The Time has Come to Face our Stuff

Let’s talk about stuff – the physical kind. The kind that Other Half and I curated out of our life back in 2014. Or so we thought. For the last three years we’ve been living with minimal stuff, at least minimal within our living space. We still had stuff tucked away in a 10×10 storage facility in Ohio. The stuff in storage is what “made the cut.”

On our summer trips back to Ohio we would occasionally visit our stuff. Sometimes we’d even add to it. We’d stop by, take a peak, toss in whatever we didn’t feel like dealing with, lock it up and leave.

We knew that one day we’d have to face our stuff again.

Well, that day has arrived.

Our stuff got here last week in a Zippy Shell container. Zippy Shell is a version of a moving pod. The driver offered to help us unload. Thank God for strong young men. In no time our garage was filled with plastic totes. The only furniture we had stored was a coffee table my Dad built in the 70’s, a small bench and a disassembled bookcase. All three are now displaying considerably more “character” than before the Ohio to California jaunt.

Happy to see our bookcaseI’m excited all of our stuff is in one place. I’m excited to have our bookcase again. I’m excited to see things I haven’t seen in three years.  I’m excited to stop paying for storage.

So why am I crabby?

Half of the totes filling our garageIt took me a couple days to realize what was wrong. We’ve lived l-e-a-n for some time now. We haven’t needed or missed ANY of the stuff that arrived in plastic totes and is stacked in our garage.

So why do we need or want it now?

When we embarked on our Big Rig adventure we lived in a BIG house with lots and lots of stuff. We spent 9 months putting everything we owned through the Curate-the-Crap decision process. The options were: keep, take, sell, gift, donate or pitch. We sold most of the furniture with the bulk of the remaining stuff hitting the gift, donate and pitch category.

The keep category is what’s in the totes in our garage. All I can say about A LOT of the stuff we stored is WHAT WAS I THINKING?

A few too many basketsI like baskets as much as the next person – but really???

When I unpacked the office/craft room stuff we’ve been paying to store – I completely filled our recycle bin.  So far we’ve made three trips to Goodwill with more to come. In our defense, when we loaded our 10×10 climate controlled unit we were suffering from decision fatigue.

What can I say?Is there any other possible reason to have stored this for three years?

So here we are on the other side of curating-our-crap. From what I can tell so far – we’ve still got a lot of crap left to curate.


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Discombobulated in the Desert

I have a confession to make. I’ve had gas for nearly four decades. Before you start feeling sorry for me or wondering how I’ve managed to have a-n-y friends let me explain. I’m not talking about that kind of gas – unless you count living with Other Half for nearly four decades.

The gas I’m referring to is the kind you cook with. The kind that doesn’t burn the crap out of a grilled cheese and render bacon inedible. The kind that isn’t an induction cooktop. That’s the kind of gas I’m happy to have back in my life.

It’s also the kind of gas Other Half used as one of his selling points for this house. That’s right, we are now back living in sticks and bricks, or in our case sticks and stucco.

In the full disclosure department, I’ve been a bit behind Other Half in embracing our new domicile. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great house in a great community in a great city. There’s a lot to like about living here.

Happy guy with his golf cartOur golf cart is one of those things.

I’ve always wanted a golf cart – as long as I don’t have to play golf. (Another one of Other Half’s selling points.) I do enjoy the golf cart and so does our pup Rigby. Since our new abode is in the desert we are seriously short on a place for Rigby to do her business. For some reason, she’s not a fan of the scorching patio or hot gravel we call a backyard.

Parkway viewTo help her with that, a couple times a day, we load her up in the golf cart and take her to the grassy park area. Rigby is a wimp about most everything but she loves the golf cart – maybe it’s because she’s figured out it leads to peeing on grass. Can’t blame her.

Where should the dog pee is just one of the discombobulations of late.

Moving back into a house when you have zero furniture is also a discombobulation. To fix that, we’ve been spending a lot of quality time on a furniture buying binge.

Other Half and I are usually in agreement when it comes to buying furniture. Our first trip to Mathis Brother’s, a gigantic furniture showroom in our area, set the tone. He pointed out what he liked and I pointed out that I didn’t like what he liked. After about an hour we agreed – it’s best to let me pick the furniture. Good decision.

