We went to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) yesterday. We arrived around ten-thirty and left the KSC just after four. The tickets are really expensive – $50 for adults. We opted to do an additional launch pad tour via bus for another $25. The launch pad tour guide fancied himself a comedian; I didn’t fancy him at all. He joked that it was a five-and-one-half hour tour: I immediately felt like a hostage. The best part of the tour was the alligators and dolphin we saw from the bus. The second best part of the tour was when it ended. The bus dumped us at a satellite building where we watched two films about the history of space exploration, and from there we emerged into a giant room to see a real Saturn 5. That, was cool.
The food at the KSC is fucking awful. I had fish tacos that made my Aunt Elizabeth’s Thanksgiving turkey seem moist: the tortilla must have been sitting out on the counter for days, the fish must have died of dehydration, and the special sauce must have been so special that only an eye dropper’s amount could be spared. I should have bought the over-priced freeze-dried ice cream in the gift store instead.
We toured the Atlantis space shuttle exhibit, and Kim and I did the "space shuttle" ride. We didn't get a chance to see the Mars exhibit or walk through the Hall of Fame. If we weren't staying over an hour away, we might have gone back today because our admission tickets are good for six days. I would go back to see those exhibits someday; and, I'd pack a lunch.
Today, Kate drove over an hour each way today to see a client, Kim walked five miles to go grocery shopping, and I worked out and spent the majority of my day collecting names and addresses for my postcard mailing. When Kate returned, we walked the half mile from our site to the beach to let the dogs run on the beach and in the surf. They were happy to have the freedom to play: they got wet, sandy, and drank lots of ocean water. Last night, Kate cut up our broccoli and I had her give them the ends; tonight, she gave them the ends of the asparagus. They love her.
Kate and I got an early start from Jekyll Island to Melbourne Beach We detoured through Kingsland, Georgia, so I could make a deposit at a Bank of America ATM. It is a grim town – a far cry from Jekyll Island. It's amazing what you see when you get off the interstate highways.
Our new RV park isn't like any place I have ever seen. My software says it has 75 sites, but it likely has 500, of which only 75 are available for rent. It's a condominium RV park, and most of the sites are occupied by park models which are cousins to mobile homes. Kate and I were walking the dogs when a couple passed us on bikes. They stopped shortly after passing us, and they invited in to see their 40 foot trailer with an enclosed porch and a patio in the back. I have no idea what it costs to buy the sites, or what the HOA fees are, but I bet it's a comparatively inexpensive easy to have a second “tiny” home.
This morning, Kim mentioned that perhaps the neighbors would reoccupy their home this weekend, so I should move BOB after the concrete guys were finished pouring the new garage pad. I packed up everything, and Kate guided me into the driveway. Within one half-hour of my relocation, a man arrived to prep the house for the renters who were arriving imminently. That, was close!
Shortly after I moved, there was a knock on BOB’s cabin door. A couple who is renting the house on the corner wanted to know about BOB because they are in the market for an RV. I gave the wife a tour, then she and her husband walked down the street to look at the new RV other neighbors had just purchased.
My one hundred foot relocation had inadvertently consumed my day, so I was grateful that I had already seen St. Simon’s Island.
Kim, Kate, and I had lunch on St. Simons Island two days ago. They asked me how the job process is going, so I shared my concerns. In an off-handed manner, I suggested that I should mail postcards to the C-suite of the companies for which I'd like to work. Simultaneously, each said it was a great idea. They make money as marketers: I showed them the photo I would use for the card, and they loved it. I said I would put my "resume" on the back side. If I had had my own car, I would have skipped lunch and gone back to BOB to start working on it.
Their enthusiasm for my idea swung me from my emotional nadir to my apex. Yesterday, I worked up the copy for the back side; and, last night, Kim and Kate helped me repackage my copy to make it more effective. It was fun, and interesting, and educational. I tweaked the copy on the back side this afternoon and uploaded to an online printing service. I'll have the cards in a week. I'm so excited!
I left the RV park this morning, and I drove two miles to Kim & Kate's friend's neighbor's driveway. Their friend is having a garage built, so we are parking next door. I hope the neighbors don't show up before we leave on Saturday morning! The dust bowl in the RV park created three of the six loads of laundry I did today because I had to bathe the dogs and wash everything they touched. Six loads of laundry in one washer and one dryer while bathing the dogs was a logistical challenge, given one hot water heater and strategizing what needed to be washed before what. It took all day.
We have tomorrow here in Jekyll Island, then we are driving to Melbourne Beach, Florida on Saturday. Kate is going to ride with me because it's a seven hour drive and she can't sit for that long. If she rides with me, she can pace inside BOB. She is also excited about making scrambled eggs while driving. She is even more excited about listening to the soundtrack of "Hamilton." I'll try not to ruin it by singing along.
We are going to spend three nights in Melbourne Beach so we can spend a day at Cape Canaveral. Then we will go to the Ft. Lauderdale area so Kate can catch a flight to Dallas on Wednesday. Kim and I will “hover” until her return on the 9th, when we will go to Naples. I plan to spend a week in Naples then head up the coast. I want to find a place where I can walk on the beach, cycle to the grocery store, and not need air conditioning or heat. Is that Naples, Ft. Myers, or farther north? I don't know. All I know is that I need holiday reservations now.
One hundred and nineteen Cyber Monday emails yesterday.
The RV park on Jekyll Island is a dust bowl. Apparently, it hasn't rained here for two months. Even if it had, it wouldn't matter: the park is dirt, sand, sawdust, and pine needles, so water couldn't bind them for very long. The dogs have brown legs from the dirt, and they are systematically distributing it all over BOB. I am despondent. The tree cover is terrific. Spanish moss hangs from the deciduous trees and loblolly pines. Squirrels run amok, and the dogs have been trilling since we arrived; they have been camped out by the screen door watching "Squirrel TV." The seasonals have decorated their sites for Christmas which gives the place the air of a mobile home park.
