"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Doin' the Moho Slalom

I got the tow pins tonight. All I will say about that is that I'm surprised that I'm surprised about how that went down.

Anyhoo, I arrived at Miranda's parking spot for the last time around 7. I took perhaps fifteen minutes to unload boxes and empty as many of them as I could.

Then, I looked for the magic battery button, but I don't seem to have one, so I positioned Pommette for a boost. Once I got Miranda going, I manoeuvred her into place for hooking up the toad behind her.

Hooking up was surprisingly easy!

My tow bar is a Blue Ox Aventa II. I would have bought an Aladdin, which is a high end model suitable for towing a small car, but much cheaper than the Aventa II. The Aventa II, also a high end model, could probably tow a Hummer. It's really huge and heavy, but I like knowing that I could upgrade Pommette to a pickup or SVU one day and still have a tow bar I can use.

The Aventa II is a self-aligning bar. I can't figure out what's 'self-aligning' about it, but I can say that I was completely hooked up, safety cables and all, in less than 20 minutes. The hardest part was getting the toad lined up perfectly with the coach and at the correct distance. Then, it was just a matter of attaching safety cables and electrical wires. I figured out the wiring on my own. As it turns out, I had to open a thingy under the rig, push in another thingamabob, and then plug the cable into the thingamabob. I'd seen the thingamabob in the rear pass through and had offhandedly guessed that it was part of the towing system, so I was already one step ahead of the game when I couldn't find a skinny rectangular outlet for the wire.

I'm surprised by how easy it was to hook up the car on my own. There is no way I could have done that with a traditional 'fixed' tow bar, the kind with a ball coupler. The only thing I wasn't able to do was confirm that the brake lights were working on the toad, but since the turn signals were, I didn't worry.

Then off we went, the very picture of freedom and the antithesis of the current economic climate, LOL!

The drive back to Ottawa was very emotional. I was pretty sure it would be my last time driving up the 416 into a beautiful orange sunset and watching the pastoral landscape slowly become the skyline of the adopted city I will always consider to be my hometown. For all that's found, something else is lost....

I let Majel the GPS pick the best route to the garage where I would drop off Miranda. She had me go down a narrow residential street that had cars parked down it. The parkers were smart and alternated which side of the road they were on, so I was able to take a serpentine route all the way down. Maybe I'm just tired, but I really got a kick out of doing the moho slalom.

Towing was a piece of cake. It really helps that I could see the car in the backup camera monitor, as well as all the connections. I didn't notice much of a difference when stopping and starting, even on hills.

I feel positively drained and have to keep reminding myself that this time next week, the first day of my adventure will be just about behind me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

I was just playing around with my cell phone and managed to lock on to a signal that took me to my account where I could check the balance. I was curious to see if I would still have 100$ on it, or if I would have been dinged for some unexpected tiny print charges.


While all the other cell companies charge you 25$ or so to activate your phone, Virgin Mobile pays YOU money to activate your phone! They gave me a 15$ credit for activating on line!

Even at 30 cents per minute for local calls, 115$ is going to last a long time!

This reminds me of ten years ago, when I bought a £5 phone card for my month in Scotland and got a ludicrously generous £3 bonus. I still had so much money left on the card at the end of the month is was worth giving it to another traveler!

Crunch Time

I'm pretty much in melt down mode now (par for the course for me when I move), but am better than I was four hours ago.

When I picked up Miranda in July, I didn't have the tow pins, so I couldn't hitch up the car. The previous owner was going to be out of town for several weeks, so I set all thoughts of the pins aside until he got back. When he did, he questioned if the pins really belonged to me or came with the base plate. By the time I got an answer about that, and learned that no place in town has the pins in stock and they would all take at least two weeks to get some in for me (!!!), the PO was unreachable and... it was 4:30 today. I came up with several contingency plans for getting both Miranda and Pommette back in town by Saturday. None were pretty. Then the phone rang at 4:45 and it was the PO, out of town, but back tomorrow. I can pick up the pins at 5PM. Crisis averted. PHEW.

I woke up at 6:15 this morning in full panic mode and made up several more boxes before leaving for work an hour and a half later. I really don't have that much left to do, but it's all spread out and looks worse than it is. I've also essentially 'lost' an evening. Tomorrow, I'm driving out to North Gower to pick up Miranda, and I'll drop her off at the mechanic's where she'll undergo an oil change on Friday morning.

Friday afternoon, I'll go pick her up and drive her here to fill her up as much as I have time for. Then I'm going to a sports arena a few blocks from my place that allows overnighting in an RV at no charge!!! How convenient is that?! I was surprised to find not only this option, but also TWO Wal-marts within a ten minute drive. Ssh, don't tell Gatineau! They'll shut down that practise if they get wind of it.

So, Friday night I'll sleep in the moho at the arena with the catkids and be back here bright and early on Saturday morning. I'll have time to clean the house before my friend shows up to help me with the mattress.

Then, it's off to the municipal dump to get Miranda weighed, the grocery store for supplies, and, finally, the campground for some well deserved downtime and BEER.

