“Lady I just drive the truck”

Do you ever get excited about something and direct your anger, enthusiasm, angst, discouragement or frustration to the wrong recipient?

It’s like driving down the road and pulling up to a semi with a company name on the side (I saw this on a commercial) and you vent to the truck driver about the product inside…..he says “Lady, I just drive the truck.” He doesn’t care about your issues. All he is concerned about is getting his product to the finish line and picking up his paycheck.

I would say that most of us are feeling that way a bit about Washington and the quagmire of indecision and nonproductivity that seems to surround the site of our Federal business. We are all frustrated and yet it seems that no one that we talk to personally can change any of it. We’re all “just driving the truck” and yet we are all affected by the lower wages and higher gas totals at the pump.

I can hardly wait for November 7th to get here. The day AFTER the Presidential election, when we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the tumultuous season is finally behind us.  Hopefully whoever the “trucking company” will be next January, they will give us a better product than we have been having the last few years.

A One Armed Juggler and Other Cool Stuff

I grew up in rural western Pennsylvania. It was the Christmas tree capital of the world. Our county fair had an Evergreen Queen pageant and lots of other fun events. I took my dog, Tippy Toes to the animal walk and entered my pansies in the 4-H judging. But I left all that behind when I moved to Florida at the age of 12 and county fairs of that standard were left behind in my childhood.

Then, 40 plus years later I found myself in the Midwest in August where county fairs meet the best of 4-H exhibits and farmers meet up with the best John Deeres in the heartland and boy o boy, you’ve got yourself a real county fair.

We got to the fairgrounds just in time to see a mob of people gathered around an arena of sorts. “What is going on here”? I asked someone near me. “It’s the monkey races.” they said. We were in for a treat as we watched two small monkeys racing on the backs of dogs!

I’m sorry that we missed the yodling contest and Dale Jones, the one armed juggler. But we certainly enjoyed the sights, sounds and…… well okay, not the smells but we enjoyed MOST of the Boone County fair in Belvidere, Illinois.  It is the only Grange Fair in Illinois.

I suppose every county fair has some legendary Bluegrass singers, kid fiddlers and a Tractor and Truck pull and wood carving exhibits. The Boone County fair however, had some other events that were new to us. We were sorry that we missed the Watermelon eating-Seed spitting contest, the Bubble Gum blowing contest and the Twinkie Eating-Pepsi drinking contest. Rest assured that we are marking our calendars though for NEXT summer. If we come back to the Midwest, we won’t miss this wholesome fun!

Bizspouse Politics

I have found it so interesting to watch the political process unfold in another state. Since I am traveling, I view local activities from a different vantage point than the natives. In this highly charged political atmosphere that we are in, just 55 days before the 2012 Presidential election emotions are running on all cylinders everywhere. It’s easy to get a little extra boisterous and defensive with opinions. Friends, family, neighbors and coworkers can sometimes become your temporary enemy (hopefully it is temporary). Adversaries appear out of nowhere or out of a side street, pulling out in front of you with the OTHER candidate’s bumper sticker. You have that moment of bad thoughts, forgetting that YOU are the bad guy to them.

I think it is encouraging to remember however that it is that very passion that makes America great. Nothing would get done if we all just languished around watching Swamp People and were all members of the same political party. Just like the proverbial butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon, it is that very struggle that makes us strong. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all Americans to know, understand and be able to defend what it is that they believe.

God said in Revelation that He would rather that we were hot or cold but not lukewarm. I like passion in people. I get concerned that the younger generation really doesn’t care about the future, the huge national debt, nuclear arms and other “boring” stuff like that. I am happy to see that they DO care. After all, I do believe that most of us love our country and want the very best for everyone. We just disagree on how that can be accomplished.

So whether you are a liberal, conservative, a Taxed Enough Already or Libertarian. Be firm in your beliefs and be ready to defend them. Don’t just rely on a soundbite from your favorite night time talk show. Do a little research on your own. If you haven’t done your homework for THIS election, get started now for 2016. It will be here before you know it and your children will thank you for it.

God Bless America!

Voting and Giving Blood

I think “doing the right thing” just feels good….like voting and giving blood and holding the door open for someone who is struggling to get through it or letting someone out in traffic who is hopelessly stuck. It just makes you feel good.

