Saturday, September 29, 2012

Taking A Course

I'm trying to give myself options for life on the road.  So this weekend l have been taking a really interesting and eye opening course on stock/options/forex trading.  I'm hoping to be able to generate a bit of an income to keep me "in the money" while l travel in the van.  The great thing is l can take this course over and over again for no extra charge.  The guys that teaches it are well respected in the industry and have been around for a long time.  In case you care, here is the link .

As it stands, l won't be travelling for a bit, at least until next year, if not longer.  Let's face it, working for someone else sucks!  And the chances of wining the lottery are pretty slim.

If l educate myself and choose with care, l just might be able to finance my retirement at an early age!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I've Learned To Not Give A Shit!

That may sound a bit harsh, so let me elaborate.

What l mean is while van dwelling, I've learned to not give a shit - with in reason, of course.

I no longer give a shit if people see me getting out of my van after spending the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I no longer feel the pressure to move at 7am (when the store opens) or at the latest 8am, when the buggy guy starts going around the lot.  Today l left at 11 am, it was warm with the sun shining in the van and l just lazed about.

I now park closer to cars, because l don't give a shit anymore!!!!    I'm at the Lowes parking lot now and there are some cars nearby, their owners are on their lunch hour, l now just drive up and park - instead of avoid.

I've learned to no longer give a shit that someone has to wait 20 seconds while l fill up my 1.5 liter water bottle at the gym, since l have no problem waiting for others to fill theres'.  They don't know that l use this water to live off in my van.  I actually fill two a day, one after my workout as l head to the showers and the other after the shower on my way out of the gym.  If l REALLY didn't give a shit, l would fill both up at the same time, since l don't have to, l don't, because l will not be rude.

I actually find myself saying in my head "l don't give a shit".  It helps me to just relax and do what l need to do.

I've learned to not give a shit when l fill up my van with gas....after all l have two tanks.  They can wait for me to finish. 

Now with all that being said, l still consider other people, l would never throw trash out in a parking lot, nor would l sit in my van after pumping gas and fill out my spending log (l have seen others do it), l would pull forward and take my time.

I guess what l have done is just become a little more like the rest of the population and put themselves first and Not Give A Shit!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Cat With Puppy Dog Eye's

Who would have thought that it was possible?  A cat that has puppy dog eyes that makes you give up your seat for him?

Well, l have one.  He is a rarity, l don't think many exist.

I was tired of sitting on my bed reading so l wanted to change it up a bit and sit in my chair.  Tommy the cat with the puppy dog eyes was occupying that seat, and it took a lot of coxing on my part to get him to leave it (translation - l had to nudge him to go).

I sat down to read my book again.  Tommy jumped up on the couch, fussed a bit, jumped down and sat in front of me, looking at me with those damn puppy dog eyes.  He won.  He didn't even have to nudge me.  I vacated the seat and when back to the couch.

Here he is after recapturing the seat.  I think l see a bit of smugness on his face too.  A new meaning to "pussy whipped".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Need Of Space

Yesterday l drove on up to J's house.  I had wanted a shelf to be built over the shower to add more storage to Fiona the van.  I don't use the shower, l go to the gym.  The cats actually use the do their bus'ness.

Previously l had cut a piece of plywood to cover the tub (l now store a few things in the tub)on top of the plywood is the kitty litter pan, the extra kitty litter in a pail, and the tin of food for the lovely Kitty's on board.

Above that area was just wasted space.  And when you live in 60 square feet (just a guess - haven't measured - left my tape measure at J's house yesterday), every inch counts.  So l had wanted a shelf there since the renovation, yes, ideally it would have been better for me to have it there during the reno so it could be painted at the same time, but sometimes things don't work that way.

So with J's talents and tools, these boards were turned into....

And placed here.....

Giving me a shelf and a place to store my shoes!

