Friday, November 20, 2009

A New Christmas Cabinet

Just wanted to let you all know about a new 1" scale Christmas cabinet that we offered at the Philly show. I will not usually use the blog site for our miniature kits, but I'm making an exception because we will not have this on our website and many people have asked to see photos of it.
The cabinet kit and most of the accessory kits that are shown are still available. They are all limited kits due to the availability of some of the parts. The Snowman Cake Stand is sold out.

This Christmas Cabinet will not be on our website due to the limited nature, but we may offer it in our December newsletter. If you are interested in getting our email newsletter, let us know.
The Christmas Cabinet is $38.00
Christmas Tags & Altered Pot $8.00
Christmas Trees (12) & Candy Cane Sign $8.00
Christmas Coffee Set (2 plates, 2 saucers, 2 cups & a tray) $8.00
Christmas Post Card Display and Santa Frames $8.00
Framed Mittens Print and Vintage Stockings (3) $8.00

If you are interested in any of these kits or in receiving our newsletter, email Shawn at for shipping costs and availability.

I talked Shawn into putting up Christmas lights on our porch early this year. It's so pretty and it's dark here in Maine at 3:30 in the afternoon. I'm serious!

Time To Wrap It Up and Stick A Bow On It!

Well, we're home. It's bittersweet. While it's nice to have the creature comforts of home...heat, big bed, comfy chair, separate studios...I miss our little travel trailer, or maybe I'm missing what it represents.
The call of the road is haunting. The days and evenings are about immediacy and timing, freedom and choices, comfort carved from basics. Now that we're home we have to face It. It being commitments, orders, cleaning, cooking, yard work, Holidays with a capital H, the stuff we've pushed off until after The Big Trip. It's taken me 2 weeks to admit we're home. I've raked and cleaned out gardens, I've done the laundry, I've cooked big pots of comfort food (must seriously face dieting this winter, as we literally ate our way across the country and back), we've made it through the mail and the email, and we've found our daily momentum again. The only thing left is to admit that we're home and to write the final blog of the journey.
Today is Friday. All week long I've been "going to write the blog today". I have been finding other things to do. That's not hard, there's always something to do. I finally figured out, this morning, that the reason I haven't written the final journey blog is that in writing it, the journey is over.
I know, you've all figured that out already, sometimes we don't see the things that are right under our noses. Now, I need some closure.
To put a positive spin on this kind of sad sounding blog, let me just say that it was the trip of a lifetime. The Bad Lands, Wyoming antelope, the deserts, the cities, the Grand Canyon, Route 66, the museums, the galleries, the shopping, the food, the shows, the friends. It was all....WOW! We were excited to see the country and there is so much to see and experience, but we found that the unexpected moments, the lengthy quiet times, the little scares, the shared tiredness at the end of the day, the new favorite restaurant, the Wal Marts, the afternoon coffees, and the laughing over our inexperience at hauling a little trailer through lands we had never seen, this is really what what it was all about. food. It was all.............
Do something you've never done before. It's so good for your soul.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Love the Smell of Duct Tape in the Morning

Actually, I should say I love the sound of duct tape in the morning. You know the sound I’m talking about as you rip a long piece from the roll. The thin walls of our little vintage travel trailer, did nothing to shield me from the tch...tch....tch of strips of tape being ripped from the fat, sticky roll. My first thought was, oh no, what’s he doing. My second thought being, the storage door in the back, already having been repaired once in Salt Lake City, when it fell off in Shawn’s hands, has fallen off again.

But no, it seems that the wear of the roads, constantly under construction, had shaken loose the entire lower panel on right side of the trailer. This particular panel is a piece that is in the plan for replacement, as we restore our little Shasta, but we didn’t plan for it to fall off before we get back home.

Consider the diverse imagery of one man and his RV, a pretty new one at that, full of bells and whistles, this fellow whistling and spit shining the front of his toy, while the other man, mine, muttering under his breath, rips shiny new pieces from his roll of duct tape in an attempt to “keep it all together until we get home”. It’s all about these small moments.

When You’re Happy to See a Broken Egg on the Carpet

While I’ve had great fun writing about Shawn’s antics, and he does give me so much with which to work, I have had my moments as well. I know, you’re thinking, “Surely it isn’t possible” but it’s true, it’s just so much more fun to tell tales on Shawn. Well, this one is on me...

My job, in the setting up camp and tearing down camp, is to stow all of the inside stuff, close all the windows so they won’t be ripped off riding down the highway, close the roof vents, and lock the refrigerator door. I’m also in charge of double checking the hitch, and checking the light signals on the back of the trailer as we leave camp. Shawn does all the outside stuff - electricity, dump hose, water hose, cable (when we have that luxury), and jacks. We talk about making a check list. All of the books tell you to make a check list. It really wouldn’t take too long to make a check list. We haven’t made a check list. Instead, we spend the first hour on the road asking and re-asking each other, “Did you shut off the gas?”, “Did you close the sink window?” and so on.

