Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Live Like You Are Dying.

Today was a rough day. I have had a few rough days, but, today  was rougher than most.

Many years ago, in a state far, far, away, I had 5 women that were very close to me and to each other. Betty was one of them, and so was Holly. Today I found out that the second of those women has died from cancer.

The first one, Betty, I took care of her in her home, until it was time for her to enter a hospice.

Betty was a character to say the least. but when I ran into her after not seeing her for a few years, it was obvious that she was not doing well. She had breast cancer that spread all through her body. Although it was a non-smoking building, residents would go outside to smoke. Betty was so weak that she would sneak smokes in her apartment. I got some food into her after three days. She hadn't been able to eat for months. A day after that, i cooked a rib eye steak. i had to caution her to slow down since she hadn't eaten in so long. From then on, Betty was constantly eating.

I had a little car. I would put Betty in my car and we would go and get a McDonald's for her. Heaven help us all if they didn't put enough dill pickles on it.

I took Betty to her first pow wow. she loved it. She lived those last six months. In spite of the many nights we would end up in the emergency room with shot after shot of dilaudid. Betty's cancer had gotten into her spine.

Betty was very much a smoker. the doctors would try to get her to quit. Betty was dying of cancer and we would laugh at the doctors saying "Or What? I'll get cancer and die!? Oh yeah, I have cancer and I'm dying." Laughter was our way of snatching moments of sanity and reality away from that artificial world of medical management.

Betty died as she lived, full of both faith and spunk.

I think the best gift I gave my friend was my time. We were also able to talk about dying. Most people are afraid to talk about it.

But Betty and I both remembered when they told me I had lung cancer and that the odds of dying were 97% from 6 months to five years. I was lucky. Either it was a mistake, or I got my own little miracle. Every day since then has been a gift. Betty died in January. An ex of mine died from alcoholism in February, less than a month before I was going to take him to see his daughters. Today I found out Holly had died and was buried. My eyes are burning from tears and my throat is sore. I know it was a relief for Holly, those last few months were rough. I miss her. I am trying to be glad for her, her pain and struggles are over. In January we had our last long conversation. We got to say everything we needed to say to each other. I said one thing to her that I will always remember-- "I knew you before you had a halo."

I have Multiple Sclerosis. Often people will act as if I am a saint and so very brave. But, everyone lives with something. I am luckier than a few of my friends.

I remember Holly saying to me in a small tired voice "trade you."

Running through my head right now are some of the lyrics of a song " like you were dying.."
That is how I have to live my life. At one time, I was told I faced a certain death. I am not dying of cancer and every day, I live, I live, I live.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Flea Market Surprises

When most people think of a flea market, they think of cheaply made goods or items in poor condition. In my experience, this is not always true.

I have been a vendor at flea markets for some time now.When I decided to travel, to examine my values, I found that many items were no longer a necessary part of my life. I started selling at markets to get rid of excess clothes and household goods from my storage unit. I found that I loved having my own business. Many of the items I had were too good to throw away. I had many things left over from lifestyle changes. I used to have a house on two acres with several outbuildings and a large basement.  I did not need every brand new kitchen appliance, nor vast amounts of antique glass serving bowls suited to family dinners of ten or more people.

In short, I had an abundance of good quality items that I no longer needed, and I was paying large amounts to store things for a house I no longer planned to buy. There were things such as an antique oak rocker, a large Ashley wood-stove, an antique walk behind tractor, and many other pieces that would be a welcome addition to someone else's household, but no longer needed for the lifestyle I envisioned.

As I downsize yet again, I am now selling not only the Native American jewelry that is my passion, but also excess appliances, designer jeans that I can't wear anymore due to the newly found appetite and the excellent food offered in the delta area of Louisiana.

There is another dealer next to me who specializes in computers and tools. He has been passing on to me his jewelry that he gets offered. I have a scale, a jeweler's loupe, and a lifetime of buying and appreciating fine jewelry.

