2013

Atlanta’s World of Coca Cola

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I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but Austin is a Coca Cola fanatic. At just 12-years-old he has the impressive starts of a lifelong memorabilia collection. That said, here are some pictures from our most recent trip to the World of Coca Cola in beautiful downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

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Louisville tomorrow

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On my way to Louisville, Kentucky, tomorrow for my corneal transplant.  This is my second one and after the pain of the last I’m not all too excited for the experience but, I am excited for the results.  None of what Austin and I have done the past couple of years would have been possible had I not had the surgery in my left eye in 2005–no driving for sure.  Which means it would never have been possible for us to have lived on the road fulltime and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the country.

So with the New Year at hand, I hope to begin it with the ability to see the world with both eyes, clear and beautiful.  Only another reason to be out there and enjoying all that Mother Nature and the road have to offer.  And to think of how much more fun my photography hobby will be with a new lease on how I see the world!

So wish me luck, good blessings and adieu for awhile, with hopes of still making our plans to be in Chicago by the second week in January!

One of my favorite photos, taken at my parents' home in Ohio
One of my favorite photos, taken at my parents’ home in Ohio

Why I’m getting surgery: https://travelingtuusome.com/2013/11/25/keratoconus-ker%c2%b7a%c2%b7to%c2%b7co%c2%b7nus/

The Midst of Icepocalypse

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Austin and I find ourselves in the midst of Storm Cleon, or as friends have titled it, “Icepocalypse.”  Following a full inch of sleet and freezing rain throughout the night, we now have about six inches of fresh, wet snow and still more falling.

 

Noisy neighbors

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A quick pic of my newest (noisy) neighbors! 

Woodpecker and friend

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in a 2’x4′ RV Kitchen

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Cooking a multi-course meal in a tiny kitchen can be a bit daunting, but last year our meal was a success.  With only two of us and a tiny oven, I wanted to make just the right serving sizes to have for our dinner and few leftovers.

My first plan was for the turkey.  I decided on crockpot cooking and a 3# Butterball turkey breast.  The breast comes in a plastic bag with the turkey wrapped in a string net along with a bag of gravy starter.

I started by taking the turkey out of the string net.  There were two large pieces and a few small chunks.  After cleaning the pieces, I set them aside and cut a red onion into 8 chunks and readied two garlic gloves.  I layered the ingredients in the crock pot as such: 1/3 stick butter, 1/2 of the onion chunks, 1 diced garlic clove,  1/2 the turkey, spices, 1/3 stick butter, 1/2 bag baby carrots, the second 1/2 of the onion, second clove of garlic, all topped with the second 1/2 of turkey, skin side up.  At the very top I added the last 1/3 stick butter and spices and 1/2 cup water.

Next I went about making the side dishes.  With only two saucepans, I had to cook, clean, and cook and clean again.  I first made the cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries (the only way to have it!)  Easy to make for two in a small pan with 1/2 bag fresh cranberries and 1 cup sugar boiled with 1/2 cup water until the berries open and the sauce thickens just a bit.  I then put the sauce in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool and thicken, washed the pan and started on the gravy.

At first I tried the gravy that came with the turkey but my son and I both agreed that the gravy just did not meet up to our standards.  I then tasted the au jus and it was perfect as-is so we decided on using it.  The last two dishes to be made were the stuffing and mashed potatoes just before ready to serve.  I always make my mashed potatoes with skins on and a bit too much butter, and I usually make the stuffing homemade but with limited space and time, I opted for the boxed variety cooked with turkey drippings.

And although in an RV, we had a delicious homestyle Thanksgiving dinner made just for two!

This blog updated from last year–just in time for those needing it this year!https://travelingtuusome.com/2012/11/26/cooking-a-thanksgiving-feast-for-two-in-an-rv/

If facing a Thanksgiving dinner emergency, you can call the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line® at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372) for help.

keratoconus /ker·a·to·co·nus/

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Some of you may know about my issues with poor eyesight and the associated problems I live with because of bi-lateral Keratoconus.  I’ve worn contacts since 11-years-old, with near-sightedness since even younger–likely stemming from an accident when I was 6-years-old when my eyes were full flushed with leaded gas while trying to help fill a gasoline container from an elevated farm tank.

I had a corneal transplant to my left eye in 2005.  Prior to that, my eyesight had gotten so bad that I could not drive in rain or at night, or on any road that I was not already familiar with because I couldn’t read the street names in order to navigate.  At the time, my left eye was the worst of both eyes and so it was operated on first.  The transplant was a success and quickly I was able to wear glasses and could see enough to regain my driving freedom.  And just a year ago, I was able to start wearing a hybrid hard contact lens with a gas permeable skirt that brought me back to 20/20 corrected vision in my left eye for the first time in many, many years.

