My Two Recommendations

    My daughters, all three of them, have been bugging me like crazy to buy some CD by some new singer they have been raving about. It was by someone I have never heard of before. A cross between Linda Ronstadt and Janis Joplin, I was to "love" it. Not one to run right out and by anything, particularly a CD, I certainly wasn't jumping out of my seat to zip down and get this one. After a few weeks of endless harassment, Annie, my nearly 22 year old baby, gives up and brings it to me. Guess what? I LOVE it! So, I am passing on this free bit of information. Fabulous, great songwriter, vocalist, musician.

    THE STORY, By Brandi Carlile.

    Now, number two. I like to read. But again, I usually don't go out and buy something unless someone recommends it or I saw it on Oprah! This next recommend came from a tennis partner who recently lost both parents and was having trouble with her son. She said it really made her laugh, clear her head, a good read. I saw it recently at the college bookstore where I work (not the bookstore--the college) so picked up the last copy. I'm loving it. I divorced seven years ago, after 27 years of marriage and four kids. And though I have recently remarried (now three years), I still carry a tremendous amount of guilt around feeling like I let my entire family, kids, parents, aunts uncles and all my deceased ancestors down. I know in my heart of hearts it was right but this vice-grip around my heart keeps saying I shouldn't have given up on the marriage. Reading this has been theraputic and great fun. Quick read about a 30 something depressed, newly divorced woman who decides to take a year off and find herself.

    One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonsia.
    by Elizabeth Gilbert,

    Good Night!

    And Enjoy!Source URL:
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Rippin' Out the Seats and other delights....

    Hey all,

    We got the bus right before we went our vacation to California - so that's where we are right now.

    In the few days that we've had it, we've managed to rip out all the seats and un-bolt the heater system from the left-hand side of the bus. We found a pretty awesome tool chest in the bus under one of the seats. It has a lot of the right-sized tools for the various screws and bolts in our bus. Nice! Of course, we also have a garage-ful of Julia's dad's tools at our disposal, which is real handy. He's more of a carpenter than a mechanic, though, so we'll have to pick up some extra things for our conversion.

    In other news, we developed a woman-approved system for removing rusty bolts and screws without the use of toxic crap like "liquid screwdriver." You take your appropriately sized screwdriver and attach a vice-grip to the handle. Then you have one woman balance all her wieght on the screwdriver while the other one yanks real hard on the vice-grip. Most all of them gave under this system. The ones that didn't got smacked with our mallet until they fell into line. ;)

    We bought a corded electric drill for this purpose too. It's not a champ at loosening the real stuck ones but it is good for run-of-the-mill unscrewing. It'll come in handy for drilling holes for the various pipes that we'll need to run to the outside of the bus, too. We almost bought a Sawzall but we're holding out until we make it to the used tool place outside of Eugene. They run about 60-80 new...of course you *can* pay more....but we'd like to pick up a quality used one if at all possible.

    The heater is an interesting doohickey to play with because it runs off of the engine coolant - it's just basically a big loop of hose that runs the engine coolant down the left hand side of the bus and uses a fan to blow it out at the far end of the loop. We haven't capped the system yet but we got it and the housing for it up from the floor so it's free-floating and able to just perch on the driver's seat while we work on the floor. Since the veggie oil conversion is going to probably use the same lines (since it uses the coolant to heat stuff, too) we're leaving it until that aspect of the project begins to take a more concrete shape.

    We've ripped up part of the vinyl floor, too. There's funky plywood under there - screwed down with disintegrating screws. I think we'll just take a crowbar to it and see if we can't rip them up in one go....that's for when we return!

    Also- scored some angle iron out of a dumpster behind the goodwill here in Santa Rosa! Woohoo...only got a small scolding as we were driving away with it.... :)

    J's boss also happens to be a reclaimed wood-dealer who resells dismantled school bleachers so he's looking into our wood floor while we're away. Hopefully he'll have it for us when we get back...he thinks he can hook it up for $1 a square foot plus $50 to plane it. It's either going to be ceder or southern yellow pine. Nice!

    Pics of the gutted interior to follow when we return from our Californian vacation.

    -E and JSource URL:
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Car Shopping--UUUGGGHH!

    Fortunately, I have only been shopping for vehicles four times in my life. I keep my auto as long as possible at least 8 or more years. And now the possible is as long as it is going to be on my Safari. For the past several weeks my hubby and I have been talking about what car I should get. He spouts all the rationale from Consumer Reports, and the number one factor-- fuel economy. Keep in mind my aged hippie husband gave away his vehicle and rides either his ten-speed or his motorcycle to work, and everywhere else for that matter. Thus, he feels very good about his contribution to society in saving the air and the world at large.

