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Today is the present… be the gift.

By request… December 12, 2015

I’ve been asked to elaborate on the process and products used to refurbish the countertop edge round the sink and stove-lid in my galley, so here goes:

The stainless steel sink in my galley is installed below the countertop, which is made of some sort of highly compressed particle board. This exposed edge of the countertop had been coated with (probably) white latex paint and (possibly) some sort of white caulk, which had deteriorated and whenever I used the sink and water splashed onto the edge, the particle board would get just moist enough to swell and open several long lateral cracks.

sink_edge_before_lowres

In the photo above, taken after all the loose paint and caulk had been scraped from the countertop edge, the lateral cracks are clearly visible.

I knew that if I did not resolve this issue, over time the cracks would widen and the particle board would start to seriously degrade.

 

sink_edge_tools_lowres

Tools used, left to right: sponge sanding block (medium-coarse grit), cheap china-bristle paint brush (noticeably used), utility knife and small putty-knife scraper.

 

Thus an ounce of prevention being would be worth a pound of cure, based on lots of experience with various types of caulks and paints, I decided to use an oil-based paint because this kind of paint ‘soaks in’ to porous surfaces, whereas water-based paints tend to form a skin ‘on top’ of whatever they are applied to.

sink_edge_supplies_lowres

I used oil-based Gloss White to touch-up the countertop around the stove and oil-based Aluminum for the edge of the countertop around the sink and for the metal lid that closes over the burners of the propane stove

 

I used the putty knife, utility knife and block sander pretty much in that order to remove all of the previous coating material that could be removed without damaging the edge. On the stove lid, which has a slight texture, I gave it a good scrub with the sponge sanding block, brushed away all the dust and then wiped everything down with a paper towel dampened with rubbing alcohol.

And I decided that when I applied the paint to the edge around the sink, I would bring it up onto the surface of the countertop, mocking-up the effect of having the sink edged with a stainless steel rim.

sink_taped_lowres

I used blue tape (the kind made for painting) to mask-off the faux edge I created for the sink.

With all of this prep work done, I started applying the Aluminum paint. The first coat, around the skin edge, was diluted with some mineral spirits to help it soak deeper into the particle board and aid in waterproofing.

 

The first coat on the stove-lid went on full strength, however when working with Aluminum paint on metal I find that with the first coat I need to be very persistent in painting it out and re-brushing to get uniform coverage.

All in all, the stove lid and the countertop edge got four coats of Aluminum paint. Each coat of paint was allowed to cure for at least 24 hours (above 60-degrees with good ventilation) before the surface was (gently) scrubbed with the block sander, wiped with a clean dry cotton rag and  another coat of paint was applied.

Then, about 48 hours after the final coat of Aluminum paint — and after I used the utility knife to (gently) score along the edge of the blue tape (so I wouldn’t inadvertently pull the edge of the paint I had just worked very hard to lay in place) — I removed the blue tape and touched up the white countertop here and there with  oil-based Gloss White.

sink_stovetop_lr_111915

End result is that I am quite happy <smile> and hope this info is useful to those who wanted to know… (((hugs))) ~Christine

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Maiden Voyage: Suzy October 17, 2015

Suzy and I have been friends for nearly 15 years. We met when gozarks.com was in its heyday and she contacted me (as editor) with some questions about the region of the Ozarks where I lived as she had a hankerin’ to move.

Suzy's hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed.

Today, Suzy’s reclusive residence in Izard County sports a hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed. Hard to believe this was once a dirt-floored pole barn.

Which she did, to a small (neglected) house on the Middle Fork of the Little Red River that she (amazingly) hand-crafted into a sprightly manifestation of elegant utility, homespun charm and humble grace. Replete with simple touches of user-convenience and common sense, every necessity of living life comfortably was delightfully woven together as an accommodating home.

