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Woke up to an inviting day … but, though a little late, we out to work. I’ll keep it short and sweet – we have a shell of a cabinet standing in our bedroom. All it needs are the shelves already in the work and we’ll finally be able to unpack our things and stop worrying about freezing temperatures and mice destroying them.

Rice is cooked, lentils are almost there, pickles already in the plates. Dinner soon πŸ™‚

Monday morning we are going to Targu Mures for a night or two, then coming back via Cluj.

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So today started with a superficial white blanket of mixed hail and maybe some snow-ish like cover. The sun came out at first and it looked like a promising day of work … so we headed out to it.

We spent most of the day in the workshop working on the cabinet. Lots of cutting, planing and sanding. Made good progress but the promising qualities of the day diminished very fast … it became windy, cold and we even got some drizzle.

At the end of the day I wanted to start with assembly but didn’t get too far with it … there are some adjustments/corrections to make … hopefully tomorrow I can make them and we get on with assembly of the cabinet frame.

oh … and at the end of the day we went shopping … in our own winter storage … fantastic experience … picking out the foods we want to take indoors … a perfect little store containing everything we need and only things we like … and we don’t pay on the way out … superbulous πŸ™‚

I forgot to mention that yesterday we had a nice new occurrence … one of our cocks attempted to reply to another that was calling out … it came out funny … but it did come out … our cock has crowed πŸ™‚

 

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Woke up to a damp and un-cold morning. Hopped to the village to pick up something from the post-office and … waddaya know … the sun came out … so we got to work.

We took the finishing work out of the living room and to the sun where I went to work on another layer while Andreea began sanding more pieces. Then we worked together some more, me planing her sading … then we split up. Andreea went inside and I stayed to get some more woodworking done. I’ve gotten to used to seeing the sun in full light and yet knowing that the end of the day is near. I raced a bit to complete sanding and cutting 28 small pieces that will become our cabinet shelf supports.

By then it was getting to be very cold again … actually though the sun was out it was cool throughout the day. Then I carried in all (most – some, that are “finished” enough, went back to the workshop for drilling Β pocket holes in preparation for assembly) the pieces that were drying outside. Inside I applied a second layer to some of the new pieces.

The Internet technician visited us today. They have setup a transmitting wireless hotspot in the town center. They tried to setup a second hotspot on an electricity pole on a road near us – but the signal was too weak and unstable. Big bummer. We insisted (gently) Β that there must be something that can be done … maybe another routing point on the way. So they will be trying to create a roundabout solution. Their antennas need a clean line of sight – so they will be trying to transmit from another point near the end of the village … shooting past our location (which is not in a line of sight) to a village that is in a line of sight with us. Then from that village they will try to bounce the signal back to us. I have a feeling this will work out. I really want it to. We really need it.

Gata.

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We’ve had a few odd days – weather-wise. At first there we signs that snow would come … then the temperatures went up … it’s now been cool for three days not cold … almost feels warm compared to the weeks of subzero temperatures. There has been no fog in the mornings though it has been very cloudy with the sun rarely appearing. There has been a little rain … enough to get the ground to look wet but not much more.

The day before yesterday was great fun as Andreea and I spent most of the day together in the improvised workshop (=moving the sawhorses into the barn and laying out a long power cable for the power tools). I was busy measuring and cutting and Andreea was on the sander. We got some finishing done on more of the bedroom cabinet and got most of the first of two couches cut.

Yesterday we pretty much took the day off as Nora and Valentin came for a spontaneous visit. Valentin spent some time with the ax and I collected the wood he cut … and that was pretty much it.

Today I got an earlier start because it was really not-cold. Not cold is becoming a precious temperature for us. Not cold weather is pleasant to go outside in. Not cold water (usually left in the boiler the day after we shower) is superb for washing up in the morning or doing dishes. I started out in the living finishing Β room and applied a final (I hope) layer of oil to the cabinet pieces. I then went outside and spent the entire day sanding more pieces. That is UNTIL ….

