Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Award-Winning Blog...And Yours, Too

Nearly two months ago, my friend Bridget passed the Liebster Award on to me and four other bloggers.  I hadn't heard of this award before, but now that I'm familiar with it, I love the concept.  "Liebster" is a German word that translates loosely to "beloved" or "dearest," and the Liebster Award showcases blogs that have a following of no more than 200 subscribers.  Recipients who accept the award then pass it on to five of their favorite blogs with small readerships.

It was hard to pick!  If I had my druthers, I'd re-award the Liebster to Bridget, whose blog, "The Nickel and Dime Ranch," inspires me to pieces.  Often, literally, to quilt pieces!  

Bridget is a very talented writer and quilter, and she and her husband have "retired" from teaching to a ranch in northern New Mexico.  Bridget also ran a college placement business in California, and she's incredibly smart about how to get kids into great higher ed opportunities, among other things.  Many other things.

I think Bridget and Tom are probably busier than they have ever been in their lives, what with the cattle getting into the growing dome and all the new projects that need to be started ato make their ranch begin to pay for itself.  Bridget writes about a multitude of aspects of her life, including projects, travels, and recipes.  Occasionally she writes a feature that she calls "Quilty Pleasures."  I love it!  

I met Bridget several years ago online through a weight loss social network called SparkPeople.  Last fall, I got to meet her in person on a short visit up to Taos.  Up close and in person, she's even more wonderful than her blog.  Thank you, Bridget, for your friendship and for the Liebster Award.

And now for the winners that I got to choose:

1.  "How to Love Where You Are and Eat Where the Locals Eat!!  Bob & Jo's Full-Time RV'ng Travel Adventures" always entertains me.  

Although I haven't met Bob and Jo in person, I love them and look forward to the day when our paths cross.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if that happens soon, because they are pretty fast travelers and they cover a lot of territory.  They have been full-timing, or at least blogging about their full-time RV travels, since 2008, and they've been pretty much all over the West, the Southwest, and the Midwest, several times.  

Bob and Jo record not only their travels, but also where they've found the best barbecue, best burgers, best pancakes, and so on.  They seem to be always up for an adventure, gastronomic or otherwise, and they take great photos of their site-seeing trips.  Jo has interesting takes on the restaurants and foods they try, and Bob isn't afraid to add new widgets to the blog, so there are always new maps and other features.  I learn a lot from them!  Congrats and bon appetit, Bob and Jo!

2.  "Life in a Volkswagen Bus:  The Good Life in a Small Home on Wheels" is written by my friend John Rogers, whom I first met online through the VanDwellers group on yahoo.  

Even if we hadn't met and become friends in person last year here in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, I would have picked John's blog.  It's good reading because it's such good writing.  

John has the advantage of being a real journalist who retired from a lifetime of work for newspapers.  As such, he's not afraid to take on real issues.  His most recent blog post about which spa owners have rights to the local mineral water flow got him into hot water (I'm sorry, it had to be said), and he decided to pull the piece.  

It's not the first time John has written about things that are so sensitive, either from a personal or political standpoint, that he's later decided to pull a blog posting.  I like that about John.  He thinks hard and writes about hard stuff, and he's not afraid to change his mind about whether to put his work out there.  When John puts his work online for us to read, it's always thought-provoking and interesting, and his photography is outstanding.  

John has also been sharing the books he is writing, as he writes them.  That's another brave thing to do.  Congrats, John, and keep up the good work!

3.  "Maria Gets Real: Living Authentically as I Prepare to Travel North America" is written by Maria Meiners, whom I know only online (so far!) from her comments on my blog.  Maria is an intuitive who gives psychic readings and does life coaching.  Her insightful and understanding comments on my own blog led me to begin reading hers, which I love.  

Maria writes about anything and everything--personal growth, places she's been, books she's read, things she sees, her work, her ideas, her feelings, her opinions.  Nothing is off-limits, and it's all very real.  When I read Maria's blog, I am happy that she is finding out how to live authentically at a much younger age than I did and that she finds such joy in openly sharing her journey and her insights with others.  

