Soffits and channels and skirting, oh my!

Women of the world, you must look upon home repair and building as an adventure in which you enter a world smelling of particle board, freshly cut lumber, adhesives and all the screws you could ever imagine! (You’re making that dirty. I see the look on your face). I must make skirting my camper first priority. This is what it will look like (except much smaller since I have a tiny camper and not a full size mobile home :

I have to skirt before I improve the inside as the skirting is necessary before winter. One project at a time.

So after turning over the possibilities (treated plywood with foam insulation or treated chipboard with foam insulation?) for skirting for my little camper which I am required by the mobile home park to skirt for the winter, (it’s really best for me as it will keep the camper warmer by blocking cold air from blowing underneath and coming up into the floor)—I went to Menards on a mission to find someone who could be my Virgil on the journey to Paradise (a ha! You thought I’d say hell! No! Building should be fun! You should feel empowered and accomplished while you’re doing your home jobs!)

So I found a pleasant young man who calculated what I’d need. I have a 7 x 14′ camper. Here’s what he came up with:

Now, to be fair, I hadn’t even thought of vinyl skirting. I thought I’d use treated plywood (so it doesn’t rot in winter snows and thaws), but it turns out plywood was ten dollars more! Vinyl is easy to instal. You have your top rail which you can use locking screws to attach to the camper, which the skirt slides into which for me needs to be 3′ from ground to place on camper where I’ll attach it) . I only need 2′ 5″ to 3′ of skirt to cover the space from the ground to a foot up the wall of the camper. I need 13’5″ long of skirt for each side 2′ 5″ to 3′ foot high-and 7′ long for the ends. The bottom channel is for the bottom of the skirt to slide into so it sits on the ground evenly.

Now I can glue foam insulation to the back of the skirt to reinforce it which I will probably do. Here that is: (inch and three quarter thick)…

All I have to do is glue the skirt onto the foam board and cut the foam to an inch below where I’ll slide it into the channel after I cut it the three foot width I want–I was thinking originally of doing a width of two and a half feet of skirt but three feet sounds like a good number.

How much will it cost for the supplies that I need for my skirt?

Probably 175.00 with tax. I’m saving about 350.00 a month in rent and utilities remember, so even after deducting the skirt materials which I only have to buy and install once, I will come out ahead.

I can’t wait to get my first electric bill to see how much I’m saving living in my camper. I switch off the breaker when I go to work during the day. No sense having the electric on while I’m not there. So far I have used a small amount of kilowatt hours but since I’ve never lived in a camper before, I really don’t know how much it costs to plug one in. I will share the bill with you when I get it!

Dottie, the tattooed lady who has a saw, has offered to help me skirt my camper so I will not be a woman alone in doing this project! I will have a woman teaching me, which is even better!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how stupid you think they are, when you are learning to put in insulation or skirting or framing up a bed or whatever you want to repair. Guys are awfully glad to give you different ways of fixing things and there are a lot of women who know how to do these things too. As a teacher, I’m here to tell you the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Don’t be afraid of looking inept. If you don’t ask for help you don’t learn!

I learned to use a caulking gun tonight too. I was posing like Charlie’s Angels with it

and the teenaged girl helping me load the tube of Liquid Nails was laughing so hard she couldn’t hardly stand.

I won’t get the Liquid Nails or the caulking gun till later because that’s for the inside.

Skirting first. Skirts are fun!! See?

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Simplifying isn’t just about letting go of things but also people

I start with these ten points because I am still learning them myself. I am learning to let go of shame and procrastination and expectation and excuses and as I have been growing in the letting go of all these things holding me back, I’ve found also that I’ve been having to let go of people I love. A person I love. This is not an easy thing for me but I have seen that the time is not right for us nor seems ever right and i live the adage that good things come to those who wait. Instead of seeing the shedding of people as a disappointment I understand that this happens for the following reasons:

