May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you, guide your way on "~Incredible String Band

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Well, we finally finished with the Eckerds job for Joe. It took a lot longer than anyone excpected ( everything always does), but the extra money is definitely a blessing right now.

We did manage to get a lot done on the bus though, despite all our other work ,and I finally have some pics to post.Moss has completed one bird cage and is now working on the secound one. The bench is complete except for some cushions ( I need to find a nice fabric) and arm rests.

For for the arm rests we are thinking we would like to use pieces of sanded and varnished, twisty oak brances.The bottom part of the bench,going down to the floor will be hard pine tounge and groove wood.

The woodstove is IN and functional, and just in time ! Last night was 28 degrees here in Weeki Wachee !

For the hearth we built a raised platform and two heat walls on either side. They are made of cement board on 1 " spacers. This creates an air space and protects the wall from over heating and causing a fire. In addition I am creating a tile mosaic out of broken tile bits from a local flooring place.This will further help in reducing heat transfer to the back wall.The stove is bolted on all four legs through two two by fours and out through the bottom of the bus.

The stove pipe is single walled up to the roof, then we installed a double walled/insulated roof jack where it meets the roof and an extra foot of double insulated stove pipe on the outside. That double wall is expensive at one hundred bucks a foot ! It was a very important step though, as our ceiling, when we are done will be made of tounge and groove pine wood and we want to make shure we dont burn up !

We are really trying to do things right and be as safe as possible here.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is another concern and you better believe we will be installing a CO monitor and propane detector.

With the bird cages almost complete we were finally able to move our bed into the back of the bus and out of the van .Last night was our first night sleeping in the bus. We started up the woodstove and it was quite cozy. The draw was fine , as was the venting.

With the bed in the back, and the living room and bird cages in, at least everything is in its place and dare I say, things are beginning to feel a tad bit homey around here.

Now we just need to build the kitchen, woodbox,toilet, bathtub, bedroom, install tounge and groove floor,insulate ceiling and cover with tounge and groove, do the fresh and black water sytems, all the numerous cabinets and bookshelves, do the veggie oil engine conversion, propane and electric systems, paint the bus and install window screens and curtains on all windows.

Oh yes, I left something out, and this may come as a suprise to some of you, but, .....


Every project must be resecrched and consulted on before hand. This, obviously adds a lot of time, and might I add, pressure.

We'll just keep breathing deeply,taking it one step at a time, and try not to look at the big picture..........

Moss disasembles a shelving unit at Eckards.

Me working at takeing down a greetin card display at Eckards.

Our stove cap,pipe and flashing from above.The stove flasing needs to be screwed down yet in this pic.It's not as huge as it looks.

Here you can see how we did our heat wall.

Here you can see where the double insulated Jack goes through the roof.

Our first night with a fire. In this photo you can kind of see the partially completed tile mosaic I am working on.

Casper approves of his new pad. Each bird cage ( there are two) has it's own screened window, as seen in this photo.There is a door over them as well,allowing me to put curtains on the other side and to open or close the window.

Our friend Lydia and our partially converted bus.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Our Dirty Little Secret.............

All right, I can't stand it any longer. Moss and I have a confession to make.

We have been hanging out at the local American Legion on Fri nights ( Karaoke night ), and have now become regulars.

It all started rather innocently. Greg and Elaine, especially Greg, is really into karaoke. He goes every fri and sat. They were always , much to our dismay, asking us to go with. Greg drives one of the buses and everybody, Greg, Elaine, Lydia and sometimes Grandma and Grandpa, all jump in and head off to the Legion.

Finally,one night we agreed. We actually had a great time, and before we knew it one night turned into a weekly thing and we are now regulars on American Legion karaoke Nights.

At first, Moss and I definitely felt out of place. Nearly everyone is over 60 and republican. We got some very disaproving looks at first, with Moss's strange hair and me with a ring in my nose, we certainly stood out, but we didn't let that bother us one bit.

Moss really broke the ice and shook the house, so to speak,when he took to the dance floor for the Bee Gees, Staying Alive. Many folks stopped just to watch him.