The morning we left Santa Fe, I was a little distracted. I found myself really drawn to the area, and wishing we could spend a little more time there. It would be fun to come for a couple of weeks and have time to set up and paint. I was daydreamy, I’ll admit it. We did our jobs, checked the light signals and got on the road, the really curvy, bumpy road that let us out of the canyon camp site. About an hour into the early morning drive, I remembered that I hadn’t locked the refrigerator. Surprisingly, Shawn was pretty calm and said, “No point in worrying now, I’ll pull over as soon as there’s a good spot”. I didn’t point out to him that, in that refrigerator, we had three-quarters of a Marie Callender’s Chocolate Cream Pie perched on the top shelf and a quivering slab of Spam sitting precariously in a snap-top plastic container and it was not Tupperware, so the seal on the cover could be broken by the slightest jiggle and...Speaking of Spam, I was informed by my husband, who dearly loves that gelatinous mass of meat, that we must eat Spam on our trip as it is the definitive trailer food. It is also NOT, a food that he gets to eat, very often, at home. What seemed like hours later, we pulled the car and trailer into a rest area. I practically ran to unlock and open the door, wanting to get there first and maybe soften the blow of what would most certainly be a chocolatety, greasy mess. I had pictured the walls covered in soda-can-spray, with bits of soft chocolate brown, accentuated with rosy, meat flavored bits. If you know me, you know I have an active imagination.

When we stepped in, Shawn noticed the refrigerator door was closed. I noticed that the walls were clean. On the carpet, there was an egg box, upside down, with only one broken egg. There were several soda cans rolling around, one with a tiny pin hole puncture that was just starting to spurt, and an unopened, plastic, squeeze-jelly container laying beside the eggs. We looked at each other and laughed at how lucky we were. I didn’t even mind cleaning up the egg on the carpet, and just to be safe, we threw the pie away.

We still haven’t made a check list.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Santa Fe

Back on the road and leaving the woodsy area of Arizona, we decided that since we had to go through Albuquerque New Mexico, we may as well take a day or two and visit Santa Fe. We’d always wanted to go there. Well, I’d always wanted to go there and it seemed too close to not go. Shawn agreed.

It was hot. No, it was HOT! With one arm and neck already the color of our Maine lobsters, we crept along Rt. 40 like a slow, hot, black Suburban without air-conditioning. It is becoming clear that when we travel, the car in which we travel, must always lose it’s air. After our trip to Florida for the National convention two years ago, when our caravan decided to stay hot, we agreed that since our parents could travel without air, so too, could we. We’re as tough as they were! Well, I’ve had it with being tough. I want air! We have been on a roller coaster of climate change. Heat, freezing, monsoon, freezing and now hot, hot, hot. The funny thing is that here in Santa Fe, the locals think it’s cold. We’re melting by day and freezing by night. Seriously though, I’m holding on to these hot days as long as I can. It’s a long and cold winter in Maine.

Our day exploring Santa Fe was one of our best days ever. After a morning spent at The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, we lunched at a Paris sidewalk cafe while a man played an accordion. It was enchanting. Just as we both had agreed that this was one of our best days ever, the accordion player began “Lara’s Theme”, the song we chose for our wedding. I teared up and Shawn held my hand, not knowing, I think, what else he could do.

The afternoon was spent drifting in and out of galleries on Canyon Road. If you should ever need to get inspired, go here. I loved the galleries, museum, and the adobe style houses with their brightly colored doorways. Santa Fe is color, and it’s all about color!

Grand Canyon

In a moment of weakness or maybe just total abandonment to reality, we decided to take a little detour and go see the Grand Canyon. I mean, who wouldn’t, and we hadn’t, so we decided we had to go. It would only add a couple of days to our journey home. So we made our way to Williams Arizona, enjoying the sun, the landscape and Route 66. The plan was to make camp, stay the night, get up early and drive to the Grand Canyon National Park, see it all, get back to camp, have a good night’s sleep and leave.

Oh, yeah, we also needed to do laundry. Now, while most camp grounds have a laundry, and this one did as well, they closed and locked it at 5:00 pm. We grabbed our dirty duds, sheets and towels and took them with us into town, thinking we might have dinner and then go to a laundromat and get our chores taken care of.

We had a very nice steak dinner at Rod’s Steak House on Route 66. It’s been there for 50+ years and will stay around for many more as the food was great. The problem was that it was so hot in there that Shawn and I both were having hot flashes and had to hurry the meal along. We couldn’t wait to get outside into the clear, cool air. Our laundromat was waiting, so refreshed and full of steak, we carried in our bags of laundry, including the plastic bag with the soggy slippers. (See the previous story if you want to read about the slippers.)

