Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Humbug???

Christmas was really fun for me when I was a kid. I think most of us had fond memories of Christmastime. But... as we got older... we became more and more disenchanted with it.

My recent past has been one filled with a lot of bah humbugs.
Every time the year rolled around, I'd be miserable. It was also the time when I would get sick a lot.
This was when I was in my 20's. Those were really bad years... a lost decade, if you will.

But then, I began to change my mentality.
It began with a new diet of daily fruit intake.... took care of the seasonal sickness big time.
I never had to take a flu shot and I weather the seasons in near perfect health. Flu's last only 24 hours. Yes, the aching bones, high fever variety.

With new health, came a newfound sense of what this season is all about.

It is what you make of it, I find.
I no longer celebrate the shallower aspects of the holiday. That's what really depressed me, anyway.
the thought that we should be extra nice just this one time a year? That's bogus. If I am gonna be kind this month, why can't I carry it over all year round, right?

I face this holiday not with a sense of dread anymore or cynical humbug.
I just face it with the mental state that I am determined  to be happy no matter what.
And this is what is important; I never let anyone dictate HOW I should be happy --during this holiday or whenever. That's the root of all misery, I find, when we are pressured to have that postcard perfect Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving or Christmas and anything less than that is cause for depression or sadness.

I don't expect anything nor am I pressured to conform to what this holiday is supposed to be.
I give gifts when needed, and I don't give gifts when I clearly don't want to. And most important of all, I give gifts only to those whom I feel need or deserve them. I don't buy gifts just because. People already have way too much crap in their lives. I must do my part to not add to the clutter in their homes.

the result of all this is there is NO pressure on me to "have fun".
And because there is no pressure to have fun... I have a jolly good time... Not just this season, but all year round.

Merry Christmas, Hannukah and all that good stuff!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh wouldn't it be looovely!!!

All I want is a room somewhere... far away from the cold night air... in one enormous van oh woooudn't it be lovely?

That song is in my mind tonight as I curl up to sleep in my little home.
A little fire warming my feet and all that...
I cannot believe I am having the time of my life!
I just attended a party tonight and what a happy thought it was that my home was just a few steps away... I suffered a hang nail... no problem... run down to your home and get the nail clippers. :) Forgot anything? It's right there... at home... a few steps away.
Tonight I listen to the pitter patter of rain on my roof... It is very soothing to me. I have woken up to many magic mornings lately... Magic mornings are what I call waking up to a gentle rain and you curl up again to sleep...

oh it is lovely... loooovely.... lovely...

Monday, December 19, 2011

The portable heater

I am typing this in my little home tonight. Oh, what a good feeling it is to have a little fire... in my vehicle.
sounds strange and you'd think this was a dangerous thing, but I oddly feel at home with it now. 
The plastic smell that comes from it when it is new is mostly gone now. 
So all that's left is a nice warmth.
Having fun so far. So thanks to Tippy for suggesting this model. I had to buy one of those little handy lighters though to start the flame each time. It only cost a dollar so no worries!
good night, America. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Blessing of a Peaceful Life

Today I am reminded yet again of how lucky I am.
A dear aunt passed away last year and I am just finding out her kids are still fighting over her estate. Two of the older sons are married, have jobs and they still want a portion of whatever she left the two younger sons who are still in school.
They are fighting over the value of a house that is underwater in the mortgage. Underwater!

If you were a decent human being, you would just say heck with it and give the two younger sons her house. They have lived their most of their lives anyway...
You would think these two older sibs would look in on them and ask if the mortgage is being paid off or what expenses need to be taken care of. The two younger fellas are a high school kid and a college sophomore for crying out loud...
But no...

 Instead, the two older sons use a lawyer and try to divide the house four ways. They don't even apparently care where their two half brothers end up in. It's not like the two younger brothers have done anything terrible. They're good kids just trying to do well and stay in school. And these two older jerks --grown men in their 30's with their own homes and families still want to grab the house from under their younger half brothers.
These things I will never understand about some people.
It's plain greed and avarice.

It's my dear Aunt's one year anniversary today.
She must be turning in her grave.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Living it UP!!!

Today was a good day.
Got lots of work to do, but hey... there's always time for a little getaway in the middle of the day...

Met up with Steve from the van living forums for our second restaurant lunch.

This time, we both agreed to visit Chama Gaucha, this awesome Brazilian restaurant here in San Antonio.
This place is my Disneyland of steak. You won't go to any of those other places once you go to this one. For the price and the vast selection, (it's a steak buffet with an awesome salad bar) you can't beat the value. ($26 per head)

For those who aren't familiar, Brazilian steak is one of the best ways to enjoy a cooked cow.
You get your veggies from a great salad bar and then you sit down and enjoy your meal as dozens of waiters come to your table wielding large metal skewers. On them are all the cuts of steak you can have. They slice you off a section depending on your preference of doneness. It's always warm and they always come around to offer you more and more.

Cuts of rib eye, sirloin rubbed with garlic, top sirloin, rump cap (their house special), lamb chops (my favorite that goes well with their signature horseradish dip), lamb leg, bacon wrapped medallions... the selection is freaking awesome. Combine that with great ceasar salad, marinated mushrooms, 8 types of cheese including blocks of parmesan, grilled onions, bell peppers, 4 types of salsa, salami, prosciutto, steamed asparagus...
a fine time will be had by all... :)
This is what life is for! Good food, good company... Great conversation.

Just the sheer enjoyment of the moment.
I finished it all off with 4 cups of coffee and lots of creamer... great for digestion.

