And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


At dawn on Saturday, my birthday as it happened, we got the bad news that my 87 year old father had fallen and broken both his shoulder and his hip. He was being prepped for surgery, which turned out to take place just before we arrived at the hospital in our emergency drive from Washington. The news wasn’t good as we met with all the family in the lobby—my father has several health issues—and his blood pressure was falling dangerously low. That forced a quick surgery which only allowed the doctor enough time to complete the hip and not the shoulder. His shoulder will remain broken to heal on its own.

This morning as I write this, he is still in the Intensive Care Unit but seems to be doing better than he was late last evening. He is able to receive visitors and we take turns seeing him.

Due to some issues with pay, we did not get the duplex completed last week as we thought we would so we left the RV behind in Washington. Marc will return with my daughter to finalize that whole situation and get the RV towed back to Bend. I will remain with my mom.

This will be a waiting game now, to see how well he can do. Somehow, with this year having been so bad for us, this doesn’t greatly surprise us but we sure wish it would end and that things will turn out OK for my father.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Marc was successful in fixing the Freightliner’s fuel injector problem on his own. After checking in with the CAT garage and getting an ungodly estimate of around $1000 for the fix, he took the bull by the horns and ordered an online injector through the very helpful Oregon Fuel Injectors out of Eugene. In a go for broke move that involved fashioning special tools out of some throw-away wrenches he carries along just for such occasions, he wrestled and wrestled with getting the fuel injector out of its slot in his makeshift “garage”. Finally, it broke loose, allowing the new one to be installed without mishap. The truck is idling much smoother and now acts like its ready to roll. Total savings: about $800!

Speaking of rolling, we’ve been doing lots of that recently in Buckley’s high winds. We’re closing in on a week’s worth of high winds and rain and woke one morning to find our stuff, including a heavy milk crate strewn about the lawn area feet from the rig. Believe me; we’re not normally this messy of a camper! Marc snuck in a picture on our one day of sunshine in the last two weeks so we can prove that occasionally Washington does get sun in winter. I was still too sick to get out and enjoy it.

This week should bring some of the final tasks necessary for the completion of one side of the duplex. The flooring was completed and looks fantastic given what was in there before. Some new replacement doors will arrive Tuesday and after Marc gets them hung I should be able to complete my final clean. It will be nice to put this one to bed and be on our way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Waning Days of Fall

The days meld one into the other as we continue to get ever closer to wrapping up things on the duplex. The roofers finished their job; Marc got the torn out laundry room reframed, sheetrocked, taped and textured and then we draped the entire place and got the interior painted. Lowe’s will be laying new vinyl throughout on Monday, new carpet on Tuesday and then I will have my final hours of the overall cleanup to finish off the inside. Marc however, will still need to do some things on the outside and also some minor repair to the other occupied unit before the job is entirely finished.

Just today, I will finish up the last of the painting--all the closet shelves and a good thing too as I am coming down with a cold that Marc has fought for the past week. I’m sure within a day or two I won’t even feel like working; I already feel my energy ebbing.

We had hoped to be able to spend Thanksgiving in Oregon with family but fate isn’t going to allow that since the Freightliner is still broken down and we’re waiting on parts. At least we hope to be able to spend it with Rachael. We’ve already got the big bird just waiting in our freezer!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bucket Lists--Phooey!

I forget actually when I did it, I’m thinking now probably in the early 2000’s; I made a “bucket list” for our RV travels (which I posted). Despite dutiful searching of my hard drive and website I can no longer find it (multiple computer and web crashes since) but I remember some of the things. We have accomplished some, albeit maybe not in the places I imagined. For example, I imagined seeing New England’s fall foliage from a curvy back road on a motorcycle—we didn’t exactly make New England but we had a good glimmer in Wisconsin in the fall of 2006. I also remember wanting to canoe the swamps of South Carolina, see the mansions of Charleston and Savannah on a humid day in summer, and eat lobster on a rocky Maine coast. Nope: didn’t get to those.

