Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing


It’s more comfortable to be working with wood again, that’s for sure. I hated the bondo and fiberglass. Unnatural stuff.

Now we’re into things that I recognize, we’re hitting the ReStore hard for various bits of wood. On this nearly dollhouse scale, scrap leftovers are more than adequate. For instance, we got our lovely countertop out of a partial box of bamboo floor.

The actual floor H.W. put together at the same time out of four pieces of salvaged hardwood click- the good kind, 3/16 of real hardwood, refinishable, on a plywood T+G base (as opposed to a digital photograph of wood glued onto a piece of composite plastic, like most laminate floor is).

H.W. glued the four pieces together and clamped them with truck straps, and then we had the central floor, floating on the rigid styrofoam.

Total cost for fabulous countertop and hardwood floor? $10. Such is the glorious bounty of the Re-store. Continue reading Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing

Context


Here I am, back for a bit.
Sorry about the absence.  It’s been a tough summer.

I feel like I’ve lost the core of my blog, not being in a place where I can have a garden.  Without that object of learning to produce food at the center of it all, it’s been hard to write.  Not to mention, I feel off balance in my whole life without that central focus.   As it’s turned out, though, instead of growing things and practicing what we’ve learned and learning more (our plan A), everywhere we go we find ourselves helping others in small ways to grow food.  That’s not so bad.  There are a lot of people making moves towards gardens, chickens, compost, and permaculture.  It’s wonderful to meet so many along the way.

It has been quite rough, but we’ve made the best of it and things are looking up.  Since my husband and I were forced suddenly to live in the U.S., we’ve been roaming the PNW, somewhat frantically finishing up the camper on the fly so we can travel in it, and depending more on the goodwill of friends than we probably ever have had to before.  People are wonderful.  The strangers who’ve reached past their comfort zone to offer us space to rest for a little while have become friends I value so much that whatever’s been hard about this has been worth it for the unexpected friendships we’ve gained.

The camper is finished to a point of being habitable and non-embarrassing, we are safe, and we are healthy.  H.W. still brings me little bunches of wildflowers tied up with grass.  We eat the best we can, read, write, sew, work, build, recycle, and ride our bicycles.

“Plans” became a sort of mythical beast, or a particle that pops in and out of probability.  Nothing we’ve planned has happened accordingly, and all our schedules and intentions have thoroughly fallen apart.  I’ve given up and resigned myself to being like leaves, never knowing ahead of time where we’ll be blown off to, just doggedly working away on what’s at hand.  It seems like a desirable thing to do, Buddhist even.  Funny, it’s easier to let go of attachment and expectation when your life is ripping it all away from you.  When you don’t really have a choice but to surrender, it’s much easier.

But that said, we continue to aim for a place with enough space to build a sustainable model of life and agriculture.  The current target is Nova Scotia, but I know enough after this summer to say, Who knows!?  It could be anywhere along the trajectory, and maybe where we’re supposed to be will just reveal itself along the route (literal or figurative.  Did I have to spell that out?).

I have some posts on deck from the last months that might come wildly out of order now.
Sometimes I’ll write a piece, but then not post it because I haven’t posted the more mundane bits that create the context.  So those posts languish until some imaginary future when I’ll “catch up” – we all know how that turns out.  Sometimes I do catch up, though.  There’s a little batch of catch-up coming right up – a symptom of difficult internet access.

Thank you for following.

The Fuck You Bee


Unlike its friendly, grateful counterpart from last summer, this bee just came out of nowhere to take his feelings out on me.
I was sitting down to eat outside when this bee zoomed straight at me from a ways away (I saw him coming.  Now I know why they call it a beeline.), and did this crazy agitated buzzing at top speed around my head.

I did what one does with confused bees, hold perfectly still until they figure out I’m not a flower and leave.  So I was sitting there motionless with my eyes half closed while the crazed bee divebombed my hair and face.  Then he dove straight at my eye.  I barely got my eyes closed in time, and remained still and relaxed while he(she?) walked around on my eyelid for a second.  And deliberately stung me.

I was still so peacefully confident he was a normal bee that the brutal heat spreading over my eye took a moment to register as a sting.  Then I started screaming, and ripped him off my eye and threw him(her?) away.

