Once again, another blogging promise broken.
Apologies. I had intended to make this post a week ago, to let you all know how I was getting on with the work on the Rocinante and my current writing project, but as usual, I kept setting that aside to work on other things until I realized just how much time has passed.
You’ll recall that in my last post, I was finally able to bring the Rocinante, a ‘93 Chevy G20 Conversion Van that had seen better days, home after a bit of a hiccup following it’s purchase. I won’t recount that tale here, as it was told in detail, in my last two posts.
It’s just shy of six weeks now since I parked the Rocii in my driveway, and though I have done quite a bit of work to her, she’s nowhere near ready for any grand traveling adventures. Granted, my target date for her maiden trip isn’t until the May long weekend, five and a half weeks away, but I’m not overly confident that I can have her ready by then either.
The past several weeks have had me both elated and depressed, and everything in-between, over the Rocii’s condition. At times I’ve despaired that I might not be up to the task of restoring her/building her out as I’d imagined. At others, I’ve surprised myself with just what I can be capable of given the motivation.
I’m currently half-way through the third week of yet another lay-off from work, this time a four week stretch due to the world-wide semi-conductor shortage. We’re also in the middle of a province-wide “Stay-at-Home” order due to rising COVID cases, so stores are limited to curbside service or essentials only, making it difficult to get project materials.
I’m doing my best to keep myself from neglecting any of my other responsibilities and projects by focusing too much on the Rocii, making an effort to work around the house each day before I switch gears toward my latest, largest vanity project. While I have logged quite a few hours on her, I think I’ve succeeded in not letting the work on the Rocinante take over my life.
Today, as I was working on her, an elderly gentleman walking by with his wife paid me a very nice compliment. He’d apparently noticed the progress on the van during his daily walks, and remarked that he was impressed with how the bodywork had come along. I joked with him that I’m sure it looked much better from a distance than up close, but I was very happy that someone else thought I was doing a decent job.
So, yes, I’ve done quite a bit of bodywork to the Rocinante, and boy did she need it. There was a good deal of surface rust to be sanded away, and more than a few spots where the rust had eaten through the metal, making holes that needed patching. While I’ve used Bondo™ body-filler in the past, I’d never worked with Fiberglass Resin and Matting to repair holes before. There was a bit of a learning curve to overcome, but I think I’ve gotten pretty good with the sticky stuff, though I do still hate the cleanup, as the hardening resin does get on hands and clothes if you’re not careful.
At this point, most of the work on the body itself is nearly done, with the exception of the doors. Those are my next exterior projects.
I’ve also primed the bulk of the body, and applied a spray-on coating of truck-bed liner to the lower portion to help against paint chipping and rust. I used the same coating on the bumpers as well, taking them off and sanding the rust and the shine off of them before spraying. Hopefully, the coating will last, but if it does chip, I can always touch them up.
There was/is a not-insignificant amount of rust on the under-body that I have to deal with. I’ve been using various bristle attachments to my angle-grinder and drill, as well as hand-brushes, to remove the bulk of it, and then spraying it with undercoating. I’m only about a quarter done, as it’s tedious and uncomfortable work, but I plan to get back to that and finish it soon.
I’ve nearly completely gutted the interior of the van, removing all of the plush, “nineties” green velour and oak trim, as well as the seats and carpeting from the cab on back. I’ve left the driver’s and passenger’s seats, both lazy-boy-like monstrosities that provide an ugly, yet surprisingly comfortable ride. The two captain’s chairs in the center of the van were easy enough to remove, though the hold-down bolts had gotten rusty over the years and required some PB-Blaster™ and a breaker bar to persuade them. The power-reclining Rock & Roll bench seat at the rear was a bit tougher, though, but I did manage to get that out in one piece as well. I was lucky enough to sell all three on Facebook Marketplace rather quickly, so I didn’t have to store those bulky things for long.
I’ve kept all of the pieces of oak trim that I’ve removed, thinking I may reuse or re-purpose them in the build, as kind of a nod to the Rocii’s former life. I’m intending to replace the rest with something newer and cleaner looking, perhaps with a bit more of a rustic look. That will come in time, though, as I don’t want to rush the build. I want to make sure I do things right the first time out, if I can.
I have another week and a half at home before I have to go back to work, unless they extend our lay-off due to the stay-at-home order, and I’m anxious to see how much more I can do to the Rocinante before then.
As far as other projects, I built and installed new cabinets in our upstairs bathroom, along with a counter top and sink, but I may have to wait to face the cabinets and build doors and drawer-fronts until I can get back into the stores once the stay-at-home order is lifted. I don’t trust anyone else to pick out wood for me, so I’ll just have to wait until I’m allowed to do it myself again. Plus, with the high cost of wood right now, I may wait a bit to see if the prices come down once things get closer to “normal.”
I’ve also done a few smaller projects in the upstairs bathroom, like touching up the trim and installing a new fan, both projects I’d meant to do earlier, but never managed to get around to.
With spring having finally arrived, I’ve been doing a lot of yard work as well, cleaning up the flower beds and tidying up the wood-pile. I’ve taken a couple of loads of brush to the dump, and burned a bunch more in the fire pit. I’ve also cleaned out our storage area and sheds somewhat, taking what we no longer need to the dump as well.
