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Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

Bathhouse 32

Last Saturday we finally got that eyesore of an awning off the back of my house!  The thing was so badly built, several of the cross-supports just fell down as soon as we pulled out the nails holding them to the sheet-metal roofing; in other words, the roofing was holding up the beams rather than vice-versa.  Honestly, it’s a wonder it hadn’t collapsed before, given that it seems to have been built in the late ’70s or early ’80s.  I can’t even imagine doing things as sloppily as the previous owners did; we joked that if they’d had a coat of arms, it would be the image of a man shrugging with the Latin for “Eh, good enough.”  After we cleared it away and I took this picture, we braced up the electrical cables you can see at left and constructed a temporary cover to keep anyone from contacting live connections, and to keep rain out (the permanent cover will need to wait for the roof to be finished).  I then cleaned that line of mildew visible under the eaves, which is where the back of the awning lay almost against the house (trapping moisture and making the area impossible to clean before).  We still have a long way to go, but at least we need no longer bend over to climb the ramp.  And before too much longer, we’ll be able to soak in the hot tub at the end of a day of construction.

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Diary #572

Every year, my anxiety increases as the days lengthen, yet every year I seem to forget that until it has gone on for a while; I start feeling all weird and restless and agitated, but somehow it never dawns on me why I feel that way until late May or early June.  It probably doesn’t help that my brain is sneaky, so as soon as I figure out why I’m feeling a certain way, it starts manifesting in a new way.  For example, I used to carry a lot of stress in my muscles, and as soon as I’d figure out that a mystery ache was stress-related it would clear up and move someplace else in my body.  Last year I got lucky; I believe the anxiety mostly manifested in the obsessive home-improvement project I’ve been telling y’all about for over a year.  But this year, the rain delayed our getting started as early in the season, so the anxiety seems to have manifested in an unusual degree of procrastination, disinterest in doing things I really need to get done, and just plain forgetting.  Maybe now that I’ve figured it out I’ll be able to fight it a little better, and in another week the days will begin to slowly grow shorter anyway.  But that probably means next year it will choose some entirely new and strange way to make my life more difficult, and I’ll have to figure it out from scratch again.

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Bathhouse 31

At long last, we’ve started the process of building the roof for the bathhouse annex!  This picture was taken from beneath the deck, and in it you can see the two main load-bearing posts for the western (and more complex) part of the structure.  The one is foreground right, and the other background center-left; as you can see, we used a trick we devised in Oklahoma, cutting the bottom out of a cheap plastic bucket and using it as a concrete form.  If you look closely (you’ll probably need to enlarge the picture) to the left of the post in the background, you can see the hot tub; crossing the center of the picture is its wiring conduit, and next to that the conduit for the main wiring for the cottages.  The slender hanging cable is an ethernet cable feeding a repeater so the cottages have wi-fi.  All of those cables feed into the wellhouse, which is just out of the picture to the right of the post in the foreground; the glare in that area is sunlight coming down through the open wellhouse door, as this picture was taken mid-afternoon last Saturday.  We’ve also set up Grace’s temporary welding station up top, so we’re all set; as we plan things right now, the next photo you see in this feature should be the back of the house without that shitty awning.

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Diary #571

I had my second COVID vaccine a week ago today, and though I had very few side effects from the first shot a month ago, I’m afraid I can’t say the same for this one.  Long-time readers have probably noticed that I very rarely get sick, but when I do my body tends to go all “HOOOOOOOLD THE BUS!!!” and I get extremely ill for about 24 hours, then almost immediately back to normal.  It’s as though my immune system has only two settings, “standby” and “full throttle”.  So I’m never suprised when I have strong reactions to vaccines, but since the first shot gave me nothing but a sore arm for two days, I expected nothing this time either.  Alas, such was not to be.  I got the Moderna shot about 7:15 Tuesday evening, went to bed with a sore arm, then woke up next morning feeling just slightly icky.  By noon I decided not to get dressed; I had chills and brain fog, was weak as a kitten, and had no appetite at all.  The culprit was obvious so I just took it easy, went to bed early, and was fine by Thursday morning.  I thought that would be that, but then Friday morning the left side of my jaw hurt so badly I could only barely eat cereal, and then only by chewing solely on the right side.  I assumed it was some kind of dental pain and I’m overdue for a checkup anyhow, so I just made an appointment and decided to make soup for dinner.  But by dinnertime the pain had spread up the left side of my face to the temple, and it hurt every time I opened my mouth far enough to admit a spoon; I was also incredibly thirsty all day (which is very unusual for me) and my hearing seemed oddly acute.  A little research pointed to a culprit: a transient condition called “Bell’s palsy” caused by inflammation of one of the facial nerves, which is sometimes a side effect of a number of vaccines (including the COVID vaccine).  Everything I read said it would clear up on its own, so I felt better about that, and Saturday morning the pain had changed into more like numbness and moved up the side of my head, running from my upper teeth to my scalp, leaving me with only minor chewing pain; by dinnertime that, too was mostly gone, though it has returned in spells.  The info I read said this is only experienced by about 25 vaccine recipients in 100,000, so yay me for being so exceptional.  But the experience did remind me of how much I dislike the way the medical community uses “benign” to mean “not fatal” rather than actually benign; by that standard, a truck accidentally dumping 6 tons of horse manure in your driveway would be considered “benign” because it can eventually be cleared away without destroying your house.

