Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stairing match

Today, Red and I built stairs for the parental units.

Again.

The back story: Two years ago, we rebuilt the porch stairs at my parents' previous home. It was painfully hot that spring, but with some huffing and puffing and the help of our trusty crowbar, we pulled off the old staircase and used the stringers as a template for new steps. It took two very long days to get it all back together.

This time we worked smarter, not harder. We bought pre-fab stringers, and had the 2x6's for the steps cut right at the lumber yard. My chop saw, my cordless circular saw, and my dad's Japanese pipe saw handled all the other cuts, and that poor cordless drill was working virtually non-stop.

Not counting a trip to the lumber yard to get the treads and some 1x6's for the risers, it took us about three hours to gut the old, rotten stairs and install vastly superior new ones. Much better use of our time.

But it's déjà vu all over again. (Writes 'Build stairs for parents' on her 2009 calendar)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hot fun in the summertime

"I'll take 'Springy Summer' for $200, Alex."

And the answer is... "An air conditioner; new blinds; and a blender of Margaritas."

The question: How do Astreja K. & Co. deal with a painfully hot summer day?

This afternoon, Red hooked up the air conditioner that we got from the parental units. (They have central air in their new home and don't need the portable.)

Then I installed new blinds on the west-facing window in the study, to cut down on incursions of sunlight.

Finally, we made a lovely supper of salads (potato, egg, chicken; plus guacamole and coleslaw) and washed it down with the aforementioned Friendly Drinks.

And here are a couple of recipes!

Guacamole

Five avocados, peeled and de-seeded and squished beyond recognition
Three cloves garlic, minced very fine
One medium onion, chopped fine
Juice of one lime
One teaspoon coarsely ground cumin seed
A couple of grinds of black pepper
Something hot -- Caribbean spice, Louisiana hot sauce, whate'er ya got.
Salt to taste (but not much)

Combine in a non-metallic bowl and mix thoroughly. (I make mine with a potato masher.) If you aren't eating it all right away, cover closely with plastic wrap to keep it from turning brown on top.

Aaaand...

Margaritas à Deux

Juice of two limes and one lemon, or four limes (Cut a thick slice off one of them)
Fourteen capfuls of tequila
Six capfuls of Triple Sec
A couple of cups of ice
A saucerful of sea salt, coarse but not too coarse
Two rather large wineglasses

Prepare the glasses: Wet the rims to a depth of about 1/4" with the saved slice of lime, then roll in medium-coarse sea salt.

Combine the lime juice, tequila and Triple Sec in a blender. Add ice till about 3/4 full. Blend in short pulses till the ice is mostly broken up, then finish with a ten second blast to create a frappé.

Pour carefully into the salted glasses. Split the lime slice in half and put one half on the rim of each glass.

Serves two. Or, in our case, serves two but I get the leftovers. Yum.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More toys! More play! More work!

Allow me to introduce two of my newest friends:

- "François", a lovely 12-string acoustic guitar made by Norman. Simply lovely piece of workmanship. Nice low action, beautiful finish, gorgeous sound.

- And an unnamed Panasonic digital voice recorder, just the thing I need to capture new writing ideas on the fly.

Alhough music teaching and music studying is off for the summer, I've been busy. I'm now attending a professional writers' group and preparing to second-draft and market The Week of Alibis, my 2005 NaNoWriMo effort. Next week I hope to meet with a counsellor at one of the local universities -- In September I want to begin work on my B.Sc. Karate has resumed, too, and Red and I are going swimming tomorrow night.

And then there's the "Archery lessons - Register now" sign that caught my eye this morning on the way to work. *eep*

This doesn't take into account the demolition, construction and gardening currently underway in my back yard; various odd jobs for the parental units; or my day gig as a medical transcriptionist. But, now that teaching is off the calendar for a while, my free time has easily tripled.

One of these days, I might even sleepzzzz... *thud*