Monday 8 September 2008: Our Computer Crashed

So our computer was acting kind of funny, but we didn’t think much of it because don’t they always?  But then things got worse, and the computer itself actually warned us that a crash of the hard drive was imminent.  Daniel saved what he could before things started really deteriorating, whereupon we took the hard drive to Best Buy, where it promptly flatlined.  We are intermittently checking email at the library and at Ann and Ben’s house, which we call Nana’s Internet Café.


All that to say, I am behind on blogging.  But I am doing just swimmingly at writing short stories (on my laptop), which I have been going at as a sort of part-time job, albeit with no pay as of yet.  I’ve been aiming for about twenty hours a week and pretty much getting it.  I’m enjoying writing these stories.  One gets to the end so quickly.  But this week I must spend some time on the novel, as I want to take some pages of it to the next meeting of the CCA, which I will attend in person.  I am hoping to drive to Denton on a quarterly basis or so, to keep in touch with my writer friends there.


The house is coming along nicely.  We could be moved in as early as the first of October.  At that point we will have only studs for walls and no flooring or cabinets, but we will have exterior walls, a roof over our heads, plumbing, and electricity.


For most of this summer, which has certainly been no cooler than usual, our family has gotten by with very little air conditioning.  Before we moved I was usually running it for a little while in the afternoons, as well as at night, but since we came south I must have gotten more acclimated to the heat, because we now run our window units only at night or when company comes over.  It is really not that bad.  You sweat a lot initially, and then you adjust.  And fans really do make a big difference.


One nice thing about using little or no air conditioning is that when a breeze comes, or a cooling rain, or a hint of fall, you revel in it as in some exquisite luxury, as indeed it is.


I am really pumped about this reduced air conditioning deal.  It is just one more thing to help us to our goal of living debt-free.


I always feel that once I make it to the first of September, summer loses its grip.  Yes, I know we will have many more 100-plus-degree days before fall begins in earnest, but the character of the heat seems different to me.  Even at the end of August, I see hints of the change of season in the yellowing and dropping of the leaves—no doubt caused by heat and lack of rain, but a kind of foreshadowing, nevertheless.  Most likely a cold front, or at least a cool front, will occur sometime this month.  It is a pleasant thing to look forward to.


Right now Greg is using a grinder—the same one Daniel uses for knives—to remove rust and old paint from the outside of a salvaged claw-foot tub.  Once the surface is smooth, he will prime it, then paint it green.  It will be a handsome fixture in our bathroom.


Bridget, my little Sheltie, got a thorough bath the other day.  I started by placing her on the picnic table and laying her on her side.  With the slicker brush, I removed loose clumps of the soft undercoat that doesn’t do Shelties any good in the summer, especially in Texas.  I also used a letter opener to remove the doggy dreadlocks that form so easily on collie types.  All this took a long time.  My little dog really does not like heights, and she doesn’t care for extensive brushings either.  She bore it all with the calm of despair.  Anna sat on the opposite bench of the picnic table, holding Bridget’s head and preventing her from making a break for it.


Ready was sent inside, as his hovering presence made Bridget nervous.  In his absence, and in Bridget’s state of temporary incapacitation, the outdoor cats sauntered brazenly into the yard.  The matriarch, Shirley, went so far as to come close to the picnic table and rise up on her back paws to get a better look at the fettered dog.  Bridget could only growl hollow threats.


After thoroughly brushing my dog on both sides, I stood her up, wet her with the hose, and soaped her thoroughly.  Then I rinsed her, covered her with an herbal vinegar infusion, and rinsed her again.  I rubbed her with a towel and let her complete her drying time indoors, lest she roll in the dirt like last time.  Once she was dry, she looked beautifully clean and fresh.


Using the picnic table made doggy bathtime a lot easier on my back.


That same week, Anna got her first real haircut.  She donated ten inches of her thick, luxurious hair, and ended up with a beautifully shaped shoulder-length cut that feels much cooler and is easier to put up.  Daniel regarded Anna’s haircut as a personal betrayal, but he is mostly over it now.  I cut Emilie’s, Daniel’s, and my own hair myself, and gave Greg an over-the-ears trim.


After a hiatus of two and a half months, I have started up my sourdough again, and this morning I made three loaves of bread.  Prior to our move I put my starter into dormancy, and I kept it there until a few days ago.  Our ant problem was severe during our first weeks in this house, and I didn’t want to risk ruining my starter with little anty-bodies.  Also the oven here does not heat true to its temperature dial.  But the ant population is under control now, and I have pretty much figured out the oven’s vagaries, so I decided to go for it.  The result was good.  The crusts are a little tough, but the bread cooked properly all the way through without burning, so I call that a success.  Ounce for ounce this is probably the cheapest bread I make, as the only ingredients are freshly milled flour, coarse sea salt, and filtered water.  As Daniel is able to consume one loaf by himself over the course of a day, this is an important consideration.


Recently I ordered a case of Fels Naptha soap from Soaps Gone By, a web business that specializes in old-fashioned soaps.  Unless you have gotten into poison ivy, Fels Naptha is not to be used on your person; it is a laundry and cleaning soap with many handy applications.  Grated, melted, and mixed with borax and washing soda, it makes a petroleum-free liquid laundry soap, which I am eager to try.

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