This is my seventh move in ten years. One would think I'd have such an event down to a science by now, but I'm not. Each move has been very different. I'm just so tired of it and hope that I can RV for a few years.

Things are so rushed right now that I have to remind myself that this time next week, I'll be trying to wind down in preparation for the big departure the next morning. I might not feel ready, but "There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go." (Tennessee Williams)

Eight sleeps left!

Removing Tar From a Car

When I was out and about on Saturday, I noticed a long scratch down the passenger's door of my car. Disgruntled, I examined it more closely and realised that it was actually a streak of something that I could flick away with my fingernail.

I suddenly remembered that when I got back to Mr. Wonderful's street on Thursday to pick up Pommette, the owner of the house in front of which she was parked was tarring his driveway....

My heart in my throat, I took a closer look at the car and realised that the whole passenger side, windshield, front, and part of the driver's side was flecked with tar. I hadn't noticed because of the way she's parked at home. Yes, I'd noticed that the windshield was messy, but didn't really think that much of it.

At any rate, I was pissed off about how much money and time I was going to have to spend to clean up the car.

I got home, did some Googling and came up with a list of possible solutions, from the supposedly undamaging to the 'definitely works, but you'll strip the finish and need rewax the car.'

Tonight, I finally had a half hour to kill to try out these solutions and figure out how much time it was going to take to clean the car completely.

Twenty-five minutes later, I had a shiny, non-damaged, and clean car.

The answer to tar on your car is...

Baking soda!!!

I sprayed the car with water, then sprinkled baking soda all over. I used a raggedy wash cloth to rub away all the tar. Minimum elbow grease was needed. When I was done, I used the hose to rinse the baking soda from the car.

I didn't even get dirty. Or wet.

*heaves a huge sigh of relief*

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ludicrously Easy and Insanely Delicious Chicken, Redux

LEaIDC is easy, but messy, to make, since it splatters like mad. I need to thoroughly scrub the stove for the new tenants, so I figured I might as well have one last batch of this stuff.

I served it with multigrain noodles tossed with leftover No Name cream of vegetable soup (quite good), broccoli, and cauliflower.

Inevitable questions:

You don't have many vegetables on your plate!
A: I nibble on salad or crudités while I cook, easily consuming three or four helpings worth of good stuff!

What, praytell, is your food lying on?!
A: My dad's serving platter, which is what got me into blue and white dishes. All my beloved antique blue willow is boxed up in storage right now, but I just couldn't risk never seeing this plate again.

Why is your food lying on a serving platter?
A: My beloved antique blue willow is boxed up in storage and my new dishes are in the moho. I've been eating out of serving bowls and bakeware all week. It makes proper portioning difficult since these dishes seem so empty compared to my regular dishes!

I Smell an Election

Rumour has it that Harper will be calling an election this weekend, meaning an election the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

I'd like to remind Canadians that we don't have to settle for Dumb or Dumber. It's time we gave Jack Layton the number of seats he deserves.

*scurries over to elections.ca to make sure her address is up to date*

Not News To Me, LOL


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Frustration

Well, I've wound up getting a new phone number.

As it turns out, Virgin Mobile could have ported my old number over to the mobile... had my internet service provider, Vidéotron, been willing to cooperate. They were not. I spoke to an absolutely vile woman this afternoon. But that doesn't surprise me, all the customer service reps there need to have an attitude adjustment. I would have still gone with them, though, had I moved within the city because the tech guys rock. They are sub-contractors who are in the right business. In case that wasn't clear, if you're in Quebec and you have a choice between Bell and Vidéotron, pick the latter. They're reps aren't as helpful as Emily, but their tech guys won't make it necessary for you to traipse to the telephone pole with your ladder in the dark in minus 20 weather to fix their bad wiring job.

But, I digress.

So, having my pick of any area code in the country, I decided for a Victoria-based number (area code 250). I anticipate being in that area for several months and having a 'local' number will make government job hunting easier. I have the option to change my number later, of course, and local calls (say to Calgary from Calgary or Saskatoon from Saskatoon) are charged the local per minute rate, not the long distance rate, no matter my number's area code. So, really, this was self indulgence on my part. :-)

There's No Love Lost...

Between the city of Gatineau and myself. It's no secret that I have nothing to recommend about this backward money-grubbing city and that the only way I could have survived another couple of years in this area would have been by returning to Ottawa.

One of the biggest issues I have is the draconian parking enforcement. Here are two examples:

1) One day, I parked my car in front of my house at about ten to five during the week. The way parking is set up at my house is that I have to drive down a narrow laneway and then park in the backyard. To get to the car, I have to go down a flight of stairs. In the front, though, I only have two steps to go down. So, I had parked on the street in order to fill the car for some excursion or another. During the week, I'm only allowed to park one hour in front between the hours of 8 and 6PM, so I needed to be out of the spot by ten to six, then move the car for ten minutes. Well, with seven minutes left on the metre, a parking enforcement officer came by and told me that he was watching me and that if I wasn't gone in exactly seven minutes, I was going to get a ticket. He could see that I lived there and was loading boxes and that there were a ton of empty spaces on the street. He could have let me have those ten minutes. Instead, he sat there staring at his watch while I shut up the car, drove down my laneway, parked in the back, did a couple more loads up and down the stairs, and then came back to the front once 6 came. He was still there, making sure I didn't repark until it was 6:01.

