Sunday, February 27, 2011


This is the portion of the floor that had rotted through-all the way across the top and down the side about an inch in.  We cut a huge square because the floor is all one unit and we needed a large section to secure everything down to.  

This is the bulk of the problem, the floor had buckled and pulled up off the frame, as shown by the sparks flying out of the gap.  The gap went all the way to the door, which pulled up off the camper frame as well, meaning the door would not stay shut. Or set down in the door frame.

 Matt worked as long as he could last night before we had to run in and help break the set for the play.
The Dremel came in handy for cutting off old screws that were in the way of the new floor.

 Back at it this morning, the new piece of floor had to go around the lift system, so Matt's smoothing the notch cut for that.

 It's not a perfect fit, but it works!  We screwed the old and new floors into sections of 2x4's underneath the floor on both sides of the metal frame.  It only added about 4 pounds to the weight.

 We put the cabinet back in and added another piece of wood to help hold it tight to the wall and floor.

We still need to fill the gaps and put down a new floor covering and buy leveling jacks to ensure the camper is level and not pulling on that weakened spot.  The door sits in the door frame now, the floor is on the camper frame and the whole thing has been caulked together and covered in waterproof silicone.  I can't imagine where new water could get in.

I cut the linoleum in every other corner of the camper (all inside cabinets) and drilled small holes into the wood in many spots and poured wood hardener in the holes.  It turns the wood into plastic, making it hard and waterproof.  It works even if the wood is already rotting, which is isn't, thank goodness, but the other front corner feels a little soft in a couple of spots and the side cabinet was leaking back on the Florida trip in 2009 and that wood is dry, but felt a little crumbly.  It won't now.  That wood hardener works wonders.  I REALLY hope this is it, the end of the wood drama in the camper.  One more decent afternoon of work will have the floor finished and sealed.  I am not going to stress much about covering it until I know it's not going to need more work.  I bought a couple throw rugs to use for now.  


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Plans

First, I read this poem the other day:


by Marilyn Donnelly

He who
took the steps
by two
now pauses
on each tread
and I
who love him so
am filled
with dread.

Which of course made me squall, as the last time I went fishing with Daddy, he had a hard time  making it up the steps to the van again.

He has since then started working out 90 minutes a day!  He can walk a treadmill and ride a bike 2 miles on each and he's doing some weight training.  : )  I am SO happy about that, and proud.

Thinking about my own impeding demise (the 14th, keep your calendars open) made me realize I DO have something I would really regret.  I have not told either of my parents how I really feel about being who I am. 

I know it sounds crazy, I see Daddy all of the time and barely have contact with my mother at all.  What difference would it make?

I don't know.  But it means something to me to make the effort.  To say the things NOW that I would easily say at a funeral.  That's too late for the person it really matters to and at best serves only to make the ones left behind feel soothed over the loss and also the guilt of not being the one in the box and being a little glad about that.  At least that's how I feel, even if it's not my proudest moment.

Daddy's will be easiest, my feelings for him and for his influence in my life are right on top, they well up when I look at my own kids, when I read a good book, when I have worries.  I can recall so much with my father somewhere in the background, his voice a cadence to my life, reading to me, always reading, even when I could read on my own.  Counseling, talking things through, being steady during the years I careened around bouncing off everything and changing my mind daily.

Mother's...I have tried to reconcile my thoughts and feelings on that before.  Maybe I will have better luck within this distance we have nurtured.  Me on my end ignoring the roots, her sending out hopeful tendrils.  Me, oblivious of the effort.  Or wanting to be.  You can't BE a mother and not have some insight into why they go crazy.  I just wish I had been worth the effort to keep her shit together.  I think that's the bottom line to everything negative I feel about myself.  How can anyone love me if my own mother failed so miserably?  I must really be worthless.

But, I wake up and get up and make the effort each day.  Sometimes I feel like pushing everyone I know into a hole so I don't have to spend any energy on relationships, it's not natural to me.  
Thank goodness I have the friends I do, none of us are perfect or selfless, I don't feel like I have to perform at a certain level.  I have gone to gatherings and shot daggers at everyone from my sulking hole in the corner and been allowed to do just that without being scolded or drawn out.  Just let be.

