A Short and Rather Useless Book Review - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy





You remember this room?



Of course you do. It has probably haunted your nightmares.



Those pictures don't even begin to do it justice, though. They were taken very soon after we finished remodeling. In the couple years since then, more and more stuff found its way into that room until it was stuffed full like a hoarders paradise. I didn't take a picture of that. Why would I take a picture of that? It was the room I liked to pretend didn't exist. Only problem: it is the first one you see when you walk in the front door.

But finally we decided to do something about it. So we got bought some used shelves, and got some cabinets from the Restore and made this:



I tell you what. Trim is kind of a magical thing.

Then we had to get all the stuff out of there and paint the shelves. Which brings us to this:



Yeah. We didn't quite manage to get all the stuff out of there. There is also a very large stack of (cough-Richard's!) stuff in the front hall. We've gotta finish the shed before that stuff has a home, so stop obsessing over it already.

So back to the shelves.

They are pretty.

They are also full of books, for those of you who have trouble interpreting things you see in pictures.

Most of our books had been in boxes for over 15 years. They've been in boxes ever since we moved into this house, just waiting for this day. When we built the shelf we worried that we wouldn't have enough books to fill it, but we ended up with way more books that space. We got rid of several boxes full. And now we are forced to really only keep the ones we love.

I'm not sure all of these books qualify, which actually brings me to my point.

I wanna talk about my books.


But over half of them I have never read. Well, at least half of them are Richard's, but even a large percentage of mine I have never read. But I'm gonna. How do I know if it is worthy of the bookshelf if I've never even read it?

So here is what I'm gonna do. Go through the shelf. One book at a time (or maybe a series at a time, cuz who cares?) and tell you how I feel about it. It's gonna be fun. For me. I don't know if it is going to be fun for you or not. That's not really up to me. 

We discussed several different organization options when we were stuffing the books up there, even tried out a few, but in the end we just shelved them alphabetically by author, with all the genres all mixed up together.  Which means the very first book on the very first shelf is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.




This is very fitting, because it is one of my favorite series of all time. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio show. (feel free to correct me. I could go look it up to make sure what I'm telling you is true, but I'm way too lazy at the moment.) Then Douglas Adams wrote the book, and then it became a miniseries on the BBC. That is where I was first introduced to it as a kid. He kept writing until there was a trilogy, and then wrote a few more. They call it a trilogy in five parts.


I didn't read any of the books until I was in college. Most of the books have kind of blurred together in my mind, but here is what I remember:

I was reading one of the later books in the series on the couch in my parent's living room. Arthur Dent was trapped on some alien planet, where he had stuck a chicken bone in his beard.  Another alien landed on the planet whose soul purpose in life was to insult every being in existence. He walked up to Arthur Dent and said, "You're a jerk, Dent. A real knee-biter." And then he climbed back aboard his spaceship and sailed away.

The whole scene was so hilarious to me I was laughing my head off. I lay back on the couch, so overcome with mirth, that I kicked my feet in the air.

Have you ever read a book that made you laugh so hard you kicked your feet in the air? I may have forgotten lots of stuff about the story, but the joy of that moment is cemented in my head forever. 

So thank you, Douglas Adams. I guess that is all I've got to say. Thank. Elesa out.

Thoughts on Prologues and Epilogues

prologues epilogues

You might be thinking this title is strange. I might be thinking that you are strange. But I would never say so, because I have tact, so let's keep our opinions to ourselves, mmm?

Did you know I wrote a book? If you are my Mom, the answer is, yes, because I made you read it. If you are my aunt, I supposed it depends on whether my Mom told you or not. And if you are the one non-relative who is reading my blog, I'm going to guess that your answer is "I'm sorry, I was looking for the Doilies for Dummies blog?"

My book is unpublished, but it is complete. I am currently working on another book that is driving me slightly insane. (that is several degrees less insane than my children drive me, which is why I like writing so much.?

