Friday, May 22, 2015

Long Are the Days

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today I didn't have time to write my days events down until the end of the day. It's after ten o'clock and I'm in bed hastily scratching in my notebook before I call it a night.

This morning I wake up before my alarm when I hear someone coming into the lodge. Time to get up. Porgy has started coffee and rolled oats. I make up a batch of green chili eggs and finish the coffee and the rolled oats. Marie calls at 7:30. But I only have a few moments to chat. Breakfast is at eight o'clock.

Afterwards, I post a blog. Then I wash dishes, make Rice Krispies treats, quinoa surpreeze, and start a batch of Karen's orzo salad. It's already lunchtime. I make up a pot of tomato soup—it overflows out of the bowl when I accidentally let it boil too high and spills all over the stove. I make a salad and cheese toast.

I run the generator for the daily bulk charge since the volts aren't high enough for the system to do it automatically with all the power tools being used.

It's a chilly day and the guys slurp down the soup. I tell Sandy and Aaron they’ll be team players if they finish the soup off. I don't want to find room in the fridge for it. They comply. The Rice Krispies treats are a hit. The cheese toast is a hit.

I clean up the lunch dishes.

The guys hang up tarps to try and keep the sandblasting glass and dust out of the lodge. There's already a thick layer of dust in the back rooms and bathroom. A thin layer in the front room, piano room, and all along the floors.

I turn off the generator.

I finish making the orzo salad. I have to get out of the kitchen. I leave some dirty dishes in the sink and go up the road past the first gate until I can barely hear the sound of the machines. I sit on a log and close my eyes. I need a nap. I need some peace and quiet. I'd like for all the work to be done and the workers to leave.

But. That's not to be. Not for now. Maybe not for the rest of the time I'll be here. I go back down and make up a breakfast burrito blend in preparation for tomorrow. Then I clean all the dishes.

It's after four o'clock. I haven't seen the cat all day.

I call my grandmother.

Porgy has fired up the sauna and some of the guys take advantage of the heat to relax. I don't have time today for that.

I record the weather.

I turn on the oven. Phinehas calls. I only have a short time to talk. It's strange being this busy.

Dinner is served around 7:30. Meatloaf, quinoa surpreeze, and salad. Cookies for dessert. Arnie opens up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that he brought. I haven't had bottled wine since I got here. Plenty of boxed wine, but nothing from a bottle. It's a decent wine. The guys talk world events and tell Jackson bar stories. So much of the world is about fighting.

With enough stories heard by me, I go out and call for the cat. She comes, meowing at me. She eats some food. I go out and sit on a rock and the cat comes to sit in my lap. I stay out there with her for a long time. Enjoying the company. I finish off the glass of wine. Then I go back inside.

Aaron and Sandy want a chess set. I go look around to see if there is one. There isn't, but I find a backgammon set and they take that out their cabin.

Bill has already gone to bed. Porgy and Arnie are still in the lodge. "Did you find cat?" Porgy asks.

I tell him I did and then I ask him about the upcoming jobs. Trying to figure out who's coming in and who's going out. I may get Monday to myself. I may not.

I wash up the dinner dishes. Clean off the tomato soup that overflowed from lunch all over the stove. Check my email. Then I take a glass of wine upstairs. I take a bath and wash my hair.

Wind down. Record the day in my notebook and turn out the light.

Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Someone comes in the lodge at seven o'clock. Wakes me up. I was finally sleeping well, deeply. But I need to be up to get breakfast ready by eight o'clock.

I get downstairs. It's Bill and Arnie. I get coffee going for the gang, coffee for me, heat up the beef and beans I made up yesterday, Arnie grates the cheese, I scramble a dozen eggs, set out tortillas, sour cream, and guacamole. The rest of the crew finds their way to the table. They all sit down and have breakfast burritos.

"I was really excited about this," Sandy says, motioning to the breakfast burrito fixings.

I work a crossword and have a second cup of coffee before I wash the dishes. Then I gear up and go chop wood. The supply has gotten low.

Marie calls. We chat for just a few minutes. These days I don't have much time to talk. I have to get off the phone and start lunch.

Before I do that, I take a quick bath. Then I set the table, cut up apples, get some soup warming on the stove, set out bread and lunchmeat for sandwiches, and go outside to ring the bell for lunch. Kip arrives during lunch, but he's already eaten. I run the generator for the daily bulk charge.

After the cleanup, I make a batch of cookies and prepare kale salad. More dishes to wash.

I check my email. Call my grandmother.

The ends of the days are tough. Tiring. I wish for alone time.

I sit on the porch for a little bit. There are little flying bugs, not mosquitoes, swarming the air in front of me. Aaron and Sandy are sifting the glass-sand in the enclosed porch that used to be the cat's.

I go back inside and start prepping for dinner. Michaela calls. We talk for just a brief moment. I see the guys heading over to the sauna. I could use a good dry heat relax, but there isn't enough time.

Kip comes in and we chitchat. The casserole is in the oven. The salad is made. The table already set. One by one, the guys filter in with beers in hand. Eventually the casserole is heated and dinner is served. Kip has brought leftover salmon and I add it to the kale salad. The guys exclaim over the dinner. I admit I am please. The casserole is a favorite. It's a good casserole. One of my mom's recipes. The fresh cookies make the rounds. I excuse myself and go find the cat.

