Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Operating the Crane

Today some contractors will descend upon the house to install our new heat pumps, one on the ground just outside the sun room, and one on our second-story flat roof, and for that they'll need a crane.

A crane.

I can think of nothing I'd rather do than sit in the cab of a big crane and pull the levers to move a fat and heavy air conditioner from the ground up into the air, suspended probably by straps and not chains, way up, over the edge of the roof and gently down. Beautiful.

The crane's operator almost certainly will be a man (unfortunately, because I would pay double just to see a woman to do this, and triple if she would wink at me, just once, in the process).

Yes, this guy will be very serious about his job, and he will find one excuse after another to explain why I am not allowed to operate or even sit inside the crane. He will persist even after I point out that I technically am the boss. He will explain that he could lose his crane license, etc., and so there is really no reason to bribe him. Please, sir, he will say, please step away from the crane.

We'll see...


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Pagoda

Looking ahead, my next big project is taking shape. It was Cheryl's idea to begin with, and now I am obsessed with it. I'm going to build a sort of Chinese/Japanese pagoda/tea house in the back yard, with a curved roof, though not as curved as the one pictured below.

It will go in the currently overgrown and wild north corner of the yard, a place in perpetual shade from the neighbor's huge oak tree and from the countless Florida scrub tree that have popped up on our side of the fence and that have been spared from the chain saw because they hide two ugly buildings from view: the neighbor's guest house on one side and the other neighbor's garage.

So, my first step will be to put up a big fence to hide these ugly concrete toads from view--probably a ten-foot fence. And then I'll clear out the area. It's so hard to walk around back there now that I'm not actually sure how much room I'll have for the pagoda.

I'm in the learning phase now. I've always wondered about those Asian buildings with the curved roofs. Why would they go to so much trouble to perk up the corners of the roof when a straight line is so much easier to create? And why, as I'm now learning, are pagodas some of the oldest structures on earth, surviving earthquakes when other buildings simply crumble? And doesn't the curve seem backward, sagging in the middle instead of arching up like a bridge?

Apparently the secret is in the curve, and there's a mathematical formula for it. How very cool.

More later...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Almonds On Toast

I realize now that I have difficulty thinking outside the box and that this difficultly, considering my age, will never really go away. Even when the end wonderfulness of a thing is so simple and easy to see, I can't easily get beyond conventional wisdom, in particular today, about what should and should not be placed on top of toast.

Starting from an absolute, it's easy to set up a logical framework to reveal the possibilities because anything that can be eaten at all can also be eaten on top of toast. Eggs can go on toast. Milk can be poured on toast. And so on. Then it is just a matter of considering one possibility after another and not be held back by the traits of conventional and typical toast toppings, like stickiness, which is highly overrated in my opinion.

And yet, even though I eat toast almost daily, and even though I eat roasted almonds almost daily, I had not ever (until just moments ago this morning) put any roasted almonds on a dry piece of toast.

Of course, I had eaten toast and almonds before, in rapid succession, maybe even within a few seconds of the other, but I never knew the unexpectedly wonderful taste of almond toast, with both ingredients entering the mouth at once, in perfect harmony, like a pleasantly dry and crisp peanut butter sandwich but without that annoying gooey mess that glues tongue to teeth.

A negative person would complain about the tendency of almonds to fall off of the toast, but that person would not be me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Entropy, On Holiday

I'm officially on break from projects, but I see the need to fix things in all directions.

By looking closely at the doors and base boards, I've been able to reconstruct the mindset of the previous owners. We know that they were in a hurry to leave--a family emergency--and I can see evidence of what happened in those final days before we first came to see the house (and bought it a few days later), of what shortcuts they took, and the order in which those shortcuts were taken. The end result (and not the most serious one) is that almost everything needs to be repainted.

Coincidentally, in the meantime I'm reading a book about physics and the nature of the universe, which is thought to be in perfect symmetry and is considered to be in a permanent state of entropy, sometimes referred to as chaos.

So how can chaos be so symmetrical? I hadn't really considered this before.

Human beings have a common sense of what it means to be clean and orderly, to create things that are symmetrical in form and consistent in purpose. But order requires constant work. Things eventually need to be repaired or replaced or painted or varnished, clean floors will not stay clean, dishes will pile up in the sink, clothes will need to be washed again.

The universe likes disorder, and to get in sync Cheryl and I would need to move back into the woods, sleep in the trees, quit wearing clothes and eat beetles or whatever comes along. (I would consider it, but Cheryl probably would not.)

Even if I do a perfect job repainting the doors and base boards, it will last only a certain limited amount of time before someone needs to do it again. That's OK--there's no excuse for doing a crappy job. I'm not interested in how the universe feels about my projects.