2) I'm beginning to fear that I will be rushed on Saturday morning. I need to drive to North Gower, boost the coach, and hook up the car for the first time. A friend is meeting me at 9:30 to move the mattress in and I need to be out of there for noon. So, I thought that I could bring the coach up on Friday. I don't trust the neighbourhood, so I would sleep in it with my cellphone kept closeby. That would give me all of Friday night to get the coach loaded. I called the city of Gatineau to see if this was okay and made one heck of a mistake: I told the lady where I live. She informed me that I cannot park on my street, no exceptions, not even to load the coach on Saturday. She said that she knows my address and is looking foward to sending someone over on Saturday to ticket me.

I'm fairly sure this is just talk on her part to discourage me, but Saturday night onward I am sleeping in Ottawa and I will never, ever return to this city to live ever again.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joining the 21st Century

I got my first cell phone today.

I've never had any use for such a trinket, but I know having one will make sense in the context of my adventure since I won't be able to rely on internet access.

Canada is woefully behind the times in the telecommunications choices available, so I didn't have many carriers and plans to compare. Also, I knew exactly what I wanted, and only one could provide it:

-a cheap phone (under 50$);
-no contract;
-a low monthly fee for voice mail and a low activation fee;
-no other costs except the minutes I use;
-the minutes have to be good for a long period of time;
-I can keep my current number;
-coverage is country-wide

I chose Virgin Mobile.

The phone was 49.99$, I don't have a contract, there is no fee for voice mail AND activation; I will be paying per the minute; my 100$ worth of minutes are good for a year; I can keep my number; and they use Bell Mobility's coverage area, which has the most coverage. That's the best I could hope for in this country.

Of course, there is a catch. My 100$ worth of minutes come at the expense of 30 cents per minute for local calls and voice mail checking, and 60 cents per minute for long distance calls, both incoming and outgoing. So, this won't be a phone for chatting, but I don't chat on the phone anyway. I can check in with my family occasionally by pay phone with a long distance calling card.

If things change and I find myself racing through my minutes, then I can upgrade to a monthly plan.

Apparently, I have free call display, too, so I can decide whether to take a call or not, saving me some minutes.

In order to 'port over' my existing telephone number, I have to do a juggling act with my current phone provider. VM told me to have my internet disconnect, but to keep the phone for two days. So, I'll call on Monday to have the internet disconnected on Saturday morning and the phone on Monday.

Virgin Mobile has been a pleasure to deal with so far. Staff is friendly and knowledgeable and there is absolutely no bullshit. I researched them online and then went to speak with a sales representative. I then emailed them to confirm what the sales rep told me before going back to the store and purchasing. The sales and customer service reps I spoke to in the research phase listened to what I wanted and proposed exactly what I had come up with on my own during my research. They never once tried to sell me anything else. I didn't even get the 'Of you buy a phone that's X$ more, you'll get all these cool extra features' spiel I was expecting. Today, I went to the kiosk and said "I want your cheapest phone and a 100$ prepaid card" and that was that. The rep didn't try to sell me any accessories or suggest a monthly plan. After all the horror stories I've heard of people getting locked into contracts and otherwise getting screwed by mobile phone companies, I'm relieved to say I made a clean getaway. Of course, we'll see how good service is once I'm actually hooked up with them and using their services. :-)

Extreme Makeover: RV Edition, Part Two

Pictures, as promised! :-)

Sofa Covers:

My mother and her partner sewed these for me. The fabric ties in the colours of all the various woodwork in the coach, the green of the curtains, etc., and the gold of the trim while still being rustic enough in theme for me to feel that it reflects my style. You would think that I spent weeks looking for the perfect fabric instead of about five minutes of poking around the bargain section of a single fabric store! This fabric was just 3$ a metre! The big brown cushion was one my mother's partner no longer had any use for and it matches the fabric perfectly. The other cushion with the arm rests belonged to my dad and will ensure cozy nights lying there reading or watching movies.

Solar Panel:

Yes, I'm on the roof taking a picture of my solar panel. Want proof?

Here's what Pomette the toad looks like from up there:


The solar panel is hooked up to this gadget that makes sure the battery isn't over charged. Right now, the light says 'charging.' It also tells me if the battery is fully charged.

What is that wooden thing on the wall by it?

Night Table:

More parts cannibalized from the useless bar! The tray slides under the mattress when not in use. Simple in its brilliance. My mother is such a genius.


Plugged directly into the battery, this inverter gives me 400W of 120V power. I can't believe that makes sense to me.


The camera is a lot more discreet than I thought it would be.

