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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Shabbat guests & Mitch's project - Day 1723 (Year 5, Day 254)

Zephryhills, FL

Just a few things I forgot to mention during the last few posts...

This past week, Mitch was working on a semi-large project.  You may recall, going back quite a while, that we were having some problems with the refrigerator, in that it was running hot and we needed to keep defrosting almost every week.  One problem had been that the fan burned out, which was resolved and it was working fine... until this week.  We noticed there was a huge amount of ice on the fins in the back of the frig part, which we've never had before.  Upon researching it, it was concluded that too much air was getting in due to the seal (gasket) around the door being either broken or not tight enough.  Unfortunately, they don't sell replacement gaskets - you have to buy the entire door, at a cost of about $900.  So.... Mitch took all 4 doors apart, cleaned the gaskets, used epoxy to close up some of the cracks and put it all back (and also used a heat gun to try to shrink the rubber a little).  So far (fingers crossed), it seems to be working very well.  Frig is running at a normal temp, no ice buildup, and the doors do seem to be closing much tighter.  Yay, Mitch!

As for Shabbat guests, we've hosted 2 (actually 3) people in the last 3 weeks.  One time, it was a lovely woman and her husband (Carla and Carl) who I know from the group I run on Facebook ("Jews on Wheels") and who happened to be in the area.  (She joined me last month when the shul hosted a spa night).  Last Friday, as we were taking our daily walk, we ran into our neighbor, Ellie, who is a retired musician (although she still jams and does local gigs).  She lost her husband just about a year ago and was feeling extremely down and lonely.  On a whim, we invited her to join us for Shabbat dinner, even though she's not Jewish.  She was so extremely grateful and it certainly did cheer her up (she also enjoyed learning a little about our customs).

Weather: has been in the mid to upper 80s all week, but will be in the 70s this coming week.  Still better than being up north!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Met another client in person - Day 1721 (Year 5, Day 252)

Zephyrhills, FL

I have 2 clients who live somewhat in the area (one in Lithia, the other in Clearwater.  I met the one in Lithia a few weeks ago).  I was thrilled to meet the one in Clearwater, along with his partner who was in the area visiting.  Getting there was a nightmare: it was a 50 mile drive which took us about 2 hours (mostly because we had to drive thru Tampa, where there is always horrible traffic).  Our truck was also very thirsty (antifreeze level very low), so we were very anxious as the thermostat gauge was inching it's way to the hot setting while sitting in traffic.  Almost 85 degrees out, we had to run the heater.

The plan was to meet at the Clearwater Mall (Panera Bread Co) at 5:30.  We wanted to stop at a Whole Foods first (about 5 miles away) to stock up on our House Foods shiratake noodles.  We planned plenty of time to go there first.  As we got off the highway en route to Whole Foods, the thermostat hit the red mark, so we pulled in to the first parking lot (thankfully, didn't have the rig!).  Mitch checked the radiator fluid and sure enough, it was way too low.  He added a little antifreeze and the rest of the ride, including returning home, was just fine.  LESSON:  make sure to check fluids on a constant basis.

Despite the stop, we still had about 1/2 hour left over so decided to try to explore the beach, which was also about 5 miles away.  We're told that walking on the white sands of Clearwater is like walking on fine powder.  We drove in the direction of the beach and were hoping to get off before crossing a bridge to another island, but no such luck.  We crossed the bridge (observing the traffic jam on the return side) and realized that if we tried the beach and a place to park and then walk, we wouldn't have enough time to get to the restaurant on time.  So we crossed the bridge, made a U-turn, and headed back.

Do we want to attempt this trip again to experience the Clearwater beach?  I'd love to be there, but not sure it's worth the schlep.  Who knows .. if Mitch finds a job where he can work remotely, maybe we can find a reasonable campground in that area during off season.

One final note, which is mainly for my own memory purposes... for the past few days, Mitch was involved in taking the seals (gaskets) off the refrigerator and fixing them.  He couldn't buy new ones as you need to buy the entire door which is about $900.  The reason for fixing the seals is there that the fins in the back iced over, due to too much air getting in and not circulating properly.  I need to remind myself of this because if there's a problem in the future, I need to remember when it was that Mitch fixed the door!  Thank goodness for the search feature here, which I've needed to use on several occasions!  I don't trust anything to memory!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

MItch Sez: (The Journey Y5:D251)

Yes, it's me, the silent one.

