Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween! Trickers and Treaters come out tonight. It's still raining. When my son CKB was a boy I remember Halloween nights where raingear was the costume of choice. I'm in the kitchenette. Pete's out shopping for more stuff, or just out talking with the guys who make things he can't. JOTS the White Center kitty that's adopted us (or at least our chicken and salmon tidbits) is wondering "Where's the folks?" Hidden behind the curtains her tiny face can't see me.

There are down times when not working on the vardo is exactly what we need to do ... we both slid into a "Need for humor" and a need for a push on the "Refresh" key. While digging through the things we DO still tote around with us, Pete found these Halloweenee Toys that have made us laugh for years ... thanks Jude. Sometimes a rainy day is a good thing.

Behind the scenes

It's raining in Seattle, something that happens here. The Vardo is safe and sound under plastic tarps.

New to blogging means I have plenty to learn. I'm working on learning how to keep the "Comments" available for all who are following and could learn from them. But I can't YET figure out what to do if a Comment needs to be deleted once posted. It's 'supposed to be easy' ... but that is not my experience. Bear (or is that bare) with me, and if you have any suggestions or experience with this ... Leave a post or email me at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More about Milk Paint

Pete and I have been painting and mixing the ochre and straight yellow milk paint combination we're using on the walls. We love it! Like a golden pumpkin this baby reminds us, least we ever forget, that she was born in the Fall. Here are a few things we're learning about using milk paint:

1. Mix up only what you know you'll use in a day. It's milk-based so it will go sour if you don't use it up. It takes a little practice to know how much is just right.

2. Get yourself a good glass bowl blender (We love the Oyster) for all your mixing. HomesteadHouse recommends using the blender for their paints, and it really is the best way to do it. Other milk paint may be different, so talk with your retailer and know how to mix it and
use it.

3. Be smart, if you have MCS and are going to do any mixing or painting, wear a mask and probably goggles that you can tolerate. Even tho' milk paint is gentle, the paint comes as a powder (dusty) and if you're not sure about tolerating all the good stuff they used to make the pigment, better safe than sick. Check me out with my winter paint gear.

4. Seal (with beeswax in our case) as soon as your walls are completely dry. We have learned through trial and error that when unsealed milk paint gets wet, even a dripple from moisture left on the tarp that covers the whole vardo at night, it SPOTS. To save you time and effort of re-painting, paint and seal.

A hui hou (until next time). Time for dinner and rest.
"Enough. We've done enough for today." Mokihana


I've just added a new element to our blog "LIFESAVERS AND SAFETY NETS" You'll find that these included very specific MCS related sites. Each of them has served me when I needed to know there were others living through the rough spots. You'll also find links to spiritual, astrological and wellness links to bloggers who offer insite and viewpoints from another level. I need it all to remember "i'm not alone!" Row on, and let me know if you find booboos that I've made in setting these links up for you.

Aloha, M

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life Savers and Safety Nets

Today I had my weekly appointment with Chulan Chiong, my NAET practitioner. Six months ago when Pete and I arrived in Seattle I knew that a big part of the transition from wandering the roads, parking lots and temporary rest stops of O`ahu would be connecting with a support system. LIFE SAVERS AND SAFETY NETS is an image and an affirming focus every one needs. And, for someone riding the swells and bottoms of an illness like MCS finding Life Savers can be a tricky thing ... and that's putting it mildly. Stepping into a new office or building is always a venture into the twilight zone. What smells and possible allergic/sensitivity triggers are there? Even after questioning a potential "life saver" the proof is only in the step through the threshold. Fortunately, I had developed an internet and phone pal who became my first new MCS Life Saver. Days after getting off the plane from Honolulu I called "G.C." to tell her we'd landed. (There'll be more about G.C. and the uncommon good she has shared with us and others with MCS in Seattle.) I asked "Do you know a good NAET practitioner in Seattle?" "Why yes I do!" That was the beginning of my healing relationship with Chulan Chiong, licensed accupuncturist and NAET practitioner.

NAET = Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques. I have included a link to the NAET website where you can explore for yourself the history and the practice of this non-invasion and holistic "Life Saver" that has expanded my world, and improved my health.

Here's a beginning checklist of questions I have asked (over the phone) a potential practitioner/wellness provider: (Thanks to the friends, counselors for sharing bits that make up this list.)

If you have any other questions to add to this list, we'd love to hear them ...thanks!

1. Are you familiar with MCS? Do you have clients/patients who have MCS?

2. Are you a fragrance free office? If they answer "Yes" ask for some details ... air purifiers/fragrance free handsoap/fragrance free laundry detergent used to wash linens...

3. I wear a mask and may need to bring a sheet or blanket to cover any carpet smell or upholstery that might affect me. How do you feel about that?

4. I can usually tell within a few minutes whether I can tolerate a new office, would it be possible to just check it out before making an appointment?

5. Do you offer any discounts to clients/patients with MCS who have a limited financial resources and/or no insurance?

  • Listen to the feelings you get when asking the questions. Your gut has intelligence called intuition. I've learned to trust it more and more.

