A tiny but livable space: the latest RV improvements

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There she is, in Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada) last spring.

We’re almost remodeling the RV. We’ve been slowly working on it for 5 years now, with the goal of living in it while on the Long Road still on the horizon somewhere, though clearly delayed. The most recent improvements were merely cosmetic, but aesthetics can play a huge role in one’s enjoyment of such a vehicle. With the help of my skilled aunt and uncle, I made the following improvements:

  • Replaced the old, non-insulated, rattly blinds with insulated custom black-out curtains that secure into place using industrial snaps, and can be removed and laundered.
  • Replaced the cheap-looking pressboard table with a new, larger table with oak trim and faux-granite laminate top.
  • Covered the front of the refrigerator and the backsplash behind the stove with laminate to match the table.
  • Bought new high-density foam for cushions and had them upholstered with new fabric (no more hideous pink!), and turned the old cushions into dog beds.
  • Painted the interior -walls, ceiling, beneath cupboards and around refrigerator.
  • Mounted the outlet above the refrigerator (was previously just dangling by a wire).
  • Covered the awkward joints between paneling in the cabover bed area that would not take standard trim using sewn fabric strips.

I’d say it’s looking pretty darn nice in here, which is great since we’ll be occupying it for the next couple months. I’m so proud of our work that I thought I’d share it in a regular post, since most readers probably don’t check the remodel page very often. Below are two galleries: finished “after” photos on top, and “before” photos on the bottom. There are more images on the vehicle remodel page, too. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our little RV’s new look! Continue reading

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The elusive idea of home

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Moss hangs like dewy beards…

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest United States until the age of 22, the temperate coastal rainforests of British Columbia are deeply familiar to me. Towering fir trees sway in the the breeze, their canopy shading the spongy, humus-rich earth below. Crumbling deadfalls provide anchor for opportunistic hemlocks, moss hangs like dewy beards from their branches, and ferns blanket the forest floor beneath. Crows chatter from the treetops, audible but usually invisible, and frogs chirp from the many sodden ponds and streams. The interminably grey skies release an impressively continuous supply of precipitation, which somehow the earth absorbs. But the smell stirs me most: the combined rich, earthy scents of decomposing organic material, cedar bark, cold rain, fir needles, and fungus. Something about that smell fills me with some sort of concurrent joy and heartbreaking loss that I can’t even identify, and yet gives rise to a lump in my throat even as I smile. It’s confusing.

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The damp woods of Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver, BC.

One might think that this bittersweet stirring is the distant draw of home—a place to which I have an abiding and meaningful connection. And yet, I cannot help but feel the exact opposite. I do not feel at home here, just as I never felt at home during our three years living in Colorado. Instead I feel a vague sense of unease; I am strangely unsettled, antsy, disconnected, yearning somehow.

But let me back up for a minute. I suppose I should mention that we moved to Canada. Yep. Canada. Many people joke after discouraging elections that they are going to move to Canada, but we really did that. Without getting too political here, we simply decided the United States was a difficult place for us to be in this cultural moment; divisions run too deep, there is too much anger, too much violence, too much shouting and not enough listening. There are many people suffering and many others who are uncaring. People have become (were always?) hard, tense, suspicious of one another and unnecessarily confrontational. I guess America just isn’t feeling very much like home these days. Canada is far from perfect, but we at least have a few years of psychological breathing room to reassess our life choices. Canadian society where we live is, for the most part, gentle, compassionate, and peaceful. I am finishing my graduate studies at the University of British Columbia (MFA), and my partner is continuing his job by telecommuting. Just like that: next chapter. Continue reading