The installation folks showed up on Friday morning and put in two counters in the bathroom that match the seat and ledge in the shower, and it looks fantastic so far. We chose white round undermount bowls for the sinks, and due to some scheduling mixups we didn’t have the faucets purchased, so we’re looking at those and they’ll come back out next week to drill the holes. Then it should be a not-so-simple matter of setting up the drains (I’m not looking forward to that bit of under-counter gymnastics) and hooking up the water supply, and we’ll be able to use everything in there.
Finley and I took a drive into Baltimore to hit the MICA Bookstore for some art supplies in the afternoon. She was making linoleum cuts in art class at at school and decided she wanted to make a T-shirt design of her own, so we needed to find clean linoleum to work with. I figured I’d look and see what kind of scratchboard supplies they still carried, as it’s been forever since I’ve picked up the pen and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss it, and whether I could get similar results from an iPad Pro. The store is in a building directly across the street from my first Baltimore apartment, and I told Finley that my roommate and I used to throw frisbee in the parking lot (and under passing buses on Mt. Royal Avenue) out in front of it.
We found her supplies quickly and then split up to check out the rest of the store. I found scratchboard in the back, manufactured by a different company (I used to use Essdee exclusively, this is made by Ampersand), picked up some new nibs, and then found Finn a pin in the student goods section. Then I took her on a quick tour of the neighborhood and showed her some of my old apartments.
At home we set up a craft work area at the dining room table and she worked on her design for the rest of the afternoon while I tested out the scratchboard. I wasn’t going to overthink things so I just transferred a picture of the truck and started working with it, and found that I really like it. It has a good feel—the last few sheets of Essdee I used had a harder surface, harder to work with, and didn’t make clean marks. This cut cleanly and felt good under the nib, and after a lot of initial hesitation (oh, I remember that feeling clearly) I started to work out what I was doing and lost myself in the image. We broke for dinner after a test print of her design, and when we were done I pulled out my silkscreen inks and we printed her design on a blank shirt, then ran off several Scout shirts for Brian. (Linda, I still owe you several shirts).
I sold my old compressor on Saturday afternoon, and made back 75% of the money I spent on the new one. While we were out for some supplies in the morning I picked up fittings, hose, and a water filter, and installed them while I was waiting for the guy to show up. It’s going to take some serious reorganization, but when I’m done I think the garage will be much easier to use.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge for the last two weeks after watching It: Chapter Two, which involved reading the book over again and listening to a companion podcast that discusses the book by section. It was one of his books I enjoyed the most, and it’s been decades since I read it last. There’s so much I appreciate about his style of storytelling, and apart from the problematic section toward the end, the story is as good as I remember. Listening to the podcast was a fun way to dive deeper and think about stuff I hadn’t considered when I was reading it (the perfect introvert’s book club, really).
The movie was better than the reviews would have made us believe; I don’t know who was complaining about the length or the lack of scares, but I could have stood for another half hour (or honestly, if they’d blown this out to a 6- or 8-episode Netflix series, which would have captured all of the detail better). The casting was spot-on, except, I think, for James MacAvoy, who I like, but wasn’t Bill Denbrough in my mind.
I was catching up on house finances yesterday afternoon and realized we hadn’t been billed for our water in over 90 days, so I went to the Baltimore City Water site to check up on it, and this is what I found:
We live in Baltimore County, but for some strange reason our water is provided by Baltimore City. Om May 7, the city’s computer systems were attacked by hackers demanding $100,000 in bitcoin as ransom. The acting mayor at that time refused to pay, and so the systems have been slowly returning to operational since then. Make sure you choose strong passwords, friends.
Small victories can sometimes add up to a larger result, and that’s how I feel about the past weekend. I don’t feel like I got any one big thing done, but I made a lot of progress on several fronts. My FitBit tells me I walked 15,000 steps and 64 floors of stairs, and I sure do feel that in my legs today.
First, we had Christopher come in from New York on Friday night, which was great; he’s always fun to have staying with us and a great excuse to get out of the house and do interesting things. Unfortunately, Baltimore was boring this past weekend so we couldn’t take him to an awesome exhibit in D.C. or an art happening here in Baltimore, so we settled for K-Pop Disco Theater Barbecue on Friday night. Saturday was windy but sunny so I took advantage of that to pick up some supplies at Lowe’s to repair the garage lights and the greenhouse door.
Jen’s eye was hurting (she scratched her cornea on Friday) so she took a nap and Christopher, Finn and I drove to Second Chance to walk through the warehouse and poke around at the merchandise. I was there to look at doors to replace the one between the blue room and the new bathroom, and found a beautiful 12-panel French door in almost the right size as well as a full-light door in exactly the size. Jen was asleep so I punted until later. Then we hit Housewerks and poked through the odd merchandise there, stopping to admire a porcelain autopsy table parked outside.
