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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 in the Rear View Mirror

Cullman,  AL

As I look at the year about to close it has been one of change.   Most good.  A few sad.

We started the year officially no longer full timer RVers.   We began moving into the house on New Years eve 2016 while still staying in the RV.   We had to retrieve two storage trailers..... one in Louisiana and the other in Maryland.   Also, had to purchase mattresses.   Through the coming months lots more purchases.  Glad we kept most of the furniture we would need.

Once we were settled for a few weeks, we needed to find a church home.  We visited a few.  Then we found there was a church about 5 miles away that started at 9:00 am.  (We prefer an early service).  One visit and we found our home.  Sharon Grove United Methodist has a very small congregation.  We felt so welcome.   So welcome in fact that Leonard starts a 3 year term as a Trustee starting next week.

In March we took off for Georgia for a week of relaxation at a COE park before leading a 3 week NOMADS project in Vienna, GA

Come May we hitched up the rig and headed north to NJ/PA/MD.   After visiting daughter Terri and family in Pa and camping nearby we were at the Jersey Shore camping next to my sister Debbie and family.  Then it was some time on the road with Granddaughters Charlotte and Abby.   After camping a bit in PA it was westward.   Springfield, IL on to Iowa then South Dakota and then Missouri.  Then a month back to Alabama.    We got them home to Maryland in time to get prepared for school.

We love having visitors.   In February Ali and Ron Workentin (Rving couple) and their friend Wendy who lives in Birmingham came for the day. 

Then in April NOMADS who were volunteering in the area met us at Ava Maria Grotto in Cullman and came to the house for a visit..... Harriett, Patrick O'Leary and Bill and Marti Koch.   Also in April were another NOMADS and RV couple Carol and Jerry Wright were the first to overnight in one of our RV sites.  A few days later friends from NJ who now live in Texas were on the way to Texas and stopped by.  We were glad to have Glenn and Janie Doyle be our first overnight guests in our guestroom.

September brought hurricanes throughout the country.    RV friends Jessica and Harry Riker and their two cats evacuated their new home in Florida and stayed in our guest room for a week.  A few days later Diane and Russ Kilmaier friends from NJ who moved to Florida took temporary residence in our RV for a week with their 3 cats.    What a great time this was.  And even better neither couple had any major damage to their homes.

Another RVing couple George and Laura Owens were the second couple to use an RV site in October for two days.   I short time later Howard and Linda Payne from the web site RV-Dreams were camped nearby and we invited them to visit for the day.

Continuing in October NJ friends were on a RV trip and found time to park here for a two day visit.... Dan and Carole Baxter.   One their 2nd day here, another RVing friends couple Adam and Helena Cerquoni pulled in next to Dan and Carole.   The next day Dan and Carole left and Rvers Jerry and Carol Pearson took their place for the night.    Then all too soon all sites were empty.  We loved this coming and going. Almost felt like RV park owners.

We moved to this area because son Lennie, daughter-in-law Lois and grandchildren Maddie and Jordan live but 20 miles away.   We manage to all get together about once a month.  Sweet.

Yes, there has been heartache and problems too.  Len has had some medical problems that we hope are being resolved.

Our less than two year old Fifthwheel has given us lots of problems.  It is currently in Indiana at the manufacturer where repairs have been completed.  Once the weather permits we have to go there to inspect it and bring it back to Alabama.  We plan on selling it and getting a much smaller rig.  No longer fulltiming we don't need a 43' rig with 4 slides.

The heart ache is the sudden death in early October of my dear brother Norman.  The family is still grieving and processing losing this sweet man.  I miss him every moment.

Now on to 2018.  And wishing each of you have a year of happiness, contentment and peace.

Until next time. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Alabama blizzard and update to his health

Cullman,   AL

This morning we had a follow up appointment for Leonard.  After last weeks diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, he went for more blood work yesterday and returned to our doctor this morning for results.   The good news......  his numbers have improved.  He is still very anemic but he is producing more blood. 

This past week he has still been napping frequently then can't sleep at night.  When he does sleep I can't.  I listen to  his rapid breathing.  He takes 3 shallow breaths to my one.  Doctor explained this is to be expected.  I have to move to another bed in order to sleep.

He continues on iron pills with the expected side results. I choose not to check it out.  If you get my drift.

We noticed on the way to doctor that some vehicles exiting the Interstate from the south were covered with snow.  We knew that family and friends in Texas and Louisiana had snow covered lawns.

