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Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

Diary #552

I have never believed that special events necessarily require inviting a lot of people over; even when it’s just my family, I’ve always liked doing small special activities on certain nights or occasions.  Longtime readers may recall that I prepare a lot more feasts than most Americans do, all around the year, but I’m talking about even smaller and more frequent events, “micro-events” if you will.  For example, around the beginning of last autumn Chekhov proposed we do “Friday night movies”, in other words every Friday we watch some old horror or monster movie from the ’30s to ’70s, mostly from Universal, Hammer, Amicus, American International, etc; last Friday it was The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and our next will be X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.  Once Daylight Mismanagement ended we added “epic movie night” on Sunday, featuring 3-hourish type spectacles (recent picks include the three Lord of the Rings installments and Fiddler on the Roof).  This past Sunday was Spartacus, so I made pizza because that’s how I roll.  Not only are these micro-events fun, they also help family members to remember what day it is without the usual weekday/weekend factory/cubicle grind most folks rely upon to keep that straight.  We’ll truncate our epic movies once Daylight Mismanagement restarts in March, then suspend them completely once the days start to get long, because I’m just not in the mood to watch long movies with sunlight streaming in the windows.  But hey, that’s something to look forward to picking up again in the autumn.

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Diary #551

Since Sunset is very near an actual rain forest, we’re used to seeing a great deal of rain, especially in the winter.  But this year the rain went on for much longer and harder than expected until we finally got a respite starting Thursday afternoon.  We’d been feeding the animals in the barn since the rain started, so I took advantage of the break to feed them in the normal outdoor spots.  But Orville didn’t show when I called him, so the next morning I went to the barn to check on him and found the poor beast actually stuck in a hollow in the dirt floor he’d made into a nest.  He was squealing pitifully, clearly unable to get up, so I had to get behind him and push; that allowed him to get unstuck, but his left hind leg appeared to be “asleep” because he was very unsteady on his feet and kept almost toppling over.  But Chekhov and I kept watch on him for a while, and within an hour he was moving around much more normally.  He’s obviously a bit constipated, though, probably from being unable to move overnight, and I couldn’t get him to eat anything until Sunday morning, when he eagerly devoured half of a bagged salad Grace suggested I try on him.  He ambled about pretty well for a while, and sunned himself (lying on the opposite side) for most of the afternoon, as you can see.  So I had Chekhov pick up several of the bagged salads (on sale!), and he devoured them; I suspect he was instinctively seeking vegetables to clear up his issue, and it seems to have worked because he was making his usual rounds yesterday, even coming to the porch to beg for peanuts.  But if dealing with a constipated pig isn’t the perfect example of what #TheSexyNeverStops hashtag is for, I’ll be damned if I know what is.

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Diary #550

A few weeks ago, we were still seeing a few sunny days, as in this picture from mid-December.  But around the solstice the monsoons arrive, and we generally get very few breaks from the rain until late winter.  The animals spend most of their time in the barn, and we even feed them there because it’s too marshy to do anything else.  Last year, it was this heavy seasonal rain which made me realize the guest cottages should be part of the house complex, so nobody would have to go out in it unless absolutely necessary.  Well, this year I was glad for that decision, because it was especially heavy, and the main drainage ditch through the paddock looked like a small creek.  But at the end of last week we got a three-day break, conveniently falling just when I had to drive to Seattle to spend some time with Dr. Quest.  I’m not afraid of driving in the rain; after all, I grew up in south Louisiana.  But I don’t like driving in it; there are far too many bad drivers who are afraid, and behave foolishly as a result.  No, I prefer looking at my rain from a stationary vantage point inside of solid walls and a roof, preferably with a mug of tea in my hand.  And once we get the roof of the bathhouse complex in place, we won’t even need to get wet to go to the cottages or the shop.  Because if it’s too wet for pigs, ponies and llamas to be outside, it’s certainly too wet for me.

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Diary #548

What a lovely Christmas I had!  Everyone at Sunset seemed to like their presents; most of mine had something to do with cooking, including kitchen tools, cookbooks, etc.  Big Bertha here was Grace’s gift to me; I’ve wanted one like it since I was in high school (the mother of one of my school friends had one), and it wasn’t two hours out of the box when I was rolling out pie crusts with it.  Then on Sunday, I spent the afternoon rearranging my kitchen drawers to accomodate the new tools & utensils (#TheSexyNeverStops), and managed to get everything neater and more accessible than before.  In fact, I think I may at last have my kitchen the way I want it, and that gives me hope for my office.