 I visually inspect the jewelry, weigh it on a scale, check the spot gold price or the spot price on sterling silver. At that point, I either offer him a price, or sell it on consignment for him. By being honest in my dealings, and being at market every weekend, I get opportunities on fine jewelry.

As I write this, I am wearing the 14k gold and diamond tennis bracelet that i chose to keep for myself after offering him a fair price for it. I found the vintage Waltham watch last week. The young lady told me it needed a battery. It is a vintage winding watch. I wound it and it has been keeping perfect time on my wrist. I'm a little bit of a vintage piece myself.

I have people that stop by regularly to see what I have found in my search for real Native American jewelry. I also carry vintage rhinestone jewelry in great condition.

Today I sold an Eisenberg Green Ice Necklace in mint condition to another dealer.

Who knew that decades of window shopping at good jewelers would give me the needed skills to buy and sell beautiful jewelry on my own.

I truly believe that many housewives underestimate what skills they have learned and how it applies in business.  Twenty years ago, I was a housewife, thinking I had no marketable skills. Today, I travel, write, and own my own small business. I love the change in my life.

Thank you for stopping by to read my thoughts. Happy Trails.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Random Thoughts

I sit here in the RV, getting ready to move temporarily into an apartment.

The situation with the other person here deteriorates on a daily basis. I will stay with a friend while I save for my own unit and a van to pull it.

I'll be sorting things into items to keep and flea market stock. I'm downsizing again!

The nice thing about my nomadic lifestyle is an awareness of how few possessions are really necessary.

Things do not make me happy. Life, friends, my dogs, traveling, these things are important to me.

I just reserved a 5x10 storage unit through
It was easy to compare rates and I chose to make a call to reserve it. I could have done it online. I will be using it to store items while I sort them and sell the excess at a flea market.

I know this change is right for me because I feel a lightness in my soul as if a burden had lifted from my shoulders.

I am amazed how little it takes to make me happy. I know that my happiness depends solely on me and my actions. No other person or thing can make me unhappy. I accept full responsibility for my own feelings and I know that if I am unhappy, it is because of a choice I have made or an action I have taken. Cleaning up my messes is part of being an adult.

It is still comfortable here at a pleasant 79 degrees. I have a few more things to do before the heat of the day.

So I will wish all a pleasant day and thank you for stopping by to read my meananderings.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Weekend At The Flea Market

It was an amazing weekend at the flea market! It was extremely hot, but it was definitely a worthwhile weekend.

Authenticated Items.
I am a vendor  of Native American jewelry with a few other items on the side.  Although I've been a vendor at the market before, venturing into selling Native American jewelry is a big step.

It was impressive to see how many people are interested in knowing the difference between authentic native made and non-native made Native style jewelry.
Just by looking at a piece, it is easy to distinguish the care and workmanship that go into crafting a piece of Native American jewelry.

There are many laws that a person has to be cognizant of when selling Native American jewelry or crafts. In order to be considered Native American jewelry or crafts, the person who made it must be a member of a federally recognized tribe. Just because your grandmother may have been Native American doesn't mean you may make and sell items as Indian crafted.  

There have been many recent news items regarding branding or infringement of Native American images or names. We wouldn't blink an eye if someone was charged with counterfeiting Microsoft or iPhone items, but we feel we must have an opinion on whether it is OK to use an image or name that may mislead people in thinking the item has a connection with Native Americans? Let's not indulge in mental gymnastics designed to make it acceptable to steal someone else's name, reputation, or brand for money.

It is important to know who you purchase from and how they authenticate their items. In addition to materials, styles, patina that i can observe by a visual inspection, there are several ways I try to ensure that the items I sell are actually Native American made.

When I can, I  buy direct from tribe members on a few reservations. I consider any item I purchase from an enrolled tribe member who represents to me it is native made and from their reservation to be authentic.

