Saturday, May 19, 2018

We Have Some Happy News

There's a new baby on the way! My daughter, Christina and her husband Ryan are expecting baby number four! Her due date is December 31st. 

Her other three children are 9 year old Camden, 4 year old Clementine, and 2 year old River. Since we lost Rob at Christmas time last year I think this will make the season a little bit brighter for us. My birthday is December 18th, we lost Rob on December 22nd, his 63rd birthday would have been on the 23rd and of course Christmas in just two days later. Perhaps the baby will come on one of those days?

This certainly changes my plans for the winter. I had just decided to head for Florida for the winter when she asked me what I'm doing in December. I've been there for all of their births and I'm not planning to miss this one so Florida will have to wait. 

On a much lower note, Murphy had an incident which required a visit to the veterinarian and some minor surgical repairs.  

We were out walking my brother's fenced property and Murphy chased an animal of some kind. Generally we see and he chases rabbits but this wasn't a rabbit. 

I believe it may have been a buck. We often see deer up on the hill behind the house and Murphy has matching puncture wounds on his inner thighs. 

The vet sedated him, cleaned the wounds and stitched them up. He has a total of 10 stitches. He's also sporting a lovely cone of shame. I'm supposed to keep him calm for two weeks. Seriously?

Lastly, Thank you! All of you have been so encouraging and kind in your comments. Some days I struggle and some days are pretty easy but I'm doing well. I guess I just want to feel normal again. Whatever that is.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Let's Talk About Fear

I'm stuck. 

I have my new home. My wonderful Airstream, Bridget. I have my tow vehicle (still unnamed). My trusty sidekick Murphy will go where I go and keep me company. But I have some crushing fears about starting over and going out on my own. 

Yes, I realize it's been almost five months since Rob passed away. I know that's not a long time in the grand scheme of things but I have to get out of this rut. 

This morning a friend posted this on Facebook.

Why can't I just move forward and live my life? What am I waiting for? Is fear stopping me? Why am I stuck in fear and not living my life?

Having lost Rob so young reminds me not to waste a minute. I feel like I'm wasting minutes... days... weeks.

To be fair, there has been a lot going on and I have legal, medical and other matters going on that can't be ignored. That doesn't mean I can't go on short trips here and there. 

The truth is, I'm scared. I'm scared to pull my new little trailer. I'm scared of damaging it or totaling it or hurting someone. This broken wrist has also amped up my fear level. This has been just awful and I have needed a ton of help from family and friends. I feel like I've gone from ultra-independent to dependent with one ugly slip and fall.

I'm also afraid I'll be bored or lonely. In truth I feel like I had been traveling alone for a long time because Rob was completely unable to help in any way and he slept a lot. I did it all and that's OK because I wanted him to enjoy the rest of his life. I wanted US to enjoy the rest of his life.

I reason with myself. I remind myself I drove the giant dually truck while pulling the 38' 5th wheel thousands of miles. I drove the 38' motorhome while pulling the car more than 18,000 miles. I backed them into campsites, I hooked up and unhooked by my self.

My reasonable self says just hook up and get moving and the fear will melt away with the miles. My fear is like trying to squish a spider. It keeps getting away and I can't seem to catch it.   

The 2018 International Airstream Rally is being held in Salem, Oregon this year in June. I was born in Salem and It's just a few hours away. I think I'll go. I may not take Bridget because it's late to get registered and space is hard to come by. But I'm going to check into my options today and see what's available. I'm hoping it will help me break the ice and get moving forward. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The "W" Word

I'll never forget the first time I had to mark the Widow box on a form I was filling out. I was in Medford, Oregon standing at the counter in the urgent care center I had driven myself to after falling and breaking my wrist.

Yesterday marked four months since Rob passed away. So much has happened but things are starting to slow down now and I'm spending more time thinking and examining my feelings. I'd known it was coming for years but suddenly I'm a widow.
This picture just makes me happy.

People ask me how I am often. Emotionally I feel OK especially since the sun has started to shine more often. The thing is, I feel a little lost. Like I have no identity and no purpose. 
Doesn't everyone sleep with a pony in their mouth?

I also feel incredibly brain damaged. Is there an official diagnosis of Widow's Brain? I lose things all the time. I forget what I'm doing. I say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. To an extent I've done this all my life but it's worse now. 

