Yesterday I took the test to be a 2010 Census worker. Not an 'enumerator,' one of those that knock on your door. I'm not willing to work evenings in areas I just wouldn't feel safe walking through. So I applied to be an office worker. The pay is pretty good, $11.50 an hour, part-time hours and a job that lasts only until December.
Well, let me tell you, talking the test was not easy! As a matter of fact, it was damn hard. The questions were confusing as they were asked, the math you had to do without the help of a calculator (math has never been my strong suit) and they only allowed you 30 minutes to complete the 40-question test. An additional 15 minutes would have been perfect.
But what I found most interesting were the people taking the test. Only one young lady was in her early 20's, the rest were up into their 70's, with the majority being men in their late 40's to mid 50's.
As we had some time before the test began, the men starting talking - and I started listening. Every single one of them had lost their 'real' jobs. All had been in the corporate world - some for 20 years. What was so disheartening was when they started talking about the job opportunities here in Wilmington. None. They compared notes on how they had applied everywhere, and been turned down, for being over-qualified. They all had been turned down for jobs at Chic-fil A, McDonald's, Dillard's department store, CVS drug stores, and on and on and on. They talked quietly about how demeaned they felt and how basically useless their years of education, experience and knowledge were to them in today's economic market.
Being in New Hanover County, we were told that a high score was needed to even be considered for a census. Several people yesterday were re-taking the test to try and improve their scores from a previous testing. I thought I had done fairly well by scoring a 90% but have no idea if I will get a call. That's the next step - you wait now for 3-4 weeks waiting for 'the call' to say you've been approved for the next step in the process, paid training!
I'm not going to worry about it, but I bet those men will. They need something to hang their hopes on and it's so sad that right now a job with the Census is the only hope they have. What has happened to our country? How have we managed to get at this point? I certainly don't have answers.
I did think it was interesting watching Sunday Morning today, learning of the woman who in the 1950's unknowingly donated her cancer cells while being treated at John Hopkins, which became the breakthrough cells used in all disease research throughout the world, even today, at great profit (HeLa cells) and her son's and their families cannot afford basic health insurance. How can the richest country in the world be at this point in time? I just don't know, but I do think taking this test and just hearing how it would effect this small group of people's lives is an eye-opener.
Until next time....take care of each other.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Even though it's wonderful to be 'back at the beach, what I've been wondering about since my furniture was delivered last Tuesday is is this home? With over 300 boxes of 'stuff' to unpack and put back in place, it's been an exhausting week, as you can well imagine, but I'm getting there and it's starting to at least 'looks' like my home.
I made a fast trip to Raleigh to take some household items to son #2 and visit my with good friend who had just returned from 2 months in Mexico. I learned of a dear friend's passing and was booted out of the Book Club I helped found. (They replaced me when I left for the Peace Corps and won't let me back in as they want to keep their membership at 10). Boy, was that a kick in the teeth - people you think are your friends and would be pleased that you're back, have moved on with their lives and really don't care about you or yours.
So I got to thinking about what is so different about me and my lifestyle that makes me 'not acceptable' to the norm. I think the thing that stands out first is I'm single. That does set you apart at this age, whether you are divorced or widowed or just never married. Your married women friends see you as a threat. And second, and probably most of all is 'options.' I have them, most really don't. I'm not stuck in one place, in one house, in one city. I can 'wheels-up' and take off to wherever I choose, whenever I chose, and I think that makes people, should I say, envious?
If my dear husband were still living, I am sure I would 'one of those who was stuck' behind the gates of a golf community, just living day-to-day without much change or adventure in my life. But I was dealt a different hand and how I chose to play it has always been my choice.
You read quotes like 'don't worry or care what others think about you, go forth and live the best life you can.' Maybe that's true, for the most part. But we all know that we care what others think about us - it's hard not to.
So what will tomorrow or next week or next month bring? I haven't a clue! The options are many, the road is long and inviting, my house is warm, safe and cozy. I've even started dating - I know, said I wouldn't - but when someone really nice comes along - well....? Sharing is fun, talking about life and experiences and just going to dinner or a movie with someone other than yourself can be really nice.
Tomorrow I start getting my sewing studio back together and look forward to taking out all my fabrics to 'pet', fondle and imagine what I could make out of each piece. I'm going through my closets and giving away lots and lots. I learned from a year in Winnie that I really don't need all those clothes. Goodwill will be happy to see me.
I just wanted to share my thoughts this cloudy Saturday afternoon with those of you who have traveled along with me for the past 12 months.
Take care of each other....until next time.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I moved to The South to avoid the grueling winters that I had endured in Minnesota and Chicago and what do I get when I arrived in Raleigh - 6" of snow and then sleet on top of that! And of course, the city does not begin to have to removal equipment to handle such a Big Storm. They closed the airport and schools have been closed for 3 days and the side roads are still a mess. It's really funny looking at it as a Midwesterner. Six inches would be nothing 'up North.'
