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Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

Diary #585

It’s harvest time again, and that means processing fruit!  The heat wave stunted our blackberries and plums, so I only got enough of the former for a few bowls of berries with cream, and enough of the latter to make a plum cobbler and two jars of jam.  But the fruit we did get of both was wonderfully juicy and sweet.  The apples, on the other hand, appear to have done quite well; last week Chekhov gathered a whole cart full of them, and after I culled out the bad ones I still had enough that, after coring, filled the three big bowls you see here plus one of my extra-large stock pots.  After pulping it all fit into the three bowls, and I was able to press about 6 liters of juice from all that.  So I’ve got a carboy fermenting into cider in the dark, cool, under-stair cupboard, and two mason jars of fresh juice in the fridge (well, one now, because the fresh stuff is so much better than store-bought apple juice it’s almost like a different thing).  There are still plenty of apples on the trees, so I plan to keep gathering and pressing until there aren’t, and I hope to get at least two more carboys of cider plus enough to make four to six jars of apple butter; I hadn’t made it before last year, and it came out so well I kicked myself for only doing two jars.  After pressing, we mix the resulting pomace into the feed for Shiloh and Jonathan, but as you can see, Cicero prefers his fresh (and seems quite happy with cores).

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Bathhouse 43

It’s difficult to show you a picture of what we’ve been doing on the roof structure, but I think this might work.  The reinforcement you can see here is a kind of cap made from steel plates, crowning the wooden post which used to support the old awning that came with the house.  Three of the four posts were still sound, and the fourth was only rotten at the top, so we cut that one off below deck-level to serve as a support.  You can see how the one that formerly supported the northeast corner of the awning in last week’s picture; this is the top of the one that formerly supported the northwest corner, and the one at the southwest corner is crowned by the same kind of fixture.  The idea is to help support the header beam along the roof, just as the smaller bracket at right (and seven others like it) do, so as not to put all the strain on the roof of this section (which dates to about 1950).  Next week I should have some more high steel to show you, but if not the electrician is connecting up the hot tub so there’s that.

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Diary #584

One of the really nice things about living on the Pacific side of the Olympic peninsula is that it’s nearly always cooler than the rest of the state, except in winter (when it’s usually milder).  In Oklahoma, there was about a 50oC range between typical summer highs and typical winter lows; at Sunset, the range is only about 30oC.  During that awful heat wave at the end of June, we were a few degrees cooler than Seattle and were out of it almost two days earlier, and when I drive home it’s not unusual to feel perfectly comfortable in shirtsleeves in Seattle, only to feel distinctly chilly when I get out of the car at Sunset.  And virtually as soon as the Dog Days were over two weeks ago, the temperature dropped so much I closed my office window, which has been open since early June.  At the moment I’m writing this, my weather app shows a 6oC difference between Seattle and Sunset, and that’s not especially unusual.  So it’s beginning to feel a bit autumnal here already, and a few days ago I actually wore a sweater one day; in two more weeks the autumn will arrive in earnest, and not a day too soon for me.

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Bathhouse 42

The slowness of our progress on the roof is really annoying to me, especially now that it has pushed us back to a time when I have lots of other things (such as processing fruit, making money and catching up on my writing) vying for my attention.  But though it looked like we were going to at least start speeding up, a number of things got in the way and this is all we’ve done since last week (though Grace has also fabricated a big pile of gussets, plates and other reinforcements).  Still, the weather is supposed to be clear for the next couple of weeks, so I’m hoping we can get the rest of the main members up soon.  And once that’s done, the cee purlins should go up relatively quickly.  Despite my annoyance at the delays, we can still get part of the roof done before the rains return in October, though I can’t be confident that we will.

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Diary #583

Since Lorelei knew I was coming into town last week, she invited me over for a Who night on Friday, and when I arrived this was what she had waiting for me because she knows I’m very fond of charcuterie with all the trimmings, especially for a TV-watching date.  Look at how gorgeous this is; I told her at the time it was almost too pretty to eat.  Emphasis on the “almost” there, because eat it we did, nearly every morsel.  The drinks, by the by, are our signature Who cocktails; mine (left) is a Sonic Scewdriver (a screwdriver made with our favorite cinnamon-sugar flavored vodka) and hers is an Ass-kicking Amy Pond (like a Moscow Mule but made with our favorite vodka and blood orange-flavored ginger beer).  We don’t get to do our Who nights as often as we used to, but we still do them as often as possible.  And occasions like that are made extra-nice when the person one is sharing them with does something like this to say, “I love you and you are important to me.”

