The journey of life begins anew today for our family. Our son, James Ashman, is joining us from California. He’s driving clear across the country all by himself. So of course I’m a bit concerned. But he’s a lot like me and I know he’ll take care and plan well and arrive safe. He’s looking forward to helping us in our businesses and getting back to writing his fiction. He also hopes to have a significantly enhanced amount of joy. Now that’s a tall order. Hope we can live up to it! :)
It’s also the end of a journey – a journey that took 6 months. That’s right. It took 6 months for Joel to publish 6 books. That’s not the end of writing and publishing books though. The next one is in the works and we’re working with an author currently to get his new book edited, formatted and published.
Our visit here in Rice Lake is about to come to an end. Sunday morning we leave for St. Paul for our 3-week house sitting job. Fiona has enjoyed her visit with her grandma Mumsie, as we call Joel’s mom. She’s also loved coming back to The Rice Lake Public Library. Yesterday she had fun with the American Girls Book club here. She got to make a craft – a glass vase with colored sand glued to the outside. Not we have to find a safe way to transport it without it getting broken.
Last Monday Fiona and I went over to the lake and she got to wade in it quite a bit. Grandma came out in her electric wheelchair and we all stopped for a visit in the local book store. Yes, we’re a family of avid readers!
School has also started for Fiona. She’s now in second grade and the homeschool program through the school district here is great. We have lots of fun school work to keep us busy.
I’m really looking forward to our 3 weeks in St. Paul and then spending the winter back in New Jersey. More on that later…
Having more time has made me ponder creative outlets besides my songwriting and business books. Needing a better way to track my projects and day-to-day tasks (my experiment with 3×5 cards was most enlightening) I tried my hand at hand stitching my own little notebook.
I need to work on the gluing techniques, and got myself a smaller drill bit for the stitching holes, but all in all, I’m happy with the result. I believe that I can make these for less than 50 cents each, and it’s very peaceful and relaxing stitching the signatures (groups of pages) inside.
I wanted to make something fast, unfussy, and cheap, so I’d be more inclined to use these things and not wait until I had thoughts worthy of enshrining in some leather-bound tome (for now.)
A single sheet of letter-size paper will yield three strips which, when folded in half, makes a 4 1/4″ x 3 5/8″ page. I laid 16 sheets down, measured the top sheet, then used a straight edge and tore the sheets rather than cutting them. I’ll need to work on the technique, but I don’t mind the raggedy edge; just don’t want it quite that raggedy.
If I could settle for two folded pages from each sheet, and live with a waste strip 1 1/2″ x 11″ from each, I could make journals the same size as a Moleskine, but the waste disturbs me. I might experiment with a tiny 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ journal which would require 12 sheets of letter-size paper to make a 192-page journal. Would that be big enough? Guess I need to find out.
The fabric glue I used is flexible even after it dries, but I didn’t get it thin enough. Spreading with a thin card instead of my finger would help.
I made a book press out of two 12″ x 3/4″ x 3/4″ pieces of birch wood and two carriage bolts with wing nuts. During the gluing process I realised I’ll need something wide enough to smash the whole journal, so it looks like I’ll need two more carriage bolts and two pieces of wood big enough to hold the largest journal I’m likely to make, a half-sheet 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ so that’s about 7″ x 10″ to leave room for drilling the bolt holes. Have to be careful of size, being nomads and all.
Eventually I’d like to settle on one or two sizes and have someone make a leather cover I can slip over the current journal, and reuse when the journal’s full. I’ll also have to answer the questions in my head about the textured cover I chose, the decorated end sheets, etc. They weren’t cheap, and there’s no reason I can’t do something both economical and beautiful, if I’m willing to invest time and effort into it.
Someday I plan to make a whole book by hand—write it all out on handmade paper and make a single unique book I’ve written; one of a kind.
Last night our friend Kari Hagensmith had a book release party for her first book, The Girlfriend Will . . . which we helped create. Our Someday Box service helps people get their book out of the ‘someday’ box and into their hands.
You’ve heard that the Canfield family is going to travel and live a nomadic lifestyle. What does that mean? What are we really doing? Let me explain.
We are no longer renting a place to live. We’re packing our Kia Sedona minivan with our clothing, Joel’s musical instruments and equipment, important books and papers, Fiona’s books, toys and school books. The few important possessions we want to hold on to but don’t need on a daily basis are being stored by our close friends. They’ve also told us that anytime we’re back in the Sacramento area we have a place to stay with them.
We’re taking our packed van and we’re going to travel the U.S. and Canada for the next year or two. We’d like to spend extended periods of time in one area or location before moving on to another location. That would allow us time to get to know an area and the people. To accommodate that we have plans to house sit for people who need someone to care for their house and even their pets while they’re away for an extended period of time – perhaps vacationing or traveling themselves. Our house sitting service provides the homeowner with peace of mind and provides us a place to stay and work. So no, we do not charge a fee for this service.
Will this be a good thing for Fiona? We think so. Already she’s made new friends in British Columbia. And in October she’ll get to meet her great Uncle Denny and Grandma Mumsie who’s never seen her. She’ll learn about places, people, different cultures – not just from a book, but from real life experiences. We will continue to read the Bible with Fiona at bed time and teach her God’s values. She’s going to meet other members of our worldwide spiritual brotherhood and make new friends.
How long will we do this? Who knows. When we decide to stop, we’ll let you know.
I’m sure you have other questions. We’d love to answer them for you. So just post your question in the comment section and we’ll post our reply.
Today is Fiona’s second day of first grade. We homeschool through the Horizon Charter school program. Since we’re still traveling and are in Surrey British Columbia right now, you may wonder how this is working.