Kim and Kate arrived at their friend's home on Jekyll Island on Sunday afternoon. They are only 2.6 miles from me, so that is convenient. The four of us went to a pub for dinner Sunday night. I had a cheeseburger and fries, so my diet on Sunday consisted almost entirely of meat and cheese – not my ideal. Yesterday afternoon, we took the trolley tour of the historic Jekyll Island Club which dates back to 1886. There were 53 original members, among whom were Marshall Field, Henry Hyde, J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, and William K. Vanderbilt. Only 11 private homes remain, one of which was a farmhouse that pre-dated the club, and it was relocated during its development. We toured the farmhouse and, Mistletoe, a Dutch colonial built by the Porters. The other homes have been re-purposed by the hotel, and they comprise the modern Jekyll Island Club.
I spent yesterday morning looking for work. Last week, I wrote letters to five companies, and yesterday I wrote four more. I searched The Muse, Velvet Jobs, LinkedIn, Ziprecruiter, and Business of Fashion, and I applied online for a few positions. I do this every week, multiple times per week. I anticipated that I would reach point where the job search process would become demoralizing, and I had twangs of that yesterday. I'll be 52 next month, and I've had a non-traditional career path because I left Corporate America and did what I always wanted to do: run a small company. That makes me an odd-duck, a square peg, a unicorn of sorts. Sigh.
The new guy on my left was gone all day yesterday. He returned to the park while I was flushing my black tank. When I stowed my hose, he was sitting at his picnic table with a cocktail in his hands. He remembered my name (which shocked me), and we started talking. I paused our conversation to get a glass of wine. We chatted about a variety of things – what he did and where, what I used to do and where, where he is going and why, where I am going and why – then we broke for dinner alone. We reconvened after dinner and had some more wine. He's a nice man who is having a geographically-inspired existential crisis.
The banker, the Canadian, the Lurcher's parents, and my new neighbor are the only people with whom I've conversed since I arrived in Charleston a week ago, and all of those conversations happened in my last two days. After five days of waves, hellos, and grunts, I finally had real human interaction.
I rolled out of camp this morning just before eleven, having topped off my propane tank. Google Maps said it would take me three hours to drive 185 miles south to Jekyll Island, Georgia. It took me an extra 45 minutes due to an accident on I-95 which happened in the northbound lanes before noon. As I drove by the scene, there was a car in the northbound lanes facing the wrong direction, and it was missing its trunk and rear seat. It's hard to believe that the occupants could have survived. The northbound traffic was backed up for five miles, and those vehicles would have been there for as much as two hours.
I didn't win Powerball – someone in Tennessee won the $403 million jackpot. I spent $10 and made $4 which is a pretty good negative ROI for Powerball. I'll have to keep looking for work as an alternative strategy.
There are micro-ants crawling around inside BOB, so I walked to Publix this morning to buy Powerball tickets and ant killer. I hope the odds of the ant killer working are better than the odds of winning Powerball: (69!/(64!x5!))x26 which equals 1:292,201,338.
The Greyhound isn't a Greyhound, it's a Lurcher. I just met Finn and his parents who told me that Finn is half Greyhound, one-quarter Scottish Deerhound and one-quarter Irish Wolfhound. His parents sold their 40 acre farm in Colorado and they are now full-timing in their Class A. Like me, they had never RVed before purchasing their motorhome.
The Canadian, the man, and the man's buddy all left this morning. What will I do for entertainment?
Black Friday Matters – but, only if there is a trend in denim or consumer electronics; otherwise, it doesn't. As of five-fifteen this evening, I have received 77 Black Friday emails, none of which I've opened, and all of which I've trashed.
I have worked out three days this week. I haven't worked out since March. Monday, the first day, was tough. I alternated jumping rope and lifting weights for 10 sets. I started with 50 jumps, and I worked up to 70 today. I do 20 reps each of biceps, triceps, chest-flys, shoulder presses, and rows, repeating each to make 10 sets. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off to go to Charleston, but I walked a fair amount around the city each day.
I pealed the Lexel off the hot water joint and replaced it with marine putty. It took me over an hour to get most of the Lexel off because I could neither see what I was doing nor use tools. Likewise, I had to apply the putty by feel. It needed 15 minutes set, but I gave it over an hour. If this doesn't work, I will give up. Really. I mean it. Maybe.
Today, I walked two miles to do four loads of laundry. I did four loads of laundry because: 1) Jasper barfed on two blankets; 2) I bathed him and his sister; and, 3) I couldn't deal with looking at the dirty clothes in my hamper. I did four loads of laundry today in spite of the distance and the heat because I'm a fucking whack-job-OCD-cleaner. After I bathed the dogs, I sprayed the shower with bleach because it was starting to smell like Florida. After I did the laundry, I vacuumed and mopped the floor. And to think that “normal” people are out shopping!
I saw a man unfold his Greyhound from the back of his Honda Fit. I think he needs a bigger car.
The multi-generational family next to me, which had whittled itself down to the mother and father, left today. The other day the man grumbled a greeting to me after I said, "Good Morning," to him. The wife and I never "encountered" each other. The chain-smoker married to the man with the buddy still hasn’t acknowledged me. Is it so hard to say hello to strangers?
A 1967 VW Camper Bus is parked two sites to my left. I was hanging some pants on my drying rack behind BOB (because it's sunniest there), when I saw the driver and asked if I could see his rig. The exterior is pristine, and the two-tone paint job must have cost him a fortune. The interior has beautiful woodwork, but it and the man both need to be cleaned badly. He's from Canada, and he has been full-timing for over a year with his elderly, extremely hairy, overweight Australian shepherd. The VW has been getting a lot of attention from passersby, and it deserves it.
I had a nice chat with a retired banker who was doing his and his wife’s laundry. There are only four washers and two dryers for 298 sites, so I was washing while he was drying. He folded each item as he removed it from the dryer, including his underwear and hers. Hers were bigger. I make sure that no one sees my lingerie. I wash it in lingerie bags and take my bras back to BOB where I hang them in the Florida-smelling shower. My underwear gets dried in the lingerie bag. We all know that many men are titillated by lingerie, and I don't want to incur any fans. Likewise, I would rather not know whether a guy wears boxers or briefs. What was Bill Clinton's answer? Oh, I really don't want to know!
