Size Does Matter

Single Axle.

In 2016, when I began my search for a used Airstream I had my heart set on a 20’ Flying Cloud.  20 feet is the largest Airstream with a single axle – only one wheel on each side.  But, 20 footers are very hard to find.  I searched the entire U.S. and got out bid, or couldn’t afford the few that were available.

Scout appeared on Ebay in Katy, TX, I was in Austin, and we fell in love.  But, I have always dreamed of a Flying Cloud and the extra 1 foot, 10 inches.  Yes, 1 foot, 10 inches is a world of difference in an Airstream, especially in the kitchen.  There is actual counter space.

Counter Space & drawers

No Counter Space.

So, this week I said goodbye to Scout, selling Scout in order to purchase a 2014 Flying Cloud. 

Introducing Scout II.    Same bed size, but very different floor plan.  Stepping into the Flying Cloud felt huge!

Scout II, is in Nashua, NH so I will be heading north to collect her in the coming weeks.   We will meander south through the fall leaves, returning to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, and then south for the winter.  My Road2Reinvention is about to begin again.  Thanks for reading and following our adventures, I hope you will stay tuned.




I Am For Decency

I am glad I am not a parent.  How do parents explain to their children what the President of the United States says is not excitable?   “Sons of Bitches” really?  Another low point from our Tweeting Commander and Chief. Not to mention bullying.  This coming from a woman who loves to lob the ‘F” word.  Should POTUS swear from the podium?   I think NAUGHT.

When Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office, parents everywhere had to talk about sex, or “not sex”.

There is an adage, “If you can’t say it at your Mother’s dinner table, you shouldn’t say it”.  But, social media allows anonymous mean, vulgar and demeaning comments.  Wow, aren’t you brave to write something and not attach your name?

Lisa in her front yard.

Meet my new friend Lisa Cholnoky!  Lisa has started a grass root one woman campaign called “DECENCY”.  I love it!

When I came to Long Island, I signed up for the emails from U.S. Representative for Suffolk County (NY-1) Lee Zeldin.  I had hoped to attend town hall meetings, but I only learned about town halls – after the fact.  (Good way to avoid adversarial opinions?)  But, the last newsletter had a story about a woman mailing 535 buttons to every Member of Congress.  The button states plainly and simply “decency”.  

On our way to Lisa’s house on Shelter Island.

I liked this woman immediately.  Representative Zeldin gave a floor speech (click the link) in support of returning decency and civility to our national debate based on Lisa’s one woman effort.  I enjoyed a lovely morning on Lisa’s deck discussing politics, and how to move the campaign forward.

Remember when a woman during a McCain Presidential campaign event called Obama “an Arab”?  McCain stopped her dead in her tracks, and said “NO…he [Obama] is a decent man…that I have differences with”.   

Senator McCain is a true legislator, he recently parted ways with his pal Lindsey Graham on yet another very harmful “repeal and replace” health care bill.  McCain is opposing on principle, civility and decency; he is not afraid of debate, compromise and bi-partisanship.  He can even differ with his friends and be kind about it.  

McCain is a true American and real hero.  

If you missed McCain’s floor speech about working together, across party lines, for the American people click this link.  I can’t watch it without crying.  It is a cruel irony that McCain has the same brain cancer as his old friend Ted Kennedy.  I see them together in the afterlife sharing stories, drinking Scotch and shaking their heads at what has become of the institution they both loved, the United States Senate.

During my work in Washington, D.C. I worked on the campaign to pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), for more than 15 years of trying.  I had the amazing privilege of attending meetings with Senators Kennedy, McCain, and the other bi-partisan Senators and advocates trying to pass a complex and comprehensive immigration bill.  Working with Senators Kennedy and McCain, their incredible staff, was a wonderful highlight of my career.  But we failed to pass CIR, and it broke my heart.  My heart is still breaking listening to the very same hateful rhetoric about immigrants.  

Kennedy and McCain were the embodiment of “decency” and friendship.  They disagreed philosophically but they liked and respected each other.  Being decent to one-another is what is missing in today’s national debate.   We need to listen more, and talk less.

Thanks Lisa for getting the ball rolling.  Let’s all support the Campaign for DECENCY.  I am wearing the button.  I hope you will too!


