Category Archives: My True Life

Why I Like the Winter Holidays Time of the Year

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As a kid, I loved Christmas.

What’s not to love? Festivities included presents (from Santa, Mom and Dad, and both sides of the family); lots of delicious food (fudge and pies, ham and turkey, potato salad and rice dressing); and running wild with my cousins.

As I got older, my Christmas enjoyment expanded as I learned that giving can be just as fun as receiving. I remember saving the meager amounts of money that came into my life to buy little low-priced Christmas items from the Sears catalog. I gave my godmother a tiny Christmas tree meant to hold toothpicks and a select few of my elementary school friends received erasers shaped and colored like Christmas tree lights.

Christmas of 7th grade stands out because my parents allowed me to host a party. My four best friends were invited. We pulled names to decide who would buy gifts for whom and set a $10 spending limit. I pulled Kim’s name and bought her treasures to fuel her Duran Duran obsession. Tiffany pulled my name and went over the spending limit when she got me both Bruce Springstein’s Born in the USA album AND Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry. I ate too many Pillsbury slice and bake cookies and drank too much Cherry Coke and puked (not on purpose) after my friends went home.

The last year I remember celebrating Christmas in a traditional way was 1995. I hosted a tree trimming party. I put up an artificial tree and made ornaments with the names of the guests outlined in glitter. I prepared snacks, got everything ready…and was disappointed when only one or two friends showed up. I’d imagined us rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but it turned out to be more of a blue Christmas.

By the next year I was an anarchist. My friends were anarchists too. Instead of celebrating Christmas, we critiqued consumerism and capitalism and Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of problems with consumerism, capitalism, and Christianity, and I still believe critique can be a healthy way to learn and teach. But is it possible to critique Christmas and still enjoy some aspects of it?

Personally, it’s the entire holiday season I like, everything from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the entire month of December plus a little more. But I know that for the majority of people in America, Christmas is the main event, with Hanukkah perhaps a distance second. Yes, some people celebrate Yule and/or Solstice, but in most places those people are few and far between. And while I know there are people who celebrateKwanzaa, I’ve never met any of them. (That’s on me. I’m not suggesting Kwanzaa celebrators are in any way responsible for seeking me out.)

For me, the winter holidays are not about a baby born in a barn in the distance past and laid to sleep in a manager. I was brought up Catholic, but I don’t even consider myself Christian anymore. Christian holidays are not my holidays. To be honest, I don’t particularly celebrate Pagan holidays either. Christmas and Yule and Solstice and Boxing Day are usually just regular days for me, perhaps with some additional stuffing. (Oh, hey, I just looked it up and found out that Yule is 12 days long…I had not idea until right now.)

So I’ll tell you what I like about Christmas time, the holiday season, whatever you want to call it. I like that people are nicer to each other during this time of year.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

People give each other presents, but I don’t mean just friends and family. People give presents to folks who are practically strangers. When people give a little gift to their mail carrier or garbage collector or teacher, they’re expressing appreciation to virtual strangers. When folks give to Toys for Tots or pluck a tag from a tree at Walmart or Denny’s then get a gift for the person listed on the tag, they’re giving to an actual stranger. During the holidays people donate to food banks and other charitable organizations and maybe even give a little extra cash to the person flying a sign on the corner.

Christmas time isn’t just about gifts though. People think about each other more. They send cards to one another or maybe a text to catch up. People say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year” (which I like to use well into February). People acknowledge each other more throughout the entire month of December. People simply seem kinder during that part of the year.

I like the additional kindness. I like to receive it. I like to give it out. I like to see other folks giving it and receiving it too. But I think there’s something else at play during the winter holidays. I think during this part of the year, people have more hope.

Photo by Bob Canning on Unsplash

Now here’s the question: Does the hopefulness make people kinder or does the kindness make people more hopeful? I suppose it doesn’t matter. My wish is that we can all be more hopeful and kinder to each other all year long.

I wish this for all of us and specifically to you. I wish you more hope and more kindness today and in the coming year. I wish for you to receive more kindness and to show more kindness too. I wish these things for myself and for each individual, which then means I’m wishing it for us collectively too.

I’m also wishing you a very happy whatever-holiday-you celebrate-this-time-of-year. If you celebrated Hanukkah a few weeks ago, I hope it was wonderful. If you welcomed winter on the Solstice, I hope it was meaningful for you. If you’re a Festivus person, I hope you aired all your grievances and ate a lot of carbs. If you’re celebrating Christmas today, I hope it’s merry and bright. If Boxing Day is your tradition, I hope tomorrow is a great day for you. If you begin celebrating Kwanzaa tomorrow, I wish you a joyous Kwanzaa. If you begin celebrating Yule tomorrow, I hope the next twelve days are fabulous. If I didn’t name your holiday, I still hope it’s a good one (and I’d love you to tell us all about it in the comments).

And of course, Happy New Year. I’m hoping 2022 is a good one for all of us.

Photo by Peng Wei on Unsplash

He Was a Good Boy

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Content Warning: Death of an animal friend

Jerico, The Man’s doggie companion for over a decade and my friend since January of 2017, passed away on October 25, 2021. He was a good boy. He is loved and he is missed.

I don’t want to go into all the details of Jerico’s illness and death. It’s just too much. But I will say he had a difficult year, almost exactly a year of pain and decline. At the end, I knew he was suffering. His death was a sort of horrible blessing because I knew it meant an end to that suffering.

The Man and I had parted ways in Taos in June. He took off in search of cooler temperatures. Of course, Jerico went with him.

Jerico on my bed in the van with collage materials in 2017 or 2018.

The Man called after a couple of weeks. Jerico wasn’t doing well. He was in a lot of pain, wasn’t leaving his bed but maybe once a day, wasn’t eating well. I thought maybe this was the end.

I didn’t hear anything, not a peep, from The Man for two months. He didn’t have a phone, and payphones are few and far between out in the world. I thought maybe I’d never hear from him again. I wondered how he and Jerico were doing.

I texted The Man’s sister and asked if she had heard from him, if she knew how Jerico was. She said Jerico was doing great. That seemed like a miracle to me.

On Wednesday, October 20, The Man showed up at my door. I was happy to see him. Jerico was with him, of course. The Man lifted Jerico from the passenger side of the minivan and set him gently on the ground. He walked around, barked, came over to me for pets. When The Man and I talked to each other, Jerico barked for our attention. He seemed like his same bossy self. When it was time to go inside, Jerico hopped up the step into the trailer

On Thursday The Man and Jerico came back to my trailer. The Man said he and Jerico had gone for a little walk that morning and had a nice time. He used my phone to call about a job, then left Jerico with me while he went to an interview. Jerico mostly stayed on the couch, but stood up to bark when the FedEx driver made a delivery. Later, the lady who owns the RV park where I live came over to give me something. I let Jerico out when I went outside to talk to her. He and the landlady had met before and liked each other. He went to her to get some pets, and she obliged. When she stopped petting him, he barked his bossy bark to demand more. When she left, he and I went back into the trailer. He hopped right in with no help from me.

All in the bed together while I worked on blog posts, 2019 or 2020.

On Friday, The Man and Jerico came over again so The Man could use my phone. The whole time they were over, Jerico stayed on the couch, lying down. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Jerico wasn’t going to bounce back again.

On Saturday morning, The Man showed up at my door. He asked if he and Jerico could stay in the trailer with me until Jerico passed away. They had been camping on public land and it was dusty and other campers were letting dogs run loose. He didn’t think it was a good environment for Jerico. I said yes. I wanted Jerico to be as comfortable as possible in his last days. The Man warned me it could be two months before Jerico passed. I said they could stay as long as they needed to.