Remote Control:

For the monitor. A useless picture, but it'll remind me that I need to find a more useful cab console for storing stuff.


I was going to provide a pic of what I see out the monitor, but you'll have to stay tuned for that. I got to Miranda today to find her engine battery dead. I have a theory why, but need to have it confirmed. By the time the excitement of giving her a boost (an advantage of having two engines!), the thought of getting a picture of the picture flew right of of my head.

Today, I brought a carload of stuff to the coach and actually put things away as best as I could. I wanted the empty boxes and I also needed to make room for next Saturday's onslaught. Two things I discovered are that the huge basement pass through is full (woe is me) and that my suitcase doesn't fit where I thought it would fit and I have no idea where else to put it (WOE is me).

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Sign That You've Been Single Too Long

You have this sort of conversation with yourself:

-Dinner might be good.
*Yeah! But I don't feel like cooking.
-Have you ever felt like cooking in the past few weeks?
-You're not eating out AGAIN.
*Fine, then I'm not eating.
-How about... chicken in barbecue sauce?
*We have neither chicken nor barbecue sauce.
-GT has both and is right around the corner.
*So is Subways.
-Maybe they'll have those frozen yoghurt things you like, too...
-*smugly* You're so easy to bribe.

And that's how I wound up having chicken baked in barbecue sauce, noodles on the side, and crudités (red pepper, cucumber, tomato). With chocolate covered coffee-flavoured frozen yoghurt for dessert. And leftovers for tomorrow.

I'm glad my evil twin wins these conversations.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Can See!

No pictures tonight, but I'll have lots and lots next time I go to Miranda!

Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful and his son ran out of time and weren't able to install a second battery since they would have needed to run a load test on the first one. But that's no biggie, really, since they explained to me how to install the second one. It's something I know I can do myself since it's no different than is using jumper cables.

The back up camera is unbelievable. I bought it on eBay on the recommendation of several RVers. The seller is interceptinc and I strongly recommend him. The system was a bargain price and is of very high quality. It included absolutely everything you need to get set up, except mounting screws for the camera. I have a huge colour monitor that can even be hooked up to a DVD player and it has sound and a remote control. I can see almost two full car lengths behind the coach and the tip of the tow bar is evident so I know how far to backup. What a difference this is going to make!

The solar panel mounted beautifully. It's flush with the coach, so I won't be able to angle it to catch the maximum number of rays, but I knew that going in (the gimbled mounts are pricey!). There is a new controller on the wall that tells me whether the solar panel is charging or not, and if the battery is full.

Finally, the inverter was mounted onto the bookcase between the two arm chairs. Unfortunately, I'll need to run an extension cord from it to the back of the coach, so my setup isn't ideal, but it's the best that could be done with the time and resources available. I'm satisfied and thrilled with the quality of the work that was done.

Since I can't tow yet, Mr. Wonderful's son had to follow me behind the coach all the way to North Gower so that he could bring me back to my car (we did the reverse on Tuesday). Tonight was such a nice night, he decided to use his motorcycle. So, I got my first motorcycle ride! It was an absolutely exhilarating experience!!! I must have made quite the picture in my giant sunglasses, helmet, leather chaps, and biker jacket! That experience alone made the financial outlay on the electrical work worthwhile. I'm still grinning from the thrill of it.

Another goal reached

If you scroll down to the bottom of my blog, there's a weightloss ticker. I started it at the weight I was the first day of my new eating plan, a conveniently easy to remember 200lbs. So, according to it I'm at just shy of 17lbs weight loss.

But if I use the number that was on the scale the day I made the decision to change my dietary habits, 203lbs, I can now proudly say that I have lost a full 20lbs this summer!

The change has been so subtle that few people even notice it even though I now wear a full size smaller than I did in May, and am even wearing some pieces that are two sizes smaller. The person who noticed the change the most was my surgeon, who didn't know if she should be proud or dismayed that I've lost a full cup size! But, slow as it has been, this is the sort of change that can really stick, as it is steady.

I'm not even halfway to my goal of reaching my healthy target weight of 155lbs, but the 20lbs behind me make the 25lbs left seem attainable. I'm confident that my new lifestyle is going to support further weight loss.

Yup, it's been quite the summer. I even started to wear pants again.

Already Over!

In late June, I fulfilled my dream of signing up for horseback riding lessons. I intended to take eight to ten classes, depending on how much time I had available to me.

Last night, I completed my eighth and final class. My, how the summer has flown by!

I can now saddle a horse on my own and do such wonderfully exciting things as trot in a circle while standing up in the stirups and holding the reins with one hand. Yeehah cowgirl!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Electrical Upgrades and Sundries

I brought Miranda tonight to the house of the wonderful gentleman who, with his wonderful son, will install my backup camera and do what needs to be done to make my solar panel and inverter usable. The solar panel is able to charge two house batteries, so Mr. Wonderful (or Mr. Wonderful Jr.) is going to go pick up a second battery for me! I'm therefore covered for 12 volt power, as long as the sun is shining. I'll still need to run the generator for the 120V power I need to run the microwave, coffeemaker (yes, I need to get a French press), printer, and AC. The way I look at it, a generator needs to be exercised anyway, so I shouldn't fret about using it for these items (except for the coffeemaker, I know, I know!).

