Sunday, September 23, 2012

People, I don't make this shit up.

At first, when it dawned on me that I had neglected to take a single picture of this day, I was dismayed. As the night unfolded, I came to realize that some things are just better left to the imagination.

Close your eyes, and imagine if you will, a movie that starts like 'Thelma and Louise', morphs into 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure', and finally in a surprise twist, ends like 'The Fast and The Furious' and its all starring a sweet little trailer that my husband unintentionally cognominated 'Posy'. But I am getting ahead of myself.

For you devout followers of my blog, (hello again, Mother) you will acknowledge that for quite some time, there has been a list of my 'someday wishes' entitled I'm looking for which outlines a few of the collections I am trying to build, but also those things which would remain firmly on the back burner until such a time when the universe spoke to me. One of the items on that list is 'An old airstream or similar'. Well, similar came knocking on my door a few weeks ago, and I found a deal that I simply could not pass up. A dearth of finances, other pending projects, the general lack of enthusiasm from the spousal unit, completely inadequate work space, none of the necessary tools for such an undertaking, say nothing of an absolute void of even a smidgen of experience of the workings of a trailer all notwithstanding, the timing was perfect.  When I saw the ebay listing for a 1961 Traveleze trailer that would more than likely require a complete gut-job, but whose price tag was barely a triple digit number, my heart skipped a beat, and a choir of angels sang to me.

I warmed up on my son Cooper. He tells me when things look like crap, but he also is generally enthused about my visions.  "Cool" was the response I got, so I proceeded to eldest son Taylor, who provided the impetus necessary to really forge ahead, because Taylor, like me, sees right through the muck and straight to the potential. Armed with the necessary enthusiasm, I presented my argument (with photos) to my husband who said:

"It's a Piece of SHIT! Why??

(I digress at this point to tell you I am not necessarily a proponent of 'naming' one's trailer...those Rally folks all do it, and it's kinda cute, but not really my style, so I wasn't going to bother...) but, the name "P.O.S.-y" seems appropriate, somehow...and as with things in the Universe that seemed predestined, I didn't really name her , it was there all along, and my husband has unwittingly bonded with my latest pet project. (Insert huge eyeroll from Dean here.)

I managed to wear down convince my husband that this trailer was something worthy of my time and attention, and quite unexpectedly, I had his blessing to forge ahead! Suffice it to say, I am a master of eBay bidding; I won the trailer, and immediately had a moment of "Oh, shit...NOW what do I do?" I contacted the seller, clicked the pay button at the paypal site and prayed to the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior.

The next thing I needed was a friend. Someone to drive with me for 5 hours, to pick up a trailer that had been parked for likely 3 decades or more, hitch it to an unproven truck, with a driver that had pulled a boat once in her life, for only a few miles, and who knew essentially nothing about anything. I called my friend Canaia, because I could tell her we were going to be transporting explosives across the border, and if it gave her a break from her kids and husband, she was happy to act as sidekick.

I was right.

I showed up at 6am saturday morning, with nothing but walking shoes and my toiletry bag and off we went. We laughed when she explained that she too had worn walking shoes, in the event that we broke down and had to hike out of the Trinity National Forest. (At the time we believed that the trailer was located in Lewiston, CA, in the TNF...This was only one of many facts that would soon be revealed as a general falsehood.)

We drove and talked, and talked and drove, and generally had such an uneventful trip, that we were feeling pretty confident by the time we pulled into Redding, and stopped for a bite to eat at the Redding In-n-Out burger. I called the guy from whom I had purchased the trailer; his daughter answered and said he wasn't there, but was in fact in Redding at the moment, running errands and delivering other trailers. She then informed me that the trailer was not located in Lewiston which would have been a 40-minute winding road trek up into the foothills of The Trinity Alps, but was in fact 20 minutes down the road in the small community of Red Bluff.

Either our luck was holding, or my patron saint was feeling particularly benevolent at the moment. Either way, I was feeling downright chirked.

We made arrangements to meet the seller at the home where the trailer was stored, and arrived without consequence. The trailer was just as described: A complete pile of crap. As in, everything was there. It was in dismal shape, but had virtually every part. This was definitely doable. At this point my enthusiasm was bubbling over, and I vaguely recall having made a promise to my husband to not proceed if there were issues of safety, but, being the 'gas' to his 'brakes' I still didn't see anything that was compelling me to say "Thanks, but no thanks."

