option unless I absolutely have too.

For some reason I thought leaving would be easy, I am following my dreams and going through with finishing school, maybe having a family in the future, I am starting to consider that as well, but the guilt trips and the family drama are weighing down on me. I know I am leaving, its just the process of getting there is not an easy one. The saying good bye because life happens because some of my family are severely bi polar and are weighing down on wanting me to do various important tasks for them instead of standing up the challenge itself. I left one bad situation recently but closing the chapter isn't easy. It wasn't the first time, but I am older now and hopefully ready for what lies ahead. And hopefully I can wrap myself around the task at hand, man up and get everything done no matter how daunting the task may seem.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What a day. I decided to not buy pop but drink the coffee I had at home instead. and now I am doing laundry. I should have left sooner but I think I will be alright. I am attempting to save money as it seems harder to make than save.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The last post that went through was the last post from my old job. It was a normal day other than I was tired from a very long work stretch. I was fired with well wishes, which was an odd experience. My last call off, see previous post, was due to van repair issues so now I have one job left. The good news is its better paying but I missed the Christmas bonus which would have been nice. However I will be able to save some of this paycheck, about 50 of it as this cell phone wasnt cheap but so far its a handy gadget. I have some more things to add to it to make it fully functional besides how absolutely thrilled I am to have a smart phone, the best 200 spent.

In the least I will have 90 hours of vacation time I wouldn't have had if I had quit but still I don't think one can prepare for this. This last check will be the driving money to AZ. I am sad to leave and will miss my individuals I served and keep in contact with some good friends there but its over and time to move on. Peace love and harmony to those I served and Blessings on those I worked with. Its been a good ride, a great lesson and now its time to move on. Thanks for the last 3 years of my life what its been worth and too the individuals  I served who helped me see hope and what it means to be thankful for what we have and too go after what we don't because we don't know what will happen next. Not saying I want to know, its the journey of life and this is my life.

Io Saturnalia....

Monday, December 20, 2010

So I finally grew tired of my last phone and replaced it with a new smart talk phone. I spent 200 on it but with my pending trip forthcoming I did not want to be without a phone. I have also been looking at a pda and laptop. This phone does all that for me which works well. I now have music internet apps and gps rolled into one. I would still like a tablet like the ipad and an ipod but those would be extensions of my existing system. I am currently in the process of consolidating m y computer so i can sell it before I leave. I do not see my desktop or old style tv making the cut. I have also been considering trading my cello for a viola. I can read viola music, the strings are the same and I do not get the useage from my cello I would like. I am hoping by getting something smaller I will play more and will be easier to travel with. Beyond those items, i think everything will come along and now I do not have to get lossed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A bit better today

Okay now that the panic is over, I went to work today and had a good day. Time will tell on that situation. The van works for now and 14 weeks left until leave date. I will update here when there is more to update. In the meantime the cats are doing well and we are taking everything one day at a time. I have a relative who has offered to house the cats until I get settled so that will mean one stable environment to the new one. I will have AC, an address of sorts or a routine, and school will be figured out. It will also be past the dead of summer. I will miss them but it will be motivational to get things figured out. I hope it won't take more than a month but it gives me a cushion if it takes longer. Now that funding and logistics are stable, I am back to taking it one day at a time, I am going to step back from planning for a moment, just focus on the present, and unplug for a day or two at a time. I have been super stressed and its time for brain shutdown. So long as the van runs, there are places to rent at campgrounds or rooms (which I will contact sooner to the move date), and I am employed, life goes on.

Therefore, I think other than class registration and the trip out west, everything is in order. The cats are good to go, my belongings remain nice and small and other than a mock pack up of the van, I am good to go. Now hopefully in a few months after I make the move, I will have a camper of my own and an Astro or like van so its like having the house and car with rent (yes) but my home will have wheels and can be parked. I don't like foundations, they mean permanency and I suppose after a while of a certain place and neighbors, I like to move on. Now granted, its December now, I will be on the road for April and part of May, then settling in, and that's going to be busy. And hopefully I can then settle for a bit until December when  I come to visit the folks and bring my cats back with me. Long enough to enjoy snow at Christmas and then back to the warmth. Hopefully next Jan I can also spend a few weeks in Quartzite and enjoy the rock and mineral show. I planned to go this year but it didn't happen.

I came home to heal after a challenging period in my life but it didn't feel like home the way it did before. But once you settle, its so easy to fall into a routine and its even harder to move again. I hope this will move the rut and I won't feel bad about buying something like land and a trailer because its desert, mountains, green and central to many paths with lots of free camping. The midwest has cheap camping, seasons and some great shopping and entertainment, but its low on jobs, opportunities and no mountains local. Mountains are something I am really attached to for some reason and I love the dry heat.
 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And here we go...

Well, 2 days ago, the hood was frozen shut, wouldn't start, simply put, broke. I am very glad I didn't stay the other night. This way I am at home with the cats and not stranded 45 min in the middle of no where. So I had to call off yesterday (not my plan believe me), and it got towed. I got the van back and now I have turn signals, flashers ect as well as a van that starts. Yep, that's pretty important. However, it took 2 hours past the start of shift at my other job and so I had to call off. Not good for either. But I won't give up until the fat lady sings so to speak. If I can keep one of the two, then things will be okay.

If not, then I will have to explore how to survive for the next 3 months. My lease on my apartment is month to month with 30 day notice so that's a plus. I have 2 more paychecks coming so some room to move and the repairs were free. So if needed, I will stay in the apartment through Jan. This Friday will cover December and the 28th will cover Jan. Income tax should come in Feb or early March. I am debating if I want to get a temp job for Feb and move out March 1. Then slowly meander across the country Mar 1 through May 15th before I settle in to western life. I don't want to get stranded in the winter in the van on my drive nor put the cats or myself in a bad situation. So that's why the wait. Plus I have an address and tags in this state. However, if I can't find employment and I lose both, I might take what I have for Jan and start heading west.

However, I have friends and connections out west as well so I want to head out in the spring. I have a family member willing to watch the cats as well while I move so I may take that option. I am still debating what is going to be easier on them as my younger girl is very attached to me. I am exploring this option as I have seen some trailers at campgrounds for rent for very little money but pets aren't allowed for good reason. However I could then use that time to get myself a class B camper or convert a new van and then bring them along once I am settled with stable hookups/boarding/pet sitting options. I worry about the summer heat every time I go to the store, about the van breaking down ect, so I want the logistics worked out before I bring them 2000 miles from their current location. They are comfortable in the van as am I but this van being a mechanical PITA AND living in the desert brings a new factor to this decision. I certainly don't want my friend to be responsible for my pets all summer as school and temps together makes for a great challenge.

Realistically, a toad and class B would be my best bet so I have a daily driver and a living space, both with motors, that can both be driven if the other breaks. It does raise expenses but no more than having a trailer would. And its cheaper to store/easier to unload a car than it is too sell a trailer plus depreciation. A van that can be parked with AC hookup works well, but it has to be a B to be campground approved I suppose. So many decisions, I will just take the van west and see what works best and what money options are available. I am focusing on what comes in a few months instead of right now as its stressful enough. Tomorrow will define many things like what options and leave dates.

Optime Vale - Be Most Well

Monday, December 13, 2010

More News

Today I did something I never thought I would do, and it just came out. I am surprised at me, one of those, where did that come from? My day started fine, the van actually started (been having some issues there), the windshield wipers were no problem and the snow wasn't too bad to drive in. Then it snowed, we had a social gathering at work which was nice but I felt claustrophobic, the pop machine didn't work and I have been sick all week. Granted, my flu isn't a reason to not go to work and I can drive in the snow. On my way home, the windshield wipers decided to not work which coupled with snow put me at the verge of insanity. So I took a few breathes, pulled over and made a phone call. Then proceeded to spend 2 hours driving home.