And some other stuff......
While there we also cut a piece of 2x4 to put under my bed.  Why not a 'pea' you say?  Wrong story.  Anyways l have been living with 3 books (Nora Roberts if you care - all were the same thickness) to prop my bed up.  I felt like l was always rolling out of it.  For some reason it was built with a tilt.  The books were a temporary fix.
The 2x4 - not so temporary.  That bad boy was screwed in for good.  We also cut a brace to match the angle and added it to the cross member to make the  bed good and solid.
So here you have the side view.  The 2x4 will disappear when l put my bedding back in place.  You can see the original sofa base and then the added foam pad l bought from Costco a couple of months ago.
I discovered that if down the road l want to replace my bed it will be super easy since the base of the sofa foam is only on a piece of plywood.  I could make it a bit wider when l renovate it next time.  For now this works just fine (until l see a nice big piece of foam on sale).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scanning Code Of Practice

What the hell is that you ask?  We here in Ontario have a rather large group of retailers that practice the "Scanning code of Practice".  What that means is if the price at the register is more then what was displayed on the shelf, the store will give you the product for free (the first one) up to a $10 dollar value.

When scanners first started being used there was tremendous inaccuracies, and the consumer was left holding the bag.  Retailers voluntarily joined this "code" and display it on their doors of entry and by their registers.

Funny enough, you have to know about it to push the point to receive the item for free, a huge number of cashiers and the public don't know anything about it.  I do.  And my friends know to (since l have told them).

Today l scored a pack of gum.  When l went to purchase the gum, the price on the shelf was $1.58, the register at Wal-Mart was $1.68.  I pointed it out to the cashier and l got myself a free pack of gum.
                                                                My favorite kind too

I love when l get free stuff.  I've gotten pizza's, eggs, bread, and many more items for free.  Once l kept going back to a store, day after day for about 5 days and got one item for free everyday since they failed to fix the price on that item.

You can bet tomorrow I will be back at Wal-Mart to see if they fixed the price yet.......  :-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Crazy - I Know

What l'm about to tell you is crazy. I know it is, there is no reasonable explanation why l waited other then fear.

I finally had a friend turn on my propane fridge. Crazy hunh? I had been without a fridge since l haven't been hooked up at campgrounds, so that is since May.  I got by, ate food that didn't need to be refrigerated, and ate out cheaply.

As of yesterday, my fridge is working and chilling up a storm, thereby l can stop eating out and cook most of my food.

Why did l wait?  It really is a fear of propane.  I think l mentioned about my experience with propane when l was in my early 20's.  Obviously it wasn't a good experience and it has colored my propane experiences since then.

What happened?  My friend and l had a landscaping business and with that business we had bought a old city owned propane fired van.  One day we had stored the propane van inside our storage unit, the next day we came back and went in the storage unit.  My friend plugged something in an electrical socket, which caused a spark and ignited the propane that had leaked on the floor of the unit.

The fireball shot across the floor, l could see the flames fly pass my running shoes, melting my laces, burning my eyebrows and lashes (just like a flash from a BBQ).  My friend got the worst of it and burned a portion of his face (it healed without scar because it was propane and not gasoline - gasoline boils, propane is a 'gas' and once gone source of fuel is gone - causing less damage).  The building burnt down, and we were in court for 10 years. 

So, l have been a bit leery of propane since. Then of course l read about TravellingMan's (I tried linking the blog "we are experiencing technical difficulties" but it didn't work - so search for that article to read his story) experience with his fridge and it solidified my hesitancy to turn the damn thing on.

I figured it was time to conquer the fear, and l really wanted cold food - lol 

So now Fiona has a working fridge and l have a place to store my cheese.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bah - Hum Bug

I walked into Wal-Mart to buy some cat food today and l heard Christmas Music.  Really?  Already?  Don't we have to go celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving first? 

Consumerism- smozerism.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where Is The Sun

Parking the van day or night is an important step in van-dwelling. There are things to consider.  Are you in an area that is away from people?  Is someone going to come knock on your door late at night to ask you to move? (I haven't had this happen).  It might be quiet during the evening when you first park, and get very busy in the morning when you still want to sleep.

I have found what is also very important is where is the sun.  In the summer, l want to park in a way that l will get as little sun into the van as possible.  In the winter, the opposite is true. 

It's not winter yet however, l am enjoing the morning sun.  It has reached down to the low, low 40's in the night.  I just bundle down in my blankets and pass out for the night.  In the morning the sun has warmed the van up to a comfortable 65-70 when it is still only 50 degrees outside. How's that for passive solar?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Afternoon Nap

I had a wonderful nap this afternoon.  It's is my day off, and after the busy weekend with helping friends and working long days/nights l was zonked.