Jerico spent all of Saturday lying down, either on the couch or in his bed that The Man had brought in. He didn’t want to eat and barely drank. The Man and I took turns sitting with him. We made sure someone was always with him. We petted him and sang to him and gave him all the love we could.

We decided we would take him to the vet’s office first thing Monday morning and have her assess Jerico’s situation.

On Sunday, it was obvious that Jerico was not doing well. He didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to move from his bed. He didn’t want to eat. The Man and I continued to pet him and love on him and sing to him.

I posted this photo to Instagram on National Dog Day 2019. The Man took the photo; I cropped and enhanced it.

In the morning there was a problem with my solar setup, and The Man had to install a fuse. In the ensuing hubbub, Jerico left the living room and went into the bedroom where he lay down between the bed and the wall. When The Man called him, he wouldn’t come. I got very nervous thinking maybe he had gone there to die. I think The Man feared the same thing, although neither of us spoke the thought aloud. The Man went to the refrigerator and pulled out the block of cheese. Cheese had always been Jerico’s favorite food, so The Man thought he could entice him out with a nice chunk. It didn’t work. When The Man held out the entire block of cheese to Jerico, the pup just turned his head. He didn’t even lick it. That’s when I knew Jerico must feel very, very bad, and the end was near.

The Man did finally get Jerico out of the bedroom and back into his bed on the couch.

Everything that happened after that is too difficult to rehash. All I want to say is that Jerico’s beautiful doggie soul passed from this earth on the morning of October 25, 2021.

The lady who owns the RV park where I live let us bury Jerico at the back of the property, in a brushy area where there are cacti and mesquite trees, where people don’t typically go. The Man dug the grave. We took precautions to discourage animals from disturbing the resting place, including covering the gravesite with big rocks we gathered in the area.

I’m so grateful to have been with Jerico in his last days. It was a privilege and a blessing to be with him, to pet him and love on him and sing to him before he passed. I am so grateful that The Man brought Jerico to my home so I could spend just a little more time with him. I’m so thankful I could offer him a home in his time of suffering so he didn’t have to spend it in the dust or cramped up in the minivan in a parking lot somewhere. I so appreciate the landlady giving us a place to bury Jerico.

Me and Jerico on a snow-dusted bridge in Taos County in 2017. He was my friend, and I miss him.

Jerico was a good boy, a good dog. He barked a lot and was bossy, but he was also a wonderful friend. He liked to cuddle and was the best doggie heater in the winter. He was a loyal companion and wanted to always be where The Man was, to follow him wherever he went. He loved to play ball more than anything else in the world and was a natural athlete. Everyone who watched him chase and retrieve a blue racquetball was impressed by his speed, dedication, and determination. He would never give up on finding a ball that had been thrown.

He was a special boy, a special friend. I miss him, and I know without asking that The Man does too.

Rest in Peace, Jerico. You are loved. You are missed.

I took the photos in this post unless otherwise note.

How to (and How Not to) Approach a Camper

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This is one of my favorite places to camp in Northern New Mexico.

I pulled into one of my favorite boondocking areas in the Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico. As I drove down the dirt road and approached the spots with picnic tables and fire pits, I saw a couple of tents already pitched in my favorite place to camp. Since I couldn’t go there, I chose the place where in the past I’d had the most luck getting internet access on my phone.

I parked in a flat place, hauled out my table, unfolded my chair, and called myself all set up.

I hadn’t been there long when two vans and several passenger vehicles came into the area, parked near the tents, and disgorged about two dozen people, most of them substantially younger than I am. I tried to look at them without looking like I was looking at them. Where they high school kids? College students? A church group? I was unsure.

Everyone in the group scrambled to unload the vans and vehicles and pitch their tents.

I heard a young man shout, I’m going to take off my underwear now! I sincerely hoped this was a church group.

Dylan, I heard a woman say, that person’s not with us. Let’s give them a little more space, ok?

Was she referring to me? Had Dylan been encroaching upon my territory?

After the group had adequate time to set up camp, they assembled near the two tents I’d seen when I first rolled in. The owners of those tents must have been the vanguard who had come early to stake their claim.

Was the group going to eat a meal together? Would there be a prayer before the meal? If there was a prayer, I’d feel confident they were a church group.

There was no prayer, at least nothing loud enough for me to hear.

The whole group started walking on the dirt road behind where they were camped, heading east.

I wondered who they were and where they were going, but didn’t give them too much more thought. I was hungry and needed to prepare my supper.

I’d cooked some food and eaten it and cleaned the dishes and was in the process of putting my leftovers in the cooler in the back of the minivan. Some months ago, the hatch door stopped staying open when I lifted it, so I had to use my walking stick to prop it up while doing anything in the back. With the stick holding up the door, I had just enough room to get between the door and the body of the van. That’s where I was when the car pulled up on me.

Maybe it was a Prius because I don’t recall hearing the car. I came out from between the van and the hatchback door, and there it was, about half a car length behind my minivan. I though maybe it was a forest ranger. Was I parked in a place I wasn’t supposed to be? Had the people in the tents reserved the whole area and a ranger dispatched to give me the news?

I scanned the door of the car for Forest Service insignia. There was nothing.

I looked at the driver of the car.He was a dude probably older than I am . He had longish white hair and wore a fancy straw hat and a black tank top. He certainly wasn’t dressed like any Forest Service employee I’ve ever met.

When I still thought he might be with the Forest Service (because who else would have the nerve to come into my camp and park so close behind me?) I’d called out a hearty Hello! By the time I realized he was just some civilian dude definitely encroaching on my territory, his mouth was off and running.

Have you met the campers? he asked, gesturing to the temporarily unoccupied tents.

They’re a bunch of kids, I said, not even wanting to talk to him. I was becoming more outraged at his nerve. He’d come into my campsite just to shoot the shit? What if I didn’t want to shoot the shit with him? He hadn’t even asked. He’d just barged in. In fact, I did not want to shoot the shit with him. I didn’t want to talk to him at all.

Damn my Southern woman upbringing! Why couldn’t I just tell him I wanted to be alone? Why couldn’t I just say the words, I want to be alone now?

I know they’re kids, he said impatiently. They’re college kids. The vans are from a college. But are they geologists or rock climbers?

They took off walking that way, I told him, pointing, then shrugging. Then I walked off to continue my after-meal cleanup.

Moonlight over Carson National Forest

Did the fellow in the car get the hint? Did he realize I didn’t want to talk with him or listen to him anymore? Hell no! He just kept talking. He talked about the name of the place where we were. He talked about why it had this name. He talked about having a cabin nearby where he stayed in the summer. He said he left in the winter though, because winters there were too cold. He asked me if I was going south for the winter. He asked me if I was going to Faywood and if I ever went to some other place whose name I’ve forgotten.

I told him I wasn’t going to Faywood and I’d never heard of the other place. hHsaid it was near Deming. He said he had been there in the past and picked up some turquoise. I asked him whose land it was, and he said, It’s public land! It’s our land. They he said some weird stuff about how Joe Biden owned everything now and how we didn’t own anything.

He told me he could sell showers at his place to the young people camping. I said, Yeah. Maybe. and allowed for how most people shower every day and get uncomfortable if they can’t. He said he had hot water showers at this place, then qualified that they were solar showers. I’m not exactly sure what he meant and didn’t request clarification. If he had one of those five gallon shower bags, he’d probably only be able to sell one shower to one college student (maybe two if they were conservative shower takers) before he ran out of hot shower water. I didn’t tell him all that though. I didn’t want my attempt to burst his entrepreneurial bubble to encourage him to talk more.

