Liam’s Expedition

Just a little reminder….  If you are feeling so inclined, the deadline for donating to my baby brother’s cross-continent, 8+ month expedition is this Wednesday, April 16.  Thank you in advance!  Here’s where you can go to offer some support:  Liam’s Super Duper Happy Fun Times.

In the meantime ~ Remember those bunnies my dad and brother have been taking on all hiking and skiing trips for the last couple of decades?  Grinny and Gwvera Lapin?  You first met them in this post.  Anyway, they are up to their old tricks, and are pretty sure Liam and his friend, Jake, aren’t the only ones who can plan a little triple-country stroll.

Well my dad, um, I mean Burt (that’s the alias you wanted me to use, right dad?  so that your professional writing career isn’t diminished with silly tales of stuffed rabbits?) recently shared a little story of how the planning is going for dear Grinny and Gwvera….

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Grinny and Gwvera decided (well actually Grinny was the one who decided; Gwvera just tags along — as usual) they were going on a grand adventure too. And THEY were going to be self-propelled as well (except for the Charlie Horse they would take over the busted bridge).

“We’re walking to New Mexico,” said Grinny.  “Any silly old person can walk to silly OLD Mexico!  Anyway Mexico’s old hat.”

Grinny hasn’t a clue where New Mexico is, never mind Mexico. It’s just that he saw the name on a mango and thought it sounded a good place to go, since mangoes are his favourite vegetable. (I’ve tried explaining that mangoes are fruit — but it’s hopeless) Then he saw Ecuador on a banana and said they definitely weren’t going there. He HATES bananas, he says they remind him of unripe carrots–those are the green ones he sees in the shops here, before they gas them. (The bananas, that is.)

A well-wisher — was it his brother Liam? — sent him a hat for the trip: If the hat fits, wear it, said the kindly note . . .  Grinny said it did, without a shadow of a doubt.  And it would keep them jolly warm, to boot, and save taking jumpers (for our American friends, aka sweaters).

They left on the Moon of the Falling Leaves, and it took them three days just to get to Mr. Kimbowsarbee’s who lives on the edge of town. Already Gwvera’s feet were killing her. Grinny said he’d kill her if she didn’t shut up.

“We’ve got to be brave,” he said. Then he slipped on a yellow banana skin (how inconsiderate people are, eh?) and cried like a baby; and then had to go to the doctor’s and get a mustard poultice on his left toe so he could get to New Mexico. (Huh! some hope.)

The way his toe’s swollen up he can’t even get his hiking boot OFF!  Grinny refused to have the doctor cut off the boot since it was the one and only one he had.  Yes, he was only wearing the one boot; he got them on lay-away and could only afford the left one before they left. So the eBay seller refunded half his money and said if it’s alright he’d keep the right one for when he came back.

So Doc put the hot poultice on the boot, hoping for the best.

Gwvera blames the hat for the accident.

“Rubbish!” says Grinny. “I didn’t trip on the hat; I tripped on the bloomin’ banana. Duh!  If it had been the proper colour I’d have seen it.”  (Rabbits are colour-blind; just another example of Grinny talking through his hat.)

Those who bet they WON’T make it can send a dollar, two dollars, ten dollars — as much as they like — to Grinny’s post office box, since he’ll be completely destitute — and broke — after this trip.

Those who bet they WILL make it — well you won’t get a hat since Grinny doesn’t knit. But he might send you a postcard with nothing on it (he can’t write since he had the accident; no, another accident he had when he was employed as a lumberjack and short-order cook — but that’s another story) to prove he got THERE (???).  Don’t be at all surprised if the post card comes from the Yukon, since the last I saw of the two Lapins they were heading in a northerly direction because his World Famous compass is busted. It was in his vest pocket when he slipped on the banana….

The Lapins.  Contemplating life.  And lunch.

The Lapins. Contemplating life. And lunch.

Rebecca Knabe.  And Burt.

Four Years

 

Four years is a relatively long time.  It’s enough time to graduate from college, or give birth to two separate elephants (although I would only recommend this if you were an actual elephant).  It is also the length of time I’ve lived in the pink trailer.  And that is the longest I have lived in any home, other than the one in which I grew up.