H.W. came running and grabbed me and walked me away from the scene of the crime, set me in another chair and ran to get his first aid kit.  The bee hadn’t had enough, though.  He found me in my new location, started the buzzing and stunt diving on my head again, and since I was injured now I started screaming again and flailing at him, and H.W. came and had to beat the bee off my head with a jacket.  That was one pissed bee.

I’ve never seen a bee behave like that before.  It wasn’t a wasp, and I hadn’t disturbed any bees lately, and like I said, I saw it coming across the yard, from somewhere I hadn’t even been.  Determined bee, though.  I’m really lucky I got my eye closed in time.

It swole up quite picturesquely, and I looked even worse the next day, when the swelling all drifted down and across my face, giving me two black eyes and a jowl on the stung side, like a bad Botox event.  It especially hurt when the swelling crossed the bridge of my nose in the night, making it puffy and tender like a bruise. I don’t usually give the bridge of my nose that much attention.

What amused me most is the way no one at all mentioned it at all when we went doing about 15 errands that next day, even I looked like an early victim of the zombie apocalypse.  Not one single comment.

June 1

Camper comes together- windows and welds

In which, H.W. learns to weld, the camper gets its eyes back, and many sticks are thrown for the dog.

The Dog.

H.W. learned to weld real quick to install a system for the motorcycle to travel on the trailer.

  His talented friend generously encouraged H.W. to visit and learn, and H.W. made some very nice welds welding on the arch that protects the egg,  and that the bike ties off to, and some tiedown points.

This whole motorcycle mount project was a bit long and involved, as we were pretty much making up the design in the store based on what sizes of steel angle iron and flat stock they had.

I cut up the aluminum with a ‘cip saw and the pro did the more exacting aluminum welding to make the laddered channel.  We bolted that onto the frame with U-bolts.  In theory, that way it can be swapped out for a toolbox, etc, if the bike doesn’t need to be transported.

-Moving on to the windows>

Voila- the Little Green Bug, the Aphid, the Ameracauna Egg…

OMG, we got it back!  So excited!  It looks so good, all shiny and new.  I love it one colour and I love the colour.  It’s bright in the sun and much darker and more olive-y in the shade.

The body shop guy was solicitous, going over and pointing out all the flaws in their paint job, especially the ones they couldn’t help.  We kept telling him, we don’t have a Mustang here, and we certainly didn’t pay for a Mustang finish. It was a fabulous job, and we got it for a budget price, no question.

Another thing about painting fiberglass- it has some weird property that it can have micro cracks that only show up when it’s painted.  They were minor, of course.  Our giant side patch turned out so well.  I was so proud.  It’s the largest smooth spot on the trailer now, and it’s so close to perfect.  At just the right angle with the right light the outline of the former holes are visible.  But who cares!

We spent the drive home thinking up names for it and also catching glimpses of it in the mirror and having a jolting moment of “What’s behind us?!”

I’m a big fan of the Aphid.  It’s exactly aphid colour.  But it’s totally an Ameracauna Egg!  It’s a fiberglass egg – a green one.  Hahaha!

Eeny, Meeny, Miny…wait. Where’s Moe?

It’s sure been nice to have the camper off-site for a few days.  I love not seeing the project and freely being able to concentrate on other things.

We went for a bike ride and saw some ducks.  One slim mother duck with nine ducklings. Nine!  That seemed like quite an impressive brood. All little fuzzy puffballs but with speed, toddling around foraging in the grass at the edge of the lake.

I don’t know how she kept track of her flock.  She did though.  Whenever the count didn’t add up, she would stand up and quack, and eventually one duckling would come frantically cheeping from around the corner, or down the shore, streaking back to the momma zone.  Very cute, and mesmerizing antics, like most of them squirming through the chain link fence while mama goes around.

Iceland II preps

I’m getting mentally prepared to make Iceland 2.0 a reality.  We’re tentatively planning to go again in early autumn this year.

It’s a three pronged attack.

1.  prepare physically (plan is to cycle tour the Ring Road plus) by bicycle training and gearing up.

2. study hard at learning the Icelandic language (one of the more challenging of the world’s languages, IMO, up there with Zulu).

