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Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

Bathhouse 24

On Monday of last week, our cee purlins were delivered; now we’re only waiting for the notice that our order of roof panels is ready. We’re also preparing to start building the roof infrastructure; Grace has shown me sketches of the brackets that will be attached to the rafters of the existing house, but before we could begin I had to buy a number of clamps and such to replace those lost in the pillage three years ago.  In the meantime, however, we had a few frosty days that left the deck very slick in the mornings (and sometimes all day), so I decided to go ahead and build the ramp down into the paddock so we could climb down more safely when it’s time to feed the animals.  After the roof is in place, the sides of the deck will be walled in, and a door will lead onto this ramp.  But even without that, it’s nice to be able to walk down from the deck rather than having to climb down a rickety scaffold on uneven ground in the rain while carrying feed buckets.

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Diary #542

I’m getting good at scheduling my appointments closely enough together to keep my trips to Seattle short and sweet.  I drove in on Wednesday, got my nails done, then on Thursday saw a new client I’ve known for some time online (he is an “out” client, but professional discretion still forbids my naming him unless he chooses otherwise) and found him both lovely and generous.  And speaking of generosity, I got three new presents: the DVDs for Thundarr the Barbarian from Brad Carter; a book of ghost stories from Nick Fowler; and a lovely snakeskin summer top from my friend Angela Keaton.  I also found out who sent the kitchen scale (RockyJimBeam) and the red cashmere sweater (Antonio Lorusso).  Jim will be glad to know that I already used the scale in preparing Saturday’s dinner, and Antonio asked for a picture of me in the sweater (I’m sure he won’t mind if I share it with everyone).  Thanks so much to all my wonderful, generous friends, clients, and readers; y’all have helped make this a very lovely birthday season!

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Diary #541

It’s been lovely to get back to all the cooking I used to do in Oklahoma. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been making all manner of old favorites and trying new recipes, and last week I did another of my traditional canning tasks: cooking down my Halloween pumpkin.  It went well, and I got ten and a half pints in all; I’ve already used two, one for pumpkin pie and another for cream of pumpkin soup.  This week, I’ll probably do pumpkin bread, but I’ll likely wait for the weekend because I’m heading back to Seattle tomorrow and returning Friday (with all the birthday presents that arrived while I was gone).  Scheduling my appointments together is working out well; I’m able to spend most of my time out at Sunset, and that makes me happy.  I’ve kinda slacked off on finishing Ask Maggie, Volume II, but don’t worry; it’s on the way and should be available before Christmas.

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Bathhouse 23

I got word a week or so ago that our cee purlins are on the way from Phoenix, but it’s a route truck so it’ll probably be another week or two before they actually arrive.  The roof panel order took longer than I anticipated to process, but they finally charged my credit card last Friday; I then got an email telling me they weren’t able to deliver here, but we could pick the panels up ourselves from the plant…which is in Kent (suburban Seattle).  Now, I have no idea why we couln’t find this place when we were searching for local suppliers; the office we dealt with is in Tennessee.  But at least I’ll get a refund on my shipping fee, and it’s no big deal to send Chekhov to Seattle with the trailer.  A couple of days ago we shifted the steel tubing into Grace’s shop, so she’ll be starting on the trusses next week; since the shop is enclosed she’ll be able to work regardless of rain (which we’ve had quite a lot of lately), and we’ll only need to work around the weather to actually get them in place.

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Diary #540

I’m happy to say that I had a very lovely birthday week!  I was in an unusually good mood all week, and did a lot of cooking because I felt like it; for inner on Saturday I prepared three kinds of finger foods (deviled eggs, shrimp toast, and crab Rangoon) because I feel as though they’re kind of like adult trick-or-treat, and we watched several spooky shows.  An artist friend of mine was with us, and she gave me this paperweight she made from a stone from my property, painted with a lovely snake motif!  Jae also gave me a snake, a big plush one which I think I will leave to guard my bed.   And I got so many presents from readers and admirers:  Mike Siegel sent me Predestination and The Immortality Key; Jeremy Dunn sent me several of the “Shaver Mystery” reprint books and a Japanese horror film, Marebito, based on them; and two other readers sent me a lovely cashmere sweater and a digital kitchen scale, but since some Amazon sellers neglect to send packing skips, I don’t know who to thank!  If you sent one of those, please let me know.  On top of all that, several readers sent me cash gifts, which are always welcome!  All around, it was an exceptional birthday week, and thanks so much to everyone who helped make it so!