That evening we drove into Baltimore for dinner at Peter’s, our old neighborhood haunt from my Canton days. Jen had read they suffered a fire last year but had reopened this spring, and we were lucky to get a parking spot around the corner and seated in half an hour (no mean feat for a popular restaurant with 18 tables). As usual, the service was excellent, the food was delicious, and we left sated and happy and went straight home to bed.
Sunday I continued working on the garage light (the light switch had gone bad), the greenhouse door (fitting a storm door handle to aluminum channel took some engineering) and then the greenhouse footer, while stopping to help Finn set up a jewelry stand out in front of the house. Mama and I were skeptical but she wound up selling two necklaces for $8. I think she’s on to something.
Jen and I went to a birthday party at a warehouse last night in downtown Baltimore. It was loud and packed, and even though we only knew three people in the whole place, we had fun.
We had dinner and drinks with the parents of one of Finn’s friends on Friday night, leaving the girls with her older sister. Taking full advantage of the situation, we adults hit a restaurant downtown and ordered cocktails and generally had a fantastic time having adult conversations. Among many different topics, we talked about firewood, and they mentioned they had five chainsaws, and did I want one of them? Sure, I said, I’ll take a chainsaw if it allows me to chop up the four huge rounds we’ve had sitting in front of our woodpile since the trees came down. We stopped in for a last cocktail and R. found my present in his basement. It’s a Makita DCS 430, manufactured somewhere around 10 years ago, with a 16″ bar. It’s in excellent shape, but needs a fuel system flush and some new chain oil. I’ll look it over sometime in the next couple of weekends and see if I can get it running, and maybe I can clean up the backyard over the Christmas break if I’m lucky.
Saturday Finn and I were up and out early to head over the bridge for a Dickens of a Christmas, a holiday-flavored festival in Chestertown. We met up with Karean and Zachary at Brian’s house and the six of us rode over the bridge into town to see the sights. The festival isn’t as sprawling as the Harry Potter event they put on in the fall, but it’s still a blast, and everyone there commits to the era-specific details: the number of people walking around in tophats and bustle dresses and greatcoats almost outnumbered us normal people. We wandered the streets, playing games, snacking on food, and looking at the exhibits. As always it was great to hang out with friends, and we stayed out as long as we could in the cold before packing it in.
Sunday I slept in to recover from the previous two days while the girls went to church. In the afternoon we drove in to Baltimore to fulfill our advent calendar activity: ice skating in the Inner Harbor. There’s a wonderful rink built right between the two buildings that’s perfect for an afternoon skate, and it was just warm enough to be comfortable (well, that and the bike tights I was wearing under my jeans). Finn and I did a bunch of laps around the rink and I tried to get her to learn the proper way to skate. When we’d had our fill of that, we exchanged our skates and walked down the pier to the Christmas Village, a German-themed market set up right on the water. We’d been told the latkes were good, and that there was a big tent where we could get warm, and there were, and it was, and it was good. We strolled through the market and got some excellent German beer and a bunch of latkes and listened to a live band playing. By 4:30 we were ready to call it a day, and headed back home to get warm in our own house.
Monday morning I took advantage of working from home and drove into Glen Burnie to visit the specialty moulding shop I mentioned a few weeks ago. The guy at the counter immediately identified what I needed and went in back to cut up the sizes I specified; within 15 minutes I had 62 feet of moulding shrinkwrapped and ready to stuff in the CR-V. Once the shelves are hung I’ll start mitering the cap moulding and installing it, which will be a nice indoor winter project.
I was out with a group of work friends on Tuesday night and stepped up to the bar to pay our tab. I noticed the bartender expertly mixing a manhattan and asked her what rye she used while waiting for my bill to be rung up. We got into a discussion about the quality of the various rye whiskeys available. When I told her I favored Bulleit, she frowned and said many of the bartenders in DC have stopped carrying it in a show of LGBT solidarity. Puzzled, I asked for details. Apparently one of the children of the founders came out and they shut her out of the company as a result. Disappointed, I asked her what I should use as a replacement and she suggested Rittenhouse, which I will definitely try. Or, I could go with Pikesville Rye, distilled by the same company, which uses a Maryland-based recipe originating in 1895.
Jeep announced the new Gladiator today, a four-door pickup based on an elongated Wrangler platform. This is the first Jeep I’ve actually been interested in purchasing since the old Cherokee platform (the 2-door model of which I was reasonably happy to own for five years). Two items of note: the windshield folds down and the roof comes off, which is pretty awesome, and it comes with an optional 6-speed manual transmission. No idea on price yet (I’d imagine it’s steep) but I’d consider buying one of these.