Tiny Living Revisited

It’s pretty funny when one considers a thirty-five foot travel trailer as expanded quarters. But when I first moved in to my new trailer in September, it felt HUGE to me. That’s because I had spent the last two years and four months living full time in a much smaller motor home. I don’t need a lot but I was starting to feel the frustrations of constantly stepping over stuff or having to climb to get something. Having no floor space, especially when you are sharing with two pets, could eventually wear on the nerves of even the most strident minimalist.

If you look at the floor plans of the 24 foot motorhome vs the 35 foot travel trailer, you may at first not see a lot of difference. However, one of the major differences is the slide outs. Take a look again at the floor plans and now look at the floor space itself. The beds, toilets, dinettes are approximately the same size, but in the travel trailer, I actually have real floor space that I was lacking for over two years.

Now that I’ve been in my travel trailer for a little over four months, I began to make lists in my head of things that were different for me. I think it was one morning when I was standing near the heater by the queen bed and getting dressed. The thought occurred to me that I couldn’t stand up in the bedroom before and take my time getting dressed, with my clothes laid out neatly on the bench at the end of the bed. That’s because the motor home bedroom has no floor space! I felt quite indulged at this thought and revisited the appreciation of my new floor spaces.

Now here’s a funny difference. I was never able to use the toaster oven in the motor home without the smoke alarm going off, even when I had windows open and the stove fan running. That’s because the only counter space in the whole motor home is a little pop up shelf that is right under the alarm. Smart design, you’all.

In the travel trailer, I actually have enough floor space that I was able to buy a little kitchen shelving unit that matches the decor and holds my toaster oven, Instant Pot, and Vita-mix. I’ve used the toaster and its oven numerous times, with or without the fan running, and never had any problems at all. I’ve gotten quite spoiled and it will take a real re-adjustment when I go back to motor home living in the summer.

Finally, I never realized how much of a difference there is between 30 amp and 50 amp power supplies. I got in the habit quickly with the motor home of turning one thing off when needing to turn another thing on. For example, I was never able to run the AC at the same time as the microwave. And when I was running an electric heater (more efficient than the propane heater that comes with the RV when I’m hooked up to shore power and don’t want to keep filling a tiny little propane tank), I had to be very careful what else was turned on at the same time.

I even melted my power cord to the surge protecter one time when I’d been hooked up for many months during a hot summer and when I went to leave, couldn’t get them separated because the rubber was all glued together. I’m not sure if that was because I was running the AC almost 24/7 or because there was a malfunction with the power box.

I’ve become almost spoiled in the travel trailer. I still want to be mindful of my usage and I have a really nice, heavy-duty surge protector, but still, I can cook while the AC is running. I can do my laundry (yes, there’s a built in W/D) while running the electric fireplace. And while those are running, I can even go make some popcorn in the microwave without fretting about being conservative. I might have to be careful not to develop some bad habits but it’s so nice not to have to worry about all the little things.

So even thought the travel trailer is only a little under 36 feet long and 8 feet wide (with slides in), it still feels like a mansion to me. How have you embraced tiny living?

The winter abode

From wandering vagabond to esoteric hermit — Crossing things off my bucket list in 2018 and 2019 and now I’m not

My lifestyle really changed in the spring of 2020. Before March 23, I was a carefree soul who traveled full time. I had my dogs and my cat and my motorhome and no particular place to be. In 2018 and 2019, we had racked up 16 states, over 60 rv park reviews, and over 30 sightseeing spots reviewed and photographed for posterity. (If you are interested in all my reviews and photographs, you can start here: animalsaboard.com).

I joked that I was a professional sightseer and I really enjoyed that moniker. There weren’t too many places along our way that I couldn’t enjoy without the dogs and the few places I did want to explore without them, (such as museums and live shows), I found it easy enough to leave them tucked in to their special spots in the motor home with their favorite toys for a few hours.

What was great about 2019 was a difference in me from 2018. In 2018, I was new to cross-country motorhome travel and was still learning a lot. I was able to overcome some fears and take some chances but mostly I played it safe. In 2019, now that I was more comfortable, I took the dogs and explored places that were a little more off the beaten track or just places I wanted to see that I had bypassed the previous trek across the US.