Cheryl totally underplayed her birthday post yesterday.  She's really learning to code.
Even if it is in Wordpress.   It's still a lot of work.  

Imagine a set of nested Russian dolls.
  • The largest doll contains 6-7 other dolls.
  •  In this case, the large doll is a 'theme' for Wordpress.
    • The next smaller doll is another theme that does another function.
      • The next smaller doll is another theme that does another function.
 It keeps doing this, and getting more and more convoluted, but much more detailed.  Each theme/function has it's own administration and rules.

Very, Very  proud of her.  I'm occasionally giving her a couple of hints, but she's doing most of it on her own!

Oh, and I still like my date formatting.  I think it's more meaningful then "Day 1720".

Your thoughts?  Oh yeah, you thought I  was dead.
Nope, just up at 2 in the morning!

Cheers to all:
Mitch B

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birthday - Day 1719 (Year 5, Day 250)

Zephryhills, FL

Wow, I can't believe it's been 22 days since my last post!  Really, really nothing happening that's worth posting. 

Mitch still continues to look for employment (he has a few leads and has planted a lot of seeds;  now just need to hope some of them take root.  I think one of the greatest challenges he faces is that the number of years of experience he has is often greater than the number of years many of the recruiters have been alive!  No one wants to hire an "old" man.  Many places want someone fresh out of college).

My work continues to be feast or famine.  This past week has been extremely slow, which is a good thing because I'm starting another new business (in addition to A-Z Admin Solutions).  I actually mentioned this in my last post (Feb. 17th) and now I am working full speed ahead on getting the website designed.  Below are some photos of the items I've purchased (if you think you might be interested in learning more once this is up & running, please leave me a comment with your email address (I won't publish it) so I can add you to the mailing list.


As for my birthday, which was this past Monday, absolutely nothing special.  I did receive numerous birthday wishes, and the way I celebrated was by going off my diet and ordering Chinese takeout so I didn't need to cook (still on an extremely tight budget, so going out for a nice meal or recreation couldn't be justified). 

I keep this blog mostly for my own memories, but also to keep friends & family apprised of my whereabouts and wanderings.  I looked back to see how I've spent previously birthdays on the road:

2015: Arcadia, FL (at the fairgrounds, waiting for our king pin to be replaced) -- I had 2 sets of friends who were staying about 20 miles away, who came by and took us out for a nice dinner.

2016:  Asheville, NC - 3 couples who worked with Mitch made me a party in the social hall of their campground.

2017: Livingston, TX - the area was very isolated with nowhere to eat.  It was also the year I started my low carb diet.  Mitch pampered me by making all the meals of the day and doing the cleanup afterwards.

2018: Williamsburg, VA - this was a milestone year (#60).  We were having lots of truck troubles at the time and didn't have friends or family in the area to celebrate with.  Landed up staying home watching a movie and going off the diet (for takeout pasta).

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Delayed post - Day 1697 (Year 5, Day 228)

Zephyrhills, FL

This is a delayed post, as I had a wonderful Sunday, one week ago (Feb. 10th).  Work has kept me very busy this past week, and I spent most of today preparing my taxes (once again owing thousands of $), but I am forcing myself to write about it before I totally forget!

The day started out with me and Mitch meeting one of my clients (Ned) who lives in Lithia, about 30 miles south of us.  He's been with me since 2015 and it was wonderful putting the face to the voice (Mitch also did a little IT work for him as well).  We actually met at a Cheesecake Factory in Brandon, about another 10 miles south, as the place he originally suggested in Lithia probably wouldn't have had space to park our monster truck.  Food and conversation was excellent.

One note:  I finally felt like I was in Florida, as there were actual palm trees in the parking lot!!! Up here, 30 miles away, there are only live oaks with Spanish moss.  It was also a t-shirt and flip flop day (mid-February!!).  I can't keep track of what month I'm in.