  • Listen to the answers (the words) and the emotives that you get when you ask your questions.

  • Try to talk with both the receptionist (or whoever might be screening calls) and the practitioner herself. It's good to get a feel for the people in that office.

  • Trust your instincts and your intuition; take notes as you do your phone interview.

  • Take time to decide.

  • Call a trusted friend, a pal who can know you did this very courageous thing.

  • Give your self credit for this act of bravery.

One last thing. Here's a quote from a woman and healer-medical physician who has inspired me throughout my journey to be unafraid to seek wholeness in my relationships with any "lifesaver" or "safety net"...

"Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength...we don't serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves...Service is a relationship between equals...Helping incurs debt...But serving, like healing, is mutual. There is no debt."

-Rachel Naomi Remens, excerpt from the article "In the Service of Life"

To link to an incredible site where I post a whole piece on Rachel Naomi Remen and where other HEROES OF HEALING connects you with a world of healers please go to Jenny Mannion's website:

Aloha, Mokihana

A Tale of Two Dears ... Sam and Sally have a brand new blog!

The short story that reads like fiction but is alas, truth is now a sister blog to Vardo For Two. In two parts this story of our lives pre-Vardo For Two is up and running.

Check it out

I envision being able to weave the watery Neptune-like fiction of Sam and Sally's life on the road with the shift in focus, step by tiny step to the building of the Vardo for Two. Ke Akua, the source of all creation has given Pete and me the gifts of Hope, Innovation and Appreciation. Sam and Sally truly have a brand new bag, of tricks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Learn by doing

Pete is still working on the vardo. We have the back wall completely sided with tongue-and-groove white oak. Many people with MCS don't tolerate wood very well. Poplar and hard woods like maple are often sited as good options for those who do want to build with wood. We went with white oak after muscle testing many wood samples. White oak was the strongest positive choice. It does have a smell (like a fine wine basking in an oak barrel), but I went to an intuitive conjuring that went something like this: "hmm...strong black tea is rich in tannins (as is the oak), to neutralize the black tea, the Brits always added milk. okay, let's try neutralizing the oak tannins with milk paint. The siding is painted with milk paint from Homestead House in Ontario, Canada and we're using a beeswax finish they sell to seal the walls from the elements. I worked with and emailed many very gracious milk paint retailers and found most of them very understanding of my dilemna. We ordered samples and tested several paints. The one we finally choice comes from Homestead House in Ontario for two reasons: Jenny ... she was and still is a genuinely kind and knowledgable retailer. She has shipped me colors that I could only see via pages on the internet, and talked me through the possibilities I envisioned. The second reason is that at the time we bought our paint they were the ONLY company who had a history of experience using beeswax finish to coat the interior and exterior walls. I learned of a down-side to the beeswax by talking with the supplier of that beeswax finish... depending upon the level of acid in the rain where you live, the beeswax may not hold-up without frequent re-application. Inspite of that precaution we are going with the beeswax rather than using any clear chemically based coating over the milk paint. The picture of the finished back wall shows off the beautiful forrest of beeswaxed lau`ae ferns I stencilled to keep my dear Hawai`i close. The smell of those fern and the inimitable look of lau`ae are part of many island yards. I wanted to have them with us wherever we wander. Using milk paint and beeswax is a choice to be gentle and lean on any use of chemicals. Only time and experience will tell how successful our decision to use milk and beeswax is. The long search for a finish that would not knock us out while we paint, and/or continue to off-gas led us to this solution. The challenge of choosing materials and then testing these materials for safety/minimal ill-effects is HUGE for all who live with MCS. We researched and double/triple researched, prayed, muscled tested and put materials into bottles to give it the sniff test. It takes time, patience and willingess to find that you really don't have all the answers. And then, I have turned to Ke Akua and my guardians and asked them to do for me what I can not do for myself ... I try to remember every day to turn my fears over to Hina (the moon) and tell myself "Enough. You have done enough."

I'm still working on learning how to get the Comments link to show up on my posts so you can tell me what's on your mind after reading this. Like life, we're learning by doing. Thanks for your patience, keep coming back. Comments will show up sooner or later.
Are you an innovator? Where in your life do you make up the rules as you go?

Aloha, Mokihana

From the Kitchenette

  • That's me working from the floor of our yurt-like kitchenette. After six months of life on the road, living and sleeping in our Subaru Forrester the basement apartment kitchenette has become like paradise. Pete and I have retro-fit the kitchenette in this one bedroom apartment doing what it takes to create a safe haven bedroom/everything room. The wall I'm facing is actually a flannel sheet that has been washed free and clear. It's tacked with push pins into the opening between the carpeted living room with a fireplace that is a 'NO-NO ZONE' for me. A second sheet of barrier foil -- a lifesaver for many folks who live with MCS, called DennyFoil, seals the mold, old smoke-smell and deteriorating wood siding.