  • They no longer fit who you are becoming
  • They need to live their life without you so that they can learn their own lessons that maybe you would keep them from learning
  • They need space to figure out what they really want or need.
  • Knowing this I always wonder if their retreat out of my life was because of something I did wrong. It is unknowable really and I am letting go of torturing myself about what I did wrong or if I should have done this or that or the other thing. Loss isn’t about me. It is all about them, their best outcome and all I can do is love them anyway. And I do. Things seem emptier without them. I am faced with myself entirely and so I turn to writing as I have always done, to process life and loss and who I am becoming as my life becomes more about independence, minimalism, positivity and less about weighing myself down with guilt and shame and dread and the illusion I have power to change much of anything or anyone. It is better that I don’t. I can control my responses to things that happen. I can’t control people, nor would I want to. The people who I matter to will remain in my life, whether they retreat a while or remain actively engaged with me.
  • Sometimes the wrong people have to be cleared away so that the right people can enter. It doesn’t mean you don’t mourn the loss for a while. I do and I don’t deny or bury my feelings.
  • Loss doesn’t mean getting over having love for someone. It means learning there is a bridge over what we have lost and that nothing is ever really lost in the end. Love is that bridge. I love enough to let go and not control and show the respect and compassion we deserve in the letting go.
  • The ones who are meant to stay and support my growth will come into my life and stay and go perhaps; gain and loss is a circular thing that helps us learn about ourselves if we are open to the lessons people teach us as we live this journey.
  • I have gone where I feel most alive. I am home, by my Lake and gulls and boats, living how I want to live with a minimum of what I need experiencing life more fully, being more present, authentic and loving without reservation. Thank you for all of the people who taught me about who I am.
  • Nothing is ever lost.

Vision of what is to come

all is black and I am

moved forward by voices a cacophony if voices quiet then growing louder confused

I cannot make out the words but they slipside around me washing me like water drowning me rough seas

for we have known fear all of us unable to get traction on the world in front of us moving at light speed all of us crying in bewilderment at what we have created this great evil destroying us by degrees

I get alone and rock back and forth on the shore of this big inland sea and my prayers are carried by birds on the wind dipping and wheeling over waves crashing then

I see eagles in flight glowing in the black

I have seen them every day for a week so they announced themselves and these are giant birds who have voices of thunder

those thunder voices carry them forward they know the people need them

there is a blue warrior

A red warrior

A yellow warrior

A black warrior

a white sky and cloud people usher them and the growing dawn erases the black and people are no longer blind

Oh the horses, black and brown and red and bays and white all flowing manes and tails

the thunder of their hooves is astounding and I cower in front of them waiting

To be crushed

they leap over me and the wind of them blows the sun across the sky

those warriors follow behind them and then I see a beautiful woman

all is hushed

This woman carries a pipe and a buffalo walks beside her and behind her and becomes her and she is woman old and young and buffalo and calf all at once shimmering in the wake of horses

she speaks in the ancient language and it does not matter I do not understand I understand she has come

To save us

she sang the world into being and she sings again to save it her song erasing those who would destroy her mother her mother no longer old and sick on a cot but rising to destroy the ones who are death

rising the people rise the people know the people rainbow people rising

I open my eyes and the sun is almost gone

I get up and now I write

to tell

To remember

This is what will be what will happen the eagles have told me an

The Girl with Special Knowledge of God and other tales

Today I wasn’t feeling so hot. I somehow got a sinus infection so I went to get my medicine and decided to stop off at Target for some organic snack stuff because I didn’t feel like cooking.

I should tell you that I love pens. I’m an office supply freak. I couldn’t just walk by the stationery aisle without looking at the pens and Sharpie markers and other colorful delights. Like neon colored Post-It notes. That aisle of temptation is where I met my stalker walking opposite towards me.

She was merely a girl. A young girl. I should have known better than to make eye contact. I did. I thought she wanted to get by me.

Nope. She glowed with the aura of a True Believer. She smiled at me. I couldn’t stop my face from smiling back. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. That is when she pounced.

I should preface this by saying my longtime readers will understand I have my own faith that I am quite secure in. I also have two degrees in English Literature and Theology, with a concentration in Religious Studies. While education may not be the sum of faith it sure helps to know your Bible. Which came in handy because this girl was about to drop some Secret, Special Knowledge on me.

“Do you know about the Bible as the Word of God?” she asked beaming with a positively beatific expression on her face.

“Why yes. I am quite familiar with the Bible,” I responded. It was like pouring gasoline onto a fire.

“Oh…well…I’m sure you don’t know about the hidden Word of God in the creation of Man,” she replied smugly.

Hidden word of God? I thought. Now I was intrigued. Let’s see where this goes.

Noting my interested expression she proceeded to enlighten me that theology schools didn’t have the Secret Special Knowledge (herein known as SSK). Neither did any church. “Except mine,” she finished triumphantly.

