Thursday, September 30, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 36

I just finished Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. This was Austen's first novel though it was not published until after her death {as was Persuasion}.

Austen uses this novel to poke fun at the Gothic romance novels that were popular at the time. 

The heroine of this story is the naive Catherine Morland who has the opportunity to vacation in Bath {and then also at Northanger Abbey}. During this time she finds herself in a series of {comical} predicaments that are fueled by the novels she reads and her own imagination. Through the course of the book she finds love but also meets with betrayal.

A few passages that I liked from the book:
What a strange and unaccountable character! – for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.

"Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is particularly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal." – Henry 

Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know how many idle assertions and falsehoods the excess of vanity will lead. Her own family were plain, matter-of-fact people who seldom aimed at wit of any kind; her father, at utmost, being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would contradict the next.

It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin... Woman is fine for her satisfaction alone. No man will admire her more, no woman will like her the better for it.

Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at home, because there you must spend the most of your time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home Sweet Camper

A few highlights from my week of visiting in Nashville: we managed to get all of our laundry washed; we helped Daniel's dad buy new mattresses; my brother took me to a local restaurant {Marché Artisan Foods} that had some great European-style food; we were able to preview my sister and bro-in-law's new house {and spend time with my precious niece}.

Negatives: There are always more people that we wish that we could have had a chance to visit with.

I am now back home {at the camper} and I have to admit that I am actually thankful to take a shower in our tiny {3x2 foot} shower tonight. All feels right in the world when you come home {wherever home is} and settle into your normal routines and shower in your own bathroom and sleep in your own bed.
In addition I am incredibly thankful that fall has finally made its entrance. My sister and I went to Starbucks this morning and had Pumpkin Spice Lattes {I actually had one at the beginning of September but it felt wrong to be drinking in the summer-like temps}. 

The quiet at the campground is amazing and the stars are brilliant tonight. A part of me is nervous about our pending move to the country, but I am thankful that we will still have the peace and quiet and magnificent starry skies that living in a campground has offered us.

The only way to make tonight better would be if Daniel was home {he is in Knoxville all week for work}.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Downtown Nashville

We went to Nashville for the weekend to take care of some maintenance on our car {Daniel is currently using his dad's garage until we have our own} and to help his dad pick out new mattresses and to visit with family.

Saturday night we met up with my sister, her husband, our niece {Izzy} and my brother in order to take a look at their new house in Hermitage {they close on Oct 8}. After viewing the house, we decided to go downtown to grab dinner. We were all able to find free parking downtown {kuddos to my brother for knowing where to park}. We originally planned on The Old Spaghetti Factory, but decided that waiting on a table wasn't a good fit for a toddler. 

Instead we went to The Pita Pit where we secured a table next to the window and enjoyed watching people as they walked by. After Izzy finished eating, she decided to crawl up onto a counter that was in the window behind us. She sat on the counter and watched people. It was really funny to see people's reactions as they passed us. They would be deep in conversation and all of a sudden notice that a baby was sitting in the window and their faces would light up. 

The best part was when two big, burly guys walked by. Their expressions were priceless. It is amazing how much joy a smiley happy baby can bring. 

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 35

I just finished Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. First of all I need to preface that I think I have a fairly healthy body image and view of food. I won't deny that I could stand to lose some weight, but I don't have some out-of-control lifestyle that this book speaks of. I do have friends who struggle with weight issues in the extreme sense and know people that have fought all their lives to achieve {or maintain} a perfect weight.

In a rather irreverent way, the author talks about how our relationships to food effect every part of our lives. Until an individual learns to love themselves, they will never be able to let go of their addictions to food.

There were a handful of passages that stuck out to me from this book:
There are many ways to bolt. Walking out the door. Renting a helicopter. Distracting yourself... blaming someone else, getting into a fight, comparing yourself to other people, dreaming about life in the future, recalling life in the past, never getting deeply involved. Eating.

...when you eat when you are not hungry, you are using food as a drug, grappling with boredom or illness or loss or grief of emptiness or loneliness or rejection.

If you actually listen to what your body (not your mind) wants, you'll discover that it doesn't want three weeks of hot fudge sundaes...

We want to know wonder and delight and passions and if instead we've given up on ourselves, if we've vacated our longings, if we left possibility behind, we will feel an emptiness we can't name.

