Be flexible… life changes!

Change… is a good thing… right?

It allows us to grow, expand our horizons, yada, yada, yada!

Well folks, we are about to “change” again and yes, it is a good thing. We have not yet been gate guarding a year yet and already we’ve learned so much. We have decided to stay in the gate guarding biz. I’ll explain…

First, it does pay better than most other forms of workamping. I know some of you out there say, “Well, you only make $5.21 an hour. “ Maybe there is an argument for looking at it this way… but, I’m still not convinced I look at it this way.

Now, if you work for a campground (for example) you will make $8.00 (more or less) per hour.

True, but you will probably work the first 20-hours (per week, per person) for your site, hook-ups, maybe full electric or $75.00 of your electric will be furnished and you pay anything over that. Then they may give you propane… or a discount on propane. In our case, we have an all electric coach so that point is moot.

And lastly, free laundry. Since I have my own washer/dryer onboard, that point is moot as well. So here you have a free site and maybe a little of pocket money. Let’s look at the pros and cons:

GG Pros:  Gate guards  put anywhere from $3,875 to $4,650 a month into his/her bank account. Electricity, water, sewer, and everything but propane are provided. You don’t have to work x-number of hours for your site or utilities. They are provided. The only downfall is if you do not have a washer/dryer, you must go to the Laundromat. When you do take a break between jobs, you will have some money in the bank to go do something fun… like take a cruise or fly to Alaska and rent an RV to see the last frontier state (it’s on our bucket list).

GG Cons:  You and your partner must sleep different shifts. You will meet in the hallway from time to time, maybe eat one meal together a day (if you are lucky). Shopping is frustrating in a town of a couple of thousand people. Forget about frills like organic produce… grass fed beef… or a full-fledged Walmart store! If you’re lucky you may find an HEB store within an hour’s drive—maybe. Eating out at a restaurant will only happen when you take a break between jobs. You will miss your family (grandchildren) if you are away months at a time. It can be very dirty out in the oil patch with the caliche dust. It’s impossible to keep the rig clean inside or out!

Campground Workamping Pros:  You may work 2-4 days a week (sometimes more) with several days off. You’ll be able to sleep together, eat together, go shopping together and even do laundry together if you have to go out to do laundry. You can park free (in exchange for hours worked). You and your partner can get away together and have some fun… like date nights! You can go out to eat at restaurants—together! Your rig will stay pretty clean with just routine cleaning chores. You get to deal with happy people everyday who want to come and have fun.

Campground Workamping Cons:  If you need to make extra money… this is probably not for you. You only have the possibility of reasonably making about $300-$600 a month, or so, on an average campground workamping job. You get to deal with people everyday who expect perfection in an imperfect world, but since they paid for a campsite at your employer’s campground, they expect the moon on a silver platter and if you don’t deliver there is H-E-double hockey stix to pay! You don’t make enough money to really get ahead and take off and go on vacations when you are not working. You must be a “jack-of-all-trades” type or a chambermaid. (You get what I mean!)

In the last two weeks we have been taking stock in what we want to do. Keep on gate guarding or travel more and see the country. While we do want to travel and see things, with the price of fuel, food and everything else these days, we also need to make the most moolah we can when we do work.

After lots of what-if scenarios and discussing, cussing and more discussing, we decided that gate guarding was probably the most lucrative semi-retirement job out there. It’s also just not that hard. We get paid to log people in and out of job sites. In a nutshell, that’s it. If an emergency happens, we need to be able to let someone know who is inside the gate and where they are.

Sometimes gate guards get feed—often. Sometimes you get a lot of exercise which means you have the opportunity to lose weight. That’s a plus J

And I love to cook. I love trying new recipes. I work the night shift so I can hopefully have more time to do this activity. Sometimes this works out better than others. But most of the time I can cook, read, blog, and play games on my computer or Nook.

