Upon Selling My Vast Library: Adventures In Simplification

From our guest writer: The Wild Poesy

You can also follow her on Instagram as @somethingfantastic

the wild poesy

Upon Selling My Vast Library

Good Lord, I have done the unthinkable.

Those shelves once filled with radiant spines
Now stand empty,
Stark and white as the winter that is just drawing
To a close.
The books, my many lives and lungs,
Lie scattered in piles,
Haphazard over floor and table
And the old black chair,
Teetering and on the verge of toppling
Once again.

The unthinkable: I’m selling the books.

You will protest,
I can see you all,
Hear you all now.
You are your books, young person,
You may say.
Why would I, how could I possibly do away with these
Dozens of
Hundreds of
Thousands of pages of ink-dotted paper,
You may inquire.
How could I do such a terrible thing?

Now I am the one to protest.
You see:
You may see these books, which number high in the hundreds,
And think how great my intellect…

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Resuming the Journey

Nine months have passed since our last entry. And no, it’s not because we had another baby. We did, however, have a different significant transition in our family’s life: last July, I (Amy) went from working part-time to full-time. This, of course, had a domino effect in other areas of our lives: our two kids that I had been homeschooling now needed to be enrolled in a traditional school, house work and household administration now needed to be divided a little more evenly among all members of the family, and our time to work on the Dawn Treader was now cut in half.

Then one hot evening after work in July, Mark was installing the bunks in the back of the non-air-conditioned Airstream, hit his head one too many times (being 6’5” this is a real risk in an Airstream), felt overwhelmed by the amount of work left to do, and decided we needed to put the Dawn Treader Experiment on hold. To which I agreed.

The Dawn Treader waits patiently through the winter

The Dawn Treader waits patiently through the winter.

However, the winter and spring months were not spent idly. We upped our resolve to continue pursuing simplicity. We read books and blogs and articles on simplicity and minimalism and essentialism. We sorted, decluttered, and purged.

And we decided now would be a good time to sell our house.

I’ll talk more about our house-selling motives in a later post, but starting the process has encouraged us to resume our experiment to have a place to stay if our house (please God) sells quickly.

So while we finish up all those crazy I-wish-we-would-have-done-this-when-we-bought-the-house-so-we-could-have-enjoyed-them projects around the house, we’ve called in a friend who has experience renovating RVs to help us with the inner workings of the Airstream to get her up and running.

Mark and our friend, Rod, discuss what needs to be finished in the bathroom.

So we certainly have still not arrived. But we gladly journey.

3 Lessons We’ve Learned While Our Plans Have Been Delayed

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you’ve lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”  ~Asha Tyson

Our delay in updating the blog is a direct reflection of our frustration with the progress on the Dawn Treader Experiment.

According to our timeline, we “lost” several weekends due to outside circumstances and two weeks that the Airstream sat at the RV service center untouched until Mark hounded them into action.

The Dawn Treader waiting patiently for service.

The Dawn Treader waiting patiently for service.

Life—work, family, outside commitments, daily routines—has, of course, been going on whether or not we are living our dream. So we have had to take a deep breath and remember this summer is happening regardless of our preconceived notions of what we thought it was going to look like.

As is my usual course of action during times of stress and uncertainty, I have been coping by making lists. (Anybody else out there do this?) I made lists of things left to do, yet to buy, things we had already done.

Some of my many lists.

Some of my many lists.

But even that didn’t really assuage my frustration at the lack of forward motion. So I have had some time to reflect. I realize that this summer is the Dawn Treader Experiment. So even the preparations to get the “ship” ready to sail are part of the experiment. Her inauguration will be a joyful day, to be sure, but it is the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears beforehand.

It’s like going on a long journey. Most people don’t just decide one minute to go on a long trip and then throw a few things in a bag and head to the airport the next. (While that would be exciting, it would be logistically challenging.) Tickets prices are researched, itineraries are mapped out, packing lists are made (and made again if you are a list-lover like me), reading material is selected, responsibilities are delegated, bills are scheduled to be paid, climate-appropriate clothes are bought, snacks are carefully thought out.… A lot goes into a journey before the first step is taken. Except all those other things are steps, too. They just aren’t as celebrated as that moment of stepping off the plane in an exotic place.

