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mother of josh, richard, and mutt. lover of books, yarn, and the quiet places. spinner, knitter, kayaker, survivor, vandweller, warrior.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

whose shoes?

we are headed back to brawley after a stay at the slabs. got to visit with tom and charlene and bob. bob and i took two hikes in the desert with the dogs, and mutt leapt with joy at his freedom, and the chance to hang out with his buddy homer. he also got to trade sniffs with Sheriff Victoria and Squirrel, but Bus Dingo was no where to be found. he is passed out on the bed in the rondyvan now, luxuriating in the relaxation a good romp in the desert can bring, and twitching with jackrabbit dreams.

i happened upon a pair of footwear in the desert, abandoned in the midst of an untold story. can you guess which pair is mine?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Waiting for brakes

on monday one of the extended family had an accident, and I drove them to san diego to see a specialist. On that trip I discovered I needed a brake job.

Here is mutt at the Pep Boys in El guessed it.....waiting.

Mutt needs a day off from the sometimes stressful job of being a loyal companion, and is going to the slabs for a day of being a carefree dog with his buddy Homer, and maybe trade some sniffing with Squirrel, Bus Dingo, and Sheriff Victoria.

Waiting for mike

I haven't blogged for awhile. We are all in Brawley, Ca, south of slab city where we have been camping in the desert. I met up with mike and heidi (of "love is blind") and several other vandwellers at the slabs and will have several posts about slab city and our adventures.

last friday, though, sweet mike was admitted to the hospital in brawley with a serious case of pneumonia. We very nearly lost him, and he is still in ICU as of this morning. We are hoping for a transfer to a regular room on a med-surg floor in the near future.

Needless to say, it has been a stressful week.there has been fear, and a lot of tears. But there has also been a lot of laughter and courage, and the reminder that love thrives, even in the darkest places.

sometimes in our human dramas, we can forget our silent companions, who wait faithfully in the wings......a lesson in acceptance and living in the moment. Mutt understands the least of where we are and why we are here, but accepts implicitly that we are not waiting for life to begin again, after this is over.......but that this is our life, our moment here and now.....the waiting.

and if biscuits and fetch and walks are fewer and farther between he is absolutely okay with that because life is what it is, regardless of what it gives you, and that alone is enough.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

kayak rack part 2

last week, I posted a picture of a sprinter van with an unusual kayak rack that I parked next to in a truckstop in texas. I only got 1 photo that night, and was disappointed when the van drove off early in the morning before I could get more photos.

a couple days ago, I returned to the slabs from a trip to town, and there smack dab in the middle of camp was the sprinter van with the green kayak attached. you'd think I would cease to be surprised at the funky happenings in my life. but I was pretty blown away. the guy remembered me by the "" sticker on the side of my van. oh, and yeah, the orange kayak, too!

turns out, he and bob had met at a gathering in tuscon last year, and when he bicycled into camp here at the slabs, bob invited him to join us. he has a really cool rig, and spent a lot of time showing us the modifications he made. bob will be doing an article about it at his

I think we convinced reed to join vandwellers, and hope we'll be hooking up with him down the road.

the new van interior!

while here at the slabs, i was fortunate to benefit from the skills and knowledge of bob wells, fellow vandweller and owner of If you click on the title of this post, it will take you there. bob has posted a more indepth article about how he did the build.
this is the frame of the bed, which he sized to fit my drawers stacked 2 high. this automatically doubles my storage space.
this is the frame before he added the shelving behind the drivers seat.
this is the completed shelving unit. i finally have a space for my 2 gal. igloo water jug, so i don't have to haul it out from under the cot and hold it in the air while i fill my nalgene. the jug holds 1 bag of ice and 1 gallon of water and keeps it cold for days.
this is the pull-out shelf for my butane stove. this alone has revolutionized vandwelling for me. with easy access to stove and water, making soup or ramen or tea is effortless. see the 2 spray bottles hanging on the bungee? one is water and one is 50/50 water and dr. bronners peppermint soap. i use these for easy clean-up of dishes, or face and hands, using paper towels.
another view of the underbed storage drawers. the small action-packer is a great little table, footstool or extra seat. i store extra food in there.
another rear shot, showing a little curtain on a rod that hides the portapottie.
home sweet home! thank-you, Bob, from the bottom of my heart. life is so much easier in my new set-up. you have my undying devotion!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Impromptu jam at the slabs!

