Shades of Home

To drive anywhere I pass a bunch of other wheres. One of the wheres this time was my mothers house.

I got all the seats out of the bus! Most of the bolts came right out, but I used and angle grinder on a few. I don’t know why I didn’t take any good pictures of the whole thing, but here is a picture I took after taking the first seat out:

It’s pretty long, about seventeen feet of usable length, and maybe seven feet wide. I’m a dork, I didn’t measure for real (I did the footstep thing). I had been planning on a loft bed in the back, way up by the ceiling with most of the storage underneath, but now I see that there’s an air conditioning unit in the way. So I could put the bed way high up somewhere else, along the side in the back or something. Or I could have a lower bed. Like, one that I could sit up in. That would be weird, but I might be able to get used to it. I want to have a wood stove right next to the bed, a kitchen cabinet/counter opposite that, and most of the rest of it open space with bookshelves and stuff along the wall. Open space and being able to stand up excites me a lot right now. Also, there are pull up bars!!

But I want your guys’ ideas. The first bus around, I wouldn’t listen to anyones advice. This time around I want it all, even the crazy way out there stuff.

I got to thinking, while pulling out those seats, that I may be the only person in the world with a 56 year old mother who is eager to come out and rip out seats with me. Afterwards I helped her move a pile of cinder blocks, a big trailer, and a non-operating four wheeler because she is digging a big trench to insulate the ground next to her garage.

I’m so grateful for having been raised by people who aren’t afraid of doing things and didn’t tolerate me not doing things. I still remember the first time I became aware of this. We had just moved to town, out in this neighborhood where everyone was building houses, and after we built our house my dad went out to trapline for the winter. It was a cozy neighborhood, since we’d all camped out while building houses together, and a neighbor lady was driving me home one day.

“How does your mom get by without your dad? Doesn’t she need help?” she asked me.

“Um, with what?” I asked, thinking that my dad wasn’t that much help when he was around, except that he was good at shooting bears through their eyeballs in the pitch black of night when you can’t see them.

“Like, snow. How did she get the snow off the roof?”

“Oh,” I explained, “she used a ladder, and she climbed up to the top, cause if you start at the bottom the snow will knock you off. And she tied herself to the stove pipe and knocked the snow down, and then the ladder fell down too but that was okay, she just jumped down in the snow.”

“That’s amazing. She must be a feminist.”

Later, at home, I asked my mom what a feminist was and told her she must be one because she’d shoveled off the roof.

“Well!” my mother said, haughtily, “I calculated it out and there were 8 tons of snow up on that roof! It’s 2×6 construction, it can’t handle that! Am I supposed to have the roof cave in because there’s not a man around?!”

Then she sent me out to bring in fire wood.

It’s taken years for me to understand what a gift this was. Thanks mom.


  1. I have a mother like that too, and I’m really grateful – when she’s not driving me crazy. She raised me and my brother by herself, in rural Scotland, and she still lives there. She’s 65 now and doesn’t have much money so she tells me sometimes how she’s been helping out the neighbours doing fencing or stonewalling, and a couple of weeks ago she got stuck without a ride home so she hitch-hiked through about 50 miles of wilderness. I’m proud of her but sometimes really scared too! But the great part, like you say, is growing up taking it for granted that women put up shelves, fix lobster pots, hang doors, chop firewood and everything else! I’ve never gone out with a guy who was as good with a spirit level as me.

    This is one of my favourite blogs, btw.

  2. For the small stove, I think you might find a link for small ones if you do a search for tumbleweed homes. I know it was mentioned in one of the videos I watched off of youtube.

  3. My only suggestion is to plan EVERYTHING in advance… Decide what you need and want in it and measure/diagram the whole thing from start to finish before doing anything other than the tear-out. Plan on getting a secondary deep cycle battery? Wiring through out? Window tinting? Sound deadening? energy efficient insulation? Ventilation? Portapotty? Shower? Gray/black tanks? Think about the whole thing and look at what others have done.

  4. Outstanding! I dig your mom’s calculations & her chutzpah! God bless the females!

    My Ma isn’t that handy, but she is as tough as they come. When my Da gave up the ghost to cancer, he told me she was tougher than he was. I thought he was just being deathbed gracious. Turns out he was right as rain.

    It would be a glorious thing to meet your Ma someday, Tara. 🙂 ~ Irish

  5. haha you and my dad are the most resourceful people i know. i often dream about you hanging out with my dad and watching him realize there is a woman in the world who can talk shop with him and help him tear shit up. i would pay to see it. it would be an exquisite meeting of the minds. the mountains would listen and the trees would freeze in attention for this moment. 😉

    i am working on an essay right now about our “flower” hunting, our napa experience, our fish canning, etc.

    the bus sounds so so amazing. you did a great job with the first one and this one will only be better.

  6. my idea: ask for donations for the new transmission from all the readers who enjoy your wisdom for free and carve the donor names on a little panel that travels the world with you- like a hospital donor plaque. haha. i would donate!

  7. If you are paneling the inside and want really ridiculously good insulation, there’s an expandable spray in foam. It’s polyeurethane. It will do to your bus what your cocoon did for your bed. 🙂

  8. Hey lady, wonderful ideas and how great to hear about wonderful leading women in people’s lives. I think you should totally make a bed that can be pulleyed up and down, making a loungeroom/reading space when u arent sleeping, and then becoming a sort of bedroom when you are. that’d be neat.

    and davka’s idea for the transmission is fab. i’d donate too! 🙂

  9. For ideas run a Search for School Bus Conversions or Skoolies. Yes, I know what you have isn’t a school bus but these people do some amazing things with theirs.

  10. Make a wall mounting system for your sex toys collection. I’ll make you a whip to hang up, and a ball gag too. I can be handy myself, but you by far blow me away. All you need is a piece of wood with some nails sticking out, like a coat rack. You could probably be more creative than this, but it’s a start. I have a net bag panel system for storing my ropes and toys that hangs from a closet door. Granted, I bought it, and didn’t make it, the idea was a great space saver. I like to keep all my different tools and toys separate rather than throwing them in a trunk or something. Organization is a key to happiness in cramped spaces.

  11. Hey Hobo!
    I’m hosting the 61st Carnival of Feminists. I’d love to have you as a contributor. Would you allow me to feature this post?

    Take a look at this link to check out the Carnival:

    No worries if you can’t participate, but I’d love it if you did. I wanted to have a couple of writers who worked in the sex industry featured in this carnival, since sex work is such a polarizing topic for many feminists. I think this is a wonderful post.

    Feel free to email me with any questions.

  12. You had me at “angle grinder”. That was great. I just found you (thank Grace Undressed) and I’m looking forward to more.

  13. whoo hooo you got yourself your own bus! that rocks! Let me know if I can shed some light on stuff. I am going to level up my site next month and put in 2×4’s in, walls and insulation 🙂 I’m really excited. Girl, I had chickweed an dandelions growing right outside my door .. paradise! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    grinders kick ass! I love mine. It is one of those tools that i wonder how I ever did with out it!

    Lindy the barefoot bus dweller

  14. I was also taught that if I want something done then I need to figure it out myself … thinking outside the box has always been the rule in my family. It is empowering! Hats off to our visionary mothers!

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