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My Infinite Wisdom on Making Friends

Me and my best friend Rigby.Make new friends

But keep the old

One is silver

And the other gold.

These are lyrics of a song that is stuck in my head.

I was unable to find the name of the author, but according to Anita, of Song Scouting, the original lyrics date to at least the 1920’s. No clue who Anita is, but that’s the best Google and I could do at giving credit.

I first heard this song from a big purple dinosaur named Barney. If you were anywhere near public television in the early 90’s chances are you’ve heard it too. It’s also a Girl Scout song.

You know how annoying it is when a song gets stuck in your head? I even catch myself humming it.

So why do I have a Barney song stuck in my head? Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about friends, or more specifically about making friends.

If you’ve been following us, you know that we have – once again – turned our world upside down. Only this time instead of hitting the road, we’ve come off the road in Southern California. We are once again homeowners and once again residing in a neighborhood, only this time it’s a neighborhood for the 55+ crowd. (Other Half reminds me it’s a “community” not a neighborhood.)

The community is full of nice people. We’re nice people. This friend thing has to start somewhere – seems like a good place to start. For Other Half it started on the golf course while wintering here the last three years. Not so much for me. So far our start at friends in the community consists of waving at each other from our golf carts, small talk at the gym and sharing dog stories while poop scooping at the park.                 

A few of our new neighbors have stopped by, one even brought us mini strawberry rhubarb pies from Costco. Like I said, nice people.

This friend thing is a piece of cake, or pie, so what am I worried about?

Over the years when I’ve observed other people in a similar situation, I’ve offered up my stellar advice on making friends. Here’s a sampling of my favorites:

Just be yourself. This one is especially annoying. Who else would you be???

Smile. Smile. Smile. Ok. Ok. Ok.

Be interested. Not interesting.

Join. Join. Join. Get off your butt.

Be patient. It takes time.

I like to call my stellar advice Infinite Wisdom. Infinite Wisdom is that well of knowledge that allows you to quickly size up any situation and offer a plausible solution. It’s especially effective when the situation involves other people. In fact the more removed you are from the situation the better your advice.

In other words, Infinite Wisdom only works when you’re giving it – usually unsolicited – to other people.

So now what?

Think I’ll add strawberry rhubarb mini pies from Costco to my list of stellar friend-making advice. My Infinite Wisdom just got a lot more palatable.

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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.

Hmmm.

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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