Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Counting My Blessings

I was starting to get all out of sorts today, for really no good reason. I had a disagreement with Cammie that started me out in a foul mood, work has not been going very well this week, and there was a very strong, cold wind today that was banging me around as I was attempting to work. I was also feeling lonely, put out at having to stay in Pahrump for three months, and sad that I'm not headed to Baja with my friends. Like I said, nothing really, but I was allowing myself to get cross anyway. That's when I got a reality check. I talked to one customer who has cancer, another who has been out on disability, and a friend called to tell me that her 37-year-old daughter has aggressive breast cancer. I also learned that someone here at the park lost her mother and her son within two weeks of each other.

Well, I got over myself. I realized how blessed I am. I am healthy, I have wonderful family and friends who love me, I have a lot of freedom with my travels and work, and I have a wonderful little travel buddy who is always happy to see me. Am I lucky or what? Life is good, and I'm going to try to remind myself of that every single day.

Rylie's Notes:

Well, I'm usually happy to see The Staff. Except when she is lagging on getting to work and leaving me with a chicken strip. Or when I find a really, really good smell outside and she yanks me away with the leash.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winner of the Bonehead Award

I have inside vent covers for my motorhome, the kind that are insulated and snap over the vents to keep things warmer or cooler. I put them on faithfully every evening and then take them off in the morning when things start to warm up, because I like the extra light that comes in the vents. I also leave the vent with the fan open for Rylie on warm days while I'm at work so that it doesn't get too warm in the motorhome.

That's what I did on Saturday because it was such a nice day before the storm hit. Only one problem: I forgot to close the vent before I snapped on the vent cover. Don't ask me how I failed to notice that it was open, except that I think it was getting dark when I put the cover on. So that nice, hard rain that we had Saturday night came through my open vent and collected on my vent cover. Did I notice the sagging vent cover the following morning? No! Imagine my surprise when I started removing the vent cover, only to discover a small pond had formed inside of it. Honestly, sometimes I don't know where my mind goes. But if you ever run across it, please send it home.

It looks like another day off for me. The storm continues, and it's REALLY windy. The motorhome is rocking and rolling, the wood fish in my mobile from Baja are clacking together, and I had to put the TV antenna down. It's a very blustery day.

Rylie's Notes:

Wind is not good for the canine olfactory sense. It creates a sort of Tazmanian Devil of smells which are hard to differentiate. It makes tracking very tricky and the location of any danger difficult to pinpoint. Canines don't like wind -- unless they are riding in a car with the window down. Speed makes up for the sensory confusion.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stormy Weather

We've had a couple of storms passing through here lately. It was raining pretty hard during the night last night, and it was sprinkling a bit as Rylie and I took our walk this morning. Naturally he got a fresh pair of cement boots, and was really slow on the way back home. It didn't stop him from wanting to park in front of Sparky's house in the rain, though.

Here are some photos I took the other day after another storm. The snow level was down quite low, and there were some interesting clouds. If I had Photoshop, I bet I could really make my photos look dramatic.

I guess I'm taking today off. I can't show photos in the rain. This is a special treat, since I never take a weekend day off. Those are usually my best work days. Yesterday I sold a canvas, our highest-priced item, so that will help make up for the lost income today. Work has been going pretty well. This Air Photo job is actually a pretty decent income for a part-time job. I really like the freedom and flexibility it gives me, so I'm glad I found it.

Maybe it's my imagination, but I get the feeling that Rylie might be trying to get rid of me today. Nah, I must be imagining things.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is deviating from the schedule. She should have left for work by now, which means she would give me a chicken strip, tell me to be a good boy, and that she would see me after work. Where's my chicken strip?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The stalking continues. Rylie has become obsessed with tracking down Sparky. It used to be that he would only drag me over to Sparky's place if we were near Sparky's street. Now he starts dragging me over there at nearly a dead run when we are at the opposite side of the park. He was overjoyed yesterday when we ran into Sparky right after we left the motorhome and started our walk. But even though they got to say hello then, he still tried to drag me over to Sparky's house after we were done with our walk up the road. In fact, he ran a good portion of our walk in his haste to get back to Sparkytown. I wouldn't be surprised if there were secret recordings of Sparky in Rylie's toy basket.

This morning he woke me up earlier than usual and as soon as we were out the door he started heading to Sparky's place. I put my foot down this time and didn't let him get away with it. The last time we went to Sparky's house he was given another treat by Sparky's owners. I don't want them to think we are just coming by for the treats.

