Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Days in Small Places

This was my kitchen BEFORE anything was put in it.  It's pretty small!
Now, add a dish drainer, canisters, cooking utensils, food, drinks, the ever present junk corner and everything else that goes in a busy kitchen...  

We made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Funny, my thoughts upon sitting down to write this were on the immeasurable value and power of perspective, and then I wrote the first line the way I did instead of saying that our Holidays were wonderful.  They were, indeed, wonderful, and also-- we made it through them.

I thought accommodating a visitor in our small home for Thanksgiving would be the real challenge, but really, that part wasn't bad at all.  I guess we kind of knew we'd have to make arrangements and we were more or less ready and expecting some adjustment.  We had trouble with our blow-up mattress (lesson learned) but other than the few extra minutes it took for us to rearrange things for sleeping, it wasn't a huge change.  We transform daytime living areas into night time sleeping areas on a regular basis.  What's one more bed?

We had a week long visit planned with mom, and I was afraid we'd all be pulling our hair out by the time the week was up, but we honestly hated to see her go.  It was truly, very nice.  It might have been a little tougher if mom had been an early riser, since we aren't, particularly.  There was quite literally NO floor space to put a toe down even to step around things.  She isn't, though, and thankfully, we got up first and cleared the area before anyone else needed it.  It would have also been a lot tougher if we'd had different attitudes, but we all went into it with, "Great to be with you, we'll make it work!"

Fall and winter holidays are most noted for the food, and my kitchen is quite small.  Even in the world of small homes, mine would be considered moderate to small, probably, and I have to say that for holiday feasts, if you're planning the whole shebang, plan, plan, plan and prep ahead.  You may have to find creative alternate methods to accomplish some things.  Other things may just have to be put on the chopping block.

The hardest part of the holiday shindiggery (Like that word?  I did!  I'll probably use that again someday) was kitchen space.  Burner space, counter space, floor space, any space at all was at a premium in the kitchen.  Two people can't do the work at once, so my number one and two suggestions are these: do as much as possible ahead and plan to take turns to get things done if you are going to enlist the help of the family.

We used a great alternative method.  We'd always wanted to try fixing our big holiday meal in dutch ovens outside.  I have a lot of cast iron cook stuff.  I have several decent sized dutch ovens and one huge dutch oven that fit our big turkey, five pounds of potatoes and two pounds of carrots! Hats off to the cook: my wonderful husband.  He was so helpful!  He probably wouldn't have helped had it been cooked inside like "normal," but, since it was outside, he manned the fire, and it helped me with space, labor and time.  I had more free time to sit and enjoy with family than I ever have, I think.  It was wonderful!  There's usually so much work!  We sat around outside quite a bit while it cooked, one stacked on top the other with the turkey on the bottom, green beans next, then stuffing on top.

I did the pies and got the side dishes ready during the two days leading up to Thanksgiving. We have a really tiny refrigerator, too, so we had to plan all of that to death as well.  We had to sacrifice the spiced cider, relish trays and cookies.  I sort of missed them, but it's a lot of hassle and in this small of a place it was just too much. We're starting new traditions now.  That's not to say I won't do that stuff later on for another holiday dinner, but I'll have to incorporate it back in slowly and in more clever ways.

Eating was interesting.  It's a blessing that we had nice weather, because we set up most of the food buffet-style, in sort of a chow line outside on the picnic table.  We came in with plates filled with the outdoor goodies and all of the extra things that I had cooked in the house were set in dishes along the front of the counter in another serving line.  It went smoothly enough.

For the record and for future reference, had the weather been too cool or wet or whatever, I would have had to set the other food on the oven door and the oven rack, and then maybe squeeze something else on the stove top.  It would have been just that much more congested, but it's nice to know that I could have done it.

We can't really fit four at the table very comfortable, let alone five. We managed to put four of us there, anyway,  and it wasn't too bad.  We have a small, booth style dinette area.  I served drinks after everyone was seated to ease up on the traffic in the kitchen and in order to avoid a "Chinese Fire Drill" that we would have had to do if each of us were to get our own. I felt bad that one boy sat behind us on the couch, but, bless his heart, he didn't mind, and he purposefully eased my mind about it.

Clean up wasn't as bad as you might think, but I've always been very big on "clean as you go."  If you aren't already a clean as you go-er, I suggest you become one.  It's a necessary skill in a small home anyway, and it made a lot of difference with a meal like this.

This is longer than I meant for it  to be, so I'll stop.  Oh, yeah... the "after":

WOW!  I need to thin it out!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Done Enough

K, it's as done as it's gonna get.  I'm not as pleased as I might be if I worked on it and maybe fine tuned it a bit more, but I'm very pleased at how quickly it came back to me and how much I absolutely LOVED drawing it.  I'm ready to move on to something else.
(Part 1: here)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Drawing Stuff

I fancy myself an artist.  I know that must sound silly, because I don't paint or draw any more, but once upon a time I did.  Coming from someone who is, generally, pretty mercilessly self-critical, I'd say that I wasn't half bad at it, either, and it was something I was passionate about.  I used to smoke cigarettes back in those days, and I remember I'd say that art was the only thing that could make me forget to smoke.  It was something so fulfilling that it makes me absolutely shake my head, and I can't understand it myself, that I let it go for so long.

I used to draw constantly.  When I should have been doing other things, I'd draw.  I drew on any available surface.  I drew on things that I shouldn't have been drawing on.  Everything was begging me to draw on it.  Everything needed embellishment. I couldn't even write a sentence without drawing fancy letters.  I always had a pencil with me.   Always.  Drawing was something I thought about continuously and did whenever the opportunity presented itself.  When I was out, I doodled and sketched and looked forward to getting home to work on something there that I was drawing.  It was something that I could get completely lost in.     

I also dabbled in oil paints a bit.  Unlike other mediums, I instinctively understood the way oils worked and loved to mess with blending and the way I could manipulate the colors until I achieved the effects I wanted.   The smells, the feel, the way my whole mind would get involved in my artwork: I missed it all terribly!  I didn't even realize it.  I let life, kids, work, and a lot of poor decision making processes push it further and further away until I no longer remembered that I could do it at all.  How sad.

It was difficult to find a place to do anything in among the debris of a busy life, let alone get my art supplies out and try to get involved.  Even if I'd gotten them out, I reasoned, I could never get enough time all collected into a block to warrant dragging it all out, so I couldn't get inspired, let alone involved.  Someplace along the lost path I threw all my art into one drawer in my head and decided that if I couldn't find room to spread it out and time to let it set, that I couldn't do it at all, so why even bother.  I talked my brain into believing that I couldn't do it anymore.

DECADES passed.   Decades.

