Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tofu Turkey

My tofu turkey has passed into myth; nobody who was there or who heard about it will ever let me forget it. Briefly, it took all day to make and it tasted like oatmeal. A slightly more successful vegetarian turkey was the spaghetti squash with chestnut stuffing and a sweet potato head. One year when I was living alone, I ate plain white rice and drank sage tea, feeling terribly sanctimonious because lots of people in the world would be grateful to have just that on the day we call Thanksgiving. It was not very satisfying, and I'm sure I had a cheese sandwich later in the day. Another Thanksgiving, I got on a train going to Seattle and skipped Thanksgiving altogether, though I felt grateful for a lot of things. This year we are going to a restaurant, just Nicodemus and me. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, and gratitude is our compass. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bus Log: July 15, 1971--A Tender Heart

(I'll resume the bus log in the new year. This will be the last log entry until after the holidays; meanwhile, we'll be in present time for a while.)

Still here at Sutton Lake, fetching two-gallon containers of water about twice a day. I made a gigantic dinner of spaghetti with sprout and jerky sauce, a salad, and a layer cake of sorts done in the frying pan. 

The cake caused us some trauma. I was snuffling around eating onion and drinking alka-seltzer all day, plotting to feed the ever-hungry kids so that they'd stop snacking and thought the cake would do it...but Nonda tripped and dropped it on the way to the picnic table. I wept. Subsequently we had to go pull Nonda out of the bushes, where he was weeping himself and was being feasted upon by a giant mosquito. I forget that he's still tender-hearted, even though he looks like a big strapping bruiser. "All that work," he kept saying sorrowfully. We ate that cake anyway, every crumb, and nobody was hungry for a while afterward.

Anna and I each had a good sponge bath. Here's how you do it. Spread your towel in front of the stove. Put down the washbowl and fill it up with hot water from the kettle. Soap your face, ears, neck and arms. Rinse the washcloth and wipe off the soap. Then soap and rinse your trunk, then legs. Then put your feet in the hot water while you do your fingernails; then give yourself a pedicure, toss out the water, dry the bowl, and dry yourself.

A danced and did her yoga exercises while we played the piano tonight. The hammers are getting very loose and will need some repair before long, but the tuning isn't off too badly yet.

(Here's a scrap of video showing the usual piggyback procedure.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bus Log: July 14, 1971--Happy Birthday XIII

Our Eugene friend Steve and family pulled in to Number 12, right next to our campsite, and set up their tent. We then froze to death all together despite burning tons of driftwood and eating hearty soup. We're still cold here in our new campsite, but being cold in a scenic place does have its advantages. Tuesday noon, the 13th, we had an early birthday party for Nonda.We put Sue's antique gold-colored tablecloth on the picnic table and I made a halva pudding over the open fire with almonds, pumpkin seed and orange-flavored frosting.Vince arranged the candles into a Roman numeral 13. We all made birthday cards and gave N the bush pants, frisbee and whirligig we had stashed away.

We traded Vince for Steve's little boy before they left, since Vince wanted to do some work on the farm to get money for a pocket knife. Finally we pulled 25 miles down the road to Sutton Lake, where there is an ocean breeze, sunshine and an immense meadow right next to our berth. Patches had sneaked out at the first place we stopped, a few hundred yards up the road, but when the boys went back, they found her, standing on the picnic table, looking for us.

Our spending for the second ten days went down a hundred dollars, to $144 for everything. I have a cold.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bus Log July 10, 1971: A Perdicerment

(Vince's entry)

Bus Log: July 9 and 10, 1971--Drying Out

We used our neighbor Scheilein's raincoat gift to cover the tools and bookcases which we offloaded to lighten the beached side of the bus. Another neighbor, Mr. Sandem, had given us a saber which we didn't think we'd need, but we used it to cut through the brush, trying to see just how badly we were stuck. We were glad not to have to use other gifts, the snakebite kit, lube gun and flares.

We swept, dried out several changes of clothing, and put a pot of beans on the wood stove. J and N have hitchhiked to town to get some emergency stores. Anna found a re plastic mustache somewhere and put it on during the hubbub yesterday. "Can I wear this and go to the boys' bathroom?" she asked.

A nifty camper with a canoe ad a kayak on top went off the road today and we pulled them out with our old cable.