I was able to cross off the following from my initial bucket list when I first set off in June 2018. I know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins but I was really proud of myself for doing these things that had been on my mind for years previous. I would have to say, and I speak for the dogs too, that we enjoyed every single minute and never had any regrets.

  • Route 66 and the requisite trading post stores along the route — we traveled either the original route or a nearby highway from Southern California to Oklahoma City. I got some great photos at really iconic places I had been wanting to see in person, including the Giganticus Headicus and the corner in Winslow. I also bought a kachina doll, a serape, some leather boots, and sent several gifts home to friends and the folks.
  • The Gulf — I remember the very first day the dogs walked down the boardwalk and saw the Gulf Ocean for the first time. We were in Galveston. I spent a glorious 2 weeks playing in the warm sand and taking long walks along pristine pocket beaches. I also made a good new friend there that I’m still in contact with on Facebook.
  • The Louisiana Bayou — Besides the food, one of my favorite authors sets all her books in this area in cute little made up towns like Sinful, Louisiana and Mudbug. My only regret is that I booked RV Resorts instead of state parks most of the time and who knows if I’ll ever be back down that way. But what we did do was pretty memorable. The huge historical plantation Rosedown gave me many exquisite photo ops and memories. Another memorable day was the boardwalk hike among the alligators at Percy Quinn State Park in Southern Mississippi.
  • Myrtle Beach — I had been telling people I would go to Myrtle Beach one day for probably ten years. And we finally made it. I booked a rather older historical rv park right on the beach in the north area and I’m glad I was here and not at one of the more pristine fancy parks. We spent three great weeks exploring on foot, walking on the beach every day, or in the rental car, driving to sites and I took in a few shows without the dogs. This was my first exposure to “snow birds.” I got to know my next door neighbors, who had a house in Massachusetts and spent October through April every year in this RV Park.

There were several things I did in 2019 that I’m so glad I didn’t pass up. It started off with spending my birthday in a place that had fond memories from my childhood and then I got to see my neighborhood in New Mexico from the 1960s.

  • Calico Ghost Town — I had been here just passing through with a relative in the 90s and had always wanted to come back. Being able to spend a week in this quaint, Knotts Berry Farm vibe place was a memory I’ll cherish for a long time. And in the 1960s, my family had lived just down the road in Apple Valley. The best thing about Calico Ghost Town? All the attractions are dog-friendly.
  • Petrified Forest — I believe I was only about 5 or 6 the last time I had been here. It seems that when traveling from Southern California through to Oklahoma, which I was doing to visit my son, and planning stops every 200 or 300 miles, I kept missing this stop. So this time, I deliberately planned a stop with 4 days at the nearby KOA (Kampgrounds of America). We took a driving tour of the whole park and I checked out both visitor’s centers and gift shops while the dogs waited for me.
  • Roswell International UFO Museum — I found out later that the museum is actually dog-friendly but it was probably better for my crew to wait for me in the motor home in the parking lot. I’d been wanting to stop here for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed.

Unfortunately, some of 2019 didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned. One place that is still on my bucket list is the Thumb of Michigan (again a place-setting for one of my favorite authors). I made travel arrangements from Oklahoma City all the way north and east, ending with 4 weeks at Lake Huron in two separate state parks. Then, disaster struck. I ended up staying in Oklahoma for tooth surgery and spent the rest of the summer recuperating. I had to cancel all travel plans for up north.

I did spend 2 months in Branson, Missouri, another bucket list place, that fall. Again, I wasn’t disappointed. We had some great adventures and memories while there. Then, it was time to start heading to my winter digs again. I was sad about not seeing Michigan but was headed to a restorative month back at the Gulf Coast through Thanksgiving and then on to my winter spot in Southeastern Texas.

