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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ron's memorial page

Here is the link to Ron's memorial page:

For those who knew him or were touched by him in some way, to leave a message in his memory.

I miss him.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Mutt and I did some camping in extremes this year. January in northern Michigan brought the -6, and for the record, the photo shows -6 because it was too cold to get out of the sleeping bag till long after daylight. The temp recorded on Laren's cabin that night was -12. The 102 was in San Antonio last month. I would definitely prefer. -6 to 102, any day.

The last thing you see

I have posted a few times about the joy of not sleeping in houses, and the first thing you see when you wake outside of walls....

This photo is the sunset from my hidey hole on the hill at the farm. Although the moon and stars are the final thing I see, the image of the fire in the west stays with me a long time.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Simple curtain tie backs

I have sarongs hanging in the van as window covers (besides the reflectix) and here is a simple way I tie them back. I screwed small Velcro wrap straps around various window openings. I also use it to secure the bug netting in the hatch, up out of the way.

Sarongs are one of the best multi-purpose items I have :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mutt and Ron McDowell

My dear friend and traveling compadre has passed away. He died in his van outside of the Pub after spending time with his friends. These are the last pics I took of him and his buddy Mutt, when I was in San Antonio in march. How they adored each other! I will miss him so much.

The photos are of Ron and Mutt together, a picture of Mutt holding the screaming monkey Ron gave him, and a picture of us flying a kite over Ron's and my van in the desert at Slab City, CA.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Food box

I've been ruthlessly downsizing again, struggling to land somewhere between surviving the zombie apocalypse and starvation the first week of an economic downturn.

My dear friend Bri is a constant source of inspiration in this. I want to be like him when he grows up :-)

This corresponds with some of the "structural" changes in the van, such as getting rid of all of the under bed drawers and the sterilite chest of drawers that held my clothes.

This food box is under the bunk next to the shelves behind the drivers seat. It is a more solid bed support than the large sterilite drawer that I removed, and more estheticaly (sp?) pleasing. It serves dual purpose as a seat in camp or a footstool in front of my turned around passenger seat/recliner.

Contents of the box are trail mix, couscous, lentils, dried berries,fruits, eggs and veggies, bouillon, instant soups, foil packed salmon, seaweed, rice noodles, oatmeal, nuts,and honey. I keep a Ziplock bag of single serve packets that I harvest in my travels.

Under my bunk I have extra water, some canned goods, and zip lock giveaway bags. More on them later.

The last sort of foodstuffs I keep under the bunk are a small selection of foods good if you are sick, think the BRAT diet recommended by pediatricians which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. For long term storage of these items ( to have available when you are too sick or too far out to get to a grocery store) I keep puréed bananas (found in the baby food isle) along with puréed rice and banana combo, instant rice packets, single serve applesauce and jello, and crackers. Ginger ale completes the menu. A few servings of each doesn't take much room and has come in very handy for both mutt and I in our travels.

Would love some feedback as to ideas or suggestions I haven't thought of....

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Volunteer forage!

Oh, I am so excited! I have not been keeping up with the lawn and trimming around the house, and look what grew! Purslane! I love this stuff. Last year cousin Julie, farmer extraordinaire, brought me some purslane from her farm. I grew it in a pot, but never got around to transplanting any. Apparently, this succulent plant has a strong will to produce. My uncle Jim (Julie's dad) called unexpected garden plants "volunteers".

I have planted some pots with purslane and miner's lettuce seeds, but they are not ready yet. Looks like I'll have some for supper anyway. This salad will have raspberries from behind the house, too.

Soon I'll post pics of the containers I'm growing for my portable hitch haul garden.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Vandwellers GTG yahoo group

There is a yahoo group geared specifically as a resource for calendar listings of Vandweller Get ToGethers. I recommend joining up and listing your gatherings, posting your hopes of having one, or to keep track of where they are happening.

Check it out:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Favorite tents

I was able to find a couple shots of some of the favorite lean-tos and a tents I have owned. Can't post pics directly on the Cheaprvliving forum, so have to stick them here.

The brown one is a 10x10 oilskin diamond fly. I traded that one for a 7x7 oilskin, which was pre-dog, and clearly a mistake :-). Under the 7x7, in the rain, jockeying with Mutt for dry real estate.... Well let's just say it sucks being me.

The one with the goofy dog (mookie) is a big sun forger canvas tent fly. Forget the size, but it's big. With a couple of poles, I can configure it multiethnic ways, including a half- tipi sort of thing, as pictured with me and the little kid.

The last is a great long term camp, a 10x10 single pole hunters tent with an a-frame fly. Not a good spike camp, cause of all the poles necessary for the fly.

For long term living, I'd choose a 12x12 hunters tent with double tipi doors and a stove pipe hole.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's out your window?

Remember the commercial for the credit card that asked "what's in your wallet?" Well, ever since getting rid of the cards in my wallet, I am free to have more views like this out my window. The view changes every day, and there's no annual fees....the only interest is in my mind and heart. Stuff just does not compare.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Uses for 2 liter bottles

Got this idea off of Pinterest. So far I've got red and brown lentils, navy beans and sunflower seeds in mine.