Then one day I was assessing things.  I was counting my blessings, being deliberately thankful for the things the Lord has blessed me with, when I realized He had blessed me with some measure of talent to draw.  If this was true, then I was really neglecting it.  I couldn't excuse that.  I may not be the best, but how will I know if I don't work on it?  Why would I have a talent at all if not to use?

All at once it dawned on me; I can still do it.  It's in me.  Pencils and paper don't require a lot of space or time.  Now my problem was a sort of strange fear.  It had been so long that I wasn't confident I could do it any more.  I made a lot of terrible arguments from lack of subject matter to not being able to think creatively anymore, so for another lo-o-o-o-o-n-g stretch I couldn't make myself start anything.

Then......... I decided to start drawing again.   Actually, I did better than that; I DID start drawing again.  I swallowed hard and put my pencil on the paper.  It was almost heart stopping.  I can't explain it.  I was afraid, excited, embarrassed and maybe a little bit sad, I may have cried, but I decided to override all the nonsense that kept me from it all these years.  If there was anything to it, the talent part, I wanted to jump in there and find out.

I have to admit, my first attempts aren't good, but I can feel it coming back to me.  I know I will be able to do it again.  It was a great, great feeling.  I wasn't swallowed up in it like I used to be, but then again, I was so nervous-- really nervous.  I was sketching and doodling, just to try to get the feel for it again, and I was embarrassed at how bad it was.  Of course, my family wanted to see, but I didn't want anyone to see it yet!  I think when they get used to seeing me draw the novelty will be gone, and then I can get comfortable with it.  I believe when I am eventually inspired to draw something 'for real,' I'll be quite absorbed by it again.  I feel right there on the edge of it.....

I am back on the horse.  Thirty-four, thirty-five years?  That's long enough.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

About Living Small - Attitude: Part 2

Sorry, not a great picture, but I was trying to emphasize the "closeness." It's the best one I had.

Recently I wrote a part 1 post about attitude, and what you might encounter as far as people's attitude toward you once you decide to tell them how you're planing on changing your lifestyle to one of smaller living.  Before you ever get that far, you should be considering some other very real issues you're going to be having with the attitudes of certain other people: the ones in your home.

Attitude: Part 2

I want to say at the outset that we are not perfect family and any one can do this, but wrong or bad attitudes can make it very, very difficult.  If the whole family understands this and has made a quality decision to give their best effort you are WAY ahead of the game.   Notice I said "quality decision"  and "best effort."  Rephrased, that means we are always working toward get along and never making excuses to not hold up our end of things.  We determined to hold ourselves responsible for the outcome of things.  No one can do it for you or stop you from it you once you made that quality decision.  Does this mean we always get it right?  Hardly!  But we mean to.

Having said that, allow me a little bit of bragging room, because I have got a great family!

My kids have been amazing.  As a result of the way we raised these guys, they are very family oriented.  We have always spent a lot of time, in fact, most of our time, in close proximity to each other.  When we lived in a bigger house we still sat together at the table for school or just for talking, and most of our recreational activities at home were carried out within eye shot of each other.  When we'd do things outside of the home for recreation, we were usually all together for that, as well.  We are sort of "groomed" for this kind of thing already.

We like each other.  It's really wonderful that we do, but it's also very beneficial to like each other, and to become more likable yourself, when you live in tight quarters.  Most people never think of that.  Many of the people I've talked to bring up troubles and issues and circumstances and this child or that spouse, how so-and-so is on their nerves, when the truth is, they just don't like their family situation.

"What?  I love my family!"

...but do you like them? I realize the rancor that a statement like that could generate, but I see it all the time.  There's a huge difference between whether or not you like them or you love them.  Some people are easier to love from across town, over the phone.  What about these people you live with?   It's different with them.  There is more at stake.  The investment is greater.  The repercussions of your ability to deal with them is immediate and can effect the outcome of everything.  You don't simply visit them and leave when you're tired.  You can't hang up on them when you need to go study.

You don't have that latitude with your family.  If you stop and think about it you know you shouldn't allow yourself to have an attitude like that anyway.  It's a cultivated habit to appreciate and be grateful for your family. It has to go beyond a tip of the hat in a passing conversation: I love my kids, I love my husband. You have to get beyond it, but you never will by complaining and indulging in selfishness. You have to mean to appreciate mundane, everyday things in your life, on purpose, even if they happen to be your family members, and even if they happen to be on your nerves.

First thing: stop complaining.  It defeats everyone who hears it and worse, it will defeat your efforts to make this work out.  It's selfish and self serving anyway.  Stop it.

Most people who say, "We could never live like that!"  really mean that they couldn't live that close together.  If you have a mindset that says you can't be in that close of proximity to one another for an extended period of time, then you can't.  Maybe you are unwilling.  Maybe you are just unprepared.  If you are unwilling, you have to become willing or else you won't be able to make it happen.   Don't be the one in your family that makes it hard on the rest.  If you are unprepared to make a move of this sort, you can fix it.

You could begin to cultivate it into your family right now. It's never, ever too late or too early to  make  changes.  In fact, you make them everyday, anyway, to adjust to life as you know it, you're just not as keenly aware of it when there are no other big changes going on around you.  Make it a point to incorporate some small changes into your day to day life.  Change things a little at a time starting with things that won't be "make or break" issues for you.  That will keep the stress level down while you "practice" changing.

It's certainly incumbent upon the parents to prepare the children for it.  Diligence in the small things is key.  Maybe there's not time to "break them in" before you move.  Even in a situation where it's necessary to move NOW, and a sudden approach has to be the one to take,  it's my opinion (just my opinion -- I'm not you, and I'm not the be all-end all authority) that things should go on as normally as possible.  No new rules, no huge changes except when the need presents itself.

For example they can't play with every toy they have in the middle of a floor that may only be ten by ten available open feet.  The new rules are: put up all your other things first, scoot to the side, keep the toys contained to a certain area.  That was our rule anyway, but we weren't always diligent.  Now we have to be, so, no screaming and shouting and stress, just reaffirm the old rules more often and with more diligence until they are habits.

You can't force them to understand and you can't make them endure it like an adult might.  This is likely going to be somewhat traumatic for everyone, and if you think a child is going to handle it like an adult, you'd better think again.  "Well, I'll make them.  They have no choice, neither do we, and I'm the parent, they'll do as I say."  True, true, true and true, but you are asking for problems if you have such an approach.  You have to assess and adjust your own attitude.  You can't fix your kids or your spouse, but you can fix yourself if you will put forth the effort and diligence it takes.  Other things fall into place when we fix our own attitudes.  You have to mean it.  It has to be a commitment.  You can't decide in six months that poor ol' you is the only one giving effort and give up trying.  That is NOT a "quality" decision.  You Make It Work.

