Posted by: jeanne | May 23, 2013

some essential gear

at least, i think it’s essential. even tho i’m not going anywhere for over a year, and at the risk of jinxing the whole project, i have gotten several items i intend to take with me.

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the first is a pair of waterproof boots. now, i’m a cheapskate, being an artist and all, and haven’t bought myself a pair of boots since the ones i paid a whole bunch of money for back in the ’70s (i think $45 for a pair of frye’s).  i’ve wanted a nice pair of boots since i lost them in oh about ’81, but have never bit the bullet, and they’ve just gotten more and more expensive. but, since i’m going to iceland, i’m going to be walking around in bogs and tromping thru streams and all that sort of stuff, and it’s going to rain a lot even when i don’t go hill walking. and it so happened someone gave me a gift card to rei, years ago, that’s still valid. fifty bucks, thanks whoever it was. so i went over there and looked in the clearance rack, and tried on all boots that were my size, and found a pair of keens, which i love my keens boat shoes. they were on clearance at $90 something, and since it was close to my birthday i used some of a very little birthday money to kick in the extra forty dollars, and i had myself my first pair of good boots in is it forty years? anyway.

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the next thing i did was buy myself a sleeping bag. this again with birthday money (ahem, mom). and not just any sleeping bag, because i’ve got one of those upstairs. this trip i’m going on is going to be one checked and one carryon, packed to the brim, so i have to have as many light things as possible. so no bulky sleeping bags. in fact, a down bag. in fact, one that doubles as a jacket/poncho (it’s got a head hole in the middle). it was expensive, $200, but when i priced making my own, it was only about 20 bucks cheaper, and i might as well save myself the trouble.

plus a sleeping bag is a great idea because you need to provide your own bedding in hostels, and it’s cold at night even in midsummer. it weighs a pound, and triples as a quilt. i’ll need a sleep sack or a sheet, so i was thinking well i’ll go with silk because it packs down to nothing especially in a stuff sack. but buying a sleep sack is about fifty bucks, and buying the fabric to make my own is about the same cost. and i’m not shelling out fifty bucks for a sheet, i’m sorry. but then i remembered, i invested in 200 yards of used silk saris a couple of years ago, and i can take a double thickness of sari silk and make my own damned sleep sack, one that any thief would be proud to steal away with.

i’ve got an irish wool sweater (that i pulled out of an alley 30 years ago when someone threw it away because it was soiled) that has since shrunk to an uncomfortable tightness (oh okay i’ve taken brilliant care of it all these years and it is i who have gown uncomfortably tight in the sweater). so now i’m going to soak it and block it. all the advice talks about soaking it in a bottle of hair conditioner, but i’ll go a step further, and make up a lanolin lotion to soak it in.

i’ll basically live in the same clothes for a month, washing things when they get wet or dirty, so one pair of jeans, and a pair of wool walking paints, two pairs of leggings (one cotton, one silk, both tye-dyed), a bunch of socks, silk thermal top, several long sleeved t-shirts, a hoodie, the irish sweater, my sister’s wax jacket from ireland, and my down sleeping poncho. indoor/shower shoes. bathing suit and cap. towel.

the rest of my luggage will be art supplies. everything to make encaustic paintings (boards, pigments, wax, palette knives, light), do sketches and watercolors (paper, pigments, brushes) and make a handmade paper book using local materials (screen, pulp, knockdown vat, felts, bookbinding tools), write my novel (notebook, laptop, pens), camera, reference books, gifts, essential foodstuffs.

so that’s the first pass at what i’ll need. and if i wasn’t having fun doing all this research, i wouldn’t be spending so many hours of otherwise productive time doing it.

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there’s one more thing i got that i absolutely need, and it’s this new polartec powerdry fabric i bought. it’s the stuff they sell as extreme towels, and i almost bought one before i realized they sell the fabric, too. so now i’ve got a yard of the stuff, and it’s long enough to make into a bathing suit, as well as using as a towel, and i might find a use for it as a pillowcase for when i sweat into the sheets at night.

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