So what did I do today? They told me I HAD to stay at work when 2 hours earlier in my shift they said they were covered. I had already been there 8 hours, live an 45 min in good weather from work and knowing I have to go in tomorrow (meaning not even 6 hours of sleep) I wasn't doing it. I refused to be mandated on the grounds I didn't feel good, plan to be snowed in at home if its going to happen and they have an obligation to give me some planning time. I had clothes in the dryer, wasn't sure if the van would start and knew after a 16 hour day, my ability to cope would be greatly compromised. I had to stop at get my laundry from a relatives as it was and being sick, with that little sleep, it would be too much. So I simply said no, didn't feel good, turned the keys and left.

Does that mean I  am truly starting to feel an obligation towards my own health? I think so. I used to be money motivated but money only goes so far. I have never actually refused to stay for overtime but I have never worked for a company whereas I am required to stay every 15 days and wonder after those 15 days if I will be required to stay. Its been 3 weeks. I have grown angry at the lack of ability to plan for anything besides work, 2 weekends on and one off, meaning no mini trips and finding time to get with friends near impossible. My other job that pays less has only required me to stay 2 times in 3 years, is flexible on scheduling, and has a system that makes sense. I am thinking on picking up an odd job or temp job for the next 3 months in an office that makes decent money and will keep things interesting.

I am leaving April 1, looking for a new van and need to work, but all the overtime I was planning to do and have done hasn't gotten me further ahead, just more repairs. So I might as well winter it out, find a local job and go back to having a life for the next few months. Then I won't be spending 10 dollars a day in gas and 2 hours of driving to work.

Stress isn't worth it and money really does only go so far.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another day

I am waiting to find out from my mechanic on the once over for a vehicle, a 1991 Astro 6 cylinder that I am considering. A person I know bought it and feels its too much in gas money for her daily commute. Its fine by me. I am praying it works out because I really need something to come together this week. I have had horrible luck in the car repairs and I want something thats reliable, can pass an inspection and is reasonably safe.

An Astro gets the same mileage as my Lumina and will be more dependable with a truck drive train. The metal vs fiberglass body helps as well. I can easily add a ball hitch or a back cargo rack and it comes with a roof rack. In other words, its much more suitable to my travel plans. I could build the bed across the back, put in a full kitchen with plenty of water storage and a hole in the counter for the coleman stove to be used indoors or outdoors, and add a small wardrobe and mini bathroom as well. I could keep the two front seats and still have the entire center of the van open for the cats or crafts and reach my under bed items inside or outside with the hatch. I could put a full sturdi cage shelter in for the cats, more room for a genset (as someone suggested), battery power and fans besides camping equipment. In short, I would have plenty of room for me and the cats, my hobbies and room to move besides the better safety of everything inside.

I have thought on the trailer option but someone suggested the roof rack and a swing away is more practical, won't need additional insurance or wiring. Plus parking will be much easier. I was planning on buying a new rig once in AZ, but this works much better. It will be a less stressful trip, time to work the kinks out and space. Its like a dream come true.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deciding on an eReader and an MP3 Player

Now that I am getting closer to leaving and realize even with so few things, they feel like so many things.
  • I need to trade or sell my desktop for a laptop.
  • Convert tapes and DVDs to digital files that can be stored on a portable hard drive.
  • Convert CDs to MP3 
  • Buy a MP3 player that can be charged from van battery or laptop. I don't feel an ipod at 225 dollars on sale is a good investment.
  • scan pictures to flash drives.
  • buy an ereader for digital books so it can be held on that instead of my hard drive memory
Essentially, the computer should pay for the laptop as I am not going for a high end one. I will utilize external hd and additional USB port add ons instead. This way when I switch or go somewhere else, its all there. All in one is nice, but I want my stuff backed up and transferable from one computer to the next. I am also going to backup my regular desktop to an external hd (should have 2 when done). That should make working easy with one and doing things like uploading pics easy with the other. Then I have spare room on the computer to watch DVDs or get directions.

I found an MP3 player at Odd Lots for 50 bucks. That should work for my collection of 2000 songs. Even having two MP3 players if needed or changing play lists via computer is nicer than having to switch CDs constantly. My van only has a tape player and I haven't ever used it as the only band I still have on tape is Depeche Mode.

So any suggestions on the best ereaders that can read multiple formats (b and n, amazon ect) and have email access would be great.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Craziness

Just an update, today we are attempting to charge the battery and its getting cold. We had our first snow today. The cats are starting to get their winter coats and I am getting anxious to go, ready for the warmth. My friends in AZ keep reminding me of that. Lovely. Hopefully everyone is staying warm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plans brain dump

I finally started paying off some of my old bills that have been sitting on the back burner, nothing major, just the little things. I am also taking my earned vacation for the month of Jan from my 2nd job where I work 3 shifts a month. That way I can pick up at my main job and its like getting double time. I will be taking some of my vacation from said job for the next 4 months until I leave. My main job won't have vacation time as I won't have been there for a full year at that point. But its all good. I tell you now that I am trying to get everything done its getting harder to stay focused at work. I love what I do but the winter is kicking my but and I am missing money that was in my van. I am not sure where it could have gone but its a bummer.

Tomorrow I will be charging my battery overnight and back in line with that. I will also be building my 2 boxes 6 inches tall each that will lay next to each other behind the passenger seat. They will be hinged wood boxes that will store those items that I rarely use but are valuable enough I won't part ways with. I am thinking on putting cargo nets as dividers and putting my kitchen stuff in one half and my office stuff in the other. Then the clothes can go in their tub (which already has clear plastic containers to hold socks, underclothes and shirts separate with pants independent in the back). Blankets can go in the roof top carrier along with the cat bag. The rear seat can house the cat carriers and the 3 drawers behind the drivers seat. The litter box will be up front while sleeping and in the back or in the kennel outdoors during the day. I am still figuring out where the instruments are going. I was thinking on the bed during the day and secured at night, but we shall see. I really do need more space, but its not going to happen right now, so I will make it work.

And of course realistically I need a class B OR a full size van and in the least an Astro that can have a cargo tailgate box and a roof rack that can hold some weight. Maybe I should make it work without a roof rack on the Lumina APV and save that money towards my next vehicle.

But right now getting out west, getting the van outfitted as a starter vehicle on the road and getting everything up to date is the goal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Moving Plan

Its been 6 days since I decided on a move across the country. I am going to AZ and have picked out several parking places in the area and decided on a roof rack and bike rack for the rear. This notion you save money by not living in a house, I am not sure it doesn't come close when you balance the additional repairs and hardware needed. I am going to make a list here of what the van needs to be functional for a month long excursion with 2 cats.
Repairs so far have been brakes, exhaust, windshield wiper motor, and now the windshield. Thats 420 so far.
Add a roof rack and cargo carrier to the mods as well as a battery and cont duty solenoid and a real spare tire. Thats just the beginning besides a box I am building to go under the bed by 6 inches for lesser used stuff.

Doing something you believe in

I was doing my usual scan of blogs from my dashboard in blogger and a blog called Zen Habits has a blurb on doing what you believe in to benefit everyone else.  We as humans spend to much time doing what society instructs us too, too much time accepting what everyone else says too, and way to much time doing menial tasks that make no sense like working jobs that leave us paycheck to paycheck and angry at the world and our families while we slave away and get absolutely no where. I have been pondering the time and money connection. The notion that time is money. There are those out there living without money who feel we should donate time and the things we don't use to others and I agree with this notion but I like money to some extent because I don't have to have what someone else wants and I don't like carrying a bunch of stuff around. But there is also the notion we should get paid lots to do little and I find this the truth in corporate America. Those who do most make least. I would personally rather make 10 dollars a hour instead of 8 because it means I can work the same amount of overtime and achieve 20 percent higher pay. That 20 percent can go to savings or buying something that will enhance my life (or someone elses) and allow me to have greater periods between work.