We changed spaces, to Number 13, a private place with wonderful greenery on all sides, the creek below, huge moss-covered trees and a table and tent site down below the parking place. I made cheese with powdered milk and rennet. We kept the fire going all day to dry out the continually wet clothing. Patches the cat gorged on some hamburger J brought back from town and got the hiccups. We had hamburgers and black bean soup for dinner, but the Coleman stove had to be refilled in the middle of the cooking.

Saturday, July 10, 1971

J got up and started the fire this morning. I washed the breakfast pots in the creek while Patches stalked bugs on the creek banks, so well camouflaged with her tortoise-shell coloring that only her grey-green eyes were visible at times. J and the kids have gone to gather driftwood for the fire, and I am cleaning and fiddling around. We identified (using the plant book and Stalking the Wild Asparagus) the berries on the bushes all around us as western thimble berries and white mulberries.

I made up Anna's nest with its sleeping bag, the cloth snake we made her while cutting down foam rubber for the mattresses, her Raggedy Ann, a beanbag frog Steve gave her.

Policeman Number Four told J and N how to hitchhike safely yesterday. They say he was very pleasant.

I am patching my jeans. Ed is gathering white mulberries, Nonda is reading Robinson Crusoe, which we put aside last night in favor of The Jungle Book for bedtime reading. Vince is making a beautiful landscape on a board, using shells and leather scraps. J just invented a page holder for piano music out of a coat hanger.

To cut the wood for the bookcase, he took the pieces up to the park toilet, which has the only electrical outlet here. He plugged in the power saw and quickly cut the pieces, gathered everything up and came back to the bus, leaving a trail of sawdust. Someone is going to think a blond man with a heavy beard really needed a shave.

Later: N and J brought back four little brook trout for dinner. I'm glad we bought a 50-pound bag of brown rice, since that seems to be the staple of our diet. Patches ate the fish heads with relish. The bus seems empty and spacious with Vince and Ed camping out on the beach. I covered some of the books in vinyl. Anna fell asleep right after supper, but Nonda stayed up to play the piano and read by lantern light.

When I had a scrub, I found a patch of mosquito bites or poison oak on the skin under one of the holes in my jeans. I am pleased to report that both knees needed patching, but not the seat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bus Log: July 8, 1971, After the Rescue

It is 11:05 P.M., and everybody but me is asleep as the rain patters down on our metal bus roof, collects in the gutters and rolls off without even splashing the windows.

As Vince noted, we were rescued as all the other campers in the park stood around, watching helpfully. One camper noted that he had been in the same predicament many times when his ships ran aground in the Navy. During the high stress, V and Anna wisely chose, like cats, to sleep through it. We were beached from 3 P.M. to about 7:30. One camper offered us his place and we accepted gratefully. We built a big fire in the wood stove, got out of all our wet clothes and hung them to dry in the stairwell. We had a gigantic supper of macaroni and cheese with asparagus. We drank hot chocolate and saved the last peach for J. We tried the television in vain, sang a little at the piano, talked about how surreal the whole thing was. Vince did the dishes.

Now we're ready for a week of no adventure at all. If we hadn't gotten out of the ditch, we were going (we decided, out of the rain, with full stomachs, on level ground) to lower the other three wheels, declare ourselves a national monument and sell tickets at a dollar apiece to see the great underground bus. We considered selling the bus to the Museum of Modern Art as an environmental sculpture. Anna drew her own version of the AAA rescue.

(We are grateful to Mario Marino in New York City, a video archiving expert, for restoring most of a post-rescue movie, which had been transferred from 1971 film to videotape, where it mildewed and degraded.)

Bus Log: July 8, 1971--The Second Disaster

We are sitting in our poor beached bus at a 30-degree angle to keep out of the rain (all of us sitting on the high side) while J is somewhere out there, trying to find a way to contact AAA. A nice young bearded man named Bob drove him somewhere toward the highway. Anna is freaking out very badly and bit Eddie.

5:30 P.M. He's still not back. V and Anna have fallen asleep. There is this strange wide-eyed wild child who keeps appearing from the woods and watching us. He has yellow hair and is wearing some strange kind of fur boots, turned up at the toes and embroidered on top. Just now he appeared again, trilling like a bird, barefoot.

