Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pie Art (Sigh)

Thinly sliced Pears.

Almond Cream Tart with spiced red and 
white wine poached pineapple quince.

Studio Progress

The insulation is going up in the ceiling. A plastic vapour layer will go up next and then the Pine planking.  It's going to be a Pine box (I know: bland) but it's inexpensive, natural and in balance with my home. Besides, once I do some decorating and my ladies move in there'll be lots of colour.

Early to bed / Early to Rise

Last night, thoroughly exhausted, I looked at my watch. It was 5:40 pm. I lasted another hour by sheer willpower then fell into bed at 6:30. I slept solid and deep with no concern for the Sheba pinecones I’d find in the morning. I was too tired to worry about anything.
I slept soundly until fourThen, the Sheba alarm went off, so I snapped into duty looking for pinecones, lighting the fire, fetching wood and feeding my family. 
The second water loss really got to me. That’s why I was so tired, I think.
Like a forest fire started by a smoker, running out of water because a cistern/well repairman screwed up is infuriating. Yesterday morning was horrid and it began at 3:30 am. My kitchen was full of dirty dishes from baking the cake the night before, and I couldn’t wash them. Plus it was a particularly bad morning for the pets: Sheba had left several pinecones and Fred was vomiting all over.
So Wednesday was off to a very shaky start. Plus my neck and hips hurt and I was pissed. This is the second time I’ve not had any water in the house.
My funk lasted an hour and then I came to my senses. I put on some nice “stay cool” jazz to keep me calm, stepped over the shredded running shoe, rawhide bones, torn socks, detached tool box latch and both pieces of my left flip-flop; I passed the puddle of pee in the dining room and went out under the bright shiny stars with a bucket and a dishpan and I fetched water from one of my rain water collectors. I boiled it, left some outside to cool and then mixed a nice sink full of clean warm water with which to wash the dishes.
I’ll pause while you take that in.
I am winning this game! And …. Wait for it: I used the grey dishwater to flush Sheba’s souvenirs away. When you’re paying half your pension for healthy dog food you don’t think about the fact that it’s going to wind up looking like pinecones on your dining room floor. Ah, the country life.
When Rod knocked on the door I screamed: “I’m getting my bullets.”
He’d left a breaker turned off but oh, sweet Jesus, the hot water felt good running through my fingers again. And the cistern switch is truly fixed; I checked. Now well water is drawn for two minutes of every hour into the cistern. I celebrated with a (thin) piece of chocolate cake and a long shower.
Darrel arrived with the new window for the studio. He put it in as you can see in the photo below. We vetoed the cork for the top half of my walls; what’s available is just too thin. So I suggested acoustic ceiling tiles. I want the upper walls to be material into which I can easily push pins to post my notes, drawings, photos, posters other memorabilia.
And Al turned up. He’s a classic BS-er — a blowhard who’s full of Self and his achievements. (He’s an actor; spare me.) His side business is cistern management; he’s putting in a gauge so I can know what the water level is in my cistern.
I’ve spent approximately $2,500 on my water system since I moved here — hiring inspectors and plumbers, buying 4,000 gallons of water and buying and installing expensive switches, gauges and filters. Next is a peroxide treatment. My cistern smells like old dirty diapers. Al says it’s due to bacteria coming from the well. The peroxide will shock-kill the bacteria,
But don’t worry (in case you are coming to visit): My ultraviolet filter (that Al services) works excellently. And I have three other filters as well so my drinking water has no odor and tastes sweet when it comes out of the tap.
Yesterday afternoon I finished raking up the forest detritus. I’m done with the yard now except for maintenance. The backlog of work caused by a year’s neglect is cleaned up.
Today Darrell starts insulating the roof and installing a vapor barrier and then he’ll start laying down the new Pine lumber lengthwise as the new ceiling. He’s going to build me shelves for my paper and all my art supplies. When I move in, one way or another, I am going to have a Studio Warming party.
My house is kept plenty warm by the fire. Sometimes if the fire is low and it’s 0° outside, I need to put on a sweater but I spend nearly every day in just a t-shirt. I keep the guest room doors closed and often my bedroom door too. Why heat unused rooms and I like a cool bedroom.
So my en-suite is cold. I leave its window open and I have my wine cooler in there because it stays cool on its own and doesn’t draw a lot of power. But … The previous owner had a heater put into the en-suite right above the shower. It’s on the wall and so I turn it on five minutes before I shower and my shower cubicle is toasty warm.
Today, for the first time in ages, I do not have to climb the cistern or fetch water.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Progress with the Studio

The window is in the east wall for morning light and
cross ventilation. 
This is looking west. There are two windows on the same
wall as the French doors.
This is the view of Pinecone Park out the new window.

