May 13, 2017

Animal House


A new baby is about to join our extended family. She will get this for her wall when she does.
I adapted it from a pattern by Kimberly Rado that I found in a magazine that had slipped behind the bookshelf. When I say adapted, I really mean "I cut the number of dogs in half, threw out the centers, got rid of the bones, and eliminated the sashing and borders."
 Hers is lots of fun--and a whole lot of work. Mine is Essence of Dog.
My favorite part of the project? Picking the fabrics ONLY from the those already on my shelves. (I don't use the word "stash" except when referring to the candy I hide from Himself, hoping against hope that I will remember where I put it.) I love having a boundary that forces my color and pattern choices and I really love using this stuff up!


In other animal news, Yusra continues to follow her primal maternal instincts...
...although the primate in question does seem rather unresponsive. Perhaps he is in shock because she put him in a diaper?

March 10, 2017

Skittles

If you keep checking back here to find another uproarious installment of "Two-Dumbass-Easterners-Travel-Arizona-in-the-Snow/Mud-in-a Broken-Down-Airstream, you probably will want to hit that red "Close" arrow right now.

That's because I'm onto something far more rewarding.
Skittles are my lingua franca with my two new friends. I'm reluctant to show you their pictures because Yusra is only 3 1/2 and her sister Rasha is just 15 months. I can't ask their mom for permission because she is just learning to speak English and I have no faith in my ability to translate "for my blog" into Arabic.

Yes, Arabic. "Mom" is Amal. She and her husband Moustafa are from Aleppo, Syria.  A local woman who was determined to heed an inner voice calling her to sponsor Syrian refuges spread her wings and damn,  a small group of self-described "mostly old ladies" made it happen! This young family arrived in our community last fall (and another mom with two young boys slid in under the wire after the election).  The core group quickly ballooned to a county-wide coalition of people grateful, just so grateful, to be able to translate paralyzing sorrow about Syria and raw grief about immigration bans into positive action. You can read the facts here.

Every other week, I babysit for the girls while a volunteer ESL tutor works with Amal at the dining room table. I bring a package of Skittles.If you are more than broken-hearted by the vitriolic voices from Washington, I offer this conversation in its place.  


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January 26, 2017

Airstreaming

I found this book on our Xmas trip to Arizona and plan on stealing the title for the filmed version of my life. 
The purpose of this trip (aside from neatly sidestepping the Christmas Craziness) was to see how our yearning to be Airstream nomads actually feels in the field.  In this case, the field was in the Tonto National Forest of central Arizona.

We waited for our rented 16-foot Bambi and truck to be delivered to the parking lot behind our hotel in Scottsdale. There, in the dark, the guy who drove it down from San Francisco would show us RV neophytes how everything works.  The guy, who made The Dude from The Big Lebowski look hyperactive, ambled out and showed us how to put the key in the lock of the door. (Pretty much how every key goes in every door, by the way.)  The information flow went downhill from there:

"What is this panel of indicators for?"
"Wow. Yeah. I've never seen one like that."
"Where's the switch for the hot water heater?"
"Yeah. It is supposed to be over here.  Not sure why it isn't."

"Well, is there a set of docs we can look at?"
"Yeah, well...um..there should be."
Fortunately, I opened a whole lot of drawers and pulled out this manual:
 Unfortunately, this was a manual for a 2007 Safari. We were in a 2005 Bambi.

We called the Dude's boss, who enlightened us.

"So what is this panel of indicators for?"
Each light gives you important status info: how much water is left in your tank, how close you are to sewage overflow, how much charge is left in your battery.
"So how do we know which light goes with which function?"
 "Don't worry about it."
"How do we empty the sewage tank?"
"Open the valve on the outside pipe after you've connected the hose to the dump station."
"But there doesn't seem to be anything to pull. Everything is covered in electrical tape."
"Don't worry about it."
 The Dude headed off into the sunset with Big Gulp in hand. We headed back to the room, where we debated the wisdom of actually driving off in this mess in the morning. It was a spirited and informative exchange:
"This is NOT what we signed up for. Maybe we should just pull out now and rent a car."
"Is that what you want to do?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
 Things were different in daylight. That's when we could see that both propane tanks were empty and that the truck had two bald tires.

We headed out and by the time we arrived at Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Wilderness, we were back in our saddles. Who could worry about anything in a campsite like this:
I made our nest cozy...
And we set off to bed, snug inside our little home while the temperatures outside plummeted to freezing.

Which is when we discovered that the heater didn't work.

I jumped out of bed, threw on my Iceland gear, and renewed my love affair with French press coffee while Himself went to the showers. When he returned, he looked grim.

We have big problems.
Don't worry, I'll call Bill about the heater.
We are sitting in a puddle of sewage.
Huh?
Everything that's gone down the sink or down the toilet is now dripping on to the ground. On to the campground. The one that everyone else around us can see just by walking by.
I ran outside. Remember being 16 and discovering a surprise menstrual period while wearing a white skirt?  On a field trip?  That's roughly what I experienced seeing our mess in this neighborhood of shiny RVs that probably started at $500,000.

Did I mention it was a Saturday? Did I mention it was the day before Christmas?

I called Bill and suggested it was time to start worrying. He found a solution.
Yes, Mobile RV Repair! On a Saturday, on the day before Christmas! Himself went out to assume the hands-in-pockets-man-posturing-position once the truck pulled up and I was startled when I finally crept outside (in my Iceland gear) to see a rather large gentleman in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt stretched out on the ground.
He quickly discerned that the reason we couldn't close off the waste valve was because...there was no valve. Just a whole lot of electrical tape.  Miracle of miracles, he had a replacement in that truck and we were back in business. He came inside, stretched out on the floor (activating the gas alarm with his rather large body), and rewired the furnace.

It was Santa Claus and nobody can tell me otherwise. So our little home was in its right way from then on. And we were ready to soak in the delights of the southwesten desert that we so love.

Like the sunsets...

The saguaros talking to each other...
The footprints of another culture echoing everywhere... 
The dusty brown mountain roads...
The adventure ain't over yet. Stick around.