If you worry that not finishing the food on your plate is a slap in the face to all the hungry people everywhere, you are not living in reality. The truth is that either you will throw your food out or you will eat it, but either way it turns to waste. World hunger will not be solved by finishing he garlic mashed potatoes on your plate.
I don't subscribe to the author's view of God as presented in this book. However I do believe that how we act on our addictions {to food or other things} is a reflection of our brokenness. My friend, Sally, wrote a blog post about the show The Biggest Loser that speaks of a need for God to fix the brokenness {and our eating habits}.

An excerpt from her post:
America, if we really want to lose the weight and keep it off, we have to combine healthy living with a healthy soul. Otherwise every person is doomed to fail in this quest. This battle comes from our earthly nature, and the victory will only come from the Spirit of God.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Friday night Daniel and I took Daniel’s Dad {Wesley} to Sam’s Club to look at new mattresses. Daniel’s sister and her husband {Emily & Josh} met us for dinner beforehand and then went with us to Sam’s.

At Sam’s we pulled out several mattresses to test them out {this was for Wesley’s guest room so he wanted us to have a say on the kind of mattress we would sleep on when visiting}.

Daniel did most of the testing and then told me that I needed to take a turn on the mattress for the final seal of approval.

The mattresses were on rollers that pulled out from the metal shelves. We had one pulled out a little more than half way. When I went to lie down, I sat down and leaned backwards onto the mattress. I promptly banged my head on the metal shelf behind me.

My skull hitting metal gave a loud thump. Not a pleasant end to a Friday night. I seem to be fine but I have a lovely bump on the back of my head that is still tender.

Not a total knockout, but not fun either.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You had me at 700 sf garage...

with 12-ft high ceilings.

That is all it took to sell Daniel on the house we decided to purchase. That and the fact that it is a 4-minute drive to the Bellefonte plant.
Daniel has always dreamed of owning a house with a garage that he could install a auto lift so that it would be easier to work on our cars. Now he has the space {and ceiling height} to install one. This is not in our immediate future, but he is excited to know that it is possible.

We are pretty excited about our new house. It has a huge covered porch on the front and back.

It has 3 acres with views of the mountains. 

It has the bonus room we wanted and a lot of extra storage. The bedrooms are big. And the master bathroom has a garden tub for soaking.

We are really excited about our new home. As long as inspections go well, we will be closing on October 29.

We will post more pics after we get moved in and decorated with our stuff.

Cash or Check

Over the last ten years checks have become somewhat obsolete to me. As in I write a check about once a year {if that}. I also carry limited amounts of cash {like $20 max}.

It looks like I may have to change my ways... 

Case in point: 
Yesterday I went by the Environmental Office at the County Health Department because Daniel wanted me to look into any permits that may have been pulled regarding septic systems at the house we are considering buying. He also wanted results of any soil tests that may have been run on the property. 

Unfortunately I discovered that the health inspectors are rarely in the office and was told to come back today in hopes of catching them.

I went back this morning and made my request. The secretary told me it would cost $25 to run a search. I asked her what forms of payment they accepted and she said CASH or CHECK. I only had $18 on me and no checks {primarily because a lot of places in the city don't accept checks anymore}.

I told the secretary I would have to go get cash and come back. She asked me if I had a check and looked rather shocked when I told her I didn't carry a checkbook...

We are used to paying a majority of our bills online and we use plastic {that we pay off each month} for most of our purchases. I guess this is just another form of culture shock that we will have to adapt to...

Project 52 Date Nights: Dinner and a House Hunt

This is the week that we {hopefully} make an offer on a house. With that in mind, date night took the shape of meeting our realtor, Amber, on Monday night for the first time. She is the type of person that I immediately felt like I could be friends with {a good trait for a real estate agent}. 

She did a good job of making the idea of moving to a small town bearable. Which is a good thing since Daniel and I have been a bit apprehensive of our pending move to Alabama... it is just so darn rural.

After viewing four houses and asking a moderate amount of questions, Amber dropped us off and we headed to dinner where we proceeded to discuss the houses over nachos and fajita quesadillas.

The first house we flat out disliked – mostly because it needed a lot of work {after spending the last 5 years of our lives renovating a house, we are ready for a break}.

The second house was well decorated, but not to our tastes. It had a nice screened-in porch and a deck, but the bedrooms and closets were small. 

The third house was really cute, but smaller than our last house in Charlotte. It did have a great fenced back yard, but no trees. *No image of the front of the house because it is not actually on the market yet.

