Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My favorite things

Deviating from the trending themes of motorhomes and life-threatening illnesses .....

Remember when Oprah did her annual My Favorite Things show and if you were insanely lucky to have been in the audience that day, you went home with a truckload of goodies?   (I think it required amazing luck, or knowing the right person, to get a ticket to any of her shows.  On my one trip to Chicago years ago, I tried.  She wasn't answering her phone..... in fact, I couldn't even get it to ring.)

Anyway, no prizes today.  Just a list of some of MY favorite things  .... (and/or products):

1.  My Chi flat iron.  Six or seven years ago when I first heard about this little miracle worker, I beelined to the nearest retailer and forked over nearly $100.  Worth every penny and cheaper than therapy.  As a child of the 60s and early 70s, I am still recovering emotionally from not having hair like Marcia in "The Brady Bunch".   I was, from birth, "blessed" with thick, curly, frizzy hair.   My teen years were spent in 3" diameter curlers.  For most of my adult life, I kept it as short as possible and even then, it was an effort to rein in the fro.   The Chi enabled me to grow my hair longer for the first time in over three decades.  I'm still not Marcia, but it was life-changing nonetheless.

2.  Instant tanning cream.  I like Banana Boat (deep dark), simply because it's one of the cheaper brands.  I'm sure the more expensive, high-brow, purchased-at-Nordstrom ones work too, if you're so inclined.  From spring to fall, this stuff keeps the pasty-white-leg-look at bay.

3.  Moonlight Path from Bath & Body Works.  Room freshener, body spray, lotion ... anything with that scent.  I discovered it at the gym, of all places.  Someone walked into the room and I immediately had to hunt them down and find out what that heavenly smell was.  I've even offered a few stern warnings to some B&BW employees, should the company ever consider discontinuing it.

4.  Bread machines.  Any model.  I've lost count how many I have worn out over the years.  When our kids were growing up, I baked nearly a loaf a day.  My current machine came from Goodwill for under $10.  Works perfectly.  Simply toss in the ingredients, push a button, and three hours later you have a hot loaf of bread.   Or you can start a loaf at night, set the timer, and wake up the next morning to steamy, crusty goodness.  No kneading.  No guessing about how much flour to add.  No greasing and washing pans.   I like to make up six or seven kits at a time, kept in ziplock bags, with the dry ingredients all measured and ready.  Then I just add the water, oil, and yeast when I start a loaf.  I use the same recipe that came from, I think, an Oster brand recipe book, from one of my earlier machines.  Let me know if you want it.  Tip:  Most machines need to be manually stopped ten minutes early so as to not over bake.

5.  Wool socks ... especially when it's cold.  (Thank you, Costco.)   Wool stays soft,  cushy, and non-bunchy all day.  Plus they never seem to get sweaty and stiff like cotton does.  You can even wear the same pair two days in a row because they feel as good the second day ..... not that I do that ....

6.  Almond milk, unsweetened vanilla.  30 calories per cup.  Delicious on cereal.  Stores in your pantry till opened.  And in those intense debates as to the pros and cons of skim milk VS whole milk, raw or pasteurized .... you can walk away peacefully and go find something to watch on Netflix.

7.  Goodwill stores, which I won't elaborate on .... as I already did here.  But you'll still find me haunting their aisles nearly every week.

8.  Dollar stores where I continually find items that I just paid four or five times as much for, in another store.

If I think of more, I may add updates.  Or if you have some, trot them out in the comments.  After all, we're in this world together and each little contribution helps.  You never know, for example, whose legs I may have just rescued from that unwanted early spring glow.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Where love is ...

I am on Day Five, recovering from a bilateral mastectomy.  (See previous post.)  Any sense of glamour or physical appeal I may have mustered up in the past, is gone.  And along with the oddly-shaped alien who has replaced what I used to see in the mirror, for the first week or two, I have to wear some very unattractive appendages to allow for post-surgery drainage, that must be attended to each day.  The total ensuing package is not pretty, to say the least.

Physically, I could manage the post-op maintenance by myself.  I'm not completely incapacitated.  It'd be hard, but doable.  But I don't have to, thankfully.

I am learning yet again that I chose well, over 40 years ago and just shy of turning 21 years old, when I married the dearest man alive.    Wherever the wisdom came from that motivated such a decision in someone so young, I'll never know.   We walked into marriage about as naively as a couple of babies. And if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't change anything ...... (Well maybe I'd rethink a few of my clothing and hair-style choices in some of the photos ..... but it was the 70s.  The whole decade was tacky.)

I am definitely not the cute young chick he married so long ago.  All the typical sagging, wrinkling, drooping, expanding, receding, and graying have taken their toll.  And now this.

