Gig on a Rig Tip #2: Don’t Worry Be Happy

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Don’t worry, Be Happy. I remember when Bobby McFerrin released that chart topping hit in 1988. I remember it mostly because Heidi’s son, who was 7, loved it! I thought it was kind of catchy but trite. And I thought he only loved it because he was 7.

I’ve come to think he loved it because he was smarter about some things back then than I was – things like how worry will rob you of happiness. If you don’t remember the song or if you do, this is a mini-version (all my limited internet can handle):

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I tried to address the Don’t Worry part with Tip 1. Be Flexible but I’m adding Be Happy. I’ll be honest here, I used to roll my eyes when I heard people say things like Happiness is a Choice. I didn’t discover the truth of it until years and years after Bobby McFerrin’s song.

Of course everyone is circumstantially unhappy sometimes. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. But there are people who have a happy constitution. Others not so much and y’all know the type. Just like being happy seems to come naturally to some folks, it’s as foreign as French to others.

I was reading a blog a while back  written by a writer who keeps a list of things that annoy him. It’s a long list. It’s a growing list because once you start looking for things that annoy you it’s real easy to become a collector.

Anyway, this whole Be Happy spiel is a bridge between Tip 1. Be Flexible and Tip 3. I Recommend Pleasant – which I’ll write about tomorrow if the internet is happy and smiling on me after sunset.

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.  ~Norm Papernick

The Four Seasons (Minus Three)

I have an affection for those transitional seasons, the way they take the edge off the intense cold of winter, or heat of summer. ~Whitney Otto

Seasons… I’ve been thinking about seasons because I keep forgetting which one I’m in. I miss having real seasons. Back in the Midwest I knew what month it was because I could see and smell and touch Spring (lilacs and crocus) and Summer (fireflies and freeze tag) and Fall (bonfires and a potpourri of colors) and Winter (snowflakes and hot chocolate).

As a TSA in southern TX, I only know what month it is by seeing which holiday cards Hallmark is selling or what gaudy items Walmart has on the end racks or from the ads on TV. However, since I record more than I watch, I’ve learned not to rely too heavily on the TV. Last night I saw an ad encouraging me to take advantage of Back to School sales.

I don’t seem to be alone in this state of un-seasonal confusion. A few days ago, when it was 85 degrees, someone wrote 7/7/12 on the TS log and from then on – for hours – everyone else did the same. It was August for most of a day that first week in December on paper and on the thermometer.

But tonight is something special. We’re having a brief bit of cool weather. Tonight, and for the next 2 nights, the prediction is for temps to be right at freezing (which isn’t freezing as in terribly cold – just freezing as in 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some folks here love it. Some, not so much. Some, especially those who have never been north of Dallas, (no kidding – never, ever) started wearing stocking caps and coats when it got down in the 50’s at night. I couldn’t even get my kids to wear coats to school in the middle of the real winter in Iowa and people here are wearing Down Jackets when it dips below 60!

It’s 31 wonderful degrees right now. Some nights, after hours of looking longingly at the fake fireplace, I turn it on just for ambiance. But tonight, Henry VIII and I are enjoying the real heat from the real blower above the very fake logs!

I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year. ~ Texas

This is really a quote by Edna St. Vincent Millay but she could be speaking as Texas where it is perpetually summer. My heart longs for the full four seasons … fleetingly.

Mostly I just miss Spring and Fall which only last about 3 weeks each, but they’re such glorious weeks! And at Christmas time, I miss snow – just for a few days.

If you love Winter (the real Winter), or if you miss snow just a little, or if you’re happy to say you don’t have to shovel rain (or caliche), or just because it’s great music, I hope you enjoy this is a new video by The Piano Guys (ironically featuring just the cello guy). May this be your perfect snow fix – no shoveling required!

Tis’ the Gift

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Simple Gifts. A simple song penned by Joseph Bracken 164 years ago. A message of grace and delight in the simple blessing of each day, it was written as a Shaker dance – a dance we can still chose to dance.