We lunched there several times over the course of many months, in her charming kitchen, next to the massive stone hearth in her ‘open floor plan’ living room, over which she had hand-carved a mantle to read: “This is my rest forever. Here I will dwell because I desire it.”

The email from Suzy that came with this pic: "This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like,  but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I'd never seen these, until I grew some. I'll save seeds, if you want some."

The email from Suzy, about a month ago, that came with this pic: “This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like, but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I’d never seen these, until I grew some. I’ll save seeds, if you want some.”

Lunch with Suzy was always a delicious treat for me, still being immersed in the parenting and homeschooling of children, the duties of caring for my disabled husbnd, and the breadwinner agenda of a professional work-a-day-world.

To just sit and relax in the company of another intelligent woman, swapping stories of times past and hopes yet to come, was like going on a picnic in a different universe.

Then it came to pass that she was literally flooded out. The river rose terribly high, twice in one season. Her household was decimated both times. And after recovering from the first intrusion, when the second deluge came barely a heartbeat later, she knew it was time to move.

For a while then, she relocated quite near me in the city of Fairfield Bay. But during this time we were both rather busy with other stuff in our respective lives – me, with navigating through a divorce and moving my brood to the abode where I and two of my five adult children continue to reside, and she with similar though different lifestyle evolutions.

We kept in-touch with email and when she announced plans to relocate to a remote chunk of land in Izard County where she would realize her dream to be a self-sufficient homesteader, I celebrated for and with her.

I visited her remote hide-way once, soon after she’d settled in to her bare-bones L-shaped polebarn with a dirt floor. Completely off-grid, water was pulled by the bucket from an ancient hand-dug well, the single working remains of a farmstead that had thrived here, an hundred years ago.

She planned to camp inside the polebarn, which she’d designed, had constructed by a local contractor and equipped with a wood stove, over her first winter while she figured out the parameters of her envisioned home. And now, on my homeward-bound travels, I would be getting a chance to see more than photos of what she had accomplished.

We had, however, determined that it would not be feasible to take Louise up the driveway to Suzy’s abode as it is passable only by vehicles with a lot of undercarriage clearance and quick maneuverability, like the 4-wheel drive pick-up truck she drives. Thus we chose to meet at the local Post Office, which closes at noon and seemed a good spot to park Louise while Suzy ferried me to her home for our visit.

Yes, Suzy does (finally) have 'running water' -- a la the 'gravity flow' system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

Yes, Suzy’s mountain hideaway does now finally have ‘running water’ — a la the ‘gravity flow’ system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

This was a good plan, except for the overhead wires… which I almost (but not quite) learned more than I care to know about, the hard way.

That is, when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that there were some electrical and phone lines high overhead, draped from the top of a tall pole at the front corner of the parking lot, near the street, running diagonally across the parkong lot to the back-rear corner of the building… but factually, I didn’t really give them much thought.

At least not until I got out of Louise, preparing to get in the pick-up with Suzy, and noticed that the low end of the lines were now resting on the upper-front fiberglass roof of my mobile abode.

Thus my next move was to calculate how I might-could backup to be clear of the lines without inadvertently taking them down…

Which I was, ultimately, able to do <smile>… but not without some very careful maneuvering.

And me chastising myself for being so stupid as to having gotten myself into such a fix to begin with – and at the same time congratulating myself for having recognized a potentially bad situation and having figured-out a ‘no harm done’ solution.

Ah-h-h-h… the challenges of RVing….!!!

The short ride back into Suzy’s dominion was every bit as rugged as promised. Had she intentionally constructed some sort of modern gauntlet to keep unwelcome visitors at bay, she could not have done better than Mother Nature’s protruding ‘wash board’ of tree-roots, gaping gullies, dry washes, and jagged terrain.

The 'volunteer' butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy's vegetable-scrap compost and produced a good harvest.

The ‘volunteer’ butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy’s vegetable-scrap compost.