Rod Must Die

I’m in a dark place at 3:30 am.
Fred is throwing up, I just picked up Sheba poo in two places and bloody Rod, who was here for a day installing the cistern switch, screwed up. Last night I ran out of water. I can’t shower, flush the toilets or do any dishes because he clearly has disconnected the generator that creates my water pressure. He’ll have to die. I called him and told him to be here at 9:00 sharp!
However, when I went out for wood I was truly gobsmacked by the sky. The stars must have moved a universe closer. It took my breath away to see how clear the sky was and how bright the shimmering stars were. It was truly a breathtaking sight.
We are not free or worldly concerns here in Pinecone Park. Monday night we had a terrorist but no one was injured. Both Sheba and I were just scared shitless by the noise. It was probably a raccoon or a feral cat; I found the hole and path it had dug under my fence.
Tuesday began at 3:30, the new normal, in the ink black of night here. Fetching wood from the shed I could hear the wind high up in the trees. I came back thinking how glad I was for the sound instead of traffic noise and mad, angry people spewing their hate. And then, back inside, I heard the sound of a downpour on the tin roof.
Rainy days are rather dull. Sheba and I can’t play outdoors. And yesterday there was no Darrell for distraction. We were on our own all day. I raked the side and front yard but Sheba chose to stay indoors.
I started playing with the cats and it was wonderful to notice encouragement of my affection. Ethel was asleep on the couch and there’s something about her that I adore, so I sat down and started stroking her. But every time I’m affectionate with her, Fred comes over and jumps up and bites Ethel, not hard, in the neck. It’s easy to read his action as jealousy, but who knows. It is, however, a pattern. So yesterday morning I picked Fred up and held him and stroked him and he stayed and purred and loved it. That was a first.
While playing Chase The String with F & E on my bed I started crying because I learned the game that they love so much from Leon. I just stopped moving, closed my eyes and quietly cried, covering my mouth as I did. And when I opened my eyes several seconds later, all three of my beloved pets had moved close and were looking directly up at me. It’s likely the weird breathing, but it moved me and brought me back to being happy.
I raked the entire front yard while Rod was sabotaging my water system. I left picking up the piles of garden detritus until today because I decided to make a cake. That way, I can eat it and still have enough to share with Dwight when he comes on Friday for the weekend.
In 1984 I was asked to be the stage manager for a show I didn’t like. I was a play about gay men with a long nude scene and it seemed insincere and exploitative to me. But I needed work and they’d cast a guy in the role of Kink (who did the nude scene) who I thought was a nice — and he was handsome, too, so I took the job.
On the first day of rehearsal “Kink” and I had lunch together and I told him he was the reason I’d signed on. “Kink” was Dwight and we’ve been best buddies ever since. He came to live with Steve and I for five years.
And although I’m the older one, he often feels like the wiser big brother to me. He’s just brilliant about people and life, he’s beautifully passionate about aspects of industrial design (chairs in particular) — especially Canadian design and he’s kind, ethical and we laugh often and easily together. Best of all is I can tell in everything about him that he likes my company.
I bought the coolest thing today via mail order. I’m going to hang it high up on the end of my shed that faces the entrance to my yard. It’s totally useless and silly and wonderful. You’ll have to wait to know what it is until it arrives and I take a photo.
Darrell is back today and his plan, I think, is to start insulating and putting up the vapor barrier. And it’s going to be a gorgeous day. Now … I wait for water.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Good News

Rob is coming to visit. I have a massive crush on him; I shouldn’t but I do. He’s straight but he’s very affectionate with me and because I trust him so, I enjoy his human touch very much. He is kind and dealing with a serious disease as I am and so we find comfort in each other. He’s a crazy and kind man; that’s why I love him.
Thank God for the healing power of sleep. My neck pain is slowly getting better. Sunday afternoon and evening it was so bad it made me feel sick to my stomach and I worried about how I would cope with the animals Monday. But I can move around without the severe shards of pain now.
My blog is called Notes from Pinecone Park now. Did you notice? I began the blog as Chris Walks in April 2013 to record my sojourns and that is what it did for quite a while — that and post photos I took. But it evolved to chronicle all my activities as my interests in life changed: My baking and baking courses; my paper dresses and their script, Armour: The Defiant Dress and the emergence of C-PTSD, its symptoms and how I deal with them. Now it’s about island living.
My fence is covered in birds. They take turns at the perch so the fence is where they line up. There are scores of them at once. They’re at the suet and the seeds; its hypnotizing non-stop action and now its super easy to feed them.
Leave a drawer slightly ajar — it’ll be emptied. Leave a sewing kit on a table: Pushed onto the floor and emptied. All bags will be shredded and emptied. Bugs: Killed! Toilet paper unsecured will be unraveled. Paper towels too. Wires? Are they not for chewing? Something missing? Fred has taken it somewhere. If it smells, it’ll be investigated with vigor. You should see Fred take off with bags of food, a shoe, flower bulbs … anything really. Yesterday he was dragging my entire pie across the counter to crash it onto the floor.
And they race around. Not only that: These slight, lithe, beautiful and graceful creatures somehow sound like Elephants when they run.
And then they tire and curl up together by the fire and I think they are the sweetest living things on earth and I adore them. It turns out that “Fred” and “Ethel” were good names choices. They feel like a perfect fit to me.
And last night, awakened by Sheba for a pee at 1:30 am, I was delighted to find us all sleeping in the same room. Fred was in Sheba’s bed. Sheba was under my bed and Ethel was curled up in the clothes I left on the dresser.
My goal yesterday was simple: More yard work. I burned a ton of twigs and branches from the property and dumped wheelbarrows full of pine needles, rocks and wood too wet to burn into the woods behind my fence. My back/neck pain came back with a vengeance when I started raking so a rest today is in order.
As for professional progress here at Pinecone Park: Rod is coming with the new cistern switch today so today my manual well duties end (with luck). Darrell and his invisible partner (his wife Elaine who is accounts receivable and head of research) are in Nanaimo on a scouting mission for materials for both the studio and the sunroom. And I’ve called a fellow about installing the wood stove.  
And I’ve ordered a whack of things:
  • some solar spotlights that I’ll use to light up parts of Pinecone Park.
  • coat racks for the house
  • a floor lamp for the house
  • a sofa bed for the studio
  • a rug and two chairs for the studio
  • and a coffee table for the studio

And then, because we’re on puppy time, we went to bed at 8:30.  It’s like camping.