The guy at whose house the trailer was stored came out, and we began to discuss hitching. Here is where things get really fuzzy for me. I know Jim was talking, but I really wasn't paying very close attention, I suppose because he might have been saying things that I didn't really want to know. He did tell me, however, that I was a really good driver, because I whipped that truck around and got that ball right under that hitch with minimal effort. At this point, I was feeling positively bullet-proof.

Um. Wrong ball size.

After much discussion, Canaia and I headed off to the local Tractor Supply to buy a ball and hitch--or whatever those thingys are called. It is at this point that I realize I have come 345 miles on nothing but a wing and a prayer with no credit or debit cards. Everything my husband ever thought of me is now carved in stone. I am a certified idiot.

Whatever. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Canaia fronts me the money, and we head back to the trailer.

Jim is impressed that we are back so soon, and he hitches us up. We pay absolutely no attention to what he is doing, because while he is doing it, he is asking us where we are going.
'Eugene' I happily quip.  He straightens up, looks at me and says
'Eugene, Oregon?'

'um, yes.' I endeavor to remain calm.

'You got a fire extinguisher?'

Suddenly, the fact that the trailer has no electrical connection and we have no driving lights seems like a really minor thing. I choose to take this as a positive development.

We had happened to notice a 'Bob's Tire Mart' or some such as we drove into town, and with Jim mentioning grease, and bearings and fire extinguisher in the same sentence, we decided that a quick pit stop there would not be remiss. We thanked Jim for his gracious assistance and pulled out of the yard. Cooper's little Ford ranger was really struggling. I glanced over at Canaia who had one of those frightened open-mouthed smiles going on. "Wow. This little truck is really struggling. What do you think?" She looks at me and says 'I think I'm kinda mad that I didn't pay better attention when I worked at my dad's trailer business." We decided not to make any rash judgements about anything until we got out onto an actual road. (We were at the moment on a pothole-covered dirt road) We pull out onto the road, and suddenly Canaia exclaims: "Did you release the emergency brake?" I reached down and freed the lever. Ranger gave a relieved shudder, and we were off. Canaia had just earned her keep. :)

In terms of bolstering my confidence, let's just say at Bob's they weren't sellin'. They were impressed with the trailer ('a real steal', they called it) and when I answered 'Eugene, Oregon' to the 'How far ya goin'?' question, I noticed a few raised eyebrows and a few casted glances. What is it with small-town men, and their collective abilities with gross understatement? The only thing that was missing was the tobacco-spit on the ground and the knowing 'yuuuup'

"You know that's 347 miles away?"
I glared at him.
"Thanks, Larry. Are you sure your name isn't Dean?"
 Turned out it was his middle name.

Whatever. Forget checking the grease. Check the damn tire pressure and shut your face.

We just decided that 'keeping an eye out for smoke' was as diligent as we needed to be. It should be clarified here that 'we' was me, with knodding-in-the-affirmative from Canaia. We did however, discuss our game plan should the whole mess catch on fire. She would concentrate on the pin, and I would remove the chain, and we would just leave the ball right on that trailer to burn to the ground.

Yes. That was the entire gyst of our emergency-preparedness.

We got out onto the road without taking out a single parked car. We got one mile down the road. No smoke.
We got up to 45 miles per hour. Mile 2 and still no smoke.

It was at least 40 miles before I realized I was still white-knuckling the steering wheel, but I was still pulling a trailer, and it wasn't on fire.

There wasn't a lot of chit-chat in the truck on the ride home. We saved our energy for snarky comments every. single. time some idiot drove by us and shared with us that we didn't have any lights. I did however confide that my most immediate goal was to make it at least 147 miles, because at this point, we could call AAA and they would have to trailer us all the way home for free because I am a PLUS member, and have 200 miles free towing per occurrence. This seemed to really cheer Canaia up. We began to loosen up and enjoy the ride a little more. We got up and then down one grade after another. Lots of long slow climbs and while-knuckle descents. Lots of them. All eating up gas.