That’s how it should be in hotels too. You don’t know the person in the next room. You may not see them during your visit and will certainly never see them again. So what do you care if you let your door slam shut at 5:30 in the morning. If you wake them up, who cares…life is tough….

After spending more days this year in a hotel than at my home in Florida, I know firsthand just how annoying the door slamming oversight can be. But when you DO hold on to that door for two more seconds to keep it from slamming, when you DON’T bang dishes or suitcases into the wall late at night, you just might let someone sleep a few more minutes. That person may be nursing a dying child in a hospice home like our across the hall neighbor is sadly having to do. Your wall mate  may work the midnight shift and just got to sleep after a grueling night on the assembly line, making YOUR next vehicle. It only takes a few seconds to be thoughtful and make someone else’s hotel stay a bit more pleasant. After all they are paying for a night’s rest just like you. So go ahead and do the right thing without a needle prick or waiting in line at your local voting booth.

There’s gain AND there’s pain!

I’m a pretty positive person by nature. I like to see the glass as half full rather than mostly empty and I tend to lose patience with whiners. But sometimes I can feel a bit whiney myself. Sometimes this bizspouse stuff is just tough going. Someone reminded me recently that I don’t always have to post as the chipper, happy adventurer but with some truthful disclosure about the down side of living in a transitional state.

So if I haven’t lost you after THAT intro here is the rest of the story…..

The most challenging part of this journey is the uncertainty, the inability to plan ahead, thinking, “where will I be”? There is a scripture in Proverbs that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. I think of that applicable Bible verse when I wonder about next month when my niece’s first baby is due. (the baby that the doctors said would never be) I think about it when I wonder where we will be for Christmas and if I will be living in snow another winter. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort to continue to build  relationships with women that I may never see again. Why would I want to add one more “goodbye” to my list of too many now? I tend to bond quickly and love hard and loss hurts and goodbyes are sad. Is it worth the effort?

The dilemma also often remains with the housing situation. Hotel vs. Apartment. There is a saying that goes like this, “if I had known that I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself”. That same thinking applies to this quandary. If I had known that I was going to be in this city for 9 months or a year, I would have gotten an apartment with a six month lease and had more space and better amenities. Since I did not know that, it remains a question of whether or not to move NOW into a more permanent living situation. We would have had more space, a patio to relax on at the end of the day and a garage to protect us and our vehicle from the ice and snow.

Sometimes the room is too small and the family is too far and the obstacles appear to outweigh the benefits. It isn’t always rosy. I am thankful, however, for a spouse who will roll with the punches. He is always willing to think outside the box and consider my perspective. He is a good bizspouse too.

How much longer will it be?????

Then I turn the page on the view at hand, make an intentional decision to be thankful and look for the encounter that the Lord has in store for me today. I once again CHOOSE to see this adventure as a pretty full bread basket in this heartland of America.

Attitude is everything.

Going on the road for an extended length of time is the ultra “getting out of your comfort zone.” What are those comforts? They are the tried and true habits and idols that we so easily slip into.  I struggle with a little addiction to a controlled substance AKA COFFEE. Now I can’t drink any old low quality, back burner brew. No, my coffee must be fresh, made with filtered water, the best fresh grown arabica beans that money can buy. That used to mean Dunkin’ Donuts beans freshly ground and brewed in my high quality coffee maker.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a quality blend of coffee that can be purchased anywhere in the United States and brewed in a $29 hotel Mister Coffee pot can be quite a taste sensation!  I DO use filtered water but other than that…no gimmicks needed for a fine cup o’ joe.

Another example of keeping a good attitude is in not having access to a vehicle as much as I am used to. We had made the decision to only bring one instead of caravan driving across the U.S. But that means that if carpooling isn’t always available that other creative means for getting around must be sought. So….HELLO WALKING!!! The weather is gorgeous right now and there are sidewalks and bike paths nearby so it’s a great chance to get in some exercise! I had to check my attitude yesterday as I missed out on a ride that I was expecting and had some serious cabin fever. I decided a walk to the grocery store was in order. The interesting thing about grocery shopping on foot is that you no longer look at the price of the item but look at the weight….hmmmm how much do I want this item that I want to haul it back to the room? AND I figured that I could splurge on a bakery muffin and walk it off on the way home.

So with my grocery bag in one hand and my trusty cell phone in the other, I could get my groceries back to the room and catch up on news with my daughter.