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Diary #539

This week ends, of course, with my birthday!  I’ve already received one gift, a copy of the Nicholas Cage version of Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space (from reader Vanguardcdk), and I think something else is on the way from another reader because it’s missing from my Amazon wishlist (and thank you both!)  If you, too, would like to get me something, I’ve arranged the list in order of ascending price, so you can find the right point for your budget!  I’m out at Sunset this week, so anything you send will await my return a week from Friday; my landlord and neighbor are both dears about keeping an eye out for packages and putting them safely on my desk.  Speaking of desks, I’ve started getting my office at Sunset together; Chekhov has built himself a set of bookshelves, so we were able to move all of his books out to the cottage.  And that cleared space in the hall closet for everything that doesn’t fit in our smallish kitchen pantry, plus emptied out my office for me to fully move into.  Maybe I’ll buy myself a desk for my birthday present; after all, even if the weather slows down my improvements outside, that doesn’t mean I can’t go back to fixing up the inside.

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Bathhouse 22

It took us six weeks, but we’ve finally got all the materials for our roof on the way!  I was hoping to have the roof up before the rain came again, but Trump’s silly trade war made that impossible; metal building components are hard to find here already (I reckon they’re just not as popular in Washington as in drier climes), and the tariffs made the ones that were available insultingly expensive.  But we found some leads a few weeks ago, and with the help of a generous gent I was able to shove money around to clear enough space on my credit cards to buy what I needed (if anyone else wants to volunteer to help me pay that, please do).  We got the structural steel a month ago, then this week I ordered the cee purlins (crossmembers which support the roof panels) from a place in Phoenix and the roof panels themselves from a place near Knoxville, Tennessee; today Chekhov is picking up the heavy-walled pipe we’re using for the support posts.  Since the stuff from other states is coming via freight, it’ll probably be late November before it arrives; that’s OK because it won’t be needed until the roof structure is in place, and Grace will be welding the trusses together in her shop.  Since we’ll have to work around the rain, phase four will probably go slowly; we figure it may take until the beginning of spring.  But then we’ll have shelter from the rain, so the walls should go relatively quickly afterward.  For the time being, expect about two updates a month; let’s hope the progress speeds up again in March!

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Diary #538

One drawback to living on the edge of a rain forest is, as you can probably guess, that it rains an awful lot.  From October to May it’s always at least wet here if not actually raining; June and September are somewhat rainy, and only July and August are actually dry.  That’s why we started doing the outdoor work on our bathhouse around the end of May; we wanted to take advantage of the dry weather while it lasted.  But now it’s done, and we’re back to the rain; I wanted to get the roof at least started by the end of September, but the difficulty of getting the roof materials delayed that past the beginning of autumn.  It looks like we’ve finally lined up a supplier for those parts, so we’ll be getting started on the trusses soon; they’re welded indoors in the shop, anyhow.  And once they’re ready, it’ll only take a few dry days to get everything in place, after which it won’t matter.

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Intermission

It’s been raining a lot lately, and we still haven’t found a place to get the roof purlins we need for phase 4 of the bathhouse project!  We’ve found a number of places that claim to have them, but they don’t have price lists online and appear disinclined to either answer their phones or reply to emails.  So even though there’s over a ton of steel tubing sitting in my garage and a fresh bottle of argon waiting for the welder, we still haven’t gotten started on the roof project yet.  So there will be a short break from bathhouse columns; they’ll be more sporadic for the next few months (there are a number of holidays and such on Fridays in November and December anyway), and then once we start making regular progress again I’ll go back to the weeklies for the duration of the project.  Stay tuned!

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Diary #537

I think I’m just about done processing apples for the year. There’s a gallon carboy of cider fermenting out in the garage, and three jars each of apple jelly and apple butter in the larder. That does not count the open jars in the refrigerator; when I make jam or jelly I put all of what’s in the pot into jars, even if the last one isn’t full enough to form a proper vacuum once they cool.  I then open the underfull jar the next day so we can sample the contents.  This way, I not only avoid waste, but also test the product to make sure it’s up to snuff.  Next year, I’d like to make about twice as much; considering that we should be finished the bathhouse project well before next harvest season, I think that’s doable.  See, the limiting factor isn’t really the amount of fruit, but rather the time and effort it takes to pick it, sort it, prepare it (pitting plums, coring apples, juicing, etc), and prepare the preserves.  Next year, I should even have enough fruit and time to do mincemeat.  And even though the pectin I extracted performed perfectly, I think next year I’ll just buy it; it was a lot of effort for just enough pectin to make 31/2 jars of apple jelly, and the animals seemed less enthusistic about eating the pomace which had been boiled than that which had merely been juiced.

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