Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Day In The House

Please excuse any typos. It's a little chilly in the house this morning so I have two cats on my lap which makes typing on a netbook awkward to say the least.

Today is our last day in this house. I'm not wholly sure how I feel about it yet. The weather is supposed to hit in the mid-sixties (bizarre for late Jan) today and the rest of the week is also set to be quite warm though with some rain. I have one more pass to do on the belongings I'm abandoning just to make sure I'm not leaving anything I want to keep or don't want people to find. I still have some clothing to move into the van but need to reorganize yet again before I do that since I'm also going to have to accommodate 6 cat carriers. I also have stuff sitting in the mouse's pre-built van cubby that I need to find a spot for.

Yesterday Silver popped by and picked up a box of books as well as my computer tower for storage at her place.

Things left to do directly connected to leaving this house:

Turn off electricity
Cancel FiOS and turn in box, remote, router
Go get a new mailing address that isn't a PO box and isn't in this town
Super glue locks shut (yeah, I realize it's petty and a bit passive/ aggressive but hey, if they want to take my house from me they're going to have to work for it)

Tomorrow morning I plan to pack up the cats and take off. Not sure where I'm going since I plan to sort of stay in the area. I have an offer from G to use a spare room or his driveway for a bit which is nice to have in the back of my mind and I definitely think the driveway is feasible since it will give me a chance to acclimate to living in the van in a safe, private environment where I can plug in.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Occupy Caravan

Fuckin'-A! I was wondering when someone would get this going! There is now a formed caravan leaving the west coast heading toward me. I'll probably hop on for the last stop in DC since I'm already here. But I will provide as much support as I can from here.

Links for the caravan website and facebook can be found in the sidebar.

Homeowners Insurance Canceled

Just talked to the insurance company to pay my van insurance and to find out if I pay a month in advance or for the month I'm in with my homeowners insurance.

Decided that I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for insurance on a house I've been kicked out of. Awesome news that I pay a month in advance so there's $30 I don't have to put out this month.

Tomorrow is my last day here in my home. I'm pretty much set to get into the van. Still have to get the fuel senders in and maybe the fuel pump (I had some starting issues yesterday) but aside from that and some other minor things I'm good to go. With the temps being so mild around here I'm not in the least worried about moving into the van though it looks like I'll be hanging in the area for another couple of months with ShamrockFest being held in late March and if I'm staying until March I might as well stay through my birthday in early April so I can celebrate with my friends.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ShamrockFest 2012

Guess who has two thumbs and will be there? THIS GUY! Ok, I'm a girl but whatever. I'm stoked. ShamrockFest is Washington DC's annual tribute to Paddy's Day and all things Irish! Irish bands, beer and fun. I'm attending with a VIP ticket so maybe I'll come out of my shell a little and find an Irish footballer to break.

More Shelves!

Yesterday G and I went to a local RV place. It wasn't much use since I didn't find the thermostat I need and we didn't figure on measuring the little outlet for my power cord. On the way home I got to thinking about the one big closet that's built into the van. I assume it was made to be a hanging clothes closet but I have to say that I don't think that makes much sense since who really hangs their camp clothes? Let alone the fact that I can barely get a hanger in the space and on the hooks provided.

G and I brainstormed about it and decided to try building in a couple of shelves. I've been using a plastic closet hanging organizer but it kept falling apart between the weight of my clothes and bumps while driving. It would sway back and forth causing the clothing to fall off. On top of that it really wasn't utilizing all of the available space to an efficient capacity.

Some scrap wood from his warehouse and an hour or so later - I have two spacious shelves! They rock cookies! One shelf now holds as much as the entire organizer I had in there. They make better use of the space not only on the shelves but under them on the floor area because I can now actually see to access the floor area.

I did a slight bit of reorganizing yesterday and plan to do some more today while I have daylight. Tuesday is my last day in the house as I have made the decision to be done with the stress of waiting for the sheriff's department and am just going to take off.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lunch - Chili Con Carne

I know, I know - there's lots of debate as to whether chili is still chili if it has beans in it. Here are my thoughts on the subject. I grew up on the east coast - Maryland to be exact and our chili always had beans in it and so my chili has beans - lots of them because I like them. So take that!