I am so STOKED about all this!!!!!!!! Overwhelmed as I've been feeling, I was going to put off having anyone look at the solar panel and inverter until I got to British Columbia. Now, I can boondock my way across the country without worrying about my 12V power. Thinking about it, yes, but worrying no.

Except for my excessive hot water use in the shower (which I won't be able to do in an RV anyway), I'm very good about reducing my power consumption. I mean, I'm currently sitting in a dark house; nothing's on except my computer. So, perhaps the adjustment to RV life won't be that tough, reduction of power consumption-wise.

Finally, I learned that my fridge is not only insanely huge, it's a three-way model. That is, it can run on 120V shore power, 12V, or propane. In plain English, that means it can run on power provided by a campground, the coach batteries, or... propane. I've been advised to pick the 'auto' option and the fridge will figure out on its own the best method to run itself.

One thing remains a mystery, however: we can't find the electrical panel. *cue in twilight zone music*

While we were going over the coach, Mr. Wonderful Jr. made me climb up onto the roof. Eeep. But now that I've been up there, I'm fine. I just didn't know what the ladder was like at the top and now I do. I didn't even dirty my cream pants clambering up and down. :-)

Mr. Wonderful Jr. also MADE ME BACK UP INTO MR. WONDERFUL'S DRIVEWAY. I repeat. HE MADE ME BACK UP INTO THE DRIVEWAY. With his patient guidance, I got Miranda in smoothly! He also informed me that he'd kept an eye on me as he led me back to his father's house and that I was very good at keeping my coach centred in her lane. I definitely need to do some parking lot practising, but my confidence level rose quite a bit tonight.

Sometimes It Pays to Dine Out

In these parts, a good-sized portion of salmon costs about 7$ at the supermarket.

For 6.90$ today, I picked up at the buffet in our food court a good-sized portion of salmon, several side dishes (rissotto, gnocchi, veggies au gratin, steamed veggies), and fresh fruit.

I most definitely could not have made such a delicious, and healthy, lunch at home for that price!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eating the Elephant

As the days creep closer to September 4th, I'm a bit panicked about how much junk, erm, personal possessions, I still need to get rid of. I can't believe how huge this house is, nor how naïve I was about how much I'd already downsized! After the horde left on Saturday, I was left feeling pretty depressed and overwhelmed. I spent Sunday in a bit of a funk as my overworked brain tried to figure out how to deal with what's left.

My original thought had, of course, been a garage sale, but I've been convinced that this won't be worth my while (mainly because of the neighbourhood I live in). So, I've mulled things over and realised that getting money isn't as important as feeling as if my things are going to people who need and want them, rather than just ending up in the trash heap.

I started by contacting someone who had picked up a ton of books from me in the spring. She's working on a database project involving books and knows a lot of readers. She had been thrilled to receive the mountain I gave her then and enthusiastically accepted to pick up this week what I have left. That helped me find the second wind I needed to tear through the house and box up the books I have left. I was surprised to discover that I still had a visceral attachment to a lot of them, then chided myself. Those books are ones I've read a million times over twenty years or so. It's time for me to read new things!

I've advertised the last bit of furniture on Craigslist and am hoping to get money for my computer armoire and craft hutch. I put two bedside lamps on there and was shocked when someone snapped them up almost immediately. Same thing for a filing cabinet, which I gave to a grateful student.

Extra linens that are still in good condition will go to a Saint-Vincent-de-Paul drop off box. Like batches of things, like empty DVD cases and kitchen supplies, are offered on the local Freecycle-type group.

As for the things that are coming with me, I found a new use for my Ikea Kasset boxes as they will be the perfect fit for the overhead cabinets in Miranda. So, I've got a row of them spread out in the living room and they're all divided into categories--hardware, electronics, bathroom, office supplies, etc.. As I move through the house and gather up odds and ends, I deposit them in the appropriate box. Once that box is full, I start another. Since I can't just dump things pêle-mêle into a box now to dump back into a drawer at the other end, because I won't have much furniture, this method is working out brilliantly.

In just two hours this evening I could see definite progress, so I'm actually starting to feel that I might have this buttoned up on time.

12 sleeps left till I move in and 17 sleeps left till I leave!

Slowing Down

One of the things on my 'to do' list is to make a reservation for a guided tour of the Cité de l'or in Val D'or.

I looked at the details of the various tours and realised that they involve a full day. So, I probably wouldn't be able to leave Vérendrye park on the 5th and get to the tour without rushing. Well, I decided, I'd just have to take the shorter tour, then!

Which is when I kicked myself in the pants and reminded myself that I've been wanting to go to Val D'or for six years and that I can give the city the time it needs, whether it's a day or three, and that I'M IN NO RUSH.