Afterwards, and the best part of the day, there was a picnic outing at the Lithia Springs State Park for members of the RV-Dreams forum (everyone brought something yummy to eat).  Many of us have met previously at various RV-Dreams rallies, and others have met in the forums and the chat room.  It was really wonderful meeting up with old friends and making new ones (whom I knew from online but never met in person).


Cheryl & Cheryl
One exciting outcome from the picnic is that my friend, Dee, was there.  She makes the most adorable crocheted miniatures (mostly cute critters but other stuff as well).  For a long time, I've wanted to figure out how I could sell her stuff.  We had a chance to talk about it, and she agreed to let me be a reseller.  So I am now in the process of getting this new venture off the ground.  Watch for updates!!!

On the job front, Mitch still plugging away at finding work.  He has a few leads to follow up on, but nothing solid yet.  At least he is sticking to a good weekday routine: davening (prayers), job hunting, and puttering (fixing or organizing something), as well as both of us going out at least twice a day for a walk around the campground.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Birds - Day 1684 (Year 5, Day 215)

Zephyrhills, FL

Not much exciting happening except to announce how much wildlife, especially in the form of birds there are here.  About 2 weeks ago I saw a small, stork/heron-like bird in the garden next door, which I later identified as a limpkin (sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture).

Today, a family of 9 ibises slowly marched across the road from me and I was able to get a photo:

In the morning, in addition to the very loud rooster (the imitation sound of "cockadoodle-doo" is extremely accurate!!!), I hear about 5 or 6 different bird calls.  I know one is a chicadee, but I'm still trying to figure out the rest.  And perhaps next time I'm sitting outside, I'll take the binoculars.  I know we also have crows, hawks and owls.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

This week's events - Day 1676 (Year 5, Day 207)

Zephyrhills, FL

On Thursday (Jan. 24th), we took a ride into Tampa.  Jessica was on a business trip there, so we decided to meet up with her for dinner.  It was a 35 mile trip which took us an hour to get there!  It was mostly on 2 lane roads with a lot of traffic and congestion.

I was not at all impressed (in fact, disliked) the area we were in (known as the Westshore).  Tampa is rather large, so I won't pass judgement on the entire city, but this reminded me very much of any cramped urban area, such as parts of Queens or Brooklyn, with no consistency of storefronts, very little parking, lots of traffic, crazy drivers.  Just not a pleasant place to visit.

We did have one little bit of excitement, however.  Prior to meeting our daughter, we needed to make a side trip to a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to stock up on some items that are very hard to get, and these were the closest locations to us.  In the parking lot of where the Whole Foods was (part of a mall or huge shopping center), is a Total Wine store.  It seems that Budweiser is having a nationwide promotion and is taking their Clydesdales around the country (recently, we received a video from my sister-in-law who lives in NYC, showing the horses in her neighborhood.  We also saw a news clip showing the horses in a local parade, and I heard from a friend that they were out West a few weeks ago).  The last time we saw them was at their stables in St. Louis, in 2010.  This was kind of fun, seeing them all hooked up, with the golf cart following behind picking up the poop.

I took a video while we were waiting for the traffic light to turn, so we could get a better look, but sadly, it did not turn out well at all.  But I do have a few photos.  Unfortunately, these photos were taken when the horses were being taken off the carriage and brought back to the trucks, so you can't get the full extent of the glamour and glory of these magnificent animals.  For example, the photo below shows only 2 horses hooked up to the carriage, but there were actually 3 rows (6 horses) before they were dismantled.


Today (Sunday), one of the residents (Carol) arranged a pot luck get together in the greenhouse 2 "doors" down from us (actually looks more like a big tent, and there are picnic benches, not plants, inside).  Although it was a miserable, all-day rainy day, the party still went on, as we were assured the tent did not leak and it had doors that closed.  There were many wonderful food choices, although I could not eat any of them (I brought some hard boiled eggs and grape tomatoes).  We made a vegetarian chili. 

Group photo (although a few people were missing).  Of course, this event reinforced how this place is not like a standard campground filled with overnighters, weekenders, vacationers and a few long termers, but rather is a close knit community.