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Yesterday was all finishing day. Some parts were getting finish applied, others were in sanding. I was working both tasks trying to make the best of the day … especially the sun which taunted and tricked me. When it was very cloudy I started applying finish in the barn, when it got sunny I brought all the parts out … then it got really cloudy again … I was sure rain was coming … so I carried all the parts back in (carefully – one by one because by now they were coated with finish that was drying) … then of course the sun came out and stayed out most of the day. But I was very content because I managed to finish all the parts of the lower kitchen cabinet.

Today started off with self inflicted suffering. I woke up to clear sky and the sun came out. I wanted to make the most of the day so I headed out earlier then usual when everything was still frosted. I dressed up really well (full set of fleece undergarments + thick socks + two layers of gloves) … and I started working … and my hands started to get cold … I continued assuming they would get warm … then my hands started hurting … I insisted some more … until I couldn’t anymore … I ran inside practically in tears with pain and did everything I could to get my hands warm. It took a few minutes and the pain subsided … it’s too cold to work outside too early in the morning … a warm-able workshop would have been so useful … but alas.

So I waited indoors. I made another cup of tea and began to clear the space where later in the day I would assemble the cabinet. Then I headed out and began to work in two stations again. One station was the final sanding and then applying finish to the shelves above the cabinet. The other was final finishing in preparation for assembly of the lower cabinet. Finishing, even the mediocre quality I strive for, takes up much time and space! In the 1st station I had to sand with fine grit, then clean with a damp cloth to raise the grain, then sand again and only then to apply finish. In the 2nd station I was sanding with extra-fine grit and then to run a polisher-pad with the power sander (at least) over the exposed surfaces.

Anyways … I finally reached the point where the remaining pieces were drying and the ready pieces were indoor in their cleared space ready for assembly. My assembly plans didn’t work out very well so assembly was more difficult then I had expected. But I got through it and there is a large 130x80cm counter-top with plenty of cabinet space beneath it and even more shelf coming hopefully tomorrow. It’s very rewarding to see a project come together. Also, with every project I tend to dry something new … either a different structural approach or better finishing … and with every project I make new mistakes which I try to improve on in the next project. Great stuff πŸ™‚

Two packages filled with goods … one from the UK (should arrive in a day or two) and another from the USA (should arrive in a week) are headed our way … which means we’ll have two more frequent trips to the city … but with wonderful goods … including much awaited books (more construction and gardening and the like) which will keep us busy and thinking throughout the winter πŸ™‚

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So today was a city (Cluj) day … mostly shopping, mostly for things we still need for winter.

We got everything from boiled linseed oil (rapidly becoming our favorite wood-working finishing), rice, cereals (an occasional snack-meal which we hope to gradually replace with home made alternatives … though that may take a few years), tea-bags (to be replaced with home-grown and dried plants), oil pressed from fresh sunflower seeds (we picked up 15 liters in a village on the way to the city – directly from the room in which the pressing machine is operated) which together with a few liters of olive oil (which we are used to) will hold us through winter, a few red-meat servings for Andreea’s once a month craving and bodily demand (it will complimented by fresh pork meet round-about Christmas when pigs are butchered all over Romania), chocolate wafers (I’ve been eating too much of them … they are a fall-back when my days are hectic and I just want something sweet Now), frozen pasta (for those days when we just don’t feel like cooking), dog-food (though we hope to move to alternatives that are cheaper for us and healthier for the dogs, a sewing machine (finally a tool Andreea will have all to herself), a radiator (to keep our above-ground pantry from freezing), a small heater for our new shower-room (to keep our asses from freezing), sheets of sandpaper (to be complimented by a batch of pads for the power sander – on its way in a package from the UK), some hinges for the new kitchen cabinets, warm boots for Andreea … and so on.

With all these things it’s becoming kind of urgent that I build our planned “fenced box” – a simple wooden frame wrapped in dense hardware cloth (a fence with really small holes) where we will keep all the things we want to keep away from the mice (eg rice, cereals, sacks of flour, etc.).

I dropped Andreea off at Nora’s place at the end of the day – they will be working through the weekend preparing for the coming Doula course they will be teaching together – and I continued to make my way home (including a stop to pick up the sunflower seed oil). The car is packed full and will stay that way until tomorrow morning. I got back home at around 9pm and already the ambient temperature (according to the car’s thermometer) was below zero – so the car will be a fine fridge until tomorrow morning and I can unpack it in daylight.

I am running the rocket stove at full capacity – feeding it only thin and dry sticks … so I can get it’s mass thoroughly warm before I fall asleep – then that heat will continue to spread into the room and keep it nice and warm into the early morning hours. Β It’s been only 30 minutes and already the top of the stove is warming up nicely. A cup of tea awaits me … and then maybe a movie to switch my mind off from the day.

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Today looked really wintery at first … and though some more light and eventually some sun came through it stayed wintery throughout.