I always make my chili the day before I want to eat it simply because day old chili tastes so much better once the flavors have had a chance to mingle. I also like a lot of meat in my chili and I tend to eat it with a dollop of sour cream or some cheese. My simple chili recipe:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can green chilies
1 can tomato sauce
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 small onion chopped
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin

That's it. Easy peasy and tastes good to me. Will serve 4 - 6 or one person like me for 4 days. Freezes well

More on The Weather

I woke up very early today to the sound of thunder. Rain was just pouring down in loud, fat drops. The last time it rained like this I discovered a leak from the roof vent in the van so I quickly donned some shoes and a hood to run out and make sure there were no leaks. Plus, I wanted to hear how loud this rain was going to be while in the van.

Huzzah! No leaks!

In the van the rain sounds wonderful. I almost just wanted to curl back up and sleep some more outside in the driveway but I need to finish packing up. The weather is near 60 degrees outside - in January. So unusual but very welcomed. I can't say I would really call what we've had this year "winter". Nearly every day has been in perfect mild temperatures. I can definitely get used to this and I'm taking it in as a good omen for my future survival.

Mobile Template

I enabled a mobile template to make reading on mobile devices easier. Unfortunately my current template doesn't translate well to mobile devices so it will look completely different but for my friends ease of use during welfare/ safety checks it's worth losing the bells and whistles.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shower -Tub Turned Closet

G cut a piece of plywood to sit over my tub so I can use it as a closet when I'm not bathing. Bathing is a little way off since it seems I'm going to have to replace my waste tank due to the idiot before me breaking the whole nozzle contraption off.

The wood is working wonderfully. I can fit my three drawer organizer in there along with my medical records, cleaning supplies, portable CD player (the one in the van doesn't seem to be working - big surprise, eh?) and first aid kit. A couple of bungees and some non slip pads and it's perfect! Under the wood I can stash things I wouldn't want someone to be able to get to easily were they to break into the van. It's a nice secure little hidey hole that takes some time to get to so I doubt anyone who isn't willing to take the entire van isn't going to take the time to move all of the stuff off it to get under it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

RIP Etta James

The world lost a great voice today.

The Fuzz - Part 3 - The Immortal

This is my nearly 6 year old Deer Mouse - the oddity in my Fur Squad. She was originally named Jaws due to the fact that she bit me when I attempted to sex her prior to euthanizing her. Once she bit me I knew she would be strong enough to live so she came home and took up residence in an old 10 gallon aquarium I had.

I don't mess with her or handle her so she's got a pretty cushy life. She's outlived two friends and when the last one passed I decided to stop buying her new friends (I truly think she's eating their souls so she can live) When she hit over 2 years old she became The Immortal. Well past her life span, she's happy and healthy so I needed to make room for her in the van.

Today her living space was downgraded from the 10 gallon glass tank to a cozy 5 gallon acrylic flat back hexagonal tank. She also got a new running wheel since I've noticed lately she doesn't run in the metal one anymore. I think since she's a bit geriatric the bars were too far across so she's now got a toes & tail safe plastic non-squeaking wheel.

The tank fits perfectly where the old microwave was and even leaves room to stow her bedding material. I don't bother buying mouse food and just toss scraps of whatever I eat and occasionally some cat food into the tank - it's worked for 6 years I'm not going to change it now.

She's currently very busy rearranging her bed (a fish tank skull full of fluff) and the bedding to suit her needs. Seems no worse for wear with the downgraded size.

One more thing off my to-do list.


Done! Received both my W2 and my 1099-G last week so today I filed my taxes so that it's all out of the way. I'm getting more of a refund than I was expecting, which is nice. Oddly, getting unemployment tossed me out of the EIC bracket that I would have been in if I wouldn't have lost my job.

Van Surgery

Did surgery on the van last night. Removed the microwave so The Immortal (my 6 year old deer mouse) would have some living space. I'm not a big fan of microwaves to start with and I certainly wasn't going to use one from 1987.