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Diary #547

I just love seeing a big stack of presents under the tree! Some of these are those we’ve bought for each other, and some for friends coming over on Friday; some were sent for us in the post.  Dr. Quest sent me a big order of barbecue for my family; Rick Pettit sent goodies as well, but sweet ones.  And Jeremy Dunn sent me one of Vincent Price’s cookbooks, so I can make goodies on my own.  A couple of my other gents sent money, which is of course always appreciated, and I’ll be finishing the last of my own Christmas shopping today.  Then tomorrow I’ll be heading back to Sunset for the rest of the year, during which time I plan to spend the holidays doing as little as possible.  And the ability to do that is probably the best present of all.

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Bathhouse 26

At long last, we’ve finally got the last of our roofing materials.  The process has been far more difficult than it should have been; in Oklahoma, we had a choice of several local vendors and were able to quickly find and purchase what we wanted.  But here in Washington, the process was slow, confusing, and far more expensive than it had to be, and we eventually had to deal with three different vendors.  For this particular product (PBR panels, for those who understand the subject) we had to contract with a company in Tennessee to pick up the product in the Seattle area; my card was charged on October 29th, and when I had heard nothing about where or when to pick up our materials by November 30th, I called to inquire.  An email the next day told me that our order was ready and provided a tracking number, but still no address or phone number of the facility.  Yet another phone call was required to obtain those, but when I called the place they wanted a PO number rather than the tracking number I was given, and the clerk couldn’t find my order in the computer by name because the salesman misspelled it (despite my spelling it for him phonetically, more than once).  Finally they managed to locate it, and Chekhov took the trailer to pick it up.  And once we finally had it in hand, I could start the process of tracking down my promised refund of the shipping charge, which somehow mysteriously vanished between the order and my credit card.  As of this writing, I still don’t know what’s up with that, but even after I find it there’s no way I’m going to recommend this particular company to anyone else, even if I do think it’s due to the salesman being the owner’s son-in-law, ne’er-do-well nephew, or some other person unlikely to be fired merely because he’s startlingly incompetent.

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Homemaking

It’s strange to think it has already been four years since I decided to move my primary residence to Washington.  In the first week of December, 2016, I called Grace and proposed the idea to her; even after I pointed out the difficulties of the idea, her response was simply “I want to be with you.”  Just a month later we had already walked in this house and decided to buy it; here’s a brief timeline of the various steps I’ve taken to make it a home:

2016

December

Get list of properties from realtor

2017

January

First visit to Sunset

May

Sell OK property, buy Sunset

June

Preparation for move

July

First load to Sunset

August

Second load to Sunset

September

Third load to Sunset

October

Complete move
Redo plumbing

November

Unpack boxes

2018

January-July

Clean up and repair

August

French drain system

September

Install gutters

October

Patch outbuilding rooves

November

Clear fenceline

2019

January-June

Minor improvements

July

Plan floor leveling

August-September

Redo plumbing

2020

January

First set of bookcases

March

Begin floor leveling
Bookcases

April

Finishing bookcases

May

Install Grace’s floor
Install living room floor
Hot tub delivered
Initial bathhouse layout

June

Posts phase 1
Foundation for cottage #1
Build cottage #1

July

Finish cottage #1
Bathroom deck area
Inside ramp
Move paddock gate
Posts phase 2

August

Main deck area
Posts phase 3
Foundation for cottage #2
Preliminary wiring
Build cottage #2

September

Skirt cottages
Roof cottage #2
Wire cottages
Upgrade power cable

October

Stain cottages
Buy steel

November

Paddock ramp
Insulation under cottages
Wifi extension

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Diary #545

I’m getting much better at scheduling my in-town appointments as closely together as possible so as to minimize the amount of time I spend in Seattle.  Last week, I drove in on Tuesday afternoon; did some shopping with a friend; had a hair appointment at 11:30 Wednesday morning; had my nails done at 2:00; saw one of my favorite gentlemen at 4:30; then drove back to Sunset early Thursday afternoon.  At first I thought I might have to extend my trip by a day to do toy shopping (I’ve already received $600 and several purchased toys from generous donors), but the day before I left I discovered that the Toys for Tots collection center in Olympia is on the west side of town, near many other places I know well (doctor’s office, Trader Joe’s, etc).  So that means I can take my time buying toys this week, and I can deliver them a week from today when I take Grace to a doctor’s appointment just a few blocks away from the collection center.  Look for my usual picture of the haul next week!  And the week after that, I’ll make one last run into Seattle just before Christmas.

