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

Monday, June 29, 2009

re-inventing the rondyvan

i have been really busy the last few weeks getting ready for the sale at the farm, meant to get rid of stuff before my next trip out. my goal is to leave my half of the farmhouse (which belongs to my brother) with the most basic of furnishings....a bed, a table, a trunk for my clothes, and enough dishes and stuff for when i visit, or when the boys want to come to the farm. think "summer cottage". sparse, simple, and peaceful.

this has been in the planning stages for awhile. what really set me off was reading one of jack's posts (of Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity) with a photo of all he had left in the world. i wanted something like that, or at least close. as a vandweller, you strive for it by virtue of the limited space you have to live in. but after 2 cross country trips in the last year, i was woefuly shy of reaching my the farm, or in the van. (if you click on the title above, it will take you to jack's blog, and you can see for yourself what he was left with when his process was done).

on saturday, the sale was completed. i sold alot at the sale, gave a ton of stuff to goodwill, and helped fill a giant dumpster my brothers had rented..... yet i am still nowhere near where i want to be. because i look at the van, and it seems overwhelmingly full of stuff. i can't stand it one more minute, because the van is my real home, and i have not been feeling very peaceful in it lately.....just crowded and out of sorts. i need to pull my shelf/ bunk unit out to shorten the legs of the bed, and decide at 5 o'clock on saturday, sunburnt and exhausted, to do just that. and broke it.

now, it can be fixed, but not by me, and not by nightfall. mamma ain't happy if the van ain't right. so i think back to vandweller Vickie's serene and simple modular set-up in her van. then i go back to vandwellers and look at Pan's recent pics of a modular set-up in an astro using crates and air mattresses.

i got a decent redo of the interior in a couple of hours at the cost of less than $20. i spent $11 on a sheet of 1/4 inch hardboard at lowe's (thank-you david hair for the on-site was perfect!) i also spent about $8 for 2 more sterilite white crates at the dollar store. it turns out that the sterilite storage drawers i had in the van, the crates, and my 3 gallon porta-potty are all exactly the same height, making the perfect platform for the bed.

this is a photo of the saw that michael gave me in california. we were gonna use it to lower the bed in the van, but we were too busy kayaking and eating hoagies at Johnny D's that we never got it done. so after much trial and error, i figured out how to (very carefully!) run it, and was able to cut the hardboard to size all by myself :-) i love tools!

at left you see the initial arrangement of crates and drawers ready for the hardwood platform.

and this is the platform in place.

the platform is very light, so i can raise it easily to access the crates in the back.

here is the twin mattress that sweet mike's mom bought me in brawley earlier this year when sweet mike was in the hospital, and we had an encampment in the hospital parking lot, right by the helicopter landing pad. i had been pretty much sleeping on plywood. his dad bought me a 12V inflator, too :-) thanks, both of you!!

rear view.

here it is after some rearranging. i am lost without the shelving unit that Bob Wells built me at the slabs, though. when they are repaired they will go right where the canoe chair is now.

but after 2 nights sleeping in a twin bed and having enough room for mutt and i both to move around with out killing each other, i think i will replace the shelving unit , but keep the bed the way it is. it is absolutely luxurious after sleeping on a bunk 26" wide. and i still have plenty of room to move around.
another advantage is that i will buy another sheet of hardboard and cut it to the same size as the first. my yoga mat will layer between them to keep them from sliding. when i need to, i can rearrange the drawers/ bedside table to one level, slide the second piece of hardboard over them, and inflate my full size mattress to fit there. all this versatility and comfort just blows my mind!

but back to simplicity and downsizing and meeting my goals, which, i should add, are rather vague still. when i had every single thing out of the van, i started putting back things with a newly critical eye.....what could i do without? what hadn't i used on the last 2 cross-country trips? what was merely for "just in case"? a great deal of stuff is in the corner of the kitchen now. some really critical things are not yet returned to the my cooler, my water jug, and my guitar. over the next couple days, weather permitting, i'm going to pull all the gear out, photograph it, and prioritize it. see if i can get it all in without compromising the uncluttered serenity. and maybe you all will have suggestions or ideas for me.....

Monday, June 08, 2009


cathy got a wii active. We're adding that to our walking for a more focused workout. The first few days were really painful, but it's getting easier.....i'm starting to enjoy the burn now! I've been mostly working out in the evenings, but am switching to early mornings with the hot weather coming. The other night I busted my only resistance band, so I have to get another for the van.