I can't WAIT to see what happens when Maria hits the road!  Congratulations, Maria, and bon voyage when the time is right!

4.   GypsyCzech is Dix's blog. I can't remember whether I started reading it because Dix is a fellow woman traveler or because she's a multi-media artist like me or what.  But we obviously have a lot in common.  She's always writing about something that resonates with me, whether it's a trip to some fabulous junk-pickin' venue, her latest artwork, or some delicious meal she's prepared.   

Two especially great features of Dix's blog are her outstanding photography and the reviews she does of other people's blogs and websites.  Reading GypsyCzech has often led me to other wonderful resources.  

I also love the overall "artsy" feel of Dix's blog.  It's always nice to look at and listen to, as well. 

I noticed that Dix has already received a Liebster recently.  Congrats, Dix!   You deserve to get this award more than once.

5.  Cruzin2Some is one of my favorite blogs because I've been able to follow Dawn and Denise's travels from the very beginning.  They started full-timing just a little while after I did last  year.  They started slow, sticking to their home turf in Texas for quite a while, but now they've hit 15 states.  It's been fun to share the adventure, from the earliest days of figuring out how to get rid of their stuff so they could hit the road to now, when they've become old pros.  I like the down-home, accessible style of this blog.  These gals talk about all of the little unexpected things that can come up when you're traveling, and they also take great photos and know where to find a great meal.  Congrats, Dawn and Denise, and safe travels!

Phew!  That was a lot of work, picking my favorite blogs and telling you all why you should love them, too.  If you want to find more excellent blogs with small readership, just google "Liebster award."  You won't be disappointed. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Trip to Seattle

The view from my Truth or Consequences apartment at Oh-Dark-Thirty on the day I left for Seattle

I've been in Seattle for almost two weeks.  My best friend, Helen, is recovering from knee surgery.  I knew her dad would be staying with her when she first got out of the hospital, but I thought she might still need a cook/chauffeur for a while.  It's been working out pretty great.  Helen wasn't driving until just a few days ago, so I took her to a few medical appointments and did the grocery shopping.  

Sly--the blue was brand-new on the day I took this photo!  

I've also had use of Helen's car throughout my visit, and this has facilitated being able to spend time with my son Sly and also do a lot of thrift store shopping to lay in some eBay inventory.  I've gotten to see the transitional housing residence where Sly is staying, the FareStart cafe where he's in a barista training program, and the Recovery Cafe where he enjoys hanging out.   For a young person who became homeless a few months ago, Sly is doing very, very well.  He's keeping busy with productive things and has a good start at being clean and sober.  

This elephant is a Seattle icon, and if you look closely, you will see he occupies Wall Street

I've shopped thrift stores from Renton, the town south of Seattle where Boeing has a huge facility, all the way up to Lynnwood, north of Seattle.  I've been very careful to buy small things that I can take back home with me, plus I've purchased some luggage to get the stuff home.  I've found some pretty great stuff and could have bought a heck of a lot more if there weren't airplanes involved in this buying trip.  Seattle is a fabulous town for thrift store shopping.

Me, at a differently-abled street crossing
 I got to spend Mother's Day with Sly.  We drove to a county park on Camano Island and had a picnic.  We'll probably do something similar tomorrow, depending on the weather.  Clouds and rain are predicted, so we may not see the big solar eclipse.  

Another highlight of my trip was spending time with my friend Chris, who picked me up from the airport on my arrival.  I also got to see her for dinner a few nights ago.  I reconnected with lots of old friends at Freedom, which had been my AA home group for nearly 20 years before I left this area, and I visited with Janet Still, my former pottery and sculpture teacher. 
I head back to New Mexico "at the buttcrack of dawn," as Helen says, on Tuesday.  She'll be able to drive me to the airport!  It's been a relaxing trip, and I'm ready to get back to work at my various ventures in New Mexico.