It feels so strange to be sitting here, on a damp and dreary evening, with so much to do and work to go to tomorrow, and to just take a moment out of time to breathe and plan something fun that is reminding me of just why I want to do this in the first place.

Funny How Things Work Out

Saturday's horde was supposed to take off with all my appliances. But the deal on the fridge and stove fell through, so I was left with them. About three hours after the horde left, I received a slightly panicky telephone call from my landlords wondering if my fridge and stove were still available for sale.... So I now have both right up until the day I leave and I don't have to coordinate their departure from the house. AND I got the price I wanted for them. Yay!

I had a bit of a meltdown when I woke up this morning and realised just how little time I have left, so I've been using my breaks to chip away at my humongous to do list.

First order of business was to find a place to camp for my last five days. Plan A worked out just fine, YAY!!!

I then cancelled my Hydro Quebec account online, but will need to call the doofuses there to confirm that they'll be sending my final bill the way they send all my bills, via email.

Finally, I confirmed with my insurance company that the changes I'd asked for have gone through. As it turns out, the company's headquarters burned to the ground a few weeks back (!), so they're having major delays, but I should be getting my paperwork before I leave.

What's left? Oh so much. :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wardrobe Woes

Miranda's wardrobe is surprisingly useless for a full-timer. Blame it on the sliding doors. If I had doors that opened outwards, I could have done something like Andy Baird did in his rigs, that is put in plastic drawers to fill in the space. Instead, I have to contend with doors that eat up a surprising amount of interior space. I will put in at least one drawer unit, but it will have to be quite skinny.

When retirees move into a full-timing rig, they can usually downsize their clothing since they know they'll be doing mostly casual things in mostly warm climates. I don't have that luxury. I'm still going to go through four seasons and I have no idea what sort of scenarios I'm going to encounter. It therefore doesn't make sense to get rid of anything I've worn in the last year except for pieces that are definitely too big for me now.

I divided my wardrobe into three: winter, summer, and inbetween. Since I'm leaving at the beginning of September, I can expect to wear summer clothes for at least that month, but will want ready access to the inbetween items, which include longer-sleeved tops and heavier skirts. The distinctly winter items--corduroy skirts, heavy knit tops, coats, boots, hats, etc. went into two rubber totes that fit nicely in the basement. I'll need to figure out how to squeeze the summer things into the wardrobe using the hanging and drawer space I have available to me. As for the inbetween stuff, I want it at the ready for the first chilly morning.

So, I just spent a half hour staring at both my closets (yes, both, I'm in suuuch trouble, LOL!) and realised that I hadn't figured out yet where I'm putting my suitcases. Yes, I'm taking my suitcases with me since I plan on doing one round trip air flight per year to Montreal to visit my family.

The three suitcases nestle in each other, so there's only the big one to worry about, size-wise, and it should fit on the wardrobe's shelf if I measure things correctly. I put the smaller suitcase in it and stuffed it with rolled up long-sleeved inbetween tops:

I then closed up the small suitcase and laid on top the dressier clothes I own that would be suitable for interviews or office jobs. They'll be out of the way, but stay reasonably unwrinkled.

I finished by stuffing the suitcase with socks and tights.

I will most definitely need to hang some things, so I suspect I'll end up using up as much of the wardrobe for drawers as I can, and then put up hooks in the entrance and study for hanging the coats and shawls I'm using at the time. I'll hang the other coats in the wardrobe in the dead space between the drawers where the doors intersect. I'll need to remove the drawer units to get at the coats, so that will be fine for rotating storage.

An Ending Moves into a Beginning

In a matter of hours a horde will descend upon my house, filling it like hungry little fire ants attacking a prey. When it scatters, the house will be quite empty.

I'll then have two weeks to continue bringing items to Miranda and get rid of the rest. I really don't have that much left to bring at this time, though. What's left is mostly stuff I don't want to do without in the next couple of weeks, like my clothes, computer set up, DVD cases, and mattress. For the last big haul, I would like to bring Miranda here one day, finish filling her up, and then leave for good. That will hopefully happen on Saturday the 30th. I had planned to spend that weekend at a campground but only just clued in that, HELLO!, it's the Labour Day weekend! I'll be lucky to find a campground close by that still has spots left. I'll make some calls on Monday, but I have a couple of other options in mind.

I will spend my last two weeks in this house the way I spent the first two weeks, with very little furniture and no appliances, and will be coming full circle as I move back into a metal tube on wheels. Had someone told me last March that I would be moving back into such an abode, I would have laughed. Life is the strangest ride.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Not What You Know...

It's who you know.

One thing that didn't get done this past weekend is the backup camera installation.

I told a friend that tonight and she told me she was going to make a phone call on my behalf.

Next thing I know, I've lined up someone to install not only my backup camera, but also a whole house inverter and a solar panel, and this at an hourly rate that would be absurdly reasonable for an amateur but is a real gift from a retiree who made his living doing this.