By winter 2019, I already had plans and reservations through spring and summer 2020. And by April 2020, I was on the phone and email cancelling everything. My plan had been to spend two months visiting my elderly folks in Northern California, including getting to celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday in April. Then, at the end of May, I had plans to attend my first ever large RV Rally in Wyoming, with over 1000 people expected. I was going to spend the rest of the summer of 2020 exploring the Rocky Mountain states, which would all be new to me.

Instead, I spent from December 2019 to July 2020 in the same place in Texas, about an hour northeast of Houston. I finally left at the end of July and spent a month back in Oklahoma City to visit my son. From there, I thought maybe it would be safe to start traveling back to California. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t see my dad at all before it was too late. His health was really frail throughout 2020.

Traveling is still not advised so again cancelled plans to see my dad. In the meantime, I ended up at the top of a waiting list for a co-op RV site in New Mexico so I decided to pack in the traveling lifestyle for awhile. I moved to New Mexico at the beginning of September 2020 and bought a larger travel trailer to live in. My motor home is still in storage waiting for the day I can take her out again and get back to seeing this great country of ours. But for now, I must entertain myself with internet adventures, some writing projects, and my arts and crafts.

Cat Truisms

What I’m saying is nothing new. Cat owners for millenniums have known the following. These truisms are so “true” that there are thousands of cat memes on any one of these three on the internet, all garnering a chuckle or at least a knowing smile from cat-owners the world over.

But as I was reflecting on the habits of my own nine year old smoosh the other day, I thought it would be fun to make a list. So here goes:

  1. “The cat bowl needs to be filled MeOW!”
    If the bowl of dry cat food is at the halfway mark or lower, you can be sure that your little fur ball will find a way to let you know that he’s currently starving to death over here.

    Sometimes I’ll try to fool him and just shake the half a bowl of crunchies and mix it up a bit. That usually doesn’t work.
  2. “May I present my butt for your pleasure”
    Nothing new here but with the recent advent of working from home, there are now circulating the funniest video clips of cats being absolutely sure that they are granting you the privilege of seeing that fuzzy butt-ness up close and personal.

    I seem to garner the majority of my opportunities to inspect said behind while I’m working on my laptop. Or while I’m laying on the couch reading. What’re you gonna do?
  3. “If it’s smaller than me, I can push it off and watch it land”
    There’s a YouTube video called Thug Cat Knocks Glass Off Table that I used to show in my classroom often because it’s just so darn funny.

    Whenever I can’t find something that I know I had recently on my dining room table (where I do most of my work), like a pen or paperclip or something, I start foraging around under the table in amongst the dog blanket paraphernalia. I usually find what I’m looking for. 

I know there are more that just the three I listed above. Cats might be the single most popular pet on the planet. Can you think of any more cat truisms?

I Live In An Abandoned Town

In the desert, structures and remnants of lives don’t ever go away completely. The skeletons of abodes, fences, abandoned recreational vehicles, old barns can be seen dotting the landscape amongst the tumbleweeds and creosote. I first noticed this when I spent two years driving back and forth across the country in my motor home. I traversed Interstate 40 and Interstate 10, sun-bright yellow land contrasted by blue, blue skies flashing by at sixty or sixty-five miles an hour. I travelled less used byways and county roads at a much more leisurely pace through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, slowing to gawk at derelict motels or restaurants abandoned alongside the road.

Several months ago, I decided to park the motorhome, buy a trailer and settle down in one spot, Lakewood, New Mexico. I was now in the middle of a couple hundred acres of grazing cattle and about two miles from the nearest highway. I can cross over a set of railroad tracks to get to the little post office set up in a trailer but there are no buildings or other businesses to speak of. At least I didn’t think there were. The reasons I picked the spot had nothing to do with the history or the landscape but when I learned about the thriving community that was this place a hundred years ago, I was hooked.

Now the freight trains just blare their horn and pass through during the night. But there was a passenger stop along the route at Lakewood, originally called McMillan, with a saloon, drug store, and post office, in the late 1890s (http://genealogytrails.com/newmex/eddy/dayton.html).  

In 1911, The Lakewood Canning Factory was built. The building is still standing although the business closed permanently in 1922. I’ve driven around trying to find the remains of other town buildings but it’s all private property now with secured gates.