I buy many vintage items and research them myself.  I have a few select vendors online that I am very comfortable with any description that they give me in regards to vintage Native American jewelry.Any item I purchase from an expert in the field of Native American jewelry, the artists, and their styles is also considered by me to be authentic.

I try to purchase only from sources that have integrity in how they represent their items.

There are many beautiful items I sell that are native style. They are more likely than not made by native artisans. I sell them as native style jewelry and I guarantee the metals and stones to be what they are.

The people who are interested in good Native jewelry tend to ask how I know that a piece is genuinely native made. I do everything I can to ensure that the information I give them is accurate. I also offer a full refund if it turns out my assessment was inaccurate.

I have separate cases for the items that are authenticated Native American jewelry or crafts. Any item sold as such is not only guaranteed as to what materials are in it, but also to be an authenticated Native American item. It is good for business, and it is good for my character.

I was thrilled to find out that several of my customers were actually Native American tribe members. I was invited to be a vendor at next year's Pow Wow. I will have to make that decision closer to that date. I do like the idea of being a vendor at a Pow Wow, but I also love going to Pow Wows.

Happy Trails

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Technology Has It's Moments

Today was an Attack or Revenge Of The Computers kind of day.

It all started out so innocently. No one could forecast how fast it would snowball. I almost wonder if the amount of technology had enough critical mass today to awake and become self aware.

All I wanted to do was transfer my completed first drafts of children's books I am writing from my netbook to my laptop. It's a simple process that we all do routinely.

Usually the process goes very smoothly. Today was quite an exception.

The first was barely a blip on my personal radar. Google+ implemented changes that threw many users into one of two categories. People either experienced severe what-the-heck-did-they-do-wheres-my trauma reactions or OH COOL PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS giddiness. No problem here, I have writing to do, I'll see what G+ did later when it settles down.

Next, my broadband informed me I needed to download an update. Still no real reason to worry, it's a routine matter, or so I thought.

Now comes the notice "Don't Unplug or Shutdown Your Computer. Doing so could cause permanent damage to your firmware." Arggggghhh! I make sure my cord is secure from puppy who chews any cord available.

I get the update installed. It's now time for coffee. I click shutdown the computer. My normally polite well behaved toshiba has decided to download and install eight critical updates for Windows. It is time to install the Linux I've been using from a jump drive. Just not today.

All that being said, instead of pushing on in a day where every piece of technology I have decided to revolt all at one time, I pushed the power button off. I hooked them all up to charge.

There is something to be said for a low tech day. I enjoyed cuddling my dogs, a cold Pepsi, and a good paperback.

In the back of my mind, I wonder, how many electrons do they need to become self aware? Are they haunted by old Commadore64 and TRS80 hard drives? I do keep interfacing lots of devices. Could they strike on me?

Not really, but it was in the cards to turn them all off for a day.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yes I Live In A RV Full-time- By Choice

Yes, I Live Full Time In A Choice

We own (paid for with no debt) a vintage travel trailer. It is 30'x8'. It is currently parked in a RV park. I have running water, electric hookup, and sewer hook up.

I have a kitchen, complete with stove, sinks, and refrigerator  I have a dining table with two benches. Under the benches is storage. I have a living room that is comfortable. There is a futon couch. It makes into a bed quickly if i have company. I have a bathroom with sink, toilet, and a shower/bathtub. I have a bedroom, There are windows on all sides, and a front and back door.

Most people think they need a lot of space. I have more than enough space. I am not a minimalist, but really how much space does a person need. When I lived in houses or apartments, I had more appliances than I needed and more clothes, books, and knick knacks than anyone could ever need.

I now know that most of the housework I did when I owned a house and when I rented apartments was taking care of my excess stuff that I never used. I think I was a hoarder in the makings.

I was raised mostly by my grandmother who had grown up in The Great Depression. I learned Economics at her knee. One of the things I can do is clean a two story two bedroom house with products costing me $8 a month. Most housewives are amateur chemists. She taught me not to throw away useful things. But I have limited space, so I sell my unneeded or outgrown things. That allows me to purchase things that make my life better. I also have to think about what I purchase and what I really need.