We're not just talking about cooperation here.  This is about putting yourself in the role of a servant. If we look out for the comfort and well being of the others first, it will work.  Getting everyone to do that at one time is the trick.  It rarely happens.  On a more positive note, however, is this: rarely are we all having "one of those days" at the same time, either, and since we have committed to being servant minded, we can help the others through it, or at very least, not add more pressure to the situation.

It works.  It always works.

This requires a common purpose and a commitment to the objective and the family's success.  It puts a great burden on everyone.  The parents must first and foremost make the decision to be committed for the right reasons and to make whatever changes are necessary to promote the success of the venture.   It's not for the immature, the selfish or the emotionally needy.   This is going to sound tough, I know, but grow yourself up first.  Be harsh on yourself and crack that whip.  Until you can control yourself you shouldn't inflict yourself on others in closer, more intimate spaces.

All these things are good counsel, sound rules and truth for any life, but when you condense things down to a smaller area it becomes obvious and expedient to practice them with diligence NOW.

It's really not as complicated as all this sounds. The only reason I've gone to this kind of effort to explain it is because in all my time counselling and whatnot I understand that many people just don't "get it."  It's really very simple: Love one another.  Remember the Golden Rule: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,do ye also unto them."  Extend the same common courtesy inside the home with your family that you would with people outside the home.  Be nice, be helpful, be forgiving, and be friendly -- or else be the problem.

OK, I'll get off of this subject for a while.  Next time I want to talk about some of the necessary adjustments we had to make in our habits and routines.  Some of them may be fairly obvious, but some may surprise you.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I will get back to blogging about moving into our tiny house later this week.  I have a half dozen topics floating around in my head that I'd really like to share.  Actually, I started a post, but got sidetracked.  I've been preoccupied with family things and Christmas and whatnot ever since all those Thanksgiving posts I put up.   I think if I ever decide to do another round of  daily, "topical" post again I'll do it on a different blog site.  I wanted to keep this one focused on one topic.  Anyway, I'll get 'er on track later this week.

Meantime -- we have pecans!  It takes a long ol' time to shell out this many pecans!  Especially when you eat one, shell one, eat one, shell one.  I decided I'd only eat the broken ones as I went along.  That helped.  I'm going to try to get five or six or more containers this size shelled and filled before I'm done.  I should have had twenty or more, but we ate SO many!

For the record:  My future property, wherever we may journey, will have nut trees.  Having them has been great.  It's like getting a free and tasty little surprise with every trip to the back yard.   I get a perfectly packaged little bite of delicious, sweet nut with no more effort than to pick it up off of the ground and crack it.  It's almost like magic.   I love them!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 30 - Wisdom

Ack!~ I thought I had posted this!  And I was doing so well.  Oh, well.

I am thankful for wisdom.  Not that I have so much, but God said to ask Him for it and He'd give it to me liberally, so I did.  Looking back, He must have answered me.  I'm not near the idiot I used to be.  :)  So, I just keep asking Him for more.  It beats being a fool!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 29 - Friendship

I'm thankful that I am a friend.  Does that sound arrogant?  Well, you can't go around in life always looking at everyone and everything expecting, expecting, expecting without looking within to see what seeds you sow.  Be sure to sow friendship and you will certainly reap friends.  It may take a season before you can enjoy the fruit, but harvest is coming!  Be certain to sow good seeds.

I'm a bit lonely here in my new place.   I usually settle into a church and start making friends there and in the area right away.  It's seems especially hard because my church is fairly far from the house, so most of the people who attend there live on the other side of the lake and are not readily accessible.  I'm not likely to bump into them at the grocery store.  It's a large and busy church, so when I am there it's a bit difficult even for someone with a personality like I have to get my foot in the door with people on a personal level. 

I'm glad to know that it's only a matter of time, because I am a friend.  In fact, I'm a good friend, even a best friend.  Soon, others will know it and I'll be fairly rolling in friends!  I could very possibly be the best friend you have ever had, even if we've never met.  Be a friend.  Be one.  The rest is easy.

"A friend loveth at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

(photo credit)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 28 - Stuff

I'm thankful for all my stuff.  I am not a big one for fancy modern equipment and conveniences.  It's been my experience that with the effort of acquiring and maintaining the stuff, and having places to keep all the stuff, guarding and providing for the stuff's operation, and upgrading or replacing the stuff periodically, it's hardly worth having the stuff at all!

I tend to look for things that don't require batteries or even electricity if I can find them.  I like hand operated tools and I prefer time tested methods.  If I can use something simple and durable that costs me nothing but the original purchase price, then there's simply less opportunity for things to go wrong.

I prefer older ways of doing things, too.  Remember "cooking"?  Not buying hamburger helper and heating it at home, but actually making noodles with flour, cooking meat and making my own sauce to go on it. If I had it my way I'd grow the ingredients.  Cutting out the middle man and any extra steps gives me a greater amount of control over quality and cost.  It's sometimes and adjustment, but once that adjustment is made it's really not an inconvenience, and it's just a better and more efficient way, to my way of thinking.

That's all fine and good to a point, but some conveniences are so inextricably ingrained in my life that I don't even think about it or consider doing it any differently, let alone give thanks for it like I should.  For instance: the bathroom.  I have hot water, an indoor toilet, a sink and a toothbrush.  Can you imagine having to draw water and heat it on a stove, pour it into a basin and wash up?   How about toilet paper?  NOT an optional item.  I vaguely remember the days of outhouses,  and I can tell you from my very tiny bit of experience with them that there's plenty of reason to be thankful for a bathroom.

If you ever feel like you've fallen on hard times or that life's dealt you a bum hand, stop and think of all the people who don't even have fresh water to drink or can't get inside out of the elements to sleep at night.  They're everywhere.

I'm thankful for a soft bed and running water.  I'm happy about my tiny refrigerator even if it sometimes freezes my lettuce or melts my juice concentrate.  I'm thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes because it says three wonderful things: I have a sink, I have dishes, and they are dirty because I have had food.  I thank God for all I have.

(photo credit)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 27 - Drawing

I'm thankful that I can draw, which means, of course, that I should be doing it!   

I love to draw.  I'm not half bad at it, either, but I haven't taken the time to do much of it in years.  I set it aside when I started having kids and juggling life.  You know how it is.  

Lately I've been drawn toward it again, no pun intended.  I have all I need to start, but for some reason I'm just not jumping in there and doing it.  It seems like I have to have something in mind to draw before I start, and I can never think of a good subject.  I know I don't.  I could just draw whatever is nearby until I reacquaint myself with the motions and the equipment, but I just haven't done it.   