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.                             ~H.U. Westermayer

Wherever you are and however you’re spending your Thanksgiving: whether you’re working or vacationing, whether you’re alone or with family or friends, my hope is that this Thanksgiving will be a day when simple gifts encourage your heart.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.                       ~ G.K. Chesterton

This is the Simple Gifts segment of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring with photos from Ansel Adams.

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There is no greater difference between men than between grateful and ungrateful people.  ~R.H. Blyth

See You in September

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.             ~ Berthold Auerbach

I love music! As you know, there’s a song playing in my head every minute. I’m beginning to wonder if that may be some kind of disorder?

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I love all kinds of music: classical, jazz, blues, pop, rock, country, folk – I even like elevator music. But I’m not real good at music. After 7 years of piano lessons, I never progressed past  Für Elise.

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I played alto sax for 8 years before selling my horn in college for book money. I would most certainly honk now. I love to sing but my voice is mediocre. And I can’t dance a lick –  never could.

I’m thinking that I could probably handle the choreography that The Happenings are performing in this video. Maybe…  😀

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Anyway, the point of this post is just to say that it’s time for a blogging break. The music will keep on playing but I’m powering down for a few weeks.

I’ll see you in September!

You are the music while the music lasts.  ~ T.S. Eliot

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Happy Together

Instead of responding to all the comments from On the Fence, I’ve decided to add a couple more thoughts.

Mostly, I just want to thank you all for offering so many different points of view – and for commenting, period – many of you for the first time. Your comments were more interesting than my post, without a doubt!

For those of you who are interested in the topic, I hope you’ll go back to the post and read the comments. Many great (and some really funny) points were made!

Speaking of points, at this point, I want to clarify a couple of things:

1. I like my job

2. I want / need to keep my job 😀

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In this job, as with any, it’s important to be responsive to what your employers ask. My post yesterday was offered by way of explanation re: the future or lack of future of Fork. The rules were new to me and took me a bit by surprise but they’re things that I’ll honor.

It’s just a blog. 😀

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But boy howdy! after reading all your comments, I surely know that if our RV ever gets blown over into Louisiana by a Texas twister or some stranger bonks me on the head in the middle of the night, you’ll take note and care!

Thanks for all your kind support and encouragement!

In hopes of encouraging you back, I’m posting one of my favorite videos from The Piano Guys. Most of you are probably old enough to remember Happy Together by The Turtles. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard or seen it performed quite like this!

Thanks again for taking the time to read The Fork in the Road and for making such thoughtful comments.

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Walkin’ In High Cotton

We’re walkn’ in high cotton, which is actually pretty short, but its high cotton all the same. Now this is a surprise to me because I didn’t know (before moving south) that cotton was grown in Texas.

Guess which state in the nation grows the most cotton?

Texas, whose 3-year average production was over 6.2 million bales of cotton for the years 2006 through 2008, is the leading cotton-producing state. ~ National Cotton Council of America

So yes, there’s more than a little cotton down here and I expect we were bound to end up sittin’ in the middle of it sometime. And so we have!

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I blame my lack of knowledge regarding Texas and cotton on Mr Brokaw, CCR and Alabama. Mr. Brokaw was my high school History and Geography teacher. He was also the assistant football coach. We mostly learned about the history of football.

A bale of cotton weighs about 500 pounds. ~ NCCA

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If I’m going to be totally forthcoming, much of my particular view of geography and history comes from the fact that most of the ‘facts’ I remember are lyrics spinning in my weirdly wired jukebox brain. I can’t think about cotton (the look … the feel… the fabric of our lives) without a jingle or a song playing in my head.

I was influenced a lot by those around me – there was a lot of singing that went on in the cotton fields. ~ Willie Nelson

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And I can’t look out the window without thinking about cotton so my brain’s a’ hummin’. Sometimes it’s Creedance Clearwater Revival singing about the Cotton Fields of Louisiana.