So after much thought, hashing it over and discussion, we will be coming back to the oil patch in the latter part of September. For the month of August we are going to enjoy our roles as Nana & Papa with our granddaughters in Texas. Then on to a few doctor appointments. In September we are going to Arkansas for two reasons:]

  1. To have a family memorial for Bob’s mother who died on July 4th (she went out in a blaze of glory at 10:10 pm).
  2. We are vacationing at Hot Springs for a week… just for the fun of it!

We just finished two wonderful weeks of R&R at The Summit near Canyon Lake. We are Coast to Coast members and this is our home resort. It’s nestled along the Guadalupe River in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. I call it God’s country. I’ve had this membership for over 20 years and it always feels like home when we come here.

So that’s why I’ve been remiss in posting. I’ve been too busy having fun. So…

Till next time,

Vicky

Men’s Gate Guard Luncheon Update…

It’s time again for the men to take a much needed break and head on over to the Cotulla DQ for the men’s luncheon get-together.

This Wednesday, July 25th, at 1:00pm is the time. Last week six guys attended… I wonder if we can beat that this week? Bob Heron, my guy, will not be able to attend this week since we are on R&R in the Texas Hill Country. We will be back soon!

Have fun!

Vicky

What I just learned about life in the brush country…

Ah, the ubiquitous mesquite trees. You can find them in north Texas, South Texas, and many places in between.

Serious barbecuing Texans from every corner of the state revere the mesquite tree as the Holy Grail of wood when it comes to cooking meats (especially brisket) in their smokers.

With their tough-as-nails thorns (sometimes up to 2″ long), these hardy trees are the bane of ranchers. However, as I’ve just recently learned from one of the ranch workers, they can also help save ranch wildlife, as well as cattle, in times of drought.

Mesquite Seed Pods hanging from the tree. Who knew these were edible???

You see, ranch-worker Ronnie told Bob that you can eat the pods produced by the Mesquite tree. In fact, he said natives to this region used to pick the pods from the trees (you don’t want to pick them up off the ground since bugs love to eat them too), dry them out, then grind them into flour and make a type of cake out of it.

Don’t harvest the pods on the ground. They are usually infested with insects. And the Termites just love to cover them over with their mud tunnels and devour them… it’s the cellulous fiber they want!

I figured Ronnie was pulling our legs… it’s pretty obvious that basically we are city-folk. Don’t get me wrong… we like it out here, but we love it too when we get to go back to our roots in the city (aka: civilization).

Now I’m a very curious person by nature. Many nights you can either find me writing (trying to get started on a novel), reading, or researching all kinds of stuff on the Internet. I can’t imagine what it was like before having this unlimited wealth of information at our fingertips. After all… I met Bob on the Internet…

So I set out to look up Mesquite Pod Flour and the beloved Mesquite Tree. Regarding the flour, sure enough… it does exist!

Imagine that… Organic Mesquite Pod Flour! I don’t even have to collect it & grind it!

Let me share this interesting fact: Mesquite grows in all regions of Texas except the East Texas Piney Woods (ground is too wet)… this includes more than 56 million of Texas’ 167.5 million acres of land, stretching from the Rio Grande River to the Texas Panhandle, across Central and North Central Texas, and into much of West Texas. 76% of all the mesquite found in the United States resides right here in the Lone Star State.

As I was reading about the food quality of Mesquite Pod Flour, I was astonded! It is almost a superfood. In fact, the ranch manager informed me that if I pick some of these pods, please leave plenty for the ranch animals. Take a look at this…

“The sweet pods are a good source of calcium, manganese, iron, and zinc. The seeds within are 40 percent protein. Mesquite flour made from grinding the whole pods produces soluble fibers, which are slowly absorbed, without a rapid rise in blood sugar.” (taken from http://www.desertusa.com/lil/mesquite.html)

Have you ever heard the old-timers say… it’s too dry to rain? Well, according to our ranch manager, over the last 4-years the Brush Country did not get any measurable rain. Yet these bean pods were everywhere. As a result, the wildlife here made it through by eating these Mesquite pods, but they were very lean.