Fortunately I'm able to laugh at myself most of the time. I lost my Kindle somewhere along this path and have never found it. I've replaced it now but I will always wonder what happened to it. Perhaps I threw it into the trash or a donation bag. I may never know.
Romping in Uncle Bruce and Aunt Suzanna's field.
I'm not writing this to complain or garner sympathy.  I'm just thinking "out-loud" about who and what I am and am not at this point in my life.

I'm not sure what to do with myself most of the time. There are things I think I'd like to do but I really don't seem to have any drive in a specific direction, no passion. I guess it's just too soon.
So many windows to look out in our new home.
After spending the last twenty years taking care of someone so important in my life to have him suddenly gone and not needing my help all the time I've been set adrift. I know it will take time to find myself and figure out how I want to spend my time.

I have lots of family nearby and I enjoy spending time with them. The thing is, I'm a single now and not part of a couple and things are so different when that happens. I had no idea.  
We planted a succulent pot yesterday.
I'm very independent and very stubborn and I know I'll be fine. I just need to find out what makes me tick now. I'm working on getting into a routine so I don't spend too much time sitting here watching TV or not showering until noon. 

With better weather comes more time outside and Murphy is loving that. We walk around the property every evening and he gets to have a good run. He's also starting to enjoy playing fetch (sometimes). 
Murphy's third birthday was yesterday. Can you believe it? 

I do plan to set out on a long trip in the fall. I haven't spent much time planning yet because I'm trying to be still and let things unfold. I'm going to have to have another surgery on my wrist before I head out because they want to remove the plate they used to stabilize the fractures. I'm not looking forward to that but I'm pleased with my recovery and my scar is looking better every day so I can't complain. 

Thanks for listening friends!

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Big Mistake in a Tiny Package

It's been such a long, awful winter but spring has arrived and things are slowly improving in the little RV. 

My last post detailed my misadventure to Texas to pick up my Airstream. After having surgery to repair my fractured wrist I decided to bite the bullet and have it shipped from Texas to Washington. To make a long story short, it arrived very quickly. I moved in and quickly realized I had made a huge, tiny mistake. It was just too small and I began to get depressed. When you're on the edge anyway that's the last thing you need. Two weeks of sitting in a tiny tin can in the rain with one arm useless and a big, bored dog was two weeks too many. I knew it was not going to work. 

I began to weigh my options and soon decided it was a question of my happiness and emotional and physical well being rather than money. 
I started looking at larger Airstreams and found one I wanted to see right here in town. My sister-in-law, Suzanna and I drove over to take a look. It's only three feet longer but what an incredible difference that three feet makes. It's also wider by 15" so it feels so much more spacious.
I thought and pondered and finally decided it was the one for me so I made an offer. This is a 2016 Flying Cloud 25 FB used only five times by an older couple. It's in beautiful shape and it's darn near perfect for Murphy and me.  
He's on my bed. He has one too!

My dad and my nephew helped me bring it home last Wednesday and we started moving in right away. I'm so much happier in here. There are tons of windows and so much light even on rainy days. We are still getting settled and organized but wow what a relief. 
He can see out all the windows and loves it.

My wrist is healing well and I'm actually typing for the first time with both hands. I got my cast off last Thursday and started physical therapy. I'm wearing a brace when I'm out or doing something physical but I have my arm back and that's a great thing. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Trip Cancelled - Boo!

I didn't fall off the face of the earth but i did fall. I slipped on some ice in a motel parking lot in Medford, Oregon. I broke my arm during that fall. I did a fine job of the break too! 

After the fall I drove to an urgent care center and had it looked at. During all of this I was texting with my daughter. Once we knew what we were dealing with my Son-in-law flew from Portland to Medford, drove me back and took me to the ER.

The ER doctors set my fracture with this creepy, Chinese finger trap thing and splinted my arm with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon ASAP.

I ended up having to come back to Olympia to see a surgeon so I'm at my parent's house being spoiled and Murphy is at my daughter's house in Portland. 

I had surgery last Thursday to stabilize the fractures with a plate and screws. This is how it looks although this is not my arm.

I have decided to have my Airstream shipped up from Texas. It will give me a chance to get settled in while I'm having physical therapy. I think it'll be here next week.