For those of you who know Moss and have seen him dance you know why. Moss is an exceptional dancer. I mean, really,really good, and it is hard for anyone not to watch him when he is dancing.

After he was done the announcer complimented him and people were comming up left and right high fiveing him.

One ole' gal gave me a nudge and a wink and commented , " He really got these ole fuddy's moveing in here, eh ? "

Folks were talking about that for weeks.

The biggest star at the Legion though by far, has got to be Fitz.

I swear this guy must have had a gig in Vegas at one time. He is one Cool cat. Cool like in a early Vegas, Rat pack kind of a way.

When Fitz arrives the announer states, "Ladies and Gentleman, Fitz has just entered the building" and everyone cheers.

When he gets up to do "His " song Frank Sinatras, My Way, the crowd goes wild. Everyone cheers and all the old ladies wave their hankies in the air. He struts around the place, in and out of the tables singing and dancing at the ladies. Everyone has a great time.

He is quite a character,and has the distinct honour of being the oldest legion member at 95 years old.

Lydia enjoys the legion as well, though by law she has to leave by 9:00 . She is an excellent dancer, and is always practicing at home. She says she wants to be a movie star and a dancer when she grows up. I believe she will be.

Yes, it's not a place we would usually hang out, and yes, it IS heavily conservative, but we do have a good time when we go. We try to look at everything as a new opportunity to experience something totally different.

After all, isnt that what travel is all about, isn't that kind of what were doing ?? Isn't that what life is about ??

Sighning off from rural Weeki Wachee Fl ~ Pix

Fitz enjoys a smoke and a beer with a friend.

Legion star Fitz croons his rendition of Frank Sinatra's, My Way.

Another Legion regular.

Moss parties hard at the Legion.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Howdy folks. It's been a few weeks since I have been able to write, and there is much to report.......

We have finished the wood stove heath, almost finished the bench and I am now working on the tile mosaic for the hearth, while Moss is starting on the bird cages. It is going much slower than we originally thought it would,we are now hoping, maybe, to be finished by Febuary. Greg has been real sick (he has Lupus) and has not been able to help us much lately,but we are figuring it all out just fine, so far..

The days are getting shorter and suprisingly cold for Florida. It is actually supposed to freeze tomorow. It is nice though, and makes sleeping in the van more comfortable than it was back in the balmy, mosquito infested nights of October (gosh, has it been that long ?).

We hope,within the next two weeks to be able to get the bird cages done and move our bed into the back of the bus. This way,we can sell the van.We already have a buyer for it for 1000.We would then have to drive the bus around town for errands and such,which could be a bit hectic. It will however,be running on FREE, CLEAN burning , RECYCLED veggie oil, ~ coutesy of the local American legion.

Originally we had hoped to purchase a car to tow behind, but our curent finaces no longer allows for that possibility, at this time.

Speaking of our finances,.........

We ran out of cash a week and a half ago.

All the money we had saved up for the bus conversion, about 5000, had dwindled down to about 200, with the bus only half completed.We needed some fast money and started looking for work.

There is a local health food store here in town that Moss and I had visited several times.The owner, Joe, is a great guy and we chatted with him whenever we went in.

Maybe he needed sales help ? It was worth a shot.

On our next trip ,we were standing in line,waiting to check out and preparing to inquire about work. It was then that Joe aproached us and asked if we needed some work, as he had some garden stuff that he really needed done, and he was to busy at the store.

How perfect! It is amazing how things have a way of just working out when we just live in the momment and follow our bliss.

Anyway, that was a week or so ago.We are now working on a new project for him. Joe is opening a co -op in downtown Brooksville, and has bought all the shelves from a local Excerds that has gone out of business. Our job is to take apart every shelf and isle way, stack all the pieces, put them on pallet boards and shrink wrap them.There must be over a 1000 shelves !

Moss and I have a key and work there during the days by ourselves, it is actually a lot of fun, and should take at least another three days.

