kickass classical, never stand still, 5 goats,
lesson for the teacher, kayaks, and
bet I can put on more clothing than you

If you were at Bottomless or Brantley SPs in the past year or so, you might have noticed a family living in a 13’ x 27’ tent with an 11’ vestibule. Well, I went over to Diana and Ross’s site (yep, hard to forget their names) a couple weeks ago as they were striking their tent for the last time. Ross works in the oil industry around Artesia and the family rented a U-Haul trailer every two weeks to move back and forth between the two state parks. Diana home schools the two girls. They found a house to rent in a decent area of Artesia and are going to settle in for a while. They liked the lifestyle, although the summer was tough, and at some point will come back to it or get an RV.

The day after I got back to Bottomless, the water was turned off, the bathroom/shower was closed, and the wi-fi was down—merry christmas. Then two days with highs in the 20s, when it’s usually in the 50s. Had to run the furnace to heat up the area where the gray water tank is until it thawed out and I could drain it. Sometimes heading south is not quite enough.

I’m uploading this from a room in a Comfort Suites. I wonder if I’m getting soft.

Meeting new interesting people has been somewhat slow so far. I enjoyed talking with my neighbor at Bottomless a few times, however. Tim, from Colorado, sold everything and recently moved into a Lazy Daze. We might cross paths again, at some point. No interesting ladies, though. Well, no ladies at all. Bummer, but the winter is young.

I did have a good conversation earlier in the week while in a laundromat, though. I walked past a young lady who was sitting there reading off her Kindle that she had on her lap. I stopped and said, Good grief, you can read text that small from so far away? It looked like her text was set two down from the size I use. She chuckled, and we talked while our clothes were drying. I have to be more outgoing like this during my social-fix season or it would negate its purpose.

I’ve seen Jerry a few times. Remember he is the one whose heart attacked him a year or so ago. Once he recouped enough, he starting walking an hour each day. I noticed when we went for a walk, that he maintains a good pace, not merely a stroll. Not bad, he’s in his 70s.

I’ve been downloading more iTunes singles and albums. One album was ‘100 Kickass Classical Pieces’ ($8!). 9 hours and 25 minutes of some pretty awesome music. I like classical music with some oomph. I plug the MacBook into the auxiliary jack of the house radio to play it through the four house speakers and have some invigorating music when cleaning the blinds, wiping down the walls and ceiling, washing the floor, or for whatever else I really do not want to be doing.

From—a job seeker made this statement while meeting a hiring manager.
“I don’t want the job if I have to work a lot.”

Yep, there will always be unemployment.

For the winter solstice, my favorite day of the year, I finally opened a 2002 bottle of Mourvèdre that I’ve had squirreled away for a few years. Very tasty. I like a dry wine but don’t generally go with a 15% alcohol. I also rarely pay over $30 for a bottle of red. Might have to start doing it more often, however. It really would not be all that expensive since it takes me five evenings to finish a bottle; I savor wine like this. I would imagine my kindergarten teacher would be upset with me, but—I would not want to share.

Instead of watching my traditional solstice DVD, I watched ‘Never Stand Still.’ This documentary was filmed at the legendary dance studio, Jacob’s Pillow. It’s one of those movies that you know you have to watch a number of times to take it all in. It will probably be my winter solstice movie for the next couple years (that’s the only day I plan to watch it). The discipline, strength, flexibility, balance, passion, and intelligence of the dancers are awesome. A teacher demonstrates a movement and the dancers just do it. Good grief, I’m having trouble learning variations of the basic two-step, and that’s with numerous replays on my DVD. The documentary is full of stellar performances by world-renowned dancers, interviews with well-known choreographers, behind-the-scenes insights, and rare archival footage. A lot of shtick—it’s a keeper.

Guess I’ll keep ‘Pulse – A Stomp Odyssey’ (presented by Honda) for the summer solstice. I wonder if the word ‘stomp’ puts people off, especially older people. Remember, it’s about how people dance in different parts of the world (well, except for the underwater percussion piece). Very well done and as you know from previous years, it's another keeper.

Medicare—Yeehaw! I was hoping to reach 60 but 65 was a stretch. Hard to believe I made it. Haven’t had medical insurance since, if I remember right, 2002. Figured when it was my time, I’d just go out. Now maybe I’ll have some support.

Heifer International tally is now, 5 goats, 2 flocks of chicks, and 1 flock of geese. Next flock will be added on the spring equinox.

Heifer International’s charity rating has dropped from a 3 (out of 4) to a 2. Not good. So I read Heifer’s response to Charity Navigator’s rating and decided to stick with Heifer. I feel it is a worthy organization.

I called my friend, Janet (remember the hip surgery lady?), last month because she was supposed to be going in for shoulder surgery. She postponed it until the summer. Anyway, we had a long talk catching up. I rarely have a conversation with her without learning something I did not know. Janet married a Bolivian and she has spent a good deal of time in South America. This time she was telling me about small tribes down there who have no future tense in their languages (I vaguely recall this from a college course I took). I can grasp the idea and understand how it can be, in a small, simple realm. And as you know, I’m into small and simple. It just sounds so cool.