Mesquite trees supply not only food, but they also supply cover for wildlife including quail, dove, raven, turkey, white-tail deer, mule deer, wood rat, kangaroo rat, chipmunk, pocket mouse, rock squirrel, ground squirrel, prairie dog, porcupine, cottontail, jackrabbit, skunk, peccary (javelina), and coyote.

As many of you may have already guessed, I’m what they call a health nut. Actually, I just want to keep the doctors and drug companies from enjoying my hard earned money… and I don’t trust either one of them!

So when I learn about natural things I can do to take care of our health and make our quality of life as great as it can be, I absorb it like a sponge. At one time I was on about eight medications or more and now I’m on two. And I feel so much better.

Before I go off on a tangent, I’ll wrap this up. I plan to learn something new everyday. Today’s lesson was about Mesquite trees and Mesquite Pod Flour! Who knew…

Till next time,

Vicky

Gate Guard Lunch Updates…

Last Wednesday, July 11th, was the Guys Gate Guard Lunch at the DQ in Cotulla. Seems like these lunches are getting more popular. One guard drove 2 hours to attend… that’s great! It’s good to get outside of our homes/offices on wheels and meet with other people who are doing what we are doing. It’s an isolating existence. Getting out… relaxing… and sharing ideas with others is a good stress reliever. For all of us!

Bob, Dennis & Jerry

Tracy & Rich

The Ladies will meet again this Wednesday at 1:00pm, July 18th, at the DQ in Cotulla. For any new people who have not attended yet, the Dairy Queen is located near the intersection of I-35 (feeder road) and FM 468, just behind the Valero station.

The guys will meet again on July 25th, Wednesday at 1:00pm, at the DQ in Cotulla.

Till next time,

Vicky

Saying goodbye… a tribute to Mom…

At 10:10pm on the 4th of July we bid farewell to Bob’s mother, Ruth. She was 98 1/2 years old.

For anyone who has had a loved one with Dementia or Alzhiemer’s, I don’t have to tell you what a long road your loved one travels till they get to the end of their journey. It’s a slow, torturous trip (for all involved). And as we watch them decline to the point they don’t even know us anymore, it’s hard not to feel… simply helpless.

Mom’s 98th birthday, April 2012. From left to right, granddaughter Katelyn, Bob, Ruth. We celebrated with festive table settings and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake!

Our daughter Bobbi and grandaughter Corynn enjoyed the party… great ice cream Corynn!

Ruth was a very sophisticated lady. She wore high heels every day well into her 80s. She hated giving them up, but when they became a fall hazard for her, she grudgingly did so. But oh how she missed her high heels! A couple of years ago, while she was in the nursing home, she got her hands on a newspaper and noticed Dillard’s was having a sale on… you guessed it–high heels!

In her dementia, she grabbed her walker and trotted down to the front desk and demanded her car be brought around. Dillard’s was having a sale on high heels and she was bent on going and getting herself some new shoes! The staff retold that story many times.

In May we moved Mom from a nursing home into a personal care home. She was already on Hospice for her dementia and was in late stages of the disease at that time. My long-time friend and adopted sister Brenda had just opened up her own personal care home and Mom was really her first client. Actually, it all worked out so well for all of us. Brenda was an experienced nurse and had worked as a Hospice nurse a few years earlier. She had also run her own day care center for years prior to this. She is indeed a natural care-giver.

Mom and Brenda playing a harp.

Mom received 24/7 care and Brenda rented a very lovely home for her new business. This house was perfectly laid out for this purpose. As she opened it up, everything she needed was provided by different people… it had to be a divine plan for sure.

Mom was finally able to rest in comfort in this personal care home. We wish we could have found a place like this many years earlier. It would have been a much better alternative to the nursing home.

Mom’s comfortable room for her final days.

Mom finally had comfort and personal care for her final days. She had dignity at last…

Hospice is truly a caring organization. They are focused on the comfort and dignity of the dying. We learned a lot during this final journey with Mom. I used to fear what the end would be like. For me it was pretty much an unknown entity.

I feel much calmer now that I know there is a way to go with grace, dignity, and peace. A way to go with God…

Goodbye for now Mom… we’ll see you later…

Vicky