Oh well....here I sit in the living room of my son's home waiting to move back to Wilmington on the 16th of the month. Winnie is in storage and I still haven't decided what I will do this coming summer.
With job offers in Oregon and Michigan, both 5-month stints, I do have options. But maybe I'll stay put and wait and head further South in October. We'll just have to wait and see.
Right now I am so BORED! Watching way too much TV and reading an average of 3 books a week. It would have been great if my best friend, who lives in Durham, was home. But she's off exploring Mexico for 2 months. Oh well - just 2 more weeks. Have already gotten the basics set up - trash, electric, water, cable - ready to turn or install when I arrive. Had my property manager do a 'walk-thru' of the house last week to make sure the renters, who were not happy, were not destroying the place. But she says it looks really nice and well-cared for - so that's certainly a 'good thing.'
I miss the road. Imiss working. I miss meeting the new folks who come into a RV park on a daily basis. I miss getting out and seeing parts of this country I have never seen. I guess that sounds like I won't be 'home' for long. Will keep you posted.
Until next time...take care of each other.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Last week I was looking forward to leaving on Tuesday to attend the Tampa RV show and reporting back to you about all the wonderful new RV's I'd seen, the people I'd met and the fun I had taking a few days vacationing with friends in Ft. Myers and Venice.
Instead, I was called into the office on Monday afternoon and told that I and at least 8-10 other workcampers were being let go. To say that I was totally shocked would be a total understatement. I was told by the very wonderful GM that I had done a fantastic job, I had handled every job assigned to me with expediency and complete competence, etc. etc. etc., but.....the owner had just over-hired. (25 workcampers - that's 25 RV sites given over to workcampers who only worked hours-for-their-site and didn't have to pay the very high-season rates the guests pay.) So the poor GM was given the job of letting us go. I was mad, but I felt so sorry that Jerry was put in this position by the owner who lives in California and considers owning this beautiful resort 'his little hobby.'
The majority of workcampers are retired folks who, like me, love the idea of traveling, seeing the country and stopping to work a set amount of hours a week (normally 15-24) for the opportunity to spend 3,4 or 6 months in an area they want to explore during their time off. The majority of workcampers call their RV home and budget their expenses based on not having to pay for a site for the time they agree to work. The majority no longer have a 'stix & brix' home and unless they are willing to start paying for a site, have no place to go.
This is high-season in Florida. The prices are at their highest and sunbirds have filled the RV parks to capacity. And all workcamping positions have been filled for months. And did I mention, we were given just 2 days to pack up and move out?
What to do? Well, I decided to visit my son in Raleigh and let him repay me for all the times he moved back home:) I thought, I'll just wander back up and drive him crazy for 2 months before I head out to Oregon for my summer job.
Then yesterday I got a call from my property manager saying she had once again been notified that my renters (who had refused to resign another long-term lease, and since October have been on a month-to-month) had broken all the HOA rules that apply to parking boats and commercial vehicles on property - for the 3rd time. I realized that maybe this was a great time to go back home and regroup. So yesterday, with my blessing, she gave them a 30-day notice to vacate.
Instead of going to Tampa on Tuesday, on Wednesday afternoon I headed north. Spent the first night in Dothan, AL, the next night in Anderson, SC (after having the not-so-pleasant experience of having one of the month-old tires on the Jeep literally explode while in a construction zone on the extremely busy I-85 just south of Atlanta). In Anderson I reconfirmed my opinion of KOA's - yuck. Overpriced and not well kept. Yesterday morning I drove the short distance to Charlotte where parked and locked up Winnie and spent the day and evening with my oldest and dearest friends, the Hoard's, enjoying their always wonderful hospitality and guest bed. This morning I drove to Raleigh and into #2's driveway at his brand new house.
I have since unloaded Winnie and moved into his lovely guest bedroom. I've cooked dinner, snuggled with Princess (who used to be my cat and is now Sean's baby) and watched lots of football.
Monday I'll drive to Wilmington to put Winnie in storage, get a haircut and visit with some of my girlfriends before returning to Raleigh on Tuesday. I'm here until February 16th - then back to Wilmington, get my furniture out of storage and moved back in my house and then decide what I want to do.
Options abound. I can get used to living in my lovely house again (pic above), try to rent it, try to sell it (probably not), or maybe put in a good security system, lock it up, get Winnie out of storage and head to Oregon as planned. I haven't a clue at this point which of those I will choose. Any and all ideas or suggestions will certainly be appreciated!
I'm also trying to decide what to do about this blog. My Home on the Roam will be at the Monkey Junction Boat & RV Storage facility and life in Wilmington is really rather boring. This I say from experience, it's why I hit the road in the first place. But I promise that you will be first to know what decision I make and I'll be sure to invite you to come along on my next adventure - whatever or wherever that may take us!