This photo of my "mii" shows a striking resemblance....she's wearing the same orange REI river cap that I have!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

More Babies!

my cousin Julie stopped by for a quick visit recently, and brought her bottle-fed baby pygmy goat. What a sweety!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Saw this by the house the other day. Had to snap a quick one and get away 'cause the mom was waiting in the underbrush.

showering on the road

okay, messiest blog ever. don't ask me how this jumble happened, but it took alot of work to create this fiasco, and i'm not gonna redo it. bear with me!

pictured (haphazardly) are the things i use for staying fresh and sweet on the road. above is my Equinox ultralight toiletry bag. silnylon and mesh! when you are packing light, it is annoying to have a bag that's bulkier than what you are carrying. found on a clearance table in a health food store.

the tupperware container is my washbowl when i'm doing a quick wash-up in a parking lot somewhere. i can seal the lid to contain the water til i can get to someplace to dump it, like a public restroom.
i carry a small rubber door mat(below) for standing on where it's rocky or muddy. the green folding table was $9 and has a dozen uses. i use a 3 gallon paint can from lowe's for my potty. it doubles as a shower seat.

this is my outback porta-privy. i got it from cabela's a few years ago for $49. it pops open when taken from the carrying case, and folds down flat like those car sunshades.

it's a great changing room too. it stakes down. or has pockets at the bottom for rocks or sand to help keep it in place. staking is highly recommended when it's breezy!

above is one of those elizabethan dog collars/ cone things that mutt got after surgery once, to keep him from pawing the stitches.
((((that is a dreadful thing for an obedience trained dog to wear. mutt automatically heels to my left whether i tell him to or not. when he wore this, he'd drop into position at my left heel, whack the back of my knee with the cone, and drop me like a rock! entering a doorway was traumatic. it was a long 2 weeks!!!)))

anyhow, folded up, the collar makes a nice extension funnel for a folding bucket for washing hair! neat, eh? also makes a good pee bottle for those of us whohave trouble hitting the nalgene bottle in the dark :-)

magnet hook for holding the hose

this was my outdoor shower in the desert using the MSR dromlite bag. you can buy the shower nozzle for them from campmor. no shower shelter necessary if you can get the boys to point their solar panels away from you :-)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

4 wheelin'

on memorial day i got a call from cathy. she asked me 3 questions:
do you want to go on an adventure?
do you want a helmet?
do you have someone who can make bail?

well, what can ya say to a call like that? i got my first taste of 4 wheeling :-)

we started out in a a big old artic cat with a cab on it. we had to get a few miles away in a vehicle not licensed for the road. we did this by taking as many back roads as possible. when we had to go on paved road, we squinched our heads down into our necks and drove fast, as if we were invisible. we drove over creeks, through creeks, and up steep hills.

we met up with some of cathy's family for some trail riding. here cathy and derek stop to move a log across the path. what i had the decency NOT to post was the pic of cathy going ass over tincups when derek moved the log alot faster than cathy has moved in years. good friend that i am, i shreiked and recorded the event for posterity. heading back on the trail, something happened to the muffler. the noise was terrible, and we were shooting fire out the back end.
cathy's husband gary tried to fix it, but didn't have the proper bolts. we were stranded miles from home and had to be ferried back by car to the lilting strains of lawrence welk. it was memorable :-(

back at the ranch, we moped around a bit, deflated at our aborted adventure, and then decided to take these babies out for a spin. i drove the red one, and fast, too! it was scary and thrilling and way different than driving the rondyvan :-) i'm trying to figure out how to get a kayak rack on one of them.......

twoknives katie goes to tea

you have heard me talk before about my friend cathy (made famous in "two loaves katie"). i have known cathy and her husband gary since high school, and they are responsible for keeping me in running vehicles. god bless good mechanics :-) cathy's daughter angie grew up with my oldest boy, josh. she is now the mother of The Twins, who are the 7 month old sweet babies i get to mind when i am on my best behavior. megan is the wife of cathy's son jason.

a few weeks ago, i watched the babies while the three of them went to tea. sometime mid-day i got a picture message on my cel phone of the three of them grinning and wearing big floppy hats with blossoms on them. i laughed and told the babies i got the better end of the deal.

well, last saturday, they bundled me up, brushed me off, and took me to Sugar's Tea House to see how tea was done proper. i tried to take my mukluks, just to prove to you i was really there, but couldn't find the van keys in time. the following pics were loaded backwards, so i'll start at the end and work back :-)

this was my rice pudding for desert. it had an actual rosebud on the top. you are supposed to eat them, so i did. kinda like foraging, no? note all the fancy china and multiple utensils.....quite a switch from sporks and aluminum plates from REI! the girls guided me through tea etiquete, which includes trying on every hat in the place and giggling alot.

check out these tea sandwiches! i took a picture of cathy's, because hers were more colorful. tea sandwiches are color-coded. full afternoon tea includes 5 tea sandwiches, scones, soup, salad, desert, and of course, tea! my choices included salmon, olive and cream cheese, ham and pineapple, and taco. it was all really good! and best of all, we ATE THE FLOWERS!!!!

here are the girls. we were a lively bunch!

everybody tried to get a little leg action going.....

i never, ever would have believed it if you told me i would end up eating dainty sandwiches in a tea room and sipping from china. it was a hoot! thanks to cathy for the special treat, and to the girls for making it a really fun time :-)