But then, like a mirage in the wilderness, the gentle harmonious homestead she’s sculpted comes into view; unassuming; a simple modern metal-sheathed structure with a pleasant screen porch, surrounded by a patchwork of garden spots, blooming flowers, and running vines.

Step through the unpretentious doorway of this handsome polebarn and enter a custom tailored wonderland of clean lines, well organized structure and methodical fancy.

The walls and towering ceiling of the large L-shaped living area are precisely fitted tongue-and-groove, the masterwork of which one cannot truly tally without knowing that each board was sawed by hand and patiently installed over months of diligent physical pursuit, as was each stone-paver in the hand-laid floor, each plank in the raised woodfloor section areas, and the design of each piece of handcrafted furniture, such as her mini-4-poster bed.

Truly, a testament to what one person can accomplish, alone, with creativity, intelligence and diligence… while living on a fixed (frugal) income, with no electricity, no central heat, no air conditioning and no running water… A living work of art in perpetual motion, beautifully intertwined with the elements of Suzy’s nature.

We spoke of many things, as we always do, and noshed on bagels with cream cheese. We compared notes about how new chapters were opening in our respective lives, enticing and encouraging each of us to explore new horizons, and thus she was doing some deep-seated thinking about what she wanted to do ‘next’.

With many chapters of that conversation yet to come, Suzy delivered me back to Louise and I again headed south with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home. But when I got there, things changed. And that is where my Maiden Voyage saga shall continue and conclude <smile>, next time we chat… Until then, (((hugs))) and happy traveling… ~Christine

Addendum: Subsequent to our visit, Suzy decided to sell her minimalist-mansion on 40 forested acres with natural spring-fed pond. If you’d like to know more, lemme know and I’ll get y’all in touch…!!!

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Maiden Voyage: Friends October 14, 2015

Filed under: COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,RELATIONSHIPS,TECHNOLOGY — gozarks @ 8:56 am
After home from my Maiden Voyage, I took Louise for an oil-change... and finding a local shop that could accommodate 10' of hard clearance was a challenge...!!!

After I got home from my Maiden Voyage (see: Intermezzo), I took Louise for an oil-change… and finding a local shop that could accommodate 10′ of hard clearance was a challenge…!!!

Monday evening (Sept. 28), as I enjoyed the accoutrements of my mobile apartment in Camelot, I had no thoughts on where I would end up Tuesday night. Setting out from Vicki’s Monday morning, the only destination I had clearly in mind was lunching with a friend in Mountain View, Arkansas, on Thursday, October 1st, after which Louise and I would traverse the final 50 miles of my trek back home.

Thus I got out my road maps for Arkansas and Missouri… the paper & ink variety that take up half of your berth when spread open <smile>… and I looked at what sorts of ‘points of interest’ I might visit along my way.

I recalled, from my drive to St. Louis, signage which promoted Mammoth Spring, and that my mom, Anna Mae, had (when I was a child) referenced this place as one that she and my dad, Gerald Edward, had visited… perhaps on their honeymoon…??? Or a vacation…??? Or coincidental to a visit with relatives who, as I understood it, lived in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas…???

Or perhaps when my dad was stationed, with the Army, at a base in Missouri…???

All I know for sure is that all of these things brought my mom and dad to this region several times before I was born. And that my mother always spoke fondly of these memories… which I deemed ‘reason enough’ to make a visit to Mammoth Spring State Park.

Examining my maps in contemplation of a course from Mammoth Spring to Mountain View, I noticed that Cherokee Village – home to long-long-time friends Ruth & Larry – was right along the way.

This brought to mind a virtual tsunami of recollections, from whence we first met (through our respective work with the Ozark Small Farm Viability Project nearly 25 years ago), through the mega-support they generously gave when the kids’ dad nearly died (1993) and our family of six was suddenly indigent, on to the present day with them preparing to relocate from their home of nearly 20 years in Cherokee Village to the great state of California where they, who are roughly ten-years my senior, will be in close proximity to daughterly kin.

