ABC Post 14: Quakehold Museum Putty—The Unsung Hero Behind RV Decor

I started writing this post as a list of interesting or unexpected essentials for RV living. It turns out I had a lot to say about museum putty, so that’s what this is about.

I saw museum putty listed as an RV-ing essential so early in our RV experience that I bought it at the dealership the same day we bought our Airstream. Apparently, I then forgot why it was essential (or maybe that wasn’t explained in the list I read.) For whatever reason, we didn’t end up using it other than to stick a couple items to our non-magnetic fridge. Side note: if you are aware of a practical reason why RV refrigerators do not have magnetic fronts, I would like to know. My current hypothesis is that magnetic = heavier than non-magnetic.

Almost 2 years into RV life, the putty I thought was so essential had spent most of its life in our “adhesives bin.” (We keep items we don’t use every day, but want to have on hand, in storage bins in the back of our truck. We have names for some of the most frequently used bins. The adhesives bin has stuff like tape, glue, and command strips, but also things that should probably be called fasteners, like rubber bands, twine, clothesline and clothespins.) Anyway, sometimes I would run across the putty and wonder why I had bought it.

In our first year of Airstream living, we took a trip around the US, moving every 1-3 days for most of the trip. It was exhausting, partially because of the extensive battening-down process we went through every day before driving. We would clear all flat surfaces, stow things in cabinets, check that cabinets were latched, etc. It doesn’t sound like that should take very long, but I guess we had a lot of stuff out.

Internet lore says that when a trailer is being towed, it is as if the contents are experiencing an earthquake. Different sources state different earthquake magnitude comparisons. I’m not experienced enough with earthquakes to estimate a magnitude, but for the most part, anything left unsecured on a flat surface will be on the floor after driving even relatively short distances. The shifting worsens at high speeds and when driving on a curvy road.

This was a problem for us, especially because I wanted to have house plants. On our long trip, every time we drove we would put the plants in a bin and set them on the floor. They would slide around a tiny bit sometimes, but usually that prevented major casualties. Occasionally, we would forget, and leave a bin of plants on the bathroom counter, for instance, and end up with dirt spilled all over the floor, and a sad plant. Not to mention, we didn’t often end up putting the plants anywhere besides the bins since we’d just end up corralling them again later. Basically the plant bins were just something to step over for the whole trip.

Collapsible plastic/silicone bin on floor
A bin that sometimes holds plants, dishes, or laundry. It is supposed to be easily stowable, since it collapses, but it can most often be found in this spot on my kitchen floor.

Earlier this year, we were planning our trip to Texas. I had also recently downloaded Tik-Tok and was lamenting the unacheiveability of all the adorable RV decor I was seeing in the videos. “They have so many plants!” I told Matt. “And they’re just sitting there on their table! There’s no way they drive around with that setup. It would be a disaster.”

“But where do they put it all when they’re driving?” I wondered about the mountains of throw pillows on a particularly nice looking couch setup. ”They must spend forever re-setting all their decor every time they stop.”

I’m still not sure what other people do. I should probably ask. But what FINALLY occurred to us was that maybe it would be possible to use museum putty to adhere our plants to flat surfaces.

Aloe Vera and Orchid plant sitting on a table

And it is! They stay. No more plants on the floor.

Once we realized the plants were staying on the table, Matt immediately put quake putty to use in stabilizing his office-organizer. It has stayed quite well.

Then he moved on to puttying down a mug to hold silverware, a toothbrush holder, and a soap dish.

We have also used quake putty to hold our Berkey water filter in place. We have the bottom portion puttied to our kitchen counter. When we’re going to drive, we remove the top section and dump any water left in that part (if we’re boondocking, we dump it into a jug.) This is a bit less helpful than with the plants, because we haven’t been brave enough to drive with it completely intact, given the price of the filter elements. (Also, the water would slosh too much.) But it is still useful not to stow the entire thing.

There is still a battening-down process when we get ready to tow our house to a new location, but it has been somewhat reduced by having these items stuck in place.

