Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Welcome to the Neighborhood!


Early morning breakfast shift drive
 

Hans and I are a little over three months into our new (and temporary) life here in the boondocks and we're getting all kinds of countrified. I've made both rhubarb and strawberry pies from scratch and I don't think any of them had the chance to cool down before they completely disappeared. And just like a pioneer I made due with a Tervis tumbler I bought at the Salvation Army for a buck that made a great rolling pin, and a disposable brownie tin I found in the stove drawer. I admit I planned on cheating with pre-made crusts but after pricing them at the local grocery I opted for good old Crisco and flour. It must be the air here because each and every crust has been a success. Blueberries are coming on now and Hans can't wait.


Rhubarb pie.


The blueberry bushes were planted in the 1920's, are never sprayed, and are behind Dear Friend and her husband's house. In true neighborly fashion we've been told as soon as they're ripe to go over and pick anytime we want. In the evening when we're not working we take turns visiting back and forth and share homemade wines and dog petting duties. While at their house I have at any given time one of three doxies on my lap. When they are at our house Wilbur spends a good bit of time trying to get into new laps but he doesn't quite pull it off. He has succeeded in a few kissing bandit attacks but they're on to him now.


Almost ready to pick

Pwease to hold? I'm available

 

A while back Dear Friend told me she was going on an Amish Run the next day at 9 AM and I was welcome to join her. "What's an Amish Run?" Hans wanted to know, and I told him I didn't care what it was as long as it didn't involve me waiting on tables. Dear Friend fetched me bright and early the next morning and we bounced around the countryside in her pickup truck and hit three Amish scratch and dent stores. Two hours later and wearing my brand new $2.83 100% UV protected sunglasses, I breathlessly returned home with about a hundred dollars worth of groceries that cost me $43. Squished toilet paper, loose cans of club soda, chocolate truffles, pecan cookies, a massive roll of freezer paper (minus its box cover), five bags of big potato chips for 75 cents each, beans, soups, tomato sauce, jars of picante (also 75 cents each), name brand coffees, sixteen bottles of Sparkling Pellegrino for five bucks total because the plastic holding them together was torn (they sell for $5 each in restaurants), disposable pie plates (yay!), bottles of salad dressing for 15 cents... "Just don't look at the expiration dates!" I warned Hans.

I've been on two runs so far and no one including the dog has gotten sick yet.

 

Hans continues to play the piano at the inn on weekends. Last year after playing at brunch a family inquired if he was available to give lessons. Their daughter so wanted to learn and had a strong desire to play Jingle Bells at their church come Christmas. However, the lady they hired from their church deemed Jingle Bells and all Christmas carols to be evil. Hans, not being a religious person himself was puzzled and asked if she had been taught the scales. Well, no she hadn't as the devil apparently resided there also. So he was hired. When we left at the end of last year his pupil's audience could probably discern Jingle Bells if they were told what was being played and we were pleasantly surprised when they contacted him again this year to continue the lessons.

When I'm not working (and last week was a killer) I've found a new passion in soap making. It all started when we first moved to Florida and I stumbled into a little gift shop that had goat milk soap. As I was quite happy with my cheap Ivory Soap, I've no idea why I bought some. But I did. And I was hooked. I looked forward to getting dirty and sweaty just so I could lather up with that damn soap. I even considered driving an hour to the store to get more but found I could get some just around the corner. At $6 for a three ounce bar it wasn't really a bargain but I decided it was an affordable extravagance. And then we moved here to goat country and I had an epiphany.

I call this batch: Cherry Almond Eclipse
 

Each batch requires at least six weeks to cure. My kitchen smells heavenly!


The first hurdle in my new venture was finding and buying lye. I didn't realize that in addition to being in goat, cow, and Amish country, we were also in meth country and one of the key ingredients in meth is lye. I've been yelled at, laughed at, and winked at in every hardware store in the county. A lot of stores have quit carrying it and those that do keep it under the counter. I finally found a source but don't ask me where because I'm not telling. I also only have a very small amount on hand at any given time so don't think about breaking in and stealing it. And remember we do have a pit bull. It may only be Wilbur, but hey! he's a pit bull.