So, I'll just be over here learning I am not in charge and to let people help me.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Journey Begins Anew

The day after tomorrow Murphy and I set out on our first adventure since three became two. There have been weeks and weeks of hard work making the leap from one chapter to the next. The weather hasn't helped my slug like behavior at all. We've had so much rain and even a few days of snow and really cold temperatures since Christmas.  My determination to spend some time on a beach in the sunshine is winning out and we are nearly ready to go. 

I mentioned before I intend to keep traveling so I needed to find and purchase a new rolling home. If you've been following along for a while you know we have had two brand new RVs and they have been complete junk. Nothing but problems from the beginning. This experience led me to look for something well made and significantly less likely to have major issues. I chose to purchase a pre-owned Airstream travel trailer. 

After weeks of looking I found one in Texas that belonged to a very kind and patient couple who didn't want to sell but in practicality they needed to sell. My son-in-law flew down to Dallas on a Saturday and met with a fellow Airstreamer for an informal inspection and walk through. They deemed it a safe purchase and just like that, I own an Airstream. It's a 2012 Airstream Bambi Sport 23FB. Thank you Ryan, Brian, Meg and Sean!

Having found my new rolling home it was time to find my tow vehicle. Again Ryan to the rescue! Murphy and I went to Portland for a few days and poor Ryan accompanied me all weekend while shopping for a new truck. He was very patient but we just couldn't find anything I felt was right and within my budget. 

I was just about to give up and go home when my daughter and I were having a conversation at breakfast and I decided to see what would come up on my search if I opted for a two wheel drive rather than a four wheel drive truck. Bingo! I found a beautiful truck just back over the Columbia River in Washington State so we packed up the kids and headed to the dealership. 

As soon as I drove the truck I knew it was "the one". It already had everything I planned to add like a bed liner, a hard tonneau cover and a towing package. It also has super low mileage and stilled has new car smell at four years old.

I'm at the tail end of sorting through everything I own and packing up what I plan to take to live in the Airstream. Once I'm all loaded up I plan to make the 2,600 mile drive to Texas to meet my new rolling home. This is a very rough idea of my route because it's winter!

I haven't had the time or the brain power to think of names for the truck or trailer or even the blog but I'm hoping after I get going they will come to me.  

Murphy and I will be staying in some motels on the way down but I'm hoping it will only take a few days to make the trip because yuck!!

Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Life Goes On In the Little RV

Today marks a full month since we lost Rob. Each and every day brings a new challenge. Some are blips, some are gut-wrenching and some are just downright ridiculous.  

Why does a funeral home choose to mail customer satisfaction surveys?

Why do I burst into tears every single time someone asks me how I am?

Why does Verizon require an official death certificate be shown in person at an official Verizon corporate store?

Why is the afternoon the hardest part of the day?

Why is it so hard to get all of the claim forms and other documents I need to do the things I am legally required to do?

I'll spare you the rest of my whys and start on what's next. 

I don't want to stop traveling. I've grown quite attached to the lifestyle. I know it will be different now.  I also know Rob was unable to help in any way for the last three years so I am confident in my ability to do everything myself.  

Funds will be tight for the foreseeable future. I've been meeting with a financial advisor who has helped me come up with a plan. I think it's a good one.  

I need to downsize. I don't need all of this space and I really can't afford it. My plan is to buy a quality, used RV and tow vehicle and continue with my travels. 

As much as I love the Pacific Northwest in the summer and fall I've had enough rain. I want to go somewhere sunny, warm and dry. 

So, I plan to continue to blog about my travels once I have my new rolling home. There are some things we really wanted to do but couldn't because of Rob's medical needs. 

We really wanted to boondock in the desert but we needed a lot of electricity. I can boondock now. There are places we couldn't go because it would have been too difficult for Rob to get around. I can do those things now. 

I feel like I have so much more to see and do out there. Like Alaska! I really want to go to Alaska. Maybe I'll join a group and take a trip there one summer. I'm sure Murphy would love Alaska.

See you soon!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Goodbye Rob, Rest Well in Heaven

I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone know that Rob went to heaven on Friday afternoon. It was the day before his 63rd birthday. I'm going to miss him terribly. 
At Christina's wedding

We were playing 60s and 70s music in his room shortly before he left us and they played "Life Goes On" which really struck me as poignant as it is so true for the rest of us. 
Meghan's Wedding

With Kelly
 Rest in peace my love and suffer no more.
Turning wood
He loved that trike.
Taking pictures in Montana
Mudding with the girls in his Jeep
Taking pictures in Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lovin' on his boy just a couple of months ago.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Things are Changing and Time Marches on in the Little RV

As I write this post I am sitting across the room from Rob at my daughter's house in Portland, Oregon. Rob has chosen to discontinue dialysis. Without dialysis he cannot survive. 