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One bale of cotton can make 1,217 men’s T-shirts or 313,600 $100 bills. ~ NCCA

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But most of the time the tune that’s playing as the current soundtrack to my life is Alabama singing High Cotton. It’s a look back at the good life in Alabama and not really about cotton, apart from the high reference, but I like it the best anyway.

And I love this video. It’s one of those click on the button to fill the screen and sit back and be grateful videos.You don’t have to be  a fan of country music to enjoy it!

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We are so walkin’ in High Cotton!

  • We have a job
  • We like the job
  • We really like the guys we work with
  • We haven’t seen a rattlesnake or a tarantula in almost a year
  • We’ve been mouse free for months
  • We have a real pea gravel pad 3 times the size of our RV
  • We almost made it to August before temps settled in the 100+ range

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  • It’s been weeks since I’ve had giant bugs nesting in my hair or t-shirt
  • It’s been months since I’ve thrown water on a donkey
  • Fallen on any cow
  • Run into a tree with the RV
  • I haven’t left the RV for 7 weeks
  • SO, I haven’t gotten lost in 7 weeks

Hard to beat all that! High Cotton, for sure! 😀

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The immature flower bud on a cotton plant is called a square. ~ University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture

Go figure. They look round, kind of like walnuts, to me. But then again, I’m the one who didn’t know there were cotton crops in Texas so who am I to say. 😀

Back When I Knew Everything: A Cautionary Tale About Advice

Hey folks!

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I’m going digress from my normal story-telling mode in an attempt to answer some of the questions that I’ve been getting via email re: gate guarding. On RV forums and in a smattering of blogs, you read the words Always and Never quite a lot. Always and Never are two absolutes that beg for contradiction.

The one thing people are the most liberal with, is their advice. ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Here’s my advice:

  • 1. If you want to get a feel for the job, read a variety of blogs
  • 2. Don’t pay too much attention to advice  😉

Some people are natural advice givers. You won’t have to travel to very many gates in your reading before you see that many of the most highly opinionated folks contradict each other in the way to do almost every aspect of the job. That’s perfectly fine. They’re just sharing their opinions and they have different ones.

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway. ~ Erma Bombeck

Most of us, although I’m sure there are exceptions, would advise you not to drink the potable water, unfiltered from the tap. That may be about it for universal gate guarding truths. No matter how firmly or strongly stated, we’re just sharing our opinions. As in most of life, the majority of things that come up each day are a matter of taste, opinion, conviction, constitution and circumstance.

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There is no Holy Grail for gate guarding. No one person speaks for all. You may find that you learn as much from someone who’s been gate guarding  for 3 months as you do someone who’s been doing it for 3 years.

I think the thing about being a gate guard is so that it’s so out of the norm for most of us. We’ve  generally had altogether different kinds of careers and have lived in altogether different kinds of environments.

Then, one morning, you find yourself standing at a gate – or just in the middle of the road – with an orange vest and a clip board and usually very little to no instruction.

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We turn to each other for tips and that helps. Just keep in mind that we’re all  just sharing what works for us. It may or may not work for you.

Know when to tune out, if you listen to too much advice you may wind up making other peoples mistakes. ~ Ann Landers

It reminds me of the Montgomery Gentry song, Back When I Knew Everything

Back when the world was flat
And Mom and Daddy didn’t have a clue
That was back
Back when a pitcher of beer
And a couple shots made me bulletproof
Back when “God” was a name I used in vain
To get a point across when I got ticked off
Lord, I’m learning so much more than
Back when I knew it all

When we started in December of 2010, I didn’t know anything about gate guarding or the industry or Texas.

Now I know a few things. 😀

I’ll write a some posts in the days ahead about what I’ve learned and how we handle certain situations. Take what works for you and toss the rest.

I found out credit cards don’t mean you’re rich
And beer and gasoline don’t mix
Yeah, and step side trucks can’t jump a ditch
And those “big house” rooms sure are small
I’ve learned that love is a woman that’ll settle you down
A Sunday sermon can turn life around
And I can’t believe answers I’ve found
Since back when I knew it all

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If you have something specific that you’ve been wondering about that you’d like me to address, feel free to write to me @ branson.debbie@ gmail.com and I’ll gladly share my opinion. I’m hoping other gate guards will hop aboard and share their experiences.