Uh oh. Now I knew we were in for it. Only her church has this SSK. Hm. Cult? Red flag No 1.

“God gave our pastor and only our pastor this SSK. Would you like to see it?

Oh boy would I! She opened her Bible app to Genesis 1:26:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

With a conspiratorial look she got very close to me and she whispered “Let US. US. God wasn’t alone in creating man! Nobody knows this! Nobody teaches this! Who is us?

I suggested “Angels?” She scoffed. “Do you really think God let angels help Him create man?”

I didn’t see why not and this is something scholars debate but as I had tossed that out there for fun, I thought it wise to not respond. I took another stab at it.

“Us is God and the Trinity? At this she started.

“How did you know that?”

“I learned that in theology school,” I said gently.

“No! Impossible! ” She started grilling me on Bible Knowledge and trying to correct me by saying I was not as familiar with the Bible as I thought because God frowns on education and only teaches through the Holy Spirit. And only her church had this Secret Special Knowledge, remember. Suddenly she said I didn’t know the Bible in the same way she did. The girl was trying to spiritually gaslight me to make me doubt myself and my faith.

Nope.

By this time I’d had enough and politely excused myself.

It is to me rude to try to convert somebody when they are minding their own business but I get that these types are trying to follow the Great Commission so I can forgive that. But nobody and nobody has Secret Special Knowledge and shouldn’t claim to in order to take advantage of someone else’s ignorance of Scripture and theology.

I spent the rest of the time in the store dodging the Girl with the Special Knowledge and her friend who tried very hard to corral others to share this Secret Special Knowledge and no doubt try to strongarm somebody to come to church.

I don’t think I’m the only one who gets annoyed with this and annoyed with the idea that someone else couldn’t possibly be happy with their faith and they must be converted to yours. God likes us to be an example to others to show Him to others. He doesn’t expect us to weasel or wrassle people to the ground and smack them with the Bible over and over as if you are a child who knows nothing. Scripturally He most certainly does not want people to offend others to the point they want nothing to do with Him or Christians.

Be ever mindful of how you approach people, how you bring the Word to others. Please.

The world is a big place. There are other faiths. Let’s respect one another and love one another.

Feeling a little verklempt

I just got done doing my taxes and after feeling as if I have been pulled through a knothole backwards (I owe) now I turn to my writing to see what I can make of it.

I am undecided as to what kind of a writer I want to be. Short story writer? Poet? Essay/social commentary? My social commentary essays get the most reads on here, and while that would seem to be a possible indicator that I’m good at social commentary, I am not certain that is who I really am. One can do social commentary through story writing too, after all.

Figuring out who I am as a writer fits in with this transition period I am undergoing anyway as I try to find my niche in life. Going home is definitely one niche.

  • Home ✔️
  • Type of writer ??
  • Who do I belong with (TBD–this is falling into place)

I don’t know if any of you have got it all together. I don’t know that anybody does. Perhaps we all do the best we can daily. I hope I do my best. I make time for me now regularly to exercise or read or write or sometimes to sit in nature doing nothing at all. We need to do nothing at all daily for a little while because this world is way too busy and jumpy and anxious.

Anyway. I do a little of everything to see what I am. I am narrowing it down now, definitively.

Gratitude

I used to be bogged down in lack. I was always wishing for what I did not have, and feeling as if I were not enough in myself. I felt I was always found lacking. What that thinking did was create endless lack. I never had enough time, enough money, and I felt always that I was not pretty enough, not good enough.

Lack created more lack. Years of failure in finding a good paying job, failure in relationships including the most important ones with God and myself, because I’d get angry at God for all the hardship I experienced, and I have to tell you, this negative thought pattern makes a person depressed, tired all of the time and even despairing.

I think going through bad times for what feels like endless spans of time did bring me closer to God so there was purpose in it I did not see. I don’t know what brought my mind around to a position of gratitude. I hope it was God. I think it may be God. I got one of those free gratitude journal apps, and every day I had to write down three things that happened I was grateful for.

Change your story from lack to abundance! Change your thinking!

