I just wanted to give a quick little update from the journeys of Edna Lu the teabus and myself, Guisepi. I’m sitting in a cute little tea shop in Fresno, where I spent way too much money on a pot of tea (ironic, isn’t it). I spent the day driving and in junkyards looking for a new injection pump (my main shaft seal is leaking – I guess that’s what 5 years of biodiesel does to these Stanadyne DB2 pumps). Destination: Southern CA! (Maybe we’re here already?)
Edna and I just spent 3 weeks in Nevada City serving some tea (see New Years blog entry), and working on some fun projects. The main project I was working on was finishing up the curtains that I started with the help of my friend, Ally, last winter. It’s funny how long a project can take until completion sometimes. With the help of Ally, and her mother, Jennifer, I was able to combine my vision with their practical sewing knowledge to create exactly what it was that I wanted. Also, I got to work on Jennifer’s vintage Singer sewing machine, which was such a pleasure (my Singer Featherweight wasn’t working at the time).
The curtains are great! Made from (mostly) salvaged fabric (decorations from the Rootstalk tea tent, thrift store scores, and Ally’s grandmother’s old curtains), they provide a few different functions: (1) They block view so I can have the privacy one needs in their own home; (2) They block ALL LIGHT from escaping the vehicle for when I am in towns and cities that have anti-homeless laws for people sleeping in their vehicles; (3) They are black on the outside, so that along with the tinted windows, you can’t tell that curtains are drawn – only that it’s dark looking inside; and (4) They are pretty on the inside (gold and purple gypsy floral designs).
Curtain Design (skip italicized paragraphs if you aren’t interested):
The gold-colored side curtains are on a wire, and slide from out of the way and into closed position. The top is pushed against the inside side of the bus from the wire it runs on. Just above the wire, a piece of the bus juts inward, so it helps block any light from going out the top of the curtains. The bottom of these curtains snap into place to keep them from moving and light from escaping.
The rear curtain used to be on a wire, but it got in the way every time the bed went up and down (its on a pulley system). What a PITA. Because of this, I opted to do a wireless curtain, or rather curtains, here. There are three gold curtains across the back (one for each window). They snap into place, and when you put them away, you simply pull the top snaps and stuff them in a special nook just below the windows. Keeping the bottom attached makes for an easy set up and take down. After only putting snaps on the four corners, I realized that I needed to put more snaps across the tops to keep light from escaping.
The purple front curtains were such a pleasure to make. There are three that go from behind the drivers seat to in front of the copilot chair. On the sides, they snap into place. The bottoms, they either hang, snap, or magnet into place. Where the front curtains overlap, they either snap or magnet. Originally, for the tops, I was going to snap the curtains to the ceiling, but my buddy Owen urged me to do otherwise. He had converted a full-sized school bus up on Orcas Island when I was living there a few summers ago. He had ordered a flexible plastic track for the curved ceiling of his bus, and suggested I do the same. I was so torn, because I hate buying new plastic. After looking at the track and its specs online, I decided to purchase it. And boy, am I happy with it! I was able to order little plastic pieces that fit in the track that have a female snap on them. This allowed me to make curtains that could snap and unsnap from the curtain track for washing them. I also liked this because the center curtain was designed to mostly be attached to one of the side curtains, but when I want, I can detach it and re-attach it over the inside of the
windshield. I wanted to do this so that I could expand my inside living space when I had more time to set up, and being semi-obvious about living in my bus was okay (e.g. at a friends house, a festival, etc.). I also sewed a curtain for the driver’s door window, that snaps over my tools when not on the window, as well as a small curtain for a small triangular window up front.
On the handicap door, I put the remnant of the plastic curtain track on the bottom of the roof (which is on the inside). I sewed two curtains so that they open nicely to the side and look super fun and pretty. I wanted them to look nice because the door is the first thing people see when they approach the bus for tea.