Lye, by itself, scares the bejeebers out of me. Once it's combined with oils, and water or goat milk it becomes a very innocent bar of soap, but until then... I had flashbacks to the time I attempted to clear the head (polite nautical term for toilet) hoses on our boat with muriatic acid. But my absolute love of soaping won out over my fear of blowing up the neighborhood. I'm just very careful. I had a day off from work today and decided to whip up a batch of baby soap. If people wondered about us the day they saw us outside cutting Hans' hair while he was shirtless and I was in my robe, I can't help but wonder what they thought seeing me out there today wearing a face mask, goggles, and gloves, stirring up my lye concoction while our pit bull lazed on his run.

At least we fit in and who knows, they very well may be my next customers.

 

Hmmm, I was told everyone takes afternoon naps in the country.

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

More Country Livin'


We thought we were pretty smart when we arrived here in Pennsylvania from Florida in April. Let's wait until the snow's gone, we said. Well, as everyone knows we weren't so smart since along with temps in the teens, it snowed heavily a couple of times in April. But we really weren't prepared for the snow we got on May 15th. Big fat snowflakes fell all day long but what really pissed me off was: GRASS CONTINUES TO GROW EVEN IF IT DOES SNOW!

And since between Dear Friend and us we have three mowers in various stages of disrepair, we're quickly losing the battle of the grass. Wilbur kind of likes grazing out in the yard and is quite happy to puke up frothy green stuff upon coming back inside, but Dear Friend has three little doxies who yip frantically for help when they get lost in what's sure to be a forest to them.

A successful attempt at staying warm and stylish at the same time.

I told him to let me buy that goat.


Hans is still marveling over life here in the country. When we lived in the city, we set our garbage out on the curb and during the early morning hours a big truck would pick it up and take it to Never-Never-Land. In the Bahamas we had to store our garbage in the Knotty Cat's outside lockers for days before hitting the dumpster jackpot. But here in the country, we burn our trash. Actually, there are recycling bins at the township building just a mile or so from us so we burn very little, but, I fear I have a budding pyromaniac on my hands. The first time Hans burned the garbage (after making little scientific, kindling pyramids out of the sticks he gathered, he was a Queen Scout after all) he was astounded. Wow, Hans exclaimed. Just like that, a big bag of garbage was gone. And he still gets excited on burning day and can disappear for a whole afternoon, rearranging and poking the embers with his 'fire stick' (a huge tree branch that is not to be thrown into the pit). A better toy has yet to be invented.

And speaking of garbage, we had something strange happen the other night. Hans had put banana peels in the garbage that morning and by nightfall they just plain stunk. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep with that smell so I grabbed the bag, tied it up, tossed it out the door, and crawled back in bed. Hans thought perhaps we should take it around the back of the house but, when I reminded him it's pitch black out there at night, outside the door it stayed. Until we got up in the morning and discovered it was gone.

Period.

Was there a garbage thief in the area we wondered. An identity theft racket? I wasn't so worried about that since the thief only got coffee grounds and those banana peels but I was creeped out knowing someone or something had been right outside our door while we slept.

It was days later on a walk with Wilbur that Hans found the bag. Way down back in an area the previous owners had used as a dump, there it was. The bag was still tied but it had been very carefully split open and our garbage was strewn all about. We're still arguing over what or who did this. I think it was a bear, Hans thinks it was a raccoon. But one thing we do know; we use a hell of a lot of paper towels.


The local mouse population still hasn't figured out I really mean business so I keep setting traps and still cringe when I hear them go off. And as frugal as I am I throw the whole shebang out as I can't bring myself to separate the little corpse, complete with accusing dead eyes, from those jaws of death. I think I'm on my third package of traps.