He started backing up his car, and I thought the intrusion was finally over. No. It wasn’t over. There was more.

He stopped the car and leaned out of his window. I’m going to get my camper so I can camp out here. Not right next to you…he trailed off.

No. Of course not, I said dryly. At least he had enough sense not to try to park his camper right next to me.

He back up then, pulled out onto the dirt road leading to the highway, and was gone. If he returned with his camper, he didn’t park it next to me, and I never saw him again.

Once he was out of my sight, my first thought was Fucking extrovert ! Thinking people want to talk to him, but now I wonder if there might have been some drug use involved in his boldness and bravado.

It wasn’t long after the talkative fellow left that the tent campers came back. I was sitting outside my van, trying to solve a puzzle from a Dollar Tree crossword book when I saw a woman with short grey hair walking in my direction.

Here we go again, I thought, but in fact we weren’t going there again.

Can I enter your camp? the woman asked.

What? Now that’s the way you do it!

I said yes, and she continued over.

I thought you might be wondering what’s going on here, she said and gestured to the tents.

The group was composed mostly of grad students from a conservation class. She was their professor. They would be camping here for a couple of nights. She thought everything would be mellow since grad students are older, but if anything they did disturbed me she said I should let her know. She pointed to her tent, and we chatted a few more minutes about where I’d been and where I was going, about the university they were from and where it was located, their itinerary, and how Aldo Leopold was connected to this place where we were staying. It was a conversation, not a monologue, and it was quite pleasant.

The two situations left me thinking of Goofus and Gallant. Do you Remember them? I encountered the boys in the issues of Highlights magazine I’d read as a child at the dentist’s office and occasionally at school. Poor old Goofus didn’t know how to take turns or speak softly or pet the cat gently while Gallant knew how to help old ladies cross the the street, share his toys, and let other people take a cookie before grabbing one for himself. I always thought Goofus would grow up and learn to do better, but I wonder if he just grew up and grew old without changing much at all.

I took all of the photos in this post. These photos were taken where this story took place.

Basura

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I had come down from the mountain for supplies. It was hot and dry in the valley, and I was dog dead tired. I had one more stop to make before I could head back to higher elevation, cooler temperatures, and the last few hours of my day off from my work camper job.

I went into the 99 Cents Only Store, where some prices were a lot less than 99 cents and some prices were substantially more. I perused the bargain baskets in the front of the store, cruised down the aisles of beans and other canned goods, and grabbed the best looking produce at the best prices. When I got up to the cash register, I told the worker that I wanted two sacks of ice, and I even remembered to extract them from the freezer in the front before I hit the exit door.

I pushed my cart over to my van, which I had parked at the edge of the parking lot. My 1994 Chevy G20 conversion van was a hulking beast and easier to park in places where there were no other vehicles around. I preferred to park easily and have farther to walk to a store’s entrance rather than fight to maneuver into a tight parking space.

This time, there was no car parked on the van’s passenger side. I threw open the side doors, as much to gain access to the interior as to let the parched air escape. I climbed into my van and lifted the lid of the ice chest. Yuck. I’d forgotten to empty it before I left camp. The ice had melted completely and left the cooler half full of water. In the water floated some small broccoli florets that had turned limp and yellow before I could eat them and stray bits of cabbage that had been jostled from the most recent head. At the bottom of the cooler lay the waterlogged plastic ice bag left behind when the ice became liquid. I had to get all of this out of the cooler before I could put the new ice and groceries in.

I pulled the plastic bag from the bottom of the cooler. The water it sat in was tepid and smelled a bit sour. I let the water drain from the bag and into the cooler. When most of the water was out of the bag, I threw it onto the floor of the van. The drops of water clinging to it weren’t going to hurt anything and in the heat of midday would probably dry before I was ready to throw it away.

Next I had to dump the water from the ice chest. I figured since any vegetable matter floating in the water was natural, it was ok to let it fall onto the asphalt. If some bird didn’t eat it right away, it would decompose soon enough. I lifted the cooler and wrangled it to the open doors. I lowered it to the floor of the van, then slowly tilted the container so the water drained onto the ground.

The Man likes to joke that you can always tell when hippies have been in a parking lot because there’s at least one wet spot on the ground. On this day, the big wet spot I left had plant matter in it too.

Once I got the cooler back in place, I wiped it out with a couple of paper towels, then loaded in the two slippery and deliciously cold sacks of ice. After that, I carefully placed the eggs and milk and orange juice and produce and whatever other cold groceries I had that day into the chest.

Some time after I had the cooler and the ice in, but before I’d packed in the groceries, a car pulled in next to my van. Why the driver decided to park next to me instead of elsewhere in the vast parking lot will always remain a mystery. I glanced out and saw an older Latina lady getting out of here car.

When I looked out, I also saw the plastic ice bag I’d left on the floor of the van had made an escape. I suppose the desert wind had kicked up while I was busy packing the cooler and sucked the bag right out of the open doors. I’d have to pick it up from where it had landed on the ground before I pulled out of my parking spot.

I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the bag on the ground. My parking neighbor took a look around and saw the plastic bag as well as the huge wet-but-rapidly-drying spot dotted with limp, yellow broccoli and waterlogged bits of cabbage. I saw her shake her head and say under her breath (but loudly enough for me to understand her completely), Basura.

I don’t know if she saw I was white and thought I wouldn’t understand what she’s said, if she didn’t care if I understood, or if she wanted me to know how she felt. In any case, I’d studied enough Spanish to know that basura means trash and that she wasn’t happy with the mess I’d made.

Gratitude Saturday

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I think “Thankful Thursday” has a better ring than “Gratitude Saturday,” but I’ve been too busy to write a post expressing my appreciation. There’s not another Thursday in June, so if I want to give thanks this month (which I do!) I had to do it on a day that doesn’t lend itself to a catchy title.

I typed the above list the other day, but I’ve found more things for which to be grateful since then. The typed list is an incomplete one but I’m certainly thankful for everything on it. Want more details about everything I’m grateful for in June of 2021? Keep reading!

My Royal Safari Model 2. I’m so grateful for this gift!

I’m so in love with this typewriter that my sibling gave me. It was found in a thrift store and got a complete makeover at a typewriter repair shop. Did you even know there were typewriter repair shops in existence? (For a state-by-state list of typewriter repair shops in the U.S.A, see Old Bob’s Old Typewriters website.) This refurbished typewriter is such a great gift!

I’ve wanted a manual typewriter for a long time. This one is great for a traveler, as it’s a lightweight portable model. It’s a Royal Safari Model 2 and was made in Portugal, probably in the 1980s. I don’t see myself typing anything extensive on my new machine because I’m really sold on the easy editing of word-processing life, but I do love using my Safari to type bits and pieces for art projects. Maybe I’ll even eventually type letters or postcard messages on it.

If you want to learn even more about the Royal Safari II watch Alton Gansky‘s YouTube video “1980 Royal Safari II: A Peek Under the Hood.” This video offers so much information about my typewriter.

I was given a bicycle too! It was actually given to The Man while we were in the same town for a moment. He showed up at my door one evening with a bicycle. He said he had been hanging out in the park when a truck towing an travel trailer pulled in. The couple in the truck got out and went into the travel trailer. They weren’t inside long before they came back out with a bicycle. I don’t know if the people noticed The Man looking at them or if he was the closest person, but for whatever the reason, they called out to him and asked if he wanted the bike. The people said they were tired of traveling with it and were going to find a thrift store and drop it off if he didn’t want it. He said yes, even though it’s a woman’s bike and too short for his 6 foot frame. He brought it over to me and asked if I wanted it. I said yes too.