On a brighter note, we did get to enjoy a joint accomplishment this weekend: the flooring is in! We removed the toilet and sink, pulled up the carpet in the bathroom (who ever thought that was a good idea in any bathroom should be slapped), laid and grouted the bathroom tile, and installed the laminate throughout the rest of Airstream. If we hadn’t been so sore and tired by the end of the laminate install, we would have danced a jig right then and there. So we just danced one in our hearts.

Mark's realm during the flooring install.

Mark’s realm during the flooring install.

Airstream floor install—tools

The other tools we used to install the laminate in the Airstream.

Mark makes the first cut on the laminate floor. (Did we mention that nothing is square in an Airstream?)

Mark makes the first cut on the laminate floor. (Did we mention that nothing is square in an Airstream?)

First board is laid in the Airstream.

First board is laid in the Airstream.

Airstream floor progress

Progress. Most of the easy stuff has been done so far. What is left is all the tricky cuts and laying the last row.

Completion. Time to celebrate!

Completion. Time to celebrate!

The flooring is finished in the bathroom.

The flooring is finished in the bathroom, too!


What have we been learning?

  1. When you bring other players into your process, certainty can become compromised. So readjust and chill.
  2. When you’re not exactly where you want to be in life (in our crazy case— living in a 34’ metal tube), you might have to make an effort to find joy where you are while continuing to move forward. So look for things to be thankful for.
  3. When taking on a big project, don’t wait until the end to acknowledge success; learn to celebrate the small victories along the way (like the laminate floor being laid). So keep the party hats at the ready.

The day our ship will sail is within sight. We can’t wait for the day of her christening! I think I’ll go put the champagne on ice just to be ready. And while I’m waiting for it to chill, I’ll remind myself:

We have not arrived. But we gladly journey.

The Battle of the Cleaning Products


Klean Strip TSP Substitute vs. Simple Green

Klean Strip TSP Substitute vs. Simple Green

Klean-Strip TSP Substitute vs. Simple Green 

We used both of these products when we scrubbed out the Dawn Treader before she got painted inside. I wanted to compare how they performed. In the past, I have used the TSP substitute when prepping walls in our house for painting, especially any place that may have had any grease or grime build-up (e.g., the kitchen). But Mark now works as a professional painter and all they use is Simple Green. So I thought I would test it out.

(Note: I chose not to use regular TSP because of the thoroughness of rinsing that it requires. We already knew we would probably have to go over the walls at least twice so adding in two thorough rinses was more than we wanted to do.)


Various cleaning tools we tried out.

Various cleaning tools we tried out.



Other products used:

Goo Gone–worked in some of the really difficult places, but would have taken a boat-load to clean the entire Airstream. Plus removing all the Goo Gone residue seemed like an unnecessary extra step when the other cleaners didn’t need such a thorough rinsing.

Goo Gone Patio Furniture Cleaner–bought it on a whim in the clearance section. I thought it might be effective as a lot of patio furniture is vinyl and the interior walls of the Airstream are some kind of vinyl. Not impressed. Didn’t seem to make a big dent in the grime–at least not very quickly. Maybe if it was left on a long time, but I didn’t wait to find out.

Scotch Brite Shower Scrubber–good for the harder to reach places like in the upper cabinets and the ceiling.

Scotch Brite Heavy Duty Scrubbers–the had a good scrubbing surface, but they aren’t comfortable to use for a pond period of time.

Scrub brush–my personal favorite as it was comfortable to use and seemed to be the most effective at removing the grime on the walls.

We preferred the scrub brush over the sponges in the cleaning stage. However, the sponges were a little easier to get into the tight spaces. We used the sponges for the final rinse.

All the products were purchased at Walmart, although you could probably also find them at any decent hardware store. (Note: the Simple Green was in the automotive section. Who knew?)

We washed the curbside of the front interior with TSP substitute and the roadside of the front interior with Simple Green. And while the TSP substitute did an OK job, the Simple Green worked faster and better. All of it needed a second pass, but the areas we cleaned with Simple Green were far less sticky and almost completely clean after the first go around. We ended up using it almost exclusively for the rest of the cleaning in the kitchen, bathroom, hall, and bedroom.

So Simple Green for the win!