Yet, I have never felt more loved.  This is the real thing.  It's not the "for better" that makes a marriage.  It's hanging in there through the "worse".  It's the trust to put oneself entirely in the hands of another who is there because they want to be.  It's feeling safe and protected while feeling vulnerable and needy.    Love is not flowers and candy, dinner dates and long walks on the beach.  It's taking care of each other by tenderly and willingly doing what needs to be done, and not being grossed out when most people would be.  It's being a team.  It's the long haul.  It's commitment in every sense of the word.  

So one of the many silver linings in this seemingly dark little cloud, is that love is real, powerful, and lasting .... and it's here in our little home-on-wheels.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The dreaded C word

I hardly feel like I deserve the title Cancer Survivor.  I simply found out I had breast cancer six weeks ago and now, one surgery later, I don't.  It's those brave women who endure weeks of chemo and/or radiation treatments with all the nasty side effects who deserve medals of gold.

"Calcifications" the doctor said after my last annual mammogram.  (With my family history, I was fairly vigilant about going in regularly.)  He pointed to speckles on an X-ray image.  Tiny speckles.  A biopsy confirmed the suspicions of the various physicians who suddenly crowded into my personal space.   Ductal carcinoma in situ, aka.... DCIS.  This is, I learned via my immediate Internet search, the kind to get.  I mean if you must get breast cancer, choose this.  Stage Zero.  Nothing bad mischievously sneaking off into unsuspecting lymph nodes or other various bodily crevices.  All things nefarious were neatly trapped in the milk ducts.  That's what "in situ" means. But it might not stay that way so those ducts and their residing speckles, had to go before they turned into something truly scary.  They and the surrounding real estate.  Therefore, my whole original *front porch* is now gone .... and construction has begun on a new and improved version which will not and can not go all kamikazi by trying to kill off the mother ship.   Can't complain about that.  No more worries about lumps or whatnot, and no.more.mammograms.  Another upside of this is the outpouring of love and prayers from my close little circle of friends and family.  There's nothing quite like the C-word to get people's attention.....even though, as I said above, I hardly feel like I qualify.

This has thrown a bit of a wrench into our travel plans so if you live nearby and wonder why that big ol' bus of ours never seems to actually GO anywhere.....this is one of the reasons.  T'was an interruption we didn't foresee when we started the transition into full time RVing.

All in all, I feel pretty darn lucky.   It's a glitch Dearest-Husband-Ever and I will get past together and THEN we will toe-test the water of venturing down the road, even before the new *front porch* is fully completed.  Afterall, the bus is as comfy as all get out and I can be home in my own bed .....wherever we go.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Life in a parking lot

Well, here we are.  The move is done and we are ensconced in our little home on wheels ..... and I like it.  Is that weird?  Is it normal to like living so .... cozy?  Will I suddenly wake up in a panic, overcome with claustrophobia, crying -- "What on EARTH were we thinking??"

...... Honestly, I don't know how I'll feel next week or next month.  I just know that right now, I like it.  Our kitchen is about six feet of space including the sink and all the appliances.  The bathroom is a hallway.   The "dining room" has two chairs.   And the bedroom and laundry room are one and the same.

I have figured out how to use the propane stove, turn on the TV, when not to use the microwave or AC, and how to flush.  I understand the tank levels and how to keep them friendly and cooperative.  The convection oven is next.  (Update - First batch of cookies turned out perfectly.  Check!)  I don't even mind "navy" showers (using minimal water).   And thankfully, the Husband is, as always, adept at most things technical and guy-like -- such as solar panels, hitches, batteries, stabilizers, chargers, etc. and patiently answers my questions of, "Can I turn this on?" or "Can I plug this in?" or "What's that noise?"   All in all, this is definitely not Kansas anymore.  And I like it.  Weird.  

The (sort of) downside is where our little home is parked.  We own a large shop/warehouse-type building and two thirds of it houses our manufacturing business, with the remaining third for our personal use.  Thankfully, this facility allows us to do what we're doing because it is where the Houston-Sized Heap resides, AKA the contents from our house.  Slowly, said Heap is being transformed from a mass of confusion to a semi-organized mass of confusion.  Whenever I can successfully find .... say.... our towels or a particular pan for cooking the spaghetti, it's a triumph.  It's a process of separating out what we REALLY need from that which can continue to occupy the Heap.  Bit by bit, we're getting there.  And frankly, without a shop like ours, I don't know how other full-time RVers do this.  But it's not exactly the mountain/canyon/ocean view we dreamed about.  Yet.

We are constantly asked where our first trip will be.  For the record:  

We don't know.  

We aren't even sure WHEN we can go yet.  Our "Must Do Before Traveling" list is gradually shrinking but there remain a few important items.   Like, for example, the Jeep is still not quite ready to be towed.  It's a bit of the ol' Two Steps Forward and One Step Back process.   Plus an unexpected medical annoyance must be dealt with before hitting the road.  I'll write about that later.  

In the meantime, the weather is improving and the motorcycle has been calling, so life is good.  The key, I have learned, is all about really liking the person with whom you are sharing your time and your space.  Even a very small space.  Even in a parking lot.