The fourth house had a lot that appealed to us – large lot, large covered porches, large everything. The biggest negative was that it is a lot bigger than what we had initially planned on purchasing.

Tonight we went back to house #4 a second time. Afterwards we went to Ruby Tuesdays to try to make up our minds about what we want.

Daniel has been making excel sheets that provide different scenarios of our budget and home costs and what the house is worth. Tomorrow I will have the update on what we officially decide.

Looking for houses is a nice way to date – it gives us opportunities to dream about the future.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Locked Out

Last night {after viewing houses} we returned to the hotel and decided to be as quiet as possible when opening the door to our room in order to surprise Sophie. 

Daniel put the key card in the door, the green light turned on and he turned the handle. But it wouldn't open. He tried again. Same problem. He tried a third time and we wondered aloud if this was the right room. 

By then Sophie knew we were outside and had started to whine. We tried yet again and still a no go so Daniel went downstairs to get help while I stayed in the hallway and tried to calm Sophie down {she was starting to go into melt down mode}. 

Daniel finally came back with the guy from the front desk who tried his master card – which didn't work either. Then he pulled out a master key to unlock the door.

We went in first to grab our very upset dog. Daniel took her outside to walk and calm down while I stayed in the room so that the hotel guy could tried to fix the lock. He tried several different things but nothing worked. In the end he had us move across the hall to another room. 

That was a bit of an unexpected to way to end our evening.

House Hunting Update:
We viewed four homes last night. We liked three out of the four. Tonight we have one new one to view and we plan to look at one of the homes from last night again. Our goal is to make an offer on a house by the end of the week...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cheap Food Here

Are you looking for inspiration on how to save money AND make good meals at the same time? If so, you should check out my friend Ashley's blog, Cheap Food Here.

While your at it, head over to Food Buzz and vote for her to stay in Project Food Blog, where she writes about how to cook your own cheap AND healthy meals for $100 a month.

While you are in the voting mood, head over to my friend Liz's blog, Mabel's House, and get inspiration for fall. You can vote for her Halloween Mask on the Better Homes and Garden web site {she is competing with 4 other bloggers}.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

50 Days... the good. the bad. the random.

Today marks 50 days of living in a camper.

It is amazing how quickly the time flies by. It definitely has not been what we expected – but then again how do you really prepare yourself for living full time in a camper?

Here is a quick recap of the good, the bad and the random things we have experienced in the last 50 days...

The Good:
  • After 5 months of living apart, we have enjoyed living in the same place again.
  • Cleaning isn't too hard when you only have 177 square feet of living space.
  • You only need about 10% of the stuff you own {we don't even use all of the 10% that we kept out of storage}.
  • We are enjoying cable television {that we don't have to pay for}.
  • Owning two laptops {I think we could live anywhere, in any situation if we had laptops and internet}.
  • Falling asleep to night sounds.
  • Starry skies. 
  • Tennessee sunsets.
  • The fact that Daniel works 4-days a week {which gives us plenty of time for doing things we love}.
  • No visits to the ER this year {knock on wood}.
The Bad:
  • Having to walk Sophie at all hours {night or day} since we can't open a door and let her run outside alone.
  • Feeling like we are in college again when we haul our laundry to family members houses or laundromats.
  • Washing dishes in a kitchen sink that is barely bigger than a dinner plate.
  • Figuring out all things camper related... like how to keep your black water tank from smelling like black water :(
  • The heat and humidity of August in Tennessee... makes you want to hide inside.
  • The campground filling up with tents of loud kids/teenagers on the weekends.
  • Mosquitoes, tics and chiggers.
The Random:
  • My addiction to the Food Network.
  • Being informed that I needed a marriage license to get my driver's license.
  • Feeling motion sick due to a broken wheel chock.
  • Realizing that we are both out of shape and working on remedying that.
  • Spending a significant amount of time joking about our upcoming move to rural Alabama... I guess it is our way of staying grounded. Laughing about life is better than crying about it, right?

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today we had a case of:
"What do you wanna do?"
"I dunno, what do you wanna do?"
"I don't know."
And repeat.

We thought about mountain biking or hiking, but we wimped out because of the weather. I mean do we really want to sweat that much?

Then we thought about doing something touristy like visiting The Lost Sea or Ruby Falls, but it seems silly to pay money to experience the great outdoors.