Rylie's Notes:

Bingo! Sparky's staff is well trained.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dog Stalker

I think my dog is a stalker. Ever since we saw Sparky in the pet run the other day, every time we go for a walk Rylie drags me over to Sparky's house. If Sparky is tied up outside, Rylie runs up to him excitedly, wagging his tail like crazy. If Sparky is not outside, Rylie dawdles and stares, no doubt hoping he can will Sparky to come outside. In either instance, it's all that I can do to drag him off. Apparently he would like to camp out in Sparky's yard until he makes another appearance. If I try to avoid Sparky's street when we are walking, Rylie plants all four feet and tugs in the opposite direction until I give in and he drags me over there. It's a good thing he doesn't know how to use the phone, because no doubt he would be calling Sparky every ten minutes. Maybe I should have paid closer attention when I caught Rylie wearing my clothing. Maybe that was a big hint. It doesn't seem to make any difference that Sparky is about three times Rylie's size.

Rylie's Notes:

There goes The Staff exaggerating again. Sparky's all right, and I'm always happy to see a pal. But The Staff is forgetting what really attracts me to Sparky's place: His owner gave me a biscuit.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I heard tonight that a lovely lady that I spent time with on Thanksgiving has passed away. Rose entertained us over dinner with her stories about growing up on a dairy farm with twelve siblings. Although I think she was around 90 years old, she looked and acted very young, and seemed full of life. Apparently she had a massive stroke. It was her time to move on, I guess. It's always sobering when someone you know or have spent time with moves on. It makes me ask myself the big questions. Am I living my life the way I want to? Do I make the most of every day and focus on the important things? Do the people I love know how important they are to me? Is my presence here on Earth making a positive impact? Something to think about.

On an entirely different and frivolous note, we are awaiting a shipment of dog treats from dog.com. Rylie is completely out of bully sticks and chicken strips. He's down to the Milk Bones, the freeze dried liver, and the Gooberlicious peanut butter treats. Is he spoiled or what?

Rylie's Notes:

If I were spoiled, I would have complete access to the treat cupboard.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pool Shark

Well, not exactly. But I did play pool tonight. I figured it's high time I learned how to play. I've only played about two or three times in my entire life. I'm generally not very good at things that require throwing, shooting or hitting something at something else, but I aim to change that. Pun intended, ha ha! They have a couple of pool tables at the clubhouse here, and I've never seen anyone use them, so I should have plenty of opportunity to practice.

Sales have been pretty decent lately, and I meet an interesting assortment of people in my work. Today I met a stunt man, a prison warden and an artist. There are a lot of retired people in Pahrump, many of whom bought land here when it was really cheap with the idea that they would retire here some day.

On our morning walk today Rylie and I ran into Sparky, the bearded collie, in the pet run. We haven't seen Sparky for awhile. I haven't seen Rylie so excited to see another dog since he last saw his old dog group at the park in California. He even tried to get Sparky to play, which is unusual. Rylie and Sparky are the same age, but Sparky is a lot bigger than Rylie. It was good to see Rylie having so much fun socializing. Usually he doesn't seem all that interested in other dogs after the initial greet and sniff.

Rylie's Notes:

I'm getting so bored, I'll play with ANYONE at this point.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mt. Charleston

Mt. Charleston

Pahrump is surrounded by mountains that I find quite lovely. Standing at nearly 12,000 feet, Mt. Charleston is the tallest mountain nearby. I gaze at it many times as I'm going about my work and driving around town. When I arrived in Pahrump, there wasn't any snow on it, but it received quite a blanket with some of the storms that we've had.
Last night it got so cold that my water line froze, even though I have insulation around my hose, and I didn't have any water until around 9:30 this morning. It's supposed to get down to 20 degrees tonight, so I guess I'll turn off the water for the night and open the sink cupboards so that the heat gets in there. I think I'll be ready to move to some warmer weather after my tour of duty is done here. I know, I know, I shouldn't complain. Some of you folks have it much worse. I hear it's supposed to get to 20 below zero in Minneapolis with this next cold front that's moving in. I don't miss those temperatures at all.

Mt. Charleston on a Gray Day

Rylie's Notes:

Every day when The Staff comes home from work I give her pants, coat and hands a good sniff. This tells me what she has been up to during the day. For instance, today she was romping around with a middle-aged, miniature poodle with bad teeth and in need of a bath. She also was chewed on by a young, golden retriever puppy who is teething, shedding, and has a tendency to piddle at unfortunate times. The other day there was a bull mastiff who is very unsure of himself and is just getting through the awkward teenage years, and a Queensland heeler who ate canned food for breakfast. The canine olfactory sense makes the evening newspaper unnecessary.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Double Trouble

