Homebody

Every day now I am redefining my idea of home, of what grounds me in this life and where I hide from the bigger world when I need quiet and solace and solitude. Is it this rolling tin can of a “house” with its four aluminum walls and painted fiberboard interior? Is it my little family of husband and dog and the choices we make together for our days? Is it something I carry within me, separate from structure and routine and external validation?

I don’t really know yet. I suppose that’s part of what we’re doing out here, part of why we shook things up in the first place. And this not knowing is both thrilling and liberating and deeply uncomfortable. I swing from feeling wholly rooted one moment to entirely rootless in the very next. 

I am a homebody in the truest sense of the word. I love to be at home, to tinker in the kitchen and fiddle in the garden and rearrange the furniture so that “cozy” is always the most applicable adjective to describe the space. But I am also very much at home snuggled deep into my own inner life, under the soft knit blankets of my ideas and plans and imagination, thinking and wondering and allowing my curiosity to roam freely. And when I’m strong and running through the woods, when I’m connected to every muscle and sinew, I inhabit each millimeter of my body and know that it is home as well. 

So I’m finding that as we alternatively move and stay, I must take time each day to think about “home” with real attention, to consider where I will find my sense of home in this moment. It’s no longer a static place on a map, but a fluid idea that must take the shape of whatever container I have on hand at any given time. I am learning how to do this. I am learning how to be a homebody with no fixed address, to relinquish all of my old ideas about how that must look. And as I do this rather uncomfortable learning, I’m reminded yet again that cultivating meaning and purpose in my life is about honest, no-getting-around-it hard work, the work of growing, the work of deepening my understanding of myself and my world and where I fit into it.

Where do you find home?

Renovation Station

Things are a-bustle around here. The house looks like its been hit by a bomb as I sort through what few things we'll take with us, what few things we'll store at Justin's parents' house, and what we're selling/donating/etc. The list for the first two things are quite short, while the "sell/donate/etc" list is quite long. We've been focused on getting our still-nameless trailer painted and renovated while we still have tools and space (an an address that Amazon will ship to!). It's been seriously crazy town and I'm pretty sure my friends, family, and clients all thing I've entirely disappeared from the face of the earth at this point!

Like any renovation project, we've run into a few hiccups along the way. We want to be sure to share all of our snags as well as our triumphs, so be prepared for some epic #fail moments as we figure out what the hell we're doing here.

We began the reno by painting everything but the cabinets. I just couldn't handle that much wood and it felt a little dark and claustrophobic to me. Also, while you couldn't really tell at first glance, most of the "wood" was mis-matched fiberboard paneling and some pieces were full-on different colors. The closer we look, the crappier the craftsmanship is revealed to be.

After googling the crap out of how to paint an rv/camper/travel trailer. A few themes popped up:

  •  a general recommendation against sanding fiberboard as it can't stand up to much abrasion
  • instead of sanding, use a chemical de-glosser/sander
  • Glidden's Gripper primer was almost universally recommended
  • consider exterior paint for extra durability

So. I purchased chemical de-glosser and wiped everything we were planning to paint down with it. Here's where we hit our first minor snag. While the bottle and the world of google were full of directions for using it in a properly ventilated area and other such safety precautions, other than a basic instruction to use a clean cloth to wipe it off and that a second coat could be applied if necessary after 10 min, I couldn't find any actual instructions on how to use it or what to expect or how to know whether it was working. So I donned rubber gloves and a mask and opened all of the windows in the trailer and went over every surface we were planning to paint, followed by a wipe down with a clean cloth. Nothing looked different, but what do I know about de-glosser?

Next we painted everything with two coats of Gripper. It went on fine in most places, but I definitely noticed a few places where it did that beading-up sort of thing that started to worry me. But the second coat went on just fine and a scratch test seemed to indicate that everything was adhering, so I continued to proceed. I realized later that Gripper comes in an "all-purpose" version and a "hard-to-stick-surfaces" version. We didn't realize that there were two varieties and ended up with the first. Oops.