(Entry by Vince)

10:00. We didn't wake up till 10 o'clock. Anna is awake as always. We left camp at 2:00. One mile up the road Rock Creek. Everything looked fine but at the turn around slide, sloosh, EEEEEEEEEEEE,cracccck. We're stuck, we're tearing the pavement like paper. After time J got a ride to Florence but after finding that who he called wasn't triple AAA, the man who drove him was gone. He had to walk back. JF think to himself well I'm wet, There is what I need, a garbage bag. So he cut a hole in the top and emptyed it before he put it on. Then someone gave him a ride back to the bus. Then a ranger gave him a ride to a phone he called triple AAA, and triple AAA came, the ranger drove him back and triple AAA pulled us out. And that will teach us a lesson.

At camp we stay warm in the bus getting ready to eat dinner. Dinner time well goodby and good night.

Entry by Eddie:

Joe got up because he heard the theme from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that Mom played on the piano. We guys went to the beach. Joe gets a walking stick, I get a walking stick, Vince gets a walking stick and so does Nonda. When we get back I am frightened to find that Anna has taken off toward the beach after us. She goes farther than she can walk. Mom carries her two miles back to the bus. We take off for another campsite. We come around Number Six, thinking there is enough room, but bumpbumpbump we're in a ditch. Joe goes to town in a jeep and the guy comes back with news.

"I left him there."

To Joe's surprise, he found that the place where he was left was no longer AAA. Joe hitchhiked back. The ranger gave him a ride to a phone and back. Joe called AAA and I and Vince went to sleep. I slept through the whole towing and I woke up in a new camp ground. It was raining but hot because of everyone's hot air and the potbelly stove.

Bus Log: July 7, 1971, Part 2

We are parked at a campground in Florence, Oregon, sitting around a warm fire in the hot-belly stoved, as Anna calls it. The homemade stove polish smells like popcorn. We unpacked clothes and for dinner we had a huge potful of potato soup and double servings of chocolate pudding. The big lantern finished its wick, so we are using the bus dome lights, the small lantern, and candles for reading and writing.

A little later still (by JF): The drive up to Oregon was pleasant to the eye and peaceful for the soul, except of course for our brake failure. Our hostess was a bit taken aback to see eight visitors (Suz and By having arrived before us to surprise us), but things settled down. Steve and I saw the most beautiful sunrise together this morning and then he took me into the woods to show me his chapel.

The kids seem to be having a pretty good time, a little chaotic at times, but they're also very helpful. Everyone does his chores with only a minimum of grumbling. We're going to try to turn out some crafts pieces to sell at the fair in Eugene when we get back.

A little later (by MB): We had what we thought was an ingenious three-part mattress complex which hooked together with velcro and used a mattress pad, sheets, five blankets and two pillows. The kids, coming toward the front door from their bunks in the rear of the bus, would walk on us, and the whole contraption had to be assembled in the evening and taken down and put away in the morning. Way too much trouble.

Two ladies from two sites nearby came over to admire the bus, one of them a former school bus driver from North Hollywood, one a truck driving grandma from Santa Barbara. They knew about down-gearing on steep grades. They were very shy; wanted to come in, but wouldn't really come any farther than the front steps. Later one of them brought us a map of the Oregon parks system.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bus Log: July 7, 1971--Green stuff and black stuff

Here are our accounts after ten days on the road.
Checking account: $585.00
Savings:                     500.00
Cash:                             78.00

Bus tune-up                 43.07
Fuel, repair                 46.28
Food, ice                      74.81
Laundry                         2.10
 (inc. allowances)      16.80
Medical                       21.00
 (inc. household)       30.12

That black stuff that sometimes gets all over the bottom of pans or on the inside of the potbelly stove door makes a good stove black. Iron stoves and lanterns rust and lose their luster, so they need an occasional polishing. You squeeze the oil from an orange or a lemon and wipe the black pot with it. After you do the stove, you can polish dark furniture, but test it before light-colored fabric comes near it. You could add a drop of kerosene, but you'd have to let it dry before using the stove. Finally, the polishing cloth makes a good fire starter.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bus Log: July 6, 1971. Totems

Yesterday I made bread and there were about 16 people for dinner on the bus. We had our first bus meeting, discussing (alarming) spending, assorted grievances, aims, etc. It was good. Today I have the children in the park while J works on the bus at the Wildflower Garage, putting back the newly-turned brake drums. We bought N a frisbee and some bush pants for his upcoming birthday. Patches got her first distemper shot on the way here and was so traumatized that I had to button her into the bib of my Oshkoshes to calm her down.

