The Silver Gypsy

Often I write about whatever has shown up on my personal radar for the week. It might be about problems, politics, gripes, happy thoughts, memories, favorite people or places, or even not so favorite people or places.

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Sharlene Minshall

Sharlene Minshall

Widowed at 45, Sharlene Minshall dusted herself off and left Michigan driving full tilt into a twenty-year solo, full-time RVing saga taking her from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; from Baja and old Mexico to Newfoundland/Labrador; and most drivable points in between. This, mother and grandmother, former medical secretary, and intrepid traveler, canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs on a glacier, paraglided off a Colorado mountain, served as “cabin girl” at a western dude ranch, and among other adventures, rode a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, played with the polar bears at Hudson Bay, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. Sharlene gave lectures at Life on Wheels venues for ten years, and published six non-fiction, RV-related how-to and adventure books. Recently, the Silver Gypsy reinvented herself as a fiction writer with her first e-novel, Winter in the Wilderness.

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The Silver Gypsy:  Holy Inspiration

In my years as a full-time RVer, I tried to be in a position for going to church on Sunday morning and if I wasn’t, church was on a rock beside a rushing stream or near the huge incoming waves of an ocean or maybe on a mountaintop where scenery went on forever.  Sometimes the peacefulness of nature was more soothing than the inside of a church, but then you miss the community of people. 

In my first sojourn into Baja California Sur Mexico, I visited two churches that I remember distinctly.  The San Javier Mission was well off the main road south of Santispak Playas where I lived for five months.  I went with friends to visit this dramatic dark grey stone Moorish style building.  It was begun in 1699 by the Jesuits and completed in 1758.  It is surrounded by trees with a very small courtyard cemetery.           

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The Silver Gypsy: Guys I Have Dated

I suppose you really don’t have any interest in this subject but nobody told me what to write about this week so here goes.  I should have been prepared considering this meeting was proposed near the International Dark Sky Community of Borrego Springs, CA.  We met in a weedy desert field during that strange time of night when it was not really dark but not really light.  I guess twilight covers it best.  It was so hard to see, and then suddenly there was this huge creature undulating under the road and on across the field.  This 350’ serpent wasn’t much of a date.  He was mostly metal and rust and although he looked absolutely amazing, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist...much like other dates I’ve had.

b2ap3_thumbnail_BUNYON-OX.jpgMy husband was 6’3” so I wasn’t unused to tall guys but well, I’m not sure how tall this guy was.  We met in the mysterious huge trees of northern California but I know for a fact, though he never corroborated it, he was from Michigan originally and had something to do with carving out Lake Michigan.   He had a nice beard and his language wasn’t as bad as some loggers I’ve known.  I like animals well enough but he frequently had this enormous blue ox with him that he called, “Babe,” and he always, always carried this huge axe.  Well, that can get on a girl’s nerves so I cut him loose. 

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The Silver Gypsy: Reflections

My biggest excitement was just before 2015 came flying in.  I got up New Year’s Eve morning, watched the news and did a few things.  I knew it was supposed to be cold and dreary so I took my time opening the drapes. Guess what?   It was snowing!   It wasn’t the kind that drops a few anemic flakes - thick, beautiful, white flakes were coming down with a purpose.  Of course, the first thing I did was run for my camera.    

A young bunny was hunched under a bushy snow-covered cactus.  As the snow continued to come down, I saw him running around my yard and Saguaro Park, jumping this way and that, just like any little guy would do when he found out what fun it was.  The snow didn’t last very long on the ground but it stuck to picnic tables and roof tops.  The air cleared just enough to be able to see that the mountains were covered in the white stuff, too. 

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The Silver Gypsy:  Things I've Learned

Every once in a while, I just stop in an attractive spot and watch whatever is happening.  This breather provided a man fishing early in the morning, seemingly to catch the all-elusive trout.  He appeared peaceful though he was fishless.  I never had an interest in fishing and couldn’t understand why anyone else would.  In watching him for a while, I finally figured it out. The interest wasn’t in catching the fish.  It was standing there under a bridge on a rainy, foggy morning, daydreaming while you waited for a gullible fish to nibble (or not nibble) at your bait.

I’ve always had a rather strange relationship with my sons-in-law.  Tom is an avid hunter of the deer that are a nuisance on his property.  He usually keeps several for the family and friends and gives the rest to a local “Hunt for the Hungry” program.  One year when I was visiting, he offered to take me hunting.  I said, “I’m surprised you would invite me to go with you while I am carrying a gun.”  His reply, “I didn’t say I was going to give you bullets!” 