The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all. ~ Harry S Truman

I’ve Been Everywhere

This first video is the original by Brian Burns. The video at the end was shot by someone who visited every town in the song on a motorcycle! Actually, it seems I’ve Been Everywhere (in Texas, that is), has inspired many a road trip.

After a year and a half in Texas, I was surprised at how many of theses places, that even most Texans haven’t heard of, I lived in or been through.

Remember, as with most videos, once you start playing it, you can click on the partial square in the bottom right corner of the video and it will full screen.

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I’ve been everywhere in the song, almost, and tomorrow I’ll be somewhere else. 😀

We’re done here drilling here in Concrete. There are still legions of trucks coming and going as we begin to rig down.

Tomorrow we head SW (out in the country between Beeville and Kenedy) about 75 miles. This would be kind of bad news to us overheated Yankees in Texas, in the Spring (which is really summer since it’s already 90’s every day), except that we’re moving with the rig and we have such a great group to work with!

We’ve been on the same ranch (2 different holes) since March 5th.

The day we moved to this site, it looked like this:

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I’ve been to Waco, Hico, Hondo, Navasota, Winnsboro, Jacksboro, Hillsboro, Santa Rosa, Austin, Houston, Galveston, Texarkana, Frisco, Buffalo, Conroe, Corsicana,
Goliad, Groesbeck, Glen Rose, Red Oak, Post Oak, Live Oak, Lone Oak, no joke…

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Before long the pad was filled to overflowing.

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I’ve been to Kruegerville, Pflugerville, Van Horn, Val Verde, Brackettville, Bartonville, Beeville, Bulverde, Bear Creek, Cedar Creek, Mill Creek, Mineola, Maypearl, Monahans, Telephone, Tuscola, Redwater, Round Rock, Round Top, Round Lake, Sour Lake, Southlake, Spring Lake, for Pete’s sake…

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I’ve been to Greenville, Gatesville, Gainesville, Alameda, Kerrville, Kellyville, Bastrop, Benavides, Somerville, Smithville, Stephenville, Prairie View, Luckenbach, Longview, Plainview, Idalou, Justin, Junction, Panorama, Pasadena, Angelina and Lorena…see what I mean-a…

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Two nights ago the semi lights stretched for miles waiting for their turn:

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Now let me see I’ve been to Valley Mills, Pine Mills, Dime Box, Duncanville, New Home, New Hope, New Deal, Liberty Hill, Rockport, Rock Creek, Bridgeport, Brownwood, Cleburne, Comanche, Cut & Shoot, Cottonwood, Bayview, Bayside, Baytown, Bay City, Falls City, Center City, Bridge City, what a pity…

It’s wildly busy tonight. I’ve had about 40 trucks in the past hour so I’m giving up on the computer and shifting my attention to tucking away fragile things.

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We’ve packed up, backed up and done everything but hitch up. Tomorrow begins another grand adventure!

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I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she’ll die

Well, you know the rest. If you don’t, I’ve added a video of Judy Collins singing this on Sesame Street.

I’m feeling a lot like the old lady in the song. I’ve never swallowed a fly, as far as I know,  just a few moths and at least a half of a spider, but I am combating entomophobia with a touch of DOP.

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I don’t know what these are but we’ve had thousands of them!

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Two different conditions are recognized that relate to an inordinate fear of arthropods like insects and spiders. Entomophobia (“entomo” = insect + “phobia” = fear) refers to an unreasonable fear of real arthropods. The key here, as with other phobias, is that the fear involves a real stimulus, in this case an insect or spider, encountered in everyday activities. For example, a spider found inside the home might trigger this intense fear reaction.

A condition called delusions of parasitosis (DOP), or delusional parasitosis, on the other hand, is a severe, debilitating reaction to an imagined infestation. Delusions are a mistaken belief and in this case the person believes, wrongly, that they are infested with an insect or mite, or that they are being repeatedly bitten.