Nomadism is the between barter and mass money. You make little money but can save more than someone making 3 x as much because there is little to no rent and the car you would repair you have.
So what do you believe in, that your passionate about that is waiting and may need sacrafice but could happen. A dream is just a dream. A dream with a plan is a blueprint. Step by step goals one at a time is progress. And eventually the dream is reality.

I believe my "station in life" isn't getting better without a change of scenery and a better education. Those are my goals, what are yours?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a few instruments coming along

I am figuring out the logistics of how to take everything I own in one trip in a mini van, the stuff I have been down sizing for over 2 years. By far, next to the cats, I love my cello. I don't play as much as I used too but its coming for the trip along with my steel necked guitar. The question is how to take an earthquake of a drive and keep the cello and guitar safe and in sound repair so I can use them in the future.
I am just now beginning the research. I would like to play on my way with some me time, but I am still wondering if I want to just take the guitar and have the cello shipped like I did the first time. But I did drive from AK to OH with it albeit risky but less risky than the shippers moving it and me not having my hands in the pot the entire time so to speak. More to ponder. I am working quite a bit right now so updates are sporadic, but I have been on the computer doing some serious research and filling out one form after another. I realize this blog is about van dwelling mostly but this is my major travel adventure except I won't be near family or close friends so I won't have local storage for this or that, everything that happens, to start with, until I reconnect, I am on my own. I am working on cleaning up some past bills, figuring out logistics and the heat in AZ. I will be going to school in the evening which is nice, I might be nocturnal part of the year.

I also got the good news that some old friends from AK will be taking a road trip same time as me and the felines and I will get a chance to reconnect. She is great at knitting and said she would better show me how. I also realized there is a cello group there so it will be nice to be involved again. So much to do, so little time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Its my life, and this is the journey

So the title sounds selfish but I have been feeling rather emotional as this was a quick process. I woke up November 30 and decided I was moving out west and finishing college. At 4 m 30 d the clock is ticking. I have always been spontanious and this is no exception. I realized I won't have time to get a new van even though there are some costly repairs left to go but as much as I am done with already, to get another vehicle, I would have to repair that too and that gets really complex and fast. Exhaust and a new battery are tomorrow, then a new windshield next check. And after that, I am adding an AGM deep cycle battery and continuous duty solenoid.

Too see how everything fits, I put all my stuff in my apartment around my tri fold bed and realized that everything fits in the mini van but it fits exactly which means in order to drive and then pull over to sleep without tons of hassles, not to mention the easy possibility of losing things, AND room for the cats and their stuff/litterboxes (and not creating a huge mess) would be difficult without additional room. Realistically for this trip and to be comfortable until I decide on a housing situation (if I decide too) I need room to sleep, eat, cook, the cats, litterbox, have papers, books, electronics and clothes in order and easily accessible.

In addition, after I arrive, I will be starting school pretty quick, will need to transfer my plates to AZ, and figure out snail mail address and banking options. Thus, the van will be a home and later a camper as time goes on sort of like it is now. I will need power for my electronics ie laptop, cell phone, ect and space to write for papers and still have a bed and emergency kit. I will actually live between mountains and desert not so far from the Mexican border. So I will be getting a roof rack and pack, which while not stealthy, is the most affordable option compared to a rear box that anyone can easily access or a cargo trailer that I would have to get a hitch for and drive through rough terrain. As everything I own I won't use on the way there and everything I need for travel or cold weather I won't need there regularly although it does get cold at night, so upper storage is easy enough leaving me with room to sit and lie down inside the van.

And for the discussions I have attempted to have with family and friends, this trip is my life, its my journey. I came home the first time to take care of my grandma, to help out and too heal from some past events. I am thankful to those that have helped and hopefully the same is true in return. I am not taking this trip to run away, have vengeance on some past event or prove any points. I am doing this because the longer I sit here, not seeing family anymore often than I did while away the first time, and thinking, this isn't helping anyone, I am not going anywhere sitting here, and my life is slipping by. This trip is about me, the me without kids, obligations or a husband, the me that wants an education, desert, life without midwest winters and spring allergies, the me that needs to do this. I may come back in the end like I did, and I may just come visit, but in the end, this is my life, the life I want and need to live. To those that have supported me, who see I am doing what my soul is calling for, and has been for 2 of the 3 years I have been here, thank you. I came home, melted, and now I am recovered, I think.

So here is to the journey of life we must each embark on in our own unique way, that leaves a trail, tells a story and teaches a lesson to someone somewhere.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter is Here


Today here in lovely OH, the fall is now effectively over. Its snowing outside. I woke up to saying goodbye to the green grass. Yesterday and the day before were so pretty. Its now white and fluffy with the grass disappearing. This is my last winter for a while. YAY!

I am leaving a little sooner than planned and will be attending school in AZ as I want to finish up my degree. I love what I do but its time for a change. I have been saying that the entire time but hadn't thought of a concrete plan and this works. Plus I want to get back to the west coast and this is a way to slowly integrate. AND I started with this college back in 2005 and never got a chance to finish my BS but I don't have to pay an application fee or get new transcripts as they have my old file. I only have to take one class in person for funding so that leaves me some options. I have been been here for 4 years in this area so its time to continue on. I will figure out what I want to do after this point.

Its funny my dad went to the west coast and I was born there and he moved back for family. Things were always different he said. I went in the USAF and when I came home, its been different. I haven't felt tied to here nor like this is home. Its been an odd homecoming. I will miss some things here but I can visit, thats the nice thing with a home on wheels. I am going to be driving and living in my mini van for a few months and see how that goes. Then I will adjust as needed. In the mean time I am going to continue saving, planning and getting all the repairs done on the van as I can so it will be road trip roadworthy.

I lived in AZ for 9 months previously and it was a great experience and I look forward to seeing it again. I will also be getting an overhead container for the van, a roof rack and hitch set up for when/if I get a trailer. I won't be storing anything here as I don't want to pay for storage and I don't want family/friends to move and I am out that stuff. It gets cold at night so I will have all the uses I had before. I plan on leaving April 1 to the 15th, somewhere in there, I need to be in AZ by May 10 to have 2 weeks to get settled. I want to go slow and enjoy the trip.

I also found a day sitter to watch the felines while I attend school so they can stay with me the rest of the time meaning 90 percent of the time, which is what I have been looking for. I am hoping to find a place to park nearby as well or a campground to stay so I can focus on studies.

I am half way through the paperwork for the school, now the repairs on the van, getting the cats shots updated, and then planning the trip. After that, getting settled in a parking spot with hookups for an AC and establishing a system. It all seems so much easier when housing isn't such an issue. If I get a trailer, which I will likely do as I plan to stay at a campground or pay someone, as I have the funding to do so, then I am good to go. We will see how much funds I have left and how much rent the parking space will be before I make such an investment and the gas mileage difference will make towing a trailer a pain. I still want the livin lite trailer as I would prefer pre done facilities but light enough to haul with the mini van.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be working mine this evening with my work family and then onto my own immediate family for a late night celebration. It should be a fun time and lots of free food and left overs. Besides doing laundry as well and yesterday it snowed a little. Winter is upon us. This is my last winter in this area so I am going to make the most of it. Have a Happy Holidays everyone. I will probably post again on Sunday, my next day off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pics



Top is some of the gorgeous fall leaves we are still having. Its November and we still have leaves. I can work with that. I love fall. We had a VERY hot summer, not my favorite season but fall and spring are nice. Winter is good in moderation. I prefer AK in the summer and AZ in the winter but this will do for now lol. And living out west prior I did miss Fall and the changing of the colors. After all, people drive from miles to see the leaves change and the birds migrate. Its gorgeous so I can understand why and makes for absolutely astounding photos.
And just as a treat so to speak, above is Tippy, the pup pictured in the beginnings of this blog. She lives with a relative but she visits me a lot. She prances around like a filly with her long ballet legs. Of course complete with long nose and bat ears lol. And then a picture of the two cats in the window. It was like an odd glow, so we will call them the kitty saints in a non religious term -:)

Korea

In other news, I am worried about Korea because we do have such a strong military presence there. I have interviewed veterans who were POWs to North Korea as well as have 2 relatives with permanent shrapnel from the Korean War. I will scan and share those interviews at a later time, some are from my high school paper, and some are from free lance work, some of which has been published and some I chose to not share due to the graphic nature of what was said. Basically, I am worried for those civilians, expats and US military over there. I pray Obama can help them resolve this as I don't truly believe that they want to wage war. Its been quite a few years of them sitting at a border making glowing remarks at each other.