Interesting that I seek friendship and feedback from mothers, surround myself with strong women.  I still feel half-formed, yet I don't look to my friends to fix or finish me and they don't look back at me as if I am broken and undone.  We just

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I have dreamed twice now that I die March 14th.  I am not really sure what that means, but if it's a true omen, I was in bed this morning trying to work out my biggest regrets.

Of course, the kids-I want to see what happens, was unschooling a bad idea in the end?  How does it all work out?  Do they homeschool their own kids?  I also want them to go out west and see more of the country.  Matt can do that with my insurance money.  Someone may have to push this issue in my stead when the time is right.  Say by the...21st of March.

I want to see Jacki again, I would be really bummed to never ever see her again.  Even if she flies up for the funeral, I won't BE there.  (Save your money, J!  You and the girls meet Matt and the kids somewhere out west and throw a rock in a river for me). (And for goodness sake, take a picture of it!)

Mainly, there's just stuff I want to know.  How long will the van run, will the floor repair work on the camper, is Jessie going to be okay-her hips are in BAD shape and she's on meds for it.  I want to know if she gets better.  What happens to Kat in the end?  My bet is she leaves to hunt and never returns.  We notice after a week, maybe two. Do we ever move back to Tennessee?

I will be bummed to have not reached my weight loss goal, but at least I am on the right track and not gaining!  That would be worse, I think. 

There are things I want pictures of.  Places I want to see.  Ideas I have inside me, books I still want to read. 

I can't say there ever won't be, though.  I hope there never is, that I never put my camera down or decide to skip the library one day, that I never wake up one morning and realize nothing is rattling around in my head-no idea, no plans for travel, no random thoughts.

But really, though I still have a great deal of life left (I hope-I am certainly not ready to expire!!), I can't say I have this list of wrongs I hope to right or things I am sorry I have done.  It's all things I still want to do on that list.  That's not a bad feeling.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I am pulling out of my funk.  

Yesterday we bought nearly everything we will need to repair the camper.  I spent a few hours this morning sealing every seam on that thing, we bought the $$ silicone sealant, which has rendered my hands soft and slick from working with it.  I used Gorilla tape and sealed the exposed wood underneath, we used a piece 2 years ago under there to hold something out of the way while we worked on it and it was still holding strong when we pulled it off this weekend.  The tape was still sticking all the way across and the wood underneath was dry.  Might as well put that knowledge to good use!  

We have devised a plan to join the old wood and new wood floors.  I can only hope like mad it will work.  It seems like it will...

I am working toward my next project that will go ahead next month whether we camp in Poppy or in our yet-unpurchased family tent I will have to get to replace her.

I am taking the kids to Natchez to spend a few days and then start north, following the Natchez Trace from southern to northern terminus.  Along the route, we will stop at various places-historical mainly, but also an entomology museum and a working farmstead among other things that have attracted our interest.  I am going to use the trip to write my first roamschooling ebook.  I think it will be an easier place to start from because the stops are more limited by the corridor of the Trace than they are nearly any other National Park.  And it's a broad swath of area to cover, I won't get pigeonholed or bored...I hope.  My attention span is pretty sad.

Today is dental cleaning day for the kids.  I have to go back in next week to have a groove in my lower canine filled in.  It's deep and the dentist said it was holding bacteria at the gumline.  I can't believe I will have to get shots and pay my annual copay AGAIN this year-and not even for a cavity.  I'd rather do it now rather than wait for it to become a cavity, a cavity below the gumline sounds like something to avoid. 
I hope to get good news from their cleaning, though I fully expect to hear instead that Chandler will need braces.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Camper 2

Today we got one of the cabinets out.  Bad idea.  They really are vital to the structure of the camper. 

The door won't set in the frame, we are going to have to cut out a strip of wood and replace it from one end of the door all the way to the front of the frame to repair the structure of the camper.  The wood that was rotted when I bought the camper, we chipped out and refilled with epoxy.  But it was either more damaged than we realized or it's been getting worse the last 2 years.  Now the wood all along the frame under the door is damp and we spent most of the day chipping it out before realizing the structure of the camper was compromised, the bunk end pulls the floor up away from the metal framing underneath.  Not good!

So, my hopes of redoing the storage are dashed, now I just hope we will be able to use the camper at all.  We talked about selling Poppy today, disclosing of course that the floor needs repair.  I am afraid it will be more than we can actually manage.  I am not sure we could get much out of her and that leaves us at the start of camping season in a bad spot.  Matt is feeling better about it than I am, maybe I need to just quit worrying about it and see what happens.  We are hoping to borrow a saw to cut the old wood out instead of paying to buy a new one for 10 minutes of use.