The Grey-House, my backyard greenhouse, needed a bit of TLC this year, but overall, it’s weathered the past two years really well. I’ve started some seedlings already, and this year, I’m going to try my hand at growing my own “plants” from seeds, rather than buying clones. Two of them have already sprouted, and though I’m still waiting on the other two, I’m hoping I’ll have a bit of luck with that project. If not, I still have quite a bit of my harvest from the last couple of years that I won’t find myself in need any time soon.
Otherwise, I’ve occupied myself with some small repair or seasonal upkeep projects when not working on the van. The other cars have needed some small bits of maintenance here and there, and I’ve spent some time tidying up and cleaning out my shop, trying to keep it organized. I’ve power-washed our rather large deck and pool-deck, but the outdoor bar and the Tardis-shed both need some care, so I’ll have to get on to both of those soon. The koi-pond also needs some attention, which is what I think my next yard-work project should be.
I’m doing my best to keep up with my health goals, and though my last endocrinologist “tele-appointment” didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would, it wasn’t really all that bad. My A1C was a touch higher than I’d like, but not bad overall. Though my gym is once again closed due to the “Stay-At-Home Order”, I’m working out with the equipment I have here at home, and keeping to a four-to-five workouts a week schedule. I’m making an effort to take at least one walk everyday, and have been keeping up with my Sunday “Hikes” as well, to keep myself from fusing into my office chair. Despite my mental moods, I’m still making a real effort to eat right and stay active.
Writing lately has been quite the struggle. I’ve been trying to force myself to sit and write every day since I’ve been off work, but that hasn’t happened. More days than not have passed without my writing a word, and on those days when I have managed to get some words down, they’re not anywhere near the volume I should be cranking out.
There are a lot of factors contributing to my lack of writing motivation, but mainly I think it’s because I’m just not as into this story as I should be. For some reason, I can’t seem to get myself to care about the characters or what happens to them. It should be easy enough for me to change that, to re-write or re-work some aspects of the characters or the situations they find themselves in to spark my interest again, but for now nothing seems to be working.
I’m sure a lot of my creative lethargy has to do with the current world situation as well, whether I notice it or not. I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts that at times I don’t think I’m handling living through this pandemic as well as I’d like. I’m managing, and eventually I get my shit reasonably together enough to function, but it’s a very near thing at times. Some days, I just walk around like a zombie, going through the motions of being a functioning adult, getting by with as minimal effort as is required. During the really dark moments, I find a spot where I can be alone, and do whatever I have to to keep myself from breaking down, from shattering, before I can pull myself together again enough to face other people.
I’m trying not to fall back into my habit of just withdrawing, of locking myself in my room and just watching YouTube all day, not speaking or interacting with anyone. Doing that last lock-down nearly cost me my marriage, and several of my friendships. I can’t afford that again, but the temptation is strong.
At times it seems even worse now, when things are so close to being over, but seeming to get more dire none-the-less. Both my wife and I are on the High Risk list for vaccinations, which should mean we are prioritized to get the shot, but since the Province has recently changed it’s approach to targeting “Hot-Zones” first, we’ve been pushed back on the list because we don’t live in a “Hot-Zone” Postal Code. We both work in “Hot-Zone” areas (when we are working), and there are “Hot-Zone” Postal Codes surrounding us on nearly all sides, but ours isn’t considered one, so now a bunch of people not considered “High Risk” get to jump the queue and get vaccinated before us. That adds to the stress of waiting this thing out, and doesn’t make dealing with everything else any easier.
Plus, it seems like everyone else is taking this latest decree to “Stay-At-Home” like a joke, including the government that issued the order. Again, Dougie seems to be half-assing things, giving no clear guidelines as to what this version of Lock-down is supposed to entail. People are still behaving as if there’s no real threat, even though the COVID numbers are supposedly higher than they’ve ever been, and all of the promises of increased Vaccine shipments never seem to materialize.
Some days I do alright, and I can push the existential dread down into little more than a background hum. Others are not so good, and I feel like I’m hanging on by my fingernails, with a stupid fake grin plastered to my face, hoping no one will notice how bad I’m doing. I think most of us are like that right now, really frayed at the edges but doing our best to keep frayed bits hidden. I know how badly I’m doing, and I’ve got it relatively easy. I can’t imagine what those who have it harder than I are going through right now.
We are all so tired of living as we’ve had to these past thirteen months now, and I’m not sure how much longer we’ll continue to do so. Something has got to give, and soon. I will say this, though, I don’t think any sitting politician, of any party, at all levels, should retain their jobs after the next election cycle. This whole mess has been embarrassingly mis-handled at all levels of government, and we should remember that, and clean house next time around.
I think I should leave things there, before I spiral out into a long, depressing rant on the state of the world.
I’ll try and post entries more often, if for no other reason than to show off my progress on the Rocii’s build out. Speaking of which, if you get the chance and are so inclined, you can follow my build progress on my Instagram, at Part_timenomad. I’m trying to get a YouTube channel set up as well, to post video’s I’ve been making of the build so far, but the learning curve for the editing software is a bit steeper than I thought, so that may still be a while.
I hope you’re all doing well, despite how long this mess of a pandemic has been dragging on. As always, I hope you’re thriving, not just surviving.
All the best,