I'm surprised by the number of RVs that came into the park today. I have a new neighbor to my left who I heard tell a couple that "we left northern Michigan yesterday." I saw him drive in with his German short-haired pointer, but I didn't see a woman with them. When he used the plural, I assumed that a woman would appear imminently. There are so few of us solo travelers that I always assume every driver has a human passenger. Now, I realize that his plural subject referred to his dog and him. Oddly enough, we have three solo RVers in a row – the Canadian, him, and me.
I sent Jean a text to let her know that I had the windows open and the AC running. She called me immediately upon receiving it. I assumed that she was calling to call me a bitch, but she was calling to tell me the travails of her day. The cold, grey weather in Upstate New York was the least of her problems. Jean spent the day with her mother who has dementia, and for whom simple things like eating are arduous for both of them.
The man leaf-blew his site, emptied the fire pit, set it ablaze, cleaned the turkey roaster, packed up the two table-top gas grills, and set up a crockpot. The TV is still out, and football is on the screen. He, is my television.
Florence Henderson died yesterday of heart failure. Her appearance on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" in 2014 was hysterical. Her 2012 autobiography revealed she was much racier than “Mrs. Brady.” Funny stuff.
Seventy-nine Black Friday emails.
Eight-two Black Friday emails.
I’ve been re-watching "The Gilmore Girls" season four. Since a TV mini-series set nearly a decade later is being released, I wanted to return to Yale with Rory and Lorelei. Alexis Bledel is so beautiful that she could just drum her lips and I would watch her. How do girls like her happen? Lauren Graham is stunning as well, but the repartee between her and Bledel is what made the show fantastic. Who has a mother like that? No one. Who wants a mother like that? Everyone.
Eighty-eight Black Friday emails. I opened none of them.
Two nights ago a man knocked on BOB's cabin door. The dogs became riotous. The man and his family are parked two sites to my right. The man asked if I would move my rental car to the front of BOB because his buddy would be arriving around midnight in a fifth wheel, and getting it into the space next to me would be tight. "Sure," I said. The man then thanked me profusely for his small request.
In the morning, there was no fifth wheel between us. I saw the man, and I asked him if his buddy is OK. He said, "Yeah, he's across from me. This site between us is only 30 amps and he needs 50." The man’s wife smokes like she's on fire. The man’s teenage daughter sits by the fire pit they brought, and fiddles with her smartphone. The man has two table-top grills, and this morning he unpacked a new, huge electric roasting pan. The turkey has been cooking in it for six hours. The man and his buddy have been have been watching the NFL since noon. The daughter and I exchanged greetings two nights ago when I parked the rental car behind BOB. The wife can't talk because she's always inhaling carcinogens.
I speculated that the park's transients would be the relatives and other Thanksgiving guests of people who live nearby. However, the man and his buddy are here to have Thanksgiving here with each other. I don't know where either family lives, or what it means for them to convene here, but I like the idea of it: "Hey, let's meet near Charleston for Thanksgiving. We can drink, cook, drink, watch football, drink, and never leave the park (until we’re finished drinking and it’s time to go home)."
This is only the second of the 38 RV parks in which I’ve stayed that has enough trees for me to rig my ENOS hammock. Unfortunately, the trees on my site are too far apart, but there is space across from me which had trees that are closer together.
I spent an hour in the hammock reading Alexander Hamilton. I am amazed by how readable Hamilton's 18th Century language is. I read Dracula before going to Romania in 2012, and I found Stoker’s 19th Century style of writing to be challenging vis-à-vis sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary. Hamilton's direct, efficient, effusive letters are not only familiar to me in element and style nearly 250 years later, they could also serve as a terrific prep for the SATs. Maybe I'll retake them.
It was 75 degrees here today. I still have the windows open. I'm roasting and acorn squash which I'll eat with cauliflower, peas, and a pork tenderloin stuffed with prunes, and cooked in a Madeira, molasses, butter, garlic and thyme sauce. I do not really enjoy the traditional roast turkey dinner: it's too much preparation and too many dishes which produce too much food for too few people. Besides, turkey sucks.
My great aunt Elizabeth (Aunt Bic) holds the record for the most desiccated Thanksgiving turkey I have ever eaten: put some bones in a six-pack of Charmin at 350 degrees, and you will replicate her result. The family joked that she put it in the oven on Tuesday – 48 hours before she served it.
Aunt Bic was one of those women who always had dinner in the oven while she was serving you lunch. Her husband, Uncle Charles, liked to eat as soon as he arrived home from work, and I guess he liked his food well-done. I have no recollection of what Aunt Bic made for lunch, but it didn't matter: she was charming, smoked between courses, always had her "shows" on the television, and she would wink at me when my grandmother wasn’t looking. Once, when I was sixteen, she, my grandmother and I went out to lunch in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. The waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, so I ordered a beer. My grandmother hissed like a steam engine, and Aunt Bic told her to "relax" and let me have a beer. Gram never relaxed whereas Aunt Bic was chill: neither, however, was destined to win the James Beard Award.
There is nothing like dumping and flushing the black tank while having coffee in the morning. When I finished, I did the dishes, and drove to the park’s office to pay for the next four nights at my new site. The woman in the office told me I didn't have to move. Really? I was on the waiting list for a cancellation which would have allowed me to stay put, but no one had called me. Then I looked on the counter and saw that my name had been scratched off the waiting list. I checked my phone to see if I had missed the call, but there was nothing.
I was glad I hadn't completely decamped before I went to the office. The woman then told me I was paid through tonight and that I owed for three more nights. Really? When I checked in, I had two reservations: one for three nights with a full hook-up, and one for four nights with water and electric only. I paid for the first reservation and was told to pay for the second reservation today. I expressed my confusion over the balance, but I didn't belabor the argument. I checked my first receipt against the second one and the amounts for the stays were the same, save the credit on the first for the deposit. I don't like to cheat people, but these people are running such a messy operation that I didn’t have the energy to straighten them out.
