Today, a Tuesday, I’m doing graphics (making seat numbers for today’s concert), teaching an art class, and selling drinks at a concert (same concert). Because I’m an introvert, I’m trying to think of where I can sneak a nap into the schedule. I’d also like to find time to eat. If I eat at the 19th Hole Restaurant like…right now…oh! I’ll be back later.
Yikes! I don’t know if I have more of a “teaching” personality or a “student” personality. I’ve taught lots of classes, but I usually know my students well BEFORE they take my classes. I’ve learned from lots of great teachers for art, but I get soooo nervous when I’m the one teaching. At least in the beginning. Even though I was nervous, I had a wonderful time. It was great getting to meet some new people here from the RV park. Right now, the topics I teach may not appeal to everyone, so I suspect I’ll have different students for different topics. Makes sense, anyhow.
Next class is next Tuesday, 1-3. Topic: Watercolor Pencils
I want people to discover creativity within themselves. If they’re already know they’re creative, I want to open their eyes to new ways of expressing that. If you have never had a chance to make a painted gourd, how would you know that isn’t the thing you’d love. I don’t teach that, but maybe something I do teach will be a new and great creative outlet for someone.
We did a warm up project first. I gave everyone a 4″ x 4″ piece of smooth bristol (a paper that is thicker than regular paper or card stock). They picked out a pen, made a dot in each of the four corners, and then connected the dots with some sort of line…any kind of line they wanted. After that they divided the squarish shape into smaller shapes. The goal was to fill in the smaller shapes with whatever they wanted, as if they were doodling while on the phone. EXCEPT. After a couple of minutes, they had to pass it to the person on their right. Each person’s piece of paper, with their name on the back, was worked on (doodled on) by nearly everyone in the room. After a while, the papers were returned to their owners. I do that so each person ends up getting to see lots of people’s ideas and doodle-techniques, because its right there on their paper. Creativity breeds creativity. Hopefully, a person would look at the other styles and think “Oh! I wonder if I could…”.
We made bookmarks. After all, that was why we were there. I had lots of samples. Yes, a bookmark is some sort of paper, blank or otherwise, that gets put in a book to remind us where we left off. What if its a piece of paper you turned into a bookmark, decorated yourself, and stuck it into a book to give a friend. It would be like a mini-visit. They would know you took time from your busy day to spend a few minutes with just them. Bookmarks have taken on a whole new meaning for me. I was so impressed with what the ladies in my class made. Each one was unique and I got to hear the story behind some of them. What a treat it was.
We learned how to make a page corner marker. I don’t know if that’s the term for it. I can’t find the one I made when teaching the class, but I have the one I made before class to teach myself. The ones we made in class were nicer, because I used printer paper for them and they folded nicely. This one on parchment looks more like a hat. They can be decorated just like regular bookmarks.
It was only about 2:10 after all that and the class was supposed to take two hours, lasting until 3:00. It was okay that it didn’t, but everyone was enjoying chatting as they wrapped up their projects, so I did this one last thing. If anyone was watching, it showed them what can be done with markers, a waterproof-ink pen, and watercolor pencils.
I feel I was well-prepared and had plenty of materials and options for everyone. My wish for them is that they had fun and learned something creative. I certainly learned a lot and enjoyed everyone in the class. I hope I can teach them again. Next lesson – using watercolor pencils.
This journey of mine has been full of surprises. It began as a way to save money and to spend time with family and friends, yet have my own little house with me all the time. Not long after I started (all of last March ago – LOL) I discovered gas prices are big numbers. My first couple of fill-ups were $5.25 a gallon and $6.25 a gallon. Oh my! How could I justify living on the road, stopping at a campground for a month maybe, staying in the desert for a couple weeks, staying in a driveway, and making the trip from one place to the another…on my budget?
My first campground was pretty reasonable. No problem, I thought. However, I soon discovered that, in general, they’ve gone way up in price. In places that are great for winter, the prices for a campsite are as much as a luxury apartment. Places that have great prices are remote and have no internet. Sometimes that’s okay, but I’m still very much in need of internet. Even with two hot spots of my own through AT&T and T-Mobile I still had no internet. Anyways, my new life was just full of such surprises.
The Good News!
I have figured things out pretty well. I got myself into a diesel gas program that gives me nice discounts across the country. I joined organizations that help me get discounts on campsites (maybe not enough to stay at a $1,600 a month campground). I’ve found some great campgrounds along the way. I’ve been treated super well at each and every one.
I’ve discovered that I need to stay at most places longer than I expected. No more moving about the country with short stops in between. The longer stays at campgrounds have more reasonable prices.