Because she had saved me with the whole emergency-brake thing, I hardly blamed her at all when she reminded me way too late that we were almost out of gas. We made it to the grade right before Canyonville, which in an eerie deja-vu was within feet of the place I ran out of gas the last time I was on that road with a gas-guzzling behemoth. It was even the same nice AAA guy who came and gave us some free gas. Bonus! We used the time wisely, checking facebook and checking in with the kids. All-in-all it was a fruitful respite from the stress.

By this time, I had decided that a cathedral, built to honor the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior was in order. We had come within double digits of our destination. We found an open gas station, and I spent my last cash on enough gas to get us all the way home. I was already talking about the trip as if it were a fading memory when flashing lights start following me.

Fack. two hundred and some-odd miles with no cops, and I manage to find the only one not monitoring Duck-game traffic.

"Ma'am, do you realize you have no lights? I almost hit you back there."

"Well, yes, I did realize I didn't have lights. I just bought this trailer, I'm trying to get it home to restore it, and I didn't realize that it didn't have lights. I just want to get home. I don't have any credit cards to stay in a hotel. I told the man I bought this from to tell me if I needed to bring anything special and he didn't tell me the lights didn't work. I don't know what else to do? Why were you following me close enough to hit me? Why do you have a wonky eye, and which one am I supposed to look at while I'm talking to you?"

Now admittedly, only some of this conversation was verbal. Some of it was internal dialog...The long and short of it was that he said I couldn't proceed, but that he knew a place I could park it and come get it the next day. He told me to drive 8 miles up the road to Sutherlin, a dumpy little town about 50 minutes from Eugene. At this point (1:30 am) I am OK with pretty much any suggestion that leads to a shower and my warm bed, so I agree. He follows me, presumably to protect the public from my menacing trailer. He pulls ahead at the off-ramp, and leads me to a totally sketch vacant lot at the edge of town, and proceeds to tell me it's OK to leave it there and get it in the morning. His radio begins to crackle with some Sutherlin night-life. But get this: We have no tools. We have no brains. Canaia is standing out in the cold with her shirt on inside-out for Gawd's sake. He hears that assistance is required elsewhere, and he leaves us alone in this meth-town in a vacant lot at the edge of nowhere.

It takes us precisely 25 seconds to determine that if we just put the pin back in, he went the way we weren't going, and we are unlikely to see him again.

We become fugitives from justice.

Exactly 27 cars passed us between North Sutherlin and Eugene. I was fairly certain every single one of them was this OSP cop coming after us to exact his revenge.

We made it all the way home.

I dropped off Canaia, I managed to traverse neighborhood streets with a trailer following in close proximity, and then I even managed to park said trailer in the spot behind our carport which had previously been reserved as the new home of my Posy.

She's in there a little catty-wampus, but she's there. She all in pieces, but she isn't burnt to a crisp.

I can start on her right after I finish that Cathedral to the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wherein I acknowledge the existence of a third child

It sort of dawned on me, as I began this project that, in all of his 17 years, I have never decorated a room for Cooper. I have hung pictures for him, and even provided him once with matching bedding. His room has never really even had the minimum requisite furniture. He has had a bed, a bedside table, a desk and a bureau, but never all at the same time. I'm a shitty mom.

Without dwelling on the 5 or 6 photos I took of the before. Here are *a couple* photos, just so you can see that it indeed needed some serious attention. The view is the same from every perspective: Utter bedlam.
I knew, after having Chloe and Cooper share a room all summer, that I wanted his room to have a masculine, industrial 'steampunky' feel to it. I had purchased more than a year ago an old vintage-y hand truck from BringRecycling. I loved it for the wheels, and hoped that I could come up with a way to use the old wood that made up the bed of it. I decided to make a platform bed, and put the wheels on the bed, and incorporate a bat-storage solution. For literally years I have fought with the pile of bats that constantly got knocked over behind his door.
This past month, we got a new roof, and the roofers very kindly left me their left-overs, and when I went out to take stock, realized that they had left me just enough wood to accomplish the platform for the bed.