    I, too, want to save the air and the world. Only, I want to be able to pull my tent trailer, go off-roading occasionally, and think color is as important as fuel economy. So, when he asks me what I want in a vehicle, I, of course, say " a jeepy kind of thing, that has a rack, with a tow package and cool school bus yellow would be great!" He usually frowns, mutters something about going green and leaves the room. I don't know how to tell him I could NEVER own a green car!

    After his hours of research online, we then have the whole going-to-the-car-lot experience. I tell my hubby who hates to go to car dealerships that I will be the one to handle all of the transactions. I am resolved to remain calm and I am intent on finding a car that I will have a connection with as I will be spending many hours with this vehicle in the upcoming years.

    There is a reason why car salesmen have such bad reputations as slime-ball predators. They truly are vultures, just waiting and watching for fresh prey. We drive up and "Jimmy" is the first to pounce on us. He proceeds to tell us how he could never sell a product he didn't believe in because he is a man of integrity. Isn't that super! He wants me to take a car out for a test drive. I want to know the price, will it tow my trailer. He's not sure.

    I just want to know the price. But that's not how the game is played. I explain I don't have time and just want to know how much is the car. Jimmy starts in: "Let's go for a drive. Just sit in the car." He continues: "What color would you like Driftwood Pearl, Galatic Gray, VooDoo Blue, Sun Fusion. Let's go to my office and I'll put some numbers together for you." I ask if it can tow my trailer. He's not sure unless we go to his office. The sun is beating down on us and I really, really, really just want to know the price. I have a list of possible cars, I want to make the best comparison of prices and features. But Jimmy just wants to go to his office and play 'Deal or No Deal!"

    I refuse to go to his office. I refuse to get in the car. I refuse to drive the car. Just give me the damn price and tell me if it can tow my tent trailer! What's so hard about that? I feel all my zen leaving. All my resolve to remain calm and have a peaceful car buying experience while I try to makle a connection with a car is quickly disappearing. I tell my hubs, "We must go!"

    We drive back home in the same old van we drove up in. Back to Consumer Reports. Back to all the stats on fuel economy, side-air bags, brakes, resale predictability......and not one word about anything school-bus yellow. Oh, excuuuuse, me. I mean Sun Fusion!Source URL:
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Travels to Austin or the Road to Hippie Hollow

    Last week I flew to Austin for an educational conference. Being a native of Las Vegas, I find most conference towns pretty boring. The conference day ends, you go and try to find a place to eat, most towns roll up at 9pm and you end up spending the majority of the time watching tv alone in some hotel room. I don't know what I expected from Austin as I have never been there or anywhere in Texas, but let me tell you, it is ever a party town as Vegas.

    On the way to the hotel from the airport, some guy on the shuttle mentions a free concert going on somewhere, but he doesn't know where. My sister and I (did I mention my sister from Reno joined me?) decided we would find this free concert.

    We did! It was way cool. I have never seen more rednecks and hippies congregated in the same place as there were at this outdoor concert. I wasn't quite sure of those wearing t-shirts with "Keep Austin Weird!" but suffice it to say there were all kinds roaming the grounds.

    The top talent for the night, of the long list of talent, were Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristopherson! Wow. It took me back to the early 70's, music, tie-dyed t-shirts, peace signs, the smell of mary jo riding the breeze in and out through the crowd. Tremendous musicians. Lots of local talent that were simply fabulous! The concert ended with Kris singing "Me and Bobby McGee." Ahhh.

    That was the first night. Every night we found a different place with a different band, and great food. The last day prior to heading back to the airport we took off and found our way to Travis Lake and Hippie Hollow. I had seen it on the tourist map we had received when we had checked into the hotel. I had to go to Hippie Hollow, after all I had been a hippie in my teen years, I had to find this place and make a connection.

    It wasn't until we had paid our $10 and were walking down the path in our little jean skirts with our sandals and our little purses swinging by our sides, that we realized, by the man walking toward us, that Hippie Hollow is a NUDE BEACH!! I cannot stress enough our complete surprise at seeing a man with shoes and socks, straw hat and nothing else swaggering toward us. We both made a right face to stare at the woods and close our eyes. I don't know what we were thinking, perhaps if our eyes were closed, he couldn't see us standing there biting our lips and trying not to laugh. Which then had me quite alarmed that we were breaking the most sacred rule of all......NO LAUGHING WHEN NAKED MEN WALK TOWARD YOU! I am certain that cannot be good for any man's self esteem!