Until next time, which probably won't be for a few months...take care of each other.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I'm sitting here on a very cold Sunday afternoon, 3 days into 2010, and thinking about how much my life has changed in the past 12 months. Watching the news shows this morning as they did their 'year in review,' I realized that there are year's that are defining and year's that just seem to 'pass by' without much change. For me, 2009 was not a year that 'passed by'.
This time last year I was sitting on the island of St. Kitts in the Eastern Caribbean, questioning why I was so unhappy being Peace Corps volunteer - something I had wanted to do since I was in college. Was it the escalating violence on the island with no safety measures in place to protect us, or the rules and regulations that this antiquated government program has never changed to allow for the influx of 'baby boomers' they are so aggressively recruiting? Both lead to my resigning early and returning to the States with my future totally up-in-the-air. Here I was, a 62-year old retired woman, no job, no home (it was still rented), and not a clue about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
I thought maybe I wanted/should try to find a partner. A man who was smart, could carry on an intelligent conversation, enjoyed traveling, laughing, a round of golf, sipping a glass of wine and walking hand-in-hand along a white-sand beach. For 30 years I had been blessed with a husband who liked to do all those things. But now that would mean actually finding and meeting someone who fit those qualifications - and how and where do you do that at my age? Dating really sucks - and even when I have tried, it's proven not worth all the hard work! I realized I can do, and enjoy all of these things by myself or with my girlfriends!So I've eliminated this as a likely scenario, though I know my son's would love for me to find someone to 'look after their crazy mother!'
Then I was asked, and actually considered restarting 'Stitches, Great Fiber Getaways', the tour business designed for fiber-lovers that I ran for 20+ years. But I no longer had a partner to share the very hard work this entails and I also realized I had 'been there and done that.' And shouldn't life be about growing - seeing and doing and learning something new?
Then I had this little idea which was sparked by Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" CBS series from year's ago. On the curvy road to Burnsville, down the mountain from my house in Penland, NC is one of the 'landmarks' that had caught Mr. Kuralt's eye and caused him to stop to chat with the homeowner's. It's a mailbox which is mounted on a very tall flagpole and has a little sign that says "for airmail only."
Every time I dove by that mail box it made me smile and remember that interview. Mr. Kuralt had been 'on the road' in his RV for just over a year at that time and I thought 'wouldn't it be wonderful to just travel the back roads of this big, beautiful country, stopping when and wherever I wanted to just chat with the people who live along those roads?' So this little idea began to germinate. I had nowhere to live, all my furniture was in storage, no one was hiring old, or even young people and I realized this was the time to fulfill the last big dream I harbored - traveling the U.S. and seeing up close the many places I had never seen.
So now we're back to where I started this blog last March when I drove West and purchased Winnie, my 'home on wheels' and began actually traveling those interesting and beautiful backroads.
I've met so many wonderful,interesting people along my journey so far. I've made friends who will be friends forever. Sue & John from Lake Tahoe that I met in a tiny campground in central Illinois, Laura & Mark from upstate New York who were my 'neighbors' in WY for a few weeks, and the fabulous Berlo sisters who let me join their 'sisterhood' and have made my stay in FL a truly, memorable experience. There is Bob & Sue, Jeff & Julia, Ed & Marie, Sue in Moab and I could go on and on. I've learned all about work/camping and have had 2 fabulous bosses and one real jerk, realizing that this is a really fun way to live and work for short periods of time because you are in a location you choose!
During the past 10 month's I've been asked over and over why I, as a single, older woman, live this way, without a real mailing address or 'real roof' over my head. People have even used the word 'brave' when describing how I live. But I would never consider myself brave. There are 1000's of single women - and men, and even more couples, who travel across the country, loving this way life for the freedom it gives us.
Maybe each of us have been bitten by what I call the waunderlust bug. We all yearn to see what lies around the next bend in the road. To stand under redwood trees that tower above us or wiggle our toes in sand on the edge of a sea; to follow a line of massive combines across the wheat fields of the Dakota's or to stand within arm's length of a huge, hairy buffalo; only by getting up and actually 'going' allows us to have these experiences. And how we love to GO!
I must admit that I'm getting antsy to 'move on' though I have 3 more months left on my contract here in Panama City Beach. I've sent for and received all types of brochures about what I'll be able to see and do when I move to the Oregon coast this May. I'm looking forward to the 3000 mile trek across the country to get there - I've chosen and re-chosen my route at least 5 times and know it will change many times before I actually start driving. Just thinking about the places I'll see and the people I'll meet along the way is exciting.
I want to thank those of you who follow this blog that I don't even know. The web is amazing and it brings the world and new friends into our homes via our computers. I hope you will continue to enjoy 'traveling along with me' as I continue to share with you what I'm doing and seeing along the highways and byways of our huge, diverse and beautiful country.
I wish each of you a 2010 filled with happiness, good health, love, joy and prosperity.
Until next time....take care of each other.
(Would love to say the wonderful picture of the fireworks is mine, but it's not. Take on New Year's Eve in Vancouver, photographer unknown - I just loved it and wanted to share the sparkle!)