I haven’t ridden it yet. The tires are holding air pretty well, but the back brake doesn’t work at all. Have I ridden a bike without proper brakes before? Yes. Do I think that’s a good idea, especially at my advanced age? No. I’m not going to ride it until I can get it fixed. I was supposed to take it in to the bike shop last week, but I was too busy working. I’m going to try to get it in this coming week. I would like to give it a spin even though I don’t think the narrow roads in this town are the best for biking. I’m going to need a helmet…

This bike was given to The Man, and he gave it to me.

I’ll be particularly pleased to have this bicycle in the fall when I’m back at my home base in a town with wider roads and less traffic. I’ll be able to zip to the grocery store and the post office on my bike.

In other great news, I have not one but TWO new patrons on Patreon. Thanks a bunch to Muriel and Laura-Marie for pledging to support me financially each month. I appreciate you two and all of my Patreon supporters SO MUCH! I can’t even express how much my Patreon supporters mean to me.

On a similar note, my friend Brent made a monetary donation through PayPal, and as always, Shannan supported me this month too. Every dollar really helps me keep on doing what I do, and I appreciate the help more than I know how to say.

I’m so grateful that the dog I’m hanging out is a real sweetie. She is a really good girl. She doesn’t get in the bed with me, but she would like to. She lets me clean her paws after she walks in the mud, and she patiently lets me brush her, which I try to do several times a weeks. (She’s got long hair, and she sheds. I can either clean her fur out of the brush or sweep it off the floor.) She doesn’t bark much, although last week when it was really hot, I tried sleeping with the bedroom window open. I don’t know what she heard outside, but I sure heard her barking! Being jerked out of a deep sleep by a barking dog is no fun to me, especially when the dog is quite close. To solve the problem, I bought a fan so I can sleep with the window closed. Both the dog and I have been sleeping more soundly.

Doggie friend on our daily walk.

The dog has got me going on two (sometimes three) walks a day. While I don’t exactly think taking several walks a day is fun (What can I say? I’m an inside kid.) I know that walking is good for me. I’m glad to have a doggie pal who gives me a reason to get out of the house and move around, even if that’s not my #1 idea of fun. I certainly sleep better when I’m getting regular physical exercise.

It’s Smoothie Summer, and I’m loving it! When I rolled into town, one of the first things I did was hit my favorite thrift store. I found a blender for $7, and I scooped it right up. Soon after I started working for her, the woman I’m helping prepare for her move to another country gave me her extra Yeti 20 ounce tumbler. Heck yes, I was glad to accept the gift! I’ve heard about Yeti brand, but I hadn’t tried one. My friend has a Yeti cup her parents gave her, so I’d heard what she thought of it, but I had not had first hand experience. Let me tell you. I can make a smoothie at 8 in the morning and put it in that Yeti tumbler, and by 1 in the afternoon, it’s still absolutely cold. I’m not talking a cool beverage. I’m saying the smoothie is still frosty cold and thick. I love that cup!

Are you wondering what I put in my smoothies? Really, I use whatever fruit I can get for free or at a good price. Lately I’m using frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, ice, and orange juice. If I have yogurt, I throw some of that in too. Recently I’ve used half a can of pineapple and the juice it was packed in, and yesterday I threw in some fresh mango and a couple slices of cantaloupe. Everything I’ve used has turned out really good, although I was less than thrilled with the texture when I added shredded coconut. Live and learn.

My $7 blender and gifted Yeti 20 ounce tumbler.

My friend whose parents gave her a Yeti cup told me what she likes to do, and I’m dying to try it. She goes to Wendy’s and gets a Frosty and puts it in her Yeti. The cup keeps the Frosty so cold that she can eat it at her leisure without having it turn into a lukewarm liquid. I’m going on a short road trip next week, and I might stop at Wendy’s on the way out of town so I can have a treat all the way to my destination.

I feel so lucky that the apartment I’m staying in is quite spacious and comfortable. I’ve got room to spread out, and spread out I have. I have stuff everywhere! It’s nice to be able to do that here because the travel trailer is too small to comfortably leave a mess when I’m at home. I am enjoying having full size appliances here as well as lots of space in the kitchen.

The other thing about this apartment I’m enjoying a lot is plenty of hot water whenever I want to take a bath or shower. The bathtub is big too, so there’s plenty of room to stretch out when I take a bath or to move around when I shower. Staying clean is luxurious here.

I’ve been doing a lot of sticker exchanges lately and that’s been so much fun. I’m grateful for everyone who’s swapped stickers with me, and as always, I’m thankful for each person who has sent me a postcard or a letter or any bit of mail.

So, those are the people and things I appreciate this month. What are you grateful for right now? Please share your gratitude in the comments.

Thanks for reading about this month’s gratitude! I wouldn’t be here without my readers.If you want to offer some financial support, I would be grateful for that too. To make a one-time donation, click on the “donate” button at the top of the column on the right. To become my patron on Patreon, click on the “Become a patron” button just under the search bar at the top of the column on the right. Folks who follow me on Patreon get extra content that I don’t share anywhere else. Depending on at what level you chose to support me, you can receive email updates, letters and postcards in the mail from me, stickers, buttons, a custom made hemp bracelet and/or a collage I created.

Thankful Thursday May 2021

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Photo by Caleb Chen on Unsplash

Thankful Thursday posts can be challenging. They can quickly become boring when I mention gratitude for the same things month after month. Don’t get me wrong. I AM always thankful for my health, plenty of food, friends, and people who support me and my writing, but I don’t know if folks want to read about the same things every month. So please know that while I’m going to mention new things for which I am thankful, I still appreciate all the people and things I told you about last month too.

Without further ado, the people and things I am thankful for this Thursday in May 2021.

I appreciate Dave who made a monetary donation last month, as well as Shannan who has set up an automatic monthly donation for me through PayPal.

Thanks to Rena, Ben, and Samantha who bought hats from me in April and to Enid, Laurie, Kat, Maggie, Laura-Marie, and Barbara who bought some of my “With Love from the Desert” postcards. Every time someone buys an item I’ve created, my spirits are lifted, and I’m a little closer to making ends meet.

Thanks so much to my Patreon patrons too. I appreciate their monthly monetary support. I hope they enjoy the extra content (only available on Patreon) that they receive from me.

I’m so grateful to my friend Richard of @cajunvantravelers, a graphic artist who is totally revamping my logo to include my minivan. I’ve really enjoyed my current logo which was drawn by the lovely, sweet, talented Samantha Adelle who sadly passed away at the end of 2019. However that logo harks back to my conversion van days, and I really want to feature my Sienna in the design that represents me. I’ll be very excited to unveil my new logo soon. I can’t wait to get stickers featuring the new design and do more sticker trades.

My friend Brent visited me (outside in a park, masked, safely distanced) right before I left home for the summer. I was really pleased he took time out of his travels to spend a couple of hours chatting with me.

I’m very grateful for the summer house and dog sitting gig that has already begun. I’m living in an apartment in a small mountain town where summer temperatures will be bearable. The dog behaves well and is very sweet. I’m enjoying a lot of space in the apartment, as well as the full-size refrigerator, stove, oven, and shower. I’m glad to spend the next several months here.

Before I began house sitting, I visited friends in Phoenix. I’m extremely thankful for the hospitality they showed me while I was there. I appreciate the meals, the games, the laughs, the use of the laundry facilities, and the drive-in puppet show. It was a good time for me.

My sibling bought me an old school manual typewriter and had it spiffed up with a new ribbon and typewriter tune-up. It is grand, and I love it so much. It won’t replace my laptop, but it will be fun to write letters on it and use it to type up bits for collages. I am so grateful for this fine gift.

