Progress Is Messy. Change Can Be Drippy. Smell Of Success.

New car smell, old funk trailer smell, choose one. Okay, neither smell appeals to me, but the faint aroma of freshly painted walls, newly sewn curtains crisply starched, and reupholstered cushions, and I am transcended into bliss.

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I bought Thelma Lou a year ago Fathers Day. Last June when we towed her home from Prineville she had been stored in a lot for awhile. She had been a weekend camper to the coast and housed a teen son and his friends for a time. She had all the ear marks of being a good horse, but had been ridden hard and put away wet – for example….

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She was full of funk, but not in the hipster kind of way.

I cleaned her up, spent an all-nighter giving her a paint job, and revived the gem that she is with a new facelift. Paint is a magic bullet. I was delighted in taking her from neglected, to a cozy cottage made just for a girl like me. I thought about her even when I wasn’t with her, like a first crush. Her blemishes were nearly invisible to me, even though touching every surface she had with a toothbrush or paintbrush revealed her issues as I progressed. Last summer I worked on her plumbing, redid all the pipes only to find out her tank (black water only) was more leaky than a sieve so there was no reason to get her toilet up and ‘running’. So we hauled water, slipped a little bucket into her toilet bowl for nighttime potty and dry camped with her over the last year. It has been fantastic and a game-changer for the adventure we can have as a couple and as a family. I adore Staycations like never before, and by Staycation, I mean the driveway sleepover – a home away from home, with a full kitchen and shower only 30 yards from her front door. Living in the country is a real plus for a Staycation driveway adventure. Grand kid sleepovers are a breeze, and you can always put someone out there in a pinch. Thelma Lou has lots for us to be in love with.

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Having waxed on to the point of sappy, I want to be real. She has issues. She has leaked, she has wrinkles in her paneling, ( don’t we all at almost 50?), some lifting vinyl on her ceiling in places, she needs a new tank, the toilet working, and she has a small tear in her siding from a meet up with a mailbox at our address. Having said that, she is real. Real history, real character, real bumps and bruises, real life under her belt and frankly, it is the charm of who this 2 wheeled grandma Thelma Lou is.

This week I have been painting again. Her adventures over the past year have left some scuffing on her hasty paint job. She needs a good deep clean again and we have been bonding this week. I think she senses I am getting her ready to house others who need some good R&R and could benefit from her cozy enveloping atmosphere. The fresh paint is covering the same old drips and runs that were already in place, but she seems refreshed. She seems ready for the road. She seems to be beckoning as if to say, “I am not perfect, but I am comfortable and hospitable. Come just relax, I’m real, I’m safe, and I can’t wait to meet you right where I am.”. So I am taking a clue from this alter ego of mine and getting her ready for company. She, no we, are about to embark on a new adventure, imperfect in body, and perfect in spirit. A half gallon of paint later, we are nearly ready to embrace a dream right where we are instead of waiting for perfection and the perfect moment. We don’t want to miss the life hiding under the barrage of details that would hold us back. We have planned this out, but left room for detours along the way. Even though I am a consummate planner, I don’t want to miss life while planning for it. At 50 years of age, I am finally starting to learn a bit about balance.

The importance of dreaming in earnest

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Time has passed. All of us know it, most of us feel it, but none of us can do a thing about it. For the past several months life has has been full, not necessarily eventful, but full.

Sometimes living your dream is crowded out by the importance of living your life.

I am finally all wrapped up with school for the 2011-2012 year with my now Freshman and Sophomore young men. Except for sending the books back from this year, we can say “That’s a wrap.” We school online from home and it is an exacting and rewarding part of our life. Having stated that, it is also a significant time absorber and a primary focus for our family.

With summer break finally here it is time for me to fit life and dream together again – like well fit puzzle pieces instead of holding the random pieces and looking at the photo on the box in utter disbelief that it’ll all go together.

One of the things I love about my life is that there are so many pieces to it. I wear a lot of hats, and always feel like I have the potential to wear a few more, or at least try on ones that look intriguing. The last hat I tried on was the ‘Bobbi The Builder Hat’ The hat that I wear when I can repair and re-road ready an old trailer all by myself. The magic contractor hat that tells me I can do it, I just have to learn how. The hat that takes me from a passenger of my dream to the driver. I tried this hat on last fall and I learned something when looking in the mirror, it was too big.

Sure, the hat was too big but it put it on anyway. I can do a lot of things. I’ve made benches out of barnwood, birdbaths out of leftover concrete and rhubarb leaves and probably my finest achievement – three wonderful children. Unfortunately the skills of being a mom or bench builder didn’t quite prepare me for the large scale rehabilitation our dear Roxy is needing.

Add to this temporary lack of carpentry skills and table-saw-magic a healthy dose of rain (as in months of relentless Oregon rain), and no where out of the elements to work and you can see where this is going.

The hat slipped and momentarily obscured my view of my dream. But I refuse to give up.

I took it off and decided to wait until a smaller size hat or more experience came alongside me. Rain, tent vs shop to work in, school starting again, obligations, commitments, uncertainty, new adventures, grocery shopping, holidays, family time and life just caused Roxy The Aristocrat to take a back seat. I can almost bet I am preaching to the choir here, all of us have a full schedule.

So, not wanting to post something inspiring like, “DAY 123, No Progress Today” I didn’t post anything. To add to the word drought I didn’t set my blog up correctly to get email notifications when folks commented. Ugh. Over the months though I remained ever hopeful that there would be a coinciding break in the weather and our schedules. Neither appeared, and more time than I anticipated moved on without my blogging. But, there was progress.

We were able to take a couple of trips in Thelma-Lou, our 15′, 1965 Kit Companion over the winter. During a trip to Mt. Vernon, Washington an idea birthed itself into thought-life. I was preparing Thelma Lou ready for our return home adventure, when something I call vision came dashing into my world setting me in a new direction. The idea nearly sent me into a fit of cheerleading enthusiasm, and yet it seemed just hair-brained enough to sound silly if I said it aloud. I kept the vision to myself for a little while. When we had traveled 3 of the 5 hours of the trip home and it was getting dark enough my husband couldn’t really see my face, I said in a serious tone,

“I have an idea, but I am a bit afraid to tell you aloud, and seem silly, so understand I think I mean it.”

Being my biggest fan, he loved the idea and plans and what-if… began bubbling up among the road noise and bouncing in the bone-jarring cab of Fern, our 1989 Ford pick-up truck. Since then we have purchased a new tow rig, a vintage 1979 Jeep Wagoneer named Wilma.

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We have mapped out a plan, made a logo and branding, sent a some friends on a trial run and embraced a vision. Now I am not only the owner of two wonederful vintage trailers and a cool old Jeep named Wilma, I have a way to support my dream and share it with others. I have become bold about sharing my vision and, to date, I have not had anything but excited support from those who hear about my plan. I have an unwritten waiting list, so I have to get busy.

Phase one: Try the idea on and see if if flies
Phase two: Try it in real life.
Phase three: Brand it my own
Phase four: Get it on the road
Phase five: Get it known.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but hey, we all need some inspiration to get us through the tough times. Here is a concept photo of phase three.

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So instead of just sharing the story of rebuilding a re-road ready trailer, I will share the adventure of building a business, another venue for life, and more adventure to share with you here. Stay tuned as I share what the vision is, how I have chosen to implement it in an imperfect state rather than not at all, and how it changes me and itself as we travel this road.

As the country song goes; “Life’s a dance you learn as you go, sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.”