Then there's the ever present "blank page" to contend with.  I don't want to put that first mark on the new paper.  That's just as dumb as not knowing what to draw, yet it's almost an invisible line I can't cross.  I had this great idea (that I haven't tried) that I should put a thin watercolor wash on a few sheets of drawing paper just to take away the blankness of it.  Maybe I should just scribble a few background lines: anything to shut that screaming blank page up long enough to put a pencil on it.  When I do something I'm not ashamed of I'll post it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 26 - Laughing

Thank God for laughter!  
Most of my life growing up things were pretty tense.  I always tried to fill in any stressful periods with conversation to keep the stress level as low as I could.  If things took a bad turn I would always try to divert the bad situation by adding something lighthearted or a dose of comedy if I possibly could.  Even as a child I knew that if we could just start laughing we could fix just about anything.

Now that I'm all grown up with a home of my own, there is a lot of laughter in our house.  It just comes naturally now.  Sometimes we laugh so hard we can barely breathe!  Tears roll!  We squeak and wheeze!  Sometimes it's not even funny, but we laugh like idiots anyway.  Who hasn't stayed up too late and laugh hysterically at everything?  Or nothing? 

A friend of mine said to me once, "Christians don't have to drink to have a good time, we just have to stay up late."  Too true!  too true!

Laughing.  It's probably my favorite thing, more even than eating and sleeping, and that's saying a lot!

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." ~ Proverbs 17:22  

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 25 - Pets


I am thankful for pets.  How can anyone not believe in a loving God with things like pets here on this earth?  He must really love us to bless us with such wonderful and loving companions.

We always have a dog or two.  My folks had an old man cat, Uncle Joey, the kids called him.  I was never a huge cat fan until Joey, and he changed my view of cats.  I'm probably going to have to get one for my dog.

I can't imagine a home with no pet.

Handy Dandy Back Saving Tool

With our recent move and all, my only fall harvest this year has been pecans.  I found a helpful little tool.  It's definitely a back saver!  Sorry, I haven't figured out yet how to upload a video directly to my blog, so I'm just enclosing a link:

I tried to embed it, but it changed the dimensions of the player and I don't know how to fix it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 24 - Casual Mode

I started to call this "Eating With My Fingers." My husband might call it "Underwear Time."  You know, that time where you can sit around in your jammy pants or your underwear if you feel like it.  My husband might not like me saying that here, because then it sounds like he sits around the house in his underwear.  I have never known him to do that, ever, but he calls it that because it's that time and place where he could if he wanted to. Whatever we call it, I'm thankful for the time spent comfortably with the people we are closest to and safest around, where we can let our hair down and relax.

It's the where the kids sometimes raise up a forkful of Ramen noodles so high over their faces that the foot long strings dangle over their mouths and drip broth all down their chins and necks.  I give them the obligatory scolding winding up with,  "You'd better never do that in a public place!"  It's the mom's job to say it.  Carry on.

Burping is a contest.  The dog licks our faces.  We joke and laugh and make up weird games.  The "would you rather" game is popular.  It goes something like this, " Would you rather have a spider in your mouth or a mouse in your sleeping bag?"  You choose the scenarios.  It's actually a funny game, but you can imagine it gets out of hand sometimes.

We make strange noises.  We sing really loudly.  We yell, a lot.  Not necessarily angrily, or at each other, we just yell.  A lot.  We make up weird names for each other and joke about our weird habits and idiosyncracies.  We scramble words up and then use them.  We talk in fake accents. We eat nuts and the shells fly all over the place.  We eat popcorn and I have to pick it out of the couch cushions the next morning.

We have our schedules and serious times and work times and all that.  We have special rules for when company comes over and we "behave ourselves" in public.  We also have our house rules, and I insist on some basic manners, but here in the home, the best of all places, we are at ease.

Pence Home: Casual Mode.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 23 - Ice

If you visit my blog site, you know that I usually try have music to accompany my blog posts.  I couldn't find what I was looking for for this one, so I'll just let the power of suggestion take over.  For your listening pleasure, you will now be hearing in your head, (because you can't help it) at least some portion of:  
"Ice, Ice Baby"

I'm thankful for ice.  Not snowy, weathery ice, but bagged, freezer ice.  I don't mind having a glass of room temperature water, and if a cup of juice or tea sits too long I'll generally finish it up anyway, but after a while I just want something really, really cold: ice cold.

I think of the movie, "Castaway."  Tom Hanks' character is stranded for a period of years on an island.  If something like that were to actually happen to you, you would go through a whole lot out there all alone.  If you saw the movie, it really only hints at some of the awful possibilities.  It would be very, very hard.  Every day would be another day to adjust to not being able to do any of the things you used to do.  The character barely escapes with his sanity.

When he was finally rescued and returned to "civilization", he continued in some of the habits he had fallen into during his time on the island, but, after all that he had gone through the one thing he wanted, the one thing he went back to from his life before the time he spent alone, was ice.

Not necessary, not an item I would put in my bag if I were fleeing for my life and could only grab essentials, ice would be something I'd miss a lot if I couldn't have any.

We have a little building in town that sells nothing but ice, twenty pounds bulk or eighteen pounds bagged, for two dollars.  We hit it a couple of times a week.   That's a lot of ice for a family of four. By the way, they play, "Ice, Ice Baby" after you pay, while you wait for it to drop.  You were hearing it in your head, weren't you?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22 - Coffee

I'm thankful for coffee.  Coffee is good with everything.  The smell is the best! Nothing will wake me up faster than the smell of coffee cooking in the morning.  It's good with breakfast, sweets, toast or all by itself.  I like to get a cup and take it outside first thing in the morning while it's still quiet and just sit there, me and my coffee and whoever will join me.

I love a cup after dinner at night.  Coffee tops off dinner better than dessert.  Coffee tops off dessert!

This is Rhenda's coffee rhyme.  I could drink coffee any time.
Not like tea, needing nook and lace, I can drink coffee any place.
Often in my truck I drink.  Actually, always there, I think.
If  I buy a car, I must be sure; Is there a holder there to keep my mug secure?

I could drink it right at dawn. in my chair out on the lawn.
I drink it when supper's through.  If you show up I'll share with you.
I like it warm, but not too hot.  No cream or sugar, just the pot.
Light roast, dark roast, I don't care, As long as there's enough to share.

(Dr. Suess I ain't.   I promise never to do that to you again.)
I could drink tea just about any time, too.  Maybe I should make a tea post.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 21- The Bible

I'm so thankful that I have a printed Bible to read.  I have several laying around, different versions and whatnot.  Can you imagine living in a place where you couldn't get your hands on one?  We take for granted that we can just open one up and read it, but what if you couldn't?  I thank God for a Bible I can lay my hands on and read and study, and I pray that I can commit more and more of it to memory.  The way things are going it may not be a privilege we will have in this nation much longer.  I hope I'm wrong about that, but better safe than sorry.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 20- The Printed Word

When I was in school I did not like to read.  Assignments in school weren't interesting enough to keep me engaged, and the style of writing was often so dull I couldn't tell you what I'd read even when I did manage to get through it.  It was all I could do to read a whole book even if if I'd chosen it myself and it sounded good to me.  I couldn't keep my attention devoted to reading long enough to get hooked on a plot or a character, and I was dyslexic to boot.  It was a chore on a good day and a nothing less than a torture on a bad day.

