We could live in here some day (soon!)

Even though it’s the heart of summer, best not to let academic writing skills lag! Thus, a topic sentence for you: In this blog post, you’ll learn about the completion of the bed/dinette AND cushions, light fixture installation, another successful flea market trip, and a problem-solving hole! Maybe we’ve said this before, but it feels like we’ve made real progress and are getting to the final push. See how proud we are, not exactly lounging, but definitely posing for the very first time in our living space on the completed dinette/bed.


So, about that hole. A little animation would probably illustrate this much better than I can explain, but let me try. Once the dinette / bed was done, we sat down in it and our planned cushion thickness was too high – our feet just barely grazed the ground. After some concerted thinking and lots of “What if we tried…?”, the answer miraculously appeared (answers to these kinds of questions have been slow lately, given the heat and humidity). Here’s the process that seems to work when solving these dilemmas:  First, we ask ourselves, “What are the elements of this situation we can’t change.” (Forces you to recognize elements that are cast in stone and to focus only on what you can change. A structure materializes.) Second, we try to remember to keep it simple. In the case of the cushion crisis, we soon realized we could not change the height of the dinette seats, but we could adjust the table height (get out the drill) as well as the seat cushion thickness.  It all flowed from there, as the next picture illustrates.


Ben cut a hole in the subfloor (as best we could tell we weren’t going to cut into anything important but it was a real nail biter!) so we could lower the table pedestal into it, thus reducing the table’s overall height, as seen in the picture below. This also allowed the tapered pedestal to fit into the base securely as designed, and eliminated the need for Ben to do another customization. (The apple was for effect.)


Then we reduced the cushion thickness to allow our feet to touch the floor!  When all was complete (ta da!) the thickness of the fill-in cushion on the table had to be adjusted to make everything level. Lots of moving parts in decisions like this, and our measuring/arithmetic skills get tested! In the end, we’re usually still crossing our fingers as we reach for the power tools (or checkbook).

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As soon as I finished the last two cushions (the curved corners – not any harder than the others, but don’t tell anyone!) we realized, indeed, we need back cushions, too. Short ones that won’t cover the windows, but will provide a base for said lounging. So I am off to my fabric and foam haunts today.

Now, the lights. When Ben first acquired these marine light fixtures (out of India where they salvage retiring cargo ships, strip every nut and bolt from them, then sell it all on ebay) I wasn’t sure they would work in the Airstream (I’m always imagining bumping my head on them – on everything really) but was I wrong. Ben installed them this week, with lots of persistent wiring and rewiring, and we think they look AWESOME!
IMG_0319IMG_0114The pic on the right also shows off the now completed overhead cabinets, complete with magnetic closing latches and gas piston supports to keep the doors open.

This week’s day off took us to the Long Beach flea market. We picked up this vintage “KampKold” cooler – aluminum, in great shape, 50s era. Also, to the right, a just-right piece we’ll use for our “junk drawers”. It’s some old industrial metal drawers with a cool piece of beat-up walnut on top. Around here, any flea market trip is considered a roaring success if we buy something we need (not just something we want) and Ben is relieved of the need to build said item(s)!

I love you all so much and it was all I could do to get up from sitting on the cooler to take this picture. It was so hot and I was waiting in the shade for Ben to get the car.

I love you all so much and it was all I could do to get up from sitting on the cooler to take this picture. It was so hot and I was waiting in the shade for Ben to get the car.

Finally, we had a lovely farewell dinner with Mrs. Blackmun, our former neighbor (mother of my friend Michelle). She sold her house and is moving on (as many of my parents’ friends are doing now). We reminisced about the good times – jumping over a king snake that blocked our path while walking their dog Smokey, and the neighbor with PTSD who shot up some cars one night. Mrs. Blackmun and my parents have always been there for each other through the years. In one story, Mrs. Blackmun (who is my sister Sara’s godmother) recalled Sara’s colic as a baby, saying only, but so empathetically, “Your poor mom.” I know her empathy, prayers and more have helped my parents immeasurably.

Dinner was a composed salad (on my grandmother’s china platter) inspired by NY Times – featuring white beans with lemon zest, walnuts, beets, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, grilled onions, asparagus, radishes, raw corn, and peaches. We also had grilled flank steak with chimichurri.

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Sara, right, is the hostess with the mostess while Ben and the older generation dig in. (Ben’s editorial note: Thanks for including me with the older generation). Older people don’t like arugula as much as my generation. They like quiche, soup, and meatloaf. (From Ben: I like gruel and mush of all kinds.) But I digress.