Skipping dinner tonight!

Cheers and good night to all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life's curve balls

So here I am settling down to a long learning experience doing this van living thing. My portable heater just came in today. The solar panel (15 watts) came in 2 days ago. Of course, I still need a bunch of things to make the solar setup even work inside the van.

But life is ever changing and one thing this life has taught me is to be flexible in dealing with life's curve balls.

Because of family obligations, I may not be able to continue my van adventures for a while.
The money I was hoping to save up is now instead going to support my parents. (Dad just lost his benefit) So being that I am gonna support 2 households anyway, mine and my parents', it doesn't make sense to continue living in the van when I can move in with them for a while. (I am paying for it, I might as well partake in the benefits of a stick and brick once again) I'll be occupying my old room there from when I visited them in the past.
In this economic times of uncertainty, might as well consolidate the 2 and become one for a while till I can get more income going in.

Well, that's the latest but that ain't gonna come about till next year still.
So I got a month to enjoy my van... and this great experiment. Although the solar setup may have to wait now that things have changed somewhat... What's the use of having it if I am gonna abandon the project thirty days from now.... I may also have to leave the van in storage because my folks live overseas.

Plus side... I get to go to the land of my origin again and catch up with everyone there. And be with my folks. So it's still a good thing....
The independent living van experiment will be put on hold when that time comes...

Till then.... Let's live it up!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two and a half months

By now, it's become routine for me to end my day sleeping in my little home.
It's raining softly right now over the metal roof of my van.
Very peaceful and very quiet.
Vehicles pass by in the night, but I hardly hear them.
I hear the same thing when I was in my apartment. Plus I no longer hear any car alarms going off or rowdy neighbors slamming doors or coming home drunk. The silence is priceless. :)

I say good night to my fellow campers in these woods .... the little squirrels in their tree hollows and the raccoon which I know is there but I hardly see because he is so careful in his concealment.
I can barely wait to be on the road.
But it'll have to wait...
Other matters need attending to right now.
Busy with work and with life. :) Christmas is right around the corner.

Stay warm out there.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Project goes on...

Tonight, as I sit here in my heated lodgings, I flicked on my laptop and browsed...
Maybe it's my desire to keep learning and keep educating myself, but I searched for solar panels for sale. Found  a small one for real cheap Sunforce 50033 15 Watt Solar Panel 12V Battery Charger Kit.
80 bucks free shipping. So I said, well, why not? Let's continue on our quest for energy independence. So a few clicks later, now I am awaiting my new solar panel. So I guess this is it!
My reading of other people's blogs finally pushed me to order my first solar panel.
Next up is a battery and some installation thingies for my roof.
I'll probably get the battery from wally's when the solar panel arrives.
We'll see what happens then. :)


One of my dreams is to get one of those ice cream truck or those mini shuttle bus types and outfit it with an old fashioned stove for winter purposes.

Car heater

Car heater worked out fine last night. I coincided it with a short drive I had to make. So I cranked the heat up all the way and it kept warm till I slept that night. It was a straight sleep this time --one little wake up around dawn when I found out I lost one blanket layer... But with that straightened out, slept again and woke up great this morning. A bit chilly changing clothes, but manageable.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

OK... Last night WAS cold...

Freezing, as a matter of fact. When I woke up there was frost on the windows.
Went ok, but yeah, THAT was cold...
Went to Home D to see if I can get a portable heater... at $90 a unit... a canister costing $4... and each canister only lasting 5 hours on a low setting... kind of put me off, to be honest...
Made me think twice... how much will I be using this again?
Reminds me of the fan I bought. Now, it's just lying around unused. Was only able to use it maybe 4 times.

Well, for now, I am going with more layers...
time to bust out the 3rd blanket. :)
the only time it's gonna be chilly is when I dress up. :)
Well, gotta dress up fast, is all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cheap digs, Good Eats

My one vice is eating good food.

I like buying ecologically produced food, quality brown eggs, etc.. It may be more expensive, but I view it as an investment towards my health. If I ate inferior foods (cheap, processed, etc.), I would certainly pay for that later anyway when I buy medicines to cure my ailments.

Anyway, this new cheap life has afforded me even more options with food... and dining out. :)
I find I dine out often these days, but that's maybe out of the fact that I still don't have a functioning kitchen to myself. I only do cooking when I am in friends' and family's homes. It's gonna change eventually, I believe.

I look back on those days when I had an apartment but had to eat ramen all the time. I'm sure I wasn't alone in this...  I am glad I woke up to the reality and made steps towards a life where I keep my money as much as possible for my own benefit...

Met a fellow Traveller!

Recently met a fellow traveling enthusiast! Was a wonderful meet up and great to meet Steve from the forums.
It was lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. They had excellent egg drop soup and my sweet and sour shrimp was very good.
Afterwards, I showed my conversion job having brought Great White along.
It was a fun meeting Steve and am looking forward to meeting other van dwellers one day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting coooold!!!

Well, as expected, it is getting cold now.
I am touched when people ask me how I am doing in my new home this winter.
Well, it is cold. But no more colder than when I was in my apartment anyway. (did not use the centralized heating to save on electricity) So no different except a smaller space.

I have been remiss in getting a space heater. I keep forgetting in my busy schedule. Perhaps I will get one end of this week.

It is manageable, though. The cold is what I was waiting for. It sure beats sweltering, that's for sure. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sweating in your bed unable to sleep.

But the race is surely on to find a better vehicle by next summer. Either that, or I'll just get an apartment just for the summer months... We'll see...

Have a good week, all!