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Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

Diary #595

I’m in Seattle today, but out at Sunset the repair guy is supposed to be fixing my generator transfer switch.  And that’s a good thing, because I’m thoroughly sick of having to figure out which electrical devices I can run at the same time and for how long, like in the first season of Green Acres.  Oh, it’s not that bad; 110-volt appliances don’t seem to create any problems, and even the 220-volt ones are OK run one at a time except the water heater (which draws about 9.6 kw all by itself).  But since I have lots of thick, curly hair (as you may have noticed), that is problem enough. For the past two weeks, the only way I can wash my hair without tripping the main breaker is to run the water for just long enough to get my hair wet (which takes about 5 minutes), then turn it off while I lather it up, then run it again for long enough to rinse, then turn it off again to condition, before finally rinsing it out.  And for someone who likes hot showers as much as I do, that’s really annoying.  I took a good, leisurely one when I got to my apartment yesterday, but the shower there is of the stall variety so I can’t condition my hair there with the water running, either.  So I’m really looking forward to having a healthy home electrical system again, so I can take as many damned showers I want for as long as I bloody well please.

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Home Office

Jae has been talking about starting work on decorating my office for a few months now, and a couple of weeks ago she sprung into action; within a few days she had painted the walls, arranged the furniture, refinished a dresser (out of frame), and even started on the wall decor (as you can see from The Count there).  She says she’s ordered some curtains, but in the meantime used some old fabric I had for sheers.  I’ve learned to trust Jae’s decorating instincts; those of you who have seen my incall know what a great job she did on it, and (with the help of my bookcase-building to Grace’s designs) she turned the living room from an embarassment into a comfortable, homey space.  Her work on the kitchen was similarly transformative, so I’ve been really looking forward to what she’d do with the upstairs area I decided to use as an office.  It’s not yet finished, but I expect it will be by Christmas, and I’m already using it; I’ll post more pictures (showing all the details) when she’s done!

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Diary #594

Though I prefer country life, it isn’t without its peculiar issues and problems, and we had several last week.  Normally, we only need to change the water filter about once per season, but since we changed out our pump at the beginning of August, that kicked up considerable sediment, rust, and the like which has required two filter changes in only 3 months.  That woud’ve been no big deal, except for that fact that modern filter housings are made as cheaply and shabbily as possible, with “heavy duty mounting brackets” so flimsy I can bend the metal in my dainty little hands.  What this means is that if the housing gets stuck (which I find happens at least every few years), there’s essentially no way to remove it without breaking the PVC pipes.  So this time I bought some heavy angle iron so Grace could build a truly heavy bracket, though I still had to buy another overpriced, underbuilt housing.  While that process was going on, the washing machine gave up the ghost, and when I went to buy a new one I was told nobody bothers to stock them any more (we tried a number of stores in two counties), so if I wanted one, I’d need to order it now and it might be delivered by Christmas (if the supply chain cooperates).  So last Monday I had to waste the one day that week it didn’t rain to figure this out and buy a new-to-me used washer-dryer set.  Then that evening at dinner, the lights went out and the generator came on; that was fine, but two hours later my intuition started pinging so I called the power company and found out there wasn’t an outage.  The transfer switch had developed a fault (according to customer service, a common problem with new installations) that caused the main service cutoff to trip every time we hit it with a heavy load (like if the pump comes on while the water heater is running, something that happens about 15 minutes after I start taking what I think will be a nice, hot shower).  I made an appointment with the service company to fix it, but he wasn’t able to get here until yesterday, which meant a week of carefully planning appliance use so big-ticket items didn’t come on at the same time and trip the cutoff again, forcing me to stand in the rain, in the dark, to throw it on again (after letting it cool for five minutes or more with the power off, at night).  And when he looked at it yesterday, he determined he’d need to replace the whole switch…which means waiting another week for the part to arrive.  So as you can imagine, it has all been very stressful and costly, and if you want to help me cover the expenses (or just some edibles so I can relax) I’d appreciate it.  If you’re wondering what Cicero has to do with any of this, the answer is “nothing at all”; it’s just a much cuter picture than one of an old washing machine.

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Bathhouse 51

Since getting the rest of the panels up on the west section of the roof, we’ve been stalled for over a week, and this picture shows why:  it has rained nearly every day, and hailed for at least a few minutes on most of those days.  The one dry day we had this week was Monday, which I would’ve used to do some work had my old washing machine not suddenly decided to give up the ghost the day before.  That meant I had to go into town to get a new one, or rather a newer used one;  apparently, it is now a thing not to bother stocking appliances, and people are having to wait weeks for delivery when they buy one.  Since I can’t go for more than a week without doing laundry (I prefer to do it twice a week), a refurbished used one was my only real option.  Well, at least it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been, and with any luck I’ll be able to spend the next dry day working on the next section of roof.

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Diary #593

When I got back to my office in Seattle two days after my birthday, I found two packages waiting for me.  One of them, from a reader who has enjoyed my Doctor Who thread on Twitter but prefers to remain anonymous, contained the complete series of Blake’s 7, a BBC serial from the 1970s I’ve heard lots of good things about but have never seen.  It was only available in Region 2 format, but that’s OK because I have an all-region player (which is how we watched The Sarah Jane Adventures, since it’s badly overpriced in Region 1 format).  We’re going to start watching it in December, after we’re done with Doctor Who up to the last season; the current season won’t be out on disc until probably sometime next year.  And I’ll definitely be sharing my thoughts, though not at such length as I have with Doctor Who!  The other package was from one of my regular gentlemen, and contained the Meat Loaf disc you see at the bottom of this picture, plusaspecial edition of John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme.  When I left for Sunset last Thursday, I wanted to listen to at least one of them on the way home, but realized too late I had packed them in my suitcase and I wasn’t going to pull over to dig them out.  But that’s OK, because I’ll be going back in two weeksand  I’ll listen to them then.  In case you’re wondering, I actually prefer to listen to discs in the car because it’s the only time I can do so without usually being interrupted, including by myself.  Yes, I also listen to music while getting stoned, but for that I just use Pandora so I needn’t deal with changing discs, or miss something I really want to hear because I drop off into a drugged sleep.  Two other readers have told me there are packages on the way, so I’ll tell you about them when they arrive.  And though you can’t see it clearly, this picture also contains another of my presents:  Jae is decorating my office and I’m already using it even though it isn’t yet finished!

