Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

June 29, 2013

Thinking ...

There's only a couple weeks left before I have to take off on my Colorado trip this summer for a family reunion. An idea about sleeping arrangements has been rolling around my head a bit lately. I raised my bed with 2'x4' x 7.5" high boxes over the benches and sleep cross-wise in the back of the van.  At 67" tall, I just barely fit and usually sleep a bit crosswise. It works ok. That height is just enough for my head to miss the upper cabinets when sitting to make maximum use of the space.

When I was thinking about how to live in a van, I went thru the exercise of designing the interior using the Sportsmobile tool to assist in it. I had thought then that having a bed on the side, along the length of the van with a desk area on the opposite side would be a good thing. My van was designed to have a big 75" long side to side bed for two in the back and then put a table in the center for a 6 person dining area. That seems like a huge waste of precious space for a solo traveler. The dog sleeps on the floor and is not allowed on my bed (except for the time she fled up there to escape a broken latch and a door swinging while underway). The cats sleep wherever they like. I raised the bed to get more storage space and more head room for the cat litter box. I find that it is most comfortable for me to have a 3.5' - 4' width for my arms and torso to stretch out. The center aisle board is 3' long and that is fine too. My feet don't need all that space but crosswise doesn't give my feet room to stretch out.

The idea I have is to make another box to raise the seat at the end of the galley counter up to the level of the bed and just sit up high when I use my computer. I can rest my feet on the printer drawer edge or put them up on the opposite side. My little table can rise up to a comfortable height. It is perfectly comfortable to sit on top of the bedding.  One impediment is there is a little lift up counter extension so I would either have to remove it or move sitting to the side of it. I thought that it would be handy but, in truth, I never use it. Then with the 3' board between the 2 benches, I could sleep lengthwise in the van and still have plenty of room at the top for my arms to stretch out. I did a little concept test and it seems ok.

In the future, I could devise a slot for the center board to slide into the opposite side and just come right out to form the widened bed. That would make it easier to push the bed area back when it is not night and have a bit more room in the back of the van when up and about. One thing I don't want to do is lose the permanent bed at the ready and have to make it up every night. When I park with a little slope like along a curb, it might not be so great or it might be ok. One thing I learned is that I absolutely must sleep with my head higher than my feet or my nose gets all clogged up (allergies!).

Hmmm. I could try this idea out this summer with nothing more than a board cut and put together with pocket screws in not much time. The finishing and trimming it out could wait and if it doesn't work all that well, I could easily take it apart and stow the boards and go back to my crosswise bed.

Back to mowing my too big yard.

June 28, 2013

What I've Been Doing ...

Not in the least RV, travel, or van related ...

I have a house with a little acreage that I want to sell. I've lived here for 20 years and always had planned on doing some remodeling. Strip wallpaper and paint. Fix some stupid things the builder did like delete a small coat closet straight in front of the front door and put a spacious one in the hallway at the sacrifice of a bit of space in the unused front room. Remodel the kitchen. Put in hardwood flooring. De-decorate what the previous owners did.

While working in my demanding career that required a lot of travel, I did achieve a lot of stuff. I heavily indulged in my gardening fantasies as I really enjoy being outside whenever the weather isn't awful. I got the closet moved and flooring in the dining room years ago. Made a start on the de-decorating. I rearranged the kitchen in a half move to put a new stove against the wall so it could have an outside vent and test the layout I had in mind. But always, my limited time kept me not quite finishing up and not quite completing what I thought would never take so long to do.

My desire now is to get the house in good condition  and attractive so prospective buyers will walk in and their immediate impression is, "how cute." House sell for most people in the 1st 5 minutes. And I have to fix anything that isn't right anyway before I could close on it.

After spending a good part of my time since retiring getting my van set up the way it works for me and fixing problems I've had with it, this year, I am determined to work steadily at the house and get it done so I can get this anchor off my foot. To that end, I just finished up putting in a new front door and fixed up and replaced the frame on my old walk-in garage door and had a new patio door put in last fall. Now, just the kitchen-garage door needs to be replaced and this house is much more weather tight than it ever has been. Over the winter, I put up crown molding in the master bedroom and front room along with chair rail in the front room and painted it. My house is a colonial style that always had an unfinished feel to it since the hall way had crown and chair rail and most of the other 1st floor rooms had it. Now it matches! Last year, I got the 13 doors and upstairs and down stairs halls painted in a job I thought would never end. So much surface area! I also rebuilt my stairs so I can put down the new flooring I had planned for them and make them much sturdier.

Last fall, tried and failed to fix rot at the bottom of all the outside door frames but the more I worked at it, the worse it got as I uncovered rust and more rot. So I ended up replacing the patio door and fixing a 6"x12" rotted piece of subfloor. (yikes!) I paid to have that installed because it is just too heavy for me to manage. The new door lets in more light but is much more comfortable because it has the low-e glass. That and it is sealed against the weather, unlike the old door. Winter set in before I gave up on the front door.

This spring, I was faced with the same problem - the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got so I gave up and bought a new and much prettier door.  The old door was set in line with the brick facade which is rather weird. When I removed it to put in the new door, I discovered why. The builder had a series of cascading mistakes - they didn't set the header for the door opening quite high enough and then the brick layer set the bottom brick a bit higher than the subfloor, leaving about a quarter inch too little height to set it where it belongs - in line with the house framing. The old door was never fully tight and had managed to come loose to move at the top a half inch. I never could find any nails or screws holding it in place so I think they just glued it in and the glue failed. So with the opening wide open, I got my grinder to flatten the bricks even with the subfloor and surgically removed a bit of the header to have just enough room for the new door frame.  Good thing the house frame is still plumb. I put flashing under the whole door and a threshold extension to cover up the brick. It was a long hard slog of a day but I got the new door in place in one day. It took me another day to get it solidly fastened together and to the wall framing, all plumb.

Then I worked on the trim. I had to devise a jamb extension to bring the door frame out to the brick. Many doors just go to the brick but mine had a column/pediment facing and they never intended to have the brick opening exposed so it was a little rough. I had bought Fypon no-rot replacements for the rotted facing last fall. I used plastic exterior trim boards to line the door frame out to the brick edge so the columns could meet up with it. Lots of painting and caulking. On rainy days, I got the inside trim and painting done to match what I had put up on the front room opening.

In the end, it is a big improvement both inside and outside with a door that lets in a lot of nice light but with the low-e glass so it doesn't get too hot. And, there are no more bug collections on the floor now that it is weather-tight and solid. There were always a bunch of carpenter bees buzzing around the front door as they had set up housekeeping in the old trim boards. It took them a little while, but they have now found other quarters someplace else!

Next up is the powder room, then the flooring can go down in the front of the house. The new flooring will go into the powder room too so it makes sense to fix up the walls in there. I already painted the ceiling and put up crown molding in there. Decided to just keep the wall paper and put patches on it in a couple of places. But that probably won't get done until August because I have to make a run out to Colorado in July.