That went easily enough; just a simple 2x4 framework, then covered in plywood. I wanted it to look like a pallet. I used my mothers secret recipe to age the wood (a gallon of white vinegar and as much rusty metal as I could find. Put both into a sprayer and allow to sit for 24 hours.
Perfectly old wood without waiting half a century) I sprayed the wood down a couple of times, (above is without spray, middle is one application, and below that is after two applications. Voila!)
I then attached the wheels, called some big strong friends to lift the sucker, and commenced working on the headboard. My original intention was to use 4x4s to make 2 uprights and two crosspieces, but after trying VERY unsuccessfully to drill into pressure-treated 4x4s,
I revised my plan. I'm so glad I did! I went and purchased cedar, that I ran through the planer to tidy it up and make it thin enough to drill through, and I essentially made 2 big long boxes
( I love gorilla glue!) I then drilled through both sides of one, and just the top of the other, then assembled them to the 2 4x4 uprights. (also, I purchased 'new' bracket hardware, and soaked it overnight in muriatic acid to remove the coating. It rusted up beautifully.) the bats can easily be removed from the backside of the frame for use, then stored back in the headboard. I did line the upper holes with a small ribbon of rubber shelf liner to keep them from knocking loudly when laying in the bed.

The next project were the shelves he has so desperately needed. I mapped out on graph paper the dimensions of the wall, then figured out just how much pipe I would need to buy.
I purchased all the pipe, then spent a serious amount of time on the next couple of steps. First of all, home depot labels EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. that they sell. And apparently pipe gets stolen, because they taped those labels on like they own stock in a tape company. Muriatic acid burns lots of stuff, but not labels and tape. By the way, I'm still on the fence about whether the muriatic acid was worth the trouble. It removed the veneer , which I think ultimately helps the paint stick, but I didn't set out to paint... Probably could have foregone the muriatic acid anyway. Cooper is not the fan of rusty that I am, and I knew he would like the shiny black. So each piece then got painted, and finally I began building. An 18-inch nipple (Gawd, I can see the google traffic already. Move along, guys, nothing to see here. This is a DIY post) with a flange, then an 8-inch nipple attached with a t-joint, to add stability to the wood shelves, and an elbow joint, to keep everything square. Then I drilled holes in one side of a length of wood, then another length of nipple. Multiply this by 4 sets of pipe, and about 5 or 6 shelves, and you have the shelf project. The finished project came out great, but it was a little spendy and more than a little frustrating. All's well that ends well though, and that's all I'm going to say 'bout that.
The other bane of my existence were Coopers shoes. OK, one more photo of the mess, just so you can see what I was up against in this David and Goliath battle of Order.
Cooper is the Imelda Marcos of athletic shoes. I stopped and started a couple of times on this one, because I knew I wanted a vertical rack, but didn't quite have the metal/wood vision I needed. I ended up going with an all-wood 'ladder' with 2 rungs spaced close together, to stick the toes of the shoes into. The shoes cantilever out from the ladder. Easy storage solution the will hopefully get used. ;)

The final task in the room project was a bedside table. This was easy. I borrowed the pipe motif, then used that old wood from the hand-truck. Planed it down to the new clean wood, then fashioned a table top and a lower shelf. Screwed the flanges on, the lower shelf rests on a coupler between an 18-inch nipple and a 10-inch nipple, and a flange at the floor. Done. Good looking room, just in time for Coopers last year at home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

101 things about me.