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Bathhouse 50

We got three clear days last weekend, so I was able to get the first four sheets of roofing into place.  It wasn’t a quick process, because I was largely working alone; on Friday I moved the sheets to the deck, then pulled them up to the roof one by one and wrangled them into place.  Attaching them was slow because we were given substandard self-drilling screws; apparently, the norm around here is to attach the metal to a wooden frame (our outbuildings were all constructed that way) so the provided screws were not of a high enough grade to drill into the cee purlins.  I therefore had to pre-drill the holes so the screws would work.  Then Saturday I used the plasma cutter to trim off the excess roofing; the north side was very difficult because I was working at a bad angle, so the cutting is very rough there and I’ll need to go back later and smooth it off with a second pass from above.  Still, we’re getting the roof up at last; once this leaf is done we’ll move on the the southwest facing, and then the complicated northwest.  That’s the part where you can see the orange ladder, which will eventually be a bathroom.  Onward and upward!

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Diary #592

Chekhov told me a few weeks ago that he and his lady friend Yellowbird wanted to provide dinner for my birthday, but I had no idea they were planning to go all out with a fun Halloween-themed spread!   You can probably tell what the things at front left are; behind them are deviled eggs with a little avocado in the filling, and the pumpkin puke is guacamole.  Between the two pumpkins are mushroom eyeballs and a multi-layer dip topped with spiders made from black olives; to the left of those is a carrot cake, and the cemetery is a cheeseburger casserole.  The upside-down devilled eggs are poked with holes to resemble a hockey mask (as worn by Undead Serial Killer from Popular Slasher Movie Franchise Guy™), and the plate at front right contains tooth-rows made from apple slices, peanut butter & miniature marshmallows; Frankenstein’s monster heads made from kiwi fruit; banana ghosts; cucumber skulls; and teensy mandarins dressed as pumpkins.  And at the back are 50 roses, sent by Dr. Quest!  Jae got me some cool snakeskin print clothes, Yellowbird got me a horror-movie-watching blanket, and Grace got me some titanium chopsticks; we celebrated with three Vincent Price movies, and I got completely stoned and blew my diet.  So all in all, it was a very lovely birthday, and when I arrived at my city flat yesterday I had several presents from readers!

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Diary #591

I’ve been very frustrated with the slowness of our progress this year; during the two dry months we got very little done, and by the time we really started moving forward the rainy season had returned.  Last year, once Grace explained what needed to be done I could do a little, get her to inspect my work to be sure I was doing it correctly, and then go full speed ahead until I had finished and was ready to move on to the next step.  But the roof work required skills I don’t have, which couldn’t be easily explained, and it took us a long time to figure out what I could do without years of experience.  Grace still needs to fabricate the main beams, but once they’re done I now have the ability to weld them in place if we can get the welder close enough; MIG welding relies on wire mechanically fed up the line by a motor inside the machine, so the stinger line is relatively short compared to the heavy cables used in stick welding.  In this picture, I’m using nearly all the length there is, so to get to the very top of the central support we had to position the cart directly underneath (not always easy with tub and ladders in the way) and then put the welder up on top of a crate on the cart. It’ll be a little easier when we get away from the area directly above the tub, but I really wish we’d been able to get at least part of the roof in place before the monsoons.

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Bathhouse 49

Last week, the rain hit just as we were finishing up the framework for the western section of the roof, so we had to wait until early this week to get the last few welds in place.  I was a bit nervous about my ability, unsure that I could do a good enough job for it to be sufficiently strong, but then Grace showed me how to do a series of tacks rather than attempting a continuous bead.  That did the trick; I was having trouble making a neat, continuous bead, and worried that I’d burn through the comparatively-thin (10 guage) metal of the cee purlins while welding them to the thicker (3/16“) walls of the rectangular tubing.  But to tack with the MIG, I just need to put the stinger in position, pull the trigger, count to two and release, remembering to use the tip dip frequently and cutting off the excess wire whenever I get it stuck (which is now less often than when I first started learning).  Oh, and remembering to put my welding hood down so I don’t get flashed, and pulling my overshirt closed so I don’t get sparks in my cleavage (which is a lot of no fun).  Next step: roof panels!

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Diary #590

I don’t normally give Cicero his breakfast peanuts on the front porch, because, as you can see, it makes a bit of a mess.  But now that the monsoon season is once again upon us, I don’t have the heart to make him eat his breakfast in the rain, so if it’s actively falling when I get up in the morning, I’ll feed him in the dry spot near the door.  You can see where that stops in this picture, and you can also see the peanut storage in that garbage can; we buy ’em in bulk because it’s cheaper, and the wooden frame is to keep him from knocking it over (it was originally built because Orville kept doing exactly that).  And you can also see a hand truck which someone apparently forgot to put away after bringing my new desk upstairs last week; Jae is starting to work on my office, which is good because I’ve wanted that for a while now and we’ll have fewer days to work on the bathhouse now that it’s raining half of the week or more.  I would’ve liked to have a good bit of roofing up before this started, but it didn’t work out that way; still, there should be enough dry days over the next couple of months to make some slow progress before the really heavy rain arrives with the winter.

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