Anyway, that's the news for now.  

Friday, February 18, 2011


Well, Poppy needs a new floor covering-possibly a new floor period.  We won't know how badly damaged the subfloor is until we pull that old linoleum off.  I bought fabric softener today (the liquid stuff gets the sticky up!).

Today, I also went to the local guy and talked to him about getting a piece of remnant linoleum, but he does not have anything in that size (6x8).  He deals with carpet and wood for nearly every job anyway.  Lowe's has a piece that's 12x14 for $70 that we like the looks of, just not the price so much.  Plus, that's enough to redo the bathroom floor, which would not be a bad idea, but one thing at a time.  Bottom line, it's nearly twice what we need and just cutting it in half would be a real waste.

I have been designing a new storage system for in the camper that involves taking out 2 of the cabinets.  One totally-top and all-and the other just the wood parts and leaving the counter top intact with new supports, but still open underneath. Neither are in a corner, so I don't think they have anything to do with the stability or what-not of the whole camper box.  It's only 6x9 anyway (when closed) so I doubt the framing relies on thin cabinet paneling for strength.

I was given a name and location for potential help tomorrow.  After we drop Chan off at rehearsal, we may head out and have a look.  I am very nearly giddy over the whole thing, I really hope I am not breaking off a chunk of work that ends up biting my butt.  Speaking of bites, I got a mosquito bite this afternoon! 

I have the lube gunk to grease the lift system and I have attacked the old caulking-to no avail.  The removal tool we bought was 100% useless!  It worked great in the bathroom, I guess the stuff on the camper was just too hard.  I am not sure where to go from here with that project.  I guess getting the floor taken care of is enough to focus on for  the moment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Window Shopping

Matt loves electronics and gadgets and do-dads.  Bells and whistles and look what happens when I push this button and I just...don't.  I can turn my $10 cell phone on, off and make it call people if I need to.  Usually.  If I remember to charge it, bring it and turn it on.

I have a laptop that is functional and can be replaced for under $500.  It can't support online gaming, it has really crappy speakers, it weighs about 11 pounds. 

My DSLR came out 6 years ago, it's so far behind the game they don't even list the model number at the Canon site anymore. (Though I do have a recent model Canon P&S that I am giddy over.)

I still use the backpack I got in high school, 20 years ago.  I wear shoes until my socks start getting wet from the walked-in-too-long holes in the bottom, 90% of the clothes the kids and I wear are from a thrift store.  I don't really need-or even understand-most gadgets and don't like running out to buy new stuff. I'd rather go somewhere new and see something new than own something new.  The memories outlast the electronics by decades.  Even more so when there are photos...

That being said, I hope it gives some relevance and weight to the fact that I have become enthralled with an online photography gadget store,

There are not many things at the store I would not be thrilled with, but there are a two things I find myself going back to look at over and over.

The 12 color Splash Flash.  It's an external flash, it works either on the hot shoe or via button if you are using a point and shoot.  It has 12 color films to give a glow to various shots, or use it as a white light to banish shadow.

The Monsterpod, it will stick to anything-glass, rock, wood. (Camera must be 20 oz or smaller)  It can hang sideways or upside down.  Dirt can be washed off.  The mount rotates to any angle to keep the camera straight. 

And I know I am not keen on gadgets, but this this is too cool.  An 8x zoom lens and tripod for an iphone.  hehehehe!  Hey, I don't have to appreciate EVERY gadget to enjoy some James Bond.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cane Creek Canyon NP Take 2

Ben asked all last week when we could go again.  So, we decided to do another hike for today, planning to go to Karen's Falls, which was the furthermost point on the original map at 3.5 miles one way.  They have since added acreage and a second map and there's another point in a different direction that is just about the same distance.  Another day!

Last night, we packed our day packs and I loaded up the new backpacking stove and big pot.  Eep!  The stove is 4 years old, the pot we got yesterday (a whole set!), I had not gotten to use either yet!  Everyone got a ramen instant lunch or a cup of soup that was an 'add boiling water' type and a spork! : )  We tossed in a couple protein bars each and got to bed at a decent time.