Kinda scary, eh?  I think he still wants to be a T-Rex when he grows up

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back in Truth or Consequences

VW Bus John, Many Wheels Brian and Blogless Steve

It's been a month since I blogged, and what a month it's been!  I spent the beginning of April getting ready to leave Why, Arizona, and head back to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Because I could leave some things in storage at Steve's place, I didn't have to carry everything I own with me in The Guppy, for the first time since I left Oregon about 15 months go.  So I made a lot of little decisions about which clothes and art supplies and so on to bring with me and which to leave.  It was nice to be able to travel lighter.

Steve and I spent a night at an RV park in Willcox, Arizona, en route to TorC, and then we lived in The Guppy at the Artesian Bath House & Trailer Court in downtown TorC for about two weeks.  We weren't sure whether we wanted to rent an apartment this year or not.  Last year we both paid a lot of rent and it seemed like it might be a good idea to just stay in my little motorhome and spend our money on gas money to travel around instead of getting tied down with an apartment.

But, after two weeks of close quarters, we were ready to rent a place.  We got along great, and we'll definitely use The Guppy for some future travels, but for every day living, we need more space.  I like to spread out to to my eBay work and my artwork.  Steve likes to have a little space where he can watch a movie, read, or take a nap.  

 My good friend Gretchen

I was visiting my friend January the other day at her gallery while delivering my first batch of mandala greeting cards, and she mentioned there was an apartment across the street over another store.  We checked it out and loved it, so we rented it immediately and moved in the next day.  Yesterday we already had our first little coffee party here.  Several friends joined us to watch the Fiesta Parade, since we live right on Broadway, the main drag through TorC.  It was a blast!  We hung out of the windows and stood on the roof next-door and enjoyed a bird's eye view of the parade and of the other people watching the parade.

The apartment is great--two bedrooms, hardwood floors, and tons of old-fashioned character.  We have windows and doors that open to a false balcony over Broadway, so we get lots of breeze and can watch the town wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.  I love it!  

 Sonja is right at home in the new place

I feel really energized here.  I've been drawing mandalas like crazy and have gotten the first dozen greeting cards into January's gallery with another dozen almost ready to go.  Since getting back to town, I've already joined the local artists' salon and volunteered to help find sponsors for the yearly artists' directory.   I've returned to work just a little bit at La Paloma Spa.  I have some writing commitments and a couple of business ideas, including making a Truth or Consequences coloring book!

Before I get very settled into my business endeavors here in TorC, I'm heading off to Seattle to visit family and friends for a couple of weeks.  Air fares have been a bargain recently, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to go visit my friend Helen who had knee replacement surgery last week, as well as my son Sly.  Helen has been working out at the gym for the past couple of years, and she's in such good shape physically that she probably won't really need much help from me in her recovery, but hopefully I can at least drive her to doctor's appointments and physical therapy until she's ready to drive herself.   Sly will be busy with a barista job training program most of the time I'm there, but I'm sure we'll get to hang out a few evenings and on weekends.  I'll get to see a few other friends while in Seattle, but I'm mostly going to concentrate on Helen, Sly, and my eBay business.  Seattle has fabulous thrift stores!  And I'll have time while hanging with Helen to iron and photograph scarves and get them listed online.  I'll probably write my next blog entry in Seattle.

 Andrea, Lynn, Judi and Chris

I can't quit this one until I mention what a great time I had meeting some of the members of my WomenGoSolo RVing group that were all staying out at Elephant Butte State Park, about five miles from TorC.   I'm so glad we had the opportunity to get together.  Not shown in this picture is my friend Metta, who has been living in her Class A in and around TorC for the past eight months or so and who recently joined the WGS group.  Both Metta and Judi are now working as camp hosts at Elephant Butte, so I'll be seeing lots more of them.  

And, finally, the real reason I haven't blogged in a while:

"It's not your turn yet.  Meow!"