Real furniture!We’re making progress, just yesterday we were able to remove the lawn furniture from the living room. We now have real chairs and a couch. My office is taking shape, the guest room has a bed, we have a bed and we have a TV. Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m bossy or anything, Other Half has final say on electronics and vehicles – but that’s another story.

Living in a house again comes easy. Living in a house in the desert takes some getting used to. This is our first summer in the desert and so far the temps are hot and hotter. Of course, as everyone reminds us, it’s a dry heat.

The good old 1-2-3 Dry heat is easier to take than humid heat, but 120 + degrees is just crazy.

Neighborhood RoadrunnerThe desert also brings a new array of critters, some good and some not so good. We enjoy the Road Runners in the neighborhood, not a fan of the rattlesnakes or the scorpions and the creepy crawlers in the house require calling a bug guy.

This morning we were visited by a cute little gecko. I’m a fan, but not when he’s sunning himself on our bathroom floor.

Visiting GeckoOther Half saved the day and released him into the backyard.

Our open road adventure has taken a turn. In truth I’ve been feeling as discombobulated as Rigby. I am enjoying cooking with gas again and the golf cart is a blast. I’m coming around.

I want to thank all of you who have encouraged me to continue this blog. That’s my plan.


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“Thunk” Brings BIG Change

The Big RigOk, things are changing in our corner of the world. If you know us, you already know that. We are saying goodbye to the Big Rig and hello to the next phase of our adventure.


Here’s the thing – change is tough – we’re good at change – but it’s still tough.

We made the decision in 2014 to let go of 90% of everything we owned. It took us 9 months from the decision point to handing the house keys over to the new owners. What a crazy 9 months that was.

Everything we owned, and I mean everything, had to be handled and a decision made about its future. The choices were: Pitch, Gift, Donate, Store, Take. Not much made the Store category and even less made the Take category. It was quite a project. We dubbed it Curate the Crap.

The goal of the Curate the Crap project was (obviously) to clear the crap and embark on our Big Rig adventure as crap free as possible. We left Ohio on November 7, 2014 with an agreed upon time frame of one year. That’s right. We got rid of most everything we owned with a one year plan. Lots of people thought we were crazy. Some of our friends even made bets on how long we’d last. Maybe we were crazy, but we didn’t care. The blog name came from our initial timeframe – Open Road 365.

The time frame was for my benefit. It’s what I could get my head around. I couldn’t face actually leaving the area – for real – but I could face leaving for a year. Other Half humored me (he’s good at that) but said from the beginning we would need more than 365 days. He was definitely right. He loves that.

So here we are into our third year. So much for 365 days. We’ve been on the road living in the Big Rig for 875 days. By the time we move out it will be well over 900 days. On one hand, that sounds like a lot – on the other hand – not so much.

Depends on who you ask.

The Big Rig is good sized. It’s close to 40’ long and sports 4 slide outs. All totaled we’ve been living in about 350-ish square feet. Of course, that’s not counting the great outdoors – which certainly adds considerably to our living space.

I won’t pretend living this close hasn’t had some challenges. It has. We’ve made it work but sometimes just the other person breathing can annoy the crap out of you.

But here’s the thing. We’re here because of – what we call – the Thunk Test – and we’re leaving because of the Thunk Test.

The Thunk Test is a way to recognize how you really feel. When I say how you really feel – I mean that deep down feeling that doesn’t go away even if you ignore it. When we embarked on this adventure – it was because we both felt the thunk.

Here’s how it happened. We found ourselves empty-nesters in a 3200+ square foot house. This wasn’t a total shock. The house had been a 10-year plan and right on schedule it was time for our next move. But what should that move be? We considered several options – small house, condo, apartment – and what area – snow or no snow?

While I realize how fortunate we are to have options — every option left us with a thunk — that is until we hit upon living in the Big Rig. Now that was exciting. No thunk there. That’s how we made our decision. Once the decision was made the craziness began.

Now, 875 days into our 365 day plan, the thunk has struck again. Only this time it hit one of us while the other was ignoring the signs. I’ll let you guess which one thunked and which one ignored.