We found 3 laundromats along a very small stretch of this route 66. We could take our pick, but we picked poorly and Shawn’s inner alarm went off. I always know when this is happening because he starts looking around with only his eyes and his head doesn’t move. If you think that this is funny looking, I can only agree and have told him when he does this secretive look, that he’s the one who looks fishy. I looked around openly, and spotted a Mom with 3 little children, a man helping her fold her clothes and a thin 30 something man with a brown bagged bottle who talked to himself. He left after checking a washing machine and Shawn whispered to me that while he was at the little store next door getting change for the machines, the man was at the counter acting weird, and now he was in our Laundromat. You know the feeling I’m talking about. If we were in the car, the locks would have snapped shut.

We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After the family left and we were alone with the man, who would leave and then come back, we weighted our options and decided that with a phone handy, a broken chair to swing as a weapon and the doorway at our back, we would manage to finish drying and folding our laundry. With a little bleach in the hot water in which we were washing our towels, I tossed in the L. L. Bean slippers. I have a pair which I’ve washed plenty of times, and they have always been fine, but I didn’t think about how hot the dryers are and how pretty and light yellow my towels were. So, hurrying along, we snatched the load of towels out of the hot dryer, only to find them covered with streaks of brown. The slippers had done their damage to every single one of our yellow towels. With fresh, brown streaked but clean towels in arms, we hurried to the door, dropping the damn slippers in the trash on the way out.

On a different and more to the point note, the Grand Canyon was AWESOME!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Trouble with Slippers.

After leaving the remnants of the typhoon that left California’s Santa Cruz area soggy and wet, we slogged our way through our muddy site, packed up, and headed east. Still in California come evening, we camped in the Mojave Desert. It was beautiful. The stars were amazing. Since we got in late, Shawn decided we didn’t really need to hook up the “dump hose”. I held the flashlight as he plugged in the electricity and the water hose. Huge spiders were holding court at the hook-up sites and we wanted to leave them be. All along our trip, we’d been discussing flora and fauna and how we didn’t know what was poisonous and what wasn’t. I know Shawn wanted to put a little fear into me as I am often picking and pressing plants for my herbarium when we travel. Not so fond of spiders and snakes though.

Now, in order for this story to unfold with the proper amount of anticipation on your part, you’ll need to know that in our 1972 Shasta, the holding tank for gray water was optional. Gray water, for those of you not versed in camping or plumbing, is the term used for the water that goes down the sink drain. It isn’t pure water from the drain, but it isn’t all that bad either, mostly it was hand-washing water. Oh, and some tooth-brushing water also. You’ll remember that because of the late hour and the spiders holding court at the hook-up, Shawn had decided not to hook up the dump hose and you’re asking yourself where was the gray water going?
Was it just dribbling out onto the ground? No, but it just sits in a pipe until the pipe is full and then....

We knew we didn’t have a holding tank for gray water, it’s just that you get brain sedated sometimes when you’re tired, hungry, sleepy. It could happen to anybody, but it usually happens to Shawn. It appears that when you run water in the sink, too often and too long, the pipe fills up and then backs up into the shower stall which is also where you’ll find the toilet. Before you get too grossed out, let me assure you that it is ONLY gray water. I know this part by heart because I had to keep reassuring Shawn about it being ONLY gray water, in the middle of the night. This, after a mid-night trip to the “bathroom” wearing his sheepskin slippers from L. L. Bean. Same slippers, I might add, that caused his trip and dive into the corner of our kitchen cabinets last winter - splitting his lip, loosening his lower teeth and giving cause to add two more crowns to his already growing collection of precious and semiprecious tooth coverings.

Would it be anti-climatic to say that he stepped directly into the shower/toilet room - both feet, in the dark, so he wouldn’t wake me?

The next scene involves a disgusted man, shrieking like he has acid on his feet, running outside to hook up the hose, disregarding the spiders holding court, and waking up the sleeping wife who has no idea what is going on. I caught up really, really fast and did my wifely thing, disinfecting the shower (ONLY gray water, that emptied in one big whoosh after the pipe was connected), instructing the husband to put his slippers outside, and adding that he could wash his feet before coming back to bed. Also, every once in a while, repeating “It’s ONLY gray water”, to the shivering lump laying beside me.

The morning came early, and warm already, we made quick work of packing up. We put the slippers in a plastic bag and took them with us. More on the soaked in gray water, L.L. Bean sheepskin slippers later.....

Can he Can-can?

It’s been a long time between internet connections and we’ve traveled far and seen so many wonderful things. I’ve got some catching up to do. But before I go too far, I want to show you some pictures of our “ladies” dancing for us - the entertainment for the Saturday night banquet.
Yes, it’s Shawn, Andy, Jeff, Bruce and Clark doing their rendition of a Can-can dance. Thankfully for them, it was over quickly, but we sure all were enjoying it, couldn’t hear the music over the laughter and squeals from the audience. I hear it can be found on utube, but I don’t have the link yet.