So, it looks like we will have a good amount of work for the next few months, plus the thousand for the van.That should give us just enough to finish the bus and a little extra to live on while we are in the Keys making things to sell at art shows.

In the meantime,we'll keep chippin away on the bus, here in Brooksville Fla.

Stay tuned folks, things are just getting intresting..........

Me working in the Garden at Joe's.

Moss and I are treated to a beautiful sunset at the end of a hard days work.

Shoveling rocks in the garden.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Curtains, Curtains, Everywhere !

For a some time now we have been wondering what we would do about curtains.We have a LOT of windows, 24 in fact, and material is expensive.

After looking around at various fabric stores we realized it would be over a hundred dollars for enough fabric to cover all the windows. We decided to try the goodwill down the road, they often have bits and pieces of disacreded fabric, maybe we would find something good ?

Well, it must have been our lucky day because in the fabric bin was not one but TWO bundles of a very nice, natural looking, linen blend fabric. Each bundle was aprox 17 feet long and 60 some inches wide.

Our grand toatal ? A mere twelve dollars for thirty four feet of fabric! Now, I just had to hand sew all 24 curtains !

As much as I always wanted to be, I have never been a good seamstress. I love the idea of creating clothes and stuff from fabric, and have tried many times to perfect this skill, or at least get started, but to no avail. My creations would always come out uneven or too big.There is just way to much mathematics and figuring involved .

My brain seems to do better with more intuitive arts like sculpting, singing, weaving and spinning.

None the less, we do need curtains, so I set to work at once, cutting and pinning everything in place, besides, maybe something will finally click this time with sewing.

Lydia, our friend and neigbor came over while I was working and really wanted to help. I showed her how to pin the hems down and she pinned everything while I cut and measured. We had a great time pinning, cutting, and listening to Donovan while Moss cut boards for the wall .

Lydia,who lives next door with her Grandmother ( Gregs wife ) is a very special little girl. She is only eight years old and is very bright. She loves the birds and is always wanting to make bird houses for Astra and Pipin,the starlings.

She is also the only one (besides Moss and I) that Casper has ever allowed to touch him. I showed her how to work with him using treats and praise and she comes every day after school to help us on the bus and to play with him. They play peekaboo (Casper says "Peekaboo !", and hides his head), dance, sing ( yes, he sings too ) and play catch with the ball. Still, he will not sep up for her,but I wouldn't be suprised if she eventually gets him too. She is amazing with those birds, and so patient.

She has other gifts too, like the aility to see spirits, and things that have not yet happened. On several ocasions Lydia has foretold things that there was no way she could have known. It's pretty much a fact around here that she has the gift of sight, just like her Grandmother, Elaine.

Elaine is a full- blown natural psychic as well, and has predicted car wrecks, deaths, and has even on one ocasion helped a total stranger connect with their deceased daughter. They are remarkable people.One of the things I love most about traveling is all the neat people one has the oportunities to meet.

When I am stationary for long periods of time, I seem to fall into a sort of rutt. Everything becomes so predictable and my possibilities limited.It's as though I am a horse with blinders on, allowed only to see what lies directly in front of me.

When travelling, I am able to take the blinders off and open myself up to all possibilities and experiences. It forces one to live in the momment,where anything is possible and every choice you make can take you in a radically different direction.

Therefore we must listen carefully, consider our options and chose well........
Here is the material we found for curtains,all cut and ready to be sewn. Posted by Hello

Lydia hard at work pinning the curtains. Posted by Hello

Me cutting fabric for bus curtains. Posted by Hello

This material will be cut in half,making two curtain halves for one window,and no, I am not wearing the curtain material on my head.:)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Back to Work.............

So, I bet your all wondering what we did for Thanksgiving, right ?

O.K, maybe not,but I'll tell you anyway.

We spent Thanksgiving day proper (one of my favorite, by the way) with my dad in Sarasota, about an hour and half drive from here.