Keratoconus Vision Simulation via Keratomania.com
Keratoconus Vision Simulation via Keratomania.com

Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to thin and thereby grow into an extreme cone-like shape.  It also causes astigmatism, which in my case is extreme with bumps and bends so numerous that my ophthalmologist cannot even complete some digital tests on my right eye because of the variations.  In turn, both problems cause extreme light sensitivity because the eye is receiving light and bouncing it off of multiple plains into the eye.  This is why I’m often seen wearing two pairs of sunglasses at the same time, a regular pair and then an over-glasses style pair on top.

But good news from my ophthalmologist today … on December 18th I finally get the transplant I need for my right eye which is currently legally blind.  Not just good news, the best!  From squinting and spending most of my day with my right eye literally closed so that it would not just blur my total vision, instead to the hopes of the success I’ve had with my left eye is a wonderous thought.

This also means that, while I’m still able, I need to get writing and posting some ‘lost’ services that never seemed to make it to the blog.  Last time I had the surgery I was a full week locked in a blackened room, so dark in fact that on the fifth day post-op I finally allowed the television to be turned on and what little I watched was literally through a white pillow case draped over the screen!

But as we all know, my blessings are at the cost of another’s tragedy.  For me to gain a healthy cornea, someone out there has lost their life and has donated such a precious gift to someone like me.  I truly hope that I am worthy of the donated cornea I already have, and I hope to hold myself worthy to the one I shall gain during this holiday season.  A blessed gift indeed.

To learn more about this disease, visit Keratomania.com at http://www.keratomania.com/keratoconus-vision-simulation.html, or visit The National Keratoconus Foundation at http://www.nkcf.org/ 

For more information on becoming an organ donor visit  http://organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/index.html

Student of the Prophetic Sisterhood

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So I am applying to a few seminaries for Fall 2014.  I’m signed up to attend January convocation at Meadville Lombard in Chicago and am planning on visiting the Harvard Divinity campus.  But with so much time before I can even make my final decision, I decided to be proactive by beginning the UUA ministerial required reading list.

Many of the seminarians I’ve already met often post on social media about the difficulty in attending courses, internships, writing papers, and all the while, attempting to read and absorb the rather large collection of writings meant to introduce ministerial candidates to the expansive world of Unitarian Universalism.

Prophetic Sisterhood, TuckerWith a random spattering of documents and books, I’ve chosen as my first reading, a book that touches close to home in my personal journey.  The Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930 by Cynthia Grant Tucker (Authors Choice Press, 1990.)  The women in the book are independent, strong, and always choosing a path with love, difficulty, and leadership in the face of male dominance.

Always one for the unique path in life, and after competing in a few beauty pageants in high school, I graduated early and joined the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen.  I was attending boot camp while my friends were attending prom, and I was at my first duty station during our high school graduation ceremony.  If that wasn’t enough, I served as a C-130 (Cargo) aircraft mechanic and later did a tour in the Army as a heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic, spending all eight years of my tours as the only female in my workspaces.  I followed these with now twenty-plus years in the social work field, working for the American Red Cross in multiple countries and volunteering for many other groups.

Now, much older and wiser from my veering paths in life (I say as I laugh half-heartedly!)  I find my faith and family as the touchstones to my life–now merging my social work past, my love of literature (theology is strongly interpretation of the written word, is it not?) and my humble beginnings as a religious lay leader to my fellow recruits while in boot camp.

My path has lost its twists and turns and is now a single road before me.  Dusty, rocky, and assuredly over more mountains than I’ve already climbed, but single and chosen by my life’s experiences and my heart’s longings to guide, love, and support my fellow human beings.

So, with the Prophetic Sisterhood, I begin.

Writing for Worship

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Since beginning my travels in January, I’ve been wanting to write a book based on what I’ve seen and experienced  in the many worship services I’ve attended.  Although a topic was elusive to me before now, I magically awoke this morning with not just one, but two book ideas that I could begin on today!  Excited and eager, I’ve already begun blocking out one and writing topic points for the other.  I guess this will be a simultaneous project in the works, but I’m not complaining, I’d rather be working two projects than none.

inspiration
inspiration

Part of what I’ll be working on is listing things that all congregations should either be doing, or not be doing, when it comes to worship services.  This comes from the many pages of notes I’ve taken while attending in the different locations.  Whether I felt welcome.  Whether I felt lost during the process of the actual service, etc.  All things, even simple, create either a warm community or a place to avoid.  And while I’ve not found a place to avoid, I have noticed little things here and there that could be shared among the many congregations as a means of improvement to all.

What I would like to hear is what all of you feel is a pet peeve when attending a service, or what makes a special moment when attending a service.  Was the signage bad when entering and you felt lost?  Did you feel awkward because the order of service didn’t say when to stand or when not to?  Did joining in with a certain aspect make you feel more spiritual or accepted?

If used, your name will appear in the book with your comments so please feel free to join in!  You can also share on our Facebook page, traveling tUUsome, with a link to the right.