If you do a current Google search on Lakewood, NM, you will learn that the population in Lakewood (zip 88254) is 31. There are 1 people per square mile aka population density. I don’t think that takes in to account the mobile home park I live at but otherwise, quite true. I believe there are more abandoned buildings and vehicles than residents in these parts. But it’s alive with history and, if you’re observant, the pieces left behind.

Writing Courses

https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-jtosb

Have you ever signed up for a writing class, either online or in person? I’ve taken a few over the last couple years since I retired and decided to devote more time to my writing projects. I have either not paid anything or paid under $40, although you can find classes online that go upwards of $400 or $500 per session. I’m not there yet as far as wanting to spend that kind of money but sometimes I’m tempted. 

I’m tempted because I would love to have some professional feedback on what I’m producing. I sometimes feel like I’m writing in a bubble, especially now with only essential businesses open. I joined a writing group last summer while I was in OKC that met once a month. I only attended one meeting. I felt inspired but wasn’t really sure I was getting the kind of feedback I really needed for my personal projects. The workshop consisted of writing from prompts and then going around the room and reading them out loud.

One of the most beneficial freebies I took and actually produced a sizable amount of content was a free online class called The Disobedient Writer. I’m not sure if the whole course is still available for free online. Here’s the link: https://thedisobedientwriter.com.

I’m currently taking a course from Coursera called Writing A Personal Essay. A portion of this series is free if you don’t submit any assignments. Still beneficial if you go through the videos and the writing exercises on your own.

Writing is a dynamic process, whether you’ve published 20 books or are still working on your first novel. I hope in the near future, we will be able to get together again in groups for feedback and support, but until then, it will all be virtual.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I like to research things on the internet. I also get distracted a lot. It seems that I am not able to watch a whole movie all the way through or enjoy a book without coming across things throughout that I just have to research. Some might say these are obsessive compulsive tendencies but I can’t wait till the show or the book is finished. I need to know right now.

I’ll give you an example. I’d just finished both seasons of Designated Survivor on Netflix and was scrolling for something new to watch. I came across a 2011 documentary called Magic Trip on Amazon Prime. This one hour and 47 minute documentary is an edited version of the hours and hours of filming the Merry Pranksters shot while taking that famous Ken Kesey-led bus trip across the USA. The documentary took me two days, maybe three, to complete because I kept wanting to know more about people and ideas that were referenced throughout.

This epic, although rather haphazard, journey took place just a year before the Beatle’s movie Help came out. And although I do remember seeing the Beatles, I certainly do not remember Ken Kesey or his bad of merry men (and women). So, once again, my friend, Google, satisfied my curiosity.

I had seen the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but had never read this book or anything else written by Ken Kesey. I googled Ken Kesey so I could see what else he’s done. I virtually borrowed “Sometimes a Great Notion” from the free Internet library (Archive.org) but then I didn’t want to read it until I knew what it was about. I don’t like surprises. My other friend, Wikipedia, told me it was about a logging family in Oregon so I passed on reading it. Not really my cup of tea.

Of course, Jack Kerouac was mentioned during Magic Trip, as well as Alan Ginsberg. Yes, I know who they are. No, I’ve never read their work. Another distraction from the documentary because I felt like I might not “get” it as well if I wasn’t versed in what the Beatniks, who were a huge influence on Ken Kesey, had to say. Back to the internet archives to do some reading. I got to about page twenty in “On The Road” and through the first section on “Howl.” Again, couldn’t get into either enough to make me want to read more.

Watched some more of the documentary. Tried to remember if I’d seen it before because it seemed like the kind of thing I would have watched. Also, I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. About three-quarters through the movie, when the Merry Pranksters have returned back to the left coast, Kesey goes into his philosophy, such as it was, and raison d’être for their next venture, the Acid Test Parties. Not five minutes into this section of the documentary and I was once again Googling. Turns out that Tom Wolfe, who I’d heard of, had written a book called the “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which is a new journalism take on this whole San Francisco experience.