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The Silver Gypsy: Recipe for a Merry Christmas

·        Make new friends and share Christmas
Toss in greetings from old friends
Send cards to soldiers overseas
Stir in family Christmas stories and sentiment
Sing carols at church, a Christmas tree lighting, in your campground
Blend in eggnog, a full moon, and the reading of the first Christmas
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
Fold in traditions and memories
Call your kids, grandkids, friends, shut-ins
See the Nutcracker
Add a tad more music and dancing
Decorate your yard, front stoop, RV window
Separate The Nativity and Santa according to your faith
Scatter pine cones and fragrance with pine branches
Fix Christmas dinner in the traditional manner or roast a turkey over an open fire
Throw in a lot of dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie
Mix it all together and have a Very Merry Christmas.  

God Bless until next week.


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The Silver Gypsy: St. Joseph to the Rescue

As some of you may know, I have been trying to sell my park model/sun porch RV lot in AZ.  Century 21 has shown it five times in the past year and that contract was up a few days ago.  I am considering selling it on my own.  That was not my preference because I didn’t want to deal with all the paperwork.  However, I am assured by others who have sold their own houses that the county will make sure I do it up right.  To make sure it looked bright and attractive, I painted the front door a bright orange and put up my Christmas decorations sans a couple of red bows I haven’t found yet.

In the meantime, I have received some interesting advice over and over again about how to sell it quickly and without fail, so I went online to see if others might have used this method.  Much to my surprise, there it was “How to sell your house with the help of the St. Joseph Statue.”  Protestants and Catholics alike have advised me to do this.

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The Silver Gypsy: The Birthday Present

For an exciting birthday present, I actually drove into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (I NEVER do that!).   Within an hour of my arrival, I was standing outside the Security Checkpoint awaiting the expected tall drink of water with long, nearly black locks overflowing her shoulders.   Behold, this tall, skinny blonde in braids was suddenly hugging me.  Granddaughter, Becca, was the nicest, warmest, chattiest arrival, and a most welcome bundle of energy.  She had returned through Miami customs and was more than mid-way on her flight to Spokane, WA where her parents awaited their turn of tears and hugs.  I was privileged to claim her first.

After two plus years with the Peace Corps in Peru, Becca was home and all my grown rug rats and grand rug rats were on the same continent.

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The Silver Gypsy: How Was Your Thanksgiving?

Everyone asks, “How was your Thanksgiving?”  Actually, I think it was better than usual.  I snuggled down into my big tilt-back chair with bulky pillows and warm blankets to watch NBC’s version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with 50 million of my closest friends who also watch it on TV.  This event was born in 1924 with a few features and floats and one marching band.  It grew like Topsy and became an annual event. 

I can’t say that I am greatly enamored with parades and this is about the only one I watch all the way through.  It astounds me that the bands not only march, but they run, then perform intricate routines forward, backward and sideways, all the while playing equally intricate music.  The extraordinary floats are fascinating to watch, making their way along the route, held in place with guy wires and guys to keep them from wandering astray.  Each year new ones are added and old ones are greeted with enthusiasm like the Pillsbury Doughboy.  The dancers and singers are also amazing with the routines they perform in those skimpy costumes on a 35 degree day.  Once it started snowing, I can imagine the participants were thrilled that the parade was winding down.  At the end of two hours, I reluctantly pulled back the blankets and crawled out of my warm cocoon.

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The Silver Gypsy:  Thanksgiving

In the past year, I have put together a collection of my newspaper columns through the years.  This one is from 1986, my first year on the road, and obviously I went from being on the VA Blue Ridge Parkway to Washington and Oregon.  I did not let a lot of grass grow under my full-time RVing tires.  To explain some of the column comments, I was privileged to visit Asia in 1985 with a group of teachers from Western Illinois University (another long story).

“Aren’t young people great!  After an incredible amount of detective work on both our parts, I was able to spend some time with Kathy, a former senior GS from Michigan who now lives in Seattle.  She took me with her to an English class she teaches for refugee women.  That particular evening, there were two ladies from Cambodia and two from Laos.  It was a very informal, comfortable, loosely structured class, more to teach them how to use English in their everyday situations rather than the nuances of the English language (a little like my Japanese).  It was interesting to hear them tell their family stories.           

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The Silver Gypsy:  My Birthday

I was actually born on “turkey day” more years ago than I care to remember - in fact I can’t remember them whether I care to or not!  This is not an especially exciting or even a milestone birthday except that I am still alive and kicking and with my pretty-darn-good-health, that alone is worth celebrating.  I don’t expect anyone, including me, is going to make a big fuss about it.

I’m not sure if I’ve shown you a picture of the cabin where I was born.  I certainly have talked about it a lot.  Although the farm is still in the family, the cabin, playhouse, outhouse, and the barn are no longer there.  Even the bridge over the stream has gone on to a more streamlined, less-satisfying-to-the-eye version.  Some of the trees I used to climb are also missing...but then again, I’m missing a few things, too, height and memory come to mind.

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