I drove by my parents' old house in the Ansonborough section of Charleston, then I toured around South Battery before parking and going to lunch at Magnolia's. I sat at the bar, and the bartender asked, "How are you?" I replied, "I am well, thank you. How are you?" He said, "I am well, also." Good man. I HATE "I'm doing good." Really? What good are you doing? Volunteering at an animal shelter? I HATE "No problem," as a response to a request within the purview of someone's job. Gee, I'm glad it's not a problem for you to get me a glass of wine on your wines-by-the-glass list when you ask me what I'd like to drink. I HATE "Have a good one." One what? What the fuck does that mean? Does it mean "day?" Gee, “day” and “one” are both three letter, one syllable words, so what is the point in the substitution? And, is saying “night” and “morning” such is a burden? When Jean and I were in Utah we would occasionally chat with other trekkers. I would always say, "Enjoy your day," as a closure to our conversations with them. It takes so little effort to speak English correctly and to be thoughtfully polite. Its absence is like letting a door go in someone's face.
The crab bisque was the best soup I've ever had. I hadn't finished my glass of sauvignon blanc when I needed to leave to feed the meter, so I gave the bartender my credit card and said I'd be back in a few minutes. He said he wouldn't let anyone drink my wine. Good man.
I had washed the outside of the rental car's windows before I left this morning, only to realize that the real filth was on the inside of the windows. The front windshield had been sprayed with cleaner, but it was never wiped. (The worker probably got a personal text which interrupted his task.) I mentioned the condition of the car to the “shoe” agent who also drove me back to the RV park. He thanked me for the comments, saying that most people are afraid to give feedback. Move to New York or Boston: you'll get feedback before, during and after the rental (or, even without the rental). I told him that every car I've rented this year has been dirty.
There has been a travel trailer to my left since I arrived. Initially, there were two small cars parked at either end of it (neither of which could pull the trailer), and three women of generationally different ages have come and gone from it. One of the cars went away, and I haven't seen "grandma" since it departed. This morning, a man arrived in a pick-up truck. He and the "daughter" left before I did, and now he and the "mom" just returned. The two mutts seem to be indifferent to everything, including my dogs barking at them through the dinette window.
Speaking of dogs, I have cable TV here. I haven't had cable for a long time, so I’ve been watching FX and other movie channels. Last night, a couple of ASPCA commercials aired while I was watching an unremarkable movie. I HATE those commercials because I cannot bear the thought of animals or children being mistreated. I bawled during both of them, and I became a monthly supporter after the second. I could never go to a shelter, work as a veterinarian, or otherwise expose myself to animals which may have been mistreated. I admire the people who take in and care for those animals, but the best I can do is give money. I'll turn off the TV the next time I see one of those ads.
The news remains obsessed with how the Trump administration is shaping itself. The breadth of people Trump has summoned to interview for various cabinet positions is hearteningly reminiscent of Team of Rivals. That Trump is also backing down from some of his more extreme campaign proclamations is heartening. That Trump told people to "Stop it," regarding racist behavior is heartening. When I was reading Alexander Hamilton at Magnolia’s, I read Chernow’s quote of Hamilton regarding his reaction to the lawless behavior of mobs early in the Revolution:
"In times of such commotion as the present, while the passions of men are worked up to an uncommon pitch, there is great danger of fatal extremes. The same state of the passions which fits the multitude, who have not a sufficient stock of reason and knowledge to guide them, for opposition to tyranny and oppression, very naturally leads them to a contempt and disregard of all authority. The due medium is hardly to be found among the more intelligent. It is almost impossible among the unthinking populace. When the minds of these are loosened from their attachment to ancient establishments and courses, they seem to grow giddy and are apt more or less to run into anarchy."
Hamilton's words are a cautionary tale for today, not just for the racist foment Trump stirred (and now may not be able to control), but also for the Clinton protesters who engaged in everything other than civil disobedience.
My “Trillby” loafers arrived this afternoon. They fit: that is no surprise. They have a little faux metal emblem on the heel which is distasteful, but I can ignore it. My problem with the shoes is that the left shoe has a scar on the top and the right shoe has been worn on carpeting. How do I know, you ask? The leather around the toe of the right shoe has degraded, but there is no wear-and-tear on the rubber sole. This is either a mixed pair of “damaged” shoes, or someone with only one foot wore the right shoe around her house. No humans work for Amazon, so one cannot call and discuss such problems. If these shoes were current, I'd return them and buy another pair, but Amazon says there are only three pair left in stock (and I fear getting either the right scratched or the left carpet-worn shoe in exchange). I will keep the better left and right of the two pairs, and return the damaged pair.
A guy from Enterprise picked me up at nine this morning. The young agent at the Enterprise counter said he liked my shoes. Sigh. They are eight-or-more-year-old Cole Haan “Country” cordovan-colored driving moccasins which are no longer in production. I showed him the holes in the toes, and he liked them more. (These are my people here: they appreciate simple, classic, unbranded, well-constructed apparel and accessory items. My uniform works here!) Last year, I had to throw out my black “Country” shoes, and I hate the Cole Haan “Grant” substitutes I purchased. I have resisted replacing this pair because I can't find the color.
I was en route to downtown Charleston by nine-thirty. En route, that is, in yet another dirty rental car without washer fluid. The front and rear windows were filmy, and there were crumbs in the gear shift box. The gas tank was five-sixteenths full –another odd hallmark of the off-airport, predominantly insurance-based Enterprise rentals. I guess for $42.99/day I shouldn't expect a clean vehicle with fluids and a full tank.
I scored “rock star” parking on State Street between Chambers and Broad. The meter was jammed, and a passerby assured me that I wouldn't get a ticket. I fiddled with the meter for a few minutes because it would have been more satisfying to me to un-jam it than to get free parking, but I didn't have my Swiss army knife with me and I'm no McGiver. I walked the city for an hour-and-a-half rediscovering sites I saw and restaurants in which I ate when I was here in August and October of 2008. I was struck by the number of places undergoing gut renovations and tortured myself by trying to pick a house to buy (other than the Calhoun Mansion) if money were no object. If or when money becomes no object, I'll really torture a realtor to help figure that out.