I also removed the separator and tape holders in the tiny VCR compartment to make room for my actual DVD player.

I'll post pics as soon as I get it cleaned up and assembled.

My next project is cutting a piece of plywood to fit over the top of the tub so I can use that as a sort of closet when I don't need to bathe and removing the small TV and replacing that with an area to build in my external computer monitor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Fuzz- Part 2- Dandy

In part 1 of The Fuzz I showed you guys three of the Fuzz Squad (Gobie, Anchovy & Barracuda). This post is just about Dandy.
Dandy is a special guy. I've had him in my home since he was 4 weeks but he's been in my care since he was about a week old. He came into the veterinary hospital I worked at and into our kitten rescue program. Unfortunately the girl who was bottle feeding them tried to wean the litter far too early and I received a phone call asking me to come look at the kittens. When I got there this little guy was on the edge of death. His head was just rolling around on his little body, his color was bad and while I was holding him he stopped breathing - twice. After two rounds of CPR and a good warm bottle he perked up and I took him into my care to foster at home.

While Dandy (named for the fact that I kept telling him he would be "fine and dandy") was fostering at
my house I lost my oldest cat, Pike, to age and diabetes. it was decided then that this little guy would live with me permanently. One of the best decisions I've ever made. He is a definite light in my life. He makes me laugh multiple times daily with his human Al Bundy-like sitting posture. He loves to snuggle and is smart as can be. He gives high-fives, will jump into your arms if you pat your chest and will hold a conversation with you as long as you understand cat-speak (otherwise he gets bored and wanders off)

Watching him grow from a near-dead 5 ounce fluff ball into the 9 pound beast of love that he has become is one of my great joys in life. When people ask me why 6 cats - Dandy is the epitome of why. All of my little Fuzz Squad have a similar story and I can't imagine my life without them.

 Dandy at 5 weeks

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is my mom's birthday. She and I aren't on speaking terms so this is about as close as she'll get to well-wishes from me. Sad but true.

Unfortunately I have had to take a "tough love" approach to her since her husband is a piece of shit and while I've told her of the things he has done behind her back she won't listen. She watched him physically attack me and still she stays. I've got enough stress in my world. I can't deal with all of that so I've removed myself from her life.

I'll be more than happy to try to repair our relationship if/ when she decides that the douche isn't treating her right. Until then . . .

Packing, Packing, Packing

A few months ago I downsized all of my belongings. I cut out everything I absolutely didn't want or wouldn't need.

I didn't do enough.

Aside from the fact that my Camper Van isn't very well-built when it comes to space usage I am at a cross-point where while I'm still here in MD and dealing with chilly temperatures I need warmer clothing. Warm clothing is bulky, it takes up a lot of space. It seems that until I finally move to warmer climates the van is going to be very, very crowded. I did manage to tuck away all my warm weather clothing into the two tiny little closet spaces provided. I left one cabinet open to function as a pantry but since I haven't had the LP system inspected yet to even know if it's safe I might as well pack clothing into that as well. I also will have a plastic three drawer organizer that will ride on one of the dinette seats because as a crafter, I sort of need some of that stuff.

I imagine I'm still taking more than I need but anything I don't use in 4 - 5 months will get weeded out sown the road.

I'm short on time since I likely have to be out of here by tomorrow. I still have to move the cats into the van but am waiting until absolutely necessary to do it.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Sweet Babu

I've been in a panic for two days. I started packing the van but couldn't find one particular item I knew I tucked away. I hid it so well that I hid it from myself. Found said item today in a box clearly marked "Babu" - go figure.

Much relief in my soon to be ex-house today.

*Yes, I realize that in the Peanuts comics Linus is Sally's "Sweet Baboo" I don't like that spelling.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kitty Shitter

A cat in a van presents some issues regarding a litter pan and where to put it. Six cats in a van presents an even larger issue.

My original plan was to place the litter pan in the tub. This seems to be the norm amongst full-timing cat owners. The problem with that for me is the litter pan size. While I'm prepared to scoop multiple times daily I realized that any covered ('cause who wants to look at that?) pan was going to be far too small for the fur squad's happiness. After much sitting, thinking and staring at my vans setup I came to the conclusion that for their happiness as well as mine the litter pan would go under the rear dinette seat. The lovely thing about my dinette seats - there is a little door on the front of each seat.