Somewhere along the line I believe a turf war occurred between Chip and Dale, who were residing in our bathroom exhaust vent, and a family of starlings. The screaming starlings won and now throughout the day we enjoy the shrieking of very hungry babies. Starlings sound exactly like humming, buzzing, electrical wiring, which in an old house with old wiring is oddly disconcerting.


Another conversation overheard here the other day in Hooterville:

Dear Friend (hollering from across the road): Hey, Baby doesn't have any balls!

We weren't sure we heard her correctly so she had to repeat herself a couple of times. Now everyone on the road is privy to the fact that Baby, her dachshund runt (a whopping 5 pounds at the age of 5 months), is missing his 'set'.

Hans (really getting into this country kind of living, hollered back across the road): Well, damn! Where's he supposed to go to the bathroom?

Wilbur (our little Harvard Medical student) examines Baby. "Wow! They really are missing!"

 


When you drive past our place this is what you see peeking out our window. All I can say is, "Guess what. Out here in the country we are bat shit crazy so just keep right on going."


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hooterville

A dog bed on the floor? Seriously? Because we all know where Wilbur sleeps.


I alluded in my last blog post that we would tell you about our new home (temporary home that is. We intend to head back to the Knotty Cat in January). I was referring to Lisa and Oliver Douglas of the long ago sit-com, Green Acres. Some of you may remember it and most likely even more won't.

It's the tale of a city couple who find themselves transplanted to 'Hooterville', a small farming town in the country and the similarities between them and us are uncanny. Hans is definitely 'city' and still marvels that we can burn our garbage outside and harbors the notion that if we don't mow the grass it will quit growing and all will be fine. Right now it's nearly knee high as we can't get the damn mower to start and he won't let me buy a goat. And while I slump around in a pink fluffy robe instead of a negligee, Lisa and I are both blonde and not very bright.

 
My pink robe and a very chilly pooch.
 

As a matter of fact if you drove past our house this morning that was indeed me in the yard and in my robe cutting Hans' hair with the clippers (I already sweep dirt, dust, pine needles etc... out of the house with a broom on a daily basis. I'm not adding hair to the mix).


When we arrived here we discovered we had no cell coverage unless we went outside and waved our phones over our heads. Calling Sprint and airing our problems solved nothing and was extremely aggravating. Not unlike poor Oliver who had to make his calls by climbing to the top of a telephone pole where their phone was mounted and then had to argue with the operator. Hans spent an entire day (not minutes like we thought and I was stuck in the vehicle with Wilbur the whole time) getting out of a contract with one company and into a contract with a new company and now sometimes we have a signal and sometimes we don't.


Out little house is furnished with Salvation Army purchases and all kinds of stuff we've salvaged from the shed out back (I even found a foot bath back there that really comes in handy after a full day of waitressing). Our bed sits on the floor of the living room (I'm not paying over $60 for a frame), our kitchen table was an umbrella table in a past life, we have a rocking chair (shed), dorm fridge (friend), toaster oven (another friend), and thank god, two space heaters as the temps actually fell to 17 degrees (F) a couple of days after moving in. In April! It's now May and tonight it's going to be in the thirties. This however, does not stop the grass from growing.



Alas, it's not to be. Hans said I couldn't bring Charlotte home.


Where the mice come to play.

 

Since phone coverage was such a joke we didn't even think about TV and we were thrilled the radio my mom gave us (the same radio that sat on the kitchen counter when I was in high school) actually worked. But there was a TV down in our basement and it was preying on Hans' mind. My mother gave us an old digital converter and we dragged the TV up the rickety stairs and into the living room. If nothing else I figured we could us it as a night stand.

But, by golly it worked! Every day is a grab bag of programs (religious stations may be the norm in Florida but around here it's court TV) with the big prize of Hockey play-offs for Hans. At least when the local stations deign to air them.