There have been ups and downs in my little portable palace, but overall, it’s been a good time.  And it has been a great life lesson.  Here is what I’ve learned:

Less is more.  Living in a tiny space forces you to keep only essentials.  This means I have fewer clothes, shoes, keepsakes, mementos, and furniture.  But it also means that the things I do have, I love!  It is very satisfying to love all the things you see in your home.  And when you fall out of love with a certain item, or curtain, or whatever it may be, then you can replace it with a new love.

Don’t always feel like you deserve better.  I’m not taking about sociological or psychological behavior – of course nobody deserves to be abused or anything like that.  What I’m talking about is the way advertisers love to tell you, “You deserve the best!”  “You’re worth it!”  “Get the ____________ that you deserve.”  These slogans are out there, not to remind you that as a human you should hold your head up high and realize you are special, but to sell you crap you don’t need.  To make you believe your life will be better if you have newer things, a faster car, a bigger house.  But all these things often just lead to a larger debt.  So if piles of bills is your thing, then by all means, you deserve to go and max out your credit cards.  But if a happy life is your thing, realize that the size or grandiosity of your home is no reflection of what is in your heart.

Contentment is key.  I have an uncle who is an atheist, and we were at lunch together a few years ago when the host prayed before the meal.  One of the things he prayed for was to be content with what he had.  Although he is non-religious, my uncle was very impressed with that thought, and decided to remind himself of that idea regularly.  To be content.  The desire to keep up materially and economically with those around you will literally drive you crazy.  Learn to accept what you have, as well as your situation.  Reuse your things, fix stuff that breaks, and feel the beauty that comes with feeling satisfied with what you have.

Keep your eye simple.  This means don’t complicate your life with acquisitions.  Yes, sometimes it would be really fun to own a boat and a quad and a dirt bike and a snowmobile and a….  But all those things need maintenance and time, and honestly, how much would I use them?  It’s the same with a home – a guest bedroom would be great, and an extra room for a ping pong table, and a space for a big dining room table for large formal dinner parties, and a separate living room and family room which would be great for entertaining….  But, honestly, would the number of times a year I would have an out-of-town guest or a formal dinner party really be worth all the extra money I would have to pay for a place big enough to support those moments?  For some people it would be worth it, but not for me.

Swallowing your pride isn’t as bad as you’d think.  My neighbor, Natasha, and I were roommates long ago – back in the 20th century – and we often laugh about how our 20something selves would be horrified that our 30-40something selves are living in a trailer park.  We were too proud.  And we were too worried about what others may think.  Now?  We realize that choosing to live the way we do has nothing to do with being “trailer trash,” but how we want to spend our time and money.  And it has a lot to do with our own creativity.  It’s much easier (and takes way less time, money, and effort) to renovate and re-renovate a trailer than it would a stick-built home.

Success in life has nothing to do with stuff.  I work at an estate planning law firm, and regularly meet with clients who have more stuff than they can list or remember.  They are busy trying to decide who will get the stuff they’ve forgotten they have when they die.  Sometimes they like to micro-manage their assets from the grave.  Often they have a larger retirement account than they do a measure of happiness.  And that is sad.  Focus on your quality of life, rather than your quantity of stuff, and when you die those around you will be so sorry to see you go, rather than kinda excited at the prospect of inheriting your junk.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve learned.  A lot of it I knew, but putting it in action is much more monumental.  And most of those points are generally related.  Basically, be happy with what you have, don’t long for what you don’t.  Live small.

Puffins are happy just hanging out.  I should be too.

Puffins are happy just hanging out. I should be too.

Rebecca Knabe

Liam and Jake

Jake & Liam

Jake & Liam

~Expeditions do not always have to be solitary ventures, as true happiness is often shared~

My baby brother, Liam, who is not such a baby anymore, and his friend, Jake, are soon to set off on the ultimate small-space-living adventure.  The two of them plan to ski out their front doors in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, and travel along the Great Divide by foot to Mexico, where they will complete their journey on bicycle.  Their transcontinental trip will incorporate 3 self-propelled sports – skiing, hiking, and cycling – all while utilizing a backpacker’s tent for shelter.  And I imagine a very stinky tent at that….