The bare bone facts according to http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101123/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_clash (click for full article) with quotations provided to give a simple outline:
"The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population."
"The entire skirmish lasted about an hour. Each side has threatened the other against another attack."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What is Home?

I was in a conversation recently with someone about what is home? What is a nomad? What is a geo nomad? And what is the difference between hippy, hobo, nomad, adventurer and traveler? This is merely my opinion but it comes from much reading, thought and discussion.

What is a home? Home is defined by Meriam Webster as "ones place of residence." Home isn't defined as a house or a physical location. Home is where the heart is is perhaps closer to the truth. So whether you live in a house with your family, and then go on vacation somewhere. Your home is where you currently are, the home you own or the hotel you rent.

A nomad is someone that travels and doesn't ask for hand outs, bums do that. Now I am saying that one is better than the other as we never no the circumstances that lends a person to ask for help. "An individual who roams about," is the actual definition of a nomad. Nomad was the term used for our ancestors, for the Bedouins of today and many native peoples the world over. Its simply traveling but for a long term. There is no guidelines that state how long a nomad stays in one place but they do move about more regularly than the average joe.


A geo nomad is one that travels within a specific area for a longer period of time. People without a fixed address who work in a specific area but stay/park in different areas each night could fill this genre. Or people who may have a fixed address but wander about for work or pleasure not always staying in the same place. Some might call this exploring as well. I am a geo nomad. I have 2 jobs, a sort of apartment, a van and a bike. All used to take me to varying places for different adventures or to take care of a variety of wants and needs. My things are mobile and I take the same bed from my apartment to my van or when staying with someone else. The sleeping bag on top of my bed goes on the bike or on foot. My food, cell phone, bare bone toiletries and 2 changes of clothes are with me at all times in case I get stranded. Life is an adventure and working to change that which we can and accepting that which we cannot is what makes our glass half full or half empty. Food for thought...


Hippies were partiers, hobos rode trains but worked where they stopped, nomad is a simply a wonderer, and an adventurer is someone who takes their condition in life and makes it into something educational and fun. Afterall, adventures are educational, fun and don't have a pre-determined purpose. 


So what are you? We don't realize it but the nomad is still active and strong in us humans. We move for jobs, we take vacations, we stay various places to handle various needs ie closer to a job, exploring getting a new job, seeing if a neighborhood is good for our family, ect. The only thing is society has created a wall that tries to kill this in all of us. Mortgages that eat all our money, consumerism that takes our money. Money is something everyone wants but doesn't bring happiness. The next time you want to take a trip, think about saving coins and in the end of a week, see how much you have saved and think about how many hours you worked just for that and multiply that over a year. I gave up pop this week (tried caffeine but not there yet) and have saved 7 dollars. I simply pocket the money every time I would have bought a pop. Great way to stop other vices in life as well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Litter Box, living with a cat AND a kitten in a cofined space

I normally give my two felines Orijen canned food. Click Orijen for more information on this entirely organic made in Canada cat food. I have been in the Cat Fancy now for several years and have tried everything from Royal Canin to Friskies to you name it. I have fostered a large number of cats in the past 5 years and have also worked with a few pedigrees as well. I have encountered several health problems, many challenges and found great homes for ALL of the cats that have come through my doorstep. I don't mean to brag but I am glad this can occur and if I can offer any advice feel free to pass a question and its likely you know something I don't, so perhaps we can learn from each other.

Well, I ran out of the Orijen and grabbed some tinned food from the gas station, some 9Lives which the kitten had been eating outdoors prior to being captured. And sure enough the litter box reminded me why I don't feed this stuff. If you have a feline in the van or RV with you, heaven help you lol. I am glad my Tidy Cat 24/7 works well but I must admit my apartment took on the litter smell. Boy, I opened some windows and dumped the box and all is back to normal but I just wanted to share.

However, this also brings me to my next point which is about litter box holders. When I get enough money for a trailer and larger van, I will remove the passenger seat and convert it to a litter box area with and end table looking thing. The tray will slide out and the cat will enter from the back. There will be a litter mat in front, a velcro bed on top and a floor scratcher velcroed to the sides. That's my new idea. I am going to build it now because the ones on the market are really expensive, too big and very bulky. I will be sharing this progress with you. Also, wanted to mention courtesy of information found from Technomadias blog, they mentioned a portable litter pan and its amazing in theory. I am going to order one and will update here on how it works out.

My plan for this design is to be able to fit in the foot well of the front seat when the seat is removed, or when I stay somewhere like a cabin or friends, or in the shower area of the travel trailer although I absolutely want a wet bath vs a stand up shower (too small for me). It needs to be light weight probably balsa or similar material so its easily movable. Plywood is too hard to disinfect. I might also use mylar which is a plastic type substance that is non porous. Then I will be able to put the box in the portable outdoor run and not have such a mess to clean up with litter tracking. As I plan to stay in one area for a few months at a time as I don't see how my budget or finding work would allow otherwise, besides the opportunity to take it the sites and truly explore the area around me. Now I figure I will order 4 of those portable litter boxes so I don't have to move them constantly, I can have one for the trailer, one for the van, one in the emergency kit and one as a back up. They are so small folded up I can't resist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saving vs Spending & Work at Home

I have been having some serious mechanical issues with the van: 200 for brakes, 130 for starter and coil, 900 for the van in mid September and now the exhaust is detached which means welding work and another day off spent in the shop. Its expensive for me to drive 50 miles a day in gas as is, its hard to pick up shifts knowing the van isn't reliable entirely, and moreso difficult with a 2nd rental payment to repairs. I don't have the credit for a new vehicle and 900 was tough. This van has some serious issues and its the same thing I did last time and the time before. I attract lemon vehicles.

So I have been thinking on it, lets say I make 9.75 at one job, its about 1/3 after deductions, and 7 dollars in gas, that's 9.75x8 =78, 78 x 1/3 for deductions is 23.4 and 78-23.4 = 54.60. 54.60/8 is 6.8 per hour that is actually coming home.

Now figuring if I worked from home I would have approximately 1/4 deductions as there are tax write offs and all that jazz, there isn't gas to get somewhere and no stress in traffic, meaning I could put in an extra 2 hours as I spend on average 45 min to drive one way to work. That's 1.5 hours of driving per day not including errands. Now add getting ready and relaxing to wind down, add another 2 hours, that's about 3 hours of waste as its more work to get ready to leave the house than if I was at home and stayed here. So I could effectively work for 9.75 an hour and keep 7.5 per hour thus a pay raise PLUS 3 hours of at home work time hence more money.  Of course not having to drive means less repairs on my vehicle, cheaper insurance from fewer miles and so that bill would be decreased. I already pay for high speed internet and have land line and cell service effectively giving me plenty of phone contact options.