Best of All
…is my discovery that there are a few lonely days, but that’s my own fault. I knew that you have to be a friend to make a friend. I felt I was making my best effort to be friendly. I didn’t exactly offer the cashier at the grocery store my phone number, but its almost that easy. At the campground I’m at for the winter, I’m a volunteer in the activity office. What better way to encounter people. Lots of people come in each day, signing up for events and classes. They come in to ask questions about getting propane, having something printed out, where to eat or get a haircut. I’ve met so many great people.
The other thing I do is help out at the events. I might seat people for a concert, sell drinks at the rodeo or a dance, or deliver flyers to the mail room.
I love attending events and hearing people call out my name in greeting.
Even though I keep bills paid and administrative issues attended to, I pretty much live in the moment.
The first class (love the sound of that) is on making bookmarks. Here’s samples of some (just so you’re clear that we’re not bookmarking websites).
You can make your own bookmark to tuck into a book you’re gifting someone. Leave a space to write the name of the book, the author, and favorite things about the book you’re reading or the gifted book receiver is reading.
I have made major changes to my website! Please take some time to look it over.
In the past three years my life has gotten smaller and more compact. I’ve given away, sold, thrown away, and donated nearly everything I own. Yet I’ve never been happier. While my life is small, its also bigger than the wide world because of the people I’ve met, the scenes that take my breath away, the confidence I’ve gained in overcoming obstacles, kindnesses that have been shown to me, and in the friends I’ve made.
As I move into this nomad life, my priorities are changing as I find my purpose and meaning. I’m wanting to accomplish different things. Most important is my desire to share what I’ve learned with others. With you! Its no longer enough to keep it to myself. I don’t just want you to learn how to draw or paint, but more importantly, I want you to learn to do creative things that are just right for you and that let you live in the moment.
I want to help others find out that they can create things that give them delight and purpose. Learning to do some art has so many benefits. The process of learning to draw can help you develop better decision making skills. Betty Edwards, who founded the course called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain talked about that in her book of the same title. Its so true.
Viktor E. Frankl wrote a book called Man’s Search For Meaning and it has sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide. That’s 15 MILLION. He survived life in a World War II concentration camp. He writes that those, in the camp, who had a purpose/meaning, survived. Purpose they wanted to see a loved one or maybe they had been working on a book before being captured and they wanted to finish it. No matter what the purpose, it was something that kept them from giving up. Having a purpose helps all of us keep going.
Learning is good for you. You’re never too old to learn something new. It can make you feel young.
Taking a class to learn some type of art gets you out around other people who are also wanting to learn how to do something creative. You’re like-minded. You’ve found your own kind!
Learning to do art or even how to write can open your eyes to the world around you in a way you never experienced before. Our world is the ultimate painting. The ultimate sculpture. The ultimate story. Making art yourself, puts you right into that story.
Finally, if you don’t give up too soon, you’ll gain a better feeling about yourself and you’ll feel better in general.
Now that my life is pretty much as simple as it can be, its time to be creative in new ways. I want to create things just because I want to. Here I go. I’m going to make short videos on how to do things. This is a good place to start – tangling.
The above steps are where I started, but I found it so relaxing that I wanted to create more and more. One day I wanted to take it further and that’s how I came to tangle a honey bee.
In the next video, I will take you from your first tangle to a story-tangle, like my honey bee. While you wait, please search for something you want to create. You’ll need to make an outline that only has the barest details. In the honey bee, I outlined the two wings, the basic body shape, the legs and the antennae. See what subject you can outline in prep for the next how-to video.
Today is December 8th, 2022. The year is waning. My tiny home on wheels smells like coffee brewing. In fact, it just gurgled that its ready to be sipped and savored. The view outside the window over my desk is a foggy one. It surprised me, because I’ve never actually seen fog in Arizona. Technology promises that the temp will be 73 and the clouds and fog will dissipate, leaving me the blue skies I came here for.
This RV park is actually called a resort. Its owned by the Cocopah Indian tribe and is surrounded by very flat, irrigated fields that produce a good portion of the vegetables for the U.S. Much of the resort is made up of “park models”, which are tiny homes that fit in an RV space, but the folks who purchase the park models add on rooms, porches, decks, carports, and/or patios. I’ve been in some of them and they’re comfortable and homey. Before coming here I would never have thought I’d like or want something like that, but one of these, sure. I don’t say that only because they’re nice. Its also a place where you make many friends and have plenty of things to do. Also, the local internet provider has every site pre-wired for internet. I did have to subscribe to use it, but the cost is only $50 a month.