The only problem I had in using the flexible track was with the snaps. The female snaps in the plastic pieces that slide in the track are so tight to snap the male snaps into, that it not only makes it hard to snap them in, but it makes it so about 1 in 10 snaps break apart when trying to pull the snaps apart. The male snaps come mounted to a length of webbing that you’re supposed to sew into the top of your curtains. It’s a great design, other than the breaking snaps. To fix this, I decided to purchase some super small stainless nuts and bolts, which bolt right through the center of the snaps. I put some thread locker on them, and all seems good!
Other projects that I worked on were: re-sewing the cushion on the fridge so that it snaps to the lid and doesn’t slide around anymore; attaching the handicap door inside roof in a more secure manner; installing a new fresh water pump (love this!!!); installing a magnetic latch for the cabinet door on the front of the box below the copilot chair; and fixing and installing a new brass water filter faucet from the ReStore.
Amongst the projects, I made time to serve tea at the Silva Acres Open Disc Golf Tournament. Silva Acres is an amazing disc golf course on private land, built mostly by the hands of a fellow named Truk. Several years ago Truk had experienced a dark part of his life, which ultimately led to an accidental over-dose on pharmaceutical drugs. This left him in both physically and mentally rough shape. He doesn’t remember a month of his life. Slowly he began to come back to reality, but with a lot of anger. Instead of letting this fire cause destruction, he channeled it. His method was to go into the forest behind his folks’ house and just start clearing. He cleared branches and brush, but didn’t quite know why at first. Then he knew. He was building a disc golf course. Over the next couple years, and with the help of friends and family, he has transformed the property into a top-notch 18-hole course (two of the world’s best disc golfers were at this tournament). His story is inspiring because of his low-point that created such a high, not only for Truk, but for such a large community of disc golfers, friends, and family. And thus, Silva Acres Disc Golf Course was built.
I met Truk last Summer in Nevada City when I was serving tea (blog entry here). He came aboard the tea bus and said something like, “No way! This is what I wanted to do.” Inspired by all the free tea he received from locals in Nepal when he was traveling there a little while back, he had decided he wanted to use free tea in a similar way. After he found the tea bus, he took his truck on the road to Santa Cruz and served free tea to strangers. He also made it a custom to make free tea in the clubhouse at Silva Acres for all the players and guests. Excited about all that FREE TEA holds, he invited us to come make tea at the Silva Open, the second annual disc golf tournament at his course.
Ally, Edna, and I arrived first thing in the morning and set up at the top of the hill in the center of the property. The Sunday before the tournament they light a fire in a fire pit up there, and keep it burning through set up and until the tournament ends on Sunday evening. This fire creates a space for people to gather out in the course. We were lucky enough to get Edna up the hill to perch just next to the fire. We set up a rug, chairs, a small table, and cushions, made tea and invited people in.
The day was exciting. We made one of Mountain Rose’s new blends – Mint Chocolate Maté – which when served with cream and honey is just about one of the most delicious energizing teas I can imagine. The people loved it! The players, fans, family – everyone came for tea. In the little down time we had, I tinkered with the brass faucet I bought at The ReStore that wasn’t working (wasn’t fully machined inside – must’ve been a floor model. A few holes drilled, a couple holes tapped, and we were good to go). When the evening wrapped up, we had the awards ceremony and a raffle up next to the bus and campfire.
Edna and I also had the wonderful surprise of a couple folks who had been ridesharers on the bus in her early days (5 years ago). Sasha and Dominique, two Stanford students, got a ride with us from the Bay at Humboldt with a couple of their friends. It was great to see their smiling faces, as well as some friends they brought. I love sharing Edna with people who haven’t seen her since the early years, when she was just a yellow shell.
When the night was done, we spent a magical moment with Truk and wished him farewell.
And now we travel south towards Ojai, where we will be briefly before heading to LA and beyond!
SOUTHERN CA: Come find us on Hollywood Blvd or at the TerraVita Herbal Symposium on Feb 8-9th in Laguna Beach.