We've been back at our winter residence for nearly two months now. When we were full timing the motor home was our residence. How different things are now. We moved into a mobile home (they call them manufactured homes when they sell them) in 2010. Manufactured is a better term. The home was mobile for about 500 miles but now that it is on its foundation, it likely won't be mobile again until it is hauled away in pieces. Anyway, it is a house and has all the joys and responsibilities of a house.
Once the motor home is parked next to the house and its contents moved to the house we take care of cleaning the motor home and give it a good washing. Tires are covered, and tanks are drained and rinsed. Water lines are drained. The batteries are kept charged since we keep the motor home plugged in to a 50A outlet that I installed on the side of the house. The air conditioners are set at 80 until cold weather arrives and then I leave the furnace on 50 just to keep things from getting too stale in the motor home. I put the sun screens on for the winter, the slides are in and the awnings are stowed during cold weather. It rained today and I always go through the motor home after a rain just to be sure that everything remains nice and dry. If there is a leak I want to know about it as soon as possible.
With the motor home sleeping next door my attention turns to the house. The lawn needs mowing frequently until the cold weather slows it down. Keep in mind we are in the southern tip of Texas, Our latitude is 26 degrees 24 minutes north of the Equator. Cold weather is 50 degrees. At 40 degrees the natives start wearing hooded coats and gloves! When the temperature drops near 30 degrees we are busy rescuing the Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles from the shallow waters of Laguna Madre, the inland waterway between the mainland and South Padre Island.
Of course the other outdoor activity that demands attention is trimming the shrubbery which thanks to frequent rains all summer and fall have been growing like crazy. The Turks Cap in the back garden had branches almost touching the house. They stretched across an 8 foot patio between the house and the garden. We enjoyed watching groups of Kiskadees, bright yellow tropical flycatchers, picking the red berries from the Turks Cap so it didn't get trimmed until almost all the berries were gone. I'm still waiting for the last of the butterflies to drift on south so I can trim the Blue Mistflowers in the front yard. Both these plants are native to this area and provide a natural source of food for the animals that live and migrate through here. The mistflowers frequently have 40 to 50 butterflies on them and when I walk by I am in a cloud of Queens, an orange and black butterfly in the Monarch family of butterflies. The Turks Cap attracts the Sulfurs, the medium size yellow butterflies. So we have the Monarchs in the front yard and Sulfurs in the back yard. Having a garden and shrubbery really does have some advantages.
Indoors we are still settling into our digs. We have a two bedroom mobile and the second bedroom has been a catch-all since we moved in. My "office" was a built in desk in the kitchen. Now I don't keep the neatest desk so when we entertained I would have to gather up all my detritus and find a home for it. Plus, working from a small desk was challenging when working on a big project. So I spent several weeks looking at office furniture before selecting something suitable for the space. Now this isn't real furniture, it comes broken down in a box so I get to build it, reading instructions, putting screw A into hole AA and tightening it by hand so it won't strip in the stuff they call wood. With that all done I have moved my operation to the office.
Now I know that you are thinking, "This dude is retired, what is all this talk of work?" If you are thinking that you haven't retired yet. I don't know many retired people who don't manage to fill their lives with something that resembles work. It really isn't work because we aren't getting paid for it and we don't have to all that much but somehow we just have to keep busy at something. See, here I am blogging. I know retirees who are making quilts as if the whole world will end if they don't get 20 quilts done this year! My own mother sowed clothing for charities and did quilting for the church well into her late 80's. My father did the yard work at the church until he could no longer physically manage to do that. He delivered meals on wheels and did odd jobs for any number of people around town. My parents never really quit living and I guess I won't either. My major activity is the Texas Master Naturalist Program. This is a program that trains and certifies volunteers to work with various agencies, parks, recreation facilities and natural areas. As a retired teacher I chose to apply may talents to the training program. This time of year I'm deep into getting the next training session under way. We have orientation on January 14 and after that, 10 weeks of classes and field trips. So yes, I'm working.
After three years of settling, the dirt under the patio (mentioned above) had settled and walking across the patio was reminding me of trying to walk on a cruise ship in rough seas. So I spent several weeks during the summer re-leveling the tiles. All this was done after our trip to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji Cruise, and before we left on our late summer and fall motor home trip to visit our children and grandchildren. I was able to get everything leveled except the tiles under the air conditioner. So two weeks ago I had a local heating and cooling company come out and re-set the air conditioner after I moved it off to the side and re-leveled those tiles.
Our park, Sandpipers Resort, is in a rural area. Across the fence behind our mobile home is a 40 acre field which has one of the large rotating irrigation systems. The field is actively farmed. This fall the entire field was plowed and left bare, ready for planting in early spring (February). All the mice that lived in the field are homeless. Just across the fence are all these nice mobile homes. We and all our neighbors have enjoyed hosting many of our furry friends as the colder weather drives them inside. I remarked to Louise last week that the stove and refrigerator have traveled more miles this winter than the motor home. We've managed to dispense with four of them and for now that seems to be the total of our guests. This is a new experience for us, we've not had problems in the past but the field has never been fallow during the winter before.
I moved the dishwasher to check for mice and found an entry where there was a half inch diameter hole for the power cord. It was unsealed so I fixed that. The dishwasher is a factory installed unit. It makes about as much noise as the diesel engine in the motor home. The layout of our mobile home is such that the kitchen and living room are one room separated by a counter which houses the dishwasher. So when the dishwasher is running it really makes the living room unlivable. The cabinet for the dishwasher has one eighth inch thick walls made of paneling which are as soundproof as the skin on the head of a drum. I lined the cabinet with Styrofoam. The dishwasher is still too loud for my tastes so I ordered a real quiet dishwasher. I told Louise it was a Christmas present for me! I'll install that after we pick it up at Sears this weekend.
We had ceiling fans installed in the living room and the master bedroom. The one in the living room had developed a squeak so I took it down and replaced with a new Hunter fan that has a remote control. The manufacturer installed fan is now in the second bedroom which is now the office. Whatever I did when I took it down and re-installed it has taken care of the squeak, at least for now.
There is a door from the kitchen out to the front porch. It looks like a double door but one half doesn't open. The door knob is round and I'm finding that round things are getting harder and harder for me to get a good grip and turn. Am I loosing my grip? I guess so. Anyway, I went to Lowe's and picked out a door entry set that has a lever instead of a round knob. I had done that with the pantry closet in the kitchen earlier and love how convenient is is. So now I have new door hardware for the entire house. One by one I'm replacing the round knobs. When that is done I'm going to be after the knob on the shower! It's a round knob and really fun to turn with soapy hands.
Louise got me a Gramin Vivofit for Christmas. It is a wearable band that keeps track of my walking and sleeping and other things as well. Right now it has a red line on it. If I sit too long the line gets longer and longer. It is telling me that I need to get up and walk around. When I walk enough, the red line goes away. The Vivofit interfaces with the computer so I can download my activity and see it displayed on the computer. It only took me three hours Christmas afternoon to get the thing to talk to the computer. It came with a single 2 x 3 inch piece of paper that had a picture of the Vivofit and a Computer with an arrow from the first to the second with the word Sync. It made perfect sense to me. Apparently the computer wasn't in the mood to work with something else. There was no instruction to download and install a program. Once that was done I found out that I needed to turn off the Bluetooth feature on any devices like my iPhone and iPad.
Anyway, times up, I've got to run (or walk) to get rid of this red line. I'll be back with more next year!