We’re going to Iceland

I have failed.  I have not finished the online story of the last time we went to Iceland, before we’re going again.  Even though it was getting a bit ridiculous to travelogue a trip we did two years ago, it was a mission I was determined to accomplish.   We have such great pictures and adventures from 2010.   I’m gonna let it go, though.  Oh well.  I don’t finish all my projects, I guess.

Although my brother and I were smitten with Iceland the first time and planned to go again in 2012, time trundled right along and 2012 showed up without us having produced any concrete plans, like tickets.  The pressure built; if we’re going to go, we have to start making it real… Then all this unexpected upheaval happened, which made Iceland recede into the distance and off the priority list so the likelihood waxed and waned.  Just when we’re getting back on our feet, H.W. and I got some welcome fall work that lands right when it would be ideal to be in Iceland.  So it seemed to be on the outer edge of possibility.

I wanted the relief of saying, Oh, let’s just go next year, but when I thought about waiting until next year, I got a knot of sadness in my chest.  Besides, if things go according to our plan B or C, we’ll have animals and gardens to care for, so now is the time to travel.  Even though it’s neither ideal timing nor convenient, I figured I’d rather just go while the going was possible.  My brother concurred, H.W. shrugged (he doesn’t know what there is to get excited about yet), and so we’re going.  It’s on!

Just when I surrendered all planning, because nothing, ever, at all, went according to plans, the probability field seemed to tighten up and now plans seem to be working again. We get things done, less falls through, it’s safer to have an expectation… I think it’s safe to make plans again.

Here’s hoping!

We’re going late in the year, in the rainy season, possibly well into the cold weather.  Oh well.  We’re cycling around the island, hopefully doing the ring road, plus all the good stuff that isn’t on the perimeter.  We’ll be camping all the time, like last time, and this time we’ll know all the things that we can miss and many that we must do.  And we’ll have more time, not be racing around everywhere to “fit it in”.

Bicycle travel will do that for you.  Slow things right down.

This time, I’m taking my little Rite in the Rain journal, and I am NOT making grand plans to write an illustrated diary of our every moment there.  No way.

5-star Compost Accommodation


H.W. built a deluxe compost bin for our current hosts.

The wood was salvaged from twisted, warped and collapsing old raised beds, but it cooperated very well when cut down into shorter lengths.

Yes, pressure treated wood is not good for contacting any dirt you grow food in, but it was available, “up”-cyclable, and probably already finished its nasty copper leaching after some years of exposure.

The boxes are 5’, 4’, and 3’, based on the idea that the ideal volume for compost to reach cooking temperatures is 4’ cubed.  However, the initial box always reduces in the first weeks before it’s time to move to the second, so making that box bigger means you’ll more likely get a full second box.  The third box is more storage than active, so if it gets utilized, it will handily hold the reduced volume of the cooked-down second box.

Altogether, a beautifully executed design for a closed compost.  The front pieces lift out one at a time, and the lid for holding in moisture is loose boards, also easily removable.

I think it’s funny because it looks like a big dresser.  Take the bucket of food scraps out and throw them into the backyard sock drawer!

The Five-Pallet Compost rather on the opposite end of the luxury spectrum, but still functional.

Buttoning up the cupboards


Shelves look pretty scrappy loaded with stuff without doors.  Frantic with the visual noise of all our belongings in such a little living space, we had to get doors on all the cupboards.

I had the idea that we could use Coroplast for everything that would otherwise be a thin panel board, like all the side walls of the cupboards.  I got the idea from Ikea.  I’d seen coroplast used in the door panels of one of their cupboard choices.  At the time I was annoyed with it.  “That stuff’s so cheap, and they’re selling it for how much?”  But it did look sleek.  We’re talking about the corrugated plastic that’s used for election campaign signs everywhere.

I had to sell H.W. on it, since it’s a plastic product.  I figured it would be extremely lightweight, plenty strong, attractive in its simplicity, easy to wipe clean, wouldn’t harbour or spread mold, and perhaps above all, installing it would be dreamy.  It was flexible, and it could be cut up with a knife, instead of taking multiple runs at it with a jigsaw (making all the curves).