With a major birthday looming in November I have been dwelling of late on bucket lists. At 60 it dawns on you (if not before) that you aren’t going to live forever and in fact, statistically, quite a few people actually don’t make it out of this decade into the next. So I’ve been pondering: is my bucket list the same now as then? What does it all really come down to? What if I only have a few years left to live? How do I want them?

There was a good analogy done on video by a famous RV guru, Gaylord Maxwell. He was in his 70’s and giving a seminar when he unveiled a standard tape measure for a demonstration. He measured out an inch for every year he had lived. The tape looked long. Then he held that measurement and measured out a standard life expectancy for a man his age and then held his age and the expectancy between two fingers. It looked woefully small. Then he asked: “What are you going to do with what’s left on your time line” Gaylord died of a heart attack unexpectedly less than two years later; not making his "expected" time line.

Today, would my bucket list look the same? I would have to answer “I don’t think so.” I guess with expanding age, my horizons seem to have shortened. The brutal truth of what an awful recession has wreaked on our finances and our abilities to be employed has been “enlightening” to say the least. Life no longer seems “out in front, but behind”. When did I suddenly turn THAT corner? There’s nothing like no one wanting to employ you that will bring home the fact that you are now among the unwanted; that you are worn out; that you are old; indeed , as if you ever had doubt when looking into the mirror each morning.

My beautiful husband still tells me how he finds me desirable. But it breaks my heart to see him realize, at five years younger than I, that he is now recognizing all of the above when before he felt himself bulletproof. After all—he was at the top of his game—a lifetime of knowledge and skill gleaned from years and years of hard work and application and just the drudge of plain showing up for the grind year after year. A lifetime of experience: it’s as if it now means nothing. He watches inept people who are working and says “They have a job. Why don’t I?”

I’m trying to start a new bucket list. I guess such is always tied to dreams, isn’t it--but the list is much shorter than the one I did before. I find it’s a mix of practicalities and wild exaggeration and I wonder in my 60 year old heart, which will win out? Dare we live out the life we wish we could? One thing I have come to understand: bucket lists cost money. The great unknowable: I would spend it all on attaining that canoe trip in South Carolina or eating that lobster on Maine's rocky shore if I knew I wouldn’t make it out of my sixties alive. Thoughts of old age and not enough money haunt me; I am greatly saddened by the thought my bucket list will likely never be attained, even as I shorten it by leaps and bounds daily. Is it thoughts like this which lead to creating the bitterness we find in old people, full of regrets? But given finite resources and grandiose dreams, how to meld the two into something I can age and live with? Woe the child who is born a dreamer….life eventually crushes it out of the best of us. No wonder so many believe in Heaven; ever striving for what won’t be attainable on Earth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


About two weeks ago Marc was driving back from working on the duplex when he noticed smoke pouring out of the back of the Freightliner. Pulling over to check, he found the ground wiring to the generator and all the wiring to the auxiliary fuel tank entirely melted together from fire. No, the generator was not running at the time and this followed upon us having just used it for a hundred hours dry camping at Ft. Lewis. Since the generator weighs about 800 pounds, there is no sure way to tell if the fire burnt up the motor until we arrive back in Bend to the use the shop hoist. Needless to say right now; no boondocking in our future if this turkey (Onan) is burnt up. At eight grand it’s not something we will be able to replace.

Three days ago as Marc was on his way to Lowe’s for parts and I was still working in the duplex, he called to say he was back at the RV and the Freightliner wouldn’t run. It had suddenly started running on five cylinders and then stopped running completely. Since Marc uses the Freightliner not only as a pickup for the large and heavy items like sheet rock and doors for this duplex repair, its use is obviously crucial to the job to say nothing of having to haul the rig over to the sewer dump every ten days. He changed out the fuel filter but it was still running terribly rough. He made one last run for the heavy stuff he needed from Lowe’s and has now parked it. Despite the fact that what he really wants to do is shoot it and put it out of its misery, the only thing for us to do is chase down an unknown Caterpillar dealer for a service shop and likely pay thousands of dollars to delve into what is wrong with it at this point. It is very obvious we will never make it out of Washington and over the mountain passes with the rig with it operating on five cylinders and barely running.

So much for any profit from this job…If it weren’t for bad luck, we would have no luck at all.