Well, right now we’re all sitting in a Wired Monk coffee shop in Surrey. We walked here from the place we’re staying at. So there’s P.E. – walking the neighborhood.
When we got to Wired Monk Fiona found an abacus. She thought that was a lot of fun to play with. She took a piece of paper and made up her own addition and subtraction problems and then used the abacus to figure out the answers. There’s Math!
She’s read some books and magazines – Reading. We did one spelling worksheet – Language Arts.
Later we will get out her Science book and do some science and some other things.
She’s been sipping on a Cherry Italian Soda all this time, had a cinnamon raisin bagel for breakfast and seems very happy. So far homeschooling while traveling seems to be more fun than when we’re at home.
Oh, and for a bedtime story last night she wanted to do something with maps. So out came her History/Social Science book with an atlas of North America. We traveled on the map from California to Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and across the U.S.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about just who Fiona really is and what she does. Thanks to all of your comments, we’ve been able to come up with this succinct description: “a precocious 105-year old chatterbox prodigy who reads in the dark.”
Yet that only begins to scratch the surface of this deep persona. Today I thought I’d share more specifics – particularly on her reading and writing interests.
Current books checked out from the local library (20 total; I told her that was the limit for this 3-week period):
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
A Hatful of Seuss: Five Favorites by Dr. Seuss
Geogra-fleas!: Riddles All Over The Map (she likes us to pronounce that Georgia-fleas)
Goldilocks and the Three Martians
David Gets in Trouble (she already owns another of the David books)
Cat & Mouse
What James Likes Best (any book with James in the title is a must read in honor of her big brother James)
Ramona and Her Father (she’s become a Ramona fan in the last 2 months)
Ramona the Pest
Henry and Beezus
Cam Jansen and the Chocolate Fudge Mystery (she likes to pronounce Jansen as Janseen and loves the Cam Jansen books; loves mysteries like her mom)
Cam Jansen and the Green School Mystery
Cam Jansen and the First Day of School
Arthur Chapter Books 1-3 (she’s been reading chapter books for a while now; yes, she’s just going into 1st grade)
Baby-Sitters Club #43, Stacey’s Emergency (became a huge fan of Baby-Sitters Club books because her big sister owns quite a few)
Baby-Sitters Club #33
Baby-Sitters: Little Sister #61
Baby-Sitters: Little Sister #37
At bedtime we read at least one book and then she requires at least a dozen books at her bedside to read. At any given point in the day if it’s too quiet, we go check to see what trouble she’s up to: usually she’s sitting on our bed reading a book. She’s enjoying The Secret Garden, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, Little Women and many, many more.
She’ll probably be a writer. Actually she already writes at her blog: Foona’s 900 Funny Thoughts. She usually dictates to me as I type in the words. Often she asks me to correct the punctuation! Oh, and she loves it when people leave comments.
Her library may already have as many books as her dad’s. That must be where she gets it from! I’m sure she’ll be an author like so many in her family: Dad writes business books and has written a mystery; Mom’s co-authored books with Dad (you can find their books here); her sister writes poetry; her brother has published two books; her uncle is writing a book. Mom also writes poems. Here’s one of Mom’s favorites written for Fiona’s Dad:
Our Hearts Entwine
When you look at me my heart melts
Your eyes smile and twinkle with love
With just a look you say I love you
With just a smile you say you’ll always be there
My eyes mist with tears, my heart aches with love
I reach for you, you reach for me
With a look alone our hearts entwine
Forever in love, yours and mine
Yes, Fiona does read in the dark (with a flashlight or small night light). And she can talk your ear off like no one’s business!
The long-term goal is to own nothing but what we can carry in a few suitcases, besides a few possessions too expensive or emotionally precious to replace. This isn’t meant to be Sherman’s march to the sea, slashing and burning as we go. At some point it’s likely we’ll come back to a more traditional lifestyle, and I’ll regret getting rid of all my books and my Dad’s stuff.
We rent our home right now, so we won’t have to sell anything that huge. Sue’s son might find a roomie or two and stay here, meaning we’d have an attic to store stuff in, an address to get mail at, and a place to sleep when we’re in town. Otherwise, we have dozens of friends who’d offer a room, an address, whatever we need.
We’ve got a tentative test trip planned for August 2nd through the 24th-ish. We’d be house-sitting just outside Vancouver, British Columbia. I mentioned the trip to a close friend today and he talked endlessly about the marvelous vacation he and his wife took there; about the mind-boggling beauty of the scenery.
Sue discovered that another one of her virtual assistant contacts is in Vancouver. She was going to track her down when she noticed late this afternoon that said VA had Tweeted something about looking for accountability partners to help her take her business to the next level . . . so tomorrow, we have a call planned to talk about arranging some sort of workshop (or workshops) while we’re there.
In the spirit of transparency, if we can make $600 in extra income while we’re there (beyond what we would have earned staying home) it will completely cover the cost of the trip. And if the big web job we’ve signed issues the first payment within the next month (almost a foregone conclusion) we’ll even have the funds up front, seed money, so to speak, and earn it back on the trip. Lather rinse repeat.
Might make a pre-dry-run (yeah, I just make this stuff up) to San Diego in July. Don’t tell Sue. If we can arrange a small informal event in LA and one in San Diego, we could make up the $300 that trip would cost.
These trips would let us test out what it’s like to work completely remotely. My wonky little Sony Vaio laptop; Sue on her son’s borrowed Dell beast (don’t tell him, either.)
Skype calls? Have to test. No headphones. Do we take speakers? Do we take the musician-quality microphones we’re used to using?
House concerts: if I could connect with folks who’d host a house concert, I show up, play music for an hour, pass a hat, play for another half hour.
Video everything (already a habit.) Take notes about everything (already a habit.)
Van needs rear tires and rear brakes. And windshield wipers.