So we decided that it would be fun to go spelunking. We used to do that a lot. Many years ago. In college. It was how we met. Unfortunately the only info we could find was on commercialized caves and we didn't really want to pay to go on a "wild" cave adventure that was led by some young whipper snapper who knew less about caves than we did.

I tried googling caves and NSS {National Speological Society}. I didn't find a whole lot. I did come across a group based out of Murfreesboro called the Tennessee Central Basin Grotto that plans trips {including surveying trips and cave rescue}. It is only $12/year to join and there are monthly trips to caves in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. We are considering joining so that we can explore wild caves again as well as meet people who share our interests. Maybe when things settle down a bit {i.e. after we buy a house}...

We didn't end up doing anything. One of Daniel's co-workers had a car wreck and needed someone to come pick him up and I ended up getting a last minute freelance project. At least we still have Saturday and Sunday to do something fun...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

House Hunting: Alabama Edition

"Living" in a hotel has its perks... I don't have to cook. Breakfast is free. I have a big screen TV a king-size bed in my bedroom. It is bigger than the camper. But it is also a pain in that there isn't a great place to walk Sophie and trying to get her in and out without disturbing other guests is a bit of a hassle. Plus I miss having a house.

We spent the last two days looking at various houses in the Scottsboro area. It reminds me a lot of Searcy. In the early 90s. Except smaller. And no university. 

Actually it is probably more like Heber Springs. Especially since the Tennessee River and its various lakes border the entire area. The bodies of water that border Scottsboro create various inlets and most neighborhoods are on some type of peninsula and with some type of lake access. But nothing is really connected... as in you have to get back on the highway to get to anywhere. Sometimes you go to look at a house with "lake access" thinking that the house is on the water, but what this really means is that the house is within a quarter mile of the water. 

I drove over 100 miles yesterday looking at various houses we had found on the internet. It is so spread out that a lot of areas feel very rural. And even if it is a 10-mile drive to wherever you are going, it feels much farther because you may be driving through endless farmland. I nixed several houses because they were too rural.

It is beautiful country but it feels very isolated. 

We officially meet with our realtor on Monday. We will be spending most of next week here... in the hotel again. We have a list of several houses we are interested in and hopefully our realtor can give us a better feel for the area. We would love to be on the water, but that costs $$$ and the frugalistas in us would need to come across a good deal to commit to a lake house.

This one is in Hollywood, less than 10 miles from TVA. It has 3 acres and is on the upper end of what we want to spend. A bonus is that one of Daniel's co-workers just made an offer on another house in the neighborhood, so we would know someone...

This house would be a great investment. It is on an island with actual waterfront. It has 5 acres that backs up to a cove. It also has a separate shop and garage and an in-ground pool. There is no water view from the house, but there is a boat house and pier. It is a 30-minute drive from the plant.

This house has water access. The big plus for this one is a 4-car garage (Daniel's dream). Plus a screened in porch with a hot tub. This one is about a 15-minute drive from the plant.

These are our preliminary houses that we plan to look at. We have a few others that made our initial short list. Next week I will have more in-depth updates on what we look at and what we decide about these three properties.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Chiggers

Since Daniel and I don't have kiddos, we date pretty consistently. This weekend we managed to take a hike, see a double feature at the drive in, window shop at the mall, go to the bookstore, eat out, share a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and go for another hike. All in the name of spending time together. And we like it.

Since embracing the living-in-a-camper lifestyle we have had issues with various bugs. I am not sure if we would be dealing with this stuff because we live in a campground or if we are just more blessed with critters because we live in Tennessee.

The first week or two {in the camper} Sophie was experiencing a full-on attack by tics. I found those suckers on her everyday. And then to top things off she managed to get into seed tics {the worst by far because there were so many of those things}.

Next up was me experiencing flea bites {not fun}. I think that I can thank the stray cats of the campground for this little present. 

Then last night Daniel discovered that he had chiggers on him. He has bites all over his stomach and legs. We are fairly certain he picked up these little guys on our Sunday afternoon hike. The interesting thing is he was wearing hiking boots with wool socks and pants with a belt and a t-shirt. His goal had been to avoid poison ivy. I, on the other hand, had on chaco sandals, shorts and a t-shirt and I came back unscathed. I feel pretty bad for Daniel, I used tweezers to pull off any remaining bugs last night and he was pretty miserable. He woke up at 4AM this morning and took a Benadryl {no biking today} and used some hydrocortizone cream to combat the itchiness. 