I went into the Ben Silver store having only ever seen the catalogue. It is a nonpareil men's haberdashery. I picked out my new François Pinton eyeglass frames (which I might buy when need a new prescription) and a pair of RM Williams boots (which I will buy when I get a job). If I had purchased both of them today they would have set me back a grand. I thought that imprudent, so I went to lunch (which was somewhat less than a grand).
I had made an early reservation for lunch because I had a two o'clock appointment with a dentist on the RV park's side of the Ashley River. I ate at the bar, and I was finished by twelve-thirty. Since I had the time, I went in search of my parents' house from 1963. I have pretty good visual memory, so I remembered the neighborhood and the look of the place, but I didn't know the street address. I was running out of time, so I called home and my mother could only remember the name of the street on which we lived in Key West. My father called me back a few minutes later (which was too late), and gave me the address. I'll find it tomorrow.
I went to Goodwill en route to the dentist to donate the three pairs of jeans. I still arrived earlier than I needed at the dentist's office, so I read People magazine articles about “famous” strangers while I waited.
The dental hygienist said my teeth were the easiest she'd had to clean that day. Perhaps I should have left the arugula and pecans in them from lunch just to make her work for her money. I reluctantly subjected myself to a round of annual bite-wing x-rays which I find more unpleasant than having a filling replaced. Having my teeth cleaned is like a massage for my mouth. The dentist gave me the most thorough consultation I have ever had, and I told him so. He knew I was just passing through town, so he wasn’t be thorough just to secure my future business.
The hygienist said the nail salon around the corner was "OK," so I went there for a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax. The pedi I had in Polson, MT, is still the worst I've ever had, followed by the pedi I had at my mother's salon, followed by this one. The salons I frequented in Huntington Beach, CA, where I started partaking in these girly maintenance programs in the early Oughts, were inexpensive and thorough. They set the bar, but, my salon in Rhode Island remains the best I've experienced.
When I took off my shoes for my pedicure I realized two things: one, my toes had sock jam; and, two my socks were filthy because my shoes have holes. I did yet another exhaustive internet search for the “Country” mocs to no avail, so I bought a pair of Cole Haan “Trillby” driving moccasins (which are also discontinued). They are "brown." They'll be here tomorrow.
It was 36 degrees last night, so I let the dogs sleep taco-style with me again. Tonight will be the same, then it will get warmer. Tomorrow, I have to move to a site without a sewer hook-up , so I'll have to dump and flush the tank in the morning before I move. Then, I'll go back to Charleston, rent a bike, have lunch, and return to BOB.
I had an incredibly productive day after a night of agita. Had I locked the cockpit doors? Where could I go over the holiday if I didn't want to stay here? Where is my Uniqlo package, and can I change the delivery address if it hasn't shipped yet? I have to cancel my term life insurance in the morning. What if Uber fails me or is super-expensive? Is there an Enterprise-Rent-a-Car nearby? Do Kim and Kate want to come for Thanksgiving? I have to change my parents' hotel reservations in Baltimore for next month. Why did my health insurance company bill me for part of my lab work?
I knew it was going to be in the mid-thirties last night, so I put a polar fleece blanket on my bed and put the dogs on top of it on my right side. I folded the blanket over them, making them a taco (or omelet), and they didn't move all night.
When I woke with agita at four-something, I played Sudoku and went back to sleep. I didn't get out of bed until eight. It was 47 degrees inside BOB. The dogs didn't move when I exited.
The cockpit doors weren't locked because I had intended to vacuum it. I found another RV park south of here, but it couldn't accommodate me. Uniqlo said my package was delivered Friday. I cancelled my term life insurance, and lowered the bill on my car insurance. There is an Enterprise 3.6 miles from here, it does pick-up/drop-off, and there is a car for me. Kim and Kate have plans for Thanksgiving. I changed my parents' hotel reservations to make them pay for their room at $107/night to save my points for when the rate goes back to $300/night. There was a co-insurance on my lab work.
I have the car for only 36 hours, since the satellite Enterprise location is closed from Thursday through Sunday – the day I plan to drive to Jekyll Island. I made lunch reservations at restaurants in Charleston for tomorrow and Wednesday. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow at two. I know where I can park in Charleston, I know where I can rent a bike, and I found a tour in which I'm interested. I found a Goodwill location to dump the three pairs of jeans I replaced yesterday. I jumped rope and lifted weights this morning: ten sets of 50 jumps combined with 20 sets of 10-pound arm, back, shoulder lifts. I walked three miles to do two loads of laundry. I spoke with strangers. I wrote letters to two more companies which won't acknowledge their receipts. And, I wonder why I wake in the middle of the night with agita.
Kim and Kate have a SNAFU: their Miami Beach rental has fallen through, and they want to know what I’ doing for the first two weeks in December. Uh, well, I planned to go to Austin, but I have no reservations. Here I am in Charleston, which I love, but I can't really access the city without Uber or a rental car. The same will be true in Austin. I anticipated both. Yesterday, when I arrived here, part of me wished I'd stayed on Emerald Isle: while the cycling wasn't exciting, I could cycle for both pleasure and groceries without risking my life. I can't do that here and I probably won't be able to in Austin either. I should find a beach community with a grocery store and camp there. I never would have thought that I might voluntarily spend time in "God's Waiting Room," but Florida may be my winter residence.
I got up at six and left Emerald Isle around seven-thirty. For the second departure in a row, Addison, my fearless-uber-alpha-girl-dog, shivered on top of the ottoman as we rolled down the road. She's wasn't cold, so she must have been scared, but I can't figure out why. She's been docile (but not needy) since we arrived; uncharacteristically, she hasn't chased Jasper off my lap. Dog psychology...bark, bark.
