Thursday, June 16, 2016

Housiversary: Scattershot Photo Edition

The traditional Housiversary meal now includes ibuprofen
The new screen frame, as it was when I got home
The frame with clamps applied to bow the frame so the screen will be tight   

Who can expect me to concentrate on labor when there are raspberries nearby?

Close to finished: note washers!
Call me crazy but I adore that Scott used these ancient wire brads on this project. 

Putting in the hook and eye
What I call the Vermeer: corner of the living room featuring the two newly screened windows

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Housiversary 2016, Text Version

Truly vintage Bethlehem Steel wire brads used in this year's project
Today is Housiversary meaning that it was seven years ago that I got the keys to the house and met Scott here after work to look over the place as its, well, indentured servants. We had Doritos and cheap sparkling. I decided "just to see" how hard it would be to rip out the carpets and some hours later we were lugging the nasty old things down to the garage. Scott had, as I recall, managed to get a couple of windows that had been painted shut for decades to open. I may have solved the mystery of the sconces by the time we left as well. It was an auspicious start to our happy years of seemingly endless labor and unending reward chez Aurora.

 This year, lamentably, I had to spend most of the day at work and I need to be there bright and early tomorrow so Scott did most of the work on this year's project on his own and we aren't staying up late doing anything. (Some years back it was already getting dark when one of us, most likely me, said, "Hey, what do you think about starting to install all this used cork flooring we've had sitting around for the last couple of years?" I'm sure the neighbors appreciated when we stopped hammering in the wee sma's.) The 2016 project was/is window screens. After spending far too much on crappy screen kits from the hardware store, Scott figured out how to make fabulous old-fashioned screens for our fabulous old-fashioned sash windows. A fancy new dowelling jig was required, as well as a few other bits and bobs, but we were able to reuse the old screen material and of course the newly purchased wood was painted in the house green. We painted the wood over the weekend, and while I was at work today, Scott assembled the frames (the dowelling jig is his new favorite toy, I do believe), and put in some washers to hold the frames in place. (He's a darned clever craftsman, is our Scott.)

After I got home, we got down to adding the screen material, covering up the staples with some cosmetic strips of wood, adding hooks and eyes, and installing them in the window frames. (When I say "we," of course, I mostly mean Scott.) We've done only two thus far, and they need some caulking and touch-up, but I swear I heard Aurora breathe, "Finally . . ." as I looked at the first one in place. They look like they belong on an old beach bungalow. What higher praise can there be?
The final installation

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Arts, Literary Mostly

It is, officially, crazy hot in Seattle this weekend. It’s weeks before the official start of summer and I’ve already been shifting a sprinkler about from corner to corner of the backyard, “accidentally” becoming quite soaked while moving it out to the front-40 half an hour ago. Not only are there raspberries at the Farmers Market, there are also ripe raspberries in the backyard. Not enough to satisfy my gluttony but still, it’s crazy to have raspberries the first week of June. It’s not clear what Gradka thinks of it all; she may think it’s a little much. Or maybe she thinks it’s nice to have the proper conditions for lounging on her lounger.

None of which is so much “the arts.” No, last week, when it was not quite so hot, we biked to Queen Anne to see Kedi which was playing as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. Kedi, for those too wrapped up in this narrative to click the link, is a Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. It seems there are—and have been for some centuries—a lot of street cats in Istanbul. It was ever so slightly political since rampant development means less space for cats, but for the most part the film celebrates the cats and the people who care for them—and there seem to be a lot of people who care for the street cats. One person, a baker, casually mentions that “we all have accounts with  the vets in the neighborhood.” He mentions this as he’s applying an egg wash to some delicious-looking pastries while a cat minds its own business under a nearby counter. Possibly it was the lack of worry about health regulations that charmed me most about this film.

That’s not true. What truly moved and charmed me, possibly beyond the cats themselves, was the attitude of the people interviewed. A fisherman connects the cats to God’s love and where you would expect him to say that he cares for the cats because that’s what God would want he instead says that the fact that he gets to know these cats is a demonstration of God’s love for him. Or something like that. Trust me when I say it’s better in the film. And trust me also when I say that if you like cats, you should make an effort to see this documentary. It was fabulous.

Also fabulous was Book-It Theatre’s production of The Brothers K (Strike Zones). We went to see the doubleheader performance (in which you get Part I, aka “Strike Zones” in the afternoon and Part II, The Left Stuff, in the evening). We’d never been to a Book-It production before and the narration, which I assume is part of all their shows though that is just an assumption, took some getting used to. Once you accept it, however, it works brilliantly—at least if you are me and really love the way Mr Duncan writes. And Part 1, which takes you up until Irwin is drafted, is truly a thing of beauty. Oh, Scott was not as enraptured as I was, but even he thought it was pretty darned fine. The acting is excellent and the adaptation, while very episodic, was pretty darned flawless. I cried more than once and laughed a lot more than I cried. It was excellent, from start to finish, though I admit I left the theatre saying, “I need a drink.”

 So we spent the long interval having that drink, and also dinner, at Solo and then coffee at CaffĂ© Ladro and then browsed briefly at Mercer Street Books before settling back into our seats at the theatre. Part II was, unfortunately, not nearly so fine. It’s the same actors so it wasn’t the acting—though I think there were more fumbled lines in the second half and I’ll just bet that acting in five hours of theatre is more challenging than watching it—and I know that the story of the second half of the book is plenty compelling so I’m not sure what exactly was the issue. Scott, who thinks about these things differently—and more intelligently—than I do, suggested that it was too plot-driven, that character development completely disappeared in the second half. I’d add that some plot threads—the mother’s backstory, mostly—were so threadbare in this telling that it would make a lot more sense to jettison them entirely. Some bits were so hacked that the story as presented on stage made no sense unless you could fill in the holes with what you remember from the book. Sadly, the horror and tragedy of the second half of the book just wasn’t present in the second play which, after the expectations built up from Part I, was particularly disappointing.  That first part, however, was amazing. Get your tickets and go see it!

 Reading, after finally finishing the tedious I Am A Cat, has mostly been A Tree Grows In Brooklyn which turned out to be a completely different book than I expected. I’d always assumed it was sort of a 20th century Little Women in the City sort of book written for twelve-year-old girls. It turned out to have more adult themes and some pretty darned clever humor and observations. Maybe people were just more clever in those olden times of the mid-twentieth century--and, having looked for links, I see that people do consider this appropriate for twelve-year-olds. I must have been a more sheltered child. Up next, most likely, a one-off Trollope, the title of which entirely escapes me as I sit typing this up in the shade of the magnolia out back. A challenge of outdoors blogging is spiders; I've had them crawling across my camera, my screen, and my person. But no sacrifice is too great for blahdeblahblah. And there are compensations.
Cucumber martinis