After the Gripper had a chance to dry, we applied two coats of high-gloss bright white interior/exterior paint. We knew the gloss would show imperfections, but felt like it was worth it for the increased light reflectiveness as well as the most wipe-ability. 

Y'all it looks GOOD. And so much brighter.

But.

I think you might know where I'm going with this. When we started pulling the tape off, the edges of the paint began peeling up. We haven't tested to figure out just how vulnerable the entire paint job is (mostly because we simply don't have time to fix it all at this point), but it's not looking ideal. Our short-term solution? Caulk down the edges, be careful not to ding up the paint, and have extra primer/ paint handy for touch-ups.

I don't know if it was a poor application of deglosser on my part (since I didn't really know what I was looking for) or the all-purpose vs the hard-to-stick-surfaces primer mix up, but for those of you considering a similar project...maybe do a test area?

Other things we've done so far:

  • Applied this wallpaper to the back wall of the dinette
  • hung small picture ledge shelves in the dinette (sort of like these...)
  • Began applying these Smart Tiles to the kitchen backsplash...under-ordered and are waiting for a second delivery to finish the job and hang a shelf across the kitchen wall
  • applied magnetic & chalkboard paint to the fridge (same issues and had to caulk edges...but it's paintable caulk, so I'll touch them up with chalkboard paint and then test the whole thing!)
  • I sewed some curtains from indoor/outdoor fabric I found on sale at Joann's (though we realized we hung the curtain rods of two windows too low to use the clips I bought to hang them with, so I had to use the top pocket of the curtains instead...not a big deal, but I don't like the look as much) (oh, also...I sewed one of the curtains upside down...oops)
  •  bought this mattress topper and these cute organic sheets  for the new bed (we're going from a full to a queen...so funny to be getting a bigger bed!)

We're under the two-week mark now and it's going to be a race to the finish, I think. We've still not decided where we'll park this thing once we close on the house, so there's that. But I found a co-working space to rent a desk for the next few months, and that takes some of the pressure off...it's good to know that my work can proceed without too much interruption even if we park somewhere without wi-fi!

Next on our list:

  • finish the "tiles" and hang the kitchen shelf
  • paint the front door yellow (low-priority at the moment)
  • mount mirror in the "closet" door
  • figure out storage for clothing/food/etc
  • dispose of all of our world possessions & clean the house for our awesome buyers! 

Sleep is for the weak! 

Stay Curious, friends!

 

Not Quite #Vanlife

Well, we made a decision about housing (which is good, since we close on our house in T-minus 3 weeks)!

We'd like you to meet our new home!

(We haven't named her yet...Justin's vote is for Ethel, but I'm still not sure I'm totally on board yet)

A few things about her:

  • She's a never-owned 2016 Whitewater Retro 176s by Riverside
  • She's just shy of 18' long and 7'7" wide and has almost exactly 100 square feet of living space when the slider's out
  • She features a slide-out dinette area (so I actually have enough floor space to roll out my yoga mat when the weather isn't cooperative for an outdoor practice! Getting' fancy!)

We looked at only a few trailers...it would seem that the only trailers New Englanders seem to buy are bigger than our current house, so finding some small ones (that weren't pop-ups) took a little doing. We are planning to pull the trailer with our 1999 V6 Toyota Tacoma, so in this case, size does indeed matter.

We found the Retro online and had to travel to look at a few. We'd originally decided on the 166, but ultimately decided to splurge on the space afforded by the 176S's slide-out given that this will be our full-time home (and my office once we hit the road in January) for the next several years.

I have some plans to renovate, but I thought I'd share a few quick snapshots I took as we were preparing to paint...

The plans include a ton of bright white, high-gloss paint, immediately disposing of the super-crappy weird bedding that came with it, and maybe turning the fridge into a magnetic chalkboard. Some of my big plans were immediately dashed when we got in and realized just how "lightweight" the building materials are...ummm...we're sort of crossing our fingers that this thing can stand up to a strong breeze...bookshelves are totally out.

I will do my best to keep you posted over these next few weeks as we whirlwind renovate/pack/sell everything we own/ figure out where we'll park this thing for the next few months!