Off to Target I went to purchase a litter pan that would fit. I decided against a pan sold as a "litter pan" (they're pretty expensive when you think about it) and headed for the home storage section. I came away with a 28 quart under-bed storage container that fits perfectly under the seat. Not only does it fit perfectly but it leaves room for a 27 pound bucket of litter! Perfecto!

Now I'm in the process of getting them used to going into a little door to use their potty. I found a cardboard box that's the same size as the dinette seat compartment, cut a little door in it and what do you know, the fur squad has no issues using it.

Yes, I'm giving up much needed storage space since I originally had my tool box, electric plug in cord and a few fuse storage boxes in there but those can go in the tub and on the bright side I won't have to clean litter out of the tub to use it. Unfortunately the front dinette seat has my furnace bits under it so there isn't much in the way of storage there but I can put the two smaller tool boxes containing my extra fuses in there.


Fuel Sending Units

Cheese and rice! Who knew trying to get these would be such a nightmare? I've called no less than 12 parts places (including Ford themselves) and it seems these two units are rare or some such shiznit. Not only do they seem hard to find but the pricing is all over the board. I finally settled on ordering from Stock Wise Auto via Amazon. They had the best price as well as earliest availability.

The Dorman 692-072 sending unit for my 18 gallon tank was $57.71 and the Dorman 692-115 for the 22 gallon tank was $47.37. I didn't expedite shipping because with the Monday holiday it really didn't make much sense. This sure beats the prices of $103.79 & $99.99 that I was quoted by both NAPA and PAPA. Other places couldn't even get the parts and Ford tried to make me purchase fuel pumps with each sending unit (which since the van goes I obviously don't need).

I also called the folks at Stock Wise to make sure I was ordering the correct parts. The customer service dude was extremely friendly and helpful. I'll definitely order from them again if I need to.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Warrant of Restitution

So the property management is filing for the warrant of restitution tomorrow. This means I have less than a week to vacate or the sheriff will be here doing that for me.

I've started packing the van which I've been putting off since I didn't know exactly how much time I would have and since I'm still doing work to the vehicle. Guess I can't wait anymore.

Ousting is imminent.

Captain, We've Sprung A Leak!

Oh wait, I'm the Captain aren't I?

Went out to the van this morning to undertake trying to remove the 1987 microwave of doom. As soon as I stepped in I noticed a wetness on the dinette table that shouldn't have been there. Directly above is my roof vent. Now, it wasn't a lot of water, maybe a tablespoon or so but enough to send alarms off in my head. Is this something else I'm going to have to fix/ replace? Upon further inspection there was also roof wetness on the opposite side but yet none on the floor.

After some chit-chatting with a friend I resigned myself to having to replace the vent or at the very least reseal it. But then I got an idea. I can actually see the top of my van from inside my house so I sprinted to the window and lo' and behold the damned vent wasn't closed all the way.

I haven't messed with the vent since I bought the van for a couple of reasons. First, it doesn't have the handle to crank it open and closed. Second, I have enough on my plate without attempting to function it and actually breaking it. I don't have reason to need to open or close it right now so it was something low on my list of things to check.

I removed the screen and grabbed a pair of pliers and was able to actually get it closed. HUZZAH! It's supposed to rain more tonight so I'm glad I'm not going to have to find a way to get up there and cover the vent with plastic. Hopefully this will solve the issue - at least until I actually want to use it and have to replace the fan because all of the blades are broken off from the previous owner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Free National Park Admission

This weekend.

All 397 national parks will waive admission fees Saturday through Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Free admission to the nation's parks will also be offered during National Park Week (April 21-29), Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (September 29) and Veterans Day weekend (November 10-12).