I remember the feeling I got when, for the first time, I read and enjoyed a book cover to cover just because I wanted to.  I was kind of proud of myself, but mostly, I still remember to this day thinking that I'd probably like reading a lot more if I knew the book was going to be satisfying and not just a horrible waste of time.  

As I got older, maybe fifth or sixth grade, I remember reading a series of whodunnits that I really liked.  It was the Charity Ames series; she was a nurse and accidental private investigator.  I imagine the books were sort of like the Hardy Boys, only for girls. They kept my interest for whatever reason.  Later on, some of the stuff they forced on us in junior high and high school turned out to be good, but for the most part I just never became "a reader."  

I continued read odd books here and there, but in the back of my mind was always the same thought I had as a kid in grade school: I hate to waste my time on a book that's less than great.   I didn't read much for many years because I just didn't want to dedicate time to something that may or may not have been worth it.

I don't know when it happened, and I don't remember any transition, but suddenly, one day, all I wanted to do was read.  How does something like that happen?  I read all the time now, and I can let hours slip away without even realizing it.  Old books are my favorites.  Fiction or non, I love old books about life long ago: farming, gardening, animals  cooking, costume, almost anything about how people used to live.  I like feeling like I've rediscovered lost lore or maybe kept someone's memory alive just by reading their work one more time.   I can get so caught up in them that I neglect things around the house.  

I love books of sermons by pastors I'd never heard of before.  I love stories about real events, re-telling things in details that would have been lost in time if it wasn't for some obscure author taking the time to record it all.  And Poetry!  When in the world did I decide I loved poetry?  Then there's children's books.  Children's books from the 1800's are great to read.  They are nothing like the books children have today.  Old farmer's almanacs are endless sources of entertainment and information.  Magazines and catalogs are interesting, especially when they have all the advertisements and prices in them.

I am thankful for books in whatever form I can get them. Printed is my favorite, but ebooks are fine, too.  I get tons of them from Google Books, but there are so many sources on the internet where you can get free reading material.  I think I'll compile a list of my favorite online places to get books and post it to the comments on this post.  Maybe I'll make a whole new post of it. Feel free to comment and leave me links to your favorite one's too!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 19 - Work

I'm thankful that my husband is working.

We get to have my mother in law here for Thanksgiving this year.  We're really excited about that!  Usually we go out to her house, but now that we're so far away we expected it would just be us here this time.  We were surprised and excited to find out she was coming!  I'll undoubtedly post about how to have a holiday meal and a guest staying over in a tiny home after this is all finished.  It's sure to be an adventure!

Anyway, Allen has to pick her up from the airport in just a few hours, at about 1:00 am or so, and bring her back here, then in just a few more hours he has to take off for work.  He had requested the 22nd - 25th off of work so we could all visit.  He has already had several unexpected days off and we thought he was going to be off straight through until after Thanksgiving now. It was shaping up that way, but the dispatcher called him and asked him to drive.  No problem.  He hadn't asked for today or tomorrow, so he went to bed to try to get a good nap in before he had to do all this.  About two hours into the nap the dispatcher calls again: change of plans. He's off.  Well, the nap would do him some good since he has to go to the airport tonight, so, no harm no fowl.  Now he's nice and rested and wide awake....


Change of plans.  Looks like he's working after all.  Try to go back to sleep, Allen.

This job has some of the weirdest, most unpredictable hours of any job I've ever heard of.  If this were an isolated instance I guess it would be one thing, but that's not the case.  Usually, commonly, it's much worse.  This one little instance wouldn't have bothered me at all, because he has been home a few days and he's nice and rested.  He's ready for it now, but that's rarely the case.  Some days he goes on little or no sleep at all, often for days on end.  Truck stop food or canned soup cold from the can, no showers and sometimes no contact with anyone: he puts one foot in front of the other almost in a stupor, sometimes.  He get s so exhausted.    Other days he sits and waits by the phone.  Sometimes he's miles and miles away sitting and waiting.

Most days we do fine with it; just grin and bear it.  Other days, like the night we are going to pick up his mother from the airport so we can have her here for our first Thanksgiving away from our friends and family and all our familiar things, and her first Thanksgiving without her husband of over fifty-one years -- I have to really remind myself that the way things are these days, we are blessed that he is working at all.  Thank you, Jesus.  I won't let my mind go there anymore.

We are so blessed to be having her here.  We'll enjoy every minute of our time.  To get all agitated because his boss called him in is ridiculous.  He's working!  We could be among the ranks of the unemployed or the underemployed, watching our lives spiraling out of control or maybe circling the drain for the last time.  My husband waits by the phone in case they call him in.   So many are waiting by the phone hoping that someone will call them about any work at all.  Here, at the onset of the holiday season, it would be especially tough to be in that shape.

Also, I think of our troops overseas.  They don't get regular meals or showers.  They are uncomfortable, tired, out of contact with the world at home, waiting.

I'll remember them all before I complain.  I'll remember them and their situation on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

God, show me where and how to be a blessing and a witness to someone this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  To begin with, it was in the big middle of my favorite season. Anything festive in the fall was wonderful to me as far back as I can remember.  Secondly, the family came together for Thanksgiving.  It seemed that more of us made it back to be together at gramma's house for Thanksgiving than for any other holiday.  Eventually it became my favorite holiday because I recognized how amazingly blessed we are, and I am thankful to God.  The idea that we could have a national holiday just to thank Him is great, isn't it?  

It's everything about Thanksgiving that I like! This holiday suits us!! We are the eating-est, thankful-est, hanging out-est bunch around! Food, family, relaxation, great weather, leftovers, games, napping: all with a heart of thanksgiving to God for all He has given us.  

Have a happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

(photo credit)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17 - Dinner Out

I'm thankful for dinner out.  Not one of those date nights where my husband and I get to be alone together, which is worthy of a post of it's own, but just a nice dinner out someplace with the family. It's one of our favorite things to do together.  No time cooking or cleaning, separating me from the rest of them, just time sitting together goofing off, enjoying a good meal and having a good time.

We spend a lot of time together as it is.  It's one of the blessings of being home schoolers and living in a small home.  This is just something that we have assimilated into our lives as being a special and fun family time.  Cheaper than a night at the theater, more relaxing than attending some event or other, we all agree it's what we enjoy best.  Weirdos.  lol

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 16 - Signs

I am thankful for signs... and decent roads with a lot of signs... and I think maybe the guy who made the iPhone maps app, too.  My family jokes that I can get lost in my own bathroom.  Well, I don't think it's that funny....