on our first day at the slabs, people stopped by our camp to welcome us to the neighborhood. some of the first were alan and tony, who strolled into camp with guitars over their shoulders, like legends of the desert. they chatted a bit, then treated us to an impromptu jam.

alan playing tony's ovation. i need to get a picture of alan's guitar. it is a year old, but looks like it survived WWIII. he coaxes the most amazing sounds out of it he was born with it in his hands :-)

after awhile, alan lay down in the desert and played slide guitar with a stolen cigarette lighter.

only at the slabs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kayak rack

saw this on a sprinter van in texas. Looks like it would be an option for mounting on my roadtrek. Could load similarly as I do with my hitch haul platform.....get one end in it and "walk" it into position.....just not have to slide it on the roof.....
what do you think, charlene?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Freaky friends

last night, I hung out with mike and heidi in roadie for awhile. In the middle of a sentence, a song popped into my head that I hadn't played in decades. I began to sing those verses that I could remember, which involved a lot of "lala" and "m-m" because you know how I am with lyrics.

the conversation turned to music and guitars, and mike pulled down a now songbook he just got, flipped it open and started to explain guitar tabs to me. I listened for a minute, then stopped him and said "too weird!". He had flipped open a 1,200 page book to the page containing "helplessly hoping", the song I had just been singing a few minutes before! Even Bocephus Vanmonkey got goosebumps!

I'll have to ask sweet mike, but I don't even know if he was aware that that song was in there......


Poor mike

this is a pic of heidi riding the electric whheelchair at the Von's supermarket after falling in a hole at the dump station. I think we're lucky she didn't fall in the sewer hole.

I'm no better. I fell off the van roof on saturday while trying to secure my kayak-turned-windsock on a desolate stretch of I-8. I have felt better, and groan a lot when I move. You'll note there are no pictures of that.

To top it off, mutt is accusing bocephus of stealing the steak in the doggie bag off the dashboard.

I think mike needs a vacation.......or a sedative.....


Love is blind

I was following heidi and mike into niland today. As we approached the intersection of main st and hwy 111, a tractor trailer full of monsters passed us going north. Mike turns north and drove past the now-pulled-over tractor trailer of monsters, which I very clearly see (see photo). Mike drives a short way, pulls over, and I pull alongside him.

"we'll head back the way we came" he says.

"good! " I reply. " I want to get a better picture of the monsters"

they both look puzzled. "monsters?" mike says, with a glance at heidi.

"monsters" I reply with a laugh. "on that tractor trailer. Are you guys blind?"

heidi chuckles, after glancing knowingly at mike. I have not been feeling well, and obviously have a fever to go with my ear infection....."maybe we're not blind, but someones delirious" she laughs.

duh! methinks they should make less moo-eyes at each other, and pay more attention to those subtle oddities on the road......

Thursday, February 05, 2009

dallas and the pilgrimage to stevie ray

i spent the night in a truckstop in dallas texas, despite moans and groans from the wizard about the stupidity of the idea. there was a heavy police presence there, though, and the night was uneventful, if you discount the fact that they had outdoor speakers that blasted hiphop all night long. things got more exciting the next day, though. don't be shocked, i am not kidding you.

this is the truckstop's resident stray. he was afraid of his own shadow, and clearly needed the stuffing loved out of him. we gave him a rib bone and some bread and biscuits. then i went to get a shower, but there were like 9 people in the line, so i went back out to sit with mutt while i waited. it was a good thing, cause when i got there

the car that had been parked by us all night long had caught fire, and i found a use for the extra gallons of water i had been tripping over since san antonio.
here is the guy putting out his carpeting. when he lifted the floor mat, you could see pavement :-( this was not a good thing, cause he had just sold the car....his only home....because he needed the money, and some guy was on his way to get it.

royce (my new friend) had had trouble starting the car, and wanted to be sure that it started when the guy got there, so he got a spray can of that stuff that helps you start it, and proceeded to use the whole can, just in case. i had had to roll the windows up on the van, such was the cloud of noxious fumes that ensued. well, it started all right. started right on fire.....

