Gotta Love that Doggy

Can dogs have sleep apnea???  I let Dawny join me in bed earlier than usual last night in order to help warm us both up and, heavens to Betsy!  While she promptly snuggled up to my belly and dozed off, I lay awake for an hour listening to her snort, snore, and wheeze . . . whine, sigh, and bark under her breath while her feet spastically ran a 4K.  Whoever thinks dogs don’t dream has never slept with Dawny.

Finally around 4:00 a.m. I got up, made us a wonderful egg and cheese bagel breakfast, and turned on the trusty TV.  I must be turning into a crusty old codger . . . um, can a lady be a codger?  If not, then I guess I’m turning into a grumpy old bat.

There is a local news station that airs on weekday mornings where everybody on there is either each other’s best friend in the whole wide world or they are just pretending.  And none of them ever, ever has a bad day.  It bugs the crap out of me.  Pithy banter goes on and on and on to the point where the traffic report (not that I care too much about that) and the weather report (hey, don’t mess with my weather report!) get short shrift.  All while they appear to be having the time of their lives up there on camera, exuding charm, humor, and personality.  I wonder what they are like when the camera is off.

Happily, this morning I found a different local news station where the two main anchors could barely look at each other without grimacing, so instead of annoying banter, everyone focused on the job at hand.  Wonderful, refreshing stuff.

Speaking of short shrift–yes, I did, indeed, speak of it–what an interesting history for such a humble expression.  The archaic usage is particularly fun.  When a priest would give a condemned person penance as absolution for their confessed sins, that penance was also known as their shrift.  Now if everyone was in a hurry (long line at the gallows, eh?), the condemned would barely have time to receive their penance before the noose tightened.  Hence, short shrift.  Now that would be annoying.

Well, isn’t this turning into a nice, bleak post for a holiday week!  Okay, so let’s chat instead about something more positive.  Here we go.  I have in mind three fellas that I wish were my boyfriend.  Actually four, but numbers three and four count as one.  Hmmm, that could get complicated.

One:  Gregory Peck.  Of course I loved him in To Kill a Mockingbird, but his role in a lesser known flick is what got me to pining after him.  He plays a country sheriff in I Walk the Line (1970).  He becomes hopelessly entangled with a young woman (beautifully played by Tuesday Weld) and things end up quite badly.  What I found so appealing about Mr. Peck in this role–despite his unfortunate propensity for horrible decisions and a very sad weak streak–was his exquisite vulnerability.  He simply, desperately hungered for what any of us might crave should we feel slighted in that department:  youth, love, life.  I suppose the Johnny Cash sound track also helped to win my heart.

Two:  Cesar Millan, of The Dog Whisperer fame.  A polar opposite to Mr. Peck’s character, Cesar is boss!  Dominant doggie.  Alpha male.  Yet as gentle and as sweet as can be.  At least that’s how his TV show depicts him for the audience.  I think he’s real, though, beyond what the TV editors put together.  He listens.  Yup, that’s it.  He listens.

Then he cuts through all the crap and takes action.  Wahoo!  No annoying banter there!

All right, numbers three and four:  . . . drumrollllllllllll . . . Simon & Garfunkel.



my Momma

loved them too.

Maybe if we listened to The Sounds of Silence in the middle of the night it would help both Dawny and me sleep better.  For it turns out that, yes, dogs do get sleep apnea.  And here’s a wild note:  According to, one of poochie’s symptoms may be morning headaches.  Really.  How do they know that???  Call Cesar!  He’ll give those so-called experts (and annoying newscasters) short shrift.

Good night!

Budgeting for Fun!

2015 is winding down and I’ve been having a great time pouring over my annual budget and monthly spending sheets.  No, seriously, I enjoy this stuff.  And I offer this post in case it helps anyone else out there who is trying to balance their financial footing.  Much  of what I have to say applies to full-time RV living, since that is my current perspective, but it can be applied to other lifestyles.  Just fill in the blanks as best suits your situation.

For anyone trying to control their spending, my one, top, big time, primo, all important, super duper tip–so super duper that you can forget everything else and stop reading once you read it–is to write every expenditure down.  Every.  Single.  Expenditure.

You don’t even have to add it all up if you really don’t want to.  Just by keeping track of everything you spend, you become aware of the drip drip drip and, of course, the bigger chunks that escape your piggy bank.  That simple awareness is enough to give you pause before making purchases and other financial commitments.

Personally, though, I enjoy adding it up and find that to be extra helpful.  It can become a game, kind of like Monopoly or Life.  Yes, a lot of things are left to Chance–Make general repairs on all your property . . .  RV, me, doggie . . .  Ugh I hated that card!  But if you aim to come in under budget every month, the overall surplus can help to offset, and hopefully totally cover, any unexpected losses.  Kind of like a Get out of jail free card.

Okay, enough of all that.  My budget categories are listed below.  No figures are included as that is private information and will differ widely from person to person anyways.


Weekly (amounts vary):


Personal (clothing, laundry, postage, gifts, entertainment, misc.)