We are looking forward to the cooler temps and less bugs to irritate us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Library Woes

After spending some time using the online catalog to search for books at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County library, I am realizing how spoiled I was by the library in Charlotte.

I have a lengthy list of books I would like to read. In Charlotte, I would look up the book I was interested in reading {online}, request it {electronically} and then go pick it up when it was available {after I received an email notification}. In theory, the system works in a similar way in Chattanooga. However, for every 5 books I try to look up in the Chattanooga system, only one or two exist. This is very discouraging to me. 

Even worse is the fact that Daniel just received his official relocation package from TVA and we have decided to go ahead and move to Alabama. We will most likely live in Scottsboro {with a population of less than 15,000} and I have a feeling that the public library there be an even smaller selection of books to choose from.

I suppose my alternatives would be to 1) purchase some type of electronic reading device {like Kindle} in order to download books from the internet {but I think I would miss the tangible nature of reading an actual book}; 2) buy books from a bookstore {not a good option since I rarely reread books and I am generally too frugal to spend money on books}; or 3) join an online book exchange like BookIns {since I don't buy many books, I don't have many to exchange and I don't know that the books I am interested in reading would exist in such an exchange format}.

What's a girl {who loves to read} to do???

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 34

I was hoping that A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright would provide an intriguing look into the history of ancient civilizations that have fallen. And it does. However, for my tastes the book was too concise and the author tended to make liberal interpretations of historical events and theories {which I found annoying}. I would be interested in reading a book that looks at these fallen ancient civilizations in more detail without having some type of a political agenda.

Some passages that stuck out to me are:
Someone fond of logical absurdities once defined specialists as "people who know more and more about less and less, until they know all about nothing."

Farming achieved quantity at the expense of quality: more food and more people, but seldom better nourishment or lives. People gave up a broad array of wild foods for a handful of starchy roots and grasses... As we domesticated plants, the plants domesticated us. Without us, they die; and without them, so do we.

When Cortes landed in Mexico he found roads, canals, cities, palaces, schools, law courts, markets, irrigation works, kings, priests, temples, peasants, artisans, armies, astronomers, merchants, sports, theater, art, music and books. High civilization, differing in detail but alike in essentials, had evolved independently on both sides of the earth.

Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes. Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality.

...terrorism cannot be stopped by addressing symptoms and not the cause. Violence is bred by injustice, poverty, inequality and other violence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cloudland Canyon

Yesterday Daniel and I took Sophie down to Cloudland Canyon in Trenton, Georgia. We opted to hike a 2.5 mile portion of the West Rim Trail. The views were spectacular. If we had more time, we would have done the entire rim and possibly hike down to the two waterfalls. This is a park we will be back to visit.

After hiking, we went into town and had dinner at Pizza Hut {my first time to try stuffed crust pizza} and then we went to the Wilderness Outdoor Drive-In Theater where we saw Inception and The Switch {actually Daniel fell asleep and I watched both movies}

It was definitely a fun day. The only negative is that we didn't get home and into bed until 2AM.

I am really digging the fact that Daniel only works four days a week :)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 33

Last week I finally got around to getting my library card. This allowed me to finally check out some books in an effort to get caught up on my reading {I believe I am about 4 books behind for the year}. Anyways, I rarely go into a library any more. I like to search online and request my books and buzz in to pick them up when they are available {way more efficient}.

Since I had to go in anyways {and I was already there} I decided to peruse the aisles. It was a bit overwhelming. I am so used to browsing bookstores – where everything is displayed so that you can easily see the titles – that it felt odd to walk down rows and rows of never-ending books in an effort to find things.

 Without having anything in particular in mind, my finds were pretty random. The first book I picked up was Fumbling by Kerry Egan. It is Kerry's journal of her pilgrimage {with her boyfriend in tow} on the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrim route through Northern Spain

Kerry's father had died the previous year after years of fighting a debilitating disease and she is struggling with her view of God and what she thinks about a god who would let her father suffer and die. 

The book is written through the lens of a Catholic pilgrimage, but I really identified with a lot of it. I am particularly fond of reading about journeys that people take and how it affects their lives.

I had a lot of favorite passages from this book, but will stick to five:
Just like walking, prayer is a state of being off balance – of moving, of not being able to stay in one place even if you want to because some force of nature won't allow it.

To be angry with God means to realize at the deepest level, a place that is both physical and emotional at the same time, that the world is broken and not as it should be. Anger at God is a protest against suffering.

