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Here’s how much brush we’ve cleared:

Grill building (we bought this last week, before we knew our kitchen was going away- good thing it has a side burner!)

Sweater finishing and blocking – it’s still damp in these photos:

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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These show the temporary “kitchen” we’ve set up downstairs as well as where the upstairs one used to be, and the removed section of deck.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Last night we signed the contract and scanned and sent it to the general contractor (GC). However, we gave the key to the contractor once we had a verbal agreement with him, since it’s hard to know how often we’ll be able to get down here – we were here at the lake last week, as I wrote, and came back this weekend to finish clearing downed branches and clear up a few more. We got to the house tonight – I’ll be working from home tomorrow.

Then we walked inside ….. and found they had put down a paper mat from the front door all the way up the stairs, left a couple ladders down in the garage, knocked down the back deck where the kitchen will expand into that space, and packed up most of our kitchen …. into unlabeled boxes.

There was no part of the contract that said they’d do any packing for us – and I certainly don’t want to pay for it! We did tell them we needed advance notice for what needed to be packed by the, but wouldn’t you think they give us a rough schedule first? And maybe add a few notes to say what’s in which box?

This isn’t really a bad thing: it’s not like they’re invading the house we actually live in. And I’d rather have a contractor eager to get started than one that didn’t show up. Plus, given our previous difficulties in finding a contractor, we are going to be Very Positive in talking to them about this. But still … wtf??

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Very nearly ready to go! I got a call yesterday that the permit is complete, and and email that the contractor updated the contract per our comments and it’s ready for us to sign. We either need top print, sign, scan and email back, or else sign it in person when we’re there this weekend. Apparently it’s a week until the excavator can get there, then it’s time to break ground!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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We’re back at the lake for the first time since just before the record snows that hit this area in late February. Thee are downs trees and branches everywhere – beside the road, in piles in front of neighbors’ houses, and of course in our yard. We were able to get here early enough yesterday to spend Friday evening with saws in hand, cutting off broken branches and cutting up fallen ones. We spent today moving the boats out the the garage because …. drumroll …. the building permit for our renovation is supposed to be ready Monday and the general contractor is working on the contract, revising it from our comments. With any luck, our long awaited renovation could kick off before the end of this month.

I am in fact having a hell of a birthday month (I mean that in the best way). My birthday was Sunday; birthday week commenced Wednesday with my annual employee review when I learned I’m getting a promotion (same job, bumped up one grade with concomitant substantial raise and stock grant), then the same night I went out for drinks with colleagues (after a couple days of project planning meetings and left after an hour to meet Ted at the tax accountant’s where we learned that we did guess right about how much extra cash to withhold for taxes, so we’re getting a refund, not having to pay. For next year we just need to fine tune it so we get a smaller refund instead of loaning money to the government.

Then Thursday morning we got on a plane and headed to Yellowknife, in northern Canada to fulfill one of my few remainingg bucket list items. We succeeded – we saw the Norther Lights on two of our three nights there and took some fantastic photos. I’ll have to go post those from Ted’s computer; I did get a few on my iPhone but the ones on our DSLR and GoPro are way better. Unfortunately there were some issues with the tour company we booked a package with, notably the part where they contacted us less than a week before the trip and said, essentially, “we made a mistake and you need to send us a lot more money”. We eventually got that resolved; they ate a little of the discrepancy and we covered some by giving up on the daytime activities that had been booked that we didn’t care much about – we didn’t want the days too booked up anyway since we’d be up most of the night. They also picked us up half an hour later than stated on both nights we went out with them. They also booked us in a SUper8 way out on the uninteresting side of town for no apparent reason – everyone else on our tours was in downtown hotels. I’ve given them a scathing review on Trip Advisor, though I did note the guide was friendly and helpful and the cold-weather gear they rented us was great.