When I go to the flea market to sell Native American jewelry, I also have a full tote of jeans I had outgrown due to the excellent food available in this area. I need to add two or three more totes of outgrown clothes and clothes that are too warm for this climate.  I am getting rid of things I won't use and someone is getting a good bargain for something they will use. I also feel that I am helping the environment by selling my gently used items to someone who can use them. 

A RV doesn't have the footprint that a house does. When I pull out of a spot, the only sign I was ever there are a bare patch (which grows back) where the trailer was parked and two sets of tracks that will grow something again. I use less resources to keep my home warm or cool.

In case of a natural disaster, I can pull my home out and move it to a safe place. That cuts down on my insurance premiums. While the people in houses are struggling, I can charge their phones and laptops so that they can communicate with the world. I have a generator and the trailer has a battery that powers almost all items in the house.

My propane runs the stove and the hot water heater. I use 7 gallons a month. I don't ration my power or propane. I don't need to ration it. Because my home is more efficient, it is pretty green. I am looking at alternative power so that I can take it camping. 

One of my favorite things about my home- I will never have to pack boxes and move unless I buy a newer unit. Anyone that has ever moved can appreciate that. I just stow the breakables, and move my entire home.

The absolute best part of living in a RV rather than a house- I have finally started to achieve my dream of writing. I have been blogging and today I completed the first draft of not one but two books for small children. I would have never been able to spend the time writing were it not for the fact that my home requires so little time daily to maintain.

So yes, my home is a RV. I hope one day others will be as lucky as I am. To find out what makes you happy and to pursue that dream in a realistic manner is one of the best experiences of my life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How Is Living In A RV Different Than A Sticks and Bricks House?

The biggest adjustment that most people face when deciding to go full time in a RV is learning the difference between living in a RV and living in a traditional "sticks and bricks" house. Many things will be the same, but the issue of space and mobility make living in a RV just slightly different.

Let's look first at how to describe what side of the trailer or RV you describe so that there is no confusion. In a travel trailer, front refers to the tongue that attaches to another vehicle for towing. In a motor home, it refers to the front of the vehicle where the driver's seat is.
For the sake of this blog, I will be referring to the sides of the travel trailer as if it is hooked up to a tow vehicle. That gives me front, rear, driver's side, door side (where the entrance to living quarters and the awning is attached.)

Another thing to keep in mind is the size of a trailer. I have all of the outdoors available for sitting and relaxing with others. My trailer is 8' wide as opposed to many that are 7'-7.5' wide. This makes a big difference in how livable the unit is and means that i can live comfortably without slideouts.

RVs will have some odd or quirky shaped storage spaces. I have a wedge shaped cabinet in the front of the trailer. it is over the front window and takes it's odd shape from the aerodyning of the trailer. It is very handy for storing a few cleaning supplies, and some things i need handy while sitting in the dining area.

When moving the trailer, it is important to have a procedure to secure and put away any breakables. Most people don't remember to secure the coffeepot. Most coffeepots will secure very nicely in the sink. I put a kitchen towel in the empty sink and a washcloth between the carafe and the burner. I complete securing the coffeepot with pot holder and dishcloth padding so that it doesn't move around when traveling.

cabinet doors can often come open in traveling. one of two methods work great for securing the doors. if the cabinet handles are round knobs simply slipping a strong rubber band over two of them will hold most of the doors.

Pictures should be taken down and placed in a folded blanket on the couch. 

A piece of 1x4 cut to size can act as an edge in the cupboards, preventing canned goods or plates from falling out during travel.

I don't have any traditional plates, cups, or glasses. I have found that paper plates are available at a reasonable cost. My preferred drinking glasses are old canning jars. I have one pretty coffee mug for morning coffee, the remainder are covered travel mugs that keep bugs out and coffee warm longer.