Everyone is doing the best they can, all the time... You think you could have done better, or should have. But for whatever reason, you couldn't. That's the best you could do. It might not have been very good – it might have been a failure – but if you could have done better, you would have.

The relationship with God may be deeply personal and intimate, but it becomes possible in the context of people, struggling together, supporting one another together on the way.
There are times in at least some people's lives – maybe many people – when belief in any compassionate or kind or even benign force in the universe is almost impossible. But if you can just hold on to something – or perhaps more likely, if something holds on to you – it can be the beginning of a new way of seeing, a new life.

This Is Your Life.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 32

This seems to be the summer to read classics. I finished Persuasion by Jane Austen a couple of weeks ago. Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, a 27-year-old woman, who had turned down an offer of marriage seven years earlier because those closest to her persuaded her that it would be a mistake. The book commences seven years later and Captain Wentworth is inadvertently back in her life. She realizes her mistake and a more grown up Anne begins to hope in second a chance at happiness. 

Some of my favorite passages from the book:
Husbands and wives generally understand when opposition is in vain.
Anne could not be be amused at the idea of her coming to Lyme to preach patience and resignation to a young man whom she had never seen before; nor could she help fearing, on more serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and preachers, she had been eloquent on a pint in which her own conduct would ill bear examination.
Anne wondered if it ever occurred to him, now, to question the justness of his own previous opinion as to the universal feeling and advantage of firmness of character; and whether it might strike him, that, like all other qualities of the mind, it should have its proportions and limitations.
One man's way is as good as another's, but we all like our own best.
"My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company." – Anne
"One does not love a place less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering." – Anne
"I was very young, and associated only with the young and we were a thoughtless, gay set, without any strict rules of conduct. We lived for enjoyment. I think differently now; time and sickness, and sorrow, have given me other notions..." – Mrs. Smith

It's the Motion of the Ocean

Over the last couple of weeks I have been suffering from motion sickness while in the camper. We are obviously on solid ground {at the base of a mountain in a land locked state} but every time I walk around or stand up for extended periods of time {like when I wash the dishes or cook}, I get dizzy. It is very similar to the feeling you get when walking around in an airplane mid flight or on a moving train. Outside of the camper I am fine. 

Wheel Chocks {via}
There are two main things that are supposed to keep the camper from moving: the wheel chocks and the stabilizer bars. We periodically have to crank the stabilizers back up. Last Friday Daniel investigated why our camper was moving so much and he discovered that one of the wheel chocks had cracked.

Stablizer Bar

Last night we tried to remedy the wheel chock problem by using pieces of wood to help support the wheels. Unfortunately I still feel dizzy. So I think we are going to go ahead and replace the wheel chocks with some heavier duty ones.

Who knew that I would feel motion sick in a parked camper?!?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Dairy Queen

Labor Day weekend did not find us laboring, but we did manage to squeeze in some mountain biking, lots of visiting with family and the purchase of a new laptop for my freelance business {I think Daniel consented to this purchase so he can stream movies in high-def from the camper}. 

It was a lovely weekend. I especially enjoyed time spent with my niece. 

Sunday night after dinner, my whole family piled into my sister and brother-in-law's new 4-door pickup truck and we rode to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream. Daniel and I enjoyed some down time together on the ride because we opted to sit in the bed of the truck so that Sophie could tag along.

At DQ Daniel and I split a blizzard and we all got to watch Izzy try her first dipped ice cream cone – I think my sister ended up messier than my niece did.

The whole weekend was a lot of fun. It is nice to have quiet moments with your spouse {even if it means riding in the back of a pickup truck}.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Benadryl + Mountain Biking = Not So Good

Friday afternoon Daniel and I decided to head over to check out the single track at the TVA Pump Station at Raccoon Mountain.

I believe that this facility is one of a kind. According to the TVA web site: The plant works like a large storage battery. During periods of low demand, water is pumped from Nickajack Reservoir at the base of the mountain to the reservoir built at the top. It takes 28 hours to fill the upper reservoir. When demand is high, water is released via a tunnel drilled through the center of the mountain to drive generators in the mountain’s underground power plant.

Thanks to Sorba Chattanooga, there are well maintained single track trails that circle the TVA reservoir including beginner, intermediate and advanced trails.