THe two nights we successfully saw northern lights were “aurora hunting” – they drive you to a few locations, mostly on the Ice Road across the Great Slave Lake, in order to find a spot with clear skies and visibility. The middle night we went to “Aurora VIllage”; they served us an excellent dinner, but then there wasn’t much to do. They have warm teepees with hot drinks for taking warm-up breaks and dark hills for viewing, but the sky was just too cloudy and there wasn’t much else to do, after we’d walked around and seen the place, but either stand out in the cold or roast by the fire. I suppose that’s probably a glimpse into early life in the North, but I’m sure people would have had a lot more work to keep them busy (and of course wouldn’t have been awake in the middle of the night). I’ve reviewed them on TripAdvisor too, and suggested having storytellers in the tents for when there’s nothing to see or people need to come in and warm up.

There were some delays on the way home but otherwise things went smoothly.

So far a great month! Here’s hoping my luck continues and the renovation kicks off soon and goes relatively smoothly!

Garage cleared out and ready for expansion:

Finally back at the lake!

Aurora photos on iPhone:


Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I forgot to take photos before we cleared some stuff out of the garage; we removed kayak paddles and paraphernalia that were on the kayak rack, oars, and a windsurfing board and wood that had been stashed on that ceiling rack you can see in the photo of the rowing shell end of the garage. Otherwise, it is as-was this morning. There’s a dumbwaiter in the middle of the boat-side walk that is unusable at present because of the rowing shells; it would be useful for transporting groceries upstairs – if we could get a car on the garage.



And here is the kitchen. Beautiful cabinets and plenty of counter space, but nowhere to store food.


Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Here we go! We have a general contractor (GC) lined up to do the Big Scary Remodel we’ve been discussing for years. This is a two story house addition for the lake house, of the garage and the kitchen above it. The hardest parts of this have been lining up the GC — they’ve all been crazy busy the last few years — and just making the decision to spend this much money. Assuming we stick to budget (ha!) it will cost just under what we paid for the entire townhouse we live in, and more than either of the other two houses we’ve owned (both bought before housing prices skyrocketed in the 2000s, though).

We are expanding the garage (it’s a tandem one and we’re lengthening it) because we have a bunch of boats in it (kayaks and rowing shells) and would like to get a car in too. Also Ted does his woodworking in there and has been getting space limited. Above it we are likewise expanding the kitchen, because the one we have now is nice to look at and nice to cook in, but has no place to store food. Also, though we have a great deck, there’s nowhere to sit inside and enjoy the lake view when the weather is too crappy to sit outside, so the expanded kitchen will include a breakfast area by the big windows. I think we’ll mostly end up heating here, rather than in the dining room. Ted (and his parents, when they or we are visiting) tend to linger over meals until I get tired of sitting at a table, so my goal here will be to find the most comfortable chairs I can. I like hanging out and talking, just not sitting upright at a table. Once everything is back in place after the remodel, assuming we aren’t impoverished, I may also get club chairs and a lower table to put in the great room area, which currently holds only a library table, plus two low bookshelves flanking a china cabinet. That area may be more comfortable for me to sit and read and knit on rainy or cold afternoons … and maybe I can lure people from the table to there after dinner.

It has been difficult, deciding to do this. There were cheaper alternatives to reach some of our goals: we could turn the great room into a seating area by just buying furniture (which I will probably do anyway, as mentioned above), and turning a niche in the dining room into a small pantry. But this is the house we plan to move into as soon as we retire and live there until we can’t anymore, in addition to spending weekends there in the nearer term. I think we will get a lot of pleasure out of these additions. I’ll get a second oven for holiday meal cooking and a better stove. The current kitchen only allows either a cabinet-depth or a quite small fridge, so this will let us have a normal one. We’ll replace the formica counters with something prettier.

I am liking working with this contractor too; we wanted a carriage door into the garage, because an overhead door cuts into the boat storage space, but those are very expensive so we’d settled on a roll-up door. He’s found us a wood roll-up door, which should look a lot better than a metal one while still not taking up too much overhead space. He’s also found that it’s possible to match the beautiful wood flooring we currently have in the kitchen and great room – we hadn’t thought that was doable, so we were going to go with tile. I think the wood will feel better underfoot, be softer for when we drop things, and give a warmer look to the space, which is important on gray Oregon days.