We have placed him in Hospice care. They will make sure he is comfortable and help us through this transition. He's just across the room in the hospital bed they brought for him yesterday. He's sleeping and surrounded by people who love him very much.
Eating Chinese food!

I feel such a mix of emotions. I'm so grateful for the time we have had together. We were married in 1998 and within just a few months he was in the hospital having a triple bypass. There have been many, many episodes of serious illness since then. With each illness and new diagnosis he has become more and more disabled. 
In Key West last winter

Over the years we have often discussed his wishes for "when the time comes". I am confident I know what he wants and doesn't want. 

For now please keep us in your prayers. 
Thanks for everything blog family.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rob Update, Winter Weather, Superheros and a Spaceship

The roller coaster ride continues. Rob is still in the hospital. It was three weeks as of yesterday. Things got pretty bad that first Thursday night and I heard the words "lets just get him through the night" once again. I made the decision to call his family to come out just in case. His mom, sister and two daughters arrived from the east coast the next day. 
From left to right, Lesa (sister), Kelly (youngest daughter), Meghan (oldest daughter) Sue (Mom)
The day after their arrival Rob rallied and was able to spend a little time with them in between much needed sleep. It seems he has used another of his nine lives. Danger passed, everyone headed home on Monday.

This is basically the same thing that happened in Tucson two and a half years ago but this time it started with low blood sugar, aspiration pneumonia and two calls to 911. 

We've been dealing with respiratory failure, kidney failure and heart failure, an awful combination. There isn't much they can do for him without making one of his conditions worse. They are managing him mostly with medications. By the middle of the second week it became clear he would need dialysis.

His pneumonia is resolved and they managed to get the fluid out of his lungs from his congestive heart failure so it appears he is over the hump for now. His heart is functioning at about 30% and his kidneys are functioning at about 10%. 

This is his second longest hospital stay ever. Ugh! But we have good news. He's doing so much better.
Over the last couple of weeks he's been moved to the 4th floor and taken off the heart monitor. He's also having routine dialysis three days a week. 

More recently he's been getting out of bed and into a chair for meals and just yesterday he left his room and walked to the nurses station with assistance. These are tremendous milestones. 

There are no openings for dialysis up and down the I-5 corridor in Washington so he's in the hospital until something opens up. He's not the first in line by any stretch so we have no way of knowing how long he'll be there. 

He's working with Physical Therapy to get strong enough to come home instead of a rehab center when a dialysis spot opens up. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, back on the homestead it got really cold here very suddenly. We had snow two days in a row and it became clear that something had to be done or we were in for a long and very miserable winter. 
That's snow on the hood!!

We have tile floors and with the cold air blowing under the RV those floors were cold as ice.  
My nephew Bob and my brother Bruce

Enter my own personal superheros. My brother Bruce and nephew Bob completely skirted the motorhome with foam insulation board. 

They also insulated and heat taped our fresh water hose to keep it from freezing and finally they set me up with a couple of jumbo propane tanks to keep the home fires burning. I added some area rugs inside and now we're toasty warm. 

Anyone need a ride to outer space? 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Update on Our Late Summer and Fall Happenings

It's been almost two months since I wrote a blog post. Those months have been absolutely filled with medical appointments of every specialty.  

We've spent a lot of time talking and thinking about reasonable travel plans for the winter. Given Rob's declining health situation, making a marathon trip around the country is completely out of the question. It's just too much for him these days.

We thought we might just head down to Arizona after Christmas for some sun and warm temperatures. However, as I write this, Rob is in the hospital with pneumonia. 

It's tricky to explain how and why pneumonia is so much worse for him than an average, generally healthy person. It exacerbates his other medical conditions. His CHF (congestive heart failure) has flared up now and he has fluid in his lungs along with phenomena. If the doctors don't get the CHF in check it will cause his kidney function to decline which may push him over the edge onto permanent dialysis. 

So, travel plans are on hold until we see what comes of this illness for Rob.  

We are realizing we need an exit strategy sooner rather than later. When we started this journey five and a half years ago we sold our house and pared down our possessions to what we could carry with us in our RV. We don't regret that decision but all good things must come to an end.