Wow, I suck at getting to the point. The point is, this completed book of mine contains a prologue.

So, are prologues okay?

Some people say no. They say to only include a prologue if you want to include a block of text that people don't read.

But what kind of a looney is skipping the prologue? I remember distinctly when I figured out I was supposed to read prologues. As a kid I read a book with a prologue and skipped it, thinking it was some kind of opening remarks. And then when I got to the end I read the epilogue. And it referenced stuff that was in the prologue and I was so confused and finally realized that the prologue contained relevant information! I've never skipped a prologue since. And I just have such a hard time believing that people pick up a book they want to read and then just skip the beginning??

Anyhoo.  It is a thing. Some people say to never include them.

I was at Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium this weekend. (I'm not going to explain it. Click here if you want to know more.) And I went to a panel about Prologues and Epilogues. On the panel were Brandon Sanderson, Todd McCaffrey (Anne McCaffrey's son), Lisa Mangum, Myke Cole and Jason King.

They all agreed that prologues can be dangerous. Mostly because some people don't read them. But even so Brandon Sanderson always uses them. He pointed out that one of the main purposed for them is to set the stage for the story. Instead of beginning Star Wars with Luke walking around with Uncle Owen trying to buy droids, it starts with a battle taking place in space. That battle sets the tone for the story, and lets you know that this isn't only a story about a whiney teenager walking around in the dessert.

This is exactly what my prologue does, minus the spaceships. But Brandon Sanderson said it is so often used in this way, it is almost a cliche at this point.

So I asked a question. "If your story needs the prologue to properly set the tone, how do you do it without falling into the cliche?"

What I didn't anticipate was that by asking the question, the panelists would respond directly to me. Talking to ME, Looking ME in the eye. I had to try very hard to pretend like I was perfectly comfortable with that, and that my eyes weren't starting to itch like crazy for no reason at all, and like I didn't suddenly really needed to go to the bathroom. Cuz, yeah. I was having a conversation with Editors and Best Selling Authors all of the sudden.

The basic response to my question was, "You can get away with it if you do it well."

That was actually kind of the theme of the entire conference. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT IN YOUR WRITING IF YOU DO IT WELL.

Admittedly, it isn't the most helpful advice. Cuz how do you know if you are doing ANYTHING well? I don't. But I'm leaving the prologue in my story anyway.  Just FYI.

I do know that I haven't ended this well, but I'm ending it nonetheless.

Travel Trailer Benches, Bunk Beds, and Insulation

As you might remember from 5 short months ago, we had just finished up running all of the wiring in our 1968 Kit Companion. I was very excited to put the aluminum siding back on, but first we had to finish all the framing inside, since the framing inside would need to be attached to the walls. So we got to work on the back bench. First, we built this:


It's a wall.

Then we laid some slats across the top.


THEN we realized that we might want some flooring in this storage compartment, to make sliding our stuff in and out a little easier, and to give our stuff something to sit on besides plywood. So we took the slats back off and put down some flooring.


Then we put the slats back on, then built the slide out part and put that in. I don't have instructions for how to do this. Here are some I found online: SLAT BED INSTRUCTIONS

You could also search for something like "sliding slat bed diy" and hopefully find something that makes sense to you. Here is our slide out bench bed in its bench position.


And here it is in its bed position.


Bench Position:


Bed Position: You can see in the pictures above and below that the trailer has those little built in boxes. They cover up part of the wheel well and are designed for the bed to sit on top of.


Crystal clear?


Then we had to deal with the bunk bed. Here is the original one:


Keeping the original stuff is always a good idea. This dumb piece of wood cluttering up my otherwise pristine back yard came in very handy when we used it as the pattern for the new bunk bed. We copied the measurements and reused the piano hinges and ended up with this:


Even knowing what this is, at first glance it is hard for me to tell what they are pictures of. You can see in these pictures that I had also started puttying all the nail holes.