Borrowed said book from Internet archives. Started reading. I must admit Wolfe is a genius with description. He made the Haight and skid row more real than I could ever have with words and I was there in the mid 70s. Again, though, I only got through about ten or eleven pages and gave up. I do feel like I embrace new journalism, I spent a good portion of my high school years writing music reviews, but maybe Tom Wolfe was a little too “new” for me.

So now you know. When I watch a movie or read an article or hear a reference, I spend just as much time learning about it as just experiencing it. What in the world did we do before the Internet?

Projects

Projects are no excuse for not writing. But there are times in one’s life when the “to-do” list just can’t be ignored. I’ve been quite busy since moving to my new state and my new home this month and though I’ve still been able to get a little writing done, writing is not at the forefront of my expended energy.

When you are writing for pleasure and have no accountability other than self-imposed deadlines, finishing up the chores on the daily list are sometimes an easy out. It takes not just a lot of discipline to sit at a typewriter or laptop all day but it can be mentally exhausting as well.

I remember when I was working on my Master’s Thesis through online courses at National University. I was taking care of a house and animals single-handedly and working full time. There were always things that needed to be done, whether inside or outside. And when those were completed, I was usually too exhausted to do anything as mentally challenging as working on a research paper. I fell into a routine of doing most of my writing on Saturday mornings, whilst still in my pajamas and before the rest of the day got in my way.

I was wondering the other day why I felt so busy all the time considering I retired more than two years ago. The list I came up with gave a clue.

  • walk dog 4x a day
  • feed pets 2x a day
  • cook meals and feed myself 3x a day
  • do dishes 2x a day
  • clean cat box 1x a day
  • make bed 1x a day
  • vacuum kitty litter and anything else that needs vacuuming 1x a day (sometimes 2)
  • laundry sorting or putting away (the w/d does the rest by itself) 2x a week
  • clean bathroom and kitchen sinks, counters, etc. 3x a week
  • go to town for groceries and any other shopping 1x a week

And I’m sure there are a whole host of other things I do on a regular basis.

My latest projects that are interfering with the writing are painting a little she shed casita on my property, supervising a deck building project and then getting ready to stain it. Finally, the little casita will have to have all the carpet ripped out and eventually replaced. Sure I could hire someone but a lot of it is work I can do myself. I really don’t mind hiring someone competent to do the work but I’d like to have someone that can do it quickly and professionally and that seems hard to find out here where I ended up.

I have two writing projects right now that I’m going back and forth on. One of them is not creative but is labor intensive, involving scanning, formatting, and typing. The other is creative but I don’t have enough knowledge of the subject to delve too deeply into it until I’ve spent more time here in my new state.

I don’t have to rely on my writing to earn a living and I really do have all the time in the world. For those of you who have deadlines that aren’t self-imposed, I wish you all the luck in the world and hope your day-to-day doesn’t interfere.

Tributes are Hard

Earlier this week, I ordered a Shutterfly photo book of 31 pages full of photos of the 13 years I had with Poppy. I wasn’t ready before this. She passed away on June 8, 2020. It took me awhile to process the loss to the point that I didn’t even want to talk about it with anyone for the first three days. I’ve lost pets before but Poppy and I had a special relationship.

Poppy and littermate before I adopted her.

I actually first met Poppy the day she was born. I lived next door and so was able to see her and her litter mates with their cute fuzzy roly poly bodies play and grow. I volunteered to take over their care when they were about five or six weeks old and ready for solid food because Momma dog wasn’t letting them eat. They were all cute but there was this one puppy that wasn’t as fuzzy as the others and was black and tan instead of merle. She was actually adopted out but came back the next day because one of the family members had allergies. That’s when I decided I would keep this one.

At training for Canine Good Citizen.

How did a 60 pound Aussie/Husky mix get the name Poppy? Well, when she was a cute little puppy, with a mom that was only about 32 pounds, I had no idea how big she would turn out. I named her after the California state flower. When she was just a few years old, I decided I had to know her lineage, even though I knew her momma dog, and I got her DNA done from Wisdom Panel. She was 49% Australian Shepherd and the rest was a combination made up mostly of Siberian Husky and undetermined. I used to tease and tell people she was a “Hussy,” ie, husky and Aussie. It always took a few minutes and then the laughter would start.