1. I was born on February 5th; My parent met on February 5th, a few years earlier.
2. I’m a middle child.
3. I’ve never been happy with a hairstyle.
4. I love the color of my hair.
5. I’m a freakishly good speller.
6. I had a really happy childhood.
7. I’m a logophile. (Look it up!)
8. I had all four grandparents until my 20’s.
9. I’m anal about proper grammar.
10. I only like unwaxed dental floss.
11. I’m a voracious reader.
12. I’m a history buff. It makes me weepy.
13. Unscented is always best.
14. I love trivia. I’m a veritable fount of useless information.
15. I hate math. It’s completely beyond me.
16. I act superstitious, but I’m not.
17. Ice cream is my favorite food. Except maybe Pizza.
18. I love to dance. By myself.
19. I knew 3 of my great-grandparents.
20. I can drive a stick-shift. I learned when I was 8.
21. I always cry during the National Anthem.
22. I make my own laundry detergent. Because.
23. I don’t blame my parents.
24. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If something needs to be changed, do it now. Or don’t.
25. I’m a smartmouth.
26. I don’t wear makeup, just a little lip-gloss to avoid scaring animals and small children.
27. If I bother, I paint my toenails. Never my fingernails.
28. I hate manufactured smells. I make my own body oils.
29. Commando. Always.
30. I’d rather make it than buy it, almost universally.
31. Less is more. Simple is, well, simpler.
32. I’m not a worrier. Wasted effort.
33. I’m an extrovert. I’m not afraid of public speaking.
34. I’m frightfully pragmatic.
35. Blood-and-guts are more interesting than frightening.
36. I don’t care what people think about me, except when it’s something not true.
37. I don’t like being unfairly blamed for things.
38. Shorts. At first crocus.
39. I’m an excellent judge of character.
40. My legs are my best feature. 41” from hip to toe, and I run 3 days a week.
41. I don’t have a worst feature. Not because I don’t have one, but because I choose not to think that way.
42. Not a leader, not a follower. I have my own drum-beat.
43. I forget. A lot.
44. I’m not a saver. Purge and move on.
45. I am a good keeper of memories.
46. I love change, but I appreciate things that stay the same.
47. I hate the words “I can’t.” Tell me I can’t do something I want to do, and I’ll show you I can.
48. Sometimes I’m afraid my heart will burst with loving my kids. Literally.
49. I cry during sappy commercials.
50. I’d rather read a good story than watch a great movie.
51. All my kids have a “theme song”
52. I am compulsive about making familial connections.
53. I am not comfortable getting gifts.
54. I hated high school.
55. I still dread running into high school classmates 25 years later.
56. I tested at a post-grad reading level in the 5th grade.
57. I tested at a 3rd grade math level in the 5th grade.
58. I had a math tutor the summer between 5th and 6th grade.
59. I still probably only have a 5th grade math ability.
60. I can identify at least 4 or 5 breeds of chickens.
61. Same with bovines.
62. Stupidity drives me crazy.
63. I don’t feel grown-up.
64. I love babies, but generally dislike children other than my own.
65. I’ve done the est training
66. Repetitive tasks relax me.
67. I’m a published digital artist.(AKA scrapbooker in digital medium)
68. I am a night owl.
69. I can be an excellent liar.
70. I have to concentrate before telling left from right.
71. I am a great flirt.
72. I don’t have a best girlfriend. 
73. All my greatest friends have been male.
74. My best female friends have all been at least 10 years older than me.
75. I have never been dumped.
76. I got through 3 years of college without ever having taken the SAT.
77. I do not get jealous.
78. I develop crushes all the time. My husband knows.
79. I think sexiness is all about attitude.
80. I am a sucker for well-trimmed facial hair.
81. There are things I would literally kill for.
82. I believe that what goes around, comes around.
83. I once had the opportunity to trade sex-for-a-grade. I turned it down, and got an ‘A’ anyway.
84. I can be very diplomatic.
85. I’ve also turned down the opportunity to be a ‘kept’ woman.
86. I once wore 26-36 jeans. 
87. I have never been ‘OK’ with my body.
88. I once ran 10 miles in exactly 1 hour. Bad break-up.
89. I love driving with no predetermined destination.
90. I don’t have any major regrets.
91. I don’t believe that there is “one person” for anyone.
92. Being married is harder than being a parent.
93. I would definitely try –and be good at -- living off the grid.
94. I don’t like getting flowers. Total waste of a perfectly beautiful living thing.
95. I could go for days without interacting with another person.
96. I love quick, intimate exchanges; a touch, a squeeze, a glance, but hate holding hands, arms around me.
97. I have been robbed at ‘knifepoint’ – turned out to be a screwdriver.
98. I love organizing, have a hard time staying that way.
99. I face all my bills.
100. Lazy parents annoy the hell out of me. No trip to the (insert destination here) is worth compromising on proper behavior.
101. Oh, yeah; I'm a cancer survivor.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'm baaack!

