Archives for posts with tag: single mom

Living in a sixteen foot travel trailer definitely qualifies as “tiny house” living believe you me! You MUST be comfortable with being organized and well oiled in order to get from one section of it to another as well as packing and rearranging your belongings.

I have always attempted to live in organized chaos. Raising two very challenging children alone made it a necessity because, although Carl, my son, leaned toward neatness, even he had his moments of scattered squirrel syndrome! My daughter, Ava, on the other hand, never had organized chaos. She preferred the purity of chaos out of fear of throwing something away which might be important…even junk mail…which I was to learn was a A.D.D. tendency. Ava’s father had that tendency as did my mother. My A.D.D. takes on other characteristics of the more “squirrel” variety…easily distracted by fast moving or shiny objects! However, living in this small space MAKES me stay focused because I could break my neck if anything is left on the floor or the frustration of never finding my pliers if I’m not diligent about vigilantly watching and putting things back every single time in the same place.

Therefore, I’ve developed a system of plastic removable varying sizes of drawers placed inside the cabinetry for dishes, seasoning, kitchen towels, silverware, etc. Having traveled the back roads of USA for ten years, I’ve learned you can’t predict the weather you’ll face so I’ve also developed the plastic tub way of packing for winter, spring, summer, shoes and miscellaneous needs. I use stacking baskets for immediate food needs combined with under seat storage for food supplies. And, although I got most of my organization right during my initial packing, I found the need to do a little tweaking each time I landed somewhere for more than an overnight stay or where I’d put new items when I bought something. At home, I have the rule that one new thing in means one old thing must go out. Not true here. Yet.

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Well, that rule ain’t working so well for me here as I’ve been lucky enough to hit up on some amazingly talented women here at the RV park in Bullhead City, Arizona who had true art for sale and I ain’t getting rid of nothing at this stage of the game.

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This is a throw that Linda made. She creates beautiful Southwest Art machine quilting!

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I asked her to make this wall hanging for me and she added some embroidery in places!

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I’m so in love this “table cloth” which will never see any table top! I love each of these!

Also be prepared to scale down your needs to just the necessities. I decided not to bring any pots or pans as my cooking, even at home, mostly consists of frozen meat nuked to perfection atop salad. In Utah for a month quickly taught me I’d over packed dishes, glasses and cups and winter clothing. But, in my defense, I’ve hit some pretty crazy weather these last ten years where I wished I had winter clothing handy. Note to self: Don’t pack a whole tub of it!

However, I do insist on making this trailer my home with my favorite things and I’ve done that with prints of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Toulouse and Matisse art on my walls next to pictures of Carl and Ava and their own art hung with those Command hangers. I have adorned my vent hood with Ava’s favorite refrigerator magnets and repurposed my shower to be my closet with sturdy adjustable, spring rods and a plastic hanging clothes organizer, now horizontal, on the shower floor to hold my immediate- needs clothes and shoes.

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And, as this is the first Christmas since 2007 I’ve been excited about decorating, I bought an eighteen inch $5.00 tree complete with decorations at the Family Dollar store when I was in Utah. I added a Wonder Woman skirt which I embellished with glitter glue, made Wonder Woman ornaments from the same fabric and coated local rocks with glitter glue to spank it all up with something local and fun.

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Wonder Woman Christmas Tree

 

As for driving through the Mohave Desert, don’t let the fact that most of it is on Interstate let it lull you into thinking there will be service stations or anything, for that matter, for miles and miles and miles! So, my rules are: watch your MPG average; fill up IF you see an exit with gas and hold on tight! I believe I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth repeating.

Also, don’t let the 70 MPH speed limit on these very straight expressways let you think you can drive any speed you want. If the winds 30-40 MPH winds with 60-80 MPH wind guts don’t slap you back into reality then the police will! The police may just not be where you think they should be! Just sayin’! Also, take plenty of water and food with you in the unlikely event of being stranded in one of those canyon vortexes where cell service just disappears when you need it most. I prefer to play it safe than sorry.