Also I would ride my bike to the supermarket and things of that nature thus giving me even more money and saving the planet at the same time. I gave up smoking almost 2 years ago, now I am giving up pop and hopefully caffeine but that's a longer journey and tea is good and not expensive. I am also trying to eat less starchy food so I can lose some weight, drink more water and make my moods more stable.

So how does this go with van dwelling and the mobile lifestyle, it fits like a glove. Once I am able to support myself, create an online marketing plan and presence, I can then take my career anywhere including on biking trips, backwoods hiking trips and overseas if I choose. Then I can work as a tour guide or volunteer and push further.

I used to get bent out of shape from van troubles and so forth, but I am becoming more comfortable in the notion I don't want the corporate time clock anymore, at least not as my main source of income. I have effectively restructured and downsized my belongings, am starting to keep better track of the chaos around me and have been far more organized. But I feel like there is more, that my time at work is inefficient and that I have been getting irritable as well as stomach ulcers from stress again (haven't had ulcers since 17) and maybe I need to step back. I understand the need to work and am not lazy, but I hate getting mandated, being told that every move is another write up that could happen and the unknown of a schedule I have no say so in. Its like when I hit 26, I realized change was needed but wasn't sure what, and I am still not. I just got some strange feeling that I was dying, something we start doing from birth, but that my lifestyle isn't sustainable. I drink a lot of coffee, don't drink water hardly at all, have diabetes II and some mood issues. All of which can be over come but when stress gets bad enough, it makes the entire structure go crazy and no longer functional, thus rending me non functional.

I realize my plan may fall flat on its face, that I may be to square zero and in the end, this could be the wrong path, but there comes a time when its time to see what happens. I may also play my cello on the street corner, who knows, I just want to feel whole again, something I haven't felt since working in journalism. The stress did it in for me though although I must admit the crazy manic too much caffeine, sporadic food, constant travel and a rush from deadlines spurring creativity from the most recessive areas of my brain are dearly missed. Perhaps that's what I am looking for, a recreation of that feeling without someone else creating deadline.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A tour of my 2 rooms

This is Julia, the new kitten, now at 8.5 weeks old who is my new travel companion and Ajahs buddy. She is like a supermodel and loves to play, and boy is she a talker.
So I promised a tour of my apartment or 2 rooms (288 sq ft) as I share the kitchen and bathroom with a room mate and I keep my hygiene stuff with me to avoid confusion, so with out further waiting, here is the tour: (Please note this is what an apartment furnished by van dwelling looks like and I have actually grown to like it)
 
This is the back room. The top is the right side of the room housing the cat corner and the closet (nothing else in it) houses the litter box. The 2nd photo is looking from back to front with my 3 drawers for a variety of smaller items, mostly van items (tire pressure gauge, temp gauge ect), my jump rope, some candles and other misc items. Then there is the TV, DVD player and radio and of course the tri fold bed.
 Back right of room is clothes in the larger bin and smaller bin is entertainment.
And above is the front room closest to the entrance. This is my book and office area. The closet on this side has our camping/hiking and cat carriers as well as a few hanging items (3 dress suites). 

 This is the amount of things I have had for about 2 years now. I do have 2 folding chairs and a bean bag for sitting. I will be getting a new flat screen for the computer and a better cell phone (finally gave it on that one) for internet that can be tethered to the computer. Then a laptop with a USB TV Tuner so I can ditch the TV and have the flat screen, CPU and laptop to take care of all my entertainment needs.

I have been talking of minimalism and simply wanted to share my space with the world and maybe inspire someone else to down size, think of what they need and organize, hope you enjoyed the tour.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Everyones Doing It - Nomad and Minimalism

It seems everywhere I look now, there is another blog on minimalism. I started this one as a personal journal and it will continue as such. My journey started with some dust allergies and too much fur for my comfort, so instead of spending hours of my life cleaning and sneezing, I got rid of what needed dusted. If it was that valuable, I took a picture. It was like a waking moment when I realized how much time was being spent cleaning that I wanted to be doing other things. That was almost 2 years ago and I its the most freeing thing I ever did.

I got tired of looking at books and stuff I hadn't touched in years or bought and never read: so it went. I don't entertain more than 3 people at a time, so I downsized my dishes, and I don't wear a month of clothes before doing laundry, nor am I a skinny mini any longer, so some of the clothes went. I had tapes, DVDs and random who knows what items that went out the door to various points.

At some point I decided a bed was too much work to clean underneath, to move to make and in general, just not worth it. So I sold mine and went for a tri fold on the floor after trying sleeping on the floor, air mattresses, foam mats and bed rolls (the bed rolls are good). I had plastic drawers for dressers I didn't even know what was in them. I got rid of them and went through their contents. I switched to various shoebox containers.

Then came the office clutter, the bathroom areas and the living room. I even got rid of the couch and armchair, it was just to much to vacuum. Well that was in a house, then I realized I had way to much house for one room of stuff. Then hey, a van is a good idea. AND IT WAS!! Now everything fits tidy, has dual purpose and is moveable. And then came the little apartment that is an in law suite in a persons home, like having a room mate with out the headaches (we share a kitchen and bathroom). Ah relief. And here I am again going through my stuff again before the holidays. No kids, no commitments, just a job, a roof and freedom from stuff, clutter and chaos of searching for things in a nest of junk. Now I can clean in under an hour, do two loads of laundry every 2 weeks, and pack up the van with a basket and duffel to go on my marry way.

But with that, my generation now lives this way. We are a mobile bunch, not much into buying new cars and expensive homes. we are realistic of utility costs, how hard it is to move when the employment we gain (which may or may not happen) ends, and how its important to be a utilitarian but yet live life for all its worth because many of us don't have health insurance, some don't drive a vehicle and some live in creative ways as it won't be available when we are older, we will be working for the rest of our days, so we might as well figure it out now. There are those as well who have kids but are shopping at Goodwill and Salvation Army knowing their kids will out grow their clothes quickly, their kids will probably move and some even have families on the road. We have given up trying to strike it rich and have the white picket fence as that doesn't lead to happiness, time spent living, exploring, learning and enjoying does -:)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Van

So I guess the Gods were shining down on me today lol or not, however you look at it. I have been working a lot lately to the point of being easily annoyed by the small things. I was on my way to work today and the van engine light came on and it died. So I got it towed, this vans first tow and a kind lady gave me a lift home. I had to call off work due to this issue. And of course they can't see it tomorrow as its sunday so Monday morning hopefully I will get the spaceship back. But I do get a weekend which I haven't had in 8 weeks.

I sure am glad I did laundry the other day so I am good to go there and also glad I have been keeping the van organized with my too go bag of important things in case of needing towed and then a basket with blankets, food and spare clothes so that thats easy to remove if I need too. The too go bag fits in my hobo bag, I was geared up for a walk today and with all my important stuff. The basket has stuff that if it got stolen is easy to replace, but can also be taken out easily for transfer to a different vehicle as my vehicle dwelling has mostly been nights between doubles of work, nights I need to stay in town for errands or visit family and I don't want to stay in their homes, hence more city camping than anything.

And so today I took a nap, took some neighborhood dogs for a walk, and have been organizing stuff from my last van from when I was full timing in the Dodge Caravan aka Betsy that has been hanging in the closet. I have gotten rid of some stuff and reorganized others as well as taken stock of some items that need replaced (the markers and colored pencils are looking pitiful) and I colored with my charcoal pencils today. So its been a good day. Its mostly been going through the small stuff and evaluating what I have to see where it fits. I try to go through my stuff at least once a season.