When we came out of the medical center it was snowing.    After stopping at the local Piggly Wiggly and then Walmart we came home.   Our local Piggly Wiggly is going out of business.  Everything was 50% discounted.   We got almost $100.00 of groceries for $49 and change.  Would  have bought more but the shelves were almost bare.  Wondering if all Piggly Wiggly's are shutting down or just this one?

Now.... check out this snow blizzard around our house.

This roof is usually red, not white:

Going down from the porch.

Back yard

Side yard looking east into the woods.

Side yard looking west.

Front yard.

I want don't any of you to worry.  We have plenty of bread, eggs and milk.  We will get through this.

Until next time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Quick trip and remodeling a room

Cullman,  AL

I hope each of  you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and take time to take a breather during this busy season.

Our Thanksgiving?   A trip to Pearland, TX to be with family.   We left Cullman on Tuesday November 19 and drove the 570 miles to Leonard's brother and sister-in-laws (Royce and Susie) house in Sulphur, LA where we spent the night.

Wednesday morning we were off to Pearland (just south of Houston)  another 140 miles.   This was to visit with daughter D'Juana, SIL Joe, grandchildren Alexandra, Jared and Lindsay.  Also met their exchange student from Sweden, Linnea.   On Thanksgiving Joe smoked a turkey and D'Juana prepared our feast.  Luscious.   Also at dinner were Alex's BF Nate and Joe's brother Joel and wife Kim.  Always great to see them.

On Friday we came back to Louisiana where we visited daughter Cassie and grandson Davyn.  Then to visit more grandchildren Hunter, Nathaniel, Clara and Logan.

I am so....... forgetful.        Never took a picture of any of the family this time.  But we thank the other grandmother Linda for sending us great pics of Hunter, Nathaniel, Clara and Logan.

Then we visited dear friends Diana and Teaux.  Always try to see them when "in town".

On Saturday Royce and Susie fried catfish and shrimp and made all the trimmings.  Two of Lens siblings also enjoyed the feast........ Myron and Sissy and Sissy's hubby David.  Again no pictures.

Sunday saw us back on the road to Cullman.   On the way we met up for breakfast with friends Judy and Leonard who live in Baton Rouge.   I took a picture!!!

We got home around 7:30 pm exhausted.

My goal this week was to re-do the office.   This is how it looked when we first toured the house.

After we moved in


I love it.  My favorite room.

It took three days to paint it and move furniture.   The reason being... Leonard's health.   For the last several weeks he has not slept well at night, is cold all the time, is short of breath easily.  Walking up the steps of the porch causes him to be short of breath.  He needs several naps during the day.   I've been telling him to see our doctor.  He finally agreed on Thursday.   She sent him for blood work.

We returned on Friday to find he is extremely anemic.   They can't find a reason.  If his numbers get any lower he will need a transfusion.   For now he is on B12 and iron pills to build him up.  As I write this he is napping.  I had to shake him in church this morning when he started snoring.  And he is cold.  Breathing seems better but he has not been doing much.  He goes for blood work again on Thursday and we will see the doctor on Friday.

Well that brings us up to date for the last few weeks.   Pray all is well with each of you.

Until next time.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Cullman,  AL

It's about 10 months since we moved into our house in Alabama. Now that we've seen all four seasons, I have a few observations between living in NJ and Alabama.

Winter Weather

Winter snow in NJ.

Winter snow in Alabama

To be fair.... it did snow in Cullman last January.  Flakes came falling and hitting the ground.  It was gone less than an hour later.


Sales tax in NJ 7%.( 3.5% in 3 neighboring towns)  Clothes and food (except prepared)  are not taxable.  

Sales tax in Cullman AL.   Almost 10%.  Everything is taxed.  Everything!  We buy our clothes when visiting in NJ.

Property tax on house and 2 acres in NJ.     Approximately $5,000.00 a year when we sold in 2011.  Would be much higher if we had lived in North Jersey and not in a rural area of SJ.

Property tax in Alabama on house and 4 acres.   $256.00 a year.  

Changing seasons.

In NJ we had definite Winters, Spring, Summer and Fall.  

Summer flowers around our fish pond in NJ 

In Alabama there is Sorta of Winter, Spring, Hot Summer and  Fall Leaf Changing.   How thrilled I was to see Spring flowers that I had in NJ here in AL.... daffodils and forsythia.  