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California Mohave Desert

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I’m seeing, getting to know and meeting so many wonderful Wonder Women on my adventures this whole year! I’m also meeting some amazing Super Men, too! I’ve been trying to put together my story of meeting these Wonder People but their stories are too deeply layered to synopsize. It just wouldn’t do them justice. For starters, I can say I visited a new BFF in Victorville, CA who randomly invited me to join him and a friend of his to attend a grief group meeting. When they started sharing their stories, I was amazed at how diverse their grief was. The woman who started this group did so because she couldn’t find the right group twenty years ago so she created one! Losses were as long ago as decades (like my son’s death) to as recent as six months ago.

It was very special sharing my crazy journey with both Carl and Ava and discussing the subject of “the” book predicted twenty-five years ago which “we” are writing now. As it has always shown me, helping others find hope helps us. Too many were in deep depression and guilt over their grief struggles. I reached out to each with my cards for both this Blog  and Ava’s Corner, Inc. in the hopes they could find encouragement in either website and for them, with this loving reminder, to send me an email to let me know how they’re doing.

And, because I don’t believe in coincidences, the fact that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” happens to be playing at this moment in time means I need to sign off and watch my all time favorite Christmas movie. When my sister and her daughters came to visit Mom’s, I made them sit down and watch it with me! I hope it’s a warm, fuzzy memory for them as it is for me. Yup. It is a wonderful life and I’m just starting to feel alive again and that ain’t bad. And, to think last year I thought I would never get out of being depressed over all the lost loved ones; the death of Montana, my Service Dog; or my future without all of them but this year I found those voids filled with love from existing and new sources! Praise God!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Got a little stir crazy from sitting too long trying to ignore screaming of electric tools from the guy next to me build the next Taj Mahal or totally refurbish his travel trailer so I hit the road. Why oh why are they allowing this? Guess I’ll have to ask but, in the meantime, I took the road less travelled to Zion, Kanab and Jacob’s Lake to revisit some memories.

Plus, I’d had an unrelenting desire to revisit a bit of my last camping trip with Ava from  June, 2011 this past weekend. We’d left Vegas and headed straight for Zion where she spent a couple of days hiking some marvelous trails while Montana and I explored the few paths which allow pets. Our next stop was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where Ava was determined to hike down the North Rim, spend the night at Phantom Ranch and hike back up the next day to the South Rim. Let’s just say it was one of our most eventful camping experiences. We spent that night in a cabin at Jacob’s Lake taking a much needed respite. Ava had hiked most of the way down the North Rim when her knees failed. They were going to helicopter her out of the canyon but she had other plans. She hiked back out escorted by Rangers.

I had just closed up the popup to head toward the South Rim when a stranger called me first saying Ava was fine and wanted him to tell me to stay at the North Rim. She was coming back up because of knee issues. Montana and I paced frantically for hours at the top of the trail asking anyone coming toward us if they’d seen her. Too scary to say what I was thinking that whole time but when I saw her, there wasn’t a happier mother around! We got the last available cabin at Jacob’s Lake and regrouped.

I felt compelled to go back. I think it was because we’d left part of us there and I needed to put it back into my soul before I could write again.

So, it was only natural for me to focus on rocks first. They help me get outta my own head. Plus, they’re strong but vulnerable and, I sure love me some rocks and how the Mothers create and scar them!

The force of the Mothers (Nature and Earth) are never more apparent than at Zion.  These mountains show signs of Mother Nature’s etchings on their surfaces as the winds carve their way through the sandstone mountains. She drops water into their crevices, then quickly freezes it over and over again to weaken that link to its parent in order to loosen huge boulders enough to cause them to crash below creating thunder throughout the canyon and land atop of the eroded soil at her feet.

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Approaching Zion from Hurricane

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Etchings from the Mother

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Amphitheater created by Mother’s determination to break free pieces of the mountain.