I now have a week to do my energy audit thingy to determine exactly how much of an inverter I need, do some research on my solar panel to see if it'll suit my needs or if I need another one, find both items... and fork out another boatload (erm, RVload) of money.

Please excuse me while I run around the house screaming 'YIPPEE!!!' at the top of my lungs.

Extreme Makeover: RV Edition, Part One

My mother and I got a ton of work done on the coach this weekend. I'm fortunate that I was able to get down to her place and that she was available. We had the full resources of her workshop at her disposal. As we raced through Home Depot on Saturday morning she said that she felt that she was on one of those tv shows where you have to decorate on time and on budget and I have to agree!

I'll start off with a bit of info on the drive down Friday. The weather was awful, alternating pouring rain with bright sun, but I had no choice, I needed to arrive that night, so I took off. The drive was really quite easy; I even felt comfortable enough to pass slow pokes. Montreal was harrowing, but Miranda made it through unscathed.

The most exciting part of the drive was stopping off for fuel. I wasn't sure if Miranda would fit under the overhang.

I'll let pictures tell the rest of the weekend's story. :-)

Next weekend, I'll have more pictures of the back room renovations; I'm just waiting for some sewing to be done to be able to show things off properly. :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How Can Anyone Doubt...

the existence of some higher power in the universe?

My mother did a walk about the coach this weekend and stopped in front of my licence plate, commenting that it was an odd coincidence. I saw three letters and four numbers for which I could force a significance that would enable me to remember them. She told me to look at the four numbers again:



August 24, 1949

My (late) father's birthday.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

There's Not Just Me To Think About

I brought Tabitha and Neelix to the vet's this evening to get their shots up to date. I need a valid rabies vaccination certificate for them if I want to cross into the United States. Both were due for their shot this year, conveniently enough, and the certificates are good for three years so I don't have to think about this again for quite some time. Even though both of them are microchipped, I was advised to get them collars on which to put a rabies tag provided by the vet, which is traceable back to them. So, if either one of my kitties (ie. Neelix) manages to escape, I have double protection since it's not just anyone who can read a microchip, but anyone can call a number on a tag.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I went back to Miranda tonight to hopefully finish the floors. I almost got done before I ran out of light and steam. I'm at the 'really finicky lots of measuring and fitting of itty bitty pieces in a tiny space stage', which is not fun at all.

I've made two discoveries this week.

Until Sunday, Miranda had a secret basement compartment with a door I couldn't open. I tried every key and had my friend try, too, when she came last Tuesday. Neither one of us could get that door open. Sunday, I decided to try again and I got in (wish I could remember what key I used). Guess what I found behind the door? An outdoor shower!!! YES! *score*! And there I was disappointed that not only do I have a rig without enclosed tanks, I also don't have an outdoor shower. My rig is truly awesome! :-)

Second discovery came from spending about an hour sitting on the entrance steps. I looked up and noticed a switch under the kitchen counter, just above the drawers. I'd of course seen it in pictures, but hadn't really clued in to the fact that there was something there. Curious, I hit the switch. Miranda roared to life. Yes, folks. I found the on switch for the generator. I had no idea that a generator could be turned on from inside! There's even a little counter that keeps track of the generator hours. I'll be filling up the tank on Friday and will exercise the generator this weekend.

Tonight was the first time I turned lights on in the rig and doing so caused a shift in consciousness. Miranda is parked by her lonesome in a rural setting, by farmland, and surrounded by trees. Soon as the sun set, the crickets came out. As I turned lights on in my current metal tube on wheels set in such a familiar setting, I was instantly home. I can't wait to move in.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sore, Very Sore

Wow, my body has really forgotten what these sorts of days are like. I really don't have the stamina for weekend-long renovation bursts like I did when I had the house. I could barely move when I got up this morning, so I puttered around a bit until I limbered up. Then, it was off to North Gower by way of Home Depot (needed another box of 'chocolate') and more carpet ripping out until I couldn't move at all any more.

First order of business was to finish ripping out the carpet in the study. That done, it was time to rip out the carpet in the dining/lounge area. That proved to be... fun. I can't remove the chairs so I had to cut around them. Same thing for the dinette benches. Have you any idea how much work (and blades and dust) is involved in cutting carpet?

Before I started, I looked at the bar:

Not entirely useless (there is a table), but almost. I opened the door and discovered that the bar was attached to the coach with only four screws. Away with it!

EEEP! I thought the carpet was in good shape. This really showed me how worn and disgusting it actually was! I kept the bar for parts but will most definitely be putting a bookcase between the chairs. Unfortunately, Ikea has the very thing I'm envisioning, so I'll have to go there.

The dining area, before:

The dining area, during:

The dining area, after:

Again, I just need to put on some trim.

The biggest problem I faced was how far back to cut the carpet:

I decided that I was better off not going right to the edge of the cockpit:

I cut a straight line there and will install a threshold thingamabob to bridge the gap.

This room isn't finished. By the time I got done with the half I did do, I was beat. What's left will involve a lot of cutting, measuring, and fiddling, so I felt it best to leave it for next week. I just put wax paper down over the stick strips to keep dust off them.