I accomplished my laundry for $8.00 at my tried and true Laundromat, dumped my tanks for $11.50 and had a subway sub that sent me into nap heaven.  Two hours later with the sun shining in my widows and the cats outside playing l woke up ready to finish a great book l am reading.

I'm parked at a large park in the city of Toronto, people coming and going all around me and l could care less.  Some may think l am crazy to sleep with my side door open in a busy park, however l feel super safe.  I really think people are just so  busy and caught up in their lives that they walk around in a daze and don't notice things.  It's kind of funny to observe how you can hide in plain sight.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Busy Day

Saturday was a busy day for me. As l said before l was helping a friend move into his house.  He built the house, actually tore down the original and built a much bigger and fancier house in it's footprint.  It took him two years.  Of course during that time he worked full-time at a demanding job, but every other waking hour was spent on that house.

He had a container full of stuff he hasn't seen in two years.  My thoughts you really need it?  Does any of us need all the stuff we accumulate over the years.

Of course, it's not fair for me to impose my beliefs on any one, especially since l have gone through the purging stage, and feel very free because of it.

I'm just glad it wasn't my stuff.  I'm glad that l have already gone through the purging stage.

And because l have gone through that stage it is eye opening to walk through any store, be it a Wal-Mart, or Ikea, or any really, and see all the products for sale.  Better this year then the last, a new colour, an added feature, it really is over whelming.  I am not tempted to buy any of it, l really don't have anywhere to put it if l did feel the need to buy it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Battery Is Charging Now

I arrived at my friends house around 11:30 am, he wasn't home from work yet so proceeded to start cleaning all my connections to my house battery.
The Isolator?
I popped the hood of the van and attacked this little contraption.  Is it the isolator?  Is that the right terminology?  I know it is the link between the van battery and the house battery and it was pretty cruddy so l cleaned and polished up the connectors.  I only got one little shock when l leaned against the van, it was more of a tickle, but it got me to stop leaning against the van when l was unscrewing the bolts. 
The next step for me was to take the back box off the van so l could gain access to the house battery that is under my teeny tiny closet.  I cleaned those connectors also.
Next on the list was to take off the little cardboard door l had made (it's temporary until l get a piece of wood cut next week for it) to stop the cats from exploring another hole in the vans walls.  Behind this wall is this fuse (below)
Close up
Not so close
The fuse was blown.  That was the problem with the battery not charging.  Once l replaced it (yes, l have spare fuses in the van's tool box) the battery showed hope.
The friend showed up from work after l had solved the mystery and as l was loading the box back on the van.
I plugged in at my friends for a couple of hours, while l helped him do some finishing touches on his home before he moves into it on Saturday (yep, l'm helping him with that).
 I'm happy to report that all my house lights worked fine when l went to battery power before l left.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Battery Is Not Charging

My new house battery is not charging.  Even though the last little while l have put a few miles on Falcon, which should have charged the battery up.  I've also been plugged in the other day for 3 hours, to no avail, my battery is D-E-A-D. And as l have said in prior posts, l don't really use a whole lot of the house battery to warrant it being dead after all those charging opportunities.  At least l know it's not the battery since it is brand spanking new!!!!

So today l am off to a friends to do clean up on some terminals and to use his 'volt reader' or something like that to see where the connection is failing.

It could be my isolator (bare in mind l could be calling all these things by their wrong names - l do know that l got the battery name right though!!!  hahahahah).  The isolator wires are corroded, so it could be that.

It could also be all the shimmy and shaking on the wild Toronto roads that has wiggled a wire loose. 

The plan is to find out today.......wish me luck!!!!

I Just Don't Understand

This is a picture of a shopper this afternoon.  I'm sure you have seen it, it's not an anomalie.

Why do people leave their shopping carts all whilly-nilly in parking lots so they can get caught by the wind and slam into someones car?

A couple of years ago l actually witnesses a couple hop in their car and burst out laughing after the cart they just abandoned caught the wind and took off and hit a car across the parking lot.

It's one of the things l shake my head at.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Love Me Some Libraries!

I admit through out my life libraries never really played to big of a role in my life.  It wasn't that l didn't read, quite the opposite.  Since grade eight, l usually have at least one book on the go.