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Bathhouse 25

Last weekend, we made another “invisible” improvement.  As I’ve explained, this is a fairly old house by Washington standards (built in 1927), and it appears to have been entirely built by the owners at every stage of construction (including, obviously, the currently-ongoing project).  So we’ve often been confronted by head-scratching features (“Why the hell did they do that?”) that need to be fixed or worked around.  It is, however, quite solid; they definitely didn’t scrimp on the wood.  So when DSL was added by the previous owners, they brought the cable through the wall very near the breaker box, which is to say as far from the guest cottages as it’s possible to be while still inside the house.  So there was no way the wi-fi could reach all the way to the cottages, and even the repeater we bought just couldn’t get a good signal through all that distance and thick, solid walls; we could get a connection, but it was weak and balky.  So we decided to buy a 100′ outdoor ethernet cable to hard-wire the repeater; it arrived Saturday morning and we wasted no time.  We moved the router to the top of the bookshelf and drilled a hole in the ceiling to run the cable into the attic, discovering in the process that the cavity between living room ceiling and attic floor is much wider than expected; it took our longest drill extension to bridge the gap.  But bridge it we did, and I pulled the cable into the attic and ran it down the length of the house…only to find that there was a wall about a meter short of where Chekhov had drilled up into the laundry room ceiling.  Perplexed, I crossed the area in the picture (you can see the ethernet cable to the right of the picture) and pressed down on that fluffy insulation, revealing a rough opening barely large enough for my petite frame, and beyond it a crawlspace whose floor now featured a freshly-drilled hole.  After that, the rest was easy; the cable went down into the laundry room, down behind the dryer, out through a new hole to the exterior, under the deck behind the hot tub, and then over to the well room (where the repeater is plugged in).  It took a bit of doing to force the stupid thing to “see” the cable instead of trying to pull the signal from the air, but we finally got it to catch, and we now appear to have decent wi-fi in the cottages.  So that means there’s now water, electricity and data to the annex; unless they invent another vital utility, I think we’re done in that department for now.

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Diary #544

It’s always satisfying when one does something for the first time and it goes without a hitch.  When it came time to press my apples for juice, I knew I wanted to ferment most of it into cider so it would keep longer.  But when I tried to locate the instructions for doing so online, I discovered a lot of websites advising me to wash off all of my apples’ natural yeasts and introduce champagne yeast instead.  Given that people were making cider for millennia before fancy packaged yeast became commercially available, I knew that this was both overcomplicated and plain wrong.  So I kept searching and eventually found a site written by a woman with a small backyard orchard who gave me what I was looking for:  yes, there are already sufficient yeasts on the skin of raw apples to cause fermentation.  So after pressing my crop into juice, I simply filtered the debris out and put the juice into a clean glass carboy (like the one in the picture), put in a stopper fitted with an air lock, and placed it in the cool, dark pantry under the stairs.  The air lock allows the carbon dioxide produced by fermentation to escape without letting air in, and as the alcohol content of the cider increased it killed off any other bacteria that might be present.  After nearly two months, I decided on Thanksgiving that it was time to check out the results; since the foam seemed to have died down, I filtered the cider through cheesecloth to remove the top foam and precipitates, and transferred the result into a clean carboy.  The result?  A perfect balance of sweet and tart, with an alcohol content so smooth it didn’t even make my nose wrinkle up.  I had a big glass with my Thanksgiving dinner, and another the next day with leftovers; there is still some slight fermentation going on, because there’s a satisfying hiss of escaping gas when I unscrew the top.  My family likes it so much, I’m afraid it won’t last long.  But I bought a set of four carboys, so next year I’ll gather a lot more apples and make four times as much!

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