I also did something I have never done before, I had waited to do laundry so long for my pants and shirts (a week) and didn't have any clean clothes for the day so I stopped at Good will on the way to work and spent 13 dollars for a pair of pants and 4 shirts (2 long sleeved t shirts and 2 dress casual shirts). It took me all of 5 minutes to find what I was looking for, they had a 50 percent off sale, and I lost 2 pairs of pants and several tshirts this summer due to wearing out, so it was perfect timing. Since this shop is all clothes and everything is done by size and mostly by color, the staff were friendly, the clothes in good repair for the most part and my money will now go further nor will I have to go clothes shopping for a while. The long sleeved shirts will be nice for winter, the dress shirts for the forthcoming festive season, and the pants are a nice comfortable black slacks that wash and dry quickly, and are great for both being comfortable and looking nice. I have bought t shirts at garage sales and swore I would go to Good will at some point but there has been a mental block, & finally did it. I must say good job to Good will.

Thank you for the comments in the last post as it got me thinking about consumerism, and it gave me the motivation to try a second hand shop as well as save money, it worked like a charm. I also found a MP3 player at Big Lots for 24-50 dollars that will go nicely with my computer and later the laptop. And I found a 4 USB connector which will work great with a laptop, one for the camera, one for the keyboard, the mouse and then the MP3 player for charging and syncing. Now I am on the hunt for a smaller and more economical printer. Plus a flat screen for my home computer would be nice and an external hard drive that is smaller and can move between laptop and home computer would be nice. I think even in the van I will maintain my home CPU unit because I had it built the way I wanted with several slots for various size memory cards, 6 USB front ports and loaded with a variety of graphics programs that would be expensive to license to a new computer but I do have backed up on an external hard drive so  I wonder how that would work. And finally I am curious about the new wireless charging docks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What technology has replaced

My computer and cell have replaced my phone book, several novels and tour guides/maps. Its nice to be able to have much less dust collecting items to keep track of, that are easily ruined and are hard to find and replace. I can back up anything digital and can carry a lot of "paper" on a hard drive. However, there will always be books and and maps that are kept for sentimental reasons which aren't many as some I have scanned and kept digitally.
I was considering doing pictures of my worldly posessions and sharing here as well. The goals of actual stuff are now more aligned with true travel. Given the cost of gas, I really want to travel by bike and foot more. So I have been down sizing more of my sentimental items and going digital on other things like CDs to mp3 conversions. I would also like to explore outside the US as well as work on my diet and better fitness level.

However, being minimalist, no matter how much you get rid of, stuff will find its way back and will need sorted, especially trash and the mail never seem to end although there is less trash, but junk mail is still there as well as offers from so and so. I just keep removing storage containers for stuff and force myself to go through the too large for the space provided pile until it fits. I am hoping to get down to 2 totes and 2 backpacks.

The totes or giant shoe boxes as some call them (one 16 gal and one 32 gal) will have kitchen, office and craft supplies while the backpack will contain camping and technology and the duffel bag will have the cats stuff and clothes in it. There will be a container of litter and food for the cats and an additional tote for the food. I figure the totes are for van dwelling while the backpack and duffel are for adventures from home (overseas and bike/foot excursions).

This is the plan for the future although this working all the time business is getting tiring and so keeping up with current projects is a pain let alone more to come but there always is.

Technology

My computer is older, my phone is from wal mart and I don't check facebook every day. I still use email from yahoo and gmail and upload photos on my webs account. Now I could upgrade to a new phone but why: I pay 30 a month and still have minutes and data usage left over. My computer still has enough memory to play Empire Earth and Joan of Arc, check my email, edit my photos in photoshop and create interesting flash graphics when the mood hits me. I can still use my flash drive and small portable back up hard drive for more space if I like.

I have come to realize that technology isn't making it easier for humans to stay in touch and develop society (it does in some cases) but moreso is taking away our ability to interact with other human beings, creating a sort of hermitage and a dependence on a power source. People seem to be ruder and more impatient. Now sure I have never been patient and I do get to the point, but when I go to the grocery store, I still stand in line for a cashier because I like the interaction of hello and having a human to talk to if something isn't right. I like to ask people how their day was and will likely here a full story beyond the common formalities. Guess what: I might learn something new and you may too. How about the people in line with you? I will not support a machine ringing out my groceries and if thats the only option I have then I will leave a store.

And the day I get a cell phone or computer that I answer to all the time is the day I am divorcing it all together. My cell phone allows me to check my email and read emails from groups and friends I deem interesting, it is my yellowbook and my reminder as well as alarm clock. Yep the folks from wal mart have provided all I need for cellular service. Many of my aquaintances are pressuring me to invest in a iphone. They walk around attached to their cell phones like zombies bidding a masters commands. I actually feel like I am on an electronic leash with my phone as is. So sometimes I do turn it off, especially at night, and if someone calls, they can wait. Email is the same way, there is nothing so pressing I will stop what I am doing to check it and blogging is because I feel like it. Are you married to your phone, is it on even during work because you might miss a facebook update, do you check a text at 2 am and answer your cell even during dinner out with friends? I have gone out with friends lately and their phone has become the third wheel.

As for the computer, its great for research, note taking, internet access and occasional chatting, banking and blogging, but at no point should it be more important than human interaction. I have relatives that used to go out all the time with me and now don't want to leave over facebook games. Life is still pressing onward and your crops aren't paying you. There is a fine line between enjoyment and obsession.

So with that I feel like I spend to much time with the TV, the computer, my cell and on the internet but it isn't my ENTIRE life, so I encourage everyone to reflect on how technology is helping you and not taking up valueable time that could be spent elsewhere.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life lessons so far: education, work and experiences

So I am now 26 and it didn't really hit me until this week as I work like a mad woman. Lets just say this week has been chalk full of experiences I can't share here but have changed my perspective on things quite a bit. The urge to up and go is stronger than ever. I am going to work one year, cut back on everything, pay off my remaining debt and move on. I borrowed some money to buy the van as my last one was quite costly in repairs. I paid that off today and in record time which tells me everything else can be paid off quickly.

I have learned that humans can be completely unpredictable. People you think you know you really don't. I have learned that watching these changes can be enlightening to what is human nature, what we need and want and how we express ourselves. I have learned that I miss being mobile because I enjoy meeting people, enjoying company and moving on. I believe everyone comes into our lives for a period and then its time to explore again. And furthermore, I have learned to appreciate the people in my life, to trust those whom I must and to rely on instinct for everything else. I love what I do but I have pretty much explored all I can without going agency which is indeed an option but budget cuts, getting with the right crew and finding a job that pays enough to be worth the work is challenging. Its taken me over 3 years to do just that.

I recently considered going into management and thats an experience I want but I don't want the obligation. I don't want to be tied to being "over qualified" when I simply want to work on the floor and not behind a desk with paperwork writing people up for events I wasn't present for and answering for peoples actions I have no clue about. Clearly, I would love to work for myself. I did so in pet sitting and that was great and its an option, one of many but I would like to do something that I can do from an apartment in Chicago to an RV in Canada. I want something that is going to make me happy, that continues the people I work with now but different. I have spent my time in my apartment reflecting and as winter approaches, the cost of gas goes up and Saturnalia approaches (December 17-23) that there is no more excuses and its time. Its written in stone, no more excuses, no more naysayers or obligations, its going to happen Oct 16, 2012 is my departure date.

I want to be a nomad without a destination, I don't want to be rushed and I want to know people long enough to watch and learn. I want to live life, see the world and take 2 crazy felines with me. I want to explore living carless and on bicycle in Chicago with the train, see Yellowstone and go back to AK. I looked at pics tonight of there and need a trip back for a moment, everything was so rushed when I left its time for a return. I hate having a time clock, having phone calls at 4 am and not being able to explore life the way I want.

I also learned that school is something I need right now and I am thinking on two options, becoming a graphic designer or a paralegal advocating for those with disabilities and farmers.I am a creative person and I don't feel challenged the way I would like. I love to read, don't have time for it, love history, no time, and that's where I am at. I would truly love to be a paralegal specifically for my ability to go to where I am needed and I can learn and teach online.