For those who do not/will not ever use an RV, quake putty can still be part of your life. I have seen it recommended for use to hold down items you don’t wish kids or pets to knock over. The drawback is, having things stuck down on surfaces makes them more difficult to clean, but if you’re a feather-duster user, it might actually help.

Check out Emily’s list of books she’s been reading, and a fascinating ”Ask Aunt Dorcas” about the pressure to use particular products.

ABC Post 4: 10 Things About Me

This is my first post for the April Blogging Challenge (ABC) with Dorcas and Emily. Since many of their readers have heard of me, but don’t know me, here are a few details in my own words.

I have 1 brother and 3 sisters

I am the middle child in my family. I have a sister and brother older than me, and two sisters younger than me. We pretty much all live in different states now, but appreciate opportunities to get together when we can.

I grew up near Junction City, OR and attended Junction City public schools

My family sometimes had chickens, ducks, bummer lambs, dogs, and cats. Sometimes people assume I was homeschooled, but that didn’t happen. I am aware of some homeschool-y things through friends and former homeschoolers I follow online.

I danced at the Junction City Scandinavian Festival

I danced with the children’s groups starting when I was 3 or 4, and continued through high school. I also cooked aebleskivers in the Lutheran Church booth, answered questions in the windmill (information booth), and dressed up in the troll costumes.

I play piano and flute (but not like I used to)

I took piano lessons throughout childhood and played flute in school band and the Eugene/Springfield Youth Orchestra. I considered majoring in music in college. When I didn’t, I ended up not having time and energy to continue with it as I anticipated. I remember being in high school and pitying (but not understanding) the sad-sounding adults who wished they had kept up with their music practice. “How could they just stop like that?” I thought.

I have a Bachelor of Science in General Science from the University of Oregon

Neuroscience was my focus area, and my main reason for selecting the General Science major instead of Biology. While I was in college I worked in a lab that used mice to study how how brains receive, process, and make decisions based on sounds. My parents remember me being very young and thinking of things to observe and keep track of: the water level in the swale behind our house, the phases of the moon, mushrooms, etc.

Phoebe holding a lab mouse while wearing gloves
Holding a mouse in the lab

Matt and I met in Washington, D.C. 

People often want to know if Matt and I were aware of each other while we were growing up. That would have been weird (or, more likely, inconsequential) because he is eight years older than me. While our childhood homes were only 15 minutes apart, we lived in different towns, attended different schools, churches, and were generally in entirely different circles.

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.

I first went to Washington D.C. for an internship

At the end of college, I took a class about autobiography through Inside-Out (a program which brings together college students and incarcerated people.) It was an impactful experience, and rekindled an interest in the legal field.

I started looking for ways to explore that further, and found a criminal defense investigation internship at Georgetown Law School. It was a memorable and growing experience, and gave me an opportunity to become part of a community in Washington D.C. By the end of the internship, I wanted to stay there. I couldn’t find a way at first, but eventually went back for a job. That’s when I met Matt.

I sew

And sometimes knit and crochet. I tend to learn the basics of a skill, and then move on to something different. Eventually I circle around and expand on the basics. I learned the bulk of my sewing skills through a 4-H sewing group I attended as a middle schooler. Recently I’ve been expanding my sewing horizons to include quilting. 

We have a cat

His name is Gandalf. He is a ferocious hunter and an avid tree-climber. He is somewhat leash-trained, but not to the extent that he will walk briskly alongside us. I don’t picture that happening. Gandalf has been on some Airstream adventures, but prefers to be in a place where he is allowed outside at will. Currently he is staying with my parents. 

I get a lot of headaches

I also don’t have much energy. And other stuff comes and goes. My health is vaguely suspect, and it’s been that way for most of my life. Maybe since I had a parasite when I was in elementary school, or maybe genetics. Probably all of it.

Lately, I’ve been working on my health a lot. I found a health care provider who thinks it’s possible to figure out what is causing (and fix!) all my random vague symptoms. We’re figuring it out a little at a time.

Dorcas will be doing post #5 tomorrow, Emily will be posting again on Friday, and I will be posting each Wednesday.