To me, maps look like a maze.  You know, the kind a kid has where you have to draw a line from "start" to "finish".  If someplace in the middle of the maze they hit a wall, they have erasers and they get restarts.  If I get too far in and realize I went the wrong way I just need to somehow magically get back to where I started and try again.  Don't even expect me to figure out how to get anywhere from where I wound up!  It's a whole 'nuther trip now!  I have a lot of trouble getting up the nerve to break into another town and tackle all it's tangle of freeways and access roads and bypasses anyway, so please don't add a road map to it!  Road maps simply mock me when I'm in the middle of one of my moments.

Nothing beats a good, clear, road sign when I am on my expedition.  If I'm not already lost it can be as reassuring as wink and a nod and a pat on the back.  If I  am lost ONE STINKING SIGN could lead me back into the real world.  

I remember going to the airport in Las Vegas.  Never mind that I had gone there quite a few times before, I ALWAYS had trouble finding it. They had, like, one sign to get you there.  It was a tiny sign on a pole under other, bigger and seemingly more important signs.  It had a picture of a little bitty jet pointing toward the road that I was supposed to take.  I missed the turn almost every time I went there.  I must have stressed Chris horribly when he was leaving for boot camp.  I almost made him late for the Army, for crying out loud!  

Then, getting back out of the airport, the sign says to go such and such direction for the highway I was looking for.  I would, and somehow I'd wind up in the wrong place anyway or going the wrong direction on the right road.  It's a special talent I have, I guess.  

I'm hoping that the iPhone maps app will be my salvation.  Maybe I can be redeemed in the eyes of my family and not be teased mercilessly as the one who can get lost on a straight road. I haven't tried the app out yet. Maybe I should practice, because I get to venture into Dallas this week.  I'm picking my mother in law from the airport.  I'm so happy she's coming!  It looks like my husband will be off work, so maybe he'll be able to get us there and back safely.   I hope so.  I'd hate to kick off the Thanksgiving week by driving her half way to Waco in the middle of the night before I figured out I was headed the wrong way.

I will go.  I will conquer.   I will win.

(Photo credit)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 14 & 15 - Change and Opportunity

I'm behind on my posts, so I'm going to roll two into one today.  I'm thankful for change and opportunity.

Some people hate change.   Most people like things just the way they are, comfortably predictable to some degree, no surprises outside the parameters we've subconsciously set, but nothing too unusual or unexpected.  Change is inevitable, so you might as well be agreeable to it. Even if it isn't what you planned or wanted, hey, here it is! Make the best of it!

I thrive on change!  Change is opportunity.  Opportunities come with change.  Some people never hear opportunity knocking. Me?  I hear it coming down the road!  I will run out and meet it if I can.  If change is coming, why wait until it takes you by surprise and catches you off guard?  Grab it and make it the opportunity of a lifetime!

We are supposed to live by faith.  Where is the freedom to jump and follow God if we are so stuck in our plans and habits and so resistant to change that it takes an emergency to force us up?  Some of our greatest opportunities are hidden in situations that we can reject out of hand because they look too much like an uncomfortable change on the surface.  How do you know it's uncomfortable, and, if it is, how do you know it wouldn't be worth the discomfort?  That attitude is fearful or lazy, or both, and it's unacceptable.  Just a little bit of soul searching and you know that.

Most people would plan every day to be "normal" and never have any occasion to step out on faith at all.  That's not why we're here.  That's not how we're designed.  We're  created to go through life, not park in it someplace.  We are designed to be ready to go when God calls.  We are designed to be trained, and to be overcoming conquerors, victors and warriors!  How could we overcome if there were no obstacles?  How can we have victory with no battles?  To the victors go the spoils!  Have you ever had any spoils?  Wouldn't you like to have some spoils?  Even with my limited experience I can tell you, spoils make the battles worth the sweat and the blood.  You will never have the opportunities to enjoy the spoils if you don't learn to enjoy the training and then use it to win.  Stop quitting and win!

Do I enjoy it?  Ask an athlete if he enjoys his training.  He will say yes.  I'm sure he didn't like it in the beginning, but he stuck with it and eventually got to where he loved it and lived for that "burn" *that indicated improvement.  He trained for the win.  Ask a well trained soldier what he wants to do and where he wants to go after he's trained and prepared and he'll tell you, "To the battle."  Yes, I enjoy it.  I love pressing toward the mark.   I want to win.

There's and old saying that God doesn't call the equipped, but equips the called.  Don't sit on your equipment!

 ".....I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Php 4:11-13 

(photo credit)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13 - Age

I'm thankful for my age.  Pastor Joe thought it was the weirdest thing that I liked my wrinkles and whatnot. I'd never really thought about it much until he laughed at me for it, but not a lot of people, women in particular, like looking older.

Mind you, I'm not just thrilled with them all.  The "let the air out of my neck" thing doesn't excite me much, but some off it is just cool!    My crepe-y skin is soft and interesting to look at.  What's wrong with gray hair and a little meat around the middle?   I'd ten to one rather try to look natural and "kempt" at fifty-three than try to look twenty-five at fifty-three and come off garish, harsh and obviously dissatisfied with my regular self.  Life makes you look the way you look.  I have a good life that I enjoy.  I look fine.  :)

Things change as you get older, some good, some bad; we adjust.  I wouldn't go back to my youth for all the tea in China!  I am settled, gained a little wisdom, I'm not worried about being cool anymore, my fashion statement is what fits and doesn't have holes or stains (just kidding...  sort of) and my need for outside stimulation can be met in a lawn chair in the morning with a hot cup of coffee.  The only thing I miss a bit is the energy level.  I could use some of the abundant energy I had when I was a teenager.  I could put it to much better use now than I did then, that's for sure.

My grandma used to say, "Youth is wasted on the young." Oh, haha, Gramma!  NOW I get it!

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 12 - In-Laws

Thank God for good in-laws, on both ends: parents and children.

I think after we are parents we are promoted to the next class: in laws.  It isn't something you just know how to do, and you can't master it over night.  I'm thankful that I had wonderful teachers.

My mother and father in-law have been stellar examples of what an in-law should be like.  I hate to call them in-laws, but I dislike all the cutesy replacement words people use for things like that even worse, so I just call them mom and pop.  Through all the ups and downs we have grown to care for each other as much as any "real" parent/kids do.  I love them and they love me.  I can only hope I learned something about how to be an in-law, and that my children-in-law will develop a relationships with me like the one I have with mine.

They taught me to keep my opinions to myself unless asked, and then when asked, stick to the Word of God with the answer.  They never butted in, never manipulated us, never pressured us, ever.  They called us but didn't ring our phone off the hook, invited us to visit, popped in some, (all those things are a tricky balance!) and always seemed to be happy with it.  I regret that we didn't spend more time with them now that I can relate to missing the grown kids.  It made them so very happy to see us when we visited.  There's never enough visit time with the kids.  I guess the trick is appearing happy with that.