How long is the media going to discuss the election? Donald J. Trump won. Fake news on FaceBook and Russian hacking didn't swing the election: Trump did. Trumps did what I do: if I don't like the game, or if its rules are flexible, I change the game or flex the rules. That's how you win. If it isn't forbidden by law or ethics, it can be done. Releasing tax returns and behaving like a gentle person are not laws, they are election conventions. Both Trump and Clinton had legal problems during the election which should have made them both questionable candidates, but Trump's were outside "the swamp" and America wanted it drained: Clinton was in the flush. It's getting boring, America: move on. Now, the only thing that matters is the cabinet appointments.
I listened to Kurt Andersen of “Studio 360” interview Josh Katz about his "How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk" quiz. It was in the New York Times three years ago, and now he’s written a book about it. The quiz is 25 questions which have sufficient regional variance among them that from the answers he can calculate any person's likely US origin (he's an actuary by training).
I was born in Key West, left there for Philadelphia when I was two-and-a half where I attended nursery school and kindergarten, then I moved to rural Upstate New York. Save a year in school in England at 14, I lived in New York State for the entirety of my grade-school, high-school, college, and graduate school years. My mother was born in Halifax, but she was raised in various places in Canada. My father was born and raised in Philadelphia. There is nothing about my mother's speech pattern which would indicate her origin, but if you ask my father to say "water" you'll know he's from Philly in a New York minute. I didn't pick up the Upstate New York nasal twang probably because my parents weren't natives.
I took Josh's 25 question quiz twice tonight, and my answers suggested that I am from somewhere in the Northeast megalopolis. Changing answers from one attempt to another will vary the questions which ensue. Again, the quiz attempts to pinpoints one’s origin based on vocabulary not accent. My dad is going to get nailed on "hoagie.”
Kurt Andersen went on to do a piece about how the Boston accent is the Waterloo of actors because very few can do it well. Having lived in Rhode Island and worked in Massachusetts for a decade, I called the area the "Land of Misplaced R's." If your name is Linda, it's pronounced Linder, and if your name is Tyler, it's pronounced Tyla, i.e. if it ends in an "r" you drop it, and if it ends in a vowel you add an “r.” People from the area who have overcome this speech habit slip right back into it upon the consumption of alcohol.
I just called my father to ask him if he is watching the Eagles lose. He said it was a foregone conclusion so he turned it off. He said the Katz quiz kept erroring-out on him. He said he'd try out again, but he agreed he'd get nailed for "hoagie." He also agreed that I didn't have a regional accent.
The real reason I called my father was to ask him the exact dates he and my mother lived in Charleston. I was born in December of 1964, so I wondered whether I was conceived here. He said they lived here in the summer of 1963, and again in January-February of 1964. I was looking for a personal nexus to Charleston, but alas I have none.
This morning, I took the dogs to the beach again. I let go of their check cords immediately. They followed me. They didn't play. They didn't chase birds. When I reversed course, they lain in the sand. Were they bored or tired? It was probably the latter since our beach walk the day before was as far as they've walked in a while.
As I was packing up BOB - filling the water tank, stowing the hose, mat, bike, folding chair, etc. - a couple stopped by to pet Addison and Jasper. They are THE couple with the four Westies! Their dogs are unrelated, and they range in age from nine to 14. Sometimes I think that two Westies are two too many, any they know that four are too many. But, I could tell they would have more! Their son has two Westies and their daughter has one, so they have seven when the family convenes. Now, that is a Westie Festie!
I'm giving Chris Thile another chance tonight.
This afternoon, I mailed letters to the CEOs or the senior-most HR people at five companies which make and or sell shit I like. I rode my bike over three miles to mail them at the post office where they will lay dormant until four Monday afternoon. I doubt my old-school-cover-letter-resume-snail-mail will produce fruit, but until I get another idea, I'll keep doing the same.
Kim sent me a text this morning saying that their Miami condo had fallen through, and he asked what am I doing after we meet on Jekyll Island. I said that I planned to head across the Gulf Coast en route to Austin, but that I hadn't booked anything yet. They fly to St. Lucia from Miami on the 14th of December, so I predict that I will be spending the first two weeks of December in Florida with them. I should probably join a senior dating service while I'm there, since the transience of my stay equals the pool's life expectancy. Austin, I'll see you in the New Year.
The music is better on "A Prairie Home Companion" since Thile took over, but that is Thile's layup move.
The couple across the road from me have been fishing since they arrived. They have a bossy Chihuahua and a five-month-old Labrador-Shepherd-TBD mutt who is adorable and will be huge. They told me yesterday that they were fishing for puffers which have melt-in-your-mouth filets. They said if they caught enough they'd give me some. Uh, yum? My understanding is that seagulls are garbage cans, so why don't they eat the dead puffers on the beach? It's because they know better! If a dog or a seagull won't eat it, it's because it's either lethal or it's a vegetable, or, better yet, they can't tell the difference because to them they are the same.
I saw a couple walk by BOB with four Westies. My instinct was to jump up and run after them, but I'm sure I'll see them tomorrow. More people have arrived at the park for the weekend, but the place is hardly filled. It's a giant rectangle with park models flanking the long sides, and those people aren't here.
I gave BOB a bath this morning, then I Rain-Exed his windows and Armour-Alled his rubber and plastic bits and pieces. I checked the hot water hose leak, and it seems to have been mitigated. Instead of scraping off the Lexel, I added more and gave it 10+ hours to cure. I cleaned my drains with baking soda, vinegar, and hot water. I also cleaned my shower which is difficult because it's so small. I need a Scotch-Brite body suit so I can just turn around a few times and get the job done. I think I inhaled a toxic amount of Totally Awesome in the process.
After I finished my chores, I went for a bike ride along the path in Emerald Isle. It was boring. At mile marker 18 (wherever that is), I jumped off and reversed course to ride along Ocean Drive. That was better – until it dead-ended – because the beach houses were more interesting than the whizzing traffic along the path. I returned to BOB, ate an apple, and looked for work.