of course, in the middle of all this, vickie calls to see if i was ready to meet up, and i was afraid she would think better of the whole idea when she heard the commotion, but she believed me when i said i usually only experienced one disaster a day, or felt pity for me.....cause she met me anyhow :-)
the first thing we did was the "i'll show you mine if you show me yours" shuffle. her van is very cool. then again, every van i meet has some unique quality that makes it stand out. such is the nature of the creativity of vandwellers. but vickie had come up with solutions to problems that were very unique and may be the solution to some of my issues. first of all, were the clips. remember the clips? she had an actual box of clips, neatly labeled and tucked away in one of her totes. her totes are lined up against one side of her van, neatly wedged behind the rear captains chair. on top were cushions covered in gray vinyl that matched the interior of the made the interior seem even bigger, and very soothing to be in. she could rearrange the cushions and the totes in different ways, depending on her needs. i know she had explained this on vandwellers, but it was much cooler than i had envisioned it. the very best part was the fact that each of these cushions fit into the window wells in the back of the van, making creative use of that space when she needed the cushions out of the way.

but it wasn't just van stuff i learned from vickie. she took mutt and i to a nearby park, where we walked and talked and got to know each other. i learned some things about myself in our conversation; validation about some decisions i had made in my life some time ago that i needed to hear. the universe just gives me gifts like this when i least expect it, and usually through the most delightful people. thank-you, vickie.

we went to a have something to eat at the white rock coffee shop. dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio, and mutt was given a huge biscuit and a warm welcome by the staff. one very cool person was devin, who ended up chatting like magpies with me, and conversation managed to turn to the fact that he is a songwriter who wants to live in his truck. i told him about vandwellers, and i hope he joins soon, if he hasn't already........i do hope i didn't frighten him off.....
this next series of pictures shows how sneaky mutt is trying to get a little licking action in....not on purpose, but on accident, like if his tongue falls out of his mouth right about the time his snoot is near your face.....ron can tell you about this.....
anyhow, if you look close in these pictures you can see his tongue being affected by centrifugal force, because it's surely not gravity that sends it accidentally upwards towards devin's mouth
who obviously knows where mutt's tongue has been last and reacts accordingly.
mutt sees vickie open her chicken salad sandwich, and looks longingly in her direction.....
but when she is not forthcoming, goes back to devin, full of remorse. it was alot of fun, and vickie ran into a couple people she knew, and all too soon, it was time to go.

one other special memory for me will be when vickie's daughter sang me one of the songs she wrote. i began crying before i even heard the words, her voice was that beautiful. thank-you melanie. i look forward to the cd.

i spent the night in the same truckstop, because i had hoped to doctor the burns on royce's hands again, and check the extent of the blistering on the palm. he didn't have medical insurance, but vickie told me where he could get care. but royce and the car were both gone. i hope he is safe and warm, wherever he is.
the next day i finally found the grave of stevie ray vaughan. i am not one big on monuments or memorials other than the ones in our hearts, but i was strangely moved by the first sight of the grave. he was not only my favorite guitarist, but a brother in recovery.
i was asked once if i could go back in time and meet one person, who would it be and why? the first thing that popped out of my mouth was "stevie ray vaughan, to tell him not to take the chopper". i miss his music.....
the grave was recently visited by los lonely boys, or a big fan of theirs.
i hadn't planned on leaving anything, but was moved to leave a bead (see inside the "o"). at the eastern primitive rendezvous, we used to have AA meetings at gator's tent ( or any of the many tents with the sign of the triangle) and we used to get a trade bead, kinda like the 18th century's answer to the chip. i had a small medicine bag of them, and decided to leave one for stevie. i think he mighta liked it.

then we got the hell outta dallas.

san antonio

i made it to san antonio on the 24th of january, and spent a week visiting my friend ron. it was during this week that mutt had his petsmart adventure, which would make for a lousy association with the city. fortunately, mutt adores ron, so it will not bother him to go back at all. ron has the trailer you see above in a really nice trailer park outside of san antonio. lots of driveway space for the rondyvan, as you can see from the picture above. i was plugged into electric, and had use of his wifi. the shower house/ laundry was right across the street, so it was a really nice break from the road and the truckstops. not to mention all the time ron and i spent yakking and staring at our respective computer screens.....
we did get out on some adventures. i got to see the alamo.......if not the movie, this time :-)
ron took me to see the yarn shops of san antonio, and i was dizzy to see all the yarn and fiber....
and issue #1 of the first ever knitting comic book, Handknit heroes! what a hoot! sweet mike will love it! he can now have his comics, and knit it, too!