The festivities really began however, on Wendsday with a trip to Busch Gardens. We went with my two cousins who live in Tampa Chucky and Craig. The three of us, and my other cousin Mathew and my cousins Janet and Joanne all grew up together and were very close in age. In fact, several of us were even born in the same year only a month apart. When we were kids the families would gather for holidays and reunions and we would all play together. We had some great times exploring the crik behind our house or playing at the park. It has been years since I last seen them and we had a wonderul time riding the coasters and catching up.

Moss and I are both extreme roller coaster enthusists, and Busch Gardens did not dissapoint.They also had an excellent bird show and an exhibit with two unrelesable eagles, a Golden and a Bald.

Thanksgiving day was spent with my dad and stepmom, Kathy and their friend, Marge.We had all the usual things, corn, potatoes, stuffing, and for moss and I a Tofurkey .

As much fun as our mini vacation was it feels great to get back to work, and there is a lot of progress to report......

We got most of the wall studds in and now we'll put a layer of plywood up all around. Anywhere the wall is showing, where there is not a bench or some other furniture, we will put the tounge and groove going horizontaly.

We also decided to bring the wall halfway up the windows in some places. This will add an additional layer of insulation and wamth. The problem we had was how to hide the insulation and wood so that it will not be visible through the window.

We put our thinking caps on.....

Maybe we could cover the windows on the outside with some sheet metal painted the color of the bus ? Wood trim was another possibility, though a bit more expensive.

We finally decided we would tint the windows, some areas would be "limo black", and some just a light grey.

So, off to the store we went to buy some tinting paper. Unfortunately, the stuff is not cheap, but we gritted our teeth and purchased 50 dollars worth , enough to do a few windows anyway.

As we were about to put it on Greg came by and had an idea .

"Why not just spray paint it black", he suggested.

My first reaction was no way, it would look cheap and well, we spray painted our windows. A little later though we got to thinking.

Maybe Greg was right.

It's so funny the way he suggests things. Moss and I will be in there drilling, hammering and sawing, trying to figure it all out and in will walk Greg . He'll look around , make a few suggestions then move on.

The thing is, his suggestions are always so simple and inexpensive I often do not beleive they will work !

I am just so used to a consumer culture that tells me if it isn'nt more expensive and more complicated than it must not be as good. Greg is teaching us differently.

Point in case , the fresh water tank.

Normally one buys a water pump to move the water through the lines from the tank, a one hundred and sixty dollar item. Greg, on the other hand, suggests we just presurize the tank with an air pump. We may have to go do it a few times, but it would sure save us some money.


Another example, our refrigerator. Usually, motorhomes are equiped with propane fridges, that is pretty much the standard, and that is what we were planning also. A small propane fridge costs at least three hundred dollars.

Greg however, suggested we use an electric fridge and just give it its own dedicated batteries. I thought for CERTAIN that it would drain the batteries dry in hours, but it turns out it will not, as the refridgerator is not always on. In fact we will hardly even notice the drain on our batteries.

How much ?

Only one hundred dollars, instead of three hundred for a proprane one. I could give you at least five other similar examples relating to how his ideas have saved us money.

Anyway, back to the paint..........we got to thinking, maybe it wont look that bad, and at 98 cents a can, as oposed to twelve dollars for six feet, how could we afford NOT to give it a try ?

So I sprayed a small bit on the inside window then quickly ran around front to see how it looked while Moss held up the tinting stuff in another window. I compared.

The result ??

There was virtually no difference ! The 98 cent can of spray paint looked just as good as the twelve dollar- a six foot -roll of tinting paper.

Back to the store to exchange the paper for a few cans of spray paint..........
Moss and Greg discussing the best way to build up the walls. Posted by Hello

Wall showing where we built it up to partially cover some windows.The plastic acts as a vapor barrier. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Great Find...............

This last week has once again been very busy. We did a lot of running around, checking out salvage and recycling yards, rv stores and spending lots of time (and money, LOL) at Home Depot.

On one trip to a local salvage yard, we found the most beautiful antique door. It was in an old, dirty, outbuilding,with literally hundreds of old doors stacked from floor to ceiling. We were flipping through one of the many upright piles when I spied this door, at the very bottom of the heap.