On 9/11, I remember 32BJ

16 years ago, I rose from the McPherson Square Metro to walk the 3 blocks to my SEIU office at 1313 L Street NW, Washington, D.C.  It was a beautiful Tuesday morning, no humidity and the air was so crisp and clear.  There was an announcement in the subway, which was garbled like all the announcements in the Metro.  All I heard was “blah, blah, blah…Pentagon”.  As I walked I realized there was an unusual amount of horns honking, traffic congestion and people streaming out of office buildings.

The city was in a panic, and the subway was now closed.  When I got to my building, a colleague told me what was happening – the city was evacuating.  She offered me a ride home and we sat in traffic for an hour traveling only a few blocks.  Because she was trying desperately try to get home to Maryland, I got out and walked home to Capitol Hill.   

A few day later, I was sent to New York to assist SEIU 32BJ in navigating the federal, state and local government bureaucracy.  32BJ is the largest building services local union with membership of cleaners, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, building engineers, school and food service workers, and window cleaners.  24 32BJ members died on 9/11, one was on the tower hanging from the crane cleaning windows.

Why ME?  Yikes, what could I possibly do to help?  I was a Legislative Advocate (Lobbyist).  But my experience representing public employees and understanding the unemployment compensation system and other government programs would come in handy.

In the mist of such tragedy, the benefits of union membership were paramount to the 1200 plus workers who lost their livelihood.  The buildings were gone and so were their jobs. 

32BJ offices were only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.  Those blocks were filled with pages and pictures, “have you seen this person”.  I am haunted by those pages.

Yet I was incredibly proud and privileged to have met and helped union members in the days following 9/11.  I was very worried some of them might be undocumented, but the World Trade Center was the premiere building in New York City.  The least senior janitor had worked in the building over 10 years.  They weren’t undocumented, but there were major language barriers to overcome.

I remember one woman who had been a school teacher in Eastern Europe, because her English was not very good, she worked as a cleaner.  She had been cleaning the same floor of the World Trade Center over 15 years.  She was my age, single, while educated but worked as a janitor.  Her English was still not very good after years of being a U.S. citizen, because as a cleaner she didn’t converse with co-workers every day, she worked alone.

The union officers and staff worked to get all the members onto unemployment as quickly as possible.  The NYC phone system had collapsed, because of the thousands of people who lost their jobs that day.  Also the unemployment system only offered translations services in Spanish and some Chinese.  32BJ workers were from all over the world, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.  We helped them fill out paper applications giving each member personal assistance.

Each day a union meeting was held on the first floor of the union building.  32BJ leadership told all the displaced workers and their families the union was going to get everyone back to work.  In addition, the union extended health insurance and granted a supplement $100 unemployment benefit from their trust funds.  At those meetings workers cried and hugged each other, proud to be union members and treated as an extended family.

I was incredibly privileged to attend those meetings and see firsthand the joy expressed by workers who had experienced such loss and tragedy.  I feel guilty that week was one of the best of my career.

Each anniversary of 9/11, I remember the wonderful 32BJ members, staff and officers.  Why I am proud to have been a union member, and now retiree.  

2017 Summer’s end

Summer is coming to an end, 4 months in Westhampton has flown by.  While Houston, TX is suffering from horrible weather, Long Island is enjoying sunshine, but unusually cool temperatures.

I am preparing for my end of stay on Long Island, and looking forward to reuniting with Scout (aka Airstream). 

Alaska friends Diane and John will be collecting Scout in Sacramento, CA, on 9/5 with the very best help of dear friend Barb Hodgin.  I am grateful to River City Storage for their indoor care of Scout all summer.

Diane and John will head east, and I plan to meet them at Jordon Lake State Park, NC at the end of September. 

I am looking forward to my first visit to the Outer Banks, NC.  On to Myrtle Beach in November, and return for Thanksgiving with Mom, Stepfather Erv, and sister Becky partner Chuck, and extended family.

I don’t have any plans after Thanksgiving, and hope to make my way south, follow the sun and avoid horrible weather.

Most of all I am looking forward to reuniting with Scout, and the Road2Reinvention.

How Many Jobs in a Lifetime of Work?

The other day I heard a story about work lives.  Our parents, and their parents likely worked for a single or possibly a couple of employers for the majority of their lives.  No surprise, today people change jobs more often. 