Later, I took the dogs for a walk on the wide beach. The waves were soft. Shrimpers were working off shore, and fishing enthusiasts trolled from the beach. Eventually, I let go of the dogs' check cords and let them run on the beach and in the water. I wore my Wellies so I wouldn't get sand in my pants or get them wet if I had to chase the dogs in the shallows. Addison drank enough ocean water that she'll either vomit later or firehouse it out of her ass tomorrow. I'm hoping for the latter. At beaches when they were puppies, they'd eat sand then shit sand plugs the next day. I can't imagine how that feels. Once, when Addison was a puppy, I pulled an entire Bounty paper towel sheet out of her ass; I can't imagine how that feels, either. The towel, its E-Coli contamination notwithstanding, was still usable upon emission, if one had been inclined to do so.
It was 45 degrees here last night and the humidity was high enough that BOB got cold fast. I let the dogs sleep with me because I knew they'd be cold if I didn't. Jasper was smart enough to cuddle up next to my torso. I eventually moved Addison to my other side because she was shivering and I couldn't move my legs. She let me drag her like a dead dog, and as soon as she was near my upper body she dove under the sheets and threw her head across my belly. I expected that to trigger a hot flash, but it didn't. I didn't sleep very well, but they did. Sometimes, that it more important.
I am really struggling with the doldrums of unemployment. I've applied for a plethora of VP of Finance and CFO jobs, but my resume doesn't fit the cookie-cutter skills or credentials which would make hiring me "safe." For me to land my dream COO job, it will take the miracle of the intersection of the right-sized company and an outside-the-box-thinker-searcher. That leaves out all the big recruiting firms, so I have systematically worked on finding the smaller ones who offer the ability for prospective candidates to upload their resumes. Sometimes I wonder whether I'll be living in BOB 20 years from now doing menial labor. I'm starting to come around Kim's idea of being the landlord of a triplex, but where? A college town in Ohio, perhaps? Hmm. Think outside the box. Think outside the box.
I am making cheese-filled tortellini with a Gorgonzola cream sauce. I may die of atherosclerosis tonight. I set off the carbon monoxide detector while I was reducing the vermouth. The dogs usually freak at its noise, but this time they were just anxious and needed reassuring. Clearly, they think the cheese-filled tortellini with a gorgonzola cream sauce is going to kill them, too.
My parents are in Baltimore. My father didn’t answer his cell phone tonight, and neither answered the hotel room phone. Two days ago my father called me to ask me about Uber. I told him that he needed a Smartphone to use the application, and that I can't order a car for him from my account when I am in a different place. Why is that? Whether you are a parent who wants to control a child's use of Uber (and not just pay for any trip AND STILL NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR KID IS WHEN), or whether you are the child of a parent who doesn't have/want a Smartphone, why can't you order a car for the relative who is not where you are? I would ask Uber, but there is no Uber number for such questions. I can, however, contact Uber if my driver has just raped or killed me: Uber HAS a number for that.
My Gorgonzola sauce set off the carbon monoxide detector again, so I just ate it. Not the carbon monoxide detector, the sauce. The nutmeg counters the salty cheese in a fabulous way, but it really begs to be served over pumpkin ravioli.
Parts of North Carolina Route 12 have to be plowed to remove the sand that blows onto it from the dunes on the ocean side of the road. I'm not sure I've ever seen sand plows, but I was certainly grateful that I didn't have to risk hitting a sand drift at speed. In addition to the sand drifts, getting to and from OBX involves a lot of bridges. I approach bridges with some trepidation since BOB is NOT aerodynamic. Having been moved out of my lane by the wind on Midwestern Interstates, I fear the same on bridges, and the consequences could be more dire.
I stopped at Ace Hardware in Manteo this morning. The gentleman who helped me recommended a putty in lieu of Lexel because it can handle the water pressure better. He said I needed to scrape off the Lexel I already applied to the hose junction. That will be challenging. I much prefer Ace and True Value to Home Depot and Lowe's because their footprints are smaller, and the service level is reminiscent of bygone mom-and-pop hardware stores. Tomorrow, I'll tackle that project.
I'm now in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. En route, I spent a couple of hours in New Bern so I could buy groceries at Harris Teeter and go to Bank of America. Harris Teeter is a subsidiary of Kroger, and my first experience with it was terrific, albeit odd. Although most grocery stores stock goods similarly, there are always nuances both to their layouts and my particular shopping needs, such that it takes me twice the normal amount of time to shop. I had to ask an employee where I could find fresh pasta and he walked me to the cooler. I asked him if the store was always so crowded at one in the afternoon. He responded, "On Thursdays? Sure, it's Seniors Day!" I guess they get a discount on their purchases on Thursdays. Perhaps the chain is trying to keep them out of the store on the weekend when the working stiffs shop. Thank God it was not Singles Seniors Day! I entered my phone number (which is registered with Kroger) at the self-checkout station, and it wasn't recognized. I told the attendant that I have a Kroger card and she said, "Well, this is Harris Teeter." Right, I know. Why isn't my ID synchronized throughout the chain? Kroger, make it so.
I called the RV Park on Emerald Isle from New Bern. The young man who answered the phone took my name, number, and RV type and size. He said I could pick a spot when I arrived. He called me "Ms. Knox." I love that because "Mrs. Knox" is my mother. When I checked in, his politeness and graciousness continued, which only made him more handsome if that is possible. (Southern women know how to raise their children. They should write a book on parenting, and Northerners should be forced to read it before they have children.) An hour and a half later, as I was walking my recycling to the bins a quarter of a mile from BOB, a foursome of employees stopped and offered to take it from me. They all smiled, said hello, and said they'd sort it for me. They are well-raised, well-trained young men who gave me back 20 minutes of my evening.
Military planes are flying over me. I have not done anything to warrant the surveillance, yet.
I put away my dry goods this afternoon after I set up camp and I realized that I'm hoarding Pomi strained tomatoes and Starbucks coffee. Kim and Kate live in a food desert in Delaware, and Jean and I experienced the same in Utah after we left Moab. OBX and Emerald Isle are similar. Neither Pomi nor Starbucks were on my list today, but I grabbed them because they're not always available. I resisted the urge to pick up some DeCecco pasta because I was pretty sure I had a box of fusilli. That was a good thing because I have two. I bought more Chobani key lime yogurt, too, although I already had enough to get me to Charleston. Other than milk, some lunch items, and some fresh vegetables, I have at least two weeks of dinner on board. I don't think I ever had that much food in my condo in Providence.