In the picture below you can see the aluminum L Brackets (I am totally making these names up) attached to the wall that the bunk bed sits on top of. The aluminum leaves marks on everything, including the wood that sits on top of it, so I have since covered the side of the bracket that the bed sits on with clear packing tape so those black marks don't keep appearing.


Richard wanted to make sure those brackets were extra secure, so he put bolts all the way through the wall. That meant he had to cut off the ends that poke out the other side.


Fun!

Last, but not least, is the insulation.

Originally, the insulation consisted of the entire trailer being wrapped with 1/4 inch fiberglass insulation. A lot of it had fallen apart. I'm not sure how much it helped anyway. We decided to up the insulation game with this:


It is just 3/4" foam insulation that we got at Home Depot. We measured an opening, cut the foam to size using utility knives, and pushed the insulation into place. 


It was actually kind of fun. It was simple and results were quick which made it very satisfying.

Thar she blows!


I guess I don't have a picture of the wall entirely filled with insulation, but I think you get the idea.

And that is all for now. Come back in 5 months and I'll finally get around to talking about putting the siding back on. Can't wait!

Christmas Decor

It's that time once again. Time to pull out your buffalo plaid, wear leggings instead of pants, and be subjected to horrible Christmas Music wherever you go! Ack! I mean, Hurray!

So allow me to share with you my Christmas Decorations from last year. I'd like to show you this year's, but that would require having the house decorated, clean, and me still having enough energy to take pictures and then write about it. Nice try, Christmas. Maybe next year.

Let me shuffle through my box of Christmas photos and see what I can find.

_MG_0186

A tree on the front porch = FUN! Someone I knew had an old tree they were getting rid of, and no one else seemed to want it so she gave it to me. The stand was missing and the lights didn't work, but we have enough old Christmas stuff sitting around that we put something together.

_MG_0179

Pillows! Did you know you can get REALLY CHEAP pillow covers on Amazon? Like, under $5.00? If that doesn't sound cheap to you, then I don't know how to help you.

I made some of these covers, but in the end they probably cost me more than the ones from Amazon (which I think came from China.)

Uh, what else? Christmas Tree: BOOM

_MG_0163

Guess what? The presents under the tree in this picture are fake. We never put the presents out until the kids go to bed on Christmas eve. But presents under the tree are cute. So I wrapped some empty boxes. And the kids loved it. If they were actually presents I would have to keep telling the kids to leave them alone, but since these were fake, the kids could play with them all they wanted. 

_MG_0173

_MG_0188

I love our tree. Its just a hodge podge of stuff the kids have made, silly things I have made, and lots of things that look like toys. But it makes me happy.

Here are a few of my favorite ornaments:

_MG_0166

_MG_0168

_MG_0167

That one of Khan is my favorite. I bought that on Etsy to give to Richard. I actually paid money for it. The fact that the wreath is hanging upside down just cracks me up.

Here are some that I made. Whenever December comes around I start itching to make stuff out of felt.

20161227_153413


While I made these I watched Christmas romances on TV. They are all very cheesy, and every single one ended with a proposal. Because that is what Christmas is all about, I guess.

And here we have the Mantle! With stuff on it! 

_MG_0143

Where are the stockings? I don't know!

You may have thought we were done but that is never going to happen. You are going to be here forever! Because now I will show you my Nativities! Only a few. I have more than I currently have room to display. Here they are! Look at them now!

I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm yelling. Christmas makes me do that. Especially at my kids.

_MG_0123

This one came from the Philippines

_MG_0127

This one came from Bolivia

_MG_0131

And this one came from Ebay:

_MG_0135


And here is our Advent Calendar. I feel like I have posted it before, but who knows? My sister has one very much like this. I liked it, so I shamelessly copied it. Thanks Fae!

20170102_154838

That is probably enough for the moment. Thanks for stopping by! And a Merry Christmas to you and your leggings!