Now we can't visit them as much and I miss them.  Now that Pop is with the Lord I can't be there with mom. I'm sorry, mom, I wish I could.  I love you.

My beautiful daughter-in-law: she is blessing to my son.  What more could we possible ask?  I see them, happy and doing all the in love things and it blesses my heart.  Their life is in full swing!  If I don't call enough it's because I'm trying to strike that tricky balance between so much that it's annoying and not enough to seem interested. If I don't ask about your life it's because I don't want to seem intrusive.  If I don't say I love you enough it's because I'm a jerk; I should.  I do love you, it's just still an awkward dance sometimes, getting all the steps right without stepping on any toes.  A few more years in the in-law class and I'll have 'er down pat!  ;-)

I love you all and I'm very thankful for you.

Moving into a Small Home - Attitude

Going on the assumption that you might be planning to make a change in your life toward smaller living or that perhaps you are curious as to what it may be like, I want to start with the most obvious area: space.  This is a really big topic, so I am going to try to break it up a bit.  There are some basic areas I want to try to cover in the next few posts:

Necessities - You are going to have to re-assess what you have always thought of as being necessities.  I was just certain I couldn't make it without all of my kitchen equipment, for example.  Surprise!  Not only could I, but I had to, so I might as well learn it!  You may have to break a lot of basic living habits.

Personal belongings: Storage - It's hard, but some things just have to go.

Daily Activities and Ministrations - Reading, writing,, paying bills, cooking, doing dishes, home entertainment, sleeping, etc... all of these situations become more interesting when you are only a few feet apart.

Cabin Fever? - Any way you slice this pie the pieces are small.  You can enjoy it or not.  It's your choice, but it's a situation that requires some reprogramming, a lot of self-education and preparation leading into it, and a whole lot of deliberate patience.

Attitude! - I want to say at the outset that we are not perfect family and any one can do this, but wrong or bad attitudes can make it very, very difficult.  If the whole family understands this and has made a quality decision to give their best effort you are WAY ahead of the game.

Which brings me to the topic I wanted to deal with first:
Perception -  I want to address specifically the attitudes you are probably going to get from other people when they learn you're planning to move into something small.  To the world's way of thinking we're going the wrong direction. We're supposed to go bigger and bigger not smaller.  I've had people think I was crazy, they've gotten angry, (yes, really) they've been sorry for me, afraid, confused, you name it.  Some wished they could do it, some tried to talk me out of it.  You will hear it all.

As I said in an earlier blog post, living small is historically very "normal."  It's only in the last few generations that we have decided we need big  homes.  We think that if our children don't have their own 'XX' square feet of privacy that we have somehow injured their development.  If I can't have perfect surroundings for each activity I have to perform then I just can't do it!  Even though this is NOT TRUE, it is accepted by society completely.   As a result you can get any number of reactions from people. Be prepared! Pick your battles.

Some people don't matter a whole lot in our everyday world.  We like them, they are acquaintances or whatever, but they don't factor into our day to day life very much.  Not everyone needs to know or even wants to know what you're up to.  Don't even bother to tell them.  If they find out and feel it necessary to pipe up about it, don't feel the need to explain yourself to them.  A simple, "Really? We like it," or something similar will do.  Some are bold or just nosy, but they can be politely dismissed.

Among the people who do matter to you there may be some strange responses.  Some of them we are in close enough relationship with to sit down and intellectually discuss it, and walk away with understanding and even support.  That's how it should be with most of the people, but there are those who are actually sad or afraid and you can't make them understand.  Honestly, I can not figure out why anyone would feel that way.  I've tried and tried to explain our hearts and minds to them, but they don't get it.  That's why I say now you should just politely dismiss them. They will wear you out and it is pointless to belabor it.

This is what I mean by pick your battles.  Those you care about who are having trouble with your "weird lifestyle" are just going to have to be marginalized in any future discussions about it.  A lot of "yeah, uh-huh's" and letting them know you're "fine" and life is good.

In our own situation, there were those who meant well, I have no doubt, but they really didn't get it.  They will point out a lot of negatives and they can stress you out about things where you don't need any added stress.  Everything has a negative side.  If you start listening to too much of that and begin to dwell on it you doom yourself to failure.  Don't allow it.  Dance around the topic however you need to, smile and talk about the good things.   I suggest you avoid the subject altogether if you can once you have determined they aren't going to support you.  If you felt you needed to tell them your plans, then you've done your part.  Now it's time to protect your family and home, not defend your decisions to people who, other than being a little concerned, aren't really directly effected by it.

We had people in our lives that we were very close to, people we loved and who loved us, begin to look down their noses at us over this.  OK, yeah, so that's their problem, but in a discussion about the effects of this lifestyle and it's ups and downs, this needs to be mentioned because it hurt us.  A lot.  And it happened.

I have an internet acquaintance who actually had a "friend" turn her into the state child protective agency because he felt that the rooming and sleeping accommodations they made for the children was  somehow not up to snuff.  They were actually investigated.  That is a nightmare scenario!  Thankfully it was tossed out, but the point is, some of the consequences are far more severe than the situation deserves, so, if they can be avoided by just keeping it to yourself, maybe that's the best game plan.

With most people, it's out of sight is out of mind anyway.  They'll drop it if you will.  Just leave it.  Ask yourself why you feel compelled to discuss it with anyone you might be getting ready to discuss it with.  It might just be excitement on your part, but not everyone will be as excited as you are and you might be borrowing trouble, so weigh it out.

I guess I said all that to say this: Be ready for some opposition.  Who knows why; it just happens.  Just be sure going in that it's the thing you want to do, and do it for real, well thought through reasons.  The best way to calm everybody's nerves is to be a success at it.  You can only do that if you're sold on it yourself.  We just recently passed our one year mark.  If, later on, anyone who had any of those thoughts about us in the beginning actually let it cross their minds that we live in a small place, which I doubt, then they would probably say to themselves, "Wow, they did it."  That's good enough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 11

Today I'm thankful for my the smell of fallen leaves on a cold night.  I went outside  tonight and it was so strong in the air I could almost taste it.  I think that if I had no idea what season it was and someone woke me out of a sound sleep, blindfolded me and put me outside in the yard, I could have told you from scent alone that it was November.  Rich, heavy, and earthy made crisp on the the cold air!   Someone should figure out how to bottle that smell.  It's one of life's greatest smells.  That and the smell of book pages.  And coffee.  And toast.  Toast is good, too. 

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10

I'm thankful for my church.  We are really new here and it's a big church.  It's hard to find your place and fit in and make friends in a new church, particularly a big one.  I am tempted at times to give up trying and go someplace different, smaller and more personal feeling, but I know God has brought us here for a purpose, so I continue to go.  I know that the passage of time will fill in all these uncomfortable "stranger" gaps.  In the mean time God has given me  a timely word each and every time I have gone there.

