Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I wake up early and can't get back to sleep. Around seven o'clock, I finally get up. I take a quick bath just to feel fresh before I have guests arrive. I make coffee and post a blog while I have the first cup. Work a crossword with the second.
It's already forty-something degrees outside and the lodge feels warm. I don't light a fire.
I take the brisket out of the refrigerator and season it and stick it in the oven. I write down some recipes for barbecue sauce, Karen's meatloaf, and marinades for cod.
I take my third cup of coffee to the front porch and warn the cat who has taken over my lap that the peaceful world we have is about to change.
The sun feels spectacular.
I expect Loring and Porgy to arrive at any time. I stretch my hearing to listen for the sound of the chainsaw. They have to cut through all the fallen trees on the road to get in.
I go inside.
Clouds move in.
I start a fire at 11:35 AM.
Porgy and two propane guys arrive just before noon. They go around looking at propane stuff. Come in long enough for a cookie. I'm on the porch, talking to Porgy when I look up to see the most amazing clouds. I stop myself midsentence, like a child, to appreciate them, to point them out. They're like cultured buttermilk, dark edged cotton swabs, something more beautiful than that. The three guys leave. Porgy says he'll be back in about an hour and a half. He has to go bring another guy in.
I take the brisket out of the oven. I don't know if it's overcooked or undercooked. I've got no experience with this. I don't know that I've ever made brisket in my life.
Loring shows up around three o'clock. He and I visit. He goes to take a nap. I cut up the brisket, eat a snack, put away all the new, fresh food that Melody shopped for me and sent with Loring. It's an abundance. Salad, fruit, milk, cheese, eggs, canned coconut milk. I call my grandmother in this quiet moment.
The cat comes down out of the roof and I go say hi.
Around 5:30 or so, Porgy and Gerry arrive. Gerry is driving a dump truck with a trailer and they had a bit of the time getting in. He nearly went off the road a couple times.
The cat gets back up in the roof.
We all sit in the living room and have a cocktail. Beer for some, wine for others.
Michaela calls. Loring answers the phone with a simple, "Hello." I had warned Michaela that men might be answering the phone, but she’s still surprised. We wish each other a happy Wednesday and hang up.
I make cod, rice, and asparagus for dinner. The guys are kind enough to wash up the dishes.
I take a few things to the root cellar and then spend some time with the cat who is temporarily brave enough to come down.
Then the group of us walk up to the Tame Hydro water line to look for the leak. I've never seen the lodge from here at this time. The living room lamp lights glow with a deep orange hue in the nearing dark. It looks cozy and inviting.
Back at the lodge, we sit around. The guys tell stories. Loring goes to bed first. Then Porgy with Gerry at his heels.
I tidy up the kitchen. Do all the nightly checks. Go up to bed. I'm ready for sleep.
Caretaker’s Log, Thursday, May 14, 2015
The day gets off to a brisk start. Regular coffee, decaf coffee, and tea are the order of the morning. I get some rolled oats rolling. Set out the bread for toast. Cut up strawberries and bananas. Warm up the frozen blueberries.
The smell of fresh strawberries may be one of the best smells in the world. I take a moment to stop and smell them.
We eat breakfast.
I clear up the dishes and the guys go out to work. Then I start two meatloafs. I put a chicken on to boil, get the broccoli and rice cooking, grate the cheese, open up soup cans, and eventually put it all together for a casserole.
For lunch I set out sandwich stuff and heat up a pot of tomato soup. I cut up a couple apples and peel two oranges. Slice an avocado.
I have fruit, avocado, cheese and crackers for my lunch.
After the meal is consumed, the fellows go back out to dig and turn on water in the various cabins while I clean up the lunch things and get the meatloaf in loaf form and put it in the oven.
I help Loring out once or twice by turning a valve, taking and emailing pictures, and talking shop.
It rains for a few hours in the afternoon. I’ve felt it all day in my swelling wrists.
I go out to try and talk the cat down. She meows once and then is silent. She doesn’t come down.
Porgy and I get the sauna going. I record the weather and preheat the oven in preparation for dinner. I go back to the sauna and stay in about twenty minutes. Then I take a quick rinse off upstairs in the bath. After that, I put the casserole in the oven and make up tuna for my dinner.