Woot woot! Paid a visit to Jim's Battery Warehouse & Auto Service today. I love those guys! They have always been fair, treat me respectfully, are funny, informative and helpful. I went to replace my house and drive batteries. What luck! They had just received batteries with mild cosmetic damage that doesn't affect how they function and asked if I would be interested. They came with the same warranty as an undamaged one would but were $50 cheaper because of the damage. Install away! Now I have two deep cycle batteries for the price of what one would have cost. They also replaced my terminals and made them easier for me to get off and on should I need to. The whole deal set me back $147

I'll probably have to go back to have the house battery installed since I had the battery pulled before I got there and left the mounting bracket behind when I went. Oopsie. They said just to come in and they would pop it in for free. I would have waited to install it anyhow since it started raining while I was there and who wants to crawl around on the wet ground under a dirty van?

Jim was also able to point me to someplace who would be able to inspect my propane system to make sure it's safe to fill.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Van Pictures

It occurred to me that I haven't put pictures of the newly acquired house here (aside from outside pics when I was attempting to purchase it). It was named Hootie when I purchased it but with all the problems it's been giving me I'm considering changing the name. I'm trying to think of a solid 80's like name for the thing. I was in the process of cleaning the cushions when I took the pics so they are all absent.



Monday, January 09, 2012

Dear Mother Nature Redux

You are one crazy bitch.

Why is it snowing? A better question s why, in January, are we experiencing 60 degree days followed by a day of snow?

None of us here in MD are acclimated AT ALL to cold weather because we haven't been given but two actual January temperature days. I hope you know, Mother Nature, that we will not tolerate 18 degree days in April.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

How Hot Am I?

Thanks to Nate I now know. He narrowed down my temp gauge issues and with a new part and some new anti-freeze the temp gauge is working. Yay! Still have to figure out the fuel gauge though but I'm excited to have a working temp gauge!

Time for a *happy dance* 

Color Me Impressed

Last night in a fit of boredom I decided to go all in on getting the red out of my hair. A trip to Wallyworld and I was back home with two boxes of L'Oreal haircolor remover anf two boxes of L'Oreal Sublime Mousse #40 Pure Dark Brown.

I've not had good experiences stripping my color out before though the last time I was removing black, this time red (not much better) but it did what I wanted to do which was pull the red to a very light orangy color so the darker color could go on top.

The Sublime Mousse is something new to me. A product I've never tried and now won't ever use anything else. My hair is nearly to my ass so with regular store bought color it can take three boxes depending on the brand. The Sublime Mousse only took ONE box! It goes on easily and doesn't feel as harsh as other brands I've tried. The color came out exactly how I wanted it to.

Definitely Impressed.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Devil Didn't Bother With An Ending

Went to see The Devil Inside last night. I'm a horror junkie who admittedly has issues with how movies end 99% of the time so gong in I knew that would be an issue. What I didn't consider is that the whole movie is exceptionally slow with little to no actual action. Everything you see in the preview is what happens in the movie. There are no additional scares or creepy parts. The movie seems to end mid-scene with a note to follow the investigation on some website so it was like watching an hour and a half long commercial.

For a movie with an "R" rating it definitely didn't push any boundaries except the bounds of boring. I like a good creepy, slow building story as long as the creepy is present.

I also didn't realize until after I bought the tickets online that #1 Yesterday was the opening day of the film. #2 It was Friday night. The movie was sold out. Every seat in the theater was full. I don't do well in large crowds, they make me tweeky.

My third issue is that for the last 10 minutes of the movie I felt like I was dying in the theater. I don't know what happened but I broke out in hives and went on a coughing spree that nearly caused the poor folks in front of me to wear a not so fine spray of lemonade. My throat started closing and it was just a little bit of insanity.

The movie gets a whopping half cherry from me. Not worth seeing since you can get more creep action from a TV movie of the week.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My Second Life

Some folks have heard me talk about Second Life enough. The other morning, in a fit of insomnia, I decided to rebuild my parcel. This is the outcome. Prior to this it was a happy little forest. I'm kind of digging the new look. Click images to view full sized

This is the landing area and my little store where I sell rabbit couples.

A little waterfall on the opposite side of the shop.

The view into the rabbit display area from the hillside where the shop is located.