The entertainment was the brain-child of Cat Wingler with costuming by Debbie Love. How will they ever manage to top this?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From There to Here

My last blog entry left us about two weeks ago, in Wyoming. Today we are in California, hunkered down in the San Jose area, waiting out a big rain and wind storm. I finally managed to sew the safety pinned curtains, while Shawn hammered his way through e-mails and bookkeeping chores. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll get back on the road on our southerly route home.

I can FINALLY let the cat out of the bag and tell you about the big project that we've been working on for the past two YEARS! We were souvenir artists for the Small Scales Salt Lake City Houseparty. Our project was a quarter inch scale Paris cafe called Poulbot. Our family is SO, SO, SO, sick of hearing about Poulbot. Songs have been written about it. (Our family is weird like that!)

It is a big undertaking, but very fulfilling. I think it's all right though, to say that I'm glad they're finished and in the hands of the houseparty goers. Lots of new projects on the horizon for next year. But let me get back to the trip.....Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.....

The snow chased us through Wyoming. We were about 12 hours ahead of a big front that was coming through and we didn't want to encounter snow in an area where roads get closed and chains are required on tires, so we moved along as quickly as we were able and made our way into Salt Lake City. As we were setting up "camp" the temperature was pushing 90 degrees and kids were swimming in the pool. Then the temperature started to drop and drop and drop. When we woke up the mountains were covered in snow and it was still falling. We had to drive to Park City, home of the Olympics a few years ago, to pick up a print of Poulbot. Just a little side bar here - four years ago when we were at the last Salt Lake show, we took a trip up to Park City, ate buffalo burgers, strolled around the shops and galleries and discovered a wonderful gallery of photographic art. One of the subjects was of a cafe in Paris called Poulbot. I bought a post card of it and it was the inspiration for our miniature project. We wanted to give a print for a houseparty helper, so the trip to Park City was underway! It was still snowing in the mountains and Park City was in the mountains. It was a quick trip up and a quick trip back to S L C. What happened to summer or at least fall? It is our intention to evade the snow and cold on this trip so on our way home we are heading south.

The miniature show was fabulous! The group that worked on this houseparty did a great job and a good time was had by all. The weekend went by too fast and soon it was time to head westward for the show in San Jose. Oh, I almost forgot about my workshop on Monday. A group of friends had gathered to learn about assemblage and the form we were making was an altered dress. Everyone did a great job trying a new medium, and if our Liquid Nails would have dried, we might have finished. That's the dance of doing a class or a workshop. Sometimes everything falls in place and sometimes the glue doesn't dry properly. The evening was spent with friends, hamburgers and wine. What more could one want? Salt Lake City is a beautiful place.

Before we got on the road again, I was having more than my share of apprehension about getting over the mountains to California. This was new territory for me as all of our previous trips to California or places west had been on an airplane and although I could see the mountains, I didn't have any worries about hauling a little vintage trailer up and around those hills. It didn't help that when I mentioned it to friends, you know who you are, they told me about the pioneer Donner party who got stranded up in the hills and that we had to go through Donner’s Pass. “Lions, and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!”

We made our way through Utah and into Nevada. My mountain fear was growing but the evening was on it’s way so we settled into a campsite in Winnemucka, yes, that’s the real name of a real town. It was so cold that night! Shawn was worried about our pipes freezing. We just didn’t know what to do. We looked in all our RV for dummies books and the only thing I could find was that if you leave your hose connected it could turn into a popsicle, so I talked Shawn into disconnecting the hose. Turns out, you’re supposed to leave it on and leave your water trickling in the sink. So, guess what? The pipes froze, BUT, they didn’t break, so after thawing them with my hair dryer, we got on the road heading for the big, bad mountains again. I’d like to say it was anti-climatic and as my nephew says about flying - “Any flight that you can walk away from, is a good flight!”, so I will say that except for the claw marks in the passenger’s side of the car, it was a good flight. We made it over Donner’s Pass and through the twisty windy California roads on our way to Jeff Packard and Debbie Young’s home. Whew! Made it! And then we had the best time...until we had to leave for San Jose and one more miniature show. More mountains? No we were OK now and so we arrived at our RV Park which was not really in San Jose but about 20 minutes away. I’m not going to say the name of the town because I’m going to slam the park. It's supposed to be a very nice park with very good ratings. So, here’s the slam....after making a reservation, then arriving and paying for five nights. After welcoming us and telling us about the nice place they were going to put us, a conversation ensued about Shasta trailers and that there was another one in the park, we mentioned ours was a vintage trailer. You would have thought that we we displaying naked women (or men) on the bumper to account for the reaction that followed. They do not allow trailers or RV’s older than 10 years. And they also told us that we would find that true in lots of parks. We’ll see...I don’t believe so. Out of the goodness of their hearts they would honor our reservation, but they would have to put us in the back where we wouldn’t be seen. I was so furious, steam was coming out of my ears, but we were between a rock and a hard place and Shawn ushered me out of the office as fast as he could. Turns out that the spot “in the back” was very nice and away from the highway noise. We had geese, hummingbirds and little bats for neighbors as well as two giant RVs on either side of us. Today I’m especially thankful for those RVs as they kept the wind from knocking us all around. Another observation about this snooty park - they haven’t cleaned the showers the entire time we’ve been here. The same clump of hair is still sitting in the same spot in the same shower. Yuck!!
I’ll take the little homey park any day....or night.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’m #1 at #2