When l was younger, l couldn't get into town on a regular basis to check out books.  When l did end up getting a car, l was employed and usually bought my books at the various book stores.  Who needed deadlines to return books?

Now flip forward many years, l recently gained my appreciation for libraries when l started travelling for work over a year ago.  Then l was travelling by plane, and landing all over Canada and the USA.  Sometimes between appointments in the small little towns l worked in l would need to kill time.  Libraries were warm (or cool - depending on the season), had free Wi-Fi, an electrical plug for my laptop, a place where l could work if the hotel was far away, and they usually quiet.

When l came back to Toronto 4 months ago, l once again fully appreciated the local library.  The free unlimited Wi-Fi helped me look for a job and entertained me when l was tired/fed up for the day of looking for a job.  This time l even signed up for a library card, l checked out DVD's, and some books.

The other day l was contemplating buying a book l had heard the buzz about on the Internet.  I had a bright idea of checking out online if the local library had this book.  I highly doubted it, and l was proven right.  They didn't have the book in their catalogue.  However there was a spot for me to put my name down to request it.  My name would remain on file for one year, and they would notify me by e-mail when the book was available.

Imagine my shock when l got that e-mail late last night.  The book l requested was in.  Two days, that's all it took.  Amazon couldn't even guarantee me a book that fast with out costing me extra, and here l am getting it for FREE.  I love libraries!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Travelling Cats

My cats have been the best travellers ever.  Better then l had worried about before my move into the van in April. 

During the last 6 months they have been so adapting in all ways but one.  The really don't like travelling at night in the van for any great distances.  Last night l drove for an hour out of town after work and they didn't like it.

Charlie was all up on me as l drove, trying to look out the window, wanting pats.  She was restless.  I think it has something to do with not being able to see outside the windows.  The glare of the glass must cut down on their night vision.  During the day, l can travel for hours without nary a complaint from them, but at night it is a different story.

Still, l love having them along for the ride.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chilly Night

The fall has arrived.  Last night was the coolest night so far.  It wasn't terrible or even that bad, it certainly was different then sleeping with a casual blanket half on, half off.

Of course, l could have fired up the furnace, however that would have entailed me removing my shoes from the place that "is not a storage compartment".

In hind sight, l should have pulled out an extra blanket...but at 4 in the morning, you just want to hunker down and hope that you will warm up, not pull things down from the attic.

A good indication that it was a bit chilly is both of the kitties slept either on me, or beside me throughout the night.

Guess what is on the agenda for today? Yep, pulling out those blankets for easy access.  And of course, its supposed to warm up again in two days......I'll probably just leave them on the bed and sleep on top.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sound On The Roof

About 11 years ago l lived in Virginia out by the Blue Ridge Mountains in Woodville (population 30- maybe).  It was a beautiful spot, right beside the mountains.  Every day l drove to work the scenery changed, depending on the weather, the sunlight, the time of year.

While living there, l lived in a cute little two bedroom home.  I can't say a cabin, because it was sided with aluminum.  It also had a tin roof.  The very first time l saw that house, l thought how great it would be in the rain.  To listen to the rain fall on the tin roof would be like listening to the best music by Mother Nature.

Unfortunately, it was a disappointment.  It had to be raining cats and dogs to hear even the littlest of music.

However, l  hear the music in the van now.  Last night it rained as l went to sleep, and it was still raining when l awoke this morning.  I love the sound of rain on the roof, while l am cozy in my bed (dry of course).

It's in the low 60's this morning, my windows are open and l am cozy in my little abode.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Homeless Neighbors

I'm sitting in the Lowe's parking lot, it's 1:30am on Saturday morning.  I'm surfing the net, l just finished work an hour ago.  The kitties are out stretching their legs, and getting some fresh air.

I'm tucked in a corner of the parking lot, out of the way.  Not that it matters at this time of the night.  But l do get full Wi-Fi signal here; for free l might ad.  A truck rumbles in the parking lot.  It's one l have seen many times before.  I have seen him all times of the day and night when l have been here, all times of the day and night.  He comes and goes.  He stays in his truck.  It is a sleeper cab type, l'm sure he is enjoying the free Internet also.

He's my neighbor l guess you could say.  We both sleep in our vehicles. 