Halloween 2012.

When Poppy was three years old, I bought my own house after renting for many years. She had a huge backyard that she got to share with her pack mate, a stray shih tzu I had adopted the year before. They were soon joined by another rescue dog, a miniature poodle mix. This pack of three had a large back yard with a doggie door into the garage from the dining room. They had no complaints.

At the beach.

She loved the water and so we took many day trips to lakes and rivers in the area. There was even an aquatic center that would open for dogs for one day before closing for the season in October. She attended those events for a number of years. Anytime we were at a lake that allowed dogs, she would be in there swimming and playing. I couldn’t keep her out. Once, I left the other dogs with a babysitter and took Poppy just for the weekend to Dillon’s Beach, a dog-friendly beach in Northern California, for her birthday. We played at the beach all day and then stayed in a nearby motel before returning home.

Carmel dog-friendly beach.

When I discovered that Motel 6s take dogs with no extra fee, we tried to vacation as often as we could. We took a trip to Fort Bragg, a trip to Lake Tahoe, a trip to Monterey Bay, and a coastal trip all the way down Highway One to Pismo Beach. One of our highlights was a 3-hour whale watching tour on the bay, allowing dogs to attend free with a paying customer.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens — dog friendly.

I began taking them all camping, first with a tent and then with my covered pick up truck. It was kind of funny with a 60 pound hairy dog and two little ankle biters but we had some great times. During those years, Poppy loved hiking. The shih tzu would often be in a back pack or stroller but good ole’ Poppy never slowed down. Until she did.

Lake of the Springs campground.

When she was about 7, she was diagnosed with a bad vertebrae that I was told would get progressively worse. Over the years, as her discomfort became more noticeable, she went through many treatments. These included pain meds, acupuncture, laser treatments, CBD oil, and the like. We continued our camping trips, eventually evolving into full time motorhoming after losing the shih tzu to old age and selling the house in 2018. She still loved to hike in the woods but those hikes got shorter and shorter.

Caprock Canyon State Park.

Then she became incontinent and still, I tried to do what I could for her. We found a nice country vet in Texas that prescribed a new pain med and that worked for awhile. But eventually, life just got too hard for her. Every day was a struggle just to get up, allow me to change diapers, get a harness on to take a walk. She would still occasionally play ball for a minute or two at the dog park, giving me hope, but the moments she would smile at me and could walk without pain were getting shorter and shorter.

Her last little hike, Lake Livingston State Park.

It was a very tough decision to set her free and I don’t wish this upon anybody I know. You will always second guess yourself and wonder if you might have been able to do more. And the pain of loss never really goes away completely. I know because I still hurt when I think about my pets from years ago. I try not to think about Poppy too much right now because it’s too new and raw.

She started slowing down.

I like to think she had a good life. I remember my doctor telling me in 2006 that I needed to get a dog because I wasn’t getting enough exercise and I was having trouble getting out of bed except for work. Then I got Poppy and all that changed. She saved my life in so many ways. Rest In Peace, my dear girl.

How Much Do You Really Need?

This is an editorial. Some strong opinions will be stated and you may agree or disagree and those who disagree may feel they are being personally attacked. For that, I’m sorry but if this also gives you a chance to reflect on the way you live your life and to maybe make some positive changes, yay, I say.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must have “stuff,” and I’ll admit I was one of the guilty party. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars decorating my 970 square foot home. I bought new gadgets for the kitchen constantly because I loved cooking. I put in gardens in the back yard and then re-did it several times as I changed layouts and designs. I did the whole house in area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet with matching furniture, shelves, and knick-knacks and then re-did the whole house in laminate with different furniture when I discovered that one of my rescue dogs had a habit of peeing indoors.