Growing Season.

We had a garden in NJ.  Grew strawberries, tomatoes, beans, okra, corn, etc.  We planted early Spring and by end of September  to mid October growing season had ended.

Alabama has more than one growing season.  Since we were traveling a great part of the summer we did not have a summer garden.  However, in Alabama they plant various crops late summer, early fall.  So we have a fall garden of onions, cauliflower and cabbage.  And I just read it is time to plant carrots, garlic and asparagus.  Will have to think about that.


In New Jersey if we wanted to have a hot dog roast in the backyard we had to get a permit from the local fire company.   No open burning without permitting and payment.

This is allowed in Alabama:

Good thing.  We have burned a lot of debris and have a heck of a lot more to burn.

Fresh Produce:

There is a reason New Jersey is the Garden State.   For many years, the southern part of the state was a major grower of vegetables.   As a child and young adult I would see the trucks of tomatoes headed to Camden NJ home of Campbell Soup.  The processing facility closed many years ago.   But NJ still has the BEST tomatoes and Silver Queen Corn.  No tomato tastes like a Jersey Tomato although I did find some that were close and grown in this area.

However, I can not say the same for apples, peaches and plums.  We bought two peaches at a road stand this year for $1.00 each.  Inedible.  How to toss them out.  We bought a bag of apples a few days ago at an orchard.  I was going to make applesauce and pies.  I filled my crock pot with apples.  When done, I had to strain to get all the water out.  I won't even try to make a pie.  It would cook to mush.  Then today we went back to the orchard for apple cider they made yesterday.   We almost choked when we paid $10.31 for a gallon of apple cider.   In NJ we would pay $5.00 for a bag of good fresh apples or peaches or plums that we paid $15.00 for here.    And no where near $10 for a gallon of cider.  Never again.

Fierce Weather

In NJ we had to contend with Hurricanes and even Super Storm Sandy  (and snow storms too).  We lived about 30 miles from the ocean and 20 miles from the bay.   Here is damage on the bay after Sandy.

No damage inland where we lived.

In Cullman we are in Tornado alley.  Around the time we were getting ready to move here, one swept through about 15 miles from the house.

We've been under two additional tornado watches since moving into the house.   We have a large basement where we would go.   Many people have shelters built in their yards.  In our surrounding area there are at least 8 shelters built on the side of the road.   On You Tube there are videos of a major tornado that hit the town of Cullman in 2011.

All in all we like the area, we love the house and people are friendly.   Not a regret.

Until next time......

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Keeping up with visitors.

Cullman,  AL

A fun part of living here (aside from Len playing on his new tractor) is having guests.  And this past week has been a great one.

A review:

October 17:    We took our Open Range fifthwheel to Madison RV near Huntsville.  The plan was for them to install a new roof as they damaged the original roof when they were working on the rig back in the Spring.  Then Highland Ridge was to pick up the unit on November 20, take it to their plant in Indiana and do the myriad repairs that are covered under the warranty.  We then would have to go to north Indiana around December 20 to inspect their work and bring it home.  Not looking forward to driving to Indiana that time of the year.

However, Madison RV called this week to let us know that Highland Ridge was on the way to get the rig and that the roof repairs would be done after HR does their work.  We are hoping Madison realized the extent of the problems with the rig and, like us, are hoping that  HR junks it.  If so, they won't have to put out the $5,000 for a new roof. 

October 20:  Son Lennies birthday party at his house.

October 21:  Lennie and Lois came to dinner at our house after church.

October 24:  We drove to Huntsville (65 miles each way) to see the faith based movie Revive Us 2.

October 25:  Our friends from NJ Carole and Dan were RVing their way back from Arizona to NJ and came for a visit.  Proud that we introduced this fine couple over 20 years ago.

October 26:   We took Carole and Dan to Ava Maria Grotto and Clarkson Covered Bridge here in Cullman.  They took us to lunch.  Later in the day we welcomed Adam and Helena who are on their longest RV trip.  They are also friends from NJ and plan to start full time RVing next summer.

Dinner time with Carole, Dan, Helena and Adam

October 27:    Dan and Carole left with hugs and well wishes.    Helena and Adam wanted to see Ava Marie Grotto and since we have been there many times, including the day before, we handed them the keys to our truck.    Dan and Caroles rv site was not empty for long.