You may be thinking, at this point, that this blog contains an awful lot of bodily function references. You’d be right, and I expect that it will contain more as the one thing we all have in common is our body and it’s functions.
Driving along a highway somewhere, I don’t remember, but it made us laugh, we saw a sign for a septic company that said, “We’re #1 at #2”.I thought this would be a great time to show you a photo of Shawn, with his extra large yellow Playtex gloves, hooking up ‘the dump hose”, (I am not making that up) to the trailer and the dump. I try to assist in all the setting up and packing up chores but he took on the “connections” part of things, so I’m not taking that away from him. Anyway...he, all of a sudden, remembered the road sign and held up his finger saying, “I’m number one at number two”. I ran for the camera.


No visit to Wyoming is complete without a trip to see Devil’s Tower. Shawn and I are both movie fans or maybe fanatics is more descriptive. I thought we were normal, but as I get older, I’m understanding that not everyone has the same love for the big screen.
Richard Dryfus sculpting Devil’s Tower from mashed potatoes is, in our opinion, a classic film scene. To see this national monument in real life, was so much fun. We were both humming the Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind, little ditty that was, of course, the international galactic theme song from the 70’s. (I think it was the 70’s) I was reminded that our grandchildren would like this movie if we can find a DVD of it.
So on through Wyoming on our way to Salt Lake City. The landscape is rugged and soft all at the same time. I find it fascinating. Way in the distance we see mountains and on either side of the highway as far as the eye can see, are hundreds of tiny deer. I need to find out what kind of deer they are. Their heads are long and skinny and their bums and chests are white with bodies of soft colored fawn. Maybe I can take a good picture.....
(Note: we have found out they are not deer. They are Antelope and there are hundreds of them along the road.)

We are now in Salt Lake City and will be here until next Tuesday. When we arrived in Salt Lake it was 90 degrees. That night it dropped to the low 40’s and snowed. What a country!!

We are attending the Name Small Scales show and then teaching a altered art dress class to some of the attendees.
We have been having a few email issues so, if you have written us, thank you for your patience and we will reply as soon as we can.

Monday, September 28, 2009

South Dakota

Well, we made it! Our first night was spent in Sioux City in a funny little park named after Yogi Bear. I guess it was geared for children but it worked out fine for us as well. Nice showers, and we’re finding that to be an important part of our camping across America. And it is camping, no matter how you want to couch it. We like camping though. The showers. Remember I mentioned that having a shower in the trailer was an important feature? We haven’t used it yet though, I guess it’s good to know we can. You’d have to straddle the toilet and wrap yourself in the shower curtain but it’s good to know we have it.

A quick toilet paper story, if I may. I discovered a clever device left in the shower/toilet closet, I think it may have been left by the previous owners. It looked like a miniature version of something we found in our little barn when we restored it, and we believe that one involved the hanging of something. I know that sounds vague, but it had some kind of purpose and I believe the miniature version in our “bathroom” was to slip through the toilet paper tube and then the stick on the end would hold the paper in the air. There are no shelves or holders of any other kind in the “bathroom”. So, it became a toilet paper holder. I didn’t account for the spiral effect. Traveling along, with everything else in the trailer buttoned down and safe, the toilet paper became a swiftly moving, unimpeded, spinning cyclone releasing all of its perfectly wrapped squares into a cushy heap on the “bathroom” floor.
When discovered, Shawn carefully and methodically rewrapped the roll. It was worth a giggle or two and we both told ourselves that we needed to remember not to leave the toilet paper on the holder when we packed up camp. The next day I left it on the holder. Shawn rewrapped it. It wasn’t as funny as the first time. I’m trying very hard not to let the brand new roll end up on the floor again. So far, so good.

South Dakota....awesome, beautiful and so different from Maine. We loved it! We stood where Lewis and Clark journeyed along the Missouri River, discovering and cataloging new animals and plants. Mount Rushmore made our hearts beat a little faster, as the countryside unveiled this magnificent work of art. We camped on the White River in the Badlands and watched the sun go down, sending long shadows through this fierce landscape. We watched the sky glow red as the sun finally dropped behind the hills. Another evening was spent in Spearfish, but no Passion Play for us on this trip as the summer season had ended. We took a jaw dropping route through the canyon to spend the evening in Deadwood. Our quest was to see the town that is steeped in gold rush history, and have a nice meal out. Huge fans of the HBO series Deadwood, we enjoyed checking out the town., Deadwood, which is now a casino destination,.is very small, compared to Vegas, but charming in a touristy, western kind of way.