one significant little adventure we had on this sightseeing roadtrip was that as we were tootling down the interstate at about 65 mph, the doors to ron's wheelchair lift in his sportsmobile flew open! ron was able to get to the side of the road safely, where we determined that mutt had jumped up on the sofa bed in the back of the van, smack dab on the remote that activates the lift! poor mutt, we had just gotten him to the point of not being afraid of the lift, and actually riding on it. how do you explain remotes to a dog? he remains suspicious to this day....
finally, on friday, my first texas barbeque. we caravanned to lanno, texas where ron spoiled me with the best barbeque in texas. i could believe it.
all sorts of brisket and ribs and super chops and sausage. they were out of goat when we were there. oh, darn, we'll have to go back :-)
the pits are amazing, and the smell is heavenly.
i got to watch the guys carrying hot coals with the shovels. i had a pile of ribs, and ron shared his hunk of beef with me. we didn't bother with sides or salads. that is a waste of gastronomic space. we took the leftovers with us. mutt was pleased. i don't think i ate again until 24 hrs. later.....

from lanno, ron returned to san antonio, while i continued on to dallas, in search of stevie ray.....

two loaves katie

okay, so these photos are not an indication of why i left home. and i can say, for as scary as they were, they smelled good.....

i've talked about my mechanic gary, and his wife cathy before. i went to school with both of them, back in the day. we've been friends forever, and they have always kept me in a vehicle, sometimes against all odds, despite my inherent inability to describe sounds, smells and behaviors of my vehicle with any accuracy (right, david h?).

so the cool/sad thing is that over the last year or so, cathy and i have gotten very close. cool because she was a big support to me during my cancer stuff, and i was honored to help her out during some recent surgeries. she also has new twin grandbabies that she shares very generously, thereby satisfying my ongoing need for babies to snuggle and love and smooch. the sad part is, when i am on the road, i miss her something fierce. but not her bread.

you see, cathy is about the best cook i know. i am not kidding. and bakes? oh, can she ever bake. cakes and cookies and (so she says) bread, oh my. at christmas, her daughter ange brought the babies to cathy's house for the annual cookie baking day, which just happened to be 3 days after cathy's most recent surgery. i got invited so i could help out with the babies, and because they love me, of course :-) in exchange, i got dozens of the best christmas cookies ever.

a couple weeks later, i went down to help cathy babysit again, and was excited about the fresh bread she was making to go with the stew. but as i peered expectantly into the bread machine window, i became alarmed at what i saw. cathy said "it must be the yeast" and dumped the lump into the trash. she started a new batch, but my alarm became fear when i again looked into the bread machine. cathy said " give it time, it it just needs time".

well, i made it my mission to stand guard over the bread've seen those movies where the tomatoes eat california, or something?....but i regretted not having a gun with me.

but not to worry. this lump wasn't getting big enough to be eaten, let alone eat us. the stew was good, though, as was the bread bought at the local mini market. but the best part? all the fun and love and laughs we shared. i really miss them!

(check the comments to see the reason for the change to the title of this post)

the open range cowboy church

on my way to austin texas last week, ron routed me north of houston to avoid the traffic. on the way i passed through a town called "cut and shoot". now, if ever there was a town i'd wanna live in just so i could say i lived there, it would be cut and shoot.
in cut and shoot is the coolest church i have ever been in. the open range cowboy church is on the main drag through cut and shoot, and when i doubled back to get a picture of the sign
pastor jessie prewitt was just pulling out of the parking lot. he turned around and came back to introduce himself, and gave me a tour of the church. that's jessie at his pulpit, and he is evidence of the kind and big hearted texans you hear so much about.

the open range cowboy church is a perfect place for folks who are uncomfortable in houses of worship that place too much emphasis on what you are wearing than on the condition of your heart.
the church bulletin lists their sunday morning gathering at 10:30 am and says "cowboy by heritage or cowboy at heart" we welcome you to open range cowboy church......
you can get baptized in a horse trough! how cool is that!
this is the first longhorn steer i have ever petted, or been licked by for that matter. he lives behind the church and is named after someone from a movie, but i have completely forgotten his name. i'm hoping jessie will email me back so i can add it later....

i lost the picture of the chuckwagon area, where they gather for coffee and donuts and such after services. they also have potlucks and cowboy breakfasts and extreme cowboy races in the fenced in area....people bring their horses to church and have (for lack of a better term, help me here jessie) mini rodeos! at the extreme race in january, they had cowboy breakfast, music, an old timey wild west shootout, a little buckaroos stick horse race, and the big buckaroos extreme cowboy race.

i'm going back someday, horse or no horse, cause i think i am a cowgirl at heart......