I spent the first part of the day with a second-sanding , then raising the grain (since I am using a water based finish) and then another quick sanding. All in all this sanding took longer then I expected (and I am not working to rigorous standards). But eventually I got it done and finally moved into applying finishing. Got all of the bottom cabinet pieces with one layer on one side and the side panels with a second layer. All in all very good progress. I just remembers that I forgot to check in on the counter-top finishing progress (stored elsewhere) … oh well.

And this time I showered … again … well actually for the first time since the other day Andreea used up most of the water and I had just a minute or two of hot water. This time I was in first and WOW … huge pleasure both from showering and from doing so in a shower stall I designed and built from the ground up. Though I do not claim objectivity – this is one of the nicest shower stalls I’ve showered in πŸ™‚

Tomorrow we go to the city (haven’t been in 2 or 3 weeks … hurray) with a hopefully final shopping list Β of winter stuff we still need. Andreea will be staying at Nora’s over the weekend to complete preparations for the doula course (next weekend) so I will be returning home on my own. Word is really spreading about the course and in addition to the 2nd course in Brasov there is now a 3rd course planned in Bucharest for early February πŸ™‚

 

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Today I spent almost the entire day with a breathing mask on my face and an orbital sander on my hand. Sanding was more difficult then it can/should be because I am using green (undried) wood … all we could get our hands on. Green wood does not respond well to planing – some of the wood fibers escape the cutter while others get torn out (more then necessary) … which ultimately leaves more sanding work. This will improve with time as the wood continues to dry naturally. I’ve completed the first sanding (the roughest sanding) of the bottom cabinet parts … which means that tomorrow I’ll be able to put the front facing parts through a second (more delicate sanding) and then into at least one layer of finishing (maybe even two if the sun is out and the water-based finishing dries fast enough).

I took a small break to help Andreea and our neighbor in preparing a huge load of cabbages for pickling … we now have a 120 liter plastic barrel filled with cabbages going through their first phase of pickling. They will require some attention over the next 10 days … and after that we will have loads of cabbage for winter.

Andreea is continuing preparations for the course and the birth of what promises to be a unique book for Romanian women.

Dinner (mamaliga) is cooking … I’m tired and hungry … signs of a day well spent πŸ™‚

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I started the day a bit earlier then usual and chopped my way through more fire-wood.

Then Andreea joined the day and we went to the market – picked up my custom tailored sheep’s-wool vest … Β great stuff from the neighboring village. We also purchased ~3kg of locally made cheese and stored most of it in the freezer.

The rest of the day I spent working on the kitchen cabinet. Got almost all of the parts cut, shaped and ready for finishing. Tomorrow there will be lots of sanding.

As I write these words Andreea is in the shower … FINALLY … we have a working shower – the pump from the well is pumping water, the wood-boiler is fired up and heating water, water is flowing without any leaks into the new shower stall (wood frame and floor, polycarbonate walls and a pond liner drain base), it is running onto and over Andreea and then flowing without any leaks out of the house … otherwise known as a shower. I’m next πŸ™‚ Wow … what a journey!

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Today started late again … foggy and cold … though eventually the sun made its way through and it was a nice and sunny day for work.

The hardware store was closed today so no silicon to complete the shower … so that will have to wait for tomorrow.

So … I got back to another woodworking project that as on hold – the 3rd kitchen cabinet – the one that will hold the gas cooker. I had already done some cutting for it so I had to revisit the cut-list to Β recall what was what (maybe I should organize my cut-lists better as they represent what is actually built and may be useful in the future!). I then decided to start with the counter-top as that required a new kind of assembly that I had not done previously. It worked our really nice. It is made up of 6 pieces cut from 2×10’s and though it isn’t perfect (do mostly to a mediocre level of planing I am able to achieve) it turned out quite nice. The gas-cooker fit like a charm.

At one of the breaks Andreea brought out one of the apple-compote jars we made and we had a serving … absolutely wonderful! Winter is going to be delicious.

I then continued with some more planing on other parts of the cabinet until we were interrupted by a neighborly visit and chat. When the chat was over the day was too … it was getting very quickly to be both cold and dark. So I folded up and went inside.

Andreea spent most of the day pounding at the keyboard relentlessly … completing preparations for the upcoming course … and it looks like all her work may also lead to a published book πŸ™‚

Inside I decided to begin the assembly of the shower stall’s wood deck floor. I used a new decking tool-kit for the first time and it worked like a charm. The floor looks great and can be taken out so that the pond-liner drain beneath it can be cleaned. I got enough screws in it to hold it together sized according to the shower stall and to make sure it can indeed be carried out. It came out easily and tomorrow I’ll finish putting in the rest of the screws outside where it’s easier to work (then in the shower stall).

Day over … looking forward to another one … and if it be god’s will … a shower tomorrow πŸ™‚

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Today as another foggy morning … this time though the clouds stuck around … feels like rain is coming … and with the freezing temperatures at night & morning it means snow is soon to follow.

Before anything else I finally got around to writing a post on my personal blog … it’s been quite a while and was nice to publish something there, especially with the insights I’ve bewn wanting to put in writing on my asthma.