The following proves the point of “you’ll never know what you’’re going to find”. At our last campsite in Spearfish, South Dakota, the registration office was also home to a very nice scrapbook/altered arts store. I was indeed a happy camper!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Wal Mart Experience

Did you know that you can spend the night in a Wal Mart parking lot? They are very hospitable to RVs and in return they expect you to be responsible and a good guest - quiet and respectful. You should ask a manager's permission and they will also tell you where to park.
All this having been said, it is still another world. Our first experience was in Massachusetts. After buying some stuff that we'd forgotten, including the extra toilet paper, we got back into the car to drive to the area which was alright for overnight parking. Do I admit that I made Shawn circle the spot at least 6 or 7 times, trying to perfect the exact spot where we should spend our first night sleeping in the little trailer? We finally parked under a big light, kept the long, heavy flashlight (we forgot to bring the base ball bat) at the ready, locked the door and hoped for the best. Even in this public spotlight, we managed to drink a margarita, cook a hot meal, listen to some music on the ipod and have a decent night's sleep.
Night #2 was spent at a lovely campground in Ohio. Yea! We were finally out of New England and on to the west!
Night #3 was not our best. It rained all day and that's OK except we missed our route and didn't end up skirting Chicago as we'd hoped. We spent about 2 hours getting through Chicago in heavy evening commuter traffic. At this point, I still hadn't had a chance to publish any blogs as we couldn't get a strong enough internet connection. Because of the rain, missed route, and traffic delay, we decided to drive late and stay the night at another Wal Mart. We stopped at a travel station to use the rest area and get a bite to eat and voila a wireless connection. So I posted.
I wish the Wal Mart Experience later that evening would have been as fast and easy as my posting turned out be. The first time we got off the interstate we couldn't find the Wal Mart that was supposed to be there. Our GPS kept saying "You have reached your destination." "No, this is a Hobby Lobby and a Pet Store". Where was the Wal Mart?" we asked each other. Back on the highway and there it is! On the other side and we'd passed the exit. The next one was about 15 minutes away. OK, that's not so bad. We were tired but not exhausted.
In the next Wal Mart we were told that they didn't mind if we overnighted but the city police might ticket us. We moved on.
The next Wal Mart was 45 minutes away. OK, we can do it. Yes, we can and we did. We set up camp and crawled into bed. Safety in numbers and there were 4 or 5 RVs in the parking lot. At 3:00 a.m. Shawn woke me up because he'd heard something he didn't like, so armed with the heavy flashlight and me at the door with my phone ready to dial 911, he went outside to see what he'd heard. A young guy on his way to stock the Wal Mart shelves was parking his car and had loud music playing. We were safe and ready to climb back into our warm nest. That's our Wisconsin experience. On to South Dakota!

Packing Up

There is an art to packing a travel trailer It involves thoughtful planning and good counting skills. I am happy to admit that I was a Girl Scout so “Be Prepared” is part of my vocabulary. My husband prepares, as well, for almost any and all situations. At any given time, he will have at least 3 coats in the car - one for wearing day to day, one for rain, and his under the car coat. If you read my earlier entry, you’ll remember that I said I was pretty sure he’d never been under a car. But, in any case, he is prepared.

This is how we prepared our little travel trailer to carry all our stuff, and still leave room for us...
We bought some little DVD crates that just fit above the front window on a ledge that was perfectly proportioned for them. Tied with orange ribbons woven through the holes in them and outfitted with shipping tags, they made a perfect and secure holding space for vitamins, bread, cookies and toiletries, each group in their own small crate. Two crates are dedicated to toilet paper. Remember, Shawn likes to be prepared and if I could deviate from the story just a bit...with toilet paper being a major player. He talked me into picking up a few extra rolls at our first Wal Mart overnight stop. Just in case.
The other set of bins that we purchased to hold our stuff, included some good sized bins that fit on a shelf over our bed. I think it was supposed to be an extra bunk, but even our little monkey grandson Robbie, had trouble being convinced that it was a bed. So, we made it into a shelf with a lip and a padded fabric edge that holds the bins in nicely. Our folded clothes, towels etc. are stored up there. Each of us could have two bins, leaving one for towels and one for sweaters and sheets. Shawn had his filled to the brim and was worried that he wouldn’t be able to fit all of his clothes. This bins were in addition to the hanging clothes area which was pretty ample. I pointed out to him that we would be stopping to do laundry at several intervals during our trip but he was still looking worried. Being the good wife and knowing that men don’t always make the best choices when it comes to packing clothes for a trip which includes functions, I offered to assist. He was grateful.
We counted through the t-shirts - an important clothing element, the jeans, the dress pants, the dress shirts, the under things and then we came to socks. Not wanting to discriminate, and aware that he needed some dress socks as well as sneaker socks, he had filled a bin with socks. I wanted to smile and be sweet and just tell him he might not need that many considering we would be doing some laundry but I laughed so hard tears rolled down my face as he counted out the 37 pairs that he had packed. We share the same sense of humor so he soon joined me in laughing.