~ Jack DeAngelis, PhD, OSU Entomologist

My latest troubles began with the bee-like thing with pincers that nested in my hair while I was logging in a truck and burrowed into my head. The harder I pulled at him, the deeper he went. I had a sore head for days. He’s looking a little worse for wear in this photo. I took a picture in case I broke out in hives or went into anaphylactic shock (which was more likely to happen from eating the crawfish, but still…). That way if  Heidi found me passed out on the floor, she would know what bit/stung/pinched me.

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Of course, there was that cricket the size of a Dorito thumping the mouse trap.

The last few nights have heightened my entomophobia. There was the furry spider on the door, the creepy spider with white spots that lives on the night lights and the red spider that spins in the wheel well at night.

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Then, night before last, it was the giant winged thing that came in stealth-fully (again, probably in my hair). I’m beginning to redefine hair-net as: my hair that nets every winged creature! He came in quietly. I didn’t notice. Hours later, he dropped down on my head from somewhere while I was reading. I can’t tell you how much I hate arthropods dropping on my head.

You can’t really get a true idea of this from the picture but he/she was about the size of a monarch butterfly when it spread it’s wings… and u g l y!

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He fell on my head. I jumped out of the chair. Henry flew out of his bed. The giant flying thing went all kamikaze on us – bouncing off the walls and ceiling and even under the table.

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Henry isn’t much of a mouser but he does go after bugs, but this one was too much for him. He couldn’t get to it. I was disappointed to wake up and have Heidi say the winged creature disappeared shortly after she got up. He resurfaced just  few hours ago. I was a little more prepared tonight. I knocked him out with one of Heidi’s Crocs before he could get fully airborne.

I carried him outside.

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We’re pulling out of the hole right now which mean there were non-stop cement trucks and tankers. By the time I’d logged everyone and returned inside and sat down to read again, my DOP kicked in big time.

Although I knew it wasn’t possible, I felt the giant winged thing crawling down my back.

It wasn’t possible. It wasn’t that giant winged thing. It was a this giant winged thing.

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I’d rather have DOP, but I don’t think I do. So far, everything I’d hoped I was just imagining was crawling on my skin, was real and worse than I’d imagined.

I may have entomophobia but there’s something about being phobic that implies it’s a little irrational and I don’t think that’s that case either.

I think I just have boundary issues.

And, all things considered, I think they’re pretty reasonable. I’m saving the snakes and frogs for another day. I actually love the frogs but I wish they’d eat the giant winged things.

It’s supposed to be in the 90’s this week. Still, a hoodie is starting hold a certain appeal!

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Monday Music

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when you find yourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

~Simple Gifts by Elder Joseph Brackett

Those of you who read both of my blogs, know that on Two Minutes of Grace, I generally post a song on Sunday. I’ve decided to do the same at Fork on Mondays – from time to time with different songs and different messages.

It’s been exactly two weeks since I rode through Houston in the rain, in a one ton dually pulling a 40 foot RV with 6-8 teeming lanes of traffic. I’m not sure when I quit breathing, but at some point I realized that I was pressing so hard on the floorboard that my right foot had gone to sleep, my jaw was locked, my eyes were glazed, my fingers were numb and my head was throbbing – and I wasn’t even driving! 😀

I took stock, took two Ibuprofen, took some deep breaths and thought about the trap of getting so tense over things completely out of my control.

It can be easy to wait for sometime, somewhere over the rainbow for things to become simpler. Many of you who read Fork are RVers. That doesn’t guarantee simplicity, but full-timers or part timers, you’ve learned how to pare down and live with much ‘less’.

I wrote a post a while back for TMG called Simple Gifts. In contains the Simple Gifts section of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, with photos by Ansel Adams. Copeland’s music to the Adams’ black and whites is quite lovely. You can skip to the bottom of the page to play the video.

This video from The Piano Guys is my newest favorite. It intertwines ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple with Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I hope you enjoy it!