I was a collector too. I had hundreds of books. I also started collecting mid-century American-made figural pottery in the early 2000s and had about thirty-six pieces by 2018. Those pieces also needed display furniture. I love shoes and had about forty pairs at the time I downsized. I had a garage full of tools and who-knows- what because I was a do-it-your-selfer. I refinished furniture, I made shelves and toys for my chinchillas and birds, I did a lot of the house remodeling projects myself. But my goal all along was to travel when I retired and to sell the house. What compelled me to buy so much stuff when I knew I would be leaving it all? I can’t explain other than the fact that we live in a “consumerism” society and it’s drilled in to us to buy more and better.

Here’s what I learned after two years of not having stuff. How big your house is and how much fancy stuff is packed in there does not define who you are. I don’t miss it. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be now if I’d saved all that money instead of spending it. I sure didn’t get much back when I tried to sell everything. Most of the things in the end were given away or donated. I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot of room. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be entertained with a big TV or hobbies. I don’t need to keep busy taking care of a house or yard.

Some people are natural savers and think small types. Can you imagine if most people were more comfortable living small? We would have resources galore. I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can tell you that it is possible to be happy without having a lot of stuff surrounding you. You might think that people who live in tiny houses or motorhomes full time are people of lesser means but that isn’t true. I was surprised to find out recently that one retiree who lives full time in a motorhome has a retirement income that is more than I made yearly for most of my working life. Imagine how much young couples could save if they lived in a nice trailer instead of buying a house and furnishing it?

Here’s the floor plan of my living quarters for the last two years. Of course, I do go out quite a bit for dog walks or just enjoying nature. And when I’m sitting inside, I still try to bring some of the outdoors in by keeping windows and the door open. I get the scent of pine trees, birds tweeting, and the occasional campfire. And at certain times of the year, I have the Gulf of Mexico in my backyard. What could be more perfect?

My words of wisdom to everyone is “don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.”

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Or “How I figure things out myself when there isn’t a helpful man around”

I don’t like to have to figure things out. I prefer to pay someone else to do it. However, that isn’t always practical or available. I don’t necessarily trust everyone to be fair when I’m seeking out a handyman, contractor, or auto mechanic. Thank goodness for the Internet and YouTube. It’s fairly easy to investigate and do some quality research before you pay someone to do something for you. There have been times when I realized doing it myself was a much better option.

I would not say I have ever invented anything, per se, but I have figured things out and found solutions that weren’t suggested to me by those I consult with. A most recent example would be my little car that came from Oklahoma. You see, Oklahoma doesn’t require front license plates. So when you buy a car in that state, there is no front license plate bracket installed. Having to solve this dilemma never occurred to me in my wildest dreams until I registered my Oklahoma car in Texas.

Texas does require a front and a back plate as I realized when I reached across the counter at the Tax Assessor’s office and took possession of the twin license plates that were handed to me. Now what? I went home and pondered the situation. I stood outside and examined the front bumper. Sure enough, smooth as glass and no place to attach a plate. To top it off, my son had installed a tow base plate and an electrical system smack dab in the middle of the front under the bumper and I couldn’t cover that up.

My first instinct was to drill. I called my auto mechanic down the street. Luckily, they were booked up for the next two weeks because I eventually found a much better solution. I was pretty sure that there must be some kind of aftermarket bracket that is made that would fit so I started researching online. I’ve learned to be careful and not just buy the first thing that pops up on Amazon. There are many things, including vehicle accessories, that just aren’t described properly and then you have to go through the whole process of returning and getting a refund. A better system is to go to the websites that provide actual OEM auto products and search for your specific vehicle. Then you take those part numbers and you can search on Amazon or other discount online shops.

As I was learning about front license plate brackets and what’s available, including ones that stick on, I accidentally came across a company called Extreme Online Store that sells a front license plate bracket that attaches where the tow hook would go. They carried one for a 2014 Nissan Versa Note so I was in business. I went outside to check and make sure I had a tow hook entrance on my bumper (it’s hidden by a little access panel) and sure enough, I had one!

It took me awhile to read and re-read the instructions and examine the accompanying pictures but I finally figured it out and it was easy to install once I understood how all the parts worked. I’m so happy I found this and didn’t resort to drilling in the bumper. One more victory for the single woman. Yay!