So I called… And Ruth was elated to hear from me. How propitious, she said, that I could stop by to visit right at this moment in time, because she and Larry had set a closing date for the sale of their house and, true to her promise, she was about to get in touch with me so we could get together before they left the state.

And of course, she said, I would be warrmly welcome to camp in their driveway overnight… It was absolutely wonderful for me to visit, and they would be looking forward to my arrival which I estimated would be somewhere around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon.

The route I chose (east on U.S. 160 from Poplar Bluff to Alton, then south, ending up on U.S. 63 into Cherokee Village) was about 110 miles, which I allowed myself 4 hours to travel since I needed to make a provisioning stop for milk, bread, eggs, ice and few other things on the list of stuff I wanted to add to inventory before I overnighted again, anywhere.

Because one of the things known all along but quickly realized anew when the reality of the moment setts in, is that once you are settled into a site – whether it is boondocking in a friend’s backyard or with full hook-ups at an RV park – you simply cannot ‘run to the store’ at the drop of a hat to get whatever you ran out of or forgot…. you just don’t want to… it is too much trouble (at least for me) in terms of maximizing my own personal enjoyment of the moment, delivering too little happiness in return for the stamina I have to investment <lol>…!!!

Still, I do not enjoy ‘doing without’… thus my penchant for preparedness.

The drive was a joy and a pleasure, traveling on winding, hilly and mostly 2-lane blacktop, through a landscape of farms, rural communities, small towns and pastoral views. Autumn colors having not yet taken hold, green was the predominant roadside hue, with the sky overhead radiating such a dazzling blue that I just wanted to drink it all in and saturate myself with it.

Overall, this journey was deliciously uneventful… even though I did manage to get turned-around with directions a couple of times… but hey… such should be the worst problem I ever encounter in life <grin>.

Selecting the precise spot to park when I arrived at Ruth & Larry’s proved to be a bit challenging. The paved driveway, which was generously offered, was sloped too much for my personal comfort and the road in front of their house (which was level) was narrow with no shoulder to speak of. Finally, I determined that I could perhaps straddle a ditch between the road and their front yard, which – with my hosts’ permission and after checking to make sure the ground was firm – I did, and it worked out fine.

That is, I managed to park level enough so that if I wanted to cook an egg I would not have to keep chasing it off one side of the frying pan…. but alas, things were off-kilter enough that I did not feel comfortable running the 3-way fridge on propane – which is a glorious option and works perfectly when things are level… but that I am unwilling to operate when the vehicle is, so to speak, a quarter-bubble off plumb.

Our visit that evening, shared over a delicious meal prepared by Ruth, included the company of a mutual friend, Suzy, who I’ll tell tall tales about in the next installment of this missive. Our conversations were warm, laced with funny stories, friendly and enlightening. One of those ‘good times was had by all’ happenings that roll merrily through our lives..

I retired, bone weary, around 11pm and the next morning, having brewed coffee on the propane stove in the old percolator and enjoyed a second round of brown-rice with scrambled egg, around 10am my leisurely visit with Ruth & Larry resumed.

And I must say here that I find this to be the most luxurious part of the whole RVing experience… that I can, given merely a fairly level parking space, ‘house guest’ at someone’s home without having to invade their space or consume their resources… that I can, during our visit, take care of my own personal wants and needs (ie: scrambled egg with brown rice) without being an inconvenience or imposition to them… Yet we can, for a span of time, be neighbors and visit. Share a few laughs. Give each other some (((hugs))), and then wander along our respectively merry ways.

Having now experienced this fabulous luxury of ‘bringing my own accommodations’ — well, let’s just say that it is the only way to fly… and that Wednesday morning was definitely a first-class ride…!!!

Larry, who has for a while been experiencing some unpleasant things with his health (which is part of the ‘why’ they are relocating) was in a wonderfully chipper mood and over the course of a couple of hours, he and Ruth and I ‘solved all the world’s problems’ regarding the general state of the economy, the instability of wall street, gun control, sex offender registration, the state of health care, the good vs bad of immunizations, and …. well, you get the picture.