Rylie and Laila

If Rylie looks a little put out in this photo, it's because Laila came to stay with us for four days. Rylie loved having Cammie here for a visit, but having her dog Laila here too meant that he had to share the attention with Laila. He dealt with this by trying to lure us away from Laila and over to where he was. The funny thing is, even though he is three years older than Laila, he lets her be the boss. He even lets her take treats from him, and I've never seen him do that with another dog.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff doesn't understand. It's not that I'm letting the Little Squirt be the boss, it's that I'm her big brother and I have to watch out for her. She's also a bit on the skinny side underneath all of that fur, so she could use some extra treats.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Lone Wolf of Pahrump

While I was in northern Minnesota last summer, not only did I hope to see a moose in the wild, but I also wanted to see a wolf. Although I know people who have seen them in the Duluth area, and even my parents' neighbors have seen them just down the road from where my parents live, I have never seen one. That is, not until I came to Pahrump. Who knew I had to come to Pahrump to see a wolf living free?

This morning I sold an aerial photograph to a couple who lived on several acres down a dirt road, not far from where the mountain range begins on the northwest side of Pahrump. They have some horses and a couple of large, mixed breed dogs. As we were completing the sales transaction, they told me about a wolf that had appeared in the area a couple of years ago. They think the wolf must have been brought into the area, since Pahrump is not wolf territory. When they saw the wolf, they saw that it had been shot, and that it was unable to hunt for food. They figured that the wolf would die of starvation, so they fed it.

Two years later, the wolf has become a frequent visitor to their property, gets along very well with their two dogs, and even will allow Walter to touch her. It took their horses a year to get used to having the wolf on the property, but now they don't mind. When I came out of their house, Lady, as they have named her, was lying in their driveway. I asked if I could take a picture of her, and Lady obliged.

Walter said that Lady often shows up when she sees a car coming to the house. After she posed for my photograph, she trotted after my car as I traveled down the dirt road. I could see that she still has a bad limp from the gunshot wound.

I felt a small thrill at the sight of her, and felt privileged to be in her presence. I don't know how she got there, but she has definitely overcome some adversity to survive in Pahrump. It got my day off to an excellent start.

Rylie's Notes:

Wolves are the tough, "street survivors" of the canine world. Dogs have a lot of respect for wolves, since they do not live the lives of pampered privilege that we do. They tough it out in the wild every day, battling for the next meal. I would definitely defer to Lady. Heck, I defer to Laila, and she's no wolf.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Birthday Fun

I saw a spectacular Las Vegas show on my birthday, Le Reve at the Wynn. I loved it, and it's my new favorite show. If you like shows, you really should see this one the next time you're in the neighborhood. I like it even better than Cirque de Soleil's O, and that's saying something. Cammie did too. Brian hasn't seen O, but he really enjoyed the show as well.

It has a lot of synchronized swimming, and since Cammie used to be a synchronized swimmer, she and I both have an appreciation for the training and discipline that goes into that. But more than that, the athleticism, dancing, gymnastics, diving, trapeze-type stunts, set, costumes, humor and music were amazing. There is so much to see, that you can't possibly take it all in. I could watch this show many times and not get tired of it. But then, I like the water. And it's incredible what they do in the water, in costumes, and high heels. Dancing is enjoyable to watch, but when it's done in a few inches of water -- or multiple feet of water -- it's even more impressive. The best part is, we were sitting about 25 feet from the stage. The theater is round and intimate, with no seat more than 42 feet from the stage. Performers fly up and down from the the very high ceiling, come up out of the water, and enter from all sides of the theater. It was fascinating to watch what these people can do with their bodies, and at such incredible heights and speed. I was awestruck by their strength and coordination, and the beauty of their movement. I highly recommend it.

Besides the show, we had an excellent meal at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian Hotel. I had the petite filet, which virtually melted in my mouth and was ever so tasty. The house salad I ordered was enormous, more along the lines of an entree salad. I shared it with Brian, and there was still a lot left over. Even the bread was good.

We also did a bit of gambling. Cammie had the most luck, and came away with more money than she started with. I decided I had to have a piece of birthday cake (I do love cake), so we shared some molten cake at the Palazzo hotel -- yum!

It was a very fun birthday, and I was so happy to have Cammie and Brian here to celebrate with me.

Rylie's Notes:

Las Vegas is not a dog friendly kind of place. The Little Squirt and I hung out at the motorhome and swapped stories about the dumb things our staff have done. We have some doozies.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing

I have nothing to report, so if you're expecting to be amused or enlightened, you better look elsewhere. Lately all that I do is work every day, walk Rylie, check my email, do chores, watch movies and read. Ho hum. I could use a little excitement. I'm so glad that Cammie and Brian are coming to visit -- IN ONLY TWO DAYS!!! Yippee!!!