What about the desk, you ask.

Next week. I'm taking the shake down cruise of all shake down cruises: going to Montreal's south shore to visit family. If I can traverse the island of Montreal in one piece, I will have nothing to fear after. My mother is much more skilled and creative than I am in matters of carpentry, so she'll help me put together a desk. While there, I'll also dewinterize the coach (it'll be SO NICE to have the bathroom working, LOL!) and possibly wire the back up camera monitor.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The End of a Dream

This morning, as I slowly eased Miranda into a parking spot at Home Depot and then shortly thereafter began to rip apart the back room, I realised that a lifetime's worth of dreaming had come to an end. For better or for worse, I have begun to live my dream. And, thus, the dream is now reality. What will I dream of now?


So, I made it to Home Depot this morning. I decided to forgo the backup monitor installation and leave it for next weekend. I'll be taking Miranda for her first overnight expedition and that will be a nice project to undertake then.

Step 1: Get the mattresses out of there

Step 2: Dismantle the right-side box

After taking apart that box on the right side, I decided that I didn't want to muck around with the left-side box as glue is involved. So, carpet removal and floor installation would have to go around it.

Step 3: Carefully remove any trim so that I might be able to reuse it.
Step 3A: Find money!

Step 4: Marvel that the coach has wooden floors. Which explains why it cost twice what the mobile house cost.

Step 5: Find cardboard. Blink.

Step 6: Check to see if the room is square. It is. Blink.

Step 7: Install flooring. Takes about an hour and a half once you figure out the best way to lay it out.
Step 7A: Waste only one piece because you can't measure.
Step 7B: Pat yourself on the back.

This is Allure flooring in 'chocolate', available exclusively at Home Depot. It is a combination of floating floor and peel 'n stick tiles. You get a strip of three 1'x1' vinyl tiles (so the strip is 1'x3') with sticky tabs that interlock. It's quite easy to work with, although getting tight joints is tough. I'd give my results a 9 out of 10. To cut, just score deeply with a utility knife, bend, and snap (like drywall, only tougher). So, it's a really easy product to work with and produces results very quickly.

Step 8: Reinstall the trim you saved and the little threshold thingie that creates a joint between the hardwood and the vinyl.

Don't they look nice together?!

Left to do in this room is to rip out the carpet on the upper portion of the floor and then finish up the trim. I wanted to wait until the desk was in before doing the final touch ups. Plus, by the time the floor was in it was 3:30 and I was exhausted!

Tomorrow, I'm going back there to look for desk materials so I can finish up this project. I stopped off at Ikea on the way home (literally on the way) and was reminded that I hate to shop there. So, hopefully the Home Depot will have the necessary materials to build a nice desk area.

I stacked the two mattresses on the left side and discovered that the 'sofa' is going to be pretty high up off the floor. I'll live with it that way since I don't want to get rid of the second mattress at this time.

Finally, the right-side headboard is going to be such a nightmare to remove that I think it's going to stay. I just had an idea of how to incorporate it into the desk design--it'll make a perfect push pin board!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reading. More Reading. Yet More Reading.

Tomorrow will be my first full day all alone with Miranda.

I've been reading a lot this week.

Miranda's various manuals have proven invaluable in making me feel that I can learn her systems on my own, without anyone to help me. The Ford manuals (and, incidentally, I can't believe I own a Ford), has schematics of the electrical set up which will aid me in installing the backup camera monitor.

Also, I purchased the following two books on Amazon:

Managing 12 Volts: How to Upgrade, Operate, and Troubleshoot 12 Volt Electrical Systems


RV Repair and Maintenance Manual: Updated and Expanded (RV Repair and Maintenance Manual)

Neither is the sort of book you want to curl up in bed with (unless you want to be put to sleep!), but they are very informative and will be helpful tomorrow as I start to make modifications to my coach. The language used in both tomes is precise, but doesn't fall into 'technobabble.'

Unfortunately, 'they're' calling for rain all weekend, so I probably won't be able to install my back up camera. I will try to do the inside work, though, and will then focus on getting the study set up.

I plan to spend about an hour with Miranda at the storage place, unloading more boxes, securing what's been unloaded, trying out the awning, and making sure I know where various components like the water heater and furnace are. Then, we're off to Home Depot and then possibly Ikea and Lee Valley. I made a list of what I want at the latter and their prices, so that I can compare products at the Home Depot.

Tomorrow's 'I hope I can do all this!' list:

-Properly install Majel (the GPS unit);
-Wire the backup camera monitor into Miranda's 12V system;
-Remove both beds from the bedroom;
-Remove the carpet from the bedroom;
-Install Allure flooring in the bedroom;
-Reinstall the left-side bed

I doubt I'll get to the desk, so I'll probably have to go back to Miranda on Sunday. Since spending the night at the storage place isn't an option, driving home and back is a more cost-effective plan than would be going to a campground. That's for next weekend!