It was all those things and more.  Oh, it was so easy to install.  I didn’t have to move.  I’d cut my piece, that took about 10 seconds, then carve away at the foam to make a slit to fit it in, then shave my piece a little (repeat, repeat), get it all snug in, and then slice off the outer edge if it was proud, all in situ.  Wow.  I was thrilled with that, thinking of the back and forthing with the saw if we were using wood- worse even than I’d imagined.  It was finicky work, but still went smooth and faster than anything else had.  I have a lot of respect for the original builders who were working with an uninsulated shell.  I screwed it on with wafer screws, which look flashy and modern.

The thing I didn’t expect, that I realized as soon as I got a couple sides up, was that it lets light through!  Instead of creating little caves when the sides go up, the insides of the cabinets are flooded with natural light still.  Continue reading Buttoning up the cupboards

Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing


It’s more comfortable to be working with wood again, that’s for sure. I hated the bondo and fiberglass. Unnatural stuff.

Now we’re into things that I recognize, we’re hitting the ReStore hard for various bits of wood. On this nearly dollhouse scale, scrap leftovers are more than adequate. For instance, we got our lovely countertop out of a partial box of bamboo floor.

The actual floor H.W. put together at the same time out of four pieces of salvaged hardwood click- the good kind, 3/16 of real hardwood, refinishable, on a plywood T+G base (as opposed to a digital photograph of wood glued onto a piece of composite plastic, like most laminate floor is).

H.W. glued the four pieces together and clamped them with truck straps, and then we had the central floor, floating on the rigid styrofoam.

Total cost for fabulous countertop and hardwood floor? $10. Such is the glorious bounty of the Re-store. Continue reading Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing

Context


Here I am, back for a bit.
Sorry about the absence.  It’s been a tough summer.

I feel like I’ve lost the core of my blog, not being in a place where I can have a garden.  Without that object of learning to produce food at the center of it all, it’s been hard to write.  Not to mention, I feel off balance in my whole life without that central focus.   As it’s turned out, though, instead of growing things and practicing what we’ve learned and learning more (our plan A), everywhere we go we find ourselves helping others in small ways to grow food.  That’s not so bad.  There are a lot of people making moves towards gardens, chickens, compost, and permaculture.  It’s wonderful to meet so many along the way.

It has been quite rough, but we’ve made the best of it and things are looking up.  Since my husband and I were forced suddenly to live in the U.S., we’ve been roaming the PNW, somewhat frantically finishing up the camper on the fly so we can travel in it, and depending more on the goodwill of friends than we probably ever have had to before.  People are wonderful.  The strangers who’ve reached past their comfort zone to offer us space to rest for a little while have become friends I value so much that whatever’s been hard about this has been worth it for the unexpected friendships we’ve gained.

The camper is finished to a point of being habitable and non-embarrassing, we are safe, and we are healthy.  H.W. still brings me little bunches of wildflowers tied up with grass.  We eat the best we can, read, write, sew, work, build, recycle, and ride our bicycles.

“Plans” became a sort of mythical beast, or a particle that pops in and out of probability.  Nothing we’ve planned has happened accordingly, and all our schedules and intentions have thoroughly fallen apart.  I’ve given up and resigned myself to being like leaves, never knowing ahead of time where we’ll be blown off to, just doggedly working away on what’s at hand.  It seems like a desirable thing to do, Buddhist even.  Funny, it’s easier to let go of attachment and expectation when your life is ripping it all away from you.  When you don’t really have a choice but to surrender, it’s much easier.

But that said, we continue to aim for a place with enough space to build a sustainable model of life and agriculture.  The current target is Nova Scotia, but I know enough after this summer to say, Who knows!?  It could be anywhere along the trajectory, and maybe where we’re supposed to be will just reveal itself along the route (literal or figurative.  Did I have to spell that out?).

I have some posts on deck from the last months that might come wildly out of order now.
Sometimes I’ll write a piece, but then not post it because I haven’t posted the more mundane bits that create the context.  So those posts languish until some imaginary future when I’ll “catch up” – we all know how that turns out.  Sometimes I do catch up, though.  There’s a little batch of catch-up coming right up – a symptom of difficult internet access.

Thank you for following.