Neatnik Gypsies

Moving all over America (& into Mexico & Canada), we often stopped to camp for a day or two along the way. There weren’t always motels or boarding houses where Dad did his cartography for the USGS.

Mom & Dad were “neat freaks.” Dad taught us kids to wash dishes as soon as we could toddle. Camp washing was different than rental/boarding house or trailer sink washing. We kids knew cleaning was crucial.

Dad kept a microscope from University of Wyoming Biology class. He’d let us collect pond water, swabs from inside our mouths & spit (Bob’s, ew!) We got to help put the slides together & then took turns looking at all the bustling germs, magnified as huge as the monsters we’d seen at drive-in movies!

OK, pay attention now.” Dad had a temper but he was a great teacher, always going slowly, step-by-step and demonstrating each step.

Step one, get your containers—pot, pan or metal bucket. You need two: one for washing in, one for rinsing.

Step two, go to a source of clear water. You always want to camp near clear water.

Step three, fill your container.

Step four, set the container down in the coals left over from cooking your meal.

Step five, make sure that water boils. You can kill germs with boiling water.

Step six, put the bar of soap in & swish it around with a big spoon. The water is too hot to touch!

Step seven, dump in your utensils & cups, plates—everything. Let it sit about five minutes. Everything will be germ-free & the water will cool down enough to touch.

Step eight, get your dishrag. Rub some soap onto it. Scrub the silverware first, then dishes. Last, pots & pans. Drop each cleaned item into the second pot of boiling water. This will double kill germs. After that water cools, take everything out, one-by-one & dry it all. Put utensils in the silverware box dishes in the dish box & pots & pans in their box.

Mom kept wooden crates for everything. Labeled neatly with permanent marker on masking tape. Super organized gypsies!

Dad Dixie Dance bed
Dad teaches Dixie to dance on Miz Bonnie’s bed.
I wasn’t quite old enough to do dishes at campsites!

Author: dixiewriter

Due to my father's job as an explorer/cartographer, my family moved 48 times before I turned 13. We lived where Dad worked: on mountain tops (in park ranger cabins), in deserts, swamps, along coastlines from Maine to Key West & other wild places. My father mapped parts of Antarctica, living there for 8 months in 1961-62. A mountain peak & a glacier are named after him (William C. Elder, USGS) As an adult, I helped Lars Eric Lindblad (then president of World Wildlife) find out about the migration path of Silverback gorillas (from Tanzania into Kenya). On my information, he chose to move Lindblad Travel's photographic safari camps to accommodate these wonderful creatures. I got a Jimmy Carter grant to teach after I graduated from Madison College. Grantees had to sign up to teach for at least a year in a severely impoverished school anywhere in America. I taught for 3 & 1/2 years in SW Virginia near Bluegrass Central (Galax, VA). I taught 7th-9th grade English, Drama, Journalism. I was the forensics coach. Moved to Connecticut & worked for Lars Lindblad, typing up the manuscript for his autobiography, working with Liz & John Fuller on this book. (They co-wrote "Ghost of Flight 415" & other books about unusual phenomenon. Moved to Colorado in 1982. Worked as "gal friday" for 12 detectives at the Boulder Police Dept. Set up files for DA to use in court amongst other things. Then at a law firm. Next, CU/Boulder for 10 years. At CU, workers could take a free course each semester. So I did 5 Master's levels courses in special ed' & many in creative writing/history/religion & other subjects at the Master's level. I taught "Drama for the Disabled" in Boulder, CO after the teacher had to quit due to health issues. It was wonderful! My last 7 years working, I helped adults/teens/children with various brain differences such as autism. I was diagnosed at age 45 with 3 types of seizures, manic depression (atypical, rarely depressions, mostly manias), OCD & PTSD. At age 67 (!!) this diagnosis was changed. The manias are most likely due to temporal lobe "disturbance." The other symptoms are due to "high functioning" autism or Asperger's. Shock!! I do Tai Chi 3x/day which helps me to calm down. My husband & I work out at a gym 3-5 times/week for balance mostly but also weight training, running etc. We climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain High places (like Long's Peak & Maroon Bells) in summertime/autumn. We love archaeology, so when we travel, it's in order to discover ancient sites. My husband is an actor with a "day job." He has performed in shows with Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof, the road show), Dick van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Firesign Theatre/John Goodman/Annette Bening et al. (Wizard of Oz/radio show) & many other wonderful people since age 14. We have traveled to: Iceland, Scotland (twice), Germany (3 times to visit friends), Ireland & fascinating places in America. We usually spend a month when we travel. So we go about every 5-6 years. Otherwise, we stay at home in a town in Colorado, attending Poetry sessions, working in local theater, enjoying our shelter rescue cats, writing, painting & dancing.

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