A Sonata Hoping to be a Sonatina


I have not done work on FifVANella since the election - until this week. My dog was injured, my knee stopped working like a knee, I had regular car trouble, etc... I transported a lot of Van Swag (collapsible ladder to access the roof, extendible brushes to clean the solar panels, emergency road tools, vinyl plank flooring & underlayment, exterior door locks, secondary video monitor to serve as my rearview mirror, Hypervent condensation prevention matting for under the mattress, kitty litter for traction in snow and mud & for the bucket toilet, etc...). And like someone stranded and thirsty in the desert, I eagerly drank up kiddo hangout time.

Sure, I drive 45+ minutes South to get FifVANella up and running as a camper van, but the biggest and best perk of this project is easily the quality fun and hugs from 4 adorable children. They are brilliant, hilarious and carefree and I am one of the luckiest people in the world getting to play with them. I left them Thursday with a promise to come back early next week to work on the van AND to further explore the possibility that all 4 want to be scientists and discover new and awesome things in this world. So when Governor Newsom laid out his plan for renewed COVID-19 restrictions and Stay-At-Home orders on Friday, I texted with the kiddo parents that me being from a different household and immune-compromised probably means no visits until _after_ Christmas. Many sad face emojis were exchanged.

We've been very careful whenever I come down to their house. The adults wear masks (mine never comes off), we stay socially distant and wash our hands a lot. The kids are all under age 7, don't physically go to school and don't socialize outside of the home, so go maskless. And they hug a lot. And I give them piggy back rides. And we snuggle on the couch to read books and watch youtube videos. And we play hide & seek and catch outside.

We've generally treated FifVANella time as our little "pod." But it is not so hermetically sealed for the parents; I have survived this long and won't blow it before I get vaccinated.

We are figuring out a safe schedule to do work individually on the van; she needs to get plumbed now that all the tanks and parts have arrived - that's Jeff's gig. The unskilled solo work I can do is soundproof and insulate the driving cab - often overlooked/ignored when doing a build because "it's just for driving." Rolling Kilmat and gluing Thinsulate into as many nooks and crannies as possible will improve quality of life in the entire van. The camaradarie of the side-by-side labors of love will be lost. The games of tag with the kids on work breaks will be lost. I will become parched again, but stay safe.

The newest surge and lockdown make it all the more urgent to finish the work on FifVANella. She will be my safety bubble to the East Coast and beyond. I just hope this piece of the journey is less Sonata and more Sonatina. I'm eager to play with others again, soon.