I've noticed other "regulars" at the Wal-Mart parking lot too.  I'm sure they recognize me too.  We have our own little community, it's a bit comforting, strange as that may be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I MUST Be Crazy

I must be Crazy to love living in my van so much.  I mean really, this isn't the wild west where l am travelling in a covered wagon to discover new lands.  Hell, l'm not even leaving the big city l grew up in.

If you haven't done it, l don't know how to explain it to you.  It's freeing, even though l am tied down to my job and the city because of the job.  It's a bit adventurous, not always 100% sure where you might choose to sleep that night.  It's uncluttered, everything l own (other then the back of the sofa bed - which is in a friends garage) is with me in the van.  It can be a tad disorganized, that only lasts a day because l get a little rabid not being able to find "what l absolutely need right now".

The biggest thing is it is eye opening.  To scale down as l have done, to stop spending on frivolous things as l have done, you soon realize that it is the best way to live.

My friends always knew that l loved sleeping in my own bed at night.  And no matter how late it was, l would trek home so l could "sleep in my own bed".  Now l don't need to trek anywhere. I am home.

Of course, one day l do plan on travelling more, seeing North America at a leisurely pace.  Thankfully, l have had the opportunity to see a lot of it so far, it just wasn't at  a leisurely pace.  It still calls to me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dollar Store Find

I found this little USB lamp at the Dollar Store for 2 bucks.  Yeah, l'm sure you know, just because it's called the dollar store, doesn't mean everything is just a dollar anymore.

It really is quite amazing what you can find for a buck or two.  How they can make this stuff, ship it from China, then sell it on their shelves for a buck and still make a profit is beyond me, but l like it.

When l am in the van at night and on my laptop l need just a little bit of light to see the keys on the keyboard.  I was taught in school how to type with all my fingers so knowing "those" keys is not the problem, but all the fancy keys outside their realm is, in the dark anyways. 

I love this lamp.  It runs off my laptop and is just enough light that l can see, and not so much light that l am sticking out like a soar thumb in the parking lot.  For $2 it is a great find.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Chicken Or The Egg

It has been a dilemma many philosophers have debated over for years and years.  Which came first the chicken or the egg?

I was needing to buy some cat food at Wal-Mart, as l pulled into the parking lot l followed a nice cherry red Ferrari.  And l had a thought......

Which came first......saving money at Wal-Mart to buy the Ferrari or being so poor now that you can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart?

Let the debating begin........

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thank You!

Wow.....l am speechless.  Every one's comments have been so nice about the van renovations.

Before l did the painting my friend J was concerned about me wanting to paint the van.  He said if l painted it, it may loose it's value.  My response was, it's not worth much right now anyways! To me it is, it is my home.  I paid $4500 for the van in December 2011.

If the paint job made the value drop to $2000, l was okay with that.  And that was IF l was even thinking of selling, which l am not.

J is a really good friend, and supports me choosing to live in my van, however - he thinks l am only living in it until September/October (until the weather turns).  I understand it's not normal in our society to WANT to live in your van, or even your RV (unless you are a snowbird for six months of the year), so l just let his assumption slide.  No harm, no foul.

I have even decided in my mind that if winter is too tough, and l can't hack the cold, l will be back in the van in March/April.  I love living in my van. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Day House Sitting

Well tomorrow l pack up what little l've unpacked and move back into the van.

I have been house sitting for two weeks and it was a busy two weeks.  I've built the home owner a pond, and l renovated my van, and worked my regular shifts at my job.

And of course, all the regular stuff that comes with owning a home, l've cut the grass twice, water the gardens daily, put out the garbage and recycling on the appropriate days, gathered the mail, perused the newspapers that have been delivered (a rare treat since l don't get newspapers delivered to the van <grin>), did laundry and hung it on the line (only my laundry, so no biggy), fixed the recycle bin for the homeowner, and watched a total of 3 hours of mind numbing TV.

I also won't miss this........

Summer construction on the 401 Highway in Toronto.  Who wants to sit in bumper to bumper traffic at 11 pm at night?  Not me!!!!

I don't miss home ownership.  Living in my van l don't have to cut grass, water plants or wait for garbage day since any ol'garbage can will do (Wal-mart, Ikea, gas stations).

Oh, did l's three months Rent Free today!!!  Whoot Whoot!!!!!