3 Things We Learned While Making Progress on the Dawn Treader

Three things we learned this past weekend while working on the Dawn Treader:

  • When working on the exterior of the Airstream in full sun, choose wisely which side you work on. Almost blinded.
  • Krylon spray paint smells like cherries. Use a mask anyway.
  • The belly pan is not designed to be weight-bearing. Watch where you step when the subfloor is removed.

Having said that, here is the progress we made:

We’ve had a crazy amount of rain the past few weeks which has prevented us from doing much work on the exterior of the Airstream. Saturday we got a full day of sun, so we took advantage of it.
Blog AS Mark Working on Exterior copy

We enjoyed the almost-perfect weather to work on the Dawn Treader

We finally scraped the seams on the exterior skin and resealed it. There have been leaks in the past, one of which rotted out the subfloor in the rear and two small ones (which we couldn’t tell we had until we pulled up all the carpet) on either side of the door.
When Mark started sealing the door, he found there wasn’t much sealant left at the top of the door which may be the reason for the leaks. (Let’s hope.)
Blog AS Door Seams

The sealant above the Airstream door is almost nonexistent

Earlier we had taken out all the drawers and cleaned them really well since we had seen evidence of some former rodent inhabitants. This weekend I painted the interior of those drawers with Krylon spray paint because I just wanted a “new” surface if I was going to store things in there. I will also add liner later. (And even later, we hope to replace the kitchen cabinets altogether, but not this year.)
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Kitchen draw interiors after being painted

I also sanded and primed  (with help from Judah) the drawer fronts and cabinet doors.
Blog AS Kitchen Cabinet Doors Before copy

Kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts before primer and paint

Blog AS Kitchen Cabinet Doors During copy

Kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts after primer

Not exactly wild about the wicker look. We have talked about popping out the wicker and replacing it with either wood panels or stainless steel ones. But we’ll wait and see how they look once painted.

We are undecided how much we want to renovate the bathroom. If I had my preference, we would completely gut it and start over. Of all the spaces in the Dawn Treader that I want to know is truly clean, it is the bathroom. However, we only have so much time and so much money and so much know-how.
But on Friday I decided I was going to at least take down the molded plastic wall stuff. I’m sure in its day it was cool, buuuut … it had to go. For one, after studying the layout and trying to figure out what could be behind the corner cubby, I couldn’t see that it was efficient use of the space; two, we were going to have to replace the mirror on the medicine cabinet anyway; three, I just didn’t like it.
Blog AS Bathroom Wall Before

The molded plastic wall in the bathroom included medicine cabinet, cubby, and vanity light)

First, I removed the mirror over the window and the light fixture from the right side of the sink. Easy peasy. My confidence was soaring that this little bathroom renovation was going to be a snap.
Blog AS Bathroom Left Light

Left: before removal of the mirror and vanity light Right: after removal

Then I attempted to take down the molded plastic wall/medicine cabinet/light thing.
Wow. I had no idea what battle was going to ensue. I started taking off the border strip that holds the molded plastic pieces together. I figured once I removed all the visible screws and rivets, I would be able to take out the offending plastic monstrosity.
Blog AS Bathroom Rivet Removal

Removing the rivets in the Airstream bathroom wall

Well, once I got that off, I realized the big molded plastic wall had probably been the first thing originally installed and then every other piece put over it. So I had to take out the curved corner piece and undo the counter top from the wall. Then I had to try to lift this thing and rotate it so that it would come out from behind the plastic counter.
Blog AS Bathroom Wall Partially Removed

The wall partially removed, but lifting it over the counter edge was a real challenge.

Even then, it was about a half hour battle to finagle that thing out of the bathroom. It was probably a two-person job, but once I get an idea in my head, it’s hard for me to not do it.
Blog AS Bathroom Wall Removed

Bathroom wall removed

When I finally got it removed, I found further evidence that the mice had made this their home.
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Bathroom mouse nest behind plastic wall

Now we are committed to some amount of remodeling in there. We probably could paint the counter/sink, but we would rather replace it all plus get a new faucet. We’ll see.