We had originally planned on a Friday morning ride, but Daniel was suffering from bug bites on his feet and opted to take a couple Benadryl and a mid morning nap. After lunch, we decided we wanted to try out the trails – at the very least see what the beginner trails were like.


About half way into the ride, we stopped for a breather and Daniel told me that he was feeling weird. He felt light headed, a bit dizzy and generally wobbly on his bike. I told him that he must still be experiencing the Benadryl in his system. If you have ever ridden a bike, you know that feeling wobbly is a problem since balance is a key component to staying on the bike. In addition, riding down narrow single track in the woods is a very bad place to feel wobbly.


We decided to cut our ride short and go back to our car on the road that goes around the rim.


We ended up riding about 5 miles. The first part was mostly downhill on a sandy, rocky trail. What goes down must come up, so the end of our ride was uphill on a pretty steep grade on paved road. Enough to show me that I need to get back in shape.


We will be back to check out some of the more technical parts of the Raccoon Mountain trail system. Preferably when we are both feeling well and not suffering from Benadryl-induced drowsiness.


View of Nickajack Lake from the Visitor's Center at TVA.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Is Daniel a Hippy?

Tuesday night Daniel and I met several of his co-workers at Buenavista, a local Mexican restaurant in Scottsboro, AL. A few other significant others were along, so it was a good chance for a lot of us to meet for the first time. Dinner was great and I feel like I have made some new friends. It helps to know that there are people we can hang out with if we end up moving to Alabama.

Anyways, yesterday, Daniel's co-worker told him that after we all left the restaurant, his wife asked if Daniel was a hippy – her reasoning was that we drive a Subaru! If you know Daniel, this is a very funny question because he is southern boy who is more redneck than anything else. Daniel and I had a good chuckle over that :)

I did a lot of driving around yesterday to try to get a feel for the area. Scottsboro is rural but more livable than I originally thought {especially if we have friends from Daniel's work that will be living here as well}. There is a Walmart, a Home Depot, a good Mexican restaurant and most of the usual fast food joints as well as a handful of local places.

The neighborhoods we visited were varying. Some were very nice. Others were full of singlewides and run-down homes. We found one house on the lake that was in our price range but it is a 45 minute drive south of Bellefonte and we decided if we are going to live that far away, we might as well live in Chattanooga.

It is somewhat comforting to know that there are other couples that are feeling the same stress of trying to decide where to live and to talk about the pros and cons of the process with people that understand what we are going through.

After driving around last night, we stopped to eat dinner at The Docks at Goose Pond Colony. The view of the lake at sunset was amazing. The service of the restaurant was so so, but it was nice to enjoy the views.

Update: It looks like they will be officially restationing everyone to Bellefonte on October 1 {right now they are stationed out of Chattanooga}. With the restationing will come new moving packages but we can't start any house purchases {or anything of that nature} BEFORE Oct 1.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Driver's License

After a month in Tennessee, I finally got around to getting my driver's license {which I needed to get a library card}. Anyways, last Friday, Daniel and I went to get my license and are cars registered {with new tags}.

Six years ago, when we moved to North Carolina, getting these things done was a nightmare. We were running in circles trying to meet all of their requirements {which did not seem to be posted online} and we had to retake our driver's license test. In addition, it cost us about $800 in taxes to register our vehicles. The whole ordeal was a HUGE hassle.

Being back in Tennessee was much easier {mostly}. The requirements to get your license are clearly stated online. So Last Friday, we took everything with us and the ornery guy behind the counter proceeded to tell me that I needed a marriage license to get my driver's license. 
Say what!?!?! 

We were annoyed and there was obviously no point in arguing with this guy, so we proceeded to the county clerk to register our cars. While there, we ASKED the county clerk about the marriage license and he looked as incredulous as we had. Even though I didn't have a TN license, he allowed us to put both of our names on the registration. BTW registering vehicles in Tennessee cost us $75 instead of $800.

So on Monday, with the car registration in hand, I went BACK to the license place. Luckily this time I talked to a new person and they accepted my proofs of residence without any hassles. I am officially a TN resident again.

Where Do You Blog?

Centsational Girl posed the question: Where Do You Blog? 

Most of my blogging {and freelance work} happens at the kitchen table {in our 170-sf camper}. I am looking forward to having an home office again {that I can decorate} and a comfy chair, but for now camper living means blogging from the camper dining table with my coffee close at hand.

For the next few days, blogging and work will be happening from a hotel while we check out the Scottsboro, Alabama area for potential places to live.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...