I still need to take pictures of the new rabbit farm where I sell individual rabbits. As of right now my shop only sells couples. Rare individual rabbit vendors are carrots in a farm type setting.

Sleeping Like A Princess

In my attempt to downsize my life I am sacrificing a lot of belongings as well as a lot of space. My three main concerns with living full-time in a smallish camper van were as follows:
  1. The cats and ensuring their happiness & health.
  2. Being able to stand up since I do have a herniated disc in my neck.
  3. My bed and being able to stretch out (even though I do tend to sleep curled in a ball)
The cats will do fine and I can stand up in the van so that brings me to concern #3 - sleeping. The dinette in the van does convert to a bed and if I was a foot shorter would do me just fine as far as sleeping arrangements so but I'm not so it won't. This means that I can not convert the attic into a kitty corner as I was originally planning on doing. Making that a full-time cat spot would deprive me of much needed sleeping space. After oiling up the attic slide I pulled it out and was thrilled to see that it's actually much bigger than my bed in the house (a full sized platform bed). The attic bed is a full queen sized sleeping area. The original cushions that are there are firm - a little too firm for my sleeping. I discovered today that my 4 inch thick memory foam will fit up there and has the ability to fold up when I push the slide in. Even though I imagine I will leave it out if I am parked anywhere for any length of time because it will give the cats more space and save me the trouble of having to set up the bed every night.

It's wonderfully comfortable!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Yet Another Fun Day In The TP

TP = trailer park.

I took the van out this afternoon to vacuum it out. There's a lot of broken light bulb pieces plus some spilled spices in the cabinets and before I can line the shelves and drawers I just wanted to suck the garbage out.

Coming back through my neighborhood all the kids are also coming home from school which means that there are kids of all ages everywhere. There are always kids out playing anyhow because we don't really have yards here. So the little boy across the street from me is outside on this unseasonable warm day driving around in his little battery powered car. When I say little boy I mean that he's 4, maybe 5, years old. He sees me coming in my huge van and pulls over into the end of a neighbors driveway to let me pass. Before I can even start coasting forward to get to my driveway (2 away from where he's sitting) the woman whose driveway he's in comes backing out of her drive. Not just coasting out, she's got her foot on the gas and come flying out. As I'm moving my hand to hit the horn to let her know she needs to stop she nails the poor little kid. Since she was moving at a pretty good clip (5 - 10 miles an hour) pieces of his little car go flying and his mom is now screeching her way across the street. He's bawling, she's bawling and now, behind the wheel of my van, I have burst into tears.

Out of the van I go to provide any sort of first aid I can. The kid is relatively unhurt buy he's saying his leg hurts and at this point mom is screaming at this woman about to kill her (as any mother would be). So I send them across the street and tell them to call 911. At this point the woman who hit the kid is getting back in her car to leave like nothing ever happened. I blocked her in and told her that leaving would not be beneficial to her since she'd likely be charged with hit and run as well as leaving the scene of an accident and this woman has the nerve to get pissy with me! Oh hells no.

The police and ambulance came, took my information and statement. The boy went to the hospital and now it looks like I'm going to have to go to court over all of this.

Ecsh! Seems like any time I leave my house anymore the police are involved. On the bright side I know I'm not wanted for anything since they've had my name twice in the past month is connection to witnessing something that's gone on in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I Cut The Cheese

So I've already posted my love of milk. That love also extends to cheese. If I thought I could survive on cheese alone I would try. Tonight I got a hankerin' for some really good cheese so off to the cheese shop I went. I came home with some lovely Dubliner, Monterey Jack w/ jalapeno, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Brie de Meax, a pretty Port Wine and a small bit of Roncal. Yes, I am a cheese addict. I don't eat any sort of bleu or veined cheeses - I just can't get past the look and a lot of times the smell. I don't like a lot of the overly smelly cheeses and am not a fan of Swiss - at all. I also don't tend to eat Cheez Whiz or cheese in a can. But aside from that - hard cheese, soft cheese, cheese dip - I love it.

I also picked up some wine, almond & pimento stuffed olives, summer sausage and sea salt flat bread crisps. I'm going to have my own little carpet picnic