In addition to all that, I did scrape the old caulk/silicone out of the shower seams. I think there must have been three or four layers and each of them had black junk in between them. It was pretty gross.
Blog AS Bathroom Shower Caulk

Lots of scraping to remove the old silicone in the Airstream shower

I’ll be glad when this is all painted and resealed. Sadly, we’ll lose this lovely vinyl wallpaper. (Just kidding. I love retro, but not this.)
Blog AS Bathroom Wallpaper

Original vinyl in the bathroom of the Airstream Limited

Mark worked on fixing the subfloor. He was able to cut out the rotted section in the back, where there had been water damage from a previous leak.
Blog AS Mark Removing Subfloor

Mark removing the rotting wood subfloor in the rear of the Airstream

When he removed that, he found wet insulation and grossness. He was a good sport about cleaning all that out, using a mask for good measure.
Blog AS Mark Working on Subfloor Insulation Removal copy

Removing the wet insulation from the rear of the Airstream

Then came what will forever be referred to as The Great Belly Pan Incident. The boys and I were outside working on the cabinet doors when we heard a great crash. We looked over and saw Mark’s foot on the ground INSIDE the Airstream. After he had removed the subfloor, he accidentally stepped in the open area and hit the belly pan and knocked it to the ground. If I had just been a few seconds faster, I would have captured the sight with my phone camera, but I only got the after effects.
Blog AS Belly Pan Incident

The Great Belly Pan Incident (just seconds after Mark put his foot through the floor)

Blog AS Belly Pan Incident Looking Up copy

The Great Belly Pan Incident (looking up through the floor from outside)

We (meaning me and the boys) had a good laugh, but Mark wasn’t quite ready to find the humor in it. That was delayed for a few hours. Later he did post this on Facebook:
Blog AS Belly Pan Incident FB Post

Mark able to find humor in the Great Belly Pan Incident

We had to do a quick fix (Liquid Nails to the rescue) to keep animals out. We also need to tow it about an hour away it to an RV service center this week to get all the systems checked out. When we crawled underneath, we could see that there had been very little keeping it on since the pan around the rivets was disintegrating. So Mark has added “buy a riveting gun” to his To Do list this week so we can fix it properly. To keep his perspective positive,  I keep reminding him how much more we are going to know how to do before this experiment is over!

So this coming week, Mark will finish repairing the subfloor, we will tape off everything that is not going to get painted, Mark will be prime and spray the interior with a spray rig, and I’ll try to finish painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. If all goes well, we will accomplish all of this before Thursday when we drop off the Dawn Treader for a complete inspection at the RV place.
We have not arrived. But we gladly journey.

Why the Dawn Treader Experiment?

Rumors of my lack of excitement/ involvement with Dawn Treader Experiment have been…well, exaggerated. To the contrary, I am very much involved, trying to finish some projects in our house before college guys moved in, and now working on projects aboard Dawn Treader to insure its “seaworthiness” you might say. So, I’m often too tired to collect my thoughts regarding this grand adventure our family will embark on in a few weeks. But I am home sick from work today and I have some thoughts to share.
“Why the Dawn Treader Experiment?” many have asked. I can’t really point to one reason. I guess it has come about as the result of many conversations over a number of years, spurred on again recently by a suggestion by our daughter, Sophie.
To give a glimpse into how we arrived at this point I could share some of our recent conversations. Some have centered around things such as: the idea of simplicity; reflecting on how people live in the developing world and our time spent in Southeast Asia; questioning and rebelling against the status quo (both “the existing state of affairs” as well as the lame UK band who’ve been together 50 years and should have quit 30 years ago).
(Some who have known Amy and I over the years probably aren’t all that surprised by this “oddball scheme.” Those who know Amy know that she’s always thinking of ways to change things up, thinking about how something could function better or more efficiently, or changing something just for the sake of change. Those who know me know that if you listed 10 adjectives that characterize me, the word “conformist” wouldn’t make the list.)
I’m sure we’ll touch on those ideas again in this blog, for now I’ll share just briefly a few of my thoughts/ opinions regarding simplicity and the status quo.
Living simply is not as simple as some might think, at least not at first. You have to think a lot more to live simply. You must be intentional if you wish to live simply. This can prove difficult for many of us living in the West, where convenience and instant gratification rule.
Having said that, I believe when we go through life without thinking we lapse into following the path of least resistance. As a result, our lives become empty, meaningless existences. Humans being. Not human beings. (no reference to the Van Halen song intended)
Thoreau went to the woods to live deliberately. Live deliberately. Live Deliberately!
Think about that! Think! The problem is that too many of us don’t really want to think, it’s too much work. We just wanna get through today, or to the weekend.
End rant…I could go on but I’ll stop there.
Please don’t miss my point, I do not want to sound critical or judgmental of others. I’m saying this to myself as well. We don’t have all the answers. We aren’t saying that by making this choice that others are making wrong or bad choices. We are wrestling with some things and this is an experiment in living differently. That’s all. We’ll call it a journey of discovery.
Those of you googling anything you read here have also embarked on a journey of discovery, so we’ll journey together.