Just before we left, a package arrived containing a trailer warming gift from our dear friends. It included an RV touring handbook with bookmarks in place as suggestions of interesting stops and a big notebook entitled “Robin and Shawn’s Excellent Adventure”. It couldn’t have been a more perfect gift! Car packed with show stock and trailer packed with provisions and clothes we set off for our “excellent adventure”.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Beginning

Yes, I’s been a long time.
I’m full of “I meant to make an entry every week, or at the very least, every month”.
If I could offer a very good excuse it would be that life got in the way.
More about that later...

My husband Shawn and I are off on a grand adventure!
For years we have talked about getting an RV or a travel trailer and hitting the road when we have to travel to a miniature show. We’ve spent hours chitchatting about buying a vintage trailer and doing “our thing” to it. But when we actually started to look, we each had a very different idea about what we wanted.
This is the best way to describe our difference of opinion. When a salesman would approach us to ask if he could help, I would begin the conversation, with a half grin saying “I’m looking for a vintage trailer, smallish, but in good condition. My husband is looking for a new trailer, bigger and in great condition.”
The salesman knew at once that he was not going to be able to satisfy these clients.

Now, to be honest, while I’m pretty good at making things look cute, and I had a file of ideas and pictures of really cute trailers and made over train cabooses, refurbished school buses and tiny camps, that I’d been collecting for years, I didn’t know anything about RVing or hauling a trailer around the country. And, while my husband is pretty good at carpentry and miniature making, I’m also pretty sure that he’s never seen the underside of a car, let alone the underpinnings and workings of a travel trailer. I’d already fixated on a vintage travel trailer, even though I kept telling Shawn I was open to what we might find. Should you ever find yourself in this position? Wanting to buy a vintage travel or to RV around the country? Don’t let your partner watch Robin William’s movie RV. It just puts too many bad images in their heads.

All winter I kept an eagle eye on the internet, looking at vintage trailers. All the good ones that I’d find for sale would be in California or Florida. I found myself lusting for a 1970’s Shasta, which originally came with wings. I’m all about the wings! We live on WING St., my name is Robin, my blog is Star Feather Farm. I wanted wings. I learned that it was almost impossible to find one in good condition with the wings intact. I also knew that I didn’t want one that was already restored because I thought that would be part of the fun. Somewhere along the way I convinced my husband that if we could find a small vintage trailer, in the right price range, that was road worthy, we should do it. Find the trailer, buy the trailer, take it to a trailer place to make sure that it was road worthy and then drive from Maine to California for NAME’s Small Scale show in Salt Lake City and then San Jose for the Good Sam show. Oh, and teach a workshop in between. Did I mention that another criteria (his) was a shower and toilet? Not that I minded those particular creature comforts, I just knew that it added another layer to the hunt. And, after all, it was all about the wings.

I envisioned a stress free summer of leisurely puttering on my vintage trailer, adding pretty little curtains, paint, art, fun little touches to make it comfy and homey and cute. Cute is a word that I’ll keep coming back to.

Can you believe that I did NOT have a stress free summer? I did not find the trailer of my dreams. I encountered some crazy issue with my right hand, my painting hand, my gardening hand, that made everything I tried to do impossible and painful. So, I couldn’t garden, or sew if it meant cutting anything with scissors, as my thumb wouldn’t open properly. I could paint and draw for a few hours a day, so I did what I could. Meanwhile the Salt Lake City and San Jose show were drawing ever closer. Because of the the amount of stock that we HOPED we’d be bringing, the plan had always been that we would drive with or without our little travel trailer. August was drawing to an end and the elusive quest for the dream trailer was slipping away.

I have always been a believer in things happening when they are supposed to happen. I repeat this to myself and anyone who’ll listen, plenty often. Two weeks before we pack ourselves and all our stock into our Suburban, we found the trailer of my dreams. Shawn had decided that all the stars were aligned and that he would do a search for the “home on wheels” that would carry us cross country. With an Uncle Henry’s in hand, (Uncle Henry’s is the weekly paperback based in Maine, that anyone who wants to sell anything, uses to get the word out about their special something) he began calling about the trailers that he thought might be worth looking into. Maybe I slipped the number into his pile of papers, I really don’t remember, but when I saw a listing for a 1972 Shasta, in the right price range, only 3 hours away, I had to make a stab at getting him to check it out. It did have the bathroom after all!

He called. The folks who owned it gave him some additional information about it. When he told me that it still had the original wings, I was beside myself! We went to look at it the next day and I made sure the checkbook was in my purse.

OK, it’s 30 something years old, you expect some wear. I fell in love and I think Shawn knew there was no going back from there. We think it’s a 1972 and that’s the year we were married, so it was karma!