Later in the day arrived Jerry and Carol who are full timers traveling between Manchester TN where they work camped for the last several months  to Rockport, TX where Jerry is starting a new business of being Mr. Fixit.  They are from the Corpus Christi area. Jerry is a blogger, like me.  We caught up with them a few years back when we were in Rockport also.  Nice to see them again.

Dinner time with Helena, Adam, Jerry and Carol:

October 28:   Well here we are.  Just the two of us.  This morning Jerry and Carol joined us for bagels and goodbyes.    A short time later Helena and Adam came in to say so long.  RV sites looking empty.

We had planned on getting back to the tractor and yard work.  However, its 40 and a cold rain.  A good reason to just stay in the house and chill.   Wait....if we wanted to chill we would be outside.  Stay in the house and rest.  Yea, that's it.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

His New Toy

Cullman,  AL

Oh yes.  Leonard is a happy man.  We have done a LOT of work on our 4 acres since moving in early January.   A lot of heavy work.  But there comes a time when we needed help.  Help in the form of  Big Equipment.  And something fun to operate.

We checked out a couple of used tractors.  Prices of were ok.  The tractors weren't.    So we stopped at a local Mahindra dealer.   We needed a tractor with a front end loader, pallet lift attachment and a heavy duty bush hog.  The salesman worked up a cost.  We would think about it a while.

Then we got the call regarding the passing of my brother and we took the sad journey to NJ.  While there we stopped at another Mahindra dealer.   They gave us the cost of just the tractor with front end loader.   It was $40.00 more than what we were quoted in Alabama that included the bush hog and the pallet lift.  Our minds were then made up.  We placed the order.  I wrote the check.

This was delivered on Tuesday.

After a few instructions Len was off and running.

Bush hogging the future pond area.

We have 15 large cedar trees we want removed, all planted close others.  Six of them block our view of the road.  Four are between the house and the pond area and block the view of two beautiful cypress trees and 5 are lined up in the side yard for no reason we can discern.  All these trees have metal fence posts which were put there when they were planted many years ago.   The trees have grown around the posts making cutting them down difficult.   There are several more cedars in the yard but are just fine where they are.

This is the one Len pushed and dropped with the tractor.

We've cut it up and moved the debris to one of two large burn piles we have in the pond area.

Yesterday he removed some small brush from the creek area that runs along one side of the property   Then he started at the back.  The growth is so think we've never been able to get to our back property line.  He bushed hogged a few paths thru but we still are not to the back.  But he did clear one large area and made ANOTHER burn pile.  The previous owners must not have known what to do with an old mattress and box spring that we found laying in an overgrown area.  We know what to do with it.  A match and diesel fuel.

How we wish my brother could have come for a visit.  He would have enjoyed that operating front end loader, etc.  and the peaceful surroundings.

Who knows these people?

Yep..... you RVing friends.  That is Linda and Howard Payne from www.rv-dreams.com   Linda and Howard were camping nearby for a few days.  I've been following their blog since around 2007 but we've never met in person.   This was an opportunity not to be missed.  We enjoyed some time at the house getting to know each other then went to Logans for a great meal.   Welcome back anytime you two!

WARNING WARNING WARNING...... Ugly feet picture to follow.  If queasy stop reading and do not scroll down any further.

Last chance. 

 When we were in the northeast last week for Norm's funeral we spent a night at daughter Amy's and family house in Maryland.   Eight year old Abby is a girlie girl.  She asked to give me a pedicure.  What do you think?  Might be pretty polish but some ugly feet.  I warned you.

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Completely unexpected

Cullman,  AL

Last Monday I received a phone call that I never thought I would get or ever wanted to get.  My nephew JR (brothers son) called from New Jersey to tell me my brother, Norman, had passed in his sleep.

Norman just turned 67 two weeks ago.  This was completely unexpected and a shock to us all.

Within hours of getting the call, we were packed and headed north.  I have two nephews (my sisters sons) who live in Wytheville, VA.  When we travel north without towing a rig, we stay at my nephew Jason's house.  From our home in Alabama to Jason and Kelly's it is 405 miles.  Then it is 420 miles to where we stay in NJ.    When we were much younger we would travel that distance straight through but with age and blood clots in Leonard's legs it is no longer feasible.

We arrived in Upper Deerfield NJ at our friends Shirley and Lyn around 4 pm on Tuesday.  From there we drove about 22 miles to my sisters, had dinner, and then to my brothers house where family and friends had gathered.