I keep meaning to write about the bus totems. So many people are represented by gifts and tools that sometimes it seems as if they're all traveling with us. Our neighbor whose water and power we used for renovating the bus gave us a yellow railroad lantern. The last thing out of the house and onto the bus was a set of wind chimes my cousin C gave me. They shake and jingle when ws take off, dock, jump around. P. gave us a brass figurehead he got in Africa, a scary object which he assured us would keep away the demons. The shopping bag L crocheted is in constant use for hauling.

Among our other tools and treasures are a mortar and pestle, a copper pitcher and pieces of the Mediterranean-blue rug from Greece, a blackboard/folding screen from BW, a gold crocheted tablecloth and a device for making sprouts from Suz, a skillet from By, "Smiles", a piece of 1936 sheet music from Alma, a neighbor, the movie camera from the radio friends in Salinas, and the little television from W and J.

We have two huge old medicinal herb books from C, a candle from S, a rice-paper folding book for writing on, several books included in the library list, GS's lucky ring, and much more. Arl sent us off with lettuce, and someone else gave us strawberries from the San Francisco farmers' market.

We have N's drum stand from his teacher, Mr. Smith. The Coleman stove from my mother. The great old kerosene lantern from the W. family. A sewing basket from Brenda. And much, much more, of course.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bus Log: July 4, 1971

Dozens of people and dogs showed up at S's farm, most of them perching on the bus. At noon, all the children were hungry, so I made a huge salad. A man who has his own garage in Eugene showed up just in time to mastermind the examination of the bus brakes. For dinner, we had the usual brown rice with dandelion greens, with garden corn from our hostess and a salad from our host.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bus Log: July 3, 1971

The kids went fishing today and we went into Eugene to exchange the bolt breaker which, manned by J and his friend S, didn't loosen the wheel bolts but rather bent itself into a graceful ellipse. We stopped at a crafts fair and bought a bundle of yarrow sticks, organic apples, an avocado, and a beanbag frog for Anna. She kept finding these beautiful fountains to wade in. There was a playground in the Eugene mall with sawdust and a wooden castle. We all investigated that for a while and then drove back in S's truck with the replacement tool, stopping for a box of cherries. The three boys were all sunburned and hadn't had so much as a nibble at fishing.

The new tool didn't work either, so now J has taken the bus into town to have the nuts or bolts or lugs or whatever they are cracked by a mechanic. I am making beans after a much-needed wash for Anna and me.

Bus Log: July 2, 1971

Near Eugene, Oregon, we were parked right next to a holly tree, so that leaves and green berries pressed against the windows like curtains. At sunset, the tree began to fill up with roosting black chickens. Bright and early the next morning, the rooster crowed us awake.

By and Suz were there, waiting for us, having once again driven from southern California back to San Francisco and on to Eugene, to surprise us. Last night we made dinner for eight on the bus. By and Suz slept on the bench and floor. We served breakfast to 11 or 12 people, coffee and oatmeal, pretty good for our pump-up Coleman stove and modest facilities.

Bus Log: July 1, 1971--Sheer Terror!

Just past the Oregon border, we noticed a strange smell. Eventually, we pulled over at a rest area, lost our brakes entirely, foot brakes, emergency air brakes, everything. With some expert maneuvering by J, we went over a curb, which reduced the speed somewhat, and finally we came to a stop half in the parking lot and half in a meadow, about a foot in front of a sign which said "Fasten Your Seat Belts".

We still had the entire mountain to get down without brakes, which made us, well, very nervous. J tried unsuccessfully to make a phone call at an information booth in the rest area.

Once they had cooled off, the brakes seemed to work. We're now progressing very cautiously at about 20 miles per hour toward Medford, where we can find out what happened.

Finally we decided that those signs saying "Trucks Use Low Gear" had a practical reason: To avoid overheating of the brakes. We are continuing on to Eugene, where we can have the brakes examined.

Bus Log: July 1, 1971

I sat up until 3:15 last night but awoke refreshed, in a frame of mind Anna calls Lo Lo Lo. We thought at first that she was writing Ol Ol Ol, but then we noticed she was writing from right to left. We are stopped at a wide airy truck stop in view of Mount Shasta. "It looks like a picture of a mountain," Anna said, and then she drew it.