Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There and Back Again.

'Don't you steal my baby, you gypsies!'

This is the first thing that our campmate, Mouse, said to us when we rolled up to Silver Channel camp at Pennsic at about 10:30 PM. It was the start of a really wonderful vacation, and a welcome relief from the stress of the past month.

Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic about the vardo, despite the fact that we had to do a little finagling to fit it into camp. (Next year will be easier.) By the end of Pennsic, our camp Mom & Dad were hatching schemes to build a shower on a trailer with a holding tank, so that we could dispense with digging the shower pit every year, which is a royal P.I.A. Another enthusiast was our friend Debra, who with her husband run both a clothing merchant and leatherworking business. (Good stuff, too - Sultry Treasures by Debra.) She's looking for a shop/wagon where she can keep her stock and pack and unpack easily.



Messy, but VERY comfortable!

My attempt at artsy photography - the Sun finial on our awning against the rising moon.
As unfinished as the vardo is - it still lacks all of its decorative trim, stain on the bays and front door, a finished interior and any kind of caulking - we got a lot of compliments. I can't wait to show them the end product!

During the last month, I'd kind of lost my vision of how cool this thing was going to be. This was due to the frustrations of some of the roadblocks we came up against and getting a little burned out on the work and worry. Well, one day at War cured all that. The first night, after we rolled in at 10 PM, instead of having to then set up a pavilion, and our bed in the dark, we simply parked the vardo and went to bed until we could set up formally the next morning. And then it rained! Torrentially! We slept on, dry and warm. Let me also add, that rain on the aluminum roof was very soothing.

Most of what I did this war was....nothing. Well, mostly sleep. Yes, we went shopping and to a couple of parties, but the majority of my time was spent either reading under my shade awning or snoozing in the vardo. Even in the direct sun, the vardo was relatively cool, as long as I left the windows open. The addition of a battery operated fan made it positively blissful.

Packing up was diabolically easy. In fact, Norm and I ended up sitting around like Statler and Waldorf in a couple of camp chairs, watching everyone else pack up in a panic ahead of a predicted downpour on Saturday. Frankly, the only reason we were still there at that point is that we were land-locked in by other people's cars, tents, etc. until about 2PM. Honestly, we could have been packed in an hour and gone. I think our camp mates might have hated us just a smidge right then. Norm helped fill in the shower pit in atonement.  Next time, maybe I should bring pie or something...

The vardo towed to and from War very well. We didn't have any problems, and according to Norm it tracks really well. The only issue we encountered is that about 100 yards from home, we hit one of our pet potholes and busted a shackle link. This is easy to fix.

I learned a few things during this shakedown:
1.  I think maybe I might reduce the amount of space that was going to be closet, because I really didn't use that much space on my clothing rod - maybe like a foot. So I don't need a 3-foot closet. I think I'll have Lars shorten the closet and turn the extra space into corner-shelving.  Shelving ROCKS. I had stuff stuck in the eaves, on the bay windowsills, and on the four shelves that Lars had put in between the studs. I want MORE!

2. I think also that I will paint or stain the wheels a brighter color so that they pop out in front of the black fabric wheel camouflage, so that the camouflaged modern wheels are less obvious.

3. I made the right call in buying such huge scissor leveling jacks. Lars thought 7500 lb jacks was overkill, and maybe it was, but I felt very secure perched on the side of the hill with one side jacked up almost a whole foot. The vardo hardly had any rock or shake at all. This helped Jenna sleep at night.

4. We need a big hook to hold the hatch open while fishing within the cargo hold.

5. We ended up buying some cement blocks to use to foot the jacks - they were cheap and they made a big difference in the vardo's stability.

We will be on a short hiatus until maybe October, when Lars is predicting he'll have some more time to work on the project, and I'll have some bucks to spend. See you then!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Here Comes the Rain AGAIN.

Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you? -Eurythmics

OMG, the rain. As I type this, a day late getting going to Pennsic, the whole forest is absolutely dripping with the remains of the torrential downpour that hit us last evening just as we were getting ready to load up the vardo.
I hadn't much dwelled on it previously, but the amount of rain we've had this spring/summer has seriously fucked with our vardo-building schedule.

It rained almost non stop in April/May, which was when this project was originally slated to begin. Because of that, it got bumped forward, and in fact, bumped into Lar's other projects involving Tuxedo Renaissance Faire. Additionally, there were many days over the last few weeks where Lars had a smidge of free time, but inevitably, it would friggin' rain.

As a result, the vardo is not finished on the inside. Additionally, in order to get it roadworthy enough to take to Pennsic, Lars had to pull a 24 hour shift finishing the damn thing up.
The last straw was last night, when it was finally done, and just as Norm and I are getting ready to load it, it starts pouring torrential buckets of water all over everything.

So we threw up our hands and went to bed. What else can you do? In any case, here are some pictures of the vardo. It does look beautiful, I think - and there's more finishing detail to be done.

As you can see in the pictures, it needs some more staining and the trimwork needs to be done. Also, we didn't have time to cut the dutch door, but it's all marked and ready to be cut.
I think I need to just get our butts to Pennsic now and have some fun, and when we come back, there won't be any deadlines or immediate goals to accomplish. Creativity is much more fun that way. Hopefully, this time next year, all of the detail work and the decorating and the fun little mini-projects that I know I'll be thinking up over the winter will be done. I'm planning on keeping all of the SCA gear and garb in the vardo permanently. So all we'll have to do next year is hook up and go.

Rain or no friggin' rain! (Shakes fist at sky, Scarlett O'Hara-like.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

She's Not There.

Well let me tell you 'bout the way she looked
The way she'd act and the colour of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool
Her eyes were clear and bright
But she's not there -The Zombies.

Countdown to Jenn losing her mind:


We are in high gear now. Norm and I now have the vardo in our driveway, after a weekend fraught with peril. (Well, not really peril, but at least annoyances.)

To begin with, the truck we were going to use to take the vardo home on Thursday night blew its brakes. So we couldn't take it home until Saturday. That pretty much nixed any plans to get it weighed and go to DMV on Saturday morning. As a result, we'll have to do it Friday, thus pushing our departure for Pennsic back 1 day.

C'est la vie, I suppose.

Here are some pics of the last building session, which went on deep into the night:
Norm gives the light brackets what for with the sawzall. The lights were moved to the back of the vardo.

Lars of Midknight construction actually working at midnight. Gack!
Once we had the thing home on Saturday, we spent the remainder of the weekend staining and sealing it. Fortunately, this was not quite as labor-intensive as it sounds; we actually had some time on Sunday afternoon and evening to rest a bit while the sun was too direct. Once we got our shade back, we resumed and finished up a little before 7PM Sunday night.
The main boards are all done.
As you can see, it currently lacks both windows and doors. This will be remedied on Wednesday, when Lars is going to come chez nous with some qualified help and finish up. As I will be working in Springfield on Wednesday, I am anticipating coming home to a miraculous transformation of what looks like a woodshed on a landscaping trailer into a beautiful, livable work of art.