The fragrant lilacs are so plentiful that they are casually trimmed and discarded.

The birds were singing, the lilacs were in full bloom and the muffin was yummy. Life is good.

People always ask me how I could leave my home to live in a hotel for months at a time. My standard answer is, “And let my husband be here without me? I can’t imagine being anywhere else?”


Embracing the challenges or I used to hate commercials

I knew that temporary hotel living was not going to be easy. We get soft with our lives and comforts. We like our recliner maybe with a built in vibrating back and cup holders or even a remote control gizmo. We have our dvr system worked out that automatically records our favorite shows so that not only do we not have to remember what day and time they are on, we don’t even have to remember to watch them. They get all stored for us until we notice them and THEN the bonus is that we don’t have to watch those blankety blank commercials.  Oh yeah I know it’s those annoying interruptions in our show that pays for the show in the first place but who cares about THAT? Just give me my favorite show at a convenient time with no loud obnoxious people yelling and I’m a happy camper.

Now let’s talk about vehicles. At home you would walk out to your garage, use your remote to open the door and off you go rain or shine into the great world awaiting. And if an unfortunate event occurs like a need for a little car repair, you still have your spouse’s vehicle to help you through those “tough” times. But if you are a thousand miles away from home with one vehicle and your spouse needs it to drive to work, ACKKKK the unthinkable happens! You are left carless. Hello mass transit!

So to embrace these challenges, I must remember the very up side to my new temporary lifestyle. I get to see a part of the country that I would have never seen on a one week vacation driving through the midwest. I get to meet great folks that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and get to develop relationships with relatives who were just a distant email or Christmas card before.

So give me those commercials, it gives me a chance to use the mute button and read an email, a chapter in my book or wash the dishes. It forces me to be more productive while watching TV because I can’t control the speed with which I watch that show.

As for transportation, well stay tuned for “Tales From the Bus” starting next week!

And Now we’re cookin’!

Cooking in the hotel.

For the displaced folks, cooking is a project of its own. Of course, following my packing advice of looking around your kitchen and grabbing those items that are most dear to your Martha Stewart heart, you DO have your essentials. (For those disaster victims who have none of their personal items, I know you miss them.) The key to simple cooking is just that, keeping it simple. If you have told yourself for years that cooking from scratch is healthier and cheaper, which of course it is, you may have to lay that aside for now. The key word here is survival until your life can go back to YOUR normal. So give yourself permission to lower your standards a bit. For me, that isn’t giving up healthy food but definitely using the convenience foods that are available at the high end grocery stores. Those peppers already stuffed, the brown rice already cooked and the pomegranate already peeled found a place in my heart and in my fridge.
Also, disposable plates and baking pans are super helpful here. You can make up for your carbon imprint when you get a real place to live again but for now, throw aways are your friend.

My favorite simple meal is to use a disposable aluminum pan with fresh veggies spread out on it, sprinkle some seasoning (you bought seasoning mixes of garlic/onion/Italian etc so you don’t need a hundred bottles in order to add flavor), drizzle a bit of olive oil then add small pieces of boneless chicken like tenderloin or raw LEAN hamburger sprinkled on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for approx an hr. Uncover and keep checking till done. One dish used and throw it away.

I have resigned myself to the fact that my whole wheat cornbread and fresh baked cinnamon rolls aren’t going to happen again soon.  But that’s not such a bad thing either. So readers……tell me your “cooking like we’re camping” dinner ideas.

Movin’ on up!

The hotel staff advised us to take a room on the first floor. Since we are nonsmokers and the smoking rooms are on the third floor, it seemed like the best idea. We knew from past experience however, that noise that sounds like bowling balls being dropped on our ceiling at midnight was going to be annoying but…..maybe the sound proofing is exceptional here. WRONG!!! The week days were usually good but every Friday, the family that would check in with three kids and a dog or two were given the room above us. After several games of tag, the shuttle run and “hey Joey let’s jump off the kitchen bar”, our nerves were shattered and the smoking floor beckoned.
So here we are now….moved on up to the 3rd floor where the air isn’t great but the quiet is worth it.

Additional benefits thrown in are a newer television, a quieter dishwasher, a better view when it snows, and all that exercise walking up three flights of steps!  Now the Booty Call Lounge sign pours light into our room but ahhh those room darkening shades do their job nicely!