Then my life started to change for the better. Little by little abundance started flowing in. Not money necessarily. More love for God translated to more caring for others and more love for myself in that I started caring about taking care of me physically, mentally and spiritually. Exercise. Doing little nice things for me. I started doing more to be of service to others while setting firm boundaries so that people might respect me. The ones who respected me respected my boundaries. This curious thing happened where people who no longer served my highest good, friends who weren’t really friends, who did not respect my boundaries or me, started showing themselves for who they were and gradually fell away. In so doing I felt sad and disillusioned, but over a short time I began to understand I felt better mentally not having these people around to drag me down and make me codependent and an enabler as a result of codependency. I felt less taken advantage of and more self confident in my own decision making and in voicing my needs and desires, which had not happened consistently before. Because I felt better in myself I felt ever more grateful to God for feeling better, and even though materially nothing had changed, I began to feel content with what I had. I stopped wanting more stuff. I started praying differently too. I used to ask God for this and that and please could You fix this and that. I found myself spending a lot of time thanking Him for all I had and for my kids, my health, my mom, my family, for whatever blessings I’d received that day whether it be the ten bucks my mom sent me or the free turkey from work. God wants us to live in gratitude and in abundance. Abundant peace, abundant joy, love, kindness, gentleness, faith. He supplies our needs and He starts us out with little so that we might grow to be thankful for much. No matter how little you have, be grateful. Someone is always worse off than you. Even they have much to be thankful for. Look for the blessings. They are there always, the silver lining during our darkest hours.

Get a gratitude app!

I keep doing the gratitude journal app. If you do nothing else for yourself please download one. Most are free and it trains your mind to be more thankful and more positive. Thankfulness changes your entire outlook and perception to one of plenty instead of one of lack. It makes every day more sacred to be thankful to God for all you have no matter how poor or rich you may be.

Gratitude will change your life. I promise.

Reimagining my life

At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

  • I will go back home to my lake.
  • I will not dwell on the failures of the past.
  • I forgive all those who hurt me and I pray I am forgiven by those I hurt.
  • I will earn an apartment. With wood floors and a lake view and bookshelves built into the walls. A nice old house.
  • I will play classical music in the evenings and have a nice wine rack with a good selection of wines.
  • I will hang art I love
  • I will have oriental rugs for the floors.
  • I will not allow the failed loves of the past to dictate failure in love in the future. I will love another and be loved truly by someone before I die.
  • I will have a good job and earn plenty of money.
  • I will collect used books for my used bookstore that I will have lakeside.
  • I will keep running and walking and do it beside the lake daily and live in hope, not despair or disappointment.

Love does not conquer all

This has been a season of all too brief hellos and all too soon goodbyes of friends who were friends for years and years. One I was reunited with. The reuniting was wonderful and a love long dormant in Me was expressed but to the tune of the wrong place and still the wrong time.

I was not the choice. As painful as that is sometimes you just have to accept it and move on. While the reason was all too clear in my situation, sometimes goodbyes are based on situations that are inexplicable and you don’t ever get to know why.

The door, after a goodbye or many opens. Sometimes we trap ourselves in situations because we feel it’s what we deserve and most of the time this choice is unconscious based on what has happened to us in life and what kind of protections we have developed. Even when we don’t need them anymore those same protection mechanisms can become a prison keeping us from growth and new experiences.

For me the goodbye was hard and unwanted but necessary so I didn’t live a lie and also to remain honest, even to a person who didn’t know I was around, who I personally can’t stand but who still as a person deserved my honesty. I was angry at the injustice of things and how the time is never right and I took my anger and frustration out on the one I said goodbye to a little bit. I am not proud of this and I tried to make amends but I leave with silence for an answer and a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Maybe one day in time, we can come around again in the right time and the right place, with understanding and love.

I am weary of goodbye. I am sad and drained and aged. I am now leaving my whole past behind while returning to the place my past occurred. The place has changed, as have the people who populated it…some have moved away, some have died and most have simply grown older. Enough has changed I think that restoration and a new life may take root and I can make my home my own and lay down deep roots, forge new friendships and find a love of my own unfettered by emotional baggage and closed doors and dead ends. Love does not conquer all: it often means, if we are honest, if we are true, that if we really love somebody we have to honor their choices enough to walk away and allow them the freedom to live their choices while sacrificing our own desires. I really loved him in the right way and when I am sad, as I am now, I am comforted by knowing I’ve grown enough to learn that letting go is an act of faith in doors that will open, other opportunities that will come, new people, new possibilities and new growth opportunities.