3. finish my travelblog(ue) about our last trip to Iceland (which is now quaintly dated but still rewarding and satisfying to revisit in memory as I work on it).  Really, it would be too embarrassing to not be done describing the last trip before embarking on the next.

Fortunately, I’m rabidly motivated to do all three.  My keyboard is set to Icelandic and my heart is tilting all my memory towards it.

Unfortunately, there is no time, there are more pressing agenda items, and, because of the long-term fruition, these are all things which are easy to get shunted for the projects that dominate the here-and-now.

So I’m dredging up old learned techniques for “finding the time”, like those pitched at new mothers.  “Set priorities; collect scattered moments; let the housework go; fit into existing routines”, etc.    Aside: one suggestion I’ve always remembered for its strange perversity is “Use your grocery basket to do bicep curls while you shop”.   However, all these techniques usually devolve into “stay up later”, and “get up earlier”.

Good advice about bike touring Iceland:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~wheelbuddies/iceland/

http://www.masterlyinactivity.com/ivan/iceland.html

Painting

After going over every inch of that camper with sandpaper and primer and filler, we knew the features of that shell like skin.  There are lots of flaws from the original molding that I’d never seen before.  After the intensive body work, though, it looked so much better to me.  Primed, as it were, to step into a new stage of life, renewed by paint.

We made one last stop on the way to dropping off the camper to see one more  rack of paint swatches.  That and we’d run out of primer.  We did our final priming and sanding touches in the parking lot of Lowe’s.

It was really tough to imagine a tiny square of colour over the whole camper, let alone how it would translate in the sunshine.  We were settled on a very tight range of tones in green, but there were still many hesitations. Was it too light?  Too pretty?  Too pastel?

The cost had made our decision to have it all one colour.  It was considerably more to have it two tone, so it was an easy choice to go one colour.  It will make it look more like a Boler.

Among the many other things I knew nothing about in the realm of automotive body work was something about paint.  Most cars are painted with a two stage process.  One stage for colour, then a clear coat.  This is more expensive (much more), and apparently it’s not the right thing to do on fiberglass.  Not everyone does the older style of single stage painting any more, where they mix the clear coat or “glossifying” agent in with the colour.  There’s more, about matching colour painted on plastic bumpers versus metal, and “side colour”, the tone of paint as seen from the side.  It’s a science.  We heard the dramatic price difference and sought out single stage please; one colour, sure.

When we brought it in we got good reviews on our bondo work and were approved to drop it off.

It was a big step, dropping the whole camper off in the back lot of the body shop and leaving it behind.  Totally different than leaving the chassis to get work done.  We’d spent so much time with it lately, and now we were just going to drive away and wait.  On the other hand, it was a relief to stop vacillating about paint colours.  We’d cast the dye.

Last look at the camper in its vintage two tone.

 

Great body! Bondo and sanding

While the chassis was gone on its welding and powdercoating improvement journey, the egg was “up on blocks”, and its time for the body work.

We went out to get our supplies, and learning from the last stage, to do preliminary research on the cost of painting the egg after it was all prepared.  Insert parade of idiots and outrageous quotes here, and cut to a couple beneficent guys standing in stores with us giving us crucial instructions, and one angel of a guy at a body shop who broke down every stage of what we needed to do.

We had to clean it all with a scotchbrite pad and comet.  Giving it this “mechanical scratch” is enough for the paint to bond.  For our repair patches, we had to build up the bondo and sand it down, sanding and refining with a primer/filler, arriving at a grit of 4-600!  That sounded insanely fine to me, coming from woodworking, but for automotive finishes, 400 grit is not fine enough.

The hardeners were different colours. At this stage of the bondo, it was mixing pink. See giant patch almost blending with shell now.

Fiberglass is an unusual animal, and it turns out it’s not very well liked in the automotive world.  Too finicky.  It shrinks and holds paint differently, and it doesn’t bond with bondo (automotive filler) that same way. Over the fiber, there’s a gel coat that ages with exposure and gets dull, like old boats do.  He suggested that we could dispense with painting it and just restore the original surface by buffing out the gel coat.  “To preserve the original colours because they were so nice?” I asked.  No way was I doing all that work for 1970’s orange.

Continue reading Great body! Bondo and sanding

Happy about living naturally