According to Liam and Jake, their endeavors are both adventure-seeking and educational:  “Through this trip, we will travel through areas we have only heard about and seen postcards of. We will discover lands in our own country we didn’t even know existed. We hope to experience local cultures, and meet interesting people. Since the trip will include three different countries, we will be able to compare Canada to other nations, thereby hopefully gaining new insight and perspective on our home.”

You can follow their progress on their blog:  A DoorStep Adventure.  They plan to begin late-April, and finish roughly at the end of the year.

The pair have calculated the cost, and it’s hefty, as I’m sure you can imagine.  If you would like to donate to their adventure, you can make donations here.  Any amount (even $1) is appreciated!  As an added bonus, a donation of $75 or more will earn you a fancy new hat, knitted by the one and only Liam Harrap.  Here I am in my very own Liam creation.  As you can see, the fit is spectacular.

Favorite Hat

Another way you can help these two, is by joining the journey yourself.  They hope to share portions of the trail with new and old friends, and if you’re willing, provide a stop for a shower and some shelter….  “If you live on the Great Divide/Rockies in either Canada or the USA and are willing to let two possibly grubby gentleman (only when we first arrive, after a shower I am sure we will be quite sparkling and merry) stay a night or two in your home, that would help us enormously! We have our sleeping pads, so all we would need is a comfy floor and some cheery company. “

So if you would like to help a couple of Canadian lads on the trip of a lifetime, please do – either by monetary donation, food, shelter, shower, or just by following their blog.

Happy travels, Jake and Liam!!

Lots of love, from your favorite sister (and your friend’s favorite sister).

Rebecca Knabe

Wood Floors and Fuzzy Socks

When I was young my grandma lived in an old house with a couple of stories and the original hard wood flooring on the stairs.  If you ran too quickly down the stairs in stocking feet, to answer the phone or get a fresh piece of grandma’s kougan, you invariably lost your footing, landed on the wood with your tailbone, and bump-bump-bumped on your butt down the remaining stairs.  Everyone in the family had done it, and most of my friends had done it too.  It’s just what happened at her house.

Grandma's House

Grandma’s House

When I renovated my trailer, the first to go was the horrible flooring – ancient linoleum and well-used beige carpet.  I replaced it all with laminate beech wide-plank flooring, and I love it.  Clean, easy, bright.  Perfect.

My father refers to me as having “the worst balance in the world.”  I can (and have) fall over just standing there.  I fell over in my desk twice in elementary school.  I once fell onto a snowboard racecourse while standing at the starting line.  I got stitches in my hand from falling in the woods.  The wind blew me over twice in Iceland.  I was on crutches several times as a kid.  In Athens I couldn’t walk a block without wiping out on the marble sidewalks.  I have entered Safeway airborne, because of tripping on the door frame.  I’ve fallen down several flights of stairs, tripped up even more flights of stairs, and because of that, had recurring nightmares in high school about tumbling down those stairs, usually while naked ( :( ).

That's us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

That’s me strolling around Athens, likely immediately prior to or preceding a nice fall.

So this last weekend, it should have come as no surprise when I found myself upside down in a corner of my trailer.  Here’s how it happened….  I was wearing my pajamas and fuzzy socks, and making breakfast.  Actually I was burning breakfast, and lunged to remove the pan from the heat, and in doing so flung my egg flipper thingy behind my infrared heater.  This heater is a large rolling wooden box; and as I leaned sideways over the box to retrieve my egg flipper it rolled, my feet slipped out from under me (you know, slippery floors and fuzzy socks, just like at grandma’s), and I teeter-tottered over the heater and onto my head.  I had wedged myself into the corner and bruised up my thigh, but all I could do was lay there laughing.

Ahhhhhh, if only someone else had been there to see it….  It would have been worth the humiliation.  It was pretty funny!  Funny enough to share.  I’m sure of it!