I've been spending mornings and early afternoons at the hospital and coming home for the later afternoon and evening so Murphy and I can hang out and get some exercise. The weather has been great the last couple of days so we have been able to get outside.

Meanwhile, life continues on as we ponder our future.  

Friday, September 1, 2017

We Have a New Fan!

I can't believe it's September 1st already. The older I get the faster time goes. I suppose it's that way for all of us. We have been so busy with medical appointments is seems like nothing else has been happening. 
Still painting rocks!

It's looking like we'll be here in the Pacific Northwest through Christmas. We had planned to spend the winter in Texas along the Gulf Coast but that's clearly not going to happen this winter. The damage due to hurricane Harvey is so widespread and severe. So, we're looking Arizona instead. 

Last post I told you Rob got a new electric smoker. We have used that smoker many times over the summer and with great results. I love that it gets him outside and gives him something to do. It takes 6 hours just to smoke a rack of ribs. The yummy smoked ribs and other tasty treats are just an added bonus. I think he's going to smoke a pork shoulder for Labor Day this weekend. That's at least 12 hours of smoking time. I'm looking forward to that taste test. 

A few weeks ago the exhaust fan in our half bathroom died. That bathroom is where we keep Rob's oxygen machine. It's huge and puts out a ridiculous amount of heat when it's running so an exhaust fan is absolutely necessary. 
The Monster Oxygen Machine
I finally did some research and figured out how to remove the old one and what to replace it with. I wanted to do the work myself and keep the cost low but I do not go on the roof so it had to happen from the inside.
The old fan had one speed - turbo. I found a new one online with three speeds. It also will switch to pull air in or vent it out, all for the low, low price of $79.  I ordered the fan from Amazon, of course. 

Yesterday we installed it. It wasn't quite as easy as the videos made it look. We ran into a couple of problems along the way but it's in and works great. 

More exciting news. My daughter and her family are buying a new house in the Portland, Oregon area. They have outgrown their tiny, little house which is less than 900 square feet. The have three kids so it's just not working for them.  The exciting part for us is they bought with us in mind and there is room for us to park on the property. They are scheduled to close next week and then we'll have another awesome place to stay in the Portland area. I think we'll like the neighbors. 

Murphy says hello!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's Been a Busy Summer for the Little RV

Hi there! I know it's been a few weeks since I wrote a post but here we are. Since we arrived back in Washington on Father's Day we have been super busy with life. There have been lots of medical appointments, a little work on the motorhome here and there, some arts and crafts, lots of visits with family and even a few trips to Portland to visit my daughter and her family. 

We are really enjoying our outdoor living space. It's nice to be in a place where we can relax and actually have a couple of things that are too big to take along wherever we go, like big, cushy chairs and a picnic table. My brother and his family had this old picnic table they weren't using so I refinished it and it's getting lots of use. 

Rob also has a new smoker. We have been smoking some pretty tasty treats over the past few weeks. Just yesterday we have some seriously tasty ribs. He's enjoying it very much. 

I've been spending some time doing crafty things. First Suzanna, my sister-in-law and I used some of my shells to make wind chimes. 
Then I started painting rocks. I saw some fun rocks on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.

The photo below shows just a few of them. I keep painting and giving them away.

The first rocks I painted were from Lake Michigan. They are amazingly smooth and flat and perfect for painting. When I ran out of those I went to the a landscape shop and literally stood in the large river rock bin to choose a milk crate full of river rocks. Unfortunately they are not very smooth so they have to be cleaned, spackled, sanded and painted with a base coat before I get to the fun part.
Murphy is happy as a clam here at Uncle Bruce's house. There are neighbors to visit, rabbits and birds to chase, berries to eat, acres of land to explore and always something fun for a boy to do.
We are told there are chipmunks living in this stump. Occasionally he has a good snoop around the stump in his quest for a playmate but he always come up empty. 
Sometimes he comes home smelling like the neighbor's horse barn. Ugh! 

Did I mention that our lovely, black tile back splash literally fell off the kitchen wall? 
After I took it outside I discovered the tile was installed on a backer board and the backer board was attached to the wall by two blobs of some sort of adhesive. 

I decided to replace the real tile with peel and stick tile squares. They look real and are very light weight. They are also much more colorful than the old black tile. 
During installation. I like it!