It is projected that millennials will have more than 30 jobs in their lifetimes.  I thought I might make 30, I came pretty close.  I started working when I was in High School, after-school and summers.  I still have a few jobs on my Bucket List.  Last year I worked for the holidays at an Ace Hardware Store.  While I didn’t work in the hardware department (my dream) it was fun none-the-less.  But anything can be fun when you know it isn’t your future.   My next dream job is driving a beer cart on a golf course.  Or as a full-time RVer, I might end up at a campground for an extended period welcoming campers.  There are lots of part-time opportunities out there.  

I have been incredibly privileged to have interesting, fun, and horrible jobs.  When I became a Director at a staff retreat I thought it might be fun to ask staff what was their weirdest, fun or most interesting job.  I thought driving false teeth around might win the day.  NAUGHT. My friend Steve, won the day by telling us he taught women’s reproductive health and delivered babies.  Yikes!  Who could beat that?  I love Steve.

I worked as a starter at an Anchorage Municipal golf course.  Russian Jack Park is really a cross-country ski park, but for the 3 months of summer it masquerades as a golf course.   Years later I learned to play golf, and fell in love with the game.  Our family dog Allie, loved that job.  She accompanied me daily and sat in the sack, and at 9:00 p.m. (remember this was Alaska and was daylight until midnight) I drove a Cushman 3-wheel vehicle to pick-up the flags on the 9-hole course.  Allie, would run along and love all the balls falling from the heavens.

Another favorite job was working at a fabric store and later a book store.  Although I left most of my earnings at the store, buying fabric and books.  I still love fabric and books.

I have been privileged to have fallen into very interesting, full-filling, challenging and most of all stressful jobs.  

Ombudsman Investigator, Court Appointed Master, Legislative Director, you may call me “MASTER”.  Amazing from someone who was an incredibly bad student who hated school.  Years later while sitting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with fellow lobbyist killing time until our next meeting, we were comparing notes on education and careers.  My friends and colleagues had attended Ivy League schools, Harvard, Yale, Brown etc.   I was proud to say instead of  the Ivy League, I was chasing the Grateful Dead up and down the west coast, and attending the 5-night 1976 farewell concert at Winterland in San Fransisco.

Who would have thought I would be lobbying Congress on behalf or working people?  “What a Long Strange Trip it has Been”.

Here is a list of my jobs, both paid and unpaid.  Always jobs, never a career.

1. Golf Course Starter, Russian Jack Park, Anchorage Municipality.

2. Cashier at Fred Myers Department Store, Anchorage, AK (summer)

3. Sales clerk at Discount Fabrics on Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK

4. Bookstore clerk

5. Lifeguard and swimming instructor, Anchorage, AK. 

6. Waitress at Mexican Restaurant in Santa Anna, CA

7. Courier dental lab, pick-up and delivery of false teeth. Anchorage, AK

8. Fleet Service Alaska Airlines, loading and off-loading food service and cleaning aircraft interior. 1st Union JOB.

9. Food Services at Deli in Wasilla, Alaska (summer)

10. Intern Anchorage Municipal Ombudsman

11. Investigator, State of Alaska Ombudsman

12. Field Representative, Alaska Public Employees Association, Anchorage, AK

13. Master, Appointed by Superior Court Judge to oversee terms and conditions of incarceration in the Alaska Adult Prison System.

14. Business Agent, Alaska State Employees Association, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

15. Field Representative, Nevada State Employees Association, AFSCME, Carson City, NV

16. President Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) (unpaid)

17. Northern Coordinator Labor 98, AFL-CIO, Reno, NV

18. Secretary/Treasurer Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, Reno, NV (unpaid)

19. Legislative Representative, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington, D.C.

20. Legislative Representative, AFL-CIO

21. Director of Legislation, SEIU

22. Consultant, Washington, D.C.

23. Legislation and Policy Director, WGA, West, Los Angeles, CA

24. Legislation Director, Social Security Works, Washington, D.C.

25. Sales Representative, Union Plus, Washington, D.C.

26. Legislative Consultant, Washington, D.C.

27. Vice President Amalgamated Bank, Washington, D.C.

28. Legislative Representative United Steel Workers (USW) Washington, D.C.


My working life chapter is closed, but my trip is ongoing.