    We have lived in the kitchenette since May of 2008, and began building the Vardo For Two in June. The vital ingredients for shifting out of a constant whirlpool of fear and flight, to a place of calm and healing have shown up here in the kitchenette in White Center. Those vital ingredients for us are:
  • a place to simply BE
  • a space with sealable windows and doors that keep the outside 'triggers' out
  • a place to sleep
  • electricity to run my Austin Healthmate Jr. air purifier
  • access to a hot shower, a toilet not used by thousands and a laundry that is has not been compromised with fragranced laundry soap and dryer sheets
  • space to plug in a hot plate for a cup of tea, a toaster oven for cinnamon toast and a crockpot
  • a sink to wash dishes

Life on the road has taught us to appreciate what is important. The vital ingredients from the kitchenette have become the foundation for our transforming life. I'm thinking this "From the Kitchenette" post might become a regular 'thing.'

What are your vital ingredients for a 'like paradise life'? What really matters?

Aloha, Mokihana

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When a shed is a home

Elizabeth Feudale-Bowls of Allentown, Pennsylvania lives in a steel shed near her home because she has multiple chemical sensitivities. The shed is a safe place for her. Her neighbors think it's "a eyesore" and the judge has ruled that because Elizabeth Feudale-Bowls and her husband did not comply with building code, the shed will be taken down at the end of the month. Stories like these attract the attention of all of us with environmental illnesses like Elizabeth experiences. The article in Mail Online the internet version of the UK Daily Mail notes that "simple things like laundry dryer sheets and ...." make her sick.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I began this post two weeks ago when VardoForTwo was just being born.(This post shows the date of my original draft) I wasn't sure how to include Elizabeth Feudale-Bowls' story, yet. Now, I do. As I rested and recouped from the affects of a toxic exposure to dryer sheets I tracked down a followup story about Elizabeth. She is appealing the judge's ruling to tear her safe place down. The attention she is getting is a double-edged sword (geez I don't actually like that image, but ... perhaps you have another way of putting it). She is fighting for her safety and getting a lot of negative/positive attention. It takes a lot to do what she and her husband are doing. I've posted a comment on the Seattle Examiner on line article that invited feedback.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities ... I don't know how to explain, so I'll tell you a story

Until you've been there, or have a loved one who lives with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) explanations are difficult and unfortunately few people really want to hear the details. This blog is a place to share our story. In many ways life with MCS can become a life as a fugitive ... trying to out-run the effects of a human society's choices to make and use chemicals that 'smell nice' but really mask the harmful reality of their nature.

VardoForTwo is a blog of hope, innovation and appreciation.

  • With information and a network of supportive practititoners and folks living with mcs we have found hope. Soon a special place for our LIFESAVERS AND SAFETY NETS will focus on these wonderful earth angels and sites of support. We welcome your comments, questions and experiences, and would love to see VardoForTwo become a solution for more and more hope.

  • This blog is an expression of innovation ... we are creating a place of comfort that is delightful to the senses, built to wander when necessary(or just because). We are in the process of building an MCS-Safe VARDO, a gypsy wagon for two. The Tiny Home option is filling a gap in the the picture we envision in today's world. IT's a fantastic example of practicing sustainable living. It requires real work to get from 'the American dream' to life in 100 square feet. The good news is there's a community of us who are doing the work, and finding the joy of it!

  • We'll be connected by extension cord to people who know the challenges we face and are open to learning and collaborating with us. The idea of living small is not to live isolated. MCS isolates us from many things, our goal in building our Vardo For Two is to build appreciation for life that willingness to make it work by finding a way through differences. Building Intension Communities is not a new concept, but it will be new for us as we move toward pulling in the extension cord.

  • The VardoForTwo is a tiny home 12 feet long x 8 feet wide, built on a solid NW built trailer to accomodate my special needs. It will be very gentle on the Earth at the same time. It's 'greener than green.' The times they are a chang'n and the way we live on Earth is chang'n too.

That's a picture of the dear Vardo For Two with her ribs sunning and the beginnings of her soon-to-be copper roof.

  • We will share the process we have lived as we discover, test and handle all the pieces, materials, paints, finishes and protocol required to build an MCS-safe Vardo. It's a journey that could not happen without a connection with All That Is ... the source of all life. In my culture of Hawaii we call that source of All That Is Ke Akua Mana Loa. With this source we co-create a better and better way.

    I live with multiple chemical sensitivities -- an illness that makes living near laundry dryer sheets, perfumes and household cleaning supplies, pesticide-use, wood smoke and traditional building/construction like being in a war zone. My dear husband does not suffer the same debilitating effects from these commonly used products, but he lives with me. Instead of trying to explain again and again, why we have moved fourteen times in fourteen years/why we lived in our faithful Subaru Forrester for six months I wrote a short story a sort of fantasy. It was my way of trying to get my arms around a life that just couldn't be mine. The story is called A Tale of Two Dears. Click on the link below to read the whole story.

Thanks for visiting. Mokihana Calizar and Pete Little