 

We fall asleep each night listening to the squeaky fights of whatever creatures live in our exhaust vent in the bathroom. I assured Hans that bats do not make that kind of noise and it's most likely squirrels. When they get especially rowdy and physical and it sounds like they're going to fall on our heads, I smack my hand, super hard, on the tub surround and they stop. For awhile.

However, being awakened by the sound of one of my mousetraps going off in the kitchen means I will not get a good nights sleep. Especially when the 'victim' doesn't go quietly and instead flails about my cupboard in the throes of death. That's when I'm positive I'm going straight to hell but at least in the morning I won't find mouse poop in my silverware tray. For a few days anyway. Adding to my sleepless nights is my concern over the crafty mouse that's able to steal a sticky blob of peanut butter from a trap and not set it off.


Wilbur's kin? Both Hans and Wilbur said no to bringing these guys home. One pig is enough.



And then there's Wilbur. When we first met him six years ago, I commented that he looked and sounded just like a pig and therefor if he were my dog I'd name him after Arnold Ziffel of Green Acres. But I was informed that he already had a name and it was Wilbur, in honor of Wilbur the pig from Charlotte's Web. I should have followed my instincts. Wilbur is just as brilliant and spoiled as Arnold was but we do limit his TV time.


TV may be limited but lucklily he has a library card.




Our landlord is a co-waitress and dear friend who has the farm across the road. In between shifts at the inn, Dear Friend is kept busy with her menagerie of stock and passel of dogs.

And you know you really live in Hooterville when the following conversation is overheard and no one rushes to call the police:


Dear Friend: You know I'm gonna be a grandma again! I hope I'm not on the schedule next week, the baby's due any day now.


Me: Um, don't you know for sure when she's due? Doesn't anyone know when she got pregnant?


Dear Friend: No, dammit! Her own son knocked her up, you know.


Me (horrified): Oh my God! What did you do to him? Where is he?


Dear Friend (making a slashing motion across her throat): He's in the freezer. We're having some of him for dinner tonight.


Of course she was talking about her cow.


I hope.


Brand new baby. I think he's his own brother. I don't know, it's confusing.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Topsy Turvy.

I can't believe it's May. This has seriously been a few crazy months for us.


On the blog I left off in January when we were getting back on board the Knotty Cat after having left her on the hard for several months.


So here's our life on the boat from January through March:


On the boat Duct tape once again came to our rescue when we had to repair the connections to our solar panels AGAIN!


This is what we found the day after we put out the solar panels. Thanks to severe winds, one of them was ripped clean off its connectors. And this happened 'inland' in a very protected area.


We motored a whole 4 hours to Stuart, Florida where we stayed on a mooring ball for a little over 2 months.


Whoever heard of tornadoes in Florida in January? When we weren't worried about what the hell we were supposed to do if one were to hit, we were pinned down to the mooring field while we rode out 35 knot winds. And cold? Thank god we have a lot of blankets and a very warm pit bull on board as there were many days we couldn't get ashore

Now this was scary.
 
 

Our little barometer. One look at him and you know what the weather is like.



We had every intention of selling the car that we'd bought from our time up north and actually received an offer on it very quickly. But, for some reason I told Hans I thought we better hang on to it for awhile. I'm glad we did.


Our charger/inverter continued to be a stinker and refused to invert but at least it did charge. The electrician we hired (at 2 hrs minimum pay) unplugged it, peered at it, gave a wiggling Wilbur all kinds of scratches, plugged the inverter back in and said, " Well, it's working now and I didn't even do anything to it." Wilbur said it was worth it.

 

Trying to heat water would have been ridiculous so we took showers at the marina bath house (when we could get off the boat), and I washed my face every morning and night with ice water. So refreshing!


In an attempt to feel like 'normal' people, we ran the generator each night for a couple of hours in order to juice up the batteries and watch some TV (Oh my yes, don't I just love to depress myself with the nightly news). We have a small antenna that was quick to pick up Spanish programs, religious programs, religious Spanish programs, and one regular station. In addition to witnessing some of the most appalling behavior from all the presidential candidates, I got caught up with every Mike and Molly episode ever aired.