I am thankful that when I feel alone God is with me.  He led me to this river and He will send ravens to feed me if He has to.  I will stay where He puts me.   Imagine!  I will receive from the Hand of God when I go where He sends me!  There's nothing better than that!

(Photo credit)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Important Lighting Issues and Options

I learned something new about living in travel trailers again this week:  if you are planning to live in one full time and still plan to use the lights as you usually would have in a standard home, you should switch the light bulbs from incandescent to LED or fluorescent.

The 12 volt fixtures in an RV save a lot on electricity, and I really like them.  The bulbs last a long time in them, they are easy to change and clean and all that, but the incandescent bulbs that are made for them get too hot if you leave them on too long, and they can (do) melt some of the pieces of the bulb and the fixture.  It seems bad that they would sell you something that could cause this.  I guess they expect you won't be in it so much or something, I don't know, but it's a scary arrangement. I've heard all the stories about fires in trailers and electrical fires, and I don't like the thought of either of them.

We had a fixture short out in the bathroom.  This one was a two sided fixture, and we noticed the bulb in one side had gotten dimmer than in the other over time.  My husband took note of it one day.  I assumed if it was a problem he'd say something more, but he never really did until it blew a fuse.  He fixed the fuse, and it seemed alright, although the light was still dim, but when it blew another one he checked on it, and I'm glad he did.  It had melted the end of the bulb to the point that it came apart and had melted the wires in the fixture.  
I'm glad my husband understands electrical things, because I certainly don't, yet.  I'm also really thankful he was at home this week to fix it!  

The bulb itself never burned out on it's own, it just dimmed.  I didn't think much of it in the beginning because the bulbs in the fixtures are the same ones that were in it when we bought the trailer a year ago.  No telling how long they'd been in there before we got it.  They had been burning out, presumably because they were old, and I'd been replacing them as we went along, so I was expecting more to go pretty soon anyway.  One more was not too alarming. 

I did note it was the only one that just dimmed. I probably should have taken note as to which ones I'd changed.  It didn't seem important at the time, but looking back, had I kept track of it I might have had a reason to red flag it and have him check into it before we had trouble.  I could't remember if that was one I had already changed or not.  That's another good reason to keep journals.

The next day, fresh on the heels of this event and keenly aware of the heat of the bulbs now, I remembered having a bulb go out in the kitchen recently, so I went in to check on it.  Lo and behold, when I touched it, it flickered.  It wasn't burnt out at all, it was shorted out like the other one.   I was afraid to touch it!  I did, however, and managed to remove the bulb, and it, too had melted and parts of it had disintegrated and it had come undone in the socket.  Obviously we determined that we had to do something about the rest of them.  Short of sitting in the dark, we found two options.

#1 - LED bulbs.  
  1. They are COOL to the touch.
  2. I could keep my existing fixtures and just replace the bulbs.
  3. They are bright and come in lots of colors, or tones, or hues or whatever, to make it easy on the eyes.
  4. They last a very, very long time: 100,000+ working hours.  Obviously they would pay for themselves over time. 
  5. They are very cost efficient to operate.  They use about twenty percent of the power of an incandescent bulb, which matters on your bill when you are hooked up, but will matter even more if you are *off grid and have to monitor how much juice everything uses. If you take into consideration the number of bulbs in the trailer, and we have around twenty including outdoor lights, we could considerably reduce the battery drain by switching to LED.  If we had all twenty of our incandescent bulbs turned on at one time they would draw in the neighborhood of **20 amps, which would drain a single **12 volt battery in a matter of a few hours.  If we replaced them all with LED and then ran them all, they would use less than four volts.  That is significant.  

*I don't understand all I know about that, I'm only learning, but I know that using less is good.  
**Please don't ask me about volts and amps and power systems for off grid.  I'm Ned in the first reader on all this stuff.

I found these great links for more info on the pro's and cons:

The downside: 
  1. The bulbs are expensive.  I've seen them at RV stores for around $17.00 - $20.00 per bulb, and they aren't a lot better on the internet, at least for the ones we decided we'd like to buy. Some only shine in one direction and we want the multi-directional ones which are even more expensive, starting in the neighborhood of $35.00 each and up from there.  The prices seem to be coming down somewhat, but to replace twenty bulbs even at around twenty dollars apiece would really be quite a ticket.  We would have to do one or two at a time.  I will likely buy one of the directional ones and see how it works in one of the single fixtures before I spring for any of the really expensive ones.  When I do, I'll post.  
#2 Fluorescent lighting.
  1. Cool to the touch.
  2. Considerably more cost efficient than incandescent.
  3. Brighter than incandescent, and I prefer the light quality; that's just my personal taste.
  4. Replacement bulbs are around $5.00 - $10.00.  That is slightly cheaper than replacement costs for LED's, but they do not last as long.
The downside:
  1. The lighting fixtures will have to be replaced.  There is really not a great selection of beautiful fixtures available even on the internet.  The only one available locally was less than attractive, but not horrible, so we got it... for $50.00+ dollars.  At a dozen or more fixtures, you can do the math on that one.
  2. The bulbs do not last nearly as long as the LED lights.
  3. I haven't seen any replacement bulbs for these type of fixtures just lying around on the shelves any more commonly than I have the LED lights because they are 12 volt tubes.  You can't just go buy one at Wal Mart.  LED is taking over the market in RV and marine lighting, so it's actually easier to find LED now days.
We went ahead with a fluorescent fixture in the bathroom, mostly because that's all they had available and we needed something right away, as in NOW while my husband was home to fix it.  I'm not at all sorry, because I really like it where it is, but I have to say, I have completely talked myself into LED while writing this post.   

No one says I have to replace all of them at one time.  Besides, it's like the industry to change the standard occasionally.  In my short studies here it already seems to me like they are trying to switch over to a different kind of a flat base which would, of course, require a new fixture, so I might as well wait to do as many as I can until the die is cast.  For now I'll plan on  getting a few bulbs.  It pains me to shell out so much dough for one measly bulb, but if it lasts such a long time and isn't hot, I'm going to hold my nose and do it.  

Right now I have to say I like the light our new fluorescent casts so much that I may eventually get one for the kitchen over the sink, unless it turns out that we like the LED's even better.  I wish I could test one.  I wish they had sample bulbs or trials.  Well, I'll let you know when I get one.

Anyway, this obviously isn't all there is to RV lighting, and these are certainly not the only options, just  the ones we are looking at.  For the record, our trailer is a 2001 model.  I imagine a lot of things have changed about how they do things in newer ones.  

Feel free to post in my comments if you have any ideas or suggestions.  I'm brand new at this and learning as I go.  Any good info is money in the bank.

Ps119:105 ~ "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."