Back to surgery, common sense dictates and studies show that the more a patient puts into recovery after surgery, the more one can get back to the life he/she had before. Janet sure confirmed this with her hip surgery. I have no doubts that she will be just as aggressive after her next surgery. One talks with those who’ve had a hip replacement or whatever and they are talking about how little they got back after surgery. As you talk with them you realize they did not put all that much effort into their physical therapy. Well duh! It’s like they expect something from nothing. After my transplant, I was one of those people. I could have put way more effort getting back my strength after spending a month and a half in a hospital bed tethered there with a Hickman line into my heart. I guess the depression I got into was a factor, but I could have done SO much more. At least with a transplant, whenever I choose to put the time and effort into it, I can work on getting stronger, and I do, but it sure is easier for me when I’m out off-the-grid. Maybe after surgery, one should go live in a trailer up in the mountains.

Well, next Tuesday should be my last day with an electric hookup this winter. Back to the Wave and more conservative use of power. The microwave was nice. The ten pounds of potatoes I ate in the last month and a half should last me until next winter. I wonder if my lifestyle is becoming a tad quirky.

The following story has been around for years. As most do, I transfer docs from an old computer to a new one whenever I get one. I recently came across a folder which contains a slew of ‘thoughtful’ docs. I’m sure I’ll be uploading more such text in future months. Especially in the months when I’m on-the-grid, and things can be a little slow. This piece is called, ‘A Lesson for the Teacher,’ and I really have no idea where I first came across it.

“As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

“Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

“Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around."
His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

“By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

“After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets."

“A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he'd ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

“The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.
And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference".
“Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Having been a teacher for over twenty years, I can relate to this. I’ve had students come see me just before they were to graduate from high school and over the years I’ve gotten a few emails from old students, but this story is fabulous. I wish I could always remember that wherever I go, and whatever I do, I will have the opportunity to touch and/or change a person’s outlook for the better.

A couple of night sky things for February.
One February 6, Jupiter will be at opposition. The big one will be at its closest approach to Earth and will be fully illuminated by the hot one. A good time to view the planet and its moons. Strong binoculars should enable you to see Jupiter’s four largest moons. They will appear as bright dots on either side of the planet.
On February 22, there will be a conjunction of Venus and Mars. Conjunctions are fairly rare. It’s when two or more objects appear extremely close together in the night sky. The two planets will be visible within only half a degree of each other in the evening sky (pretty much half of your pinky finger). Look to the west just after sunset.

Susan’s Photos with Captions

All of these river kayaks are vintage -- these shapes are no longer made. Most river kayaks are short and stubby now. The shapes above are more like the shape of the original Aleutian sea kayak, made from skin and carved driftwood, and used in frigid oceans for fishing and hunting for thousands of years.
The Aleutian Islands are an archipelago 1,200 miles in length that runs off of Alaska’s southwest “corner;” the final few islands belong to Russia. Bottom trawlers are used for fishing in the region now, removing well over 200 million pounds of fish from the Aleutian Islands region per year.

Here is a very, very old bridge, over a gully that comes down to the river from the mountains. Walkers cross this bridge now, but the other early morning as I walked in fresh snow I saw that during that night a car had come along here and had crossed this bridge. Scary! Those folks must have really been lost.

Walking in below zero temperatures, I wear: polypropylene long johns tops and bottoms, windproof fleece cross-country ski pants, a fleece top, a windbreaker, a nano-puff vest, a down jacket, a silk/cashmere scarf, ear muffs, a hat with a bill (even though it looks like an Elmer Fudd hat, it has flaps which cover my ears and a bill), sunglasses, sunscreen, cross country ski gloves or heavy wool mittens, wool socks, insulated boots (I like wool felt), and a wide fleece headband which I wear around my lower face. Dressed right, I’m completely comfortable for a brilliant day in the outdoors. I always bring a snack, water of course, and walking stick. Walking you see, hear, and sense much more, and experience many more subtleties than with other ways of traveling.

December sixty minutes sixty years—2110 minutes
December Triple 18—pecs/delts: 2790; core: 2035; legs: 1810

The way to nothing, is to do nothing.
Nathaniel Howe
RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’


Unknown said…
I'm enjoying your travels and Susan's photos. Thanks for sharing.
Unknown said…
I have just happened upon you blog and I am really enjoying it. I have recently retired and am in the process of buying an RV to explore the country. I can't tell you how your blog has totally changed my perspective of the RV lifestyle. I also am trying to decide where to live in retirement and just want you to know that you have me rethinking my priorities. Doug Doris
Cabinguy said…
Don't ever for a second think that you don't continue to teach, inspire, and change peoples lives for the better.

I know you have mine even though we will never meet. Thanks

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