I’m doing well. My life is good. As always, I have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you for reading! I’m always grateful for my readers. If you want to offer some financial support, I would be grateful for that too. To make a one-time donation, click on the “donate” button at the top of the column on the right. To become my patron on Patreon, click on the “Become a patron” button just under the search bar at the top of the column on the right. Folks who follow me on Patreon get extra content that I don’t share anywhere else. Depending on at what level you chose to support me, you can receive email updates, letters and postcards in the mail from me, stickers, buttons, a custom made hemp bracelet and/or a collage I created.

Why the Rubber Tramp Artist is Driving a Minivan

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A silver Toyota Sienna is parked in a parking lot.
My new minivan. I call it the Silver Streak.

I’ve always been a conversion van sort of gal. I’ve owned five conversion vans (4 Chevy G20s and 1 Dodge Ram) since 2010. When I decided to sell my truck and buy a van, I was pretty sure I’d buy another conversion van. Then I started seeing what used vans were actually available in the state of New Mexico.

On Craigslist I found newer traditional conversion vans and Sprinter vans on the used vehicle market, but those rigs were wildly out of my price range. If I’d had $10,000 or more in my pocket, one of those big van could have been mine. Since I only had around $7,000 in my pocket, none of those vans were to be mine.

My last conversion van was a 1992. Did I really want something that old again?

The vans in my price range were older. I saw vans from the 90s, 80s, and even 70s advertised on Craigslist. I was unsure how wise it would be to invest in a vehicle that was more than 20 years old. My friend Brent strongly suggested that I get somethings manufactured in the 21st century. Besides just being old, the majority of full-size vans I saw that I could afford were high mileage. I saw vans for sale with 180,000; 200,000; 250,000 miles on them. How long could something with so many miles on it last before I encountered a major problem? I was really worried about buying myself a big ol’ problem (or a bunch of smaller problems) in the form of an older van.

After looking at all of the Craigslist ads for full-size vans in New Mexico and finding nothing suitable, I started looking at ads from Arizona. There were more large vans available in the Copper State, and I thought maybe I’d have to go Arizona and stay with friends while I shopped for a van there.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated everything. (What hasn’t the COVID-19 pandemic complicated?) I had received both of my vaccine shots, but none of my friends had received theirs. The last thing I wanted to do was infect anyone, especially people I care about. How could I keep everyone safe during my visit? Where would I sleep while staying with friends in order to not risk anyone’s health? Should I use public transportation to go van shopping? Would it be safe to have a friend drive me to see vehicles? How dangerous would it be for me to meet with a variety of strangers and test drive their vehicles? How would I get to Arizona anyway? My truck was sold, and there’s no Greyhound service from the town I live in. I probably didn’t want to be on a bus with strangers and their breath for 6 or 8 hours anyway.

On the second day of my ad search, I realized I was seeing a lot of New Mexico ads for minivans in my price range. I’ve always been a conversion van gal, but I started thinking maybe driving a minivan would be ok.

The biggest factor I considered when I thought about buying a minivan is that I’m no longer a full-time rubber tramp. I’m keeping my little trailer parked in the little RV park, and I’ll live in it 7 or 8 months out of the year. Because I won’t have to shove everything I own (and believe me, I am not a minimalist) into a minivan, I was able to imagine living and traveling in one for 4 or 5 months at a time.

Of course, gas mileage is the siren song of the minivan. When I interviewed The Man about why he chose to live and travel in a minivan, the main reason he gave for his decision was the minivan’s good gas mileage. After years of driving my vans and truck and getting 15 miles per gallon at best, I was ready to spend less on gas. Not only will the minivan give me good gas mileage during the 4 or 5 months when I’m traveling, I’ll save money when driving around town running errands when I’m living stationery in my travel trailer during the winters. If I want to take road trips during the spring, fall, and winter, I can do so without worrying that stops at the gas station will break my bank.

Reliability was another important minivan attribute. When The Man was in the market for a minivan, he spent hours researching the best on the market. He found the two most reliable minivans available were the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. I figured if I got one of those van models and maintained it properly, I could probably drive it for a long, long time.

As I looked through minivan ads on Craigslist and Facebook, one in Albuquerque caught my attention. It was a 2005 Toyota Sienna with under 100,000 miles on it. It was being sold by the original owner. I sent the owner lots of questions throughout the day and he answered each one promptly. By the end of the day, I had an appointment to see the van the next afternoon.

My mechanically inclined friend drove me out to look at the van, crawled under the van to look for leaks, checked the fluids, rode with me while I drove the car, and took it out for a spin himself.

On the plus side, the vehicle seemed to be in good mechanical condition. There were no leaks. No “check engine” lights were on. The owner said the van had passed the emissions test the last time it had been inspected, about eight months prior and had never been in an accident.. The owner also said the minivan had never been his family’s primary vehicle. His family had always had another vehicle, so the minivan mostly sat in the garage except for the few times they drove it to Vegas on family trips. On the minus side, the van needed new tires, a new battery, and new windshield wiper blades. All things considered, I decided to buy the vehicle.

I had the van’s oil changed right away. I bought a new battery for it, new windshield wiper blades, and four new tires. The nice man who helped me at AutoZone confirmed what my friend had said: he neither saw nor smelled any evidence of leaks. He said the engine compartment looked very clean. The young man who put on new tires at Discount Tire said the can’s alignment seemed fine; the tires weren’t worn unevenly. I’ve driven the minivan over 600 miles in the weeks since I purchased it, and all seems well.

The minivan drives smoothly and quietly and practically parks itself. Its got more get up and go than any conversion van I ever drove. I am so relieved that I no longer practically need a ladder to get in and out of my vehicle. The air conditioner blows cold. The stereo sounds good.

I named it the Silver Streak.

I’ve pulled most of the seats out, and I’m getting it ready so I can sleep in it and live in it. I’m about to take it out on the road for the start of my summer travels. Hopefully it will hold up as well as I think it will. Stay tuned for more posts about getting the seats out and how I set everything up.

I took the photos in this post unless otherwise noted.

How to Sell Your Vehicle

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I recently sold my truck. I put it on the market on a Friday, and by Tuesday it was sold. It was a newish truck (2014) with a lot of nice features, including a towing package, but I’m convinced some of the things I did helped it sell so fast. Today I’m going to share tips to help you sell your vehicle quickly and for the most money.

(Note: Many of these tips could also help you if you’re selling a travel trailer, 5th wheel or motor home.)

This is what my truck looked like right before I sold it.

Clean, Clean, Clean

Your first job when it comes to selling your vehicle is to clean it from top to bottom, inside and out.

The interior of my truck was covered in dog hair and New Mexico dust. I vacuumed the floor and seats and attacked all cloth surfaces with duct tape to pick up the hair. I wiped down all the surfaces that weren’t cloth (dash, instrument panels, inside of doors, seat belt hardware, steering wheel, etc.) with soapy water. I scrubbed the seats by hand using hot water with a little soap in it dispensed from an old spray bottle, and a scrub brush (actually a shower/bath brush bought at a thrift store). I soaked up the water with microfiber towels. Finally, I wiped down all surfaces that weren’t cloth with Armor All, which really improved the looks.

It may seem like my cleanup was no big deal, but it was really a massive undertaking. The process of cleaning the truck took hours and hours ad hours, and I used toothpicks, cotton swabs, and a toothbrush to get into every crack and crevice. Yes, the interior of my truck was very dirty, so it took a lot of work to get it very clean. I wanted potential buyers to see the vehicle’s interior at its very best, so I cleaned it meticulously.

