Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Starting a Band and Working the Holidays in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

 A visit to a dollar store, and voila!  Brownie is decked for the holidays.

I've been pretty busy doing retail these last few weeks.  During the holidays, I open Sun Gallery four days a week, Thursday through Sunday.  

 Camping with friends Donna and Cassie

Last week, I broke away for three nights of camping at Elephant Butte State Park with some local TorC friends.  We stayed at South Monticello Campground, the furthest north of the campgrounds in this park and also my favorite for when I want to be hooked up to electricity and water.  I like how this campground is spread out on big loops with large sites, so RVs aren't lined up like they're in a parking lot.  We had a fun couple of days playing lots of Scrabble.
 Quail on the bank of the Rio Grande at the local Bureau of Reclamation land

I came back into town last Wednesday so I could get ready for my Very Busy Weekend (which included Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Scarf-o-Rama Sunday).  

I became a blue-haired old lady on Wednesday and then headed out to the Bureau of Reclamation land south of Williamsburg for one night of free camping. 

 I remember laughing at Grandma's blue hair, but now this.

Back in town again on Thanksgiving, I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends and a potluck dinner of great leftovers the following night.  I spent four nights behind Sun Gallery to deal with the busy retail weekend.   

Now I'm still back behind the gallery because I'm working on some two cool new projects!

 Sonja helping me print out of the band music.  My Print-cess.

(1)  The Band!  

My friend Joshua Frankel, a local realtor and city councilman, and I have wanted to start a community band here in Truth or Consequences for a couple of years, and I finally really got the mojo to get it going.  We have started a Sierra County Community Band FaceBook page and we've found about 10 musicians who will play instrumental carols during our upcoming Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration in downtown TorC on December 8th.  

Now I'm at the stage of finding out how challenging it is to find affordable music.  Many band scores with parts for the individual instruments run over $50--for just one song.  Fortunately, some music stores and band directors have shared their simple Christmas carol arrangements online for free, and I've been busy printing stuff out so I can get the band folders together for our first rehearsal in a few nights.  We'll be okay for this first gig!  

And we'll figure out what to do for the next one.  Our hope is to seat a larger band for a spring concert, maybe looking to our local high school for ringers to fill out the sections.  And maybe they'll let us borrow some music, too. 

(2)  RTArt Camp!

Some of my blog readers know about the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, a yearly gathering in Quartzsite, Arizona, where vandwellers, RVers, and other nomads meet to see friends and share skills, just like the mountain men of yore, but with propane, cellphones, and other modern conveniences.  

I've known about the RTR for years and have met many of the regulars in my travels, but this past January was my first time attending.  I enjoyed meeting a lot of people, and I participated by giving a talk on selling on eBay while traveling, playing my flute at the talent show, etc.  Bob even made a video about me!  However, it was also cold and dreary much of the time, and I ended up spending many days just sitting and doing artwork.

Paintings I made at RTR 2017, displayed in the Windshield Gallery 
of my old Toyota Dolphin

The RTR is very big now.  There were hundreds of people in attendance this year; I heard an estimate of 750.  

A music camp broke off from the main camp and went down the road a ways, so their nightly drumming wouldn't keep the main camp awake.  After my introduction to the RTR this year, I decided to propose another interest-based encampment:  RTArt Camp.

I'm excited about the possibilities, which will firm up when we are in camp January 11-21, 2018. 

There's an online discussion about RTArtCamp, and about a dozen people have volunteered to be involved by teaching, donating supplies, bringing tables and canopies for our outdoor studio, or simply being around.  So far, it looks like we could have some drawing, painting, beading, wire wrapping, knitting, and creative writing sessions, plus just some general drop-in studio time.  I am also planning to have some simple craft projects on hand for anyone to come and play with, even those who don't call themselves artists yet.

In addition to these new projects, I'm still working on the old...some eBay during the holiday season, since I'm here working retail for a few more weeks, anyway.  Also, in the process of downsizing from the Beluga (my Class A) to Brownie (my 20-foot mini-motorhome), I dumped a lot of stuff in the studio and storage space behind my gallery sales floor.  Stuff that needs to be gone through and dealt with...you know, throw out, give away, put away, etc.  

I am REALLY going to be ready for that sojourn to Arizona in January, and the other adventures of 2018.           

Saturday, November 18, 2017

New Starter, New Stove, New Sites in Truth or Consequences

Getting towed out of my parking spot behind Sun Gallery

When I wrote a week ago, I was holed up behind my art gallery in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, in Brownie, my 20-foot 1984 Lazy Daze mini-motorhome.  I needed a new starter and was scheduled to get that done on Tuesday, when my mechanic (Austin at Rio Grande Automotive in Williamsburg, NM) was available to do the work.  

I called Coach-Net, my roadside assistance provider, on Monday morning, and my tow arrived Tuesday morning as planned.  The work wasn't complete that day, though, so I had to camp out in Sun Gallery overnight.  That went fine, except I really should have read the directions for the inflatable bed first.  Somehow I managed to have it set somewhere between "inflate" and "deflate," which translated to my butt being flat on the floor at 2:30 a.m.  Next time, I'll know.

Finally back in nature!

Wednesday, I finally got out of town and was thrilled to be on Bureau of Reclamation land just south of Williamsburg.  Free camping right on the Rio Grande.  If you want locations like this, make sure you check out the Free Campsites website.  