Here is the link to the original blog:

What other ideas do you have?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Google Earth freaks me out

This is a photo of Mutt and the Rondyvan taken on the farm last fall. That is the dirt road on the western end of the farm by my Sissy's property where I take him to do sprints. I was pretty blown away when I saw it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I am so grateful for darkness. When you spend so much time in the light, the darkness becomes foreign, and often frightening. Once you take that first step and cross over, there is a whole other world there, soft and velvety and comforting. There is so much to see, up here on the hill tonight. I had forgotten how many shades of black there are, how many stars. In different parts of the country, friends are gathering. I feel so close to them here, remembering other stars and similar darknesses.... Soon, again, it will be my time to circle the vans again, in those wild and empty places.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Where brave is born

I'm a scardy-cat. I'll be the first one to say it. I even blogged about it once, a couple years ago, when fear made me abandon Mutt. If you haven't read it, you might want to now. Then you'll understand about the eyes.

On April 1st, I spoke to a friend about my fear of tornados. I was leaving San Antonio the next day for a trip across tornado alley, back to my home base in Pennsylvania. Laren offered encouragement, and instruction that if I were to ever be in the path of a tornado, don't try to outrun away at a 90 degree angle. "great" I said "unless your on an interstate and only have one direction to go". But I wasn't too worried. After much debate over cost, I had installed a new app on my iPhone called imap weather radio. Unlike other weather apps, this one tracks you as you travel using background GPS, so you can get alerts without constantly resetting your location.

Cue spooky music.

The next morning, my friend Ron and i did a little caravan to Austin, where we spent some time eating pizza before parting ways. We had discussed my stopping over in Dallas to see my friend Vickie. I knew she was busy with family commitments during this time period, but thought I might stop at the Flying J there, where I had had an adventure on a previous road trip.

Cue spooky music.

I spent Monday night in a parking lot in Waco Texas, continuing north on I-35 the next morning. We dawdled that morning, as vandwellers are prone to do, putting our approach to Dallas at a little after lunchtime.

My phone came alive. Loudly and emphatically alive. "the national weather service has issued a tornado warning.....". There was an alert on the screen. Could this be for real? I didn't know where I was. Did they? This is not possible.....

I took the next exit. By now I could hear tornado sirens. This was very possible. Why in the hell was I even surprised? As I came down off the exit, I thought briefly of going under the underpass for shelter from hail, but feared traffic would force me to the other side, which just happened to be the edge of a town called Lancaster Texas. I opted to pull into a restaurant parking lot to seek shelter.

Alerts were coming over my phone, and there was a confirmed tornado on the ground. The alerts were tracking it, advising towns and certain exits on the interstates of it's approach. I wasn't sure what exit I had taken. I was parked beneath the sign high on the overpass, but in the darkening storm, couldn't read the number. I wanted to go into the restaurant, but no dogs allowed, said an employee at the curb. We were going to have to sit it out in the Rondyvan.

Fear has a mass, a tangible thickness, and it was centered in my chest and throat. I texted my boys that I loved them. Then, it was the eyes. Mutt sat in front of me, staring. We often spend a lot of time just looking into each others eyes, and at this moment, amidst the wailing sirens and approaching darkness, I saw deep into his heart, and saw faith. He was just waiting for me, to make sense of all this.

I thought once more about the rest rooms in that building, then did the only thing I could do. This time, I didn't abandon my dog. This time, I wrapped him in a blanket and fed him his liver treats. I assured him he could have every last one of them. I am sure I didn't fool him, with my pretend cheerful voice. He knew I was scared. But I was there, and that is all that mattered, in the end.

I watched a huge dark mass tracking up on the other side of the overpass, over the town of what turned out to be Lancaster. I wasn't sure at first, because I couldn't see the narrow base of the funnel because of the overpass. I was disoriented as to direction. Did I mention I was scared? As I watched it pass, my relief was short-lived. Reports of a second tornado were being broadcast. But the fear changed. There was a deep sense of acceptance, of purpose. And the relief that, after all, I could do the right thing....I saw it in his eyes.

The photo below was taken in the parking lot of the walmart in Lancaster. The proverbial light after the storm.

I know a lot of things. I know my boys are awesome. They texted me jokes about the Wizard of Oz. Bless their hearts, I raised them with an appreciation of humor, and they knew that if I was going to be swallowed by a tornado, that it was best to go out laughing.

I know that the $9.99 I spent on the imap weather radio app was one of the best decisions I ever made. They Flying J was reportedly trashed, and I heard reports of traffic snarls on the interstate. I am so grateful I didn't end up there, trapped with few options.

I contacted the developers of the iphone app that night, to let them know I was ready to rate their app now. Only there weren't enough stars.

Mutt and I are headed for the farm now. We have renewed purpose in our quest for the uneventful road trip. a friend reminds me that I am loved deeply. I knew that, without doubt, as I waited for the approaching tornado.

I know one last thing...brave is born of love, and flourishes there. I saw it, in my dog's eyes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nuclear cat

As if Mutt wasn't uncertain enough about felines. Richard and Carrie have a radioactive one. Stay tuned.