We learned early on that if we wanted to take an excursion on land sans Wilbur, we needed to take him ashore to empty him first or risk coming back to a smelly surprise. Wilbur does indeed have a potty patch and is an expert at using it while at sea, but that dog has gotten even smarter over the years and has us well trained (as long as we're on board with him there's never a problem).


We attempted to go sailing just one time (we do live on a sailboat!) and once we got both the main and the jib up, the wind died. Back to our mooring ball we went and that was it for the two months we were there.

In late February I received news that my dad was in the hospital and things weren't looking good. No sooner had we received that information than Hans and I took a trip into town as a couple and due to a sudden emergency I came back alone. I managed to flood the dinghy motor and had to be towed to the boat whereupon I flooded the generator. Wilbur and I were in bed by 7 PM.

For two days I relied upon the kindness of fellow cruisers who got me and Wilbur back and forth until Hans came home. Let me tell you the first thing we did was get the dinghy motor fixed and the generator got a new spark plug. I can now start both lickety split!

Waiting for Daddy. "If I sit and stare long enough, he'll come home.


There are no more splinters on the marina dinghy dock as they all eventually ended up on my person with an especially painful one embedded deep under a finger nail. It took days to remove it and I was terrified I'd end up with a disease as the Okeechobee water was full of bacteria.

 

Hans came home on my birthday (a good reason to celebrate), and a couple of weeks later as we were on the road headed north I looked over at him and announced, "Happy Anniversary (our fourth as a married couple)!" Both of us nearly forgot.


My dad passed away three days after my birthday so Hans stayed on the boat with Wilbur while I flew north for the funeral. I've flown a lot over the years and this just had to be the time nothing went right (maintenance issues on nearly every flight... and actually having to depart one plane after sitting in it for an hour). The real kicker was when I was nearly tackled by two attendants at a boarding gate. One of the ladies jabbed a finger at me, told me my bag was too big and it needed to be checked. I pointed out that I'd just come off of a flight without checking it and that I'd flown with it for years with no problems. Her cohort then got in the act and also exclaimed very loudly that it had to be checked. Not desiring to be added to a no flight list, I stopped arguing and checked the damn thing.

Great. This just meant I had to wait forever at baggage claim in Florida which then put us into nightfall and we had a very dark ride back to the boat in our dinghy.


When I got back to the boat we decided we should head up north for one more summer to lend a hand with family matters and just like that the Knotty Cat was put back on the hard. We stuffed Wilbur and everything else we might need into our car and off we went.

By car or by boat, he's a well travelled pitty.


A lot of people have asked us if we enjoyed our winter in Florida. Well, what with everything I mentioned above and the fact that the weather was actually nicer here in Pennsylvania this year, my answer is, "Not so much." But we're here in good old PA now, back to our jobs from last year, and enjoying our 'new to us' home.


And speaking of our new home, Lisa and Oliver and Wilbur We'll fill you in on the next blog post.

 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Failure to Launch

It sounds cute when it's a fun filled movie complete with quirky characters and popular actors, but for cruisers the term Failure to Launch isn't fun at all.


Today was the day we were supposed to put the Knotty Cat in the water and make our great escape.

It didn't happen.

I'm probably partially to blame for this as last night I bemoaned the fact that unlimited hot baths, comfortable king size beds, and being able to jump into a car at a moments notice was soon to be history. Be careful what you wish for.

Yesterday when we initially visited the Knotty Cat I was relieved to have overcast skies and cool temperatures since we would be working outside for most of the time. I have to admit though that even with these conditions we were still sweating at the end of the day (that damn Florida humidity just never goes away) and I hoped today would be just as cool.