I am NOT sleeping better. I spent over three hours on the phone last night: one with Jean, and over two with Scout. When I hung up at eleven, I binged-watched "[Insert Your Country Here]'s Got Talent" and when I looked up it was two-thirty. I walked the dogs, did my ablutions, went to bed, and fell asleep sometime after four. I got up at eight with a tiredness that made my head feel like it had been filled with cement.
I rode my bike to the Inn at Rodanthe which is the center point of the movie "Nights at Rodanthe," starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere, and based a Nicholas Sparks book. The movie was released in 2008, and the property was condemned in 2009. In 2010, it was privately purchased and moved off the beach to a safer location behind the dunes. It is no longer an inn: it's now a rental property within sight of two properties which are still on the beach. I'm happy that it has survived, but its change of location and change of business use make it different enough that its movie allure was mostly erased for me.
I took the dogs for a walk on the beach today. I had check cords on them which were tied together, but I didn't let them go. I didn't want them to go in the ocean because I didn't want to deal with either the mess of wet, sandy dogs or the risk of the riptides. The beach is wide and there were few people on it. Two women asked me about the breed of the dogs – a common question given the way they are groomed. The dogs played in the hard sand. The shell fragments were varied but broken, not that BOB needs sea shells. I FaceTimed Jean so she could see the ocean from the shore of her “Rochester grey” Finger Lake cottage. The beach is lovely here, but while I don't want the endless fast-food-restaurant-strip-mall-Myrtle-Beach vacation, I would like a little "toy town" cuteness and some high-end restaurants in my vacation spots. Rodanthe has neither: come here for its quietude, and pack in your culinary and alcohol needs.
The sink still leaks but not that much. Either the Lexel® is too old, or the source of the leak extends beyond my reach. I'll stop at the Ace on Roanoke Island on Thursday en route to Emerald Isle to buy more Lexel®.
A week ago, I made the decision to stop listening to the BBC Radio when I go to bed. It stands to reason that it was interfering with my sleep because it was on all night. I picked up the habit within the last three years when I would wake up in the middle of the night and remain awake for two to three hours. I figured that perhaps twenty minutes of BBC programming would exhaust me, and I then would return to sleep. I was wrong. "Hardtalk" is intellectual mixed martial arts, and therefore a form of torture to someone who is already psychotic from sleep deprivation. So, I learned the "hard" way to avoid the BBC at four in the morning. I am now "radio silent" until at least five in the morning. I am sleeping better. It stands to reason...like I said.
For some inexplicable reason, I didn't check the forecast before I went to bed. If I had, I would have taken my drying rack and Wellies inside, and I would have covered my bike. Fortunately, my Wellies were relatively dry this morning, as was my bike which was sheltered under the rear slide-out. I don't leave the awning out at night in case the wind increases. My drying rack will dry, because that's what it does.
I was trapped inside BOB today due to the rain, so I colored my hair. It looks great, but four months without a cut is another thing. This is the longest I've gone without a haircut since I was a kid because my mother had a "no-split-ends" policy.
I also took another stab at diagnosing the leak under the kitchen sink. When I arose this morning, I emptied the cabinet under the sink and removed the soaked microfiber cloth. I turned on the hot water heater and went back to bed to do Sudoku. The heating cycle per se produced no water in the cabinet, but doing the dishes did.
Previously, when I ran the hot water faucet, I wasn’t really running HOT water because the water heater was off. When I crawled under the sink with the hot water heater on, and with the HOT water running, I discovered that the hot water input hose to the faucet was the source of the leak. I applied some Lexel(R) plastic sealant to the hose connection, so I believe the problem is solved.
Camilla is starting a blog, and for her first piece she is interviewing women she knows by asking the following two questions: "1) What did you think it meant to be a woman when you were a little girl? 2) What does being a woman mean to you now?" Here are my answers:
1) My parents both had careers, and they both achieved advanced degrees after I was born. As both parents and professionals, I did not experience any difference in their genders. The shopping, cooking and housework were my mother's domain, and the maintenance of the house and yard were my father's. I guess they divided those duties via the conventional roles of wives and husbands in the 1970s, since neither of them had any specific experience with either. I experienced their division of labor as just that, and I was expected to help both of them. My parents expected me to go to college and to graduate school so that I could support myself as they had done. I expected that I would do those things, plus I expected that I would get married and have children. I guess the fact that women, not men, give birth is the only difference I perceived between the genders, and therefore, as a child, being a woman was defined by giving birth.
2) At 38 years old, I gave up trying to become pregnant. At nearly 42, I had a hysterectomy. Having a child defines one as a "mother," but if the mother doesn't feel maternal (or keep the child) what does it mean to her to be a mother? I don't know. Biology identifies gender (unless you are a hermaphrodite) and menses redefines a girl as a "woman," but does either the ability to reproduce or reproducing mean to her that she is a woman? I don't know. If menses is the common establishment of womanhood, does a hysterectomy or menopause remove it? I don't know. To me, the word "woman" only means that a female human being is post-menses. Period: period. I don't think of myself as a woman: I think of myself as a human being - psychologically, socially, intellectually, professionally, etc. Thanks to my mother's generation I have likely had professional opportunities I otherwise wouldn't have had, but in spite of their efforts I've probably been the victim of gender discrimination: if I have, I don't know. I'm also white, so if I've likely been the beneficiary of race discrimination: if I have, don't know. I'm just a human being who is white and female and assumed that neither of those things matter. When I'm older (or now) will I be the beneficiary or victim of age discrimination? I don't know. Right now, I am a 51-year-old person looking for a job which will benefit the company, the shareholders and me, and nothing other than my education and experience should matter. So, being a woman is nothing other than an age-defined biological construct to me.
Gwen Ifill of "The PBS Newhour" died today from endometrial cancer. I discovered mine at Stage I. I'm OK. Why didn't she know when I did?
Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.