Yesterday, I had another RV repair scheduled.  I haven't had a working oven in either of my last two mini-motorhomes, and I really like to bake.  The stove in Brownie couldn't be repaired, and, due to the cost of a new stove, I had to think really hard about how much was the ability to bake actually worth to me.  My RV mechanic (Chip Baker in Elephant Butte, NM) recommended that I check out RV salvage yards in Arizona while I was there recently.  I did so, and found out that a used stove was going to cost about $325 to $400, which sounded like too much for a used stove, to me.  

 My new Dometic stove from the scratch-and-dent RV appliance guy on eBay

Off to eBay, where I was successful in finding a scratch-and-dent seller of RV appliances.  I watched his sales for a couple of weeks before ordering one of his stoves, to make sure he always got positive reviews from buyers, which he did.  I got a brand-new stainless steel Dometic three-burner stove for about $280 and paid $50 to Chip to install it, so I came out ahead of going the RV salvage route.  The oven door has a couple of small scrapes, but nothing more than I probably would've had within six months or a year, anyway.  And the stove works beautifully!  The flames on the burners are bigger than my old stove had, and the oven is going to be a lot of fun.  I can visualize myself baking cookies in Quartzsite for my van dwelling friends during the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in January.  

 Free camping on the Rio Grande

Yesterday was a slow day at the gallery (one $8 sale over the course of two days!), so I closed up early and went to explore another Bureau of Reclamation site.  This one isn't in the Free Campsites website.  It's at 3rd and Turtleback, on the other side of the Rio Grande, and there's room for only one small RV and maybe another car.  Beautiful site.

 My wrist tattoo, which I got just about seven years ago, on the day my divorce was final

So, it's been a little over a month now since I moved out of my large Class A motorhome and started living full-time in Brownie, with no RV park space anymore.  I have saved myself $200 in rent and perhaps $50 in utilities, and I am having the time of my life.  The freedom to choose where I want to stay each night is exactly what I needed.  I know this life wouldn't be for everyone, but it is exactly right for  me.  And Sonja.

Sonja Shop Cat supervising from a stack of seats


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Camping Behind the Shop


I've been out having a life, but not blogging about it, for going on about a year now.  I came back from my Thailand trip with a bad case of thyroid disease, and never did have the energy to write it up with all the gorgeous pictures.  I replaced my 1985 Toyota Dolphin with a 1984 20-foot Lazy Daze mini-motorhome, "Brownie".  I've been on an epic RV trip up the Great River Road with my partner Steve, and I flew to visit my daughter in Seattle where I frugally camped rather than pay high hotel prices.  Boy, I've got some stories!  But they'll have to wait.  I'm going to tell you about today.

I'm trying to resume aspects of my life that fell by the wayside when fatigue set in so badly a year or so ago.  I have been able to maintain most aspects of my nomadic life.  Most months, I open my art gallery in Truth or Consequences for about four days during and surrounding our Second Saturday Art Hop, a citywide event (on both streets!).  When I don't have Sun Gallery open, I'm out looking for inventory, painting, or traveling. But I haven't had the energy for "extra" commitments, such as blogging.  I'm hoping that is over.

Sunset at Texas Canyon, a rest stop along I-10 in Cochise County, Arizona, where I spent a night on the way back to TorC

I just got back from a visit to our primitive campground in Why, Arizona, and now I'm keeping the gallery open for six weekends in a row to capitalize on the holiday shopping and high tourism season.  I drove in from Deming, my last stop on the way back to TorC, on Tuesday morning, had a coffee party in Brownie with a couple of dear friends, and then went into the gallery to work for a while.  

In the afternoon when I was ready to leave, Brownie didn't start!  I called Steve, and we ruled out the battery, because the headlights and various other lights work.  After a little research, we realized it has to be the ignition switch or starter or possibly the alternator.  So, Brownie needs a tow to my mechanic.  

Because I'm working all weekend at the gallery, I decided to put off the tow until Tuesday, the day my mechanic has time to deal with my rig.  So, in the meantime, I'm camped in downtown TorC.  

I was upset by being stuck here for a little while, because I'd envisioned camping at this bend in the Rio Grande that's a free Bureau of Reclamation site:

Instead, my view is this (which improves during weekday hours when the honey bucket trucks are out working):

So it goes.  I was kind of upset for a little while, but I got over it pretty quickly once I'd walked over to the Pelican Spa for a soak in the hot springs and then eaten a big bowl of green chili at Latitude 33.  Downtown living ain't bad, I remembered.  My gallery is actually just a few doors down from the apartment where Sonja, Steve and I once spent a winter, so this is all really familiar.  The cat is fearless about hanging out in the parking lot back here, so I have to watch her carefully.

I'm prepared for the possibility that Brownie might have to be at the mechanic's shop overnight.  If necessary, I can stay in the gallery.  More dear friends are coming to my rescue, lending me an inflatable bed and a dorm size fridge.  I already have small kitchen appliances to make it possible to make coffee and do a little cooking.  It's so funny--I remember the adjustments I had to make when I learned how to "do without" electricity and city water, and now I have to make adjustments in my life to go back to living with these things.   
I've kept the gallery open.  It's not profitable, but it almost pays for itself and it's a heck of a lot of fun.  During my recent time in Arizona, I made a couple of paintings, and this one has already sold:

You Are the Star, acrylic, 20 x 20 in.
And now for the gratuitous cat picture, so I can be draw this entry to a close:

Sonja Begonia, age 10, with 25,000+ miles of RVing on her