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Bathhouse 41

It’s good to at last see the roof structure beginning to take shape; as you can see, the third post is shorter than the others because the roof beam it will support runs from the peak down to the edge of the existing house roof, so this will give you an idea of the pitch.  In preparation for running that beam, we’ve also welded the header beam which runs along the back of the house to its support brackets, but that wouldn’t make much of a picture.  The next step, which should be in place by the time you read this, will make an even better picture; I hope things are speeding up now at last, because once the framework in place the installation of the cee purlins should be relatively simple, and the roof panels more straightforward still.  And if we can get the roof in place before the rainy season starts again in October, we’ll be able to work on the walls and other internal features at our leisure without having to plan around the rain.

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Diary #582

The cable I ordered arrived last Monday, after I had already left for Seattle.  But I came home on Wednesday, so on Thursday we measured it out, ran it through the conduit and buried it, so now everything is ready for our electrician to return.  In addition to running the subsidiary breaker box for the garage I’ve wanted since we moved here, he’ll also set up our generator to operate as it’s supposed to, and wire up the GFCI panel (purchased for me by a generous gent last week) for the hot tub, which means we’ll be able to start using it (at least in fair weather).  Once the bathhouse roof is in place, that condition will be moot as well, and about damned time considering I bought the thing a year and a half ago.  And since it looks like my apple crop will be pretty good this year, I look forward to being able to sit in the tub drinking homemade apple cider while listening to the sound system given me by another lovely gent.  Would that I always had so much good news to share!

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Day of the Dogs

Because my brain insists on being contrary, while a lot of people I know were extremely stessed out last summer, I was actually doing a lot better than usual.  This was largely due to the fact that I was extremely busy working on my bathhouse project, and therefore much too focused on important, positive developments for my typical summer anxiety to get me as knotted up as usual.  This isn’t to say it was completely absent; it just took a different form than it usually does.  Rather than manifesting as a nearly-constant agitation which waxes and wanes depending on other conditions, it mostly stayed trapped below the surface unless someone obstructed my work, at which time it exploded in the offender’s face like an incompetently-opened champagne bottle.  But this year the work progressed much more slowly, with the result that I found myself displaying the usual symptoms: restlessness, agitation, troubled sleep and nightmares even under the influence, worrying about everything and anything, aversion to leaving my home, pointless procrastination, mild writer’s block, excessive frustration and annoyance with any interruption to my routine, and other curious writhing of the snakes in my head.  But today marks the end of the Dog Days, and as we pass through September my brain will start to relax.  The government’s obsession with fucking around with perfectly-good time zones means the sun will still be up far later than it should be until a whole damned week into November, but at least the total amount of light per day will have contracted back within my autumnal brain’s capacity to handle it, even if it is distributed so as to offend my sensibilities for weeks longer than necessary.

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Bathhouse 40

With the right help, it’s easier to do some of the construction jobs I at first think are going to be difficult.  Our hired man has been at Sunset again recently, and since he already knows some welding basics Grace is giving him some more training because she doesn’t want me stick-welding overhead.  Last week, he and I raised the center support into position; I thought it was going to be difficult because we only have one extra-tall ladder, but nope; we lifted the beam onto the wellhouse roof, then I climbed up and held one end while he climbed the ladder and put the other end in place.  While I continued to hold the wellhouse end, he moved the ladder: et voilà!  A few tack-welds and it was done.  And before too much longer, you’re going to see steel headers speading toward the house and shop from here.

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Who Thoughts

If you follow me on Twitter, you have undoubtedly noticed that every day since March, I’ve been tweeting my thoughts about Doctor Who as Grace and I watch the entire series from 1963 to the present.  On Saturday we finished the classic series and have now started New Who, so I think it’s time to unveil something I’ve been working on behind the scenes:  everything I’ve posted to that Twitter thread, collected in one big page.  Practically since I started, my Whovian readers have been asking for this compilation; I’ve been doing it all along, but I wanted to get to what seemed like a natural point to unveil it.  I’m also working on some supplemental materials, including an attempt at a unified chronology of The Doctor’s adventures, but those will have to wait a bit longer until I feel they’re ready to be seen by eyes other than my own.  Then next year, I hope to get it all compiled into a book in time for release the following year, the program’s 60th anniversary.  If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even make a little money from it, and maybe it will introduce more readers to my other work.  But in the meantime, I’m just enjoying writing something light, fun, and even a bit academic for a change.

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