Monday, December 4, 2017

The Little Things

It's been a strange few weeks, filled with every emotion a human being can feel. We wrapped up a long, successful stint as oil field security guards and made our sincere and emotional farewells. We had VIP tickets (purchased months earlier) to the Nascar championship finale near Homestead, FL and were looking forward to attending. In the meantime my mothers health had deteriorated, so we decided to make our Nascar visit open ended. That decision entailed picking up and moving our burgeoning drone business, which was no easy task. We had set a date to leave south Texas that would leave us time to get to Tallahassee, Florida so that we could visit with my daughter and grand kids before heading into Miami. In the meantime; amongst the thousands of things we had going on, we were trying to complete the sale of our Hyundai Santa Fe and purchase of a newer cargo van. We completed the sale, but could not sign the Santa Fe over because the finance company was conducting an audit of the transaction. We completed the purchase of the van: which was a necessity to get our inventory moved and to grow the business. In a whirlwind last few days in south Texas we cleared out and packed two storerooms of drones and accessories into the van and RV, moved temporarily into a hotel (where our pickup truck was broken into), dropped off and had our 5th wheel repaired, had tires put on our 5th wheel, had the pickup repaired (which included a brake job), finally received our title and transferred the Santa Fe over (the day we were going to head out) and capped our last night in Texas off by having dinner with friends. Can you say, "Whew"? The next morning, less than 200 miles into the trip, one of our new tires went flat. Come to find out, the tire company had not bothered to change the old valve stems out. They said we never requested it. Who puts a new set of tires on any vehicle and doesn't replace the valve stems? We made it to our scheduled stop in Louisiana and rested for the night. The next day, around 1 p.m., our world caved in around us. My niece called and told me to get to South Florida as soon as possible. My mother had been found unresponsive in her bed and things looked grim. Before we could make any arrangements my mother passed from a massive stroke. I was devastated and driving was very difficult. Did I mention that, in the middle of all this chaos, a Sheriff decided to pull me over. He said he was a member of a drunk driving task force and that I seemed to be hugging the white line. Since when is that cause to pull someone over? Had it been any other day, without my mother so heavily on my mind, things may have ended differently. As it was, I was allowed to proceed without much fanfare and no ticket. We decided to skip our planned stop for the evening and headed straight into Tallahassee. My daughter had set up a reservation at a local RV park and we stayed there for a few days. In the meantime, we had had plans to try the local flea market and decided to go ahead with them. This flea market was not a "stand out" place, but most flea markets aren't. We both said my mother had to have been looking down on us as we had one of our biggest days ever selling drones. We drove to Okeechobee the next day where a friend had arranged a spot for us to overnight in. We set out for Miami the next day and soon after Missy informed me that a vibration she had been feeling in the left front was worse than ever. We pulled into a small gas station and a semi filled with sod pulled up. Thank goodness I speak Spanish because the driver of the sod truck knew little English. He offered to lead us to a tire shop he knew plus he had a family member that had RV spaces near Homestead! You would be right if you thought like we did; mom certainly had to be looking down on us. Even though that space didn't work out, we have managed to extend our stay at our original destination in Miami. We are now going about setting up our drone business in South Florida and have even opened a small store at a local discount mall. We are quickly learning about bureaucracy as we  endeavor to get a occupational license; needed to operate a business in Dade County.

As life goes on my mind frequently reminds me that I have no parents left on this planet to serve as mentors and guides. If you're like me your Mother occupied(s) a large portion of your life and that void can never be filled. I believe that power greater than us all created women with all the basics needed to survive in the world. However: there are those few that standout. They excel in all those qualities that so few of us have and most never achieve. Things like nurturing, patience, generosity, unconditional love and empathy; just to name a few. To have all that and go about your days demurely and gracefully is even rarer. Words can never describe my mother adequately; hopefully these capture at least part of who she was. I miss her terribly and am proud to have been her son.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Tribute

Carol Rae Bass is gone. At least she no longer physically fills the lives of all those she knew and affected so profoundly. Almost everyone, when speaking of a mother, will speak of her in superlatives. To broad brush my mother  like that would be a mistake and disservice to the legacy she leaves behind. It is truly difficult to explain and describe how much in words she meant to those that were blessed to know her. She was an aunt, a sister, a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother and truly the matriarch of our extended family. Great people do things out of kindness with regularity and seek no notice for their deeds. That was my mother and the void she left behind is impossible to fill. As an Air Force family we travelled the world together and my mother was put in the position of raising and caring for the family. There is no way that my father could have achieved the things that he did without the strong woman that was my mother at the the helm of our family. My fathers duty to country simply kept him away too much. Strong, caring women with innate leadership capabilities were the hallmark of the Keene family and all of my mothers sisters were blessed with it. God could not have provided a better example of the "older sister" and she filled those shoes with grace. To me her legacy will be the shepherding of so many people through the difficult path that life sometimes puts before us. Especially the lives of her grand children and great grand children. Rest in peace Mom.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mixed Feelings