In a few minutes I have to be at work. I volunteer at the Activity Office on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons. I sit on a stool at the front desk, selling tickets and answering questions of guests. When needed, I make posters for upcoming events. This place is unique, compared to all over RV parks I’ve ever been. There’s an eighteen hole golf course woven into the layout of this campground.
This is my first Christmas in the southwest. The folks here are very much in the spirit of it. The buildings are decorated. RVs and park models are decorated. I love it. There’s a window over my desk, here in my RV. I can look out and see folks going for walks, stopping to talk, riding by in golf carts, heading to the golf course on foot or in their cart. I’ve seen people riding bikes, pulling their golf clubs nestled in a buggy-type pull-behind.
The resort is surrounded by lush green irrigated or misted fields where a large portion of the countries produce comes from.
The RV sites are large here. My little travel trailer looks like a shed compared to other RVs. I know, however, that inside its a castle. My friends have lent me a golf cart for my first weeks here. I love that it matches my little travel trailer.
The winter weather here is wonderful. This is my new favorite place to be for this time of year. In previous locations I found myself snuggling down indoors for the snow and cold, seldom going anywhere or doing many activities that required driving somewhere. I’ve met people everywhere I travel who love that, however. It makes me glad the our world is made up of people of all kinds. Makes for an interesting live for all.
Something I love here are the sunrises and sunsets. So I will close this very favorable-for-Cocopah post with some of the sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen thus far.
When I lived in Southern Maryland, my life was filled with creative people. Artists, photographers, poets, musicians, writers, and actors. Occasionally I got to play board games and cards. I taught. I learned. I built.
Now I live in a little travel trailer. A camper. Everything I own is here in this space. Oddly enough, its amazing how much room a small space makes in my life. Room for more free time. Room for creativity. It keeps my eyes open for adventure, for breath-taking moments and scenes. I encounter others like myself.
Wanderlust. I have it. I get restless after being stationary for a while. The artist in me yearns for, even craves, new scenes, new experiences, and most of all, my own kind. I’m not into physically challenging experiences. I did zip lining. Glass blowing. Scuba. Hiking in Hawaii. Skiing in Europe. But, at my age, I no longer have the strength to do those things. Its okay.
My Own Kind
Sometimes that would be other creative folks. Sometimes its for other people who live full time in an RV. If I’m lucky, its both together.
Two and a half years ago I visited a campground in the southwest. Its called the LoW Hi Ranch and the LoW stands for loners on wheels. Not all the guests are alone, but nearly all who stay more than a few days are exactly that, if you don’t count dogs and cats. I was there one night and I saw something great. The people were friendly and they cared about one another. Someone in the site next to me asked how long I’d be staying. “Just the one night,” I replied, but I wished it were longer.
It took a long time, a lot of patience and planning, but I’m at that campground once again and this time I get to stay longer. The first day I was hot and tired, after a very long journey to get here. The next few days I doubted my decision, because I felt like an outsider. Then I began attending some of the activities. First a social gathering in the “leisure room”. Then, while sitting outside in the late afternoon, when my camper casts a shadow long enough to keep me in shade, a woman near me said hello and stopped to talk. We ended up sitting together for a long while. Since then I’ve met more and more of the people here and I’m falling in love with this place. Without being perfect or having to prove myself worthy, I fit here. I’ve found my own kind.
Perhaps part of the greatness of the place is the compromising I’m having to do with myself. The pace is slower. For the first time in a long while, I’m not working at a part time or seasonal job. I have more time. However, I have less cell signal with my phone, which means I have less WiFi, as my hotspot device is cell-based. My television is a Roku TV and needs WiFi/Cell. Its a day of celebration when I can watch a portion of an episode of Star Trek Voyager (my favorite right now – I’m binge watching it). With more time on my hands and less of my usual things to do with that time, I’m finding myself looking around more, thinking more, reading, journaling, sketching, cooking. Imagine the possibilities of more time. The transition was painful at first, but each day is a little better. Some days are a lot better. Yesterday I helped with road clean up (the campground sponsors a two mile stretch of road), went out to breakfast with the others on the crew, took a nap, met a new fellow nomad, took another nap, played some Heroes of the Storm, and went out to dinner with two women from here. We had the best french onion soup on the planet. I tried a beer. Oddly enough, it was a local beer and was called Happy Camper, an IPA. When I returned to my camper, I sat basking in the moment, for it was a moment of appreciation and satisfaction.
Also, I’m in the middle of nowhere. I’m surrounded by desert and mountains that seem plopped down here like game pieces on a board. Between them, the land is flat as can be. Some vegetation I recognize, but others seem like other-worldly or other-dimensionly things. The sky seems so much bigger, the horizon being uninterrupted by hills and forests. The color of said sky seems bluer. Perhaps its due to the brownish gray land.