Sometimes relentless cushion sewing requires a little break for art therapy. This birthday card for a friend was created using 40-year-old construction paper, still in the same cabinet we used for art supplies as kids. What would you put in the speech bubble? Are you wondering why there isn’t a cat in the picture? Does the image foreshadow anything about our future? Where will we go shopping next? Stay tuned!


Lost and Found Storage Space

IMG_8119I spend a lot of time thinking about space. Like: Will we have to store the beer in the bathroom? (See pic at left.) Ben’s wardrobe could and will be just 7 or less pairs of everything, but I need 14, or 21 maybe. I also love to cook and making thoughtful, simple, and delicious meals will be a big part of what will make this adventure enjoyable and economical. Cooking requires stuff: food, and in most cases some sort of equipment beyond a mess kit. Food + cooking equipment + our combined 28 pairs of everything need space to reside in when not in use. So Ben, when not doing laundry, and mostly in response to my wishes, spends a lot of time trying to create / save / maximize space as he designs and builds.

Original interior - cabinets above couch - all gone.

Original interior – cabinets above couch – all gone.

If you look at the original pictures of the ‘68 Safari, there were fairly large cabinets on either end. Those cabinets we torn out and replaced with – a four inch deep, open aluminum shelves.

Artsy pic of the shelf where a big cabinet used to be.

Artsy pick of the shelf where the cabinet used to be.

Pretty! But not exactly practical for storing that 2lb bag of basmati rice, or the 12-pack of Tecate, the extra blanket or soup pot. And of course, when travelling, open shelves aren’t great places for storage, though when we are camping, I suppose we’ll be able to use them for sooooooomething—I’ll let you know. Maybe socks.

One recent Sunday, after a night of going to sleep and waking up thinking about space, I convinced Ben that a trip to one of the many by all accounts fabulous flea markets in the area might be a good break and a way to “purchase” rather than have to build or design hack some additional space. Though in his real life, Ben would go to swap meets, auctions, flea markets, garage sales, etc all day every day, in these couple of months, it’s been tough to tear him away from the job site.

Fridge of left; to be built bed/cabinet on right. Needed a cabinet that fits in the middle.

Fridge of left; to be built bed/cabinet on right. Needed a cabinet that fits in the middle.

But, we both agreed, the space between the fridge and the bed/dinette (as of yet, only marked out on blue tape on the floor) would be perfect for a cool vintage cabinet of some sort. It’s a very visible space, front and center when you step into the Airstream, and a piece of furniture could double as a side table and cabinet. We took measurements and off we went.

The Pasadena City College Flea Market – held the first Sunday of the month and from what we heard is a “just as good but less overwhelming” version of the Rose Bowl flea. After a couple of hours of up and down touring-lots to see, browse and purchase, with good prices-we came away with a couple of good finds. We spotted the white Westinghouse roaster cabinet pretty early in our rounds. We loved the original clock, the shape, the cavernous storage inside (it’s all relative people) the height, the depth BUT but decided it was too wide, maybe too much of a project in that we’d have to maybe cut a couple of inches off somehow stabilize it again by attaching it to the fridge cabinet. Not exactly the time save we were hoping for. So we wandered, bought a bunch of small tins for a dollar each that can be used for storage throughout, and bargained for a super IMG_8188 IMG_8187curvy gleamy bread box that in my real life I would never have used (just seems potentially like a place where bread goes to die) but will look and fit beautifully on our nice deep counter tops. Perhaps a place for bread, or more likely shelf stable pantry stuff. After thinking and searching and coming up empty for another cabinet, we decided the 50 buck price was right to give the Westinghouse a try. Maybe it would fit ok. Sure enough, when we placed it in the spot under the window and through a slab of wood on top (of course) it seems to really belong. So we lost two inches of width on the dinette. I will sleep on the bags of basmati rice if I have to!

In other space lost and found news, we realized we had more than a few inches of clearance between the top of the fridge and the countertop, and Ben set out to create some kind of cabinet there, really a little narrow cubby.

Foil friend for determining cabinet height

Foil friend for determining cabinet height

What could fit in such a small space? Foil and plastic wrap and baggies we decided, so a test-fit roll of aluminum foil became Ben’s constant companion as he measured and cut and fit. He worked tirelessly to get at least two inches of height out of that cubby. And he did it! We now have the coolest little sliding door cabinet. The door face is original trim from the Airstream. The handle is a through-bolt familiar to anyone who has ever come face to face with their subfloor. But it turns out, the foil fit, but plastic wrap doesn’t. So we imagine we will enjoy equally using that space for silverware – you can watch the full video demo on Instagram.

Screen grabs of sliding door cubby in action!

Screen grabs of the sliding door cubby in action!

If not silverware, maybe for our socks, or our rock collection, or our pet snake. Just kidding on the last two!