Andreea came outside and noted that the chicken that was having breathing problems a few days ago wasn’t looking to good. He was closing his eyes and wasn’t moving around much. So we decided to bring his life to an end. Andreea prepared everything she needed, I brought out the camera … and … the knife wasn’t sharp enough so Andreea had a hard time cutting into his neck … so I quickly took over and did the slaughtering and Andreea continued the bucthering … one small step for mankind one giant leap for the both of us. More on that in a separate post (coming soon) with images … we seem to be going through a period of intense slaughtering πŸ™‚

Andreea continued to finish taking care of the fresh chicken and to make dinner while I went back to my sanding. Just as light was coming to an end (there is electric light in the barn yet) I managed to finish sanding the parts that make up the frame of the cabinet. I carried them all inside and began applying oil finishing to them.

By the time I was finished I was starving we had dinner … and this day is pretty much over. Andreea just came out of the shower and I am waiting for more hot water πŸ™‚

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Yesterday we finally got word that the package my sister sent from the USA arrived in Cluj and was waiting for us to come pick it up following a quick customs check. So we decided, after waking up to another dreary day to head out to the city.

The drive to the city was fairytale beautiful – everything is covered in white – still just frost no snow …. but oh so beautiful and delicate.

We picked up the box and went through another short shopping spree. This time the main theme was collecting the things Andreea would need for furnish couches for us. This included fabrics which we will fill with straw to make home-made mattresses, simple fleece blankets to cover the mattresses and and make pillow covers, 6 large pillows, 4 small pillows, buttons and a few other small sewing thingys. So now we have this huge pile of a couch-kit in the living room πŸ™‚

We got Andreea a pair of decent non-work winter shoes and a pair of padded boots for me (the existing boots are not enough for my feet in the freezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing).

We purchased a small pine tree which will be our Christmas tree for the coming years. We are thrilled to have started a healthy (and reversed) process where a tree grows with us until it is planted outside instead of getting and throwing out a tree every year.

We also stopped on the way back and filled four large containers – two with diesel (which we use for lighting our stoves) and two with refined gasoline which runs the chainsaw.

I looked at the car as it was packed full again – this time with mostly fluffy things and I laughed. Every time we come back from the city the car is packed … and every time with a funny mixture of things … and every time I think I’ve seen it all … and then the next visit to the city we come up with another weird combination πŸ™‚

We got a glimpse of the sun in the city (haven’t seen it in almost a week) and the sky are now crystal clear – we are hoping to be blessed with a sunny work day tomorrow πŸ™‚

And finally, we made a stop at neighbors in the village (we brought them grapes from the city market) and we got an offer to buy a pregnant goat for a really good price … it just keeps getting better and better and funnier and funnier πŸ™‚

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3 days of freezing fog … no glimpse of sky or sun … today was better visibility … I could vaguely see the line of the hill.

I’ve been mostly indoors reading, writing, eating, drinking. When it’s this cold, just keeping the house warm is an ongoing task.

It’s beautiful outside – everything is … not blanketed (there hasn’t been snow yet … probably will be this week) … but outlined with white … all ice that has formed and accumulated. It’s such a new palette for me, especially being so close to it … living in it instead of visiting it.

The freezing cold is an issue if I want to go out and do some work. If there is sunshine then there is a 4 or 5 hour window of work. If there isn’t then there are maybe 2 or 3 hours of limited work (wood chopping). I still have quite a bit of woodworking I want to get done … I don’t know how I’ll manage that.

Andreea had an excellent time teaching her first course here in Romania … it should be coming to an end as I write these words. She should be back home tomorrow. Depending on registration she maybe going away mid-December to teach the course again to a group in Brasov and then again in February in Bucharest. I am sooooo proud of her … after so many years of failed attempts to make connections and contribute … finally it’s happening for her, for us.

Folding up here (living room) and moving to the bedroom where I Β am keeping the fire going. Going to draw another revision of ideas/plans for our future house.