So today was all about assembling the shower stall. I completed what little was left of the wood frame installation. Then I sat down on the shower base to have a long conversation with the pond liner … to get it to fit properly into all the little niches it needed to fill. For the most part it worked out fine. Then I got to playing with the polycarbonate panels, a new material for me to work with. I started by cutting the 3 panels we purchased into panels we needed. The panels slid into place (into the pond liner base) fairly easily … it took more time to cut them to size then to fit them in place.

When all panels were in place (not fixed yet … just to see how it all works) I wanted to do a wet-run (literally) and make sure all the piping was working OK and not leaking. We then found out the siphon we purchased to connect the shower drain to the main PVC Β drain was not the right size … so we went to the village to get a properly sized one. We came back hooked it up and water flowed from our shower head … though it also flowed from one of the supply faucets. That glitch took some playing around to fix.

I cut up some narrow strips to seal the corners of the shower stall. Then it was silicon time … silicon went into the corners and narrow panels were screwed onto the silicon. Looks nice and like a pretty good seal. I ran out of silicon and time … so tomorrow we’ll visit the village again for more silicon … then back home to finish that part of the work. Then the small deck assembly … and if all goes well … tomorrow we shower at home πŸ™‚

Looking pretty nice too πŸ™‚ This has been my most complicated wood-working project and I am very happy with the results πŸ™‚

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Today was a weird … all over the place day.

I started out with pre-assembly of the shower stall while heavy fog was still covering everything. That went great. It was great fun to suddenly see this large lacquered & rounded wooden post which has a faucet and shower head installed into πŸ™‚

We had plans to Β go with our neighbor to “squeeze” some fresh sunflower oil from sunflower seeds she had. But it got too late in the day for that. Instead, we got a phone call from a more distant neighbor that invited us to come and pick up the winter-cabbages for pickling. On the way I said to Andreea that maybe we could also get a few roots for cooking. We came back with a fully loaded car containing: 25kg carrots, 10kg parsley roots, 15kg celery roots, 20kg beets, a few (both small and medium sized) pumpkins and of course 48kg cabbages.

The cabbages were picked fresh from the field with us … as we were doing so a courier arrived with our shipment of honey (18kg) … so I left the folks at the field and went to meet the courier … came back to the field, packed the car with food and headed home. The kitchen is filling up with food … the sense of abundance is magical. We are literally set for being months at home, resting and nourishing ourselves πŸ™‚

After unloading at home I took our next-door neighbor to pick up some more animal feed from the village center (we couldn’t do it on the way back home because the car was totally full).

Finally, back home, I was able to get back to the shower stall. Worked the rest of the remaining work hours and the wooden structure of the shower stall is mostly completed – even the water is hooked up. There was one minor hiccup when despite my specific assembly strategy, there was barely enough room for one side of the shower stall (access to screws and what not). There was one major hiccup when I realized that the shower stall fits perfectly at floor level, but higher up there are some shelves set into the wall that stick out of the wall itself … so I had to struggle with the shelves … until I brought in the chainsaw and brutally hacked them out of the way.

Meanwhile Andreea did some cleaning up inside and prepared a delicious meal from us … all from the fresh vegetables some of which that has just left the ground. Spectacular πŸ™‚

Tomorrow is plastics day … fitting the pond liner drainage plate, the polycarbonate panels as walls and assembling the wooden deck floor where we can actually stand and shower.

Its 7pm and we are hopping out to get some fresh milk (still warm from the cow) from another neighbor. Then back home and we can call it a day. I am dead-tired, more then I have been in recent days.

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A very rewarding day today … even though it started late as it was very foggy in the morning and took time to clear up.

I started out with, thankfully, the last session of lifting lumber up to the barn attic … that’s finally done. From here on it will be about hauling stuff back down for building stuff. In an last second improvisation I left some of the last heavy 2×10’s and with a few bricks managed to turn them into temporary shelves – so (a) I didn’t have to lift them to the attic; (2) they will continue to dry; (3) I have shelves in the barn. Which opened the door to the next task…

Emptying all of my tools from the summer kitchen … I moved everything except the mitre saw and stand which I still need to figure out where would be best to place. It is nice, even though the barn is far from a pleasant work space, to finally have all of the tools arranged on impro-shelves. It makes getting to them and using them much easier … especially now that the barn is free and may become a limited workspace in the coming weeks as weather may limit my options outside.

Then, when the summer kitchen was empty of tools Andreea joined me and we continued to clear it out and to unload all of the jars that were on the temporary shelves (I hacked together in our first weeks here). We tore down the existing shelves – a simple yet symbolic task – we’ve already moved on past something we created ad-hoc that served us well but is no longer relevant … a definite and welcome sense of moving on πŸ™‚

Then, except for a few small glitches, the new shelve went up very quickly. They are solid and offer us plenty of space. We began to repopulate the shelves and abundance hit us smack in the face … this is what the shelves look like partly occupied with all of the food we have prepared for the winter … what a site πŸ™‚

Somewhere in the midst of it all I also managed to finish the finishing of the shower stall … there is one piece still drying … so hopefully tomorrow we can begin (and complete?) that assembly … and shower?