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Diary #570

Slowly but surely and little by little, things are coming together.  Grace was so pleased with our electrician’s work that we’re going to have him wire up the hot tub as well, and run a secondary panel in the garage (which despite its size, has never had power).  In fact, we’re going to use the old panel from inside out there; there’s nothing actually wrong with it other than being too small for the whole house and too shabby-looking for something in my living room.  And though the new main panel is much nicer-looking than the old one, I’m still going to start keeping my eyes open for something to go over it, such as a framed picture or a decorative hanging, that will hide it from view while not impeding access.  Though the room’s almost finished now, there are still a few touches lacking (such as blinds on the north window) before I finally decide the room is basically done, and I can move on to actually getting my office upsairs into useable form so it’s easier to write while I’m here at home without the interruptions that are inevitable when one works at the dining room table.

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Bathhouse 30

Grace is finally done with the brackets which will support the steel header for the roof section of the bathhouse which will overlap the roof at the back of the existing structure, which will finally allow us to remove the shitty awning which came with the house.  The thing was jury-rigged to begin with, and there’s no telling how long ago; judging by the rot in the beams and the type of materials used, my guess would be sometime in the early ’80s.  I’ve been crossing my fingers it wouldn’t collapse before we removed it, but it started to do just that under the load of snow we got in February; we’ve had it propped up with a beam since then, but I’ll be glad to get rid of that once the proper roof (or at least the west section of it) is up.  I’m in Seattle today, but I’m returning tomorrow and the coming week is supposed to be both temperate and rain-free, so I’m hoping we can at least get it started; I find once we actually get these projects going, they tend to have a momentum which helps the rest get done.

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Diary #569

Aeryn was born in March, 2002, which makes her now the cat equivalent of roughly 107 years old.  She’s remarkably spry for that advanced age, but as you can see she’s greyed considerably.  We suspect she’s also arthritic, because though she was always a very talkative cat, she now complains frequently (it’s difficult to describe the vocalizations as anything but “complaining”, as you may have heard yourself if you’ve seen me on Zoom).  So a couple of years ago, Grace started sharing the cannabis tincture she uses for her arthritis with our little old lady; because Aeryn’s tummy has become pretty delicate, Grace makes her a “stew” of warm water and pate-style cat food, adding a few drops to the mixture.  After eating a bit of that, she’s content for hours, generally sleeping on the sofa or sitting in someone’s lap to be petted while purring a bit raggedly.  Then after about 24 hours she declares whatever’s left too old, and complains until Grace makes her a new bowl (the remains of the previous bowl go to my dog Annie, who gets to enjoy a buzz for a few hours).  We need to keep her bowl up on the counter because the dogs think any food on the floor is theirs; as you can see, her water fountain (which Grace made her sometime in the Oughts) is also there.  But because she’s no longer strong enough to jump all the way up, Grace made her a little staircase (you can barely see the top of it at lower left) so she can reach the dining area.  Yes, we spoil her a bit, but we know that she probably only has a little time left in this world, and she’s been a (mostly) good kitty for two decades now.  So I think it’s the least we can do for a beloved friend to make the last part of her life as comfortable as possible.

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Diary #568

I could see that my electrician was having a hard time with the mess of a breaker panel I inherited from the previous owner; Grace had done her best to rectify it, but she had told me several years ago that one day she wanted to pull the damned thing out, get a new panel, and just rewire the whole thing.  So I asked the electrician if it would be easier for him to do just that, rather than struggling with mystery wires and cables to not-even-the-gremlins-know-where.  He thought it over for a few minutes and then said yes, so I had him do just that.  It meant doing without power for all of Sunday afternoon, but now we’ve got a proper, neat panel, wired by someone who actually knows what he’s doing (which the previous owners absolutely did not) and with all the breakers labeled.  As soon as the gas company can get someone out here with the new tank, we’ll be able to finally enable the backup generator; then the next time we get an outage, we shouldn’t have to do anything more complicated than resetting the clocks after outside power returns.

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Bathhouse 29

The only time I mind living near a rain forest is when the constant rain delays projects, not just for days but for weeks or even months.  We’ve had our generator for three months, but the ground only recently became dry enough to allow us to move it into place and dig the trench for the heavy power cables to connect it into the system.  And it’s still not dry enough for the gas company to change our propane tank for a larger one so as to support both the heater and the generator; they said it has to be done “in the summer”, which I presume means July because that’s the beginning of our two-month dry season.  If I hear nothing about it by June 21st, you can bet I’ll be calling again (though I doubt they’ll give me much trouble, given that a larger tank will allow me to buy more propane from them).  Once it’s all done, power outages won’t be nearly as much of a nuisance as they’ve been in the past; now we only need to get the annex finished so we can put in a second bathroom, and then mornings won’t be as much of a nuisance as they are right now.

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Diary #567

As of Saturday, the new pullets are officially out of the nursery! They are no longer confined at night, and the heat lamp (which I was still turning on via a timer for the first few hours of the evening) is now off until autumn.  For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been afaid to go outside, but on Saturday they went out to get away from the commotion while I was putting things away, and on Sunday two of the three went outside on their own, though they still keep well away from the adult hens.  But unless these are different from every other chickens I’ve ever had, within a few weeks they’ll all be one big flock, and around July (maybe even sooner) the pullets will start laying.  Since winter we’ve been down to about 3-4 eggs a day, which is only a little more than we need so I don’t have enough to give away right now; it’ll be good when I have enough to share with friends again!  And it’ll also be nice to see a more visually-interesting flock; last year most of them were white leghorns, so it was pretty monochromatic.  And I’m definitely getting some reds next year, even if having a red, white, and blue flock will make me look more patriotic than I actually am.

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