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.


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….


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.


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


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.


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.


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.”

What color is determination?

What Color Is... D E T E R M I N A T I O N?

When my daughter who is now a mother herself was very young, she asked me in all seriousness:

“Mama, what sound does a mountain make?”

It is my second favorite question in my lifetime, the first being my husbands marriage proposal. I woke up this morning feeling achy and a bit fluish. Just over tired and under hydrated I think, but as I lay in the softness of the morning I had a thought travel through my head:

“What color is determination?”

Right out of the gate I need to explain I am very color oriented. Color is a language not just difference of light and prisms for me. I know that this thought regarding ‘what color is determination’ traveled through time in an immeasurable blink of an instant, but it lingered in my soul and made me take notice. It wasn’t just some new age moment of yoga like transcendental meditation; it was something that on this particular morning  when I was feeling everything but my oats, seemed like a tool to get to the next phase of the teardown on Roxy. Maybe it is because I am feeling a bit uncertain about this repair-rebuild phase of travel trailer re-roading and need a booster shot of confidence. If you knew how many hours I’d researched, ‘repairing  corners in a travel trailer’  you’d tell me to get a life. So before getting out of bed, I took the luxury of trying to determine what color determination is.

My mind has a quirky way of associating or translating color into experience. As a professional color consultant, one of the key questions I ask my clients as a focus goal is:

“What do you want this area or room to feel like when you are in here?”

It doesn’t matter to me what colors they want to use, as long as I know how they want it to feel. It’s my tool for using the color palette to their advantage. When I think about how I want Roxy to make you feel when you are inside her it is, ‘Edgy-Retro-Fun’ …Young, but grown-up, and maybe even old enough that you shouldn’t be carded, but are still flattered when you are. I want it to be a place anyone feels delightfully set apart from the grind of life and released to have fun, no matter if they are an edgy or nerdy single, fun couple, or young family. I think Roxy says that on her interior now. So, now I must  wrap the outside in stability so I can send the occupants down the road in a re-road ready AdventureMobile. As I think about what color safety, structure, reliable, strength, solid, fortress looks like, I keep coming back to one color.

Inspiration, wood rot, dry rot, rebuild,

Sonlight.                                                                                                                                         No that wasn’t a typo. Sonlight. To see the color of determination for me, I just have to keep my focus on where my inner strength comes from. The son of God. Jesus.           You might think I am getting sidetracked and that this is turning into a Sunday school lesson, but if that is true, you would probably think I practice Yoga and transcendental meditation when I asked you what you want a room to feel like. That’s okay. I know where my focus has to be, and that my focus will yield the strength of character that brings determination to do the hard things. Say what you will about Jesus Christ, but you have to give him the respect that says, if nothing else, he was determined.

One thing for sure is that the color is subjective to the owner. I bet that my color of determination is actually a chameleon. What color gives me strength to move forward? The color of unbridled , self sacrificing love. Getting my color in focus this morning, the black rot of wood doesn’t seem so scary, overwhelming and daunting. I am determined to cut out the black and replace it with the bright fresh color of new wood. One color of strength. One color of determination.

D E T E R M I N A T I O N probably varies in color

It’s like being an archeologist…only sidetracked

     I worked with a soft toothbrush (2 actually), a spray bottle of magic, and a soapy rag soaked in a bucket of hot water for hours late into the night on getting the windows clean. Then I moved to the siding. I didn’t mean to wash just one side of the Aristocrat at a time, but it is working that way. I just get so caught up in the moment, that one little rubbing off of dirt leads to the next. It’s like being an archeologist. You discover new shiny things that make you want to see if the neighboring item has the same gleam.

My plan of action was to clear out, and clean up the entire inside before going to the next phase of denuding the flora and fauna growing on the outside of Roxys’ skin.

Clearing and Cleaning Roxy the 13' Aristocrat Lo-Liner

Cleaning the windows in the Aristocrat Travel Trailer

I wanted to give her the time she deserved for the full dermabraison treatment.

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.

I knocked off a hunk of olive and black moss with the tail end of my toothbrush and it just seemed to go from there. I’d unveiled white. Not grey, not moss, not dirt, but vintage factory white unseen for ages by any other human. Next thing I knew, I was frying myself a hamburger at 9:30 at night. Hours had passed and I only had the light of a full moon to gauge the success of my labor by. I must say, Roxy, like most women, is beautiful by moonlight filtered through the oaks and firs. I went to bed satisfied, and whipped, but a little afraid that the light of day would reveal nothing but a bad job of cleaning and need for more work. I remember praying as my head hit the pillow and being thankful for a good days work and the body to do the work, as well as the lyrics of a Fernando Ortega hymn going through my head as I fell into a deep sleep.