I will try to get some good as-is photos when we’re there this weekend, so I can document the whole process. Now, off to draft the most tactful email I can to the contractor we didn’t pick.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I originally wrote the following as a comment on Tor.com, but realized they might not appreciate a paean to a Disney/Hyperion author!

One thing I have really enjoyed in Rick Riordan’s books is watching how each new series takes a step forward in diversity. (I think his various demigod training camps fit the boarding school trope fairly well.) The first Percy Jackson book focused on a cis/het white guy, and though there were characters of color, their skintones didn’t really seem to influence their experiences. But then the Kane Chronicles split the POV between a biracial sister and brother pair; the Heroes of Olympus series included a canonically gay major character and the POV is split between *six* characters, male and female, whose various ethnicities have shaped their characters; the Magnus Chase books have a homeless kid and a literally genderfluid character, and the Trials of Apollo has a bisexual MC (who implies that all gods are bisexual because eternity is too long to limit yourself!).

All of this in MG books, without any romance progressing further than a kiss. (Well, maybe some of Apollo’s, but those are only mentioned in passing and occur deep in his past, not in present events.)

Further, he’s now using his celebrity to publish books in other mythologies, by authors who are part of those cultures. I have great respect for Riordan, for his openness to learning and growing and for his willingness to use his privilege to smooth the way for others. (I do wish he’d write and publish more, but given that I’ve just listed five series of 3-5 books all written in about 15 years, I suspect he’s just tired!)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Field trip

Jan. 5th, 2019 10:29 pm
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Just about every time I go someplace on public transit, I see big groups of teenagers: girls, boys, mixed groups. Sometimes I also see them walking around the city. Today I went on a “field trip“ with a bunch of other knitting friends to visit a couple of fabric stores, have lunch, and just generally walk around a cool part of town, 7 of us in total. I’d describe us as more or less middle-aged (I’m the youngest, only one other is still working, with the rest being young retirees plus one visiting MIL who must be in her mid-to-late 70s – who was one of the faster walkers in the group). Everywhere we went, on buses and in stores people reacting to us as though they just weren’t used to seeing large groups of adult women. The bus driver laughed, people in stores said “wow, where do you come from? as if we were led by a tour guide with a sign. Do grown-ass women just not generally move in packs?

It was a lot of fun. Nobody bought fabric except some ribbon, but one shop had amazing Liberty of London prints – last time I saw that many I was actually in the Liberty store in London. We ended up having lunch at a Thai place that’s one of the most popular in Portland (Pokpok) with legendary long lines – but was empty at lunchtime. And we visited Citizen Ruth, where I debated between buying RBG earrings (but didn’t, because I have long hair and I don’t think the tiny images of her face would be visible), bracelets with sayings like Feminist as Fuck, and so on. (I did buy a couple items that will probably become gifts.)

On the way home I stopped and bought milk that is pasteurized but not ultrapasteurized for tomorrow’s adventure, making mozzarella with the cheese-making kit I got for Christmas. I started a batch of sourdough artisan bread dough yesterday, so I can have some of it with a loaf of that – or be nice and save it for when Ted comes back from the business trip he’s on.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Books read: lots – I’ve never had much desire to keep track, though I’m occasionally curious to know how many I’ve read in a year. I’d guess somewhere between 100-250, but can’t say more exactly.

Knitting projects: 15 completed – 5(!) sweaters, two shawls, two hats (both gifts), 3 pair socks, a few other things. One sweater and one pair of socks in work, plus a cowl with a few rows in the yarn of each project.

Rowing: 1,328,398 meters for the year. (Not bad.) Of those, only 87,518 meters were on actual water (Not good.) and the rest on the rowing machine. 231586m were during the Holiday Challenge.

Add in work, the French Polynesia trip for our 25th anniversary, work, the trip for my GFIL’s 100th birthday, work, and a fair bit of cooking, plus a few other weekend trips (Yakima for my birthday, the knitting retreat at our lake house, Cannon Beach in September), a work trip to AZ where I got to meet up with old friends, another to TX to speak at a conference, and more work, and you pretty much have my year there.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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