Travel Trailer Electrical, and Other Things That May Bore You

First, the other things. Remember this backsplash?

backsplash before

The countertop is a white laminate with gold flecks, but instead of carrying that up onto the walls for the backsplash, they used some kind of particle board with white paint on it. Or something. And then, they topped it off with what appeared to be plastic, marbled, bullnose tile. Of a sort. The picture doesn't really capture their beauty. Because they have none. 

So I pried it all off!

The particle board came off easy. As the glue was no longer sticky at all. The plastic tiles were hollow, and filled with some kind of adhesive putty. It was committed to sticking to the wall.

20170703_110414

First I tried chipping away at it with a putty knife. Ha. It laughed in my face. Then I tried sanding it off. It completely ignored me. Then Richard told me to just go get a chisel, already. So I did. 

20170703_112039

I started out hitting the chisel with a hammer, but I kept going too deep and taking bits of wall off with the putty. Eventually I figured out that it worked best if I just used the power of my hand, and pushed straight through the putty. It came off in a few sliced layers. 

Anyway, a very rambly way to say I got all the crap off the wall. Yeah. Told you you'd be bored.

_MG_0951

And then someone stole my camera!

20170703_113752

So, wiring. I can tell you what I know, which isn't much.

Since the siding is STILL off the trailer, it made it really easy to work on the wiring.

Here is how it works. (I think. I keep having to ask Richard how this works because it refuses to stay in my brain.)

A/C is the kind of power our houses run on. Current goes in both directions (i.e. Alternating Current.)
D/C is the power that comes from Batteries, which only supply current in one direction. (i.e. Direct Current). Honestly, I have no idea what that means. But if our Travel Trailer is wired for D/C, the stuff inside of it can run on batteries.

A car battery is 12 volts, and they make light fixtures and fans, etc. to run on 12 volts, since that is what RV's and boats use. So.

Originally our trailer had one D/C light in it. So if we were out in the middle of nowhere, running off a 12 volt battery, we would have one measly light. The rest of the lights required A/C, so to use those we'd have to be hooked up to A/C power, with an extension cord or whatever.

So we rewired all the lights to run off D/C.

This is where the original D/C light was.

_MG_0927

The black wire is power coming in, the white is the ground, and the red is running to other light fixtures and a light switch. These wires are all 14 gauge, so you can use all the different colors for whatever you want. This is just what worked for us.

We are adding another light about 3 feet to the left of this one. 

_MG_0931

Ah, yes! What an incredibly useful picture!

Here's another!

20170703_135344

Above the sink was a light we rewired, and an outlet we re-purposed.  We're sticking a USB outlet in its place. I gotta admit. That gets me pretty excited.


We got those on Amazon, but there are probably lots of similar options out there in the world. Accessing the wiring for those boxes is no problem. Just lift up the board in the cabinet above them:

20170703_135450
And there you are. 

There is another light over the dinette and two sconces on the back wall above the bench. We're putting another USB charging outlet back there. I could include pictures, but I think you've got the gist. Colorful wires sticking out of holes. Good stuff.

Then Richard installed this fuse box.

_MG_0944

Which sits under one of the benches. It works like the fuse box in your car. I don't know how the one in my car works. But I do know that if the fuse blows, you replace it.  So all the interior lights, (and the fan we are going to install!) run into here. The Trailer's running lights--those on the outside that are one while you're driving--are hooked up directly to the car's power.

A few of the light fixtures we are using are specifically designed to run on 12 volts. But the 12 volt light fixture community doesn't have the biggest selection in the world. But don't despair! There are other options! You can also buy 12 volt LED light bulbs.
You can use these in a regular old light fixture and get the same effect as a 12 volt light fixture. Pretty cool, right? So that is what we are doing over the dinette.

Both batteries and light bulbs have improved a lot in the last 50 years.  Using his magical brain, Richard calculated
 that even running all the lights in our Travel Trailer 24 hours a day, one 12 volt battery should still last us four and a half days.

So, yeah. Pretty awesome. And that is all I have for you to day. Tune it next time for whatever other drivel I throw at you! Good night!