Two-Headed Bird!

Yep, that’s a two-headed bird you see there.  Further down you will find more pictures of the elegant Sandhill Cranes who reside in and near our park.  They serve as wandering yard art, pacing in and out of rows of RVs, casting a curious eye at the occasional plastic pink flamingo, and bleating bird-style when strangers approach too closely.

They know who belongs, and who does not.  Who is naughty, and who is nice.  Dawny and I must qualify as nice because they barely bleat at us any more when we walk near them.

FullSizeRender-1140Dawny has certainly taken a turn, not just for the nicer, but for the magnificent.  Many of our friends have complemented her on this.  Not only does she behave with total respect around the Sandhill Cranes, she is doing great with the other dogs in the park.  Bigger dogs are still a challenge, but it has been manageable, and that is all I ask.

Her charming side is absolutely blossoming.  A few days ago, we joined a group of campers walking the rounds, singing Christmas Carols.  She was delighted to be a member of the troupe.  Had a great big doggy grin plastered across her face.  Totally ignored other doggies–even the bigger ones–as she walked around with this funny little pack of people singing their hearts out (especially fun after Miss Rose thanked us for our song by serving spiked eggnog).

FullSizeRender-1138I do get out some without my faithful sidekick.  Once or twice a week, I bring my needlepoint project to the activities center and join the ladies’ crafting group, also known as the Stitch-n-Bitch Club, according to Miss Rose.  (The men’s group is called the Whittlers and Whiners).  It’s fun.  Stitching in time to laughter, sharing, and caring, with an occasional gripe or gossipy tidbit thrown in to spice up the soup.

Amidst all of this fun, chores have not been neglected.  This week, I washed six months of dirt samples, bug bodies, and road grime that had been plastered on our house/vehicle, collected from Texas to Tennessee, Virginia to Florida.  It took three days, starting with the roof.  Boy, I had to be on top of my game that morning, crawling around the roof with sponge, hose, and soapy suds.

FullSizeRender-1148There’s often a spirited debate on RV forums about which is better:  a motorhome or a vehicle pulling a trailer of some sort.  Well bath-time is certainly a point in favor of the motorhome.  I can wash my vehicle and my house all in one go.  Heck, if I put on my bathing suit and pack along the shampoo, I could kill three birds with one… er… feed three birds with one berry.  That’s an expression my son invented when he was small.  He could not accept the idea that killing birds with stones could signify anything remotely positive.  Gotta give that kid a lot of credit.  And I do.  I do.

Now, back to my bathing efficiency idea …  Wouldn’t that provide some interesting fodder for the Stitch-n-Bitch Club!

A Village of Angels

Sounds pretty nice, huh?  A village of angels.

Well, that just happens to be what I’ve landed in!

You know the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Well, that works at the other extreme of our lives’ stories as well.  As we age, it often takes a village to love one another well, to get to really know and appreciate each other, offer support when needed and desired, and share with generous spirits when some of our lives veer off into sometimes cruel detours brought on by poor health or deep, aching loss.

I made it to the CARE Center (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees) last week.  CARE is unique.  It is the only place in the country (maybe even the world) that offers assistance to RV’ers who need to stay in one place for a time for medical reasons.  It is actually open to non-RV’ers, as well, but the vast majority of residents have RV backgrounds of one variety or another.

Residents live in their own homes.  Their RVs–which have ramps built next to them for safe access–surround the main facility that houses the dining hall, multi-activities room, and nursing and administrative offices.  CARE also offers a daily care (ADC) program for people needing more concentrated assistance.  For more details, you can visit their website at

But CARE is much more than you will ever find on a website or in a brochure.  Most of the residents share a common love of travel, of RV’ing and camping–some for vacations or extended travel and many for full-time living.  This common element is a special glue that helps to bond the program’s participants–residents, ADC, staff, and volunteers–together.  Honestly, in my former work I encountered a great many people in a variety of retirement and assisted living communities, and I’ve never seen this kind of cohesiveness.  People here truly care for one another, watch out for each other, and give of themselves to the best of their ability.

The angel in this picture was made by a beautiful, extraordinary lady who attends the ADC program.  Her name is Frances.  She gave it to me as a thank you gift for helping her during the bingo game–I was her lucky sidekick who helped break her losing streak with a two-game win.

But what she gave me was worth more than she knows.  For Frances has some major physical challenges that severely impair her movement, hearing, and ability to communicate–things most of us totally take for granted.  I honestly did not know what Frances’ abilities were when I sat down to help her with her four bingo cards, and I was nervous about doing too much or too little or talking too loud and not being able to understand what she was trying to say.

By the time the 90 minute tournament was over, I had a real sense of the woman next to me.  Her strength, her intelligence, her abilities that went well beyond what you could see from the outside.  We were in sync.  Mostly without words.

The words came later.

Later, in the dining room, I was talking to Crystal, officially the CARE Volunteer Coordinator but in reality the beating heart of the place.  Crystal saw Frances looking at us, trying to get our attention.  She went over to her and I followed.  When I bent down, for the first time I could understand everything Frances said.  “Thank you for helping me.  I want to give you something.”

She struggled to stand.  Dawn, a beautiful caregiver, helped her with her walker.  Frances went over to a table with crafts material on it.  She picked up this delicate, lace angel.  She gave it to me.

A village.

Of angels.

Of love.

Of generosity.

And incredible strength.

I only hope and pray that I can return in some measure the priceless gifts I receive during my time in this very special place.