wildflowers at Kit Carson Campground

Wildflowers at Kit Carson Campground

I hate sewing. Like, really, really hate it. Hate it so much that when I was sitting on my friend P’s couch, working on my screen door project, every other sentence out of my mouth included the words “hate” and “sewing.” Some of them included words that started with f, too.

But I really need a screen door.

I can’t remember what I mentioned about the screen door before, but the van came with a very nice (albeit fragile) screen that worked sort of like sideways Venetian blinds, folding up into a metal frame and maintaining the proper tension through string. From the moment I saw it, I didn’t think it would last long with two dogs, so I’m sort of impressed that I managed to keep for over a year. But back in early August, Zelda walked through it as if it didn’t exist, shredding one of the strings. From that point on, it was a lost cause, hanging loose and falling out of the frame no matter what I tried.

When I was camping with P and R, we took the remnants down and experimented, trying to see what could be done. How about a screen that rolled up? Ugh, clunky. How about one that swung loose? Fine, as long as the weather was perfectly still, otherwise useless.

It obviously was a project that required ingredients and tools, so we set it aside, but when we got back to Seattle, I started strategizing. Eventually, I bought a roll of screen. Some glue. Some magnets. Some different magnets. Some velcro. Some different velcro. I experimented with magnetic tape and spray-on adhesive and began to be grateful that I’d bought a whole roll of screen. That was deliberate, actually. I am not a crafts kind of person, so I anticipated mistakes along the way.

Finally, I had a plan, more or less. Two pieces of screen, separated in the middle. Strong magnets along the top, sewn into the screen. Velcro along the sides of the door, on the inner part of the seal, so it didn’t interfere with the door closing. Velcro on the screen, with the edges sewn over so they didn’t catch and pull. Tiny magnets along the bottom of the screens, to link to the door frame, but still be weak enough to easily push the screens aside to go in and out. And in the middle… well, something still undecided, but whatever it will be, it would probably work best with a seamed edge. Maybe magnets, maybe just overlapping screen.

It wasn’t a bad plan, but it required a lot of sewing. Yuck. Even more because of screw-ups along the way, like sewing in a whole row of little magnets without checking to see which direction they were magnetized in. Not a good idea. They don’t work so well when they’re repelling the door frame instead of attracting it. Duh.

I did learn something really interesting, though. If you’re a right-handed person, sewing is a lot easier and a lot faster if you work left to right, like you’re reading a book. That way, you can use the fingers of your left hand to keep the thread from getting tangled. If you’re a right-handed person and you sew right to left — the way I seem to — the thread is constantly getting tangled and knotting up. I suspect my mother, who was left-handed and loved to sew, taught me to sew the way that worked for her and neither one of us ever realized I was doing it wrong. By the time I finish making these screens, I might not hate to sew anymore.

And I’m getting close.

That’s because I’ve been camped for two delightful days at Kit Carson Campground in the Toiyabe National Forest, near South Lake Tahoe. It’s been awesome. The park is tiny — maybe a dozen campsites — and empty. There was one other camper here last night, but by 8 AM this morning, he’d packed up his tent and was gone. It was just me and nature. Beautiful nature, too. A stream, or maybe a river. Mountains, trees, flowers. Crisp air in the morning and sunlight in the afternoon.

Zelda and Serenity at our campsite

The campsite

And no internet. Minimal cell service. No electricity.

In other words, a distraction-free zone. After a long stretch of falling for ALL the distractions, it’s been great. I made good progress on Grace, finally finishing a chapter that I’ve been working on for a while. The new version is very different from all previous versions, which is both annoying and satisfying. And I made great progress on my screen door, which is getting close to being usable.

By the time you’re reading this, I will obviously have moved on, though (since I can’t post it until I do). I’m tempted to stay longer, but I don’t want to feel rushed on my way to the Grand Canyon, and my reservations are less than a week away. Six days, seven hundred miles: totally do-able, but not if I linger.

And I don’t want to base my driving decisions on speed. On my way here, I had to fight with my GPS to take the slow, scenic route, instead of the fast highway. I then ignored all sorts of roadside signs warning about construction and delays to stubbornly take Highway 89 around Lake Tahoe. It probably added at least a couple of hours to my drive, but the scenery along that road is gorgeous. It was so worth it. And earlier in the week, I drove on Route 1, down the Californian coastline — again, not the fast route, but wow, such a fun drive. I’m not sure Serenity was the best vehicle to be driving it with, but it was two-thumbs-up beautiful.

But I am feeling wistful about leaving. This feels like the kind of place where it would be nice to stay for days, to just settle in and write and think and breathe and be. Maybe next time!