At 9 AM this morning, just as I was drying my hair (when will I learn that any attempt at taming my hair in Florida is a direct invitation to trouble?), the marina called to inform us that all launches for the day were being cancelled due to the weather. We looked out the window and, Holy Crap! We could barely see the whipping palm trees through the slashing rain. And just to make things more interesting there was a tornado warning until 5 PM. You can imagine what Wilbur thought when Hans took him out for his morning constitutional. So then another decision had to be made. We'd used up the last of our credit card points for this hotel room which meant we'd have to come up with cash for tonight. Or we could try for a room at a hotel where we still had some credit. The hotel with the credit had just one room remaining and would only accept pets under 25 pounds. And while Wilbur has been on an odd kind of hunger strike lately, no way could we diet him down to that weight in one day.


This doesn't even do justice. Outside our hotel window. It just dumped rain.

My jeans were soaked nearly to my knees after trekking through Walmart's parking lot. It rained so hard a frog leaped into our car when Hans opened the door. We don't pick up hitchhikers so out he went!


So we ponied up the money for one more night here and then went on a provisioning run.

Provisioning. It kills me. I don't like shopping to begin with but starting from scratch yet once again...it drives me nuts! Salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, coffee, do I need sugar? flour? Not really so I'll skip those for now. Lunch meat, bread (Hans and I never agree about bread, but since I was the one shopping... he had to sit in the car with Wilbur), condiments? I bought mustard, laundry detergent (there went a chunk of change), back to the spice section for cumin and chili powder (no way can I make chile without those), TV dinners for tonight (yay for hotel room microwaves), and on and on. A couple of hundred dollars later I was done and I've barely scratched the surface, but it's a start.


We've been told to arrive at the boat yard as early as possible tomorrow as they will now have two days worth of boats going in the water. It's a long drive and arising before the crack of noon isn't my thing.

Why do I have a feeling there will be a long line ahead of us and it won't make a bit of difference when we get there.


Oh, one more thing. I've lost count of how many posts I've written about our (completely outdated yet thank god we have them or we'd be totally screwed) solar panels. If I've said it once, I've said it a bazillion times; we've nearly lost them too many times and we need to be more careful with them yada, yada, yada.

Did we learn any lessons? Apparently not, because after putting up all our canvas (dodger and bimini, and aren't they just wonderful 'wind catchers'? I'm glad we didn't remove our hurricane straps) before we departed the boat yard yesterday, we also decided to leave the solar panels out in order to 'juice up' the batteries. Sure!! Because one day of solar power is really gonna make a big difference after not being used for nearly seven months! Duh!


So once again I'm not looking forward to what we may find tomorrow.

 

Wilbur loves his new nest and would prefer to stay



Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Whole Dirty Story

 

After sitting for nearly seven months on the hard, our Knotty Cat welcomed us back today with filthy open arms.

Oh, my, where to start.

Well, she's just plain filthy.

Mildew. This seat was spotless when we left last summer.


I moved a line and this stain remained. Only one spot among many.


I feel like we left our teenager alone for the summer with hopes of her showing some personal responsibility and making us proud. Instead, it would appear our girl partied the summer away knowing full well we'd clean up her mess upon our return. We found dried up frog/toad carcasses scattered on the deck, wasp nests, too many cocoons containing God knows what, a half finished bird nest, tarnished stainless rails and lifelines, grimy dirt, and it was obvious that hygiene went straight out the window as everything that wasn't covered in bird poop was covered with a green haze.


Our dinghy outboard is mounted on a rail. You can just make out some branches from a bird nest in the middle.


You can see it a little bit closer.


Tarnished stainless rails.


But first, we needed to hoist Wilbur aboard. Remember, our boat is on the hard which means the deck is way up in the air and we can't just step aboard. We need to climb the skimpy swim ladder that drops down from the stern. This means that at 5 feet 0 inches I have to lift my leg up somewhere in the vicinity of my armpits in order to get a good foot hold (and yoga is not one of my strengths). And since Wilbur is shorter than me, we had to strap him into his life jacket and when he saw us drop the main sheet over the side in order to tie it around his middle he went ape-shit. Wilbur has the memory of an elephant and I'm pretty sure he recalled us doing this exact same thing to him years ago when the line got tangled and he ended up doing an unplanned mid-air somersault.