I use a small stick broom vacuum that can also be used as a handheld Dustbuster. I prefer a good whisk broom and dustpan to a traditional broom. instead of a mop, i use a bucket and cloths to wipe up the floors. I also store my supplies in different places than i would in a traditional home.

We have added a small built-in under the sink to hold a small standard wastebasket. We use an office type wastebasket rather than the traditional plastic kitchen wastebasket. by attaching a U shaped wood holder on the under sink door, it frees up wasted space under the sink. Storage is important in a RV, and making effective use of space allows me to live better in a small unit than in a larger unit or a house.

I'll be adding more blogs on tips and tricks to living comfortably in a RV or Travel Trailer whether parked in a RV park or dry camping in a dispersed camping area. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Local Flea Market

I spent yesterday as a vendor at the local flea market.

Setup was a bit pricey, but it was a covered outdoor market with a local police officer on duty all day.

The flea market gives you one table with the option of renting additional tables for your area at a nominal fee. You also have a good parking space just behind your stall.

There is good foot traffic and a hot food concession stand. A drawing for vendors is also available.

I set up with three small jewelry display cases and some neatly folded jeans I had outgrown thanks to the excellent cuisine in the delta area.

Customers were greeted with a smile and an invitation to view native american jewelry I had purchased from an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation online.

People were genuinely interested in knowing about the jewelry, the artisans, and in the challenges that tribes face in maintaining a quality life bettering those members of their tribe while keeping their values intact.

I quickly made it clear that I was not raising money for a reservation but I purchased directly from people on reservations so that I could assure myself of authenticity as well as supporting people who are doing for themselves. I positively enjoyed calling a friend in Michigan on the My Pleasant reservation and arranging to have small dreamcatchers made. The dreamcatchers will each come with a card from the artist for the customer. This will assure my customers that they are buying something handmade on the reservation and the members of the tribe appreciate the care I take to comply with federal laws that protect native goods from cheaper counterfeit goods.

When people go to a flea market, they are often sold cheap goods, but I know many vendors who retail quality items that are not knockoffs. I know only one person who was put in prison for selling fake Nikes. He served five years.

I feel that people are willing to pay for genuine goods that last. I also feel that running a business honestly and representing what you sell honestly pays off in increased sales and repeat customers. You don't have to hard sell a quality item. The beauty of a flea market is lower overhead resulting in lower prices for the customer while ensuring profit for the vendors.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Currently Boondocked In Lousiana

I have been traveling most of my life by personal preference. I like discovering new places and new adventures.

 I am currently in a somewhat rural area of Louisiana. There are many different things to get used to here. Overall, I like it and I like the people I meet. The trees here have a strange beauty. Spanish moss hangs off some of them, they remind me of the old sepia toned vignetted photos. I  have been here long enough to watch the trees go from barren to fully leaved. I am enchanted with the area and I enjoy discovering both the natural side of life here and the people.

 I am about two miles from the Mississippi River. New words have entered my life and my vocabulary: flash floods, levee, hurricane, these are all common occurrences here. I know people that stayed during Katrina. They tend to compare hurricanes like you or i might compare fishing or seasons. I have now given serious thought to what preparations are necessary to ensure some level of comfort in any emergency weather situation. Prepping is not just for right wing activists, but is a real necessity for anyone living where the weather can wipe out many things we take for granted.

 I am near a factory so I thought the sounds that I heard at night of a rhythmic humming were from the factory. imagine my surprise to find i was listening to the nightly vocalizations of a gator, and a rather sizable one at that. I was told there was nothing to worry about since the gator was at least 500 feet away but judging from the sounds and vocalization he was a big one. Oh My!

Walking my chihuahua at night can be an adventure due to the local wildlife. This area is host to alligators, loggerhead turtles (sharp beak, can bite your finger off), eagles, armadillos, and adorable gecko type lizards. I also enjoy the many dragonflies flitting about as if they had not a care in the world.

Life has a different pace down here.