"This is the the door of my dreams ! ", I cried (o.k, so I am a bit over dramatic) .

I had for some time envisioned an old wooden door with a piece of stained glass in it, in place of our curent standard bus door. This looked very similar to the one I had imagined !

It is heavy, probably solid mahogany . In the center is a beautiful stained glass piece and on the bottom are two separate, hand carved Indonesian style designs. It is very old, most likely from the 20's or 30's and must have been sitting there for quite some time . I was sure he would want a fortune for it. Luckily it already had a sticker on it indicating the price at 40 dollars. I couldnt believe how cheap it was, and neither could the owner, but he did honour the price.

We will need to cut it down a bit to fit our bus, and make some other changes to the existing door frame, but it will look great . At that same place we found an rv bathtub for 60 bucks, not too bad considering they usually go for over a hundred.

On a later trip to an rv surplus store we purchased a new rv oven /range and kitchen sink.

Getting the pipes for the woodstove however, has been one expensive nightmare . We needed to purchase some insulated stove pipe and a leg for our Lopi Patriot stove, but they only sold through a dealer. Let me tell you, it is not an easy thing to find a woodstove dealer in Florida !!

After searching around a bit we finally found one, but it was an hour away. We waited for six hours while the sales lady figured out what parts we would need for our stove, only to have the stove pipe manufacturer refuse to sell us the pipe because we did not want to buy the three feet of outside pipe he claimed we needed. Frustrated, we bought our stove leg and left.

Luckily we were able to buy stovepipe frpom another place, not quite as far away. We bought triple walled to go through the ceiling, with about a foot of outside pipe, then single wall down to the stove. It will be a very safe set up. Total cost = 300 bucks !! Stovepipe is very exspensive.

The stove will be on a small, raised platform, with a heat resistant wall on one side.We will tile the whole thing with broken bits and pieces we got from a local tile store. They gave them to us for next to nothing. I think we'll also do the walls and ceiling around the bathtub like that as well.

We didn't accomplish to much inside the bus this week as we have been so busy running around trying to find materials.We did get the wall supports on and some electrical wire in. Tomorrow we will begin work on the woodstove platform and maybe some furniture !! All for now................

Our beautiful antique door. Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Another Busy Day, and An Unexpected Guest........

Today was a beautiful fall day here in the Sunshine state. It was nice and cool with a good breeze,which made our work that much more enjoyable.

My good friend Alan from C.A requested that we post a pic of the ceiling. Maybe he has some ideas for securing the 1x8x16 tongue and groove up there.

Today, with the help of our neighbor friend Lydia ( Elaines grand daughter) we were able to put in the plastic sheeting,which will act as a vapor barrier. Moss got the plywood cut and we laid it in place. Tomorrow we will screw it all down.

Finishing up with the subfloor is a big hallmark for us ! It finally looks and feels like we have accomplished something here.

In other news........

For about a week now there has been a sweet kitty hanging around here. It seems he has decided to move in with us and likes to sit in the bus as we work. He even tries to come in the van at night to sleep. He was very hungry so we have taken to feeding him. It is pretty obvious that he is homeless, though was once very much loved.

The neighbors believe he used to belong to a lady who lived alone down the street. Last week, about three days before he showed up, she was found dead in her house. They had it all roped off and cops everywhere. No one knows the cause of death, hopefully natural.

We would like to take him with us but he has already tried to kill Joseph, the conure, twice . We are thinking maybe of just taking him to C.A with us. We know of a certain red headed woman in Newbury Park who may want to adopt her (wink, nod).

Gaia (our dog) is enjoying herself here as well, especially the lake. Unfortunately I was informed recently that there is a five foot alligator that enjoys the lake as well, so no more lake for Gaia.

I have been trying to get Moss to post something here, but he insists he does not write well and that I should write all the posts. I think his writing style is fine though, and that the difference in our styles would make it more interesting. I'll keep working on him.