This morning I got up and fixed some fruit to take and we had breakfast and hit the road.  The canyon is just at 2 hours from here, we arrived and loaded up and got on the trail by 10:20.  By 10:25, Ben had slid on a rock and slammed his hip and around 10:26, I slipped and busted my ass a good one.  I chipped a tooth.  Good thing I am going back in the first of next month, maybe she can sand it down and take the edge off. 

We fiddled around getting down the trail.  Jake did not go with us last week, so he had to run around looking at everything we had already seen.  We stopped at the waterfalls again, and at the overlook to chat with Dr. Lacefield, the landowner.  Then at the first bridge and at Linden Meadows and then again at the creek in about 6 different places.  It took us 4 hours to get 3.5 miles.  I had another fall and grabbed a thorn tree to stop my slide which bent down far enough to literally nail Ben in the head.  He was asking if I was okay while I was digging through his hair pulling thorns out of his scalp!  My rear-end will be purple tomorrow.  His head seems to be okay.

We got to Karen's Falls and I got the stove out and heated water.  It went SO well, we had picked up a liter of water at Linden Meadows where the Lacefield's keep a stock of fresh water.  I had that boiling in about 4 minutes.  That was enough for the kids and I had their little cuppa soups steeping in no time.   I added a box of corn chowder to the water that was left and got that boiling and poured it in Matt's cup and mine and let those steep.  Ben and Chan split the rest of the chowder. 

I set the stove off to cool and we ate and chatted and drank our water and rested up a little.

I wanted to leave the falls by 3, it was more like 3:30, so we had to make tracks!  We needed to be back to Linden Meadows by 5 because the sunset was at 5:30. 

We walked a steady pace, getting to the Meadows by 4:59.  The kids refilled their bottles and we all had a quick rest before hitting the hill out. 

Down in the canyon, it's fairly flat walking, short hills and a little climbing here and there, but the trail goes by the creek and it's a pleasant hike.  The climb out is steep and there are several routes, none are just ducky.  We opted to take the road out and not the steep trail, I was tired, Zephyr was dragging and the kids were...well, still bouncing around like those balls in a child's popper walker thingy.  The road is wider and not as steep and I rationed would be easier to follow if the sun set while we were out.  Plus, if I fell over from exhaustion, it would be easier to come get me with a mule or maybe the 4x4 woodland scooter they have.

We got to the van at 5:35!  Matt signed us out and returned the maps, we chatted with Dr. Lacefield a little more and hit the road by 6.  We had filled up last night and stopped at the same place to top off tonight and it was $21, so that's how much gas we used-about 7 gallons, pretty cheap for such a great day together!  And that means the van got over 25 miles a gallon!  Go, Nettlevan!

Highlights of the day-Jake standing on a bridge paddling furiously with a hiking stick yelling, "Go swiftly, my cement raft!"  Ben's attempts to locate the origin of nearly every fallen branch we passed.  Zeppie coming totally unglued and barking furiously at Jake, who was hiding behind a rock trying to jump out to scare Matt.  Ben waxing poetic:  "the moon tonight is like a wart in the atmosphere".  Chan was there, she was just really quiet today.

To possibly clear up confusion about where exactly I am talking about using various place names from the preserve, I swiped these first two shots right off their FB page.

Today we started at the parking, went to the waterfalls, point, tree fern cave, down to Linden Meadows, following Cane Creek Trail to Old Beaver Pond around the Fossil Trail through Devil's Hollow past a couple of other falls to Karen's Falls, and then back.

 Click on the map above, it gets bigger.

These two were thick as thieves today.
They filmed 5-6 new segments for 'Child vs Wild'

Matt took this one!

Jake and Chan, having jumped across the creek, now wanted back on our side of things.  They spent a few minutes searching for a route and contemplating drop vs slope vs creek depth/proximity.  Khan can't teach them EVERY formula!

This small dog followed us around all day.
I actually took this shot because it's at the Old Beaver Pond area, near the camping area.

This lichen had fallen off it's stump! 
I picked it up to take a picture and Ben yelled, "RUN!  Mom found a Lycan!  Werewolf, werewolf!"

 I have a thing for cluster trees.  Maybe from all the years of letterboxing.  These and holes were favorite hiding spots for fellow players.

Another trail for another time.

Ben insisted there was a face on the tree.  I think it looks a bit like a preying mantis/deer.

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.