And then there’s Sophia
Sweet Sophia has adapted to this life of ours so well. She doth protest a smidge on travel days. A mew here, a yeow there. Overall, she handles it well. Life inside the RV is where she excels. Sophia is athletic. When we play, she can leap and spin better than a dolphin performing in a show. Okay. Kind of. She surprises me every day. There is a route she prefers to take. She leaps from the desk to the kitchen counter extension (a piece of counter top that folds up to add work space) to the bed. Another path is from the floor to the toilet to the top of her litter box, to the bathroom counter. If you blink, you might think she instantly ported herself from lowest to highest.
To aid Sophia’s gymnastic climbs, I made her a shelf. It allows her the best view of outdoors and maximum warming time in the sun.
Things to do
Mondays we have a potluck meal together. Tuesdays a group carpools about thirty miles south and crosses the border into Mexico to have lunch and do some shopping at a place called the Pink Store. Whew! What an adventure. Thursdays we have another carpool to a local restaurant (varies week to week which restaurant). This week it was to a really good place for delicious Mexican food. As mentioned earlier, on Saturday we had road pickup and that was actually a good experience. It was followed by breakfast at Denny’s. Many evenings each week, we have card games at the bunkhouse.
I think the bunkhouse is my favorite place at the campground. This small structure is called the bunkhouse because it was actually a bunkhouse in the town of Columbus. That’s the last town before the border of Mexico and its the place Poncho Villa and 600 of his troops attacked in 1916. The campground’s bunkhouse comes from that location and was brought here to be used as our library (which is quite nice – the best I’ve ever seen in a campground) and card playing location.
I guess that’s it for now. I just want to say that the wait was worth it. I’ve fallen in love with this campground and its wonderful people.
You can be in the midst of a crowd and yet still be alone.
I’ve struggled with the writing of this post. Perhaps I’m over thinking it. But maybe its very important to me, so I’m searching for the right words to relay the story. Or maybe I’m just more visual and words elude me. Don’t know.
My travel trailer travels. Its meant to go places and its like a gigantic suitcase. Everything I need is inside. In fact, everything I own is in my RV and my truck. This is my way of being a homeowner. A very tiny home owner. Not me…tiny. The home.
There can be hundreds of campsites and cabins at a campground. Some places are for people who leave their RV there all the time. Camp whenever. Some are people who have a temporary job in the area and this is home for the duration of the job. Others are here for a vacation or weekend getaway. Then there are a those who are just passing through.
One moment the place can be nearly empty (well, not completely – I’m here).
Okay. What I’m trying to get at is the fact that I, like all the others here, am in an RV of some sort. Mine is a travel trailer. I pull it with a medium large truck. The color of my truck doesn’t match my RV. I’m not on vacation, but sometimes I do vacation-like things. The RVs that come and park beside me for a night or two are usually occupied by at least two people and are just passing through, on their way somewhere else. They’re like a small collective. In the evening they sit outside their “rig” in camp chairs, chatting quietly, thinking, or taking in the view. They spend a lot of time away from the campground sight-seeing, shopping, or visiting friends in the area. Sometimes I do those things, too. Often I make the mistake of thinking that I can do the sightseeing next time I’m in the area. That’s something I want to work on.
My RV life is all the time and mostly its an ordinary life, but in a smaller space. I still have a few books, art supplies, favorite cups and mugs, a summer wardrobe, a winter wardrobe, and a variety of cat toys. There is only one compartment that can be accessed from outside. Its pretty full, but well organized. I have a few tools, a bin of sewer hoses, a couple of water hoses, and some power adapter for converting power from 30 to 15 or 50 to 30. Right now the heated hose, for winter, is stowed in there. I’m using the summer hose and the small ten foot extension hose. I parked six feet too far from the water outlet for my main hose to reach.
Another thing I need to work on is the fact that most of my time is spent inside. I don’t usually go swimming or participate in activities like bingo or hayrides. When I get cabin fever, I jump in my truck and go to town. When I’m in my RV, I watch shows on TV (streaming), play a game on my computer (Minecraft or Guildwars 2), cook or bake, read, write in my journal, write a post for my blog, work on an art project, and sleep. My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I might only be eating a bowl of cereal and drinking a cup of coffee, but I can make that last until lunch time. I might have to warm up my cup of coffee five times before I finished my cereal. I just enjoy the leisure of that time. No rush. The smell of the coffee brewing is a bit nice, too.
When I’m in a campground, I’m sort of one of the crowd, but I don’t think being alone in a crowd has to be a bad thing. For a long time I wanted to fit in, but that wasn’t the answer either. I march to the beat of my own drum.