Friday, August 12, 2011

Pesky, and Very Cute, Fauna

I’ve got a bird feeder hanging on my deck, right outside the window next to my desk. I love watching the birds enjoy the seed, and hearing their happy chirping while they visit.

And I’m often amused by the antics of the squirrels, who go from sunning themselves on the deck railing to chatting up a storm to trying to outcon the Squirrel Buster Plus bird feeder. The certain result of the last item: The squirrels lose.

That feeder was worth every penny of the investment, and it took quite a number of pennies. (Note that it’s the Plus version that works well, according to the guy at the bird store — and my own experience.) It really does give those squirrels a run for their money, though it takes a good beating in the process from their tenacious nails.

The ring on the bottom where the birds perch is weight sensitive — and if too much weight lands on it, such as that of a squirrel or a large bird, a metal piece in the interior of the feeder rises and closes up the holes where seed are accessed. The buster blocks all manner of squirrel, from the larger grays to the smaller reds.

In addition to jumping right onto the ring, thereby closing the holes, these persistent fauna hop up onto the inclined metal arm that holds the feeder away from the deck and take a top-down approach. Sometimes they lose their footing and do a free fall, looking like they’re doing an acrobatic act on a swing high off the ground as they barely catch on to the bottom ring after their brief but death-defying ride through the air.

But one critter has bested the buster.

Apparently, Mr. Chipmunk is light enough that his presence on the ring doesn’t close the feeder holes. He’s quite the seed bandit, filling up his cheeks, disappearing and coming back to repeat the process. I told him if he was going to eat up our seed, he was going to have to let me take some pictures of him.
 Can you see how packed this guy’s cheeks are?

Actually, I was glad to see him today. Early yesterday I shooed him off the feeder and felt bad later because I thought it could have been one of his last meals. Yesterday afternoon a chipmunk got hit right at the end of the driveway.

So when I saw a fluffy  little tail draped over the feeding ring today, my heart felt a bit lighter.

Glad to have you back, cute buddy. Eat up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Messages Are Everywhere

I walked out of a store one afternoon this week and saw a license plate that said “DWNSZE.” I smiled, feeling like I had just gotten a confirmation message about preparing to live even more simply and mobilely.

Later that evening, in my effort to continue to work toward said downsizing, I spent some time going through old cooking magazines to determine which recipes I thought I might actually make so I could store them in a more orderly fashion — portable, easy-to-use binders — and recycle the rest of the bulky magazines. (For those of us who are challenged by piles of unruly paper, the binder is a miraculous invention indeed. But I digress.) Lo and behold, in one of last year’s issues I came across a how-to article about releasing stuff and feeling a whole lot lighter and happier for the effort.
How perfect. I smiled again.

These dual confirmation messages came on the heels of another pair from a few weeks ago. I was coming back from walking my canine munchkin and my landlord handed me several pieces of mail that likely had arrived a few days before. When I got inside and looked at what awaited inspection, I knew I had received that particular mail bundle at just the right time.

The first thing I opened was a sweet thinking-of-you card from one of my oldest friends. Inside it she had taped a message that had been attached to one of her tea bags: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”

My sentiments exactly.

The second piece of mail that caught my eye was an auto club magazine with a cover headline that read “The Simple Life.”

Funny thing was, just before the walk, I had been thinking about simplicity — simplifying life, having less, enjoying more, being more minimalist. And the tea-bag wisdom fits right in with the feeling I have had right along about living mobilely: being able to go, do, be and serve as I feel guided, at any given moment. Yet on that day, and for a few days before it, the dream of full-time RV living had felt further away than ever.

I am so grateful for loving confirmation messages. They are blessings that whisper, “Yes.” “Keep going.” “You are on the right track.” Those are all important things to hear, especially when the mind sometimes seems to shout missives of its own: “Are you crazy?” “What makes you think you can do this?” “This is never going to happen.” “It’s too hard.” “You’ll never get it all done in time.” Yada yada yada.

I’ve come to learn that those mind tricks are really part and parcel of the journey. Doing anything that requires a rather large leap of faith, even when — or perhaps especially when — we feel Divinely guided to take that leap, will likely meet with resistance from some part of ourselves that would rather we stay hidden away in some manner that it deems “safe.”

To that I say, let us not hide our light, or our dreams, under a bushel, or a basket, or in any dark corners of our mind where fear may lurk. Let’s pull all those puppies out and let ’em shine.

I love this quote (author unknown), which is also my intention: “Focus on your dreams rather than your history.”