“When the morning comes on the farthest hill
I will sing His name, I will praise Him, still.
When dark trials come and my heart is filled
With the weight of doubt, I will praise Him, still.”

When I saw my husband off to work this morning at 5:45 there wasn’t enough daylight yet to see. Later after some coffee and internet time, I braved my phone camera and went out for a look.

WHALA my first big before and after photo reveal. Something to sing about!

1967 Aristocrat Before cleaning with a toothbrush and hot soapy water

BEFORE: The Beast hiding the Beauty


1967 Aristocrat complete with moss



Scrubbed & Cleaned up version of the service side of the 1967 13 foot Aristocrat Travel Trailer

AFTER: The Beauty. She's pretty straight with no rust on this side after all the toothbrush archeological digging. No more 'Tears of Green Goo' running down her side.

Meet My PersonalTrainer: Mr. Clean


I have had an affair going on in my life for 40 years or more. It isn’t the kind of affair that can ruin a marriage, or one that you keep secret, but it isn’t one that anyone outside of my thought life  knows about. Read on if you want the gory details.

In the cleaning category I am a bit of a ‘freak of nature’. I believe in all natural products, I’ve made many of my own cleaning supplies since the 70’s. My sister’s family calls me  things like “Lavender Lover”, “Hemp”, “Auntie J the vinegar lady”. While cleaning out Roxy the new trailer yesterday, I found a half used bottle of white vinegar and I knew it was ‘KIZMUT CLEANING KARMA’. We were made to be together, destined for a whole new clean future.  Well, the unfortunate truth was that the grunge that can only happen in a ‘Man Camping Elk Trailer’ vinegar and dish soap and baking soda just wasn’t cutting it. Literally. Gummy greasy stuff just got kind of a sticky-soupy, but didn’t leave the surface on the rag when I scrubbed at it.

1967 Lo-Liner Stove

Turquoise stove and appliances in 1967 Aristocrat Lo-Liner

I was huffing away in the 90 degree sweatbox when my mind started to wander the way it can in a mindless task. It was then that I remembered him.

Mr. Clean. Maybe it’s the inner bad girl in me that wants the muscle bound, white Tee-shirt clad earring brandishing, arm crossed across the chest pleasant man, but whatever it is, he’s on my mind. I think about that distinctive scent of his, the way that neon lemon-green looks on him, the power I feel when we are together. I don’t know, but that cleaning product, Mr. Clean is intoxicating to me when I pour a slug of the toxic liquid onto a magic eraser sponge and just wipe away grime. No scrubbing, just an easy monotonous rubbing and wiping that leaves a gleaming surface behind even on things I can’t believe disappear. Things  like magic marker, and the six inch circle of something I was kind of afraid of but that a straight ammonia soak didn’t touch, paint over-spray and other carbuncles of cleaning despair.

It was after 7 straight hours of bonding with my Genie, a toothbrush, magic eraser sponge,  a filthy rag and mechanic strength rubber gloves,  that I realized something this man of great physique  had done for me…no other man had. This investment of time together between just he I showed me something. I had biceps again. The kind of aching biceps any weight training babe would smile at when she made a Popeye pose in the mirror. Ya sure, my back ached and my head was a little funny from the heat; the smell of my own armpits as I cleaned the ceiling offended my feminine senses, but I caught a glimpse of my bulging bicep in a wall mirror in the trailer. All this focused low rep work had transformed my bicep wobble into a  steely ball of bulging power to be reckoned with.

I was powerful in the hands of Mr. Clean. I looked 20, 15, or even 10 years younger. I had MOXY.  For a minute I fell in love with my personal trainer like a student and teacher. The crush made me flush, drunk with the power of life. Oh, Roxy and Mr. Clean you are transforming me as much as I am you. This is a beautiful relationship.

Mr. Clean - My personal trainer

Who needs Zumba when you've got Mr. Clean?!

24 hours later I sit typing and I wonder what product is out there that will work on my aching back, sagging middle, and sore knees when I finish scrubbing the rest of Roxy today? Yesterdays 30 something  in the mirror is todays 2nd cup of coffee and a pain reliever looking for motivation and a personal massage therapist. Yet deep in my heart, the love affair continues and I look forward to the next CLEAN adventure. That is the stuff that keeps this dream going. New adventures at every corner and a chance to become all that I can be. Living today in a vintage way.

I’ll love you always Mr. Clean.