Sometimes, when you read or hear "mixed feelings" it has a negative connotation. In this case I simply have a bunch of feelings that are all mixed together. Perhaps you could call it information overload. We are heading out into a brave new world; life outside the confines of gate guarding. We have strayed before, but it was performing basically the same vocation; protecting a wind farm instead of a petroleum site. One might ask the roots of these mixed feelings and I would have to say it is the scam that is workamping itself. Let me first state that things may have changed since we  "workamped", but I somehow doubt it. When we did it, pay and benefits/perks were downright awful. I don't know how anyone can do it without a secondary source of income such as retirement and/or social security. Our best compensation package was $1350 a month, with a site provided, between the two of us. From what I have gleaned from watching workamping opportunities over the years is that things are even worse than before. Wages have remained stagnant and more and more facilities are asking that the already beleaguered workamper pay for his site. Let me clarify that there are seasonal opportunities out there where RV'ers can make decent money. These include selling Christmas trees, fireworks and pumpkins, assisting with the annual beet harvest or working for Amazon. I will say; if you can make it work, that it is a challenging and rewarding vocation. The "catch 22" is that most of us will be in the autumn of our lives, probably in declining health, when we achieve that secondary income stream. We were determined and set out to workamp after my cardiac issues began to effect my work. Those were some of the toughest years of my life. We were at the brink of failure, worn out emotionally  and beaten down when gate guarding came to our attention. We pulled into Whitsett, on a bet, almost seven years ago with maybe $100 between us. So, leaving gate guarding is not easy; especially for me. Even though the demands of the profession  mostly require some one's presence 24/7, I have mostly enjoyed life on the gate. I enjoyed the challenge and meeting new people, along with learning what it takes to extract oil from the earth. I also will never forget how we scratched and clawed to get by before we got here. It makes someone both wary and grateful. The difference this time (hopefully) is that we are on firmer financial footing. I have retirement income and we have a burgeoning business. Still; I am both wary and excited. There is so much to do, picking up and moving all our belongings, much less relocating ourselves and a business. Thank goodness the Internet and modern day communication negate the drawbacks of relocating a business. We will remain at the same address in cyberspace, if that's what you call it, and our e-mails and phone numbers won't change; for now. I really enjoy life in the pucker brush and Texas/Texans themselves. I am also very excited to return to Florida, where most of my family resides. I love my entire family, but I especially love my mother and look forward to seeing her on a regular basis. I also have a sister that has grown from a sworn enemy (when we were much younger) into a trusted friend and confidant. Then there is my niece and daughter and their kids that I relish to spend time with. All of them have supported me unconditionally over the years. So; we are not saying goodbye permanently (unless you ask Missy (-; ); just so long for now. I finish with a grateful thank you to all of you that have supported this blog and my Facebook page. Knowing that there are those of you that actually enjoyed my drivel over the years has rewarded me immeasurably. Thanks so much; there will be more! 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Life Happened

Somewhere along the line I accepted the fact that I would not be some famous, remarkable person blazing a path for society. I didn't give up, I simply accepted my station in life. My biggest frustration has been my inability to grow and develop ideas; leaving me a frustrated dreamer. My father was very successful and accomplished any number of things (not the least of which was his service to this great country). My greatest successes in the "nine to five" world were marred by my inability to navigate the world of corporate politics. Chasing the proverbial carrot left me mostly living paycheck to paycheck and bereft of the freedom to go places and do the things that others so easily did. My failing health, amongst other things, led me to the world of workamping. I struggled mightily at that vocation which eventually led me to the world of gate guarding; basically providing security for the oil exploration industry. This job requires a person(s) with initiative and a sense of responsibility as you are given very little, if any supervision. It is a job; mostly performed by partners out of their personal RV, that requires dedication, as someone has to be on duty 24-7. I enjoy the solitude and especially not having someone constantly breathing down my neck. The job also pays well and has allowed me to start and build a small business, refurbishing and selling drones. I also met and married a wonderful lady along the way. Now circumstances find us leaving this job and Texas behind. We are headed to Florida, for at least the winter, to be closer to friends and family. That all started when we were gifted with tickets to the Nascar race at the Homestead Miami Speedway. Since the race falls in the holiday season it also made sense to try drone sales in Florida. We also have the security of knowing that, if all else fails, we can return to gate guarding. Reintegrating with family will most likely be a challenge but one that I relish and look forward to. The last ten years of my life have tested my mettle, but also have been some of the most rewarding. I have been blessed with wonderful partners, both in business and life. I look forward to the fresh start and inevitable change on the horizon.