So for now I work, accomplish the impossible and move on. Once all bills are paid off in 6 months, I will never get stuck in the debt web again, then save for 6 months for a van and trailer and get ready to head west for some time off and do online schooling, then maybe teach school online, or substitute in the areas I am visiting as well as consulting work. My other interest in men getting custody of children. I would like to see more women pay child support, just because a women carries a child doesn't make her the better parent and its no easier for a man to raise a child financially than the women.

So the plan, work, pay off debt, save, go to school and LIVE. This is dedicated to yet another person I know who passed of cancer at a young age. We need to live now as there is only one life and what we do now will shape an eternity for those that come after (even if we don't see it) as well as ourselves.

So with that I toast a glass of wine to those who have lived deeply, fought bravely, been truthful and followed their dreams, leaving precedent and legacy for all of us here now to follow. The holidays have been a hard time for me and mine and this year I am going to focus on what we have vs what we don't for we can't change the entire world, just shape one strand of the fates in this moment.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quick Update

I haven't had a chance to post in a few days. I am working like a crazy person. The hours are too be had, the money is there and the job is good. I will take it while its there and run with it. The new kitten is doing well, she is getting fixed in a few short weeks and Ajah is getting along with her new pale. It took them about a week to learn to live together and furthermore, like each other. I really enjoyed coming home to two cats purring on either side of me and both accepting the fact I can pay attention to both. It works well. Thank you to my neighbor that has been stopping in to play with them and feed them while I work this insane schedule. Hence I won't be online for some time in between.

The van is holding up good so far (knock on wood lol), and so I can actually save up some money instead of constantly putting a few hundred in repairs. And hopefully in a year I will have my savings for 6 months, my van and trailer and ready to hit the road and try some workamping. Its much easier to work my life away when there is a goal. I have found some very interesting workamping opportunties that would let me keep the cats with me as well as have time to explore the surrounding areas and maybe hold a part time job in the area for the summer and fall and maybe into the Christmas rush, then head west on BLM land for the hard part of winter through spring to start the cycle over. I would also love to spend a summer traveling Canada through the Yukon, spend some time in Seattle and then enjoy the historical aspects of the East Coast. I have done the trip part of the above but all were so rushed, I need more time to really absorb and immerse in those areas, more like months, not days and weeks.

I would also like to take an extended trip to Russia and really experience Russia for all it has to offer. Add Rome and the old Roman empire to that list, maybe take a caravan throughout some of Europe from Rome, Italy to Britannia and the Isles via the old Roman roads to experience the trip. I feel a spiritual connection to old Rome (pre Christian era) and would like to visit some of the temples, the villas and eat the food and learn Latin. I am not into back packing post college style nor do I want to do a quick tour with tour guides, I want to experience the culture. These would be nice winter in the US trips during the non holiday times.

So I go by the term geo nomad or sporadic nomad because I settle into an area for a bit and then move onto something else. The fast paced travel without reason with a bucket list just is an extended vacation meaning spending money on un needed items, hanging in tourist areas, and going back to "something" at the end. My idea is the fun doesn't end, it just keeps going until I decide when and how I want something different. Plus my home or stuff goes with me so I am not tied to a schedule and home is with me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So I am back at my 280 sq ft apartment this evening. With the kitten, I had to go about getting out my kitten stuff which was stored in a corner from Ajahs kitten hood (think 4 years and 3 stix and brix moves) and moving all my stuff around so I am feeling a bit cluttered for the moment. Its like my system needs completely revamped. Of course,  the van is good as my layout isn't really different with the new addition so this post will focus on the apartment.

However, I have had my basic system is every place I stay or move, I simply pack my like items the same each time and unpack in each new place in the same order. I learned that skill in the military. There is the pet, clothes/shoes, kitchen, bedding, toiletries and towels, music, tech/entertainment, and office/decoration categories. For some reason I don't tend to part with the pet stuff so I can rotate it out of my closet area so it feels new to them. (scratchers, hide a holes, boxes, toys ect) but since this move everything is pretty much as unpacked or stored. Having to pull stuff out has led to complete space chaos thus leading me to another evaluation of what comes in must send something out and looking at a new system, maybe one a little more diversified.

Living in small spaces is doable and fun if you are organized, clean up as you go and keep new items in check. 280 sq ft compared to a mini van is like a palace but I also don't go out as much as I used too. I have been working quite a bit and unlike the van where everything is right with in reach and really only often used items, the apartment affords me the option of being prepared, holding more food and working on crafts this winter. Having a shower a few feet away is also a plus.

So lets discuss organization and soon I will post pics of my living space. My space is rented from a house so I use the house bathroom but other than that, its 2 rooms on the office floor that is my kitchen, office, living room and bedroom.

My bed is on the floor and is a tri fold meaning it can double as a couch. I also have 2 bean bags and fold up chairs/tables (2) thus allowing for some company and entertaining. I use the bean bag as a seat to my office area that is an end table with a computer on it and electronics on the shelf below. The TV is next to the bed with the DVD player and the DVDs are in one binder I created while coming back from AK so I could have it on the road.

I gave up on dressers long ago as they weigh a ton, are a pain to clean and move and my rubbermaid totes do the same job, can be stored along the floor and 3 of them open up giving me an organized warddrobe or underclothes, tops and bottoms and seasonal storage clothing. Bedding storage is kept in a backpack style laundry sack.

All my books fit in 2 unused litter boxes and papers in a filing folder. The portable "office" supplies fit into a small plastic carry case.

The cat stuff fits in a carry bag, portable cat tree, and carrier plus my midwest playpen and portable shelter (made for dogs).

My point is even with that much only, the mail and misc is getting too large and its comfortable living this way. However, with working lately, I am getting a bit messy and in such a small space its just there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eventful

I worked a 16 hour double this weekend to try and get financially ahead. I am also about to go on a working spree again before winter hits hard but that will start for next pay period. This is enough for now... but then its time to start working on buying a small trailer to expand space. I am a minimalist but there is a certain level of comfort that is expected.

I would like a 10 ft egg either fiberglass or aluminum with a shower, porta potty, jackknife bed, and dinette/ kitchenette. The dinette will be coverted to a home office, sofa for sleeping or entertaining friends, and the bathroom for obvious needs. I don't want to be tied nor have to drive to use my facilities. Then the van will be for sleeping, porta potty, and camp gear/ storage, bike hauler, more likely an off road/daily driver vehicle as I think finding a spot for a camper seems relatively easy for very little money and when  in conventional housing, the trailer can be in storage or used as a get a way spot.

The reason for this change... I haven't particularly been looking for a new cat/kitten but I missed having 2. Unfortunately my older girl Ajah wasn't handling her companion well and her companion wasn't handling traveling too well. So I made that difficult decision to place her with a great friend and she is doing well now in her stable house dwelling life. But Ajah is lonely and over affectionate, and there has been a gap for the both of us....

In the meantime, mid Sep there was a semi feral cat on the grounds at work that had kittens in the dumpster, which were then scared off by the grounds keepers and she took them to the near by woods, staff fed them and now have been working to trap mom (get her fixed and find her a farm home) and the kittens (to be socialized and placed).

My co worker knowing I am mobile, have only 1 cat  and a love of torties caught the tortie kitten and brought it to me after spending the past 2 weeks gaining her trust. She stayed the night in one of the offices and I brought her home this morning. She handled the van ride really well, loves to sit on my shoulder, is purring already, and seems to be in good health. She is eating and drinking. I stimulated her in the litter box and that produced good results. Stools look normal. I am guessing she is around 5 weeks which is far younger than I prefer but she was bound to be harder to socialize and could get hit by a car in her current situation plus winter is coming.

Ajah is still hesitant but thats to be expected and will change over time.