"As God is my witness, I will never be hoisted again!"


We finally got the little man aboard and then proceeded to assess the situation. I made Hans go below first as I felt if there was a nightmare to be discovered, he could handle it far better than me and I was thrilled beyond belief that nothing major seemed to be amiss.

We put our solar panels out and they immediately began charging our batteries.

After yanking the hell out of the generator cord it finally caught and also started charging the batteries.

Our inverter decided to work even though it was a big stinker at the end of our trip last year and only performed when it felt like it.

I was able to prime the water pump (we'll find out about the hot water tank tomorrow), our cabin lights work, the refrigerator hummed for the couple of minutes we turned it on, and we didn't find any major water damage from leaks.

I will admit that I was disappointed to find that the phifertex shield that wraps around what I call our 'windows' (official term is dead lights) failed. We had this wrap made for us a few years ago and it keeps the tropical sun out of the inside of the boat. The problem is that it's held in place with glued on snaps and not snaps that are drilled into the boat. I found some gorilla type Velcro on the boat and I'm going to see if I can fix it on the cheap. We really don't want to drill holes if not necessary.


Failed phifertex. I hope to fix this tomorrow.

But, I have to say, I believe my happiest moment occurred when I realized that even though our girl partied the summer away like it was 1999, we came home to a boat absent of crabs cockroaches.


I can live with that.

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to the Boat and Reality

 

Poor Wilbur. He has one tiny space in the back seat. He's a good traveler.

 

So six months after putting The Knotty Cat on the hard in Florida for what we thought was going to be a couple of months, we are now ready to get back on board.

Everyone keeps asking us if we're excited. Hans will tell you yes. Me, not so much.

I think this is probably because Hans handles problems in a much calmer manner than me. I already dread finding out what's gone bad or failed since we left her in June. For example: did any hatches leak during the insane rains of this summer (and if so, is there mold?), are the batteries okay, do all the systems still work, how about the water pump; the hot water tank? And my one big fear; cockroaches! We've never had them but you never know what might happen while you're gone. And if we do have a lot of issues, we really don't have the financial reserves that we had in the past. Hans quit his real job over a year ago and we managed to rip through most of our savings in about six months.

While we were in Pennsylvania this summer I worked as a waitress while Hans continued his insurance sales as a PA and Florida agent. And then in November when business got busy at the inn, he joined me and played the piano in the dining room on the weekends.

This year's Christmas tree.

 

Lunch with Santa this year. Five years ago I burned my elf outfit swearing I'd never do this again. Never say never!


I know a lot of cruisers take time out to earn money so they can continue to live this lifestyle but for us, these jobs just supported us while we were on land. Let me tell you, the Dollar Tree and Dollar General got quite a bit business from us this summer. Of the two of us, I'm the tightwad, and one day at the grocery store I told Hans we had exactly twenty dollars to spend on groceries for the week. We got lucky and chicken was on sale. That week we had: white chicken chile (McCormick's best seasoning packet ever), grilled chicken salad, grilled chicken with fresh green beans, and two days worth of crock-pot chicken noodle soup (I used a pack of frozen vegetables but forgot potatoes. It was still good).

The inn closed with a success on New Year's Eve and it was time to head south. We stopped in Pittsburgh for a couple of days to visit friends, spent two days with my son and his wife, and then three days with my daughter. Our last two days here in Florida at a pet friendly LaQuinta Hotel used up the remaining points on our credit card.


Don't get me wrong. We may not be rich but we're not destitute either. We'll just continue to find work where we can and in the meantime we'll still have a roof over our heads.


Where we go from here, I'm not sure. I have an idea where I'd like to go but until we get re-situated it's all up in the air.


Our hotel mattress tester. This one got 5 stars.