So I sit in the coffee shop and think of the movie Begin Again:

Snow

Tonight a snow is falling that calls for stillness. There is no wind so it is falling straight down. I stand outside in it looking up feeling soft flakes caress my face and noting as I stand that the flakes that land on my gloved hands are tiny miracles of fractal art. No two are alike. They stay on my glove for a moment then the warmth of my hand melts the snowflake and it is as if it never was. Yet it was and its temporary presence made a difference to me; I experienced beauty and it taught me that something quiet and still contains a lifetime within it in which we fully are present or can be if we are willing to be still.

I have a tendency to react in a fear based way to situations which are really out of my control. As I have grown older I have learned and still learn the virtue of stepping back, disengaging and allowing the difficulty to dissipate and myself to flex around it instead of fighting change or trying to control whatever it is.

I stand in the falling snow in the silence of the night and in those moments the world is quiet and time expands encapsulating the silence as a balm to my soul. The world moves too quickly and we think we control it all. We do not; control is an illusion and we reap the disservice the illusion portrays: disease related to stress, heart problems, anxiety.

I take the time to meditate and I see a place by a still pond in my mind. He leadeth me beside the still water.

(Photo taken by author Allegheny Reservoir, Allegheny National Park)

Religious ideas have the same advice: Be still.

  • Be still and know that I am God (God is in control)
  • Too many words cause exhaustion

[In the mind or from the mouth]

Better to abide in stillness.

Lao Tzu

  • If we sit with an increasing stillness of the body, and attune our mind to the sky or to the ocean or to the myriad stars at night, or any other indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy. Also recalling our own experiences in which we acted generously or with compassion for the simple delight of it without expectation of any gain can give us more confidence in the existence of a deeper goodness from which we may deviate. (39)

Ravi Ravindra, The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra

  • If ever you do go back, what is it you want of Evesham?”

“Do I know? […] The silence, it might be … or the stillness. To have no more running to do … to have arrived, and have no more need to run. The appetite changes. Now I think it would be a beautiful thing to be still. Ellis Peters, A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, prequel stories 0.1-0.3)

God lives in the stillness. Listen and you will hear His still, small voice.

The hawk and the King

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,

Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,

Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain–

But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,

Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;

Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door–

But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?

Sara Teasdale, The Collected Poems

I dream endlessly in the arms of the night.

First that hawk flying into my life announcing you two days

before

I tied a message to the bird’s feet and it came back with your exultant reply

Rainbows pour into my black and white existence and Music explodes trumpets and stringed instruments surprising me

this was my heart singing

I am home with you right and present and correct. Years and obstacles mean nothing and there is just us in that large soft landing strip

our world where nothing bad can happen and we inseparable

Then a hole in the sky opened up sweeping you into it and I left here alone again wanting perpetual sleep but

Even my dreams are haunted with you in them

I with a strange family in a large rich house with your two blonde nieces who catch us kissing and you telling them there is no need to tell their aunt anything while you touch me in secret places and leave me wanting and I wake up body responsive and electric

This is the third dream. The first was when we were young and at the end of the runway at home you kissing me endlessly I can feel the smooth roughness if your face under my hands and smell you as I drink you into me

Desire is red and pink and uplifting and I fly upwards upon it wanting you to lift me higher and claim me in upward thrusts at airspeed

The second was last night.

no words only the silence of years apart and we

speaking in the still fraught language of looks caresses and desire

my heart caught hold of my soul as we held each other tightly and burst into flames

Your hand held tightly to mine.

I awoke still feeling the pressure of it

Alone

tearful hard lumps of sorrow liquefying and rushing out of eyes no longer unseeing

I have dreamed three days and plus the last fourteen nights with you a hawk in the first dreams alighting finally in front of me sharp eyes searching

Trusting.

Jesses hanging from your feet no longer tied and captive

Slowly and tenderly I take them off your feet entirely and you allow me to fling you exultantly up into the air and you fly as you always were meant to

you are a speck disappearing then

You are gone. I then sadly scan the empty blue one more time and turn to go back inside exulting in your freedom accepting what is

but no.

You return to me a man, sauntering jauntily up my porch stairs as you do catching hold of me once more

my body breaks out into song

Miracles happen I hear whispered in the breeze

I wait on the porch eyes scanning the horizon

We are connected

Awaiting

Contact

awaiting

Flight