Introducing the Dawn Treader (Before Pictures)

Here she is!

She may not look so bad, but on closer inspection, much of the interior was better removed than restored. I suppose if we had gotten one of the older Airstreams (like the ’69 we were considering), we would be more motivated to keep the design in sync with the era. But for this renovation, we are more concerned with function and comfort for a family of six. We’ll keep you posted on the progress!


The front view.

The front view.


The rear view.

The rear view.


The Airstream Limited. The top-of-the-line back in the day.

The Airstream Limited. The top-of-the-line back in the day.


Blog AS Inside

Looking toward the back.


Looking toward the front.

Looking toward the front.


The bathroom.

The bathroom (and a half-full bottle of Scope!).



The shower. (Note: At its highest, it is 6'1"; Mark is 6'5".)

The shower. (Note: At its highest, it is 6’1″; Mark is 6’5″.)


The Magic Chef stove.

The Magic Chef stove.


The built-in blender controls in the counter.

The built-in blender controls in the counter.


The built-in spice rack.

The built-in spice rack with a few bonus extras.


The lovely barometer.

The lovely barometer.


Holy Cow! We Bought an Airstream!

Finalizing our house refinance...another step accomplished!

Finalizing our house refinance…another step accomplished!

We closed on our refinancing a couple of days ago so Sophie and I took a road trip to check out the 34′ Airstream Limited. We knew when we saw it that it was the one. I inspected it as best I could using advice I found on www.airforums.com (an invaluable resource for anyone who currently owns an Airstream or is considering buying one).  I could identify some of the issues we would be facing—rotted subfloor where there had been previous leakage, hazing in some of the windows, torn awnings, and mouse scat.

Since I had been perusing Craigslist for a while, I knew this particular Airstream had started out at $12,500, had been reduced to $10,000, and was currently listed at $9,000. I haggled a little with the seller and got him down to $8,500.

One hitch in our plan is that we don’t currently own an adequate tow vehicle. As much as I tolerate love our minivan, it definitely doesn’t have the chops to pull a 34′ travel trailer. So…we’ll have to borrow a vehicle to come pick her up. Sophie and I made the two and a half hour drive playing all the epic songs we could think of and every ten minutes or so, one of us would look at the other and yell ,”We just bought an Airstream!!”

There she is, just waiting for us to take her home.

There she is, just waiting for us to take her home.

The Frenzy

The past two weeks have been crazy!

Mark met with the bank this week about refinancing the house. We had been planning to do this anyway and this will not only lower our monthly house payment, but will allow us to pull out a little equity to buy the Airstream.  Now we will need to prioritize our To Do List before the appraisal and the Guys move in. We have about a year’s worth of house projects to fit into a few weeks. So…we are putting the family to work knocking out projects and cleaning the house.

Blog Basement Bathroom Reno

Mark has been busy demolishing our basement bathroom…he swears he’s already so tired of dealing with it that once this is finished, he will never want to use it!

We’ve painted, fixed trim, sorted through clothes and books and toys, straightened closets, organized cabinets, and rearranged furniture. We have also gotten rid of over 25 bags and boxes of stuff we don’t need (and most of it we probably never really needed). We  Mark started renovating the sorry-excuse-for-a-bathroom in the basement so there will finally be two functioning full bathrooms in the house. (That’s one of those projects we said we’d tackle “first thing” when we bought our house…SIX YEARS ago. Nothing like renting out your house to get you motivated to do the things you wish you’d done so you could have enjoyed them!) It is without a doubt the biggest and most urgent  item on our To Do List before we can buy an Airstream and a nice benefit for our family when we move back into our house in August.

In other news, the search continues…we found a couple of other possibilities on Craigslist. One is a 1983 34′ Airstream Limited which is located about two and a half hours away and one is a 1969 31′ Airstream Excella about six hours away.  From our previous scouting trip, we know we are leaning toward a 34′ for the space, but we love the super retro look of the 1969! We’ll check out the closer one first and see what happens!