She's waiting for me near the barn. We sit together on a rock. It's my favorite part of these days. When all the work is done, the earth is settling down, the quiet is descending, the cat purring.

Gerry has returned and he's brought his dog Cody. As they walk by the cat growls.

When I go back inside, Kip, Porgy, and Gerry are doing the dishes. I voice my delight and Gerry says, "This is a good reason to get married."

"So I can have a man to wash the dishes?" I ask.

Gerry’s eyes twinkle. Porgy turns from the sink and said, "I bet you've had a lot of proposals."

It's a nice compliment in a weird sort of way.

Aaron and Sandy go off to bed. Bill has already gone. Porgy, Arnie, Kip, Gerry, and I sit around and talk and drink. They tease each other and tell stories. Eventually they all go off to bed.

I shut things down and make sure things are off. In a fumbling fit, I drop my usual wine glass, a small measured Mason jar, it cracks into a million pieces. I had wondered when I would break something. Now that’s out of the way. I sweep it up and go to bed.

Caretaker’s Log, Thursday, May 21, 2015

Someone is up and banging doors at 6:30. Just five more minutes, I groan. I get up and am downstairs by seven o'clock.

It's a gorgeous sunshiny day. The first one in a long time.

Of all the guys, Gerry is the most helpful. He fries up the sausage while I scramble eggs and set the table and stir the rolled oats that Porgy had started. Breakfast is eaten. I start the cleanup at 8:15.

The guys are going to sandblast the front which means the kitchen will be off-limits for a few hours. Because of that there's not a lot I can do. So I gear up and go for an hour hike up the dam road and then over the hills toward Bacon Ridge. It's too pretty a day not to be out in it. Along the way I see wolf tracks. Maybe a coyote’s. Maybe a fox’s.

I walk until a rise obscures the view of the ranch and I can no longer hear the sound of machines. I sit on a rock and listened to the river, the birds, the bumbling buzz of a bumblebee.

Then I head back. The guys are still prepping to sandblast the front so I throw together a hasty lunch while the kitchen is more or less usable. Sandwiches, soup, fruit. When it's all done the guys get back to work. I leave the lunch dishes in the sink. I’ll wash up when I can clear things up and put out the dish drain again.

Some of the guys will leave tonight. Another group leaves tomorrow. The cleaning crew will arrive Saturday morning. There's a good chance that I'll have Sunday and Monday to myself. There's also the possibility that I won't. I'm crossing my fingers. Porgy will come back on Tuesday and a group of propane guys will show up on Wednesday. Next week is going to be a busy week. As the days lengthen and the frozen meals I’d premade get eaten up, I wonder what I've gotten myself for.

I start the generator bulk charge. Then with some free time on my hands, I fire up the sauna. I even get in the river once. The water is cold and brisk. Then I alternate between the sauna and the sunshine. It's a nice respite even with the machine noise. After a while, I go up and take a quick bath. I stop the generator. I walk around and take some pictures of the progress.

The power tools have really worked the system and there is an overcurrent. Porgy gets the system back up and running before he leaves. Kip has already left.

I call my grandmother.

I clean up the glass-sand out of the kitchen the best that I can so I can start dinner. I heat up a meatloaf, make a salad, bake some corn on the cob.

Gerry shopvacs a good portion of the lodge to try to prevent us all from tracking the dust around everywhere. More than it has already been tracked around. I'm grateful there are cleaners coming in and that the cleaning job is not left to me.

I eat tuna and cheese for my dinner while I'm preparing theirs. I was starting to get grouchy. The noise and dust and people are getting to me. The end of the day is the hardest.

I serve up the food. Aaron has gone to Pinedale to get more diesel fuel. It's only Gerry, Bill, and Sandy for dinner. While they eat I go outside. I've seen the cat is out. I sit on the rock and she sits in my lap. Then we do a little walk around.

I go back inside. Gerry says he will make home fries in the morning so I go out to the root cellar to get potatoes and onion. I'm talking the cat into going with me when Gerry comes our way. The cat growls, hisses, spits, bares her teeth. She looks my way once and gives a very plaintive meow. Gerry tries to sweet talk her and she calms down, but she doesn't go near him.

"Are you going to take that cat with you to the other ranch?" Gerry asks.

"No," I say.

"She seems pretty attached."

"I think she likes Laura well enough," I say. I can't carry my attachments around with me.

When Gerry has gone, the cat and I get in our root cellar walk. She checks out everything along the way, sniffing equipment and venturing into the newly dug trenches. When we get back to the barn, I tell her good night, to her disappointment, and go inside to clean the dishes up.

Sandy tells me that he and Aaron had talked about my cooking—how nice it was to be hard at work all day and get three good meals. Aaron gets back from Pinedale. He and Sandy head off to bed. Bill has already gone. Gerry and Arnie stay up talking. I go on up to the loft. Their voices drifted through the ceiling and I wish they would wrap up their conversation.

There's a mouse in my room going after the soap I left on the floor. I had to clean out the bathroom since that wall will be sandblasted soon.

About ten minutes later, Gerry and Arnie leave the lodge. Quiet descends. I fall asleep quickly.

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