So here we are – letting go of the Big Rig and looking at sticks and bricks in a community in Southern California. SoCal is not where either of us expected to land, but it’s all good. Let the craziness begin…again.


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Feeling Like Locals at Caliente Springs

View from Caliente Springs

The views from Caliente Springs are amazing.

We’re starting to feel like locals. We’re well into our second month at Caliente Springs Resort in DHS, California. DHS is what the locals call Desert Hot Springs. We’ve been here long enough to find the best place for margaritas and become regulars at the little diner across the street. How much more local can you get?

DHS and the Palm Springs area works well for us during the winter months. It’s a couple hours from daughter, has a decent airport, Other Half has a golf buddy and the only snow is on the distant mountain tops. All good things – especially this year. Both of us have solo travel plans requiring an airport – starting with my annual Ohio trip.

Sister time!

Cindy and me.

Every February I chance the weather and plan a winter vacation to Ohio. This year my trip was planned around bunions. That’s right, bunions. My sister Cindy is a letter carrier and has the bunions to prove it.

I flew into Detroit Metro Airport Friday afternoon. Her surgery was Tuesday morning. That meant we had 3.5 days to goof off before she was laid up.

Journee 2017

Our sister Mary’s adorable granddaughter, Journee.

We started our goofing off with an amazing fish fry with our sister Mary’s crew. We lost Mary in September of 2015, but her spirit lives on in her four fantastic kids and their families. All of us feel her presence when we’re together, especially in her grandkids.

Once Cindy and I recovered from overeating, we made the most of our pre-surgery days. She had decided it was time for an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new kitchen refresh. She knew I’d be happy to help since I’m an organizing nerd.

We spent a full day on a purge and pitch binge. We cleared out a mismatched collection of pots and pans, dishes, silverware, coffee cups – so many coffee cups – a behemoth blender that made soup and told jokes, an assortment of gizmo gadgets that never worked and an impressive collection of expired health supplements.

Once we finished the pitch part of the re-org we hit Penney’s, Marshall’s and Bed Bath and Beyond with a serious list in hand. We bought so much at Bed Bath & Beyond the cashier asked us if it was for a bridal shower.

Cindy and JJ

Cindy with JJ after bunion surgery.

By surgery time we had her kitchen working like a finely-tuned machine. She was thrilled. Me too. Her surgery went great. After surgery I took care of her the best I could. I did the usual stuff, got her ice pack, made coffee and took the dog out. Most importantly I made popcorn every night. We caught up on old chick flicks like Runaway Bride and While You Were Sleeping and had a great 10 days together. 

Lila & me at Wildwood

Me and my GF Lila at Wildwood Park

While in Ohio I got to spend time with a few of my girlfriends. Lila and I walked at Wildwood Park and had lunch at Bob Evans; Val and I grabbed lunch at B Dubs, (Buffalo Wild Wings) and Peg, Lisa and I had our usual Lebanese feast at the Beirut Restaurant in Toledo. I also spent time visiting my Mother-In Law at Heartland Nursing Home and managed a little time with Ron, one half of the Bucket Buddy duo Kathy and Ron.

My granddaughters

Fun with my granddaughters Ally and Lilly.

The highlight of my trip to Ohio was time spent with my granddaughters Lilly and Ally. We played Barbie’s, watched Moana and the girls demonstrated their stellar tumbling moves.

Lila’s husband, Bob took me back to Detroit Metro for my flight back to Palm Springs. Thanks Bob, hope I did’t talk your ear off.

Other Half Bday

Celebrating Other Half’s Birthday at Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant.

Other Half was happy I was home just in time to celebrate his birthday. The next day I was off on my next jaunt. This time to North Hollywood.

Beesly in cone

Beesly in the cone of shame.

Our granddog, Beesly had developed bladder stones. He disclosed this condition by peeing the bed, daughter’s bed, while sleeping. His stone removal surgery was set – and since daughter works afternoons – she needed me to pick him up from the vets. Beesly was happy to see me – not happy to be wearing the cone of shame.

I’m happy to be back at Caliente Springs.  Happy to be back in the Big Rig. Happy to be back feeling like a local.


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