I didn’t end my cleaning with the truck’s interior. I also popped the hood and cleaned out the engine compartment. First, my friend who was helping me used an engine degreaser. (Follow instructions on the can and be sure to cover anything electrical. You can watch YouTube videos on the subject to increase your confidence if necessary.) After the parts under the hood were degreased and everything dried, I used Armor All to clean the plastic parts in the engine compartment. All the cleaning improved the looks of all the components under the hood.

My final step was cleaning the exterior of the truck. Before I went to the carwash, I scrubbed the rims and used Armor All to brighten the plastic they were made from. At the carwash I scrubbed the outside of the truck and gave the undercarriage a lot of attention. Especially if you’ve driven in muddy conditions, you want to be sure to get the underside of the vehicle as clean as possible.

After washing the truck, I wiped it down with microfiber towels to prevent streaking and spotting. I made sure to clean both side view mirrors and to wipe down the outside of the windows. I also used a special Armor All product on the tires to clean and protect them.

These are the Armor All products I used on my truck.

(Note: I am not sponsored by Armor All. The company is not compensating me in any way. Heck, they don’t even know I’m saying nice things about their products. I’m just telling you what worked for me.)

Once I returned home, I climbed into the bed of the truck and scrubbed mud residue (a light orange film) left from the Northern New Mexico clay. It came off easily when I used the scrub brush, although the high pressure water from the hose at the car wash hadn’t budged it.

Finally (and we’re talking after weeks of work), the truck was clean inside and out. I hope your vehicle isn’t as dirty as mine was when you start your cleaning process.

Change the Oil

If your vehicle is due for an oil change, I believe getting one done (or doing it yourself if you can) will help you sell your vehicle. It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a vehicle you’re about to sell, but having fresh oil and a new oil filter in your vehicle makes it attractive to potential buyers in two ways. First, it shows you’re on top of maintenance issues. If you’ve had the oil changed now, it’s a good indication (although of course no guarantee) that you’ve been maintaining the vehicle all along. Second, a potential buyer may choose to buy a vehicle that doesn’t need this maintenance over one that needs some work before hitting the open road. Some buyers will pay for the convenience of you doing the work so they don’t have to.

I had an oil change done on my truck right before I sold it. I had a new air filter put in too, for all the same reasons.

Install New Tires

New tires can be a big investment, so it’s understandable if you can’t afford to replace the tires before selling your vehicle. However, if the vehicle needs new tires and you can afford to replace them, you should consider doing so. Like a fresh oil change, new tires say you maintain the vehicle. It also saves the buyer a trip to the tire shop and the out-of-pocket expense. Of course, you add in the cost of the tires when you decide on the bottom line price of the vehicle you’re selling.

My truck had tires with under 3,000 miles on them when I sold it. I bought the tires before a road trip from New Mexico to Oklahoma and back in September of 2020. The old tires were badly worn and unsafe for a long trip pulling a travel trailer. I knew if I replaced the tires, I could recoup the money when I sold the truck. My impulse was to buy the least expensive tires available, but I ended up getting slightly more expensive all terrain tires knowing they would be more appealing to someone buying a 4 wheel drive truck.

Offer Receipts

Ideally, you’ve saved your receipts from or kept a log of repairs and routine maintenance performed on our vehicle. By presenting receipts to potential buyers, you show that maintenance was done when you say it was. Even if you do your own maintenance and repairs, you can show that you purchased oil and oil filters, air filters, etc. at appropriate times.

Do Your Homework Before Setting a Price

I found setting a price for my truck extremely stressful. Of course, I wanted to get as much money for it as possible, but I also wanted to sell it quickly. Price it too low and I’d cheat myself out of useful dollars. Price it too hight, and I’d sit on the truck for weeks or even months.

I used several free online tools to help me set my price. The gold standard of pricing guides is the good old Kelley Blue Book. (Who else remembers when we had to go to the library to find a vehicle’s Blue Book value? Now you can do your research any place you have an internet connection.) Other online pricing tools include NADA Guides, Edmunds, Bumper, Autotrader, and a host of others.

Be aware that some pricing guides are meant for consumers and some are targeted to used car dealers. Be sure that during negotiations, you and the potential buyer are using the same pricing guide.

Some people (like me) are of the mind that everyone buying a vehicle expects to be able to negotiate down from the asking price. Other people (like The Man) believe the seller should set the price and stick firmly to it. Either way is fine, but decide what method you’re going to use before you set your price. If you do plan to allow for negotiation, set your rock bottom price, the lowest amount of money you must get for your vehicle. If the buyer offers anything less than this amount, be ready to walk away.

For tips on how to negotiate when selling your vehicle see the Autotrader article “How to Negotiate a Used Car Sale.”

Be Realistic

Anyone selling a vehicle wants to get as much money for it as possible, but be realistic when you set a price. Is the vehicle really in excellent condition? According to the How Stuff Works article “How Kelley Blue Book Works” by Ed Grabianowski,

 Less than 5 percent of all used vehicles fall into this [excellent] category.

The aforementioned article also says most consumer owned vehicles fall into the “good” category. Be sure to pick the right condition category for your vehicle so you can set an appropriate price.

If you overprice your vehicle, it’s going to sit around longer, and you’ll probably have to spend more time and energy answering questions about it and showing it to potential buyers. An artist friend of mine once told me you can price art to keep or you can price art to sell. The same theory applies to selling a used vehicle. If the price you set is realistic, you’ll move the vehicle more quickly.

Also, remember that the price setting tools you have at your disposal are also available to any potential buyers. If you wildly inflate the price of your vehicle, buyers who’ve done their homework will know.

Write a Good Ad

I did some research before I started writing an ad to sell my truck. One tip I saw in many articles about private car sales was to give the reason you’re selling the vehicle. Here’s the reason I gave for selling my truck: Selling because I no longer need to pull a travel trailer.

Here are some other reasons you might be selling your vehicle:

Selling because my family has grown and I need a vehicle with more seating.

Selling because my kids have left home and I don’t need such a big vehicle.

Selling because I need a work truck.

Selling because my midlife crisis requires that I drive a sports car.

Try to find a positive reason for selling the vehicle that conveys that the vehicle is perfectly fine, but you want or need something different. Avoid reasons like the truck is a gas guzzler or the motorhome is difficult to park. You don’t want to put any doubt or negativity into a potential buyer’s mind.

Another tip I got from the articles I read was to include something in the ad that makes the potential buyer imagine themselves in your vehicle. I said my truck was comfortable to drive and ride in, even on long road trips. In the mind of potential buyers, I changed my truck from a simple a work truck into a vacation machine.

Be sure to include all the basics in your ad. As a buyer, I’ve been astounded by the ads I’ve read that left out essential information. At the very least, be sure to include make, model, body style, model year, number of miles the vehicle has been driven, size of engine, type of transmission, type of fuel used, price, and whether or not you have the title.

You don’t have to stop there! Potential buyers want to know what your vehicle has to offer, so include lots of information. If your ad has no word limit, give potential buyers as many details as possible. If your vehicle has any of the following features, be sure to mention them: power steering, power/ABS brakes, power windows, power locks, cruise control, stereo/CD player, DVD player and video screens, Bluetooth capabilities, alarm system, controls on steering wheel, tilt steering wheel, power seats, back up camera, a hitch and other towing features, cold A/C, 4 wheel drive. If the interior is clean, smoke and/or pet free, and cloth seats aren’t ripped, mention those things. If your vehicle has recently passed an emissions inspection, mention that too.