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Erosion at the base waiting for more from above

Mother Nature blows her seeds in the wind and sprinkles them like a condiment  into those same crevices. Some germinate and grip for the rest of their lives to the precipices of the rock fighting forever the changing wind, rain, snow, freezing and warming temperatures the Mother sends their way. The larger they grow, the larger the crevice becomes and encourages the huge boulder upon which they cling, along with the Mother’s help, to join the other large boulders below.

The light changes here as rapidly as the temperature and weather. I take a picture one minute and in the next, different hues appear. It’s this marvelous discovery by those artists of yesteryear who fell in love with that very dynamic…the effects sunlight which…Vermeer and Impressionists captured in their paintings and focused on by painting the same scene over and over again in varying light (i.e, Monet’s many paintings of Notre Dame). At some point, the word spread far and wide that Carmel, California held some magic light there. I believe that “magic” light is in the desert here in Utah.

See what you think about my drive to and from Jacob’s Lake.

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Trying to capture the Vermillion Cliffs and the White ones too

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Light changes rapidly especially on cloudy days like yesterday

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These three were literally taken only minutes minutes apart while sitting still.

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Money shot!

The other two parts of this adventure were to visit a place Ava and I had always wanted to visit but never found the time to do so…Best Friends Sanctuary (a non-profit) facility in Kanab, Utah of National Geographic’s “Dogtown” TV show notoriety (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/visit-our-utah-sanctuary/places-stay).

For those of you who knew Ava, she rescued cats…and dogs…but mostly cats. Ava rescued   a paraplegic cat, Murmur, from a Vet who was moving and who would no longer keep. Ava took Murmur and lovingly nurtured her until the little animal passed away. Ava  would have loved to have lived and worked at this place (if they could have incorporated opera), so I it was only fitting for me to take their tour while I was in the neighborhood and donate to their wonderful cause in her memory.

Yup. It was hard but it was what Ava wanted me to do yesterday so I did it.

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Best Friends Welcome Center

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Where “Dogtown” was filmed for National Geographic (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/series)

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New Veterinarian facilities

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Cat  World HQ

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One of many outdoor fun for their Sanctuary Cats looking for their fur-ever homes! 

Then, just for me, I had to go back to Rocking V Cafe (http://www.rockingvcafe.com)  for one of their amazing pork chops. I’d had one of their pork chops this past summer and couldn’t stop thinking about it…so I did what a girl had to do…go back and order it again!

Pork chop

YEAH, BABY! Pork chop at Rocking V Cafe! Way to end the day!

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Rocking V Cafe, Kanab, Utah

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Cozy Inside with nice art for sale on the walls!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

It’s interesting and pivotal, at this very specific time in my life and in history, for PBS to air the Ken Burns 10-part series on Vietnam.
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“Before” – Senior Picture, 1965