Stay tuned...........
Me and my friend Lydia, putting down the plastic vapor barrier. Posted by Hello

Here is the roof pic, Alan ! Posted by Hello
Moss cutting plywood for floor. Posted by Hello

Gaia relaxes in the lake outback. Posted by Hello
Ready to go guys !! Posted by Hello
Our sub floor complete !! Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Our Floor Arrived !!!

Our floor and ceiling wood has arrived !!! It's so beautiful !!!

We shoped around quite a bit to find the right wood and prices . Amazingly we were able to find 1x6x16 tounge and groove hard pine for nine dollars a board. That price is SO good. We were assured from the compny that it is tree farm wood, as we do not believe in disrupting natural forest eco sysyems to obtain lumber. Let "em plant tree farms !!! Hopefully, they were telling us the truth.

For the ceiling we will use 1x8x16 tounge and groove,we just need to find a way to secure it to the ceiling.So,..if anyone has any ideas.......... We will probably need to bolt it through the roof.

Today we are working on the floor insulation,then we'll do the plywood. Greg had drive up North to pick up a school bus and deliver one to another place. He all over the country to buy buses then fixes them up and re sells them. He'll be gone for a few days, but we have plenty to do until he returns. Hopefully he'll be here for the electrical stuff.

It feels so good to be learning as much as we are. Moss and I actually have very little experience with construction related things, so this is a big education for us. One great thing is that when we are done we will know how to fix everything and where it all is.

The weather is still nice and cool, but the mosquitos are HELL ! I worry so much about the birds getting West Nile. Right now they are outside in their big cages during the day and in the car at night in their small cages. I will be releived when we can get them inside for good.

Gotta get bck to work now,......................
Our beautiful, hard pine, tounge and groove flooring !! Posted by Hello
Moss working hard on the insulation for the floor. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Still going strong......

The last few days have found us real busy, we have accomplished quite bit.

We had taken off the side panels a few days ago, and now have installed a layer of R5 foam insulation. Later we will add yet another layer, as well as insulation for the floor and ceiling. We then set about building the sub floor. First we bolted a series of 1x2 studs to the floor, then we tarred the whole thing with roofing tar.

School buses are known to have serious condensation problems, so taring the floor was real important in keeping out water and helping to create a vapor barrier.

The weather has been a bit cooler, which has made it so much nicer to work and sleep in. Our days usually begin around 7:00 am. We emerge from our van, enjoy a cup of Yerba Mate while listening to Air America on our XM satellite radio. We then set to work,often putting on some good tunes to move us along. Bluegrass is a fovorite, usually Bill Monroe or the Osbourne Brothers . Donovan, of course is also a favorite as well as Moody Blues,radiohead or Grateful Dead . Yes, music is a huge part of our working on the bus, and we have a lot to chose from.

We stop for dinner around 5:00 and often go back to work, or will visit with Elaine, Gregs wife and chat a bit. She is so sweet and will often bring us over homemade mac and cheese for lunch. She also has offered to let us take showers in her house,which has been SO great. It is amazing how filthy we get in just one day of work.

Bedtime is around 10:00, which is bout now, so I'll be signing off. Night..........
Moss instaling the 1x2 framework for the floor. Posted by Hello

Here is a pic of the tared floor and insulated side walls. Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Back in the swing of things.......

After several days now of depression and hopelessness ( I had to convince Moss it was NOT a good idea to move to Canada, LOL) we are back in the swing of things. We are trying to look at the bright side, and how at the very least folks will now be really ready to pull together and mobilize. I predict massive demonstrations and civil disobedience in the coming years and that we will become stronger for this in the long run.

I only hope that some of the wild, untouched places still remain in a few years....

We have gotten quite a bit done on the bus. After pulling out all the wood we found what we dreaded, ... more rust. As expected the whole floor needed to be sanded down and rust converter applied. We also reinforced a few areas with new steel and underside supports. Doesn't sound like much, but it shure takes time. Stay tuned........
Here you can see where we had to cut and bolt a new sheet of steel in place. Posted by Hello