Rebecca Knabe

The Top 5 Things That Don’t Fit in My Trailer

1.  Secretariat.  Sure that Triple Crown Racehorse was only 5’6″, but he weighed nearly 1,200 lbs.  Sometimes during exceptionally vigorous P90X workouts, I worry that I will break through my floorboards.  And, thankfully, I weigh vastly less than that giant fella.  And horses smell bad.  And have freakishly large heads.  Terrifying.

Secretariat

2.  Shaquille O’Neal.  At 7’1″ he won’t fit.  An inch too tall for trailer living.  But it’s ok, because I don’t really know the rules of basketball, and I’m sure he doesn’t really know the rules of trailers, so it’s unlikely we have much in common.

(He's the tall guy in the back)

(He’s the tall guy in the back)

3.  Thailand’s Largest Reclining Buddha, Phra Buddhasaiyas, at Wat Pho.  Not only would it be impossible to get the 150 foot long, 45 foot high statue inside my home, I think the multiple plane tickets needed to get that thing a flight from Bangkok to Reno would be pretty cost prohibitive….

(He's the long guy in the back....)

(He’s the long guy in the back….)

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

4.  The Duggar Family – Jim Bob and Michelle, and their 19 reality-TV-darling offspring.  Technically, they could probably fit.  I’ve had parties with more than 21 in attendance.  But why would anyone want 19 children in a single-wide trailer.  That would just be stupid.

19-kids-and-counting

5.  The Z Gallerie Conversation Pit.  9 1/2 feet wide, and 6 1/4 feet long.  Granted, my trailer is 10 feet wide.  But that is the outside measurement.  So if you factor in a few inches of non-existent insulation, baseboards, and the weird thingies that jut out from my windows, there’s no way you could squeeze in that couch.  It also costs nearly as much as I paid for my house, so there’s that.  However, it’s one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever set my tush on, so perhaps I should just sell my place and live on the Conversation Pit.

Couch

Rebecca Knabe

Nevada Skies

I love the sky in Reno.  It’s the prettiest I’ve seen.  Mostly sunshine, but when we do get clouds, they tend to be spectacular.  I’ve heard we get some formations here that you don’t see anywhere else.  And this makes for some really great sunrises and sunsets.  Here are some photos of a few that I’ve enjoyed over the last 2 months.

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And for the grand finale….

ss6

Rebecca Knabe

Living Someone Else’s Dream

A friend of mine told me not long ago that I was literally living her childhood dream.  She said that as a child she always pictured herself in her 30’s, unmarried, and happily living in a trailer.  She is currently in her 20’s, married, and happily living in a house.  And I really am living her dream.

This was never my dream.  I thought that by the time I was sneaking up on 40, I would be married and happily living in a house, or awesome urban loft, or rustic cozy cabin, or wandering nomadically through Europe or Asia, or pretty much anywhere but a trailer.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

It just had never even crossed my mind.  Not once did a trailer factor into my future.

And then I recently found my Grade 3 Creative Writing Journal, where I had carefully mapped out what I had believed to be my ideal future.  Here’s what 8-year-old Rebecca had to say:

My Day in the Year 2084

I would get home from work and press the com to my door:  R.M.H.4.8.0.2..  When I got in I would ask my robot if there were any phone calls, if there was I would phone them back.  After that I would go into my room to change, then I would go downstairs to have a swim in my swimming pool and go in the sauna.  After I was relaxed I would go upstairs and press in what I wanted for supper:  SALAD, STEAK, CORN, FRENCH BREAD, CHOCOLATE PUDDING.  My robot would make my supper.  Within fiffteen minits it would be ready.  After supper my robot would give me my remot control and I would watch T.V.  In two hours I would be done watching T.V., by this time it would be about 11:00 and I would go to bed.

In the morning I would get dressed and press in my breakfast: POCHED EGG, TOAST, ORANGE.  After I ate I would go to work as a cook at McDonald’s.  My day in the year 2084.

By Rebecca Harrap

So, as you can see, no mention of a trailer.  Just 110-year-old me living with a robot and working at McDonald’s.  I guess I’ve still got time to make that happen….  :)

diary

Rebecca Knabe