So, now we had a week and a half to have our little Shasta all checked out by the people who do that sort of thing. $2100.00 of parts and labor and 3 days before we’re supposed to leave, we have a road worthy, shower and toilet equipped, bare bones vintage travel trailer. I forgot to mention that the Suburban that is to do the hauling, needed to have an inspection and oil change. $1900.00 later, the suburban has new brake lines etc., etc. We picked up the Suburban from the shop and then picked up the trailer from the trailer guys. 2 days left to get everything ready. The next morning, with cleaning buckets in hand, we came outside to find that one of the windows on the Suburban had been broken. Off to the window replacement guys.....

Now, I only mention this series of events to explain the minute amount of time in which I had to “cute up” my little travel trailer. All the grandiose ideas were replaced with “What can I do in one day?” Well, in one day I bought sheets to use as fabric for curtains and cushions, tore them to size because I can’t use scissors, safety pinned them together, and completely revamped the interior of the trailer. I will sew the curtains and cushions on the road. We decided to use the 70’s color palette of golds and oranges, dictated by the counter top and floor color. It scares me to realize how many things, that I already owned, worked perfectly in that color scheme, and, that the colors of the 70’s are in again with a fresh appeal.

I am planning to blog my way across this wonderful country of ours. The next entry will include the packing up and our first night boondocking in a WalMart parking lot. Do not let your life go by you without that experience under your belt........

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cereal Box

Do you ever have a day where something is stuck in your mind and you don't know why? I woke up one day last week, poured some generic frosted mini wheats into a bowl and then just kept looking at the box. When I was little I always looked at the box, read every little thing, and plagued my mother to let me cut out the card board trinkets offered by the various cereal companies. This was a different thing! 
It was something about the box itself, the shape, the colors and I liked that it felt quite sturdy. I found an air tight container and poured in the contents of the box. Off to shower and begin my day, I set the box on the kitchen counter and reminded my husband not to throw it away. He didn't question me which says something right there.
I began my day working on a miniature project which was very repetitive. My mind kept straying to the box. Often day dreaming in color, I was having visions of tangerine. My miniature project was far from tangerine and my next fabric collection was going to be done in shades of sage, browns and blues so I don't know why I was seeing this tangerine color. But that's the way it works for me when I am in a creative zone. I feel like I'm on fire and the brain is overloaded with stimuli. I pictured the box in tangerine colors. I finished it in my mind as I added a strap and it became a purse! I couldn't wait to work on it but I had to finish my miniature project first - minis, being the bread & butter of our income, takes priority.
Saturday was an art day and my daughter Rachel was going to be putting the final touches on her workshop pieces for Art in the Rough. Both of my daughters have degrees in art. Taryn and her husband Scott run an alternative art supply business called NavelJelly Studios. Rachel is a high school art teacher. Both of them teach art workshops and Art in the Rough is a weekend long experience filled with art adventures, great food, and high style camping. Oh, I'm teaching workshops there as well - "Footloose" & "al-ter-a-tions".  click here to go to Art in the Rough
So Rachel showed up in the morning of art day with a bag full of boxes! She had been on the same wave length as me. (It happens a lot with both daughters!) Her approach was quite different from what I'd been thinking about. We laughed with each other as we sampled our various techniques. We each work quite differently! This is what we did.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spring is Coming

This is Princess Lay-a, one of my four chickens. She's a White Leg Horn. She's only about 8 months old and until this January she was laying a pure white egg every other day. Both she and Luna our other White Leg Horn have quit laying. I think it's just been too dark and cold for them.
Out other two chickens are Araucanas and they lay the most beautiful blue and green eggs. Henrietta lays the green eggs and Hazel lays the blue.

Our new and improved web site is up! YEA! Shawn pulled out most of his hair but if you've seen him lately, you'll know that while it's thin, it's long enough to braid, so I guess a little less is OK.
He is still putting together more pages because we only have a partial on the miniature pages. Soon there will be information on my art prints, originals, a gallery section, workshops and other interesting links.

This winter has been long. Really long. Usually it's a good time to nestle in and stay warm, work on projects and cook warm dinners. Yesterday, when I went out to feed the chickens, I smelled Spring. I really did! I get intoxicated by those stolen moments when the sun sneaks in a window to warm my face or my back. Our cat Kashi seeks the tiny patches of light to stretch out and lets her black fur gets shiny and hot. There is still snow on the ground, a couple of feet anyway. More will be coming, it always does, it's only February still and March is long and cold. But I'm hopeful. Yes, I know Spring is coming, I smelled it yesterday.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Promise

A promise made and a promise kept.

This blog is a gift to myself. A promise that I made last year to allow myself the time to do this. On this second day of 2009 I've begun the journey and the experience of blogging. 
I am a virgin blogger. I have looked but never posted. This is all new for me.
I'm very jazzed to begin!