Why was watching this series pivotal for me? Well, in 1965, when many of my school chums were being shipped off to fight an unwanted battle on Asian soil, I was fighting my own “Vietnam” battle of being a pregnant 17 year old on the streets to fend for myself, engaged to the wrong man, met the right one who was MIA in Vietnam, married the wrong man and gave birth of my son, Carl. The other layer of the story was my father was so insanely angry at me for getting pregnant he came looking for me with a gun to kill me. Yes. Kill me, my fiancé and my baby.
Early that 1965 magical insane summer, my fiancé, Ray, joined the Army. That bitter sweet last night with him before he left for Bootcamp, held all the images of a tearful teen 1965 movie…pain, love, hurt, joy and mixed messages of a future with a scrambled past. We talked about what would happen if I became pregnant but neither of us truly believing it could/would happen. We, obviously, were delusional.
It was during the months after Ray left, that I started questioning my choice of a future and husband. I had a good job working part-time as a Legal Secretary for two general practice lawyers and going to Georgia State University while living at home. I wanted more independence so my oldest brother co-signed on a loan for me to buy my first car, “George.” It was a black 1960 Karman Ghia convertible. It had no heat if you weren’t moving forward but I sure loved dropping that convertible top on those waning summer days! That’s when I realized I just wanted to be engaged and not married. After all, I was in college,  working and feeling alive.
It was one of those wonderful summer nights when I was driving “George” around with the top down with a friend that I met Dave. Dave was a 6′ 2″ drink of well water who had a loving spirit, was well educated and in the Army. He was the catalyst for my break up with Ray. My time with Dave helped me further realize how I was cutting myself short in a more mature way…like a real future with a career and Dave.
And, although both Dave and Ray were in the Army, only one went to Vietnam.
And, again, I lived yet another, more painful last night…but, this time with Dave. He filled my heart with a future and a terrible sadness of loss later multiplied by my yet unknown pregnancy. It was a during those months that I later had an older friend tell me I might be pregnant. It was such a shock to think I might be! That’s weird, I know, especially knowing I was was raised on a small farm but I truly never connected the dots because I lived in a teen haze of invincibility as most do/did.
My letters to Dave (which numbered many) went unanswered. I was glued to the news to see what was happening 10,000 miles from home.
In the meantime, my first gynecological visit was to find out I was seventeen and pregnant. My life started falling apart at the seams at that moment (and hasn’t stopped in the 50 plus years since).
As soon as I got home from the appointment, I called Ray at the Base and told him of our predicament. We secretly plotted an elopement. He was stationed in North Augusta, South Carolina where one only had to be eighteen to get married without  parental consent. I was one month short of eighteen.
So, armed with a “doctored” birth certificate,  I drove “George” to North Augusta, SC, picked up Ray at the Base and immediately headed to the JP’s office to get married. Well, my fraudulent birth certificate  didn’t pass the muster of the Judge’s secretary. I came home pregnant, sick and worried out of my mind as to what was going to happen next. Ray went back to Ranger training camp.
It was that next weekend when my “Vietnam” started.
The next morning after I came back from my visit to SC, I woke up with sick. Dad guessed I was pregnant and immediately flew into an “Incredible Hulk” kinda’ rage.
Because our failed marriage attempt, Ray had gotten leave again to go to Atlanta so we could plot our next elopement steps. Mom came into my room and sat on my bed next to me and proceeded to tell me Dad was convinced I was pregnant. I broke down and said I was and that Ray and I had tried to get married that weekend but had failed because the the parental consent thingie. We cried and hugged. She asked if I wanted to get an abortion. I told Mom from some outside source, in an out-of-body kinda way, “This child is meant to be born.”
Mom then.told me about Dad’s rage and to pack some things and not come back until she told me it was okay. She said for me to call her later and, if Dad answered the phone, to hang up. She knew Dad and his rages all too well. What she didn’t know was that Dad  was already blowing a gasket much like Vesuvius. When I called, she answered. She said she’d never seen Dad this crazy and that he’d  gone to his arsenal, gotten a gun or guns, and was hunting for me and Ray. He was going to kill us both. Well, all three of us.
We hid all night in “George” in a parking lot behind some buildings on Fourteenth Street. I’ll never forget how scared and cold we were.
With the help of some older “Hippy” types who I’d just met, Ray and I had a place to hide for a few days. Mom, in the meantime, got the parental consent  paper signed I needed for Ray and I to marry.
I drove to SC again; Ray and I married on his nineteenth birthday.
I was seventeen, alone, pregnant, living with those Hippy folks near 14th Street in a run down apartment and working for those lawyers. Those Hippy folks took me in with open arms, fed me, gave me a baby shower and helped me find an apartment I could afford.
And, in all fairness to my siblings, they were living their own stories, living in other cities and/or were caught up in their own lives, nightmares and futures. I know Mom fought hard to keep Dad from killing me. She told him he’d better leave town until he calmed down enough to be a father and grandfather. He headed West and stayed there until right before my son, Carl, was born.
How did I survive the first of My “Vietnam” years? I truly don’t know because my part time job working for two lawyers as a legal secretary typing petitions and handling a two man law office paid me an astonishing rate of $.75/hour. It took every penny to pay the $36.63 car payment and $65.00 rent in my Hippy-ville apartment overlooking Tenth Street near Piedmont Park where I walked my leashed rabbit down to the park after work.
TO BE CONTINUED…