I spoke with my boss today, and it sounds like I will be extending my stay in Pahrump. There is quite a bit more work to be done here, so I am trying to come to terms with the idea of staying here past January. I'm finding Pahrump to be a bit of a yawner so far, so I will need to find a way to keep myself amused -- and warm. It's chilly here. I think it's the wind that makes it feel colder. I also have been hearing people say that so far this has been a cold winter for Pahrump.

Well, you can't say I didn't warn you.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is bored with HER itinerary? She should try staying home all day while her staff is at work, with no opposable thumbs. Talk about ho hum. How many different ways can one nap?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fender Bender

A storm blew in last night with chaos on its tail. This morning I went to the post office to send some unsold photos back to the office. There was a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot, and I was the last one in line. Suddenly, the guy in front of me in a GMC Sierra put his truck in reverse and started backing up. I laid on the horn, but he kept coming and smashed into the front of my car. There is a nice dent in the hood of my car, but no damage to his truck. He and his wife both apologized to me; apparently he didn't see me.

So we had to sit around for an hour waiting for the deputy sheriff to come, only to find out that he wasn't going to write a report anyway, because it happened on private property. Grrr. I wasted a good hour of prime work time. The other guy admitted fault and his insurance company claims rep has already called me, so now all that remains is the hassle and inconvenience of meeting with the claims rep for the damage estimate and then bringing my car into the shop to have it repaired. At least no one was hurt.

So far in 2008 I have had the stomach flu and a car accident. The year is not off to such a good start, but I am hopeful that I've gotten all of the bad stuff out of the way and it will be smooth sailing the rest of the year. Am I being too optimistic?

In the "Small World" department, I sold a photo today to a woman from my home town of Duluth, Minnesota. She was very nice, but then just about everyone from Minnesota is nice, so that was no surprise. I have met two other people from Minnesota in Pahrump, but no one else from Duluth.

Tonight is bath night for Rylie, so I better go drag his reluctant hind end into the water.

Rylie's Notes:

Behind the chair, underneath the passenger seat, and on the side of the bed. I'm running out of places to hide. I don't like getting wet to begin with, and then The Staff uses that stinky shampoo. Get me outta here!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Vegas, Baby

As I mentioned earlier, Las Vegas really isn't my kind of place, but I am excited that I have tickets to see Le Reve at The Wynn next week on my birthday with Cammie and Brian. It was created by the former creative director of Cirque de Soleil's shows O and Mystere. Since I think O is the best show I've seen (I've never seen Mystere), I think I'll like Le Reve. It also has water as part of the stage. None of the seats are more than 42 feet from the stage, so they are all good seats. I'm planning on taking the day off work. Maybe I'll even put a coin in a slot machine -- I haven't done that yet, can you believe it?

I have nothing else to report, just work, work, work. I think we're supposed to get some rain this weekend, so I won't be able to make any sales in the rain. I can still work locating the homes and writing down the addresses, but no knocking on doors. Hopefully if it does rain, it won't last long. At least it has been a bit warmer the past night or two. It was in the 30's instead of the 20's.

How are those New Year's resolutions working out for you? I'm easing into mine. I decided to get up earlier in the morning so that I have more time for exercise and then can get to work earlier. Yeah, that didn't really work out the past couple of days, but I have gotten as far as setting the alarm. I don't want to rush into this and shock my system, you know.

Rylie's Notes:

Yeah, right. The Staff is going to get up at 6:30 a.m. I'll believe that when I see it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Did the Ball Drop?

Last night they had a little party here at the Escapees park. There was finger food, beer and wine, and the plan was to watch the ball drop in New York at 9:00 p.m. We all gathered around the big screen TV in the clubhouse at 8:55 p.m., but we never got to see the ball drop. Apparently there was a problem getting in the proper TV channel. So no ball dropping for us. Everyone cleared out of there by 9:15, so I came home and watched The Horse Whisperer. It's a Robert Redford movie, so it has to be good, right? It was. Anyway, I got to talk to some nice folks before they all hustled out of there.

Today was a low key day. I had big plans for getting all sorts of things accomplished that I haven't gotten around to doing, like replacing the broken thing-a-ma-bob that holds down the blinds in the bathroom, and figuring out why my bathroom faucet keeps running sometimes when I turn it off. I have never had this type of faucet before, so I'm not familiar with how it works. Well I got some things on my list accomplished, but not those. Ah well, there's always tomorrow.

Rylie's Notes:

Well The Staff ruined my party plans last night. She wasn't in bed before midnight like I thought she would be, so I couldn't sneak out to the party. Grrrrr.