A man of considerable intellectual prowess retired from a successful professional career who, when his health supported it, vigorously enjoyed golf, fishing, and creating beautiful furniture from cast-off wood, Larry now spends much of his time relaxing, watching TV and communing with the families of birds that visit the feeder viewable through the couple’s living room picture window.

Just before noon, Louise and I followed them in their auto up, down, around and through the maze of intersections from their home to the City Center, where they had an appointment to keep and I would head-out on day-6 of my roving adventure… which this time I had determined would take me through the tiny-town of Violet Hill (roughly 30 miles south of Cherokee Village) for a visit with (previously mentioned) friend Suzy… and which is where I shall pick up this story, next time I write.

In the interim, please accept my most heartfelt thanks for the warm-fuzzies shared with me by those who have been reading my Maiden Voyage notes. It is rewarding to know that the words I have written somehow sing sentiments and ideas which in some way resonate favorably and harmoniously with others – be you close family members, yet-to-be-met cousins, new or long-time friends.

I feel that an apology is incumbent upon me, for failing to thank each of you more personally and directly… but alas, even in my age of retirement, it seems to be increasingly challenging to get done everything that I want to do… no matter how much I want to do it…!!! So I’ll just say thanks muchly for all the the warm fuzzies and that I look forward to our paths meeting for a real-time visit, soon… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

More animals dead… January 29, 2011

Back on January 4th and 5th, we looked at the strange and widespread animal deaths that came with the New Year. Here now is a follow-up that sorta summarizes things to date. Note, however, that no substantive answers have been found and that the reason given for the death of the 200 cows on a Wisconsin farm just seems rather funky… but then, the true truth of such things may only be known by scientists. I wonder, where are their voices?

UPDATE: February 2, 2011: More fish dead in Arkansas

 

google July 3, 2010

One of the side-effects of our trip was that I was somewhat forced to use my gmail account, which I have had for a very long time but had never quite gotten the hang of the options it uses to categorize and sort mail, and I really don’t like having to learn new things unless it is obvious to me that there is some great advantage to it in which case you’ll find me at the head of the line. However…

When gmail and I first became acquainted, I had neither the time nor the desire to learn a new email utility AND (if I liked it) switch-over all of my contacts, correspondence, etc., from one format to another. So my gmail addy just sorta sat there, doing nothing, with me cleaning out the inbox every once in a great while but nothing else.

As we prepared to embark on this road trip, I started thinking about gmail again because I knew that it would be much easier to access an online gmail/yahoo/whatever type account while traveling than to access my email any other way.

Also, that several folks who I consider to be highly competent with technology have been routinely using gmail for quite some time. So, I dediced, I would politely force myself to utilize gmail exclusively during the three weeks of the trip, getting myself totally conversant with it, and then decide what I wanted to do (about switching or not) to gmail as my primary email account. Well…

This morning I signed-up for Google Voice which, as Google’s marketeers say of the FREE service: “Welcome to Google Voice. Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all of your phones, saves your voicemail online, and transcribes your voicemail to text. Other cool features include the ability to listen in on messages while they’re being left, block unwanted callers, and make cheap international calls. We hope you enjoy using Google Voice.”

The ‘sign-up’ process was quick and easy (though the number selection process was less intuitive than I’d have liked), the sign-up system worked perfectly and the whole thing took less than 10 minutes. Next thing I knew there was a voice mail (transcribed also to text) from google in my Google Voice Inbox and I now have a totally free telephone number that anyone can call and leave me a voice mail message, anytime of the day or night. Give me a call now if you’d like… my number is (575) 415-4854

Swept away by the sublime proficiency, expediency and ease of this process, compounded by the multiple benefits I have grown to appreciate about gmail over the last several weeks, I now know the solution to the oil-spill crisis: Put google in charge.