The potato salad and coleslaw make a debut. The sauerkraut coleslaw is really good. I bite my tongue to keep from bragging on it while the guys talk shop and tell stories of people they know. It's a lot of conversation. I find myself tuning it out after a while and then wishing I had listened when something sparks my interest.
I see the cat is out and I go talk with her while she eats some of her food and then she, continuously looking over her shoulder, goes for the nightly walk around with me.
Loring does the dishes.
We all trickle away to bed one by one.
Caretaker’s Log, Friday, May 15, 2015
I'm up early, but even so Porgy has beaten me to the kitchen and started the coffee. He makes a few business calls while I mix up a batch of green chili eggs. Gerry comes in and then Loring. I fry up some bacon. I haven't done that in years and years. We have breakfast. Gerry does the dishes.
Porgy tells me that one of my ground squirrel friends had fallen in an open pit filled with water next to Willow cabin last night. He says he and Gerry tried to save its life. Gerry even went so far as to try a little heart pumping CPR without the breath, but it was too late.
After they've gone out to start their work, I have a chance to work a crossword with my third cup of coffee. Then I tidy up the kitchen, check that the bulk charge is running, try to talk the cat out of the roof to no avail, collect and fill the diesel dust bucket with sawdust, and bag up the recycling and take it to the incinerator shed.
Then I have to be outside. I go sit on the sauna’s porch, looking out over the river. The shrieking birds are numerous and shrieking. I don't know what kind of birds they are. Swallows? Shrieks? The only human sound here is the gentle whir of the Wild Hydro. The sun plays hide and seek behind fluffy, marshmallow clouds.
I have a moment to check computer things and then Loring comes in. We look for some missing manuals and then go out for a little job in the generator shed.
A bit later, I go to give Porgy a message I’d gotten from Kathy by email. As I pass Willow cabin I notice there's a drowned ground squirrel in the open water pit. Poor little dude.
"I thought you guys took out the drowned ground squirrel," I say.
"We did," Porgy says. "Gerry took it out there," he points toward and past the woodpile. "We were going to check if it was still there today. It must be a second one. We need to close that pit."
I go get a shovel and fish out the poor drowned ground squirrel. I sing it a funerary song which includes the lines, "I love you and I'm sorry you died. I'm sorry you drowned." I lay it to rest out behind the woodpile.
A hydro expert named Charlie arrives at lunch time. I get out the lunch meat, cheese, the leftover tomato soup, make a salad, cut up a watermelon and an avocado.
Then the guys go out in the rain to work. Charlie has brought a pump that Porgy and Gerry will use to uncover the spot where the leak is so they can fix it. Loring and Charlie go to install a meter in the generator shed. I wash up the lunch dishes. I refill the dish soap. From the back storage room, I get new paper towels and a pile of coffee filters for the kitchen. I bag up the trash—it accumulates a lot more quickly these days. I take it out and while I'm there I burn the burnable trash.
Gerry, who has brought diesel with him for his machines, and I fill up the buckets I’d filled with sawdust with diesel. Now there’s diesel dust to use again to light the fires. The other guys are looking for supplies. When everyone is set, we all go up to where the Tame Hydro’s line has been dug up and the leak problem site uncovered. Porgy wants me to get some pictures. I get some.
There’s a lot of coming and going for parts. I hand over buckets, shovels, screwdrivers, and take photos. There’s a lot of water seeping in from the division in the soil between the clay and the richer dirt. They have to bail out the dug pit often to keep the pipe clear to work on. Gerry uses the backhoe to bail it. And I think of the book Are You My Mother. This machine is a Snort.
Gerry and Porgy get the new part glued on and they hope it sets overnight even with the falling temperatures and the covering water.
I go fire up the sauna. I do a few chores. Sweep.
Porgy and I take advantage of the sauna. Then I go record the weather and get dinner started.
The guys have their evening cocktails and dinner is ready about 8:00.
They get the leftover chicken casserole. I make salmon and rice for myself. They get corn on the cob, coleslaw, and potato salad. I get all that minus the corn.
They talk systems, politics, engineering, travel. After dinner, I spend some time with the cat when I finally see she’s come down out of the roof.
When I come