The viewing was Friday with burial on Saturday.   I was so pleased at the large crowd of people who came to pay their respects.   Norm was a member of a volunteer fire company, a Mason and a member to Tall Cedars.   There was a Masonic ceremony Friday.  We were told this was the largest attendance at a viewing of this group of Masons.  Norm also was a longtime member of the local United Methodist Church.   The three of us grew up across the street from this church.  They have a fund raiser breakfast once a month.  Norm was the Omelet Station Man.    He was also a member of two antique car clubs.   In several of these organizations he held various offices including president.

Norm had a full weekend prior to his death early Monday.  Saturday he was at his omelet station.  On Sunday he helped his grandson move and played with his only great-grandchild.  On Saturday night he was out with a dear friend.  Never a hint of any health issue.

Norm, his friend Donna and our sister Debbie in June 2017

All dressed up for his Grandsons wedding two years ago.

Norm, me and Debbie at my daughter Terri's between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2015

At his house.   Norm and Len with three of Norms grandchildren.

The family is still processing this.  We take comfort in that it appears his passing was without pain.  We take comfort in each other.  We take comfort in the love and respect he had from so many people.

Norm and I stayed in contact when Len and I traveled fulltime.  We would never go more than a few weeks without reaching out to the other.   We hoped there would come a time soon when he would visit us here in Alabama.

Everyone said that Norm would never turn down a chance of assist someone.   In 2014 when I had a stroke in Alaska he volunteered to come to Alaska and help Leonard drive back to the northeast.  He did just that.   He was just like that..... always doing what he could to help others.  I am proud that I was the sister of Norman Richard Fowler, Sr.

Friday, October 6, 2017

More digging and our mini rv park

Cullman, AL

As we continue to work in our yard now that the weather is cooler, we finally removed some debris that has been annoying.    In the front yard there were cinder blocks and what we thought was one rock sticking partially out of the ground.  We have no idea what the purpose is or was.

These were just a very few of the many cinder blocks dispersed around the property.   However, most of the blocks were not buried.  We gave those blocks on Lennie and Lois who built a rather large fire pit at their house.  If I remember correctly it is 8x8 and two blocks high.  They only had to purchase 3 blocks to complete it.  Glad they made use of them and they are out of our yard.

To get back to the latest cinder block saga: the ones sticking out of the ground and making mowing more of a hassle.  I noticed a few days ago that a rock was now somewhat movable.  So Leonard to the shovel.

Cinder blocks and rocks he removed.

AND a rather large piece of concrete.   What the heck????  What was that for.

Does anyone have any idea why these would be partially buried in a yard.  We don't.  The hole was been filled in and grass will grow.  No more scraping these blocks with the mower.

As our readers know, one of our first projects in the beginning of the year was putting in two RV sites where a double wide trailer once stood.   We keep our rig in the 50 amp/ water site.  We then have a full hook up 50 amp site for friends traveling through or visiting.   Earlier in the year our friends Carol and Jerry spent a night there.  We had one load of stone placed in the sites.  After their visit we realized we needed a 2nd load.  Done.

On Wednesday our friends Lauren and George Owen paid a visit.

Our little RV park:

I know.  I know.  Can't see much from the front porch.  Guess I was too lazy to walk out and take a better picture.   All that watching Len dig out rocks, you know.

We met Lori and George back in 2011 while in Pennsylvania.  They were just planning their fulltime adventure.   They had a Montana fifth wheel but recently purchased a Vilano.  What a beautiful classy RV!  The manufacturer is right over the Alabama/Mississippi line about 110 miles hours from here.  Since they were coming from Texas headed to Pennsylvania via a stop in Mississippi for some minor warranty work, we got some time to visit.

Here is Lori and George:

What a great time we had.   Yesterday we went into town to check out the Cullman Oktober Fest.

Yesterday it was mostly the Farmers Market where we got some jam, bread and lots of veggies.  Most of the activities start today and go through the weekend.  Oh, it was also Senior Day with a luncheon and bingo.  Since all 4 of us are much too young to even be considered seniors, we did not participate.  Instead George and Lori treated us to lunch at Ruby Tuesday.

All good things come to an end.  This morning our friends pulled out headed to see family in Pennsylvania.  Come again, George and Lori.

Remember friends, if you are traveling I-65 between Birmingham and Huntsville we are here with either a guest room or RV site!

Until next time......