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Today was a rich day … it started off by dropping Andreea off at the village center (after using her Romanian skills to purchase a few plumbing pieces at the hardware store) to get on a bus to Cluj where she will be spending the weekend teaching her first Doula course! With us was our neighbor with whom I continued to another neighboring village (~15km) to a local sunflower seed oil press where two sacks of about 65kg of seeds where transformed into ~27 liters of oil + two half filled sacks of the stuff that oozes out of the oil press which apparently is good feed for chickens.

Two things amazed me about the oil press (I didn’t have a camera with me, so we’ll probably get to visit there again in the future and next time I will have a camera). One is that it is a 4 stage process: (1) initial filtering of the seeds to separate them from large debris;Β  (2) pressing oil; (3) passing the oil through a centrifuge filter; (4) passing the oil through another mechanical filter. That’s quite a lot of work … we were there for almost two hours. Which brings me to the second thing that amazes me … the price … it costs 10 bani (~2.5 eurocents) per kg … which means that for two hours translates to ~6 lei (~1.5 euro dollars) – though the prices was higher because the oozy stuff that comes out of the press also has a price per kilo (though I don’t know how much). Two hours of supervised work by the family that owns the press & electricity (8 oils pressed worked simultaneously on the batch we brough with us). Crazy!!!

Weather sidenot: when we left the house in the morning it was -8.5 degress (celsius) – freakin’ cold and a heavy fog cover. There is a well known (to me anyways πŸ™‚ verse in buddhism on what is real and what is unreal – that a cloud doesn’t really disappear or cease to exist – rather it changes form. It was fascinating to observer my emotions responding to the fog – a heavy uninviting feeling … and then to see that emotion change is we headed out of the village (on the way to the oil press) … once we gained a little altitude the sun broke through the fog … and as the fog lifted so did my emotions – spectactular! When we got back to our village there was still a heavy fog and I got heavier again … I really wanted to go out and do some work … but not possible in this kind of weather. When I got home (~11:30) it was -4.5 degrees outside. I went in, relit the fire and had some breakfast. By around 13:00 the fog lifted and the sun came through … it was almost 10 degrees … unbelievable change in under 2 hours. So with a delay it seems that mother nature did eventually answer my wish from yesterday πŸ™‚

I quickly brought out the pieces of wood that needed finshing applied … and got them done. Then I went out to the humanure hacienda and closed it off some more (higher then it was before) in my ongoing effort to prevent the dogs from feasting on our feces. I think it worked … I dumped a couple of buckets and at the end of the day the pile was untouched (the hay cover was still in place rather then scratched aside).

By the time I finished that project the finishing had dried (the wonder of water-based finishes sitting in the sun) so I brought out the sander with a very fine grit sand paper and a polishing pad and finished the pieces. I then assembled the last unit and moved it indoors together with all the tools I would need to complete assembly inside … I did so just in time as the sun was setting and it was getting very cold. I collected the chickens and ducks, fed and watered them, locked up, fed the dogs and moved inside. The assembly didn’t go smoothly because there was a problem in the base unit itself (the assembly didn’t go great because it was a very deep cabinet (80 cm) … anyways I managed to get through it and will need to do some patching tomorrow to get it done properly.

Dinner is warm, as is the room I am in … so calling it another day πŸ™‚

 

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nothing much to tell … woodworking yesterday … great progress.

Then Andreea came home and we had to go back to Cluj (arghhh!) because we got word from the bus-service that our packages from the UK were arriving around 11pm … so a long day turned into a long night … we made it back around 00:30 … I couldn’t find sleep. Woke up at 5am … drew a design of our house that occupied me as I lay in bed … cold morning … smoke coming from the stove (fixed it today) … more woodworking today … shelves on top of kitchen cabinet are assembled … again assembly didn’t go to smooth … but worked out OK.

Tired … hope to get sleep tonight.

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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.