Fuel (and LP)

Lodging (Camping fees)


Monthly (some amounts known in advance, some not):

RV:  Maintenance, repair, equipment, etc.

Health insurance premium (amount known in advance)

Other medical out-of-pocket, Dental, Vet

Phone/Internet (amount known in advance)

Other Monthly, unique to you (e.g., loan payments)


Annual (once/year payments for known amounts):

Tax prep, Other professional fees

Taxes for the year

Memberships, Annual fees (Escapees RV club, Blog fees, etc.)

RV:  Full-timer insurance coverage, Roadside assistance

RV:  Registration/Inspection fees

Other Annual:  Life insurance, etc.


FullSizeRender-1048Here is a photo of what these categories look like on my Annual Budget Sheet.  On the right hand side, I list my goals per week, month, and year for each category, adding up to the total figure for the year at the bottom.  The Monthly Goal figure, found in the middle of the page just before the list of annual expenses, is an all-important piece of info used on my Monthly Spending Sheets.

FullSizeRender-1051The Monthly Spending Sheets (January 2016 is pictured to the left) are critical to gauging how I am doing month-to-month.  This is where I write absolutely everything down.  The layout closely parallels the Annual Budget Sheet, but concentrates mostly on the weekly and monthly expenses.  Variable expenses are listed first (like groceries and fuel), then the monthly set expenses (such as health insurance and phone/internet).

My Total Monthly Goal (drawn from the middle of the Annual Budget Sheet) is noted on the top right corner of each Monthly Spending Sheet, as well as further down where calculations are made.  The Monthly Goal for each category is noted on the far left of each line.  At the end of each month, I total each category in the first column to the right, then on the far right column I note the amount over or under budget I came in for that category that month.  (Optional:  To the right of that I put that item’s running total +/- budget including previous months in parenthesis.)

Add up all the monthly expenses in the first column, subtract that from the Total Monthly Goal, and come up with the total amount over or under budget for the month.  That number should agree with the +/- budget goal numbers tallied in the far right column for each category.

That figure is carried down to the bottom right corner, added to the +/- amount for all previous months (running tally), resulting in a new Monthly Expenses +/- To Date figure, which is carried forward to use on the bottom right corner of the next month.

The Annual Set Expenses from the Annual Budget Sheet can be noted on the bottom left of each Monthly Budget Sheet when they arise.  They don’t effect the monthly budget calculations, though, so I just write them down when they are paid to check them off.

Parting notes:

  1. When looking at the Annual Budget, even at $25/night, camping fees (lodging) amount to well over $9,000/year, my biggest expense.  I was able to slash that drastically in 2015 through workamping jobs.  That surplus then goes into an emergency fund.
  2. When I started out, fuel was almost $4.00/gallon.  I left that in the budget calculation and the amount not used each month goes into an emergency fund for any RV maintenance or repairs that arise down the road.
  3. When I gather a nice surplus over a few months for the groceries or personal categories (or maybe I win second prize in a beauty contest!), I can buy myself something wonderful and guilt-free, like a vacuum cleaner.

There’s probably a terrific app out there that does all this or something even better automatically.  Or maybe you are good with computers and excel spreadsheets.  Personally, I like writing things down and doing the math myself.  The bottom line, though, is to find something that works for you to help you keep track of expenditures and, even better, to encourage and celebrate savings.  Advance to Go, Collect $200!

(The photo at the start of this post is of me in OCD bug-eyed computation mode, totaling the figures for the month . . . did I win???)

Mother Nature’s Art Class


Get out your glue sticks, children!

and construction paper

and a pair of nice



baby scissors

Here is a box of 64-color Crayolas

Mmmmm they smell good, don’t they?

Play nice and share . . .

Okay, now throw it all out the window!

Then out we go

into my world . . .



FullSizeRender-1033Gravity’s artful dalliance

with a soft

and thoughtful breeze

perfectly fills our canvas





FullSizeRender-1043Shapes colors and shadows

evoke texture movement emotion

A golden van Gogh landscape

brings the senses home





FullSizeRender-999Colors go POP!

like a Warhol classic

multitudes masking

the uniqueness of one







strobe lights

complements of Sister Sun





FullSizeRender-1036Faces gently blushing

hearts softly flutter

a pastel palette

that does Monet proud





photo 1While naked trunks

and bare arms

grant graceful shading

in all the right places




FullSizeRender-1037Rembrandts of raindrops

on somber blacktop

Golden red brown on black . . .

a bold fashion statement





FullSizeRender-1027Beauty’s dying breath

captured, enraptured

with all the drama

of a da Vinci touch



FullSizeRender-1002Dried out veins

and empty dewdrops

no longer nourish

brittle fronds of lace





FullSizeRender-1026And back to the earth

to Mother’s sweet bosom

our subjects return

for a well-earned rest





FullSizeRender-1017Judgement suspended

as all art is lovely . . .

moving composition

a Matisse masterpiece!