birchandpine birchandpine

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Kate Oliver  Mama + Wife | Writer • Artist • Traveler | Owner • Designer • Builder @themoderncaravan | Currently: On the Road

Today was a very, very good day.

Working this morning and then finally heading to the sea with @the_roamans this afternoon. I need to hear and feel those waves, because the air here in the hills smells of the salt.

After a year of working with @thestorkandthebeanstalk on her home design, I'm finally here to see the spaces I worked on and work on next projects with a new perspective. Today, we got to shop the @rosebowl_fleamarket for some key pieces and it was a blast, haggling on prices and picking out items like this rocker and 1930's table to use as a bar. Up next is finding the perfect linen sectional for this space - and holy shit, I love designing homes...

Oysters and rosé with my sister on the coast, and now we're driving back 'home' listening to Africa by Toto and River of Dreams by Billy Joel, amongst other good things, celebrating getting away from the crowds and traffic and concrete that overwhelmed this open land lover.

Floating in Mono Lake, which is almost three times as salty as the ocean. We knew we had to get in - that we'd regret not - so all five of us stripped down to our skivvies and waded into the cool, gentle lake. We counted to three and fell back in the water, our bodies immediately rising to the surface to float, and relaxed.

We didn't finish polishing our Airstream - we didn't have time. We were polishing hastily the day our first clients brought their Airstream to us to renovate. As we drive around the country, we see the imperfections - the swirl marks and the untouched and oxidized places, the black lines around the seams. I shoot around them. Our business, you see, is about creating beauty from messes. Our life and our work is completely intertwined - we live in our virtual showroom.
Yet as I stood here last night and framed this shot, I spoke these truths to Vanessa..."this reflection wouldn't be here like this if we'd finished polishing". And then I smiled and realized that our imperfection, even in our work, can be and bring beauty to us and to others in ways we're not always able to see right away.

The road feels empty without them, without our house following their house, and I'm a sentimental fool.

We're on our way to the beach and splitting paths with @the_roamans soon, who we've spent the last week with. We've been really LIVING. Floating in salty Mono Lake, where our bodies lifted to the surface of the water effortlessly, dipping into cool mountain rivers and lakes, making fires in hand dug pits, cooking communally, celebrating Ellen's life and thirty-one years, watching our pets and kid explore vast beauty and open land, taking photographs, listening to and playing music, working when need be, caravanning, and listening and sharing our hearts openly and freely, without fear of judgement. It is not without pain, or hurt, or tough shit. We helped one another through issues with our wheeled dwellings, and took care of one another. This is friendship, and this is life on the road. Thankful our paths are only separate through the weekend, and that we'll see them again in just a few days - this time at the sea.

In all of the craziness of this past season, starting our business, completing our first client renovation, moving out of our house and into the Airstream, and getting back on the was hard to see the end. It was fuzzy. I couldn't believe it was actually going to happen - that my days as a traveler were no longer over, they were beginning again.
When Laura of @vacilandoquilting asked if I'd be willing to collaborate on a quilt design with her, I said yes immediately. Not only do I sincerely admire her work, she's a fellow traveler and built her one-woman business out of her Airstream home.
But more than any of that, Laura asked me to design based on a memory, a feeling, a landscape - that inspired me.
I chose Goldpan, a tiny provincial park in British Columbia, a high desert landscape much like the one where this photograph was taken a few days ago.
I'll forever be drawn to the desert, the colors and lines, though it doesn't define me, it's a part of me. When I see this quilt and pull it up to my chin at night, I am reminded of that night at Goldpan, where the hot dry wind pushed through the canyon, and I felt so alive that it nearly hurt.
Being back on the road, seeing these places again, feeling so alive it hurts - is what this quilt represents. It seems only fitting that our five-month collaboration happened during the time of transition, through the final months and stretches to our reimagined dream.
Follow the link in my profile to read more about the Birch & Pine x Vacilando Quilting collaboration on the Birch & Pine Quilt (and get one for yourself, there are only four!!).

High desert moon.

There's a part of me that wishes I was a maximalist. I love this kind of clutter, the kind in Peter & Kate's house. The stacks of mugs and jars of spices and preserved lemons and tiny pots of salt and powdery pepper. The bowls of ripening fruit and shallots and garlic, the mismatched plates and glasses that when laid out on the table for a dinner party, make sense and beauty. I'm drawn to the rooms of the lived in, and wish that maybe someday, I'll strike a balance of this kind of lovely, this sort of intentional collection. I'm so drawn to it, even in my minimalist practice for our tiny dwelling. What does this say about me? Perhaps it's like wishing I was someone else, or maybe it's something I aspire to be in a genuine way. All I know is that it's beautiful, and inviting, and makes me feel at home and happy and enveloped.

Still life in Portland, @mavencollectpdx. Enjoyed talking politics, gender, and sexuality while there, even though I didn't buy a single thing (wait, what?).

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