Wow. It has been too long! I can't believe that I set aside my blog for nearly a year. Actually, I can. I felt pretty dried up creatively there for awhile, and I can slowly feel my mojo coming back. I am working on a couple of scrapbooking projects--which are more about fueling my creative juices that of recording moments, etc.

Regardless, I am excited to start posting here again; there is a lot going on with us right now to fill you in on. I will catch up with all the news in the next few days!

Welcome back to my blog!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Completed: The Great Kitchen Project of 2011

or "How I spent my weekend."

Welcome to my new kitchen.

Thursday, the least favorite room in my house. Today, Monday: My new favorite space. For those of you not so familiar with me: I'm a maker-do. I'm a bloom-where-you're-planted kinda gal. All this to say this is not my dream kitchen, (that is somewhere in Bali with a cook-in-residence in it) but this is definitely a more more useful space, and I am very happy with the results of my labor.

Here is the view as you walk in from the dining area. Cheery, no?
One thing about this color choice: I did not add much more red than was already in here (one notable exception is the frame around the utensils. The fork in the middle was my inspiration piece, and my mother suggested hanging it somewhere. This is how I hung it, using an old thrift-store frame and some red spray-paint. {Can we have a moment of prayerful gratitude for spray-paint? CFC's aside, the world is a better place for its existence.}but the yellow makes all that red seriously pop.
*also notable in this photo is my compost pail. It got a fresh swish of red around its waistline. :)

This is the other side of the kitchen sink, and it is where my mixer used to be. Clear across the kitchen from where my flour, sugar, etc. is. Pain-in-the-patootie. Now it houses the 'drink center', which makes more sense being next to the sink, where the blender can get rinsed promptly after use. (insert ironic snort-of-amusement here.)

If I'm standing at the drink center, directly behind me is my utensil rack, an ingenious little contraption that my dad and I made when my family lived in Nipomo in the 'Little House', which was home to the Tiniest Kitchen On The Planet. I hardly noticed, though, because I am, among other things, a vertical-space girl and we had this thing whipped into productivity in no time, and I have found it indispensable ever since. Love having everything right to hand.

This is the magnum opus of my redesign. I have hated this cupboard from the minute we moved in. First of all, the insides of all the cabinets were in terrible shape; chipped up and nasty, and other than a spit-and-polish when we moved in, I have not done anything else. The shelves were too tall, the doors were too large, but because I am a bloom-where-you-are-planted kinda gal, I just lived with it.
No more.
I added a third shelf, so that my pots did not have to stack 3 and 4 to a pile (extremely inconvenient, because the pot that I need was always at the bottom. Always. Then I went all crazy-en-la-cabesa, and decided that the upper space was highly conducive to a pot-rack. 

BINGO. Fifty--two inches of copper pipe gets a girl a lot of happiness. ;)

One of my homekeeping mantras has always been: "Do not keep anything in your home which you do not believe to be both beautiful and useful" and my blue-glass jar collection is the embodiment. I kept them all together, collection-style, but they now house all my rices. (we eat a lot of rice in this family.) I cleared the cagada off my stainless steel worktable, and put the vintage wrap-dispenser over by the bread box to facilitate sandwich-making. I love when things make sense. The toaster and microwave got spit-and-polished, and set down below on the shelf (again with the cagada.) and the knives got moved to their new home, at a shelf where they could actually be used. No more with going to the hinter-land to get a knife. But the coup de grace...
My least favorite space in the kitchen is now my most favorite place. I cleaned out every jar...took off all the old labels (why I had brown sugar in the brown rice jar I will never know.) Made new labels then reorganized according to how I use them. I put all my pie-making supplies in the wood-handled tin picnic basket and within easy reach. I installed a work-light under the counter, and even brought my scraper out of the drawer and put it in the handy little crack between the counter and the fridge. So handy. So useful.
P.S. The landlord just came by; he loves the new kitchen, and has promised to buy me a new stove. I was hoping he would tell me that we could replace the 'brick-look' linoleum with black and white check flooring, but he'd rather spend his money on a new stove and new energy-efficient windows through-out the entire house. So I forgive him. And he's kinda hot. ;)
(Show me a guy who offers to buy a girl a new appliance who doesn't get hotter the second he offers!)

Next: Laundry room.