    We soon realized we were surrounded. Naked people everywhere. Imagine being the only clothed persons there and trying desperately to act cool. Trying to keep the hysterical laughter form spurting forth everytime some guy came swinging by, trying to talk to people and keep your gaze looking at their face and not wandering down to you know where! I hate not fitting it. I quickly pulled my sunglasses out of my purse and told my sister there was only one course of action "Quick! Take your clothes off--Blend in!"Source URL:
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Long Time

    It's been a very long time since I have got on the old computer and started reading my favorite blogs. Gee with DebbieDoesLife out of commission, my inspiration just wasn't there. I jumped online this evening and just for the heck of it looked up Debbie's site and "sure nuf" she was back on. Too bad I didn't check sooner and I could have enjoyed a CD of her favorite hits.

    Of course, I just couldn't come back and start posting. Like most of my time here, I start messing around with the templates and trying to come up with a new header. Ahhh, how nice it would be to be one of you amazing bloggers who can just jump on here and start writing without being so critical of your blog's appeareance.

    I am going to try and write some more and mess with html less.

    That said, I may just very well go home and tell you all about my amazing adventure to Austin....Hey, Debbie....why haven't you ever mentioned "Hippie Hollow" in Austin?

    But, that was the last day of the trip, first things first. Get my butt home!Source URL:
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It Begins!

    After a year of planning and saving, Julia and I finally bought our bus yesterday! A pretty sweet 3rd anniversay present. :) She's a looker....

    Found her on craigslist. It's a 1988 International Harvester with a transplant Cat 3208 Diesel engine and Allison (automatic) transmission. Perfect length for our purposes - 32 feet bumper to bumper and it has an extra-tall ceiling. Paid $1750 for it. Our bus is at Southern Oregon Diesel right now in Roseburg getting a basic service before getting picked up by our seller and delivered to our house in Eugene this Wednesday! WOW! Still in a little bit of shock.

    We went down to Southern Oregon Diesel yesterday nervous out of our minds about our pending purchase. We scheduled a 30 minute inspection before we committed to buying it but we ended up spending 3+ hours with the guys there listening to country music, learning how to drive the thing, getting oriented under the hood and rolling around the underside checking out the air brakes and everything. They were over-the-top helpful, very generous with their time and only a little condescending... ;)

    I spent today hacking the bushes and trees back from J's mom's driveway so that we can actually park the bus in the spot where we're going to work on converting it. She is 8 feet wide after all. In order to fit the bus up there, we're also going to have to move the mailbox. Of course, moving the mailbox from it's spot has proven harder than we originally thought - more digging and jiggling scheduled for later this evening.

    Once we get it up there, first thing's first : removing the seats and cleaning our baby out! She has a minor wasp/spider problem that needs to get taken care of for sure. Still not convinced that we'll need a bolt cutter to get the seats out but we'll see. After that, we're going to tape out our floorplan and see how it feels.....

    Since J and I have been planning our conversion for a while now, we've had time to gather up a lot of the parts and pieces for our future house. We have a really pretty apartment-sized, blue Intrepid woodstove, a mid-sized 2-way RV fridge, a propane RV stove/oven, an RV kitchen sink, an RV bathroom sink, wooden toilet seat for our composting toilet, two wooden corner shelves and a kitchen cabinet. Everything except the fridge we were able to score FOR FREE (thank-you universe!) so the total cost of the conversion so far has been $20...for our used RV fridge.

    Before we start making it too cozy, we need to install the main systems - photovoltaics, internal electrical wiring, plumbing (fresh and grey water) and propane. We haven't gathered any parts for any of this so far. I have priced many of the components and we expect the main costs of our conversion to be in the installation of these systems so it'll feel good to get them over with first! Since BioDiesel is available in Eugene right now, we're thinking of holding off on the veggie conversion until we reconnect with some of our Vegadvocates back in California. (I'm thinking that putting the veg in after the fact of the conversion should be OK as long as we plan for veggie oil tank placement and fuel line placement ahead of time....)

    Woosh! Lots to do, lots to learn and a whole summer of hard work ahead of us. It feels great to finally get the ball rolling......

    More updates to come!

    Source URL:
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