I bet that's what folks who love what they do in this world, like the Courtyard Hounds and their band certainly seem to, actually do. Here's a pic from their great concert last night, which is part of LL Bean's free summer concert series.

There must be something about this stage that I enjoy. It's the same one I included in my inaugural blog post, but this time it's full of folks performing. And it still has those cool green globes in the background. :)  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It All Starts Somewhere

I’ve always loved the literary term in medias res, or in the middle of things. So, in that spirit, I’m just going to jump in and launch this blog, right here and now in the middle of a rather ordinary Monday (or Tuesday, as the case may be, because this is posting after midnight). I’ve easily written a half dozen or more partial blog posts in the past couple of weeks, never getting far enough with any of them to feel comfortable about actually publishing one. But no more. I’m diving in — and, like novels that start in the middle of the action and fill in the informational gaps of each storyline over time, here goes.

For more than a year now, I’ve been fascinated by stories of the adventurous folks who travel in a recreational vehicle (RV), whether full time or part time. More than fascinated, really. Everything about that lifestyle has captivated me, and it has provided answers about some of the happenings in my life during the past 18 years. For example, hearing others’ nomadic and RV-related stories has helped me realize that the 14 moves I’ve made during nearly two decades have not necessarily been the result of a fundamental inability on my part to “settle down.” Instead, I’ve come to accept that I’m not meant to settle in one spot — at least not yet — and I am likely a natural nomad. With a purpose.

The desire to be a full-timer started in earnest when I saw a piece on Airstreams online, in April 2010, that originally aired on the Today Show. Immediately I felt a fire ignite deep within my soul, and it grew stronger each of the many times I watched the clip. Something powerful simply woke up and shouted “YES!”

Looking back, though, I’ve realized that seeing that video clip was not the very first glimpse I got of the full-timing dream. The earliest vision came in February 2009, shortly after I had made move No. 13 to Asheville, North Carolina. I was sitting on the floor, playing with my canine munchkin, and feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of unpacking 50 or so boxes and getting settled into a new home again. I leaned my head back against the couch, closed my eyes and had a vision that I had no context for at the time. I saw myself releasing just about everything I own (except for the most meaningful sentimental stuff that once belonged to a grandmother or a great aunt, which would go into storage), living lightly in an RV and being completely mobile. The feeling was absolutely amazing, and very real. What stuck with me the most was how free I felt.

Being me, though, I got a tad bit argumentative when I opened my eyes and came back to “reality.” I said, “Really, Spirit? You just led me to uproot and move to Asheville, and now you’re giving me a vision about something completely different?” Without further context for the vision, I did what I knew to do: put one foot in front of the other and start settling in where I was. Thoughts of the RVing vision came up once or twice after that, but then it got filed away somewhere in my mind and I pretty much forgot about it.

Forgot, that is, until I saw the Airstream piece online a little over a year later. Since then, I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time researching the full-timing lifestyle, reading blogs of folks who are doing it — from families to retired couples to working nomads to solo women — and thinking about what setup would work best for me. Motorhome? Motorhome with toad? Travel trailer? Fifth wheel? I’ve gone round and round with every scenario, repeatedly, and I keep coming back to the Airstream. With a really mighty-fine-looking tow vehicle.

That’s my thought, but how it will play out is a mystery. What I do know is that in this moment, the fulfillment of the dream feels closer than ever. The strong message I have been getting recently is prepare. Start releasing stuff, organizing and getting ready, because there will come a point sometime soon when it’s time — and it will all just come together.

The list of preparations is long, but I am proud of myself for just starting somewhere, like with this blog. Today, for instance, I opened a box that I packed before move No. 13 more than two years ago and have been looking at and thinking about unpacking as it sat in my living room in my current home for more than a year now. (That current home, in New England, is a result of move No. 14, and how I got here from Asheville is a story for another time. But don’t worry. Just like novelists fill in their plotlines when they begin in medias res, so shall I.)

Back to the box. I’ve dealt with its contents at least a thousand times in my mind. It’s full of paperwork that needed to be sorted and organized — a task that felt overwhelming until today, when it was clear it was simply time to tackle it and get ’er done. So I tackled and made significant headway.

Unto everything there is a season.

I’ll close with a night-sky picture of the outdoor stage at LL Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine, where festive green globes light up the trees. Dunno what the globes are there for, exactly, but they sure do look purdy.

UPDATE: Upon reading this post, a friend quickly informed me that the artist who designs these cool-looking lighted globes is Pandora LaCasse. She is based in Portland, Maine. Thanks for the info, B!