I have named my new girl Julia. She is named after the Julian family name in Rome as their family historically was brilliant, stead fast and bound for success that was created by strong teaching and nurturing surroundings. Julia was born in a dumpster, went to the woods, and now to me. She has already figured out the indoors is good, likes humans, and needs to eat to survive.

Furthermore, as I have done a great deal of traveling through out most of my adult life, I have created a system for adaptation which will work for most but not all. This is the youngest kitten I have gotten. She did well in the van, is using the kitty playpen I set up for her litter box and feeding times. (no door closed) I also opened the carriers and put her bed in there and she going there for a safe place. I will take her on rides in the van for short trips and once she is old enough for shots and is fixed, she will learn about the leash. She is already visiting family and has met the dogs (who don't live with me) to experience people and new sites and smells. The next 6 weeks are critical.

Her comfort on the road, in new surroundings, with strangers, with Ajah and her schedule are incredibly important for her comfort and mine. Tomorrow I am going to clip her nails and in a few weeks she will get her flea treatment. I figure now is the best time since I do have an apartment, she and Ajah can have room to get to know each other, get used to life and gradually move into things. I will also begin showing her in TICA in the HHP category in December.

So until December 2011 I will work a lot and save hopefully and then get my trailer, hitch up and begin camp hosting and working agency in my career field. I haven't had a stick to it plan but now  I am putting those plans in place. One of my co workers is doing the same but going car less for life in a big city and he really inspired me to once again reach for my goals. I hardly see half my family now and with Skype and other technology, I can keep in touch.

Then when I settle down, I will build a cabin in the foot hills of the mountains in AZ, use the trailer and van for get a ways and sit on my rustic porch in my small cabin staring at the endless land scape sipping coffee with a good book in my old age.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Day

I am tuckered out at this point after a unleashing of powerful creative energy.I even got dressed up, applied for a few positions and then got a meal at BK, then sat in the parking lot of a nearby store munching and writing. I simply unleashed a few thoughts that are starting to form onto paper. More to come on that. I had plans to do some other things with a check I got and have been waiting on for over a month, but after the drive to do applications, no energy was left. But I did layout the van finally and the next vehicle I get will hopefully be a 4x4, a wee bit bigger and taller. So for now this will work for camping. I keep material posessions to what can fit in my humble abode and go from there.

I have been in the apartment now for almost a month and still find myself sleeping in the van, housing starts to feel very suffocating to say the least. Plus I notice all the space in the apartment is calling my name to add to it and clutter is like debt. Its easy to get into and ever so hard to dig out of. And not to mention transferring things from point a to b is a pain. I need a Mr Buddy heater and some propane at the top of my list. Plus working two jobs, its too big of a pain to drive to terrible far but the weather is too cold to be without heat so here we are.

In addition, I people watched today. These are not judgements or anything else, just my observations:
I saw 2 people that appeared homeless. Both were on bike with stuff stashed around their bikes. One was well groomed. One was not. I didnt speak to either of them, just watched. The one guy had a long beard and reminded me of a Hippy. He was carrying aluminum cans that he traded for groceries. He was smiling as well.

I also noticed  in this town of upper class folks with shiny cars, several old pickup trucks that threatened to not start full of cans that were being used to get groceries. Men in designer suits with rusty beaters at the store, I never fathomed to see this. It used to be those pu trucks never left driveways and were used to plow snow or what not as many people in this place have long narrow drive ways. Maybe common sense prevailed and those pu trucks are the 2nd driving vehicle for home town errands and people are recycling to make ends meet. Interesting how we all get eco conscience when the economy goes south.

With 2 pairs of pants on the mend right now and no motivation to mend them, I am considering a trip to the local thrift shop to replace the pants. They aren't expensive or one of a kind, I just hate to get rid of something that with a little TLC could be back to operational.

What do you all keep and mend that could be replaced? As a van dweller or nomad, there are some items that take on a life of their own and giving them up isn't going to happen. There are three options: learn to live with it, learn to fix it or learn to leave it and be happy for the time spent together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meditation

Today is technically my birthday and perhaps 3 other people I know as well. Well, between working two jobs, balancing a new van payment for the moment and meandering through life, I am going to do one thing today: meditate. With the last van, I finally got on well enough I could work 20 hours and pay the bills. I should be working on saving and planning for tomorrow but I haven't as well as I should be. I decided this summer when I simplified that for the first time in my life, I was going to take some much needed me time, not spend my money on odds and ends, and simply learn to do with less; too trust that fate would take its course... and it has...

Well, it has paid off in one way or another. I now work two jobs but feel emotionally stuck. I love what I do but its time to move into another area of what I do as well as explore some time with gardening and homesteading. I want to challenge myself. I never liked gardening but love eating, so its time to see about some harvesting jobs for next spring and maybe next winter. Its time for a change. And I read my horoscope today, interesting enough. The winds of change are upon me, the time for movement is soon but not yet.

Today I am going to think, just let the free hand of thought flow and lead me where it might, even away from the comfort zone. Maybe go through some more of my things and see what still holds value. Life changes constantly. Mostly, I feel a calling to tour the old Roman empire, to learn Latin and explore the beginnings of modern day society just for the fun of it.

I am interested in backpacking and using the van as a homebase, more biking but not hitchhiking. Of just taking off into the sunset and seeing what is out there. Just trusting that the guiding hands of Fate will reach through and provide for as long as this is my path.

It is the ebb and flow of life that things are right at one point and not in the next. I have already done and experienced so many wonderful things in my life time that I could pass now with no regrets but there are a few more things I want to experience so its with that in mind that I am embarking on a new journey.

Van dwelling is only one area of freedom I yearn for. There are WWOOF farms, crops to harvest seasonally, and international travel. I know international travel isn't permanent, its something that is part of life. But who knows where it will lead.

So I am beginning to look at what I have now materially and spiritually and see whats going to be useful. I haven't had the time in over 2 months to do a meditation and belongings run, its that time and the new van is starting to share its soul with me. I don't want to build permanent or bulky items that need to be stored when I am away in the future, just things to be comfortable can be taken out and used for several areas.

I am also starting to walk the night again, always a moon child getting a solar "charge" from the sun, gothic some might call it.

And in the green discussion, there has been a lot of discussion on downsizing, how about staying the same. Maybe the secret to life is indeed balance, finding what is too little and too much. Too much feels crowded and too little feels cold. Try seeing how little trash can be accumulated, see how many items can be reused for something personal, how many items can be mended or traded and what technology isn't a power hog but can provide for entertainment without a huge upfront cost. If the initial investment is small, then the ongoing investment will add up. If the initial investment is in quality and sustainability, then the end result is not having a new permanent bill.

Take for example a conventional bed, many people in the world don't have one and live in small areas where the bed can't be a permanent item. I have been sleeping on a mat on the floor or a foam pad for over a year now and I get quality sleep, can move my bed with me anywhere and use the space under it to do other activities. Dressers are overrated. They are big, bulky, likely to break and a pain to keep clean. Baskets, pull out drawers, organizer shoe boxes do just as good and are lite weight. Duffle bags and purses are great for organization, in general, its all on creativity.

Some other areas, I do one load of laundry a week and have been experimenting with hand washing the under garments instead of doing laundry 2-3 times per week. If the puppy would stop getting into my clothes, they would last longer lol.

My wishlist: I would like a flat panel to put with my main CPU and to watch TV on, a laptop, and ipod for hiking. I am going to sell some of the decorative stuff that isn't inspiring me these days to help pay for it. I would really like to get a new more energy efficient CPU but thats some mula up front. I also need a Mr Buddy heater for the van.

However, common sense tells me an ipod and a laptop would meet my needs and a flat screen panel could be hooked to the laptop to provide the same function but having two computers not always working at the same time is functional as well. And maybe just focusing on getting prepped for winter hiking and saving money is good too.