The ad is also the place to let potential buyers know if the vehicle has new tires (include the mileage on the tires), a fresh oil change, new brakes, new battery, etc.

While you don’t want to discourage anyone from looking at your vehicle, you don’t want it to seem too good to be true either. In my ad, I let folks know the bed of the truck was work worn and there were some scratches and dings to the body. Of course if your vehicle has problems, you might want to disclose that information in the ad. If you know what the problem is and how to fix it, you might want to share that information as well. In an ad for a conversion van I read recently, the seller disclosed that one of the front power seats had quit working, then said what part was needed to remedy the problem, gave the price for the part, and assured potential byers that is was an easy fix.

To VIN or Not to VIN

In my research on how to sell a used vehicle, I found conflicting ideas about whether one should or should not include the VIN (Vehicle Indentification Number) in advertisements.

Some authors said it is necessary to share the VIN in the ad so potential buyers can research your vehicle before making an offer. Other authors said do not put the VIN in an ad because to do so is to open yourself up to scams and fraud.

You’ll have to decide how you want to handle the situation. In my case, I decided not to share my truck’s VIN in the ads I posted. When I met potential buyers in person, I did offer the VIN to them so they could do additional research on their own.

Be Honest

I’m a believer that honest is the best policy. If a vehicle has a major problem, I think you should disclose the problem in the ad. If something that should work doesn’t (such as a window that won’t roll down, a cruise control that’s conked out, a CD player that doesn’t work, a seat that won’t move, etc.) I think you should share that information in the first email, text, or phone conversation with a potential buyer. A buyer may still want a vehicle even if it’s not in perfect condition (especially if the price is right), but if a buyer catches you in a lie, all trust will be lost. If you’re willing to try to hide little problems, the potential buyer will wonder what major issues you’re failing to talke about.

My policy is to answer all questions honestly. I also admit when I don’t know the answer. During the recent sale of my truck, I prefaced some answers with I’m not a mechanic, which I’m sure is obvious, but it reminded potential buyers that just because I thought something was true didn’t necessarily meant I was right.

Share Lots of Photos

I included photos of the following areas of my truck in the online ads: engine compartment, odometer, steering wheel, gauge panel, instrument panels with radio and heat/air conditioner controls, tires, tailgate, charge outlets, front seats, back seats in regular position, and back seats folded up.

Have you ever been shopping for a vehicle online and seen a promising ad only to find there are only one or two photos of the vehicle? It’s happened to me, and it’s hella frustrating, especially if the vehicle seems to be something I might want. If a picture is worth a thousand words, say as much as you can with photos.

I also included photos of the exterior of the truck, one of the front and one of each side. These photos showed there was no accident damage to the body of the vehicle, minimal scratches and dings, and no sun damage to the paint.

If you’re selling a converted van you should probably share photos of the bed, storage space, and any kitchen or bathroom areas. If you’re selling a motorhome, travel trailer, 5th wheel, toy hauler, etc., include photos of each area of the rig: bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, sitting area, storage space, and cab.

Imagine yourself behind the wheel…

One tip I read online said potential buyers should be able to imagine themselves driving your vehicle. You can help them do this by including photos taken from the driver’s point of view.

Put Ads in Lots of Places

Craigslist is the old standby for online car, truck, van, and RV selling. Facebook is a newer, but maybe more popular, online option for vehicle sales. You can list your vehicle on Facebook Marketplace and any number of local and regional groups dedicated to the buying and selling of motor vehicles and other items. Other online options include the Thrifty Nickel National Marketplace and Autotrader. You can use some of these options at no charge, while others do involve a fee.

If your community has an actual physical newspaper, consider placing your ad in one or two issues. Another place to consider placing ads is the newsletter of any specialty groups of which you are a member.

Are there bulletin boards in your town? (Think library, supermarket, laundromat, senior center, Tractor Supply.) Consider making a few paper copies of your ad and hanging them around town.

Answer Requests for Information Promptly

I’m sure you’re busy. However, when you’re trying to sell your vehicle, you should probably make selling it your top priority. When someone sends you a message asking about the vehicle, answer as soon as possible. Coming across as prompt and responsible is going to give the buyer a good feeling about you. If you respond to message in a timely manner, you probably changed your oil on time too. Besides, you wan to sell the vehicle ASAP, right? You’re not going to sell it if you your lack of response discourages people from looking at the vehicle in person.

Get a Report from a Mechanic

It’s not strictly necessary to have a mechanic look over a vehicle you want to sell, but it might be helpful. After examining the vehicle, the mechanic can tell you what work the vehicle needs to have done on it now or what it will need to have done soon. You can use this information to adjust your price or as evidence that the vehicle is a good deal for a potential buyer.

I did not have my truck checked by a mechanic before I put it on the market. However, the couple who bought the truck had their mechanic look it over before we sealed the deal. We used the information the mechanic offered to start our negotiations.

Get a Carfax Report

One more thing you can offer a potential buyer is a Carfax report giving details about your vehicle’s title, mileage, previous ownership, and accidents in which it was involved.

I did not spend the money on a Carfax report, but I did offer the truck’s VIN to the handful of people who looked at it so they could order a report of they wanted. If the truck had not sold so quickly, I probably would have paid for a Carfax report to use as a selling point .

So there you have it–everything I know about selling a vehicle based on my recent experience. I hope you find these tips helpful next time you to sell a car, truck, van, motorhome, 5th wheel , or travel trailer.

I took the photos in this post.

Thankful Thursday April 2021

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Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

Life’s been challenging in the five months since I last shared a blog post, but I still have so much for which to be grateful. The following are some of the people for whom I give thanks right now:

Just as I was on the brink of deleting my Patreon account, a new patron joined! I can’t even express how excited I was! Thank you, Rena, for your support and encouragement. I appreciate you so much.

I also appreciate Shannan, my friend of 35 years (Gulp! How is that possible?) who has an automatic PayPal donation set up to support me monetarily every month. Thank you, lady. The money is helpful, but the fact that you prioritize me helps keep me going.

Brent deserves a big shout out too. Every few months he sends me a little something to help make ends meet. He’s been a big supporter since we met at the 2016 RTR. Brent, I appreciate your advice and friendship so much. You are a great cheerleader.

Frank supported me financially recently too. Thanks for being a good friend, Frank, and for encouraging my writing. I am grateful for you.

Keith is my computer guy who makes this blog possible. Thanks Keith, for supporting my blog before it was even a real thing.

My thanks also go out to people who sent me housewarming gifts, Christmas and birthday presents, postcards, letters, books, stamps, and love. These friends include Jessica, Laurie, Tracee, Dave, Liz D., Liz J., Maggie, Jim, Nic, Betsy, Joshua, Denise, Greg, Ed, Sarah, Russ, and Christina. You folks really lift me up and help me keep on truckin’.

I’m grateful for other things too. Here are a few of the things I’m glad for right now:

I sold my truck in less than a week, allowing me to pay off some debts and buy some things I’ve needed for a while.

I bought a Toyota Sienna manufactured in the 21st century! I bought it from the original owner, and it had under 100,000 miles on it. I named it the Silver Streak.

I had an eye exam last week, and I’m waiting on two pairs of glasses to come in. I will soon see clearly, and I am so excited!

I’ve been vaccinated against COVID 19. I’ve had both of my shots and suffered only minor adverse effects. I am so grateful to have reached this milestone. I know last summer when I sat in my bed in my little trailer parked in the middle of nowhere, I feared such a day would never come. To have even this degree of protection is such a blessing.

I’ve also received my first of two vaccine shots for shingles. (I’ll get the second in two to six months.) I’m doing everything I can to protect myself against illness. I’m so glad I am able to protect myself.

I am filled with gratitude for my continued good health and the health of my loved ones.

The food pantries where I live have really stepped up. My personal pantry is stocked with beans, rice, oats, flour, peanut butter, and canned goods. I usually get milk, cheese, eggs, and butter once or twice a month. I have so many potatoes in the cupboard and bananas in the freezer. All of that bounty comes from local food banks. I am so thankful.

I’m also thankful to live in my little trailer in a nice little RV park. I probably have another two months in this desert before it gets too hot and I have to go up in elevation for a while. I’ll be so grateful to travel again.

All in all, I’m a fortunate person. Life is good. Life is good.

My new ride, the Silver Streak. I took this photo.

Thanks for reading! I’m always grateful for the folks who read my writing. If you want to offer some financial support, I would be so thankful for that too. To make a one-time donation, click on the “donate” button at the top of the column on the right. To become my patron on Patreon, click on the “Become a patron” button just under the search bar at the top of the column on the right. Folks who follow me on Patreon get extra content you can’t find anywhere else. Depending on at what level you chose to support me, you can receive email updates, letters and postcards in the mail from me, stickers, buttons, a custom made hemp bracelet and/or a collage I created.

I’m Still Standing

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I’ve been gone a long time. Did you miss me? I missed you. I missed being here, sharing stories with you, interacting with you. Did you wonder where I’ve been? Do you want to hear about what’s happened in my life since the last time I wrote? Here goes…

The area where I used to live.

Near the end of July, my partner of almost four years and I agreed that living together (in particular) and our relationship (in general) weren’t working out, so we decided to part ways. However, due to COVID, finances, prior obligations, and our decision to sell our land in Northern New Mexico and move away, we continued to live together in the small trailer. It’s a good thing we do love and care for each other because we were stuck together for a while.

Our land sold pretty quickly. A young couple from Arizona bought it. They are in love with the area, as well as energetic and motivated. They saw my land-for-sale ad on Facebook about an hour after I’d posted it (on a Saturday afternoon) and immediately contacted me about coming to see it that day. Later that evening (after they’d visited the property for the first time), I let the couple know other people had expressed interest in buying the land. They committed to buying the property then; by Tuesday they’d given me a deposit.

My life has felt as stormy as this sky.

The Man and I had a few weeks to purge, sell things we didn’t want, and pack what we’d decided to keep before it was time to move again. How is it that no matter how much time one has for purging and packing, it’s never really enough?

I’d decided to keep the little trailer. I talked about selling it, but The Man encouraged me to keep it. I got the trailer after my dad died so it’s not like it was something The Man and I had both put money into. I decided if I ever get sick or injured or if I live to be old, I might want this little trailer to stay in full time. Why get rid of something I might want or need some day? I began to formulate a plan.

What if I took the trailer somewhere in the desert where I could live in it comfortably warm for half the year? What if I sold the truck (which I wouldn’t need anyway if I went somewhere that didn’t necessitate 4 wheel drive) and bought a van I could travel in the other six months of the year? The more I thought about this plan, the more it made sense.

Then I had to make a decision about where to go. It came down to a decision between moving to an RV park with super cheap rent (and huge lots) but a remote location (10 miles from the nearest small town) or an RV park in town with more expensive rent and tiny lots. If I took the spot in town, I’d be only two blocks from a grocery store and within walking distance of lots of other places. After much deliberation, I chose the spot in town. As The Man pointed out, if I keep my vehicle parked except for twice monthly expeditions to the supermarket, I’ll pretty much pay my rent with the money I don’t pay in gas and higher priced groceries.

The Man offered to drive the truck pulling the trailer to whichever location I chose. I appreciated the offer and accepted it, as I had never pulled any kind of trailer ever in my life.

Once we sold the land, there was one main situation holding us back. I’d never had the trailer registered in New Mexico. The title was in my name, but was from Arizona. Before moving the trailer across the state, I wanted a valid license plate on it.

In New Mexico, any RV or passenger vehicle bought out of state has to go through a VIN inspection before it can be retitled and registered. The inspection is easy–a representative of the MVD looks at the VIN plate–but it has to be done in person. Unfortunately, when we moved to our land, I hadn’t received the title to the trailer yet. I didn’t receive the title until the trailer was already set up nice and cozy. I didn’t want to have to take apart all of our (but mostly The Man’s, to be honest) hard work to haul the trailer to the MVD.

When I realized we’d have to take the trailer to the MVD before we hit the road, I also realized I’d have to make an appointment because of COVID. When I got online early in August to make an appointment, the soonest one I could get (after checking at over half a dozen offices) was the second week of September. Even after selling the land, we’d be stuck in Northern New Mexico for a while.

We took off for the National Forest about 15 miles from where we’d been living. Phone service was intermittent, but we enjoyed the trees, cool air, and grazing cattle. We’d picked a nice spot to wait for our appointment with the MVD.

We camped in this national forest with the grazing cows.


Before we’d decided to part ways, The Man and I had been discussing a visit to his folks in Oklahoma. The Man’s dad (understandably) wanted to see him. When The Man told his dad we couldn’t afford to pay for gas to make the trip, his dad offered to give us the funds we needed. Once we had the promise of gas money, we chose to go.

After we decided to part ways, we had to decide if we wanted to take the trip to Oklahoma together. We had to decide if we should take the trailer if we were both going, We discussed the idea of The Man going alone and driving the truck. We discussed the idea of The Man going alone and taking a bus. We finally agreed that the best thing to do was go together and take the trailer so we could go directly to my new hometown upon leaving Oklahoma.

On the appointed day, we (and by “we,” I mean The Man) hauled the trailer to the MVD office. Everything went smoothly, but I did have to pay several hundred dollars in taxes on the trailer (and only a $20 late fee, even though I was more than a year delinquent). Our next stop was the nearest Discount Tire location. I’d decided to buy four new tires for the truck before we made a 1400+ mile trip after the current tires totally failed the penny test. In one afternoon, I spent most of the money I’d received from selling the land. Easy come, easy go, I suppose. I’m fortunate to have had the money when I needed it.

Hey from Oklahoma!

We made it to the family home in Oklahoma in less than 48 hours. The Man and I had planned on a one-week visit, but we ended up staying just over a month!!! The bad part of the visit was that I had no phone service the whole time we were there. Somewhere east of Oklahoma City, my phone service cut out and didn’t come back until I was west of OKC once again.

Finally, in mid October, we made it to the little trailer park in the town I now call home. The Man backed my trailer into my very small lot, and we hooked up the water, the solar, and the sewage. A couple of days later, The Man left for his new adventures, and I was on my own.

What to do now? I need money to support myself and pay the rent, but I’m hesitant to get a retail position in these days of COVID. I’ve got hats and necklaces and postcards up on my new Blaizin’ Sun Creations Instagram page, and I’m going to start working on my Blaizin’ Sun Creations and Postcard Emporium Zazzle stores soon. (Be on the lookout for a Zazzle store especially for rubber tramps coming soon.) An online job would be great for me, so if you know of any online work I’d be good at, let me know.

So what, you may be wondering is the future of this blog. Who knows? What’s the future of anything? Today I’m enjoying writing, and I plan to keep it up as long as I enjoy it and have the time for it. I might have to write less when I have to work more. I also may share more guest posts, but please know that even with guest posts, I do my best to share quality content with you.

If you want to support me by being more than just a casual reader, join me on Patreon, hit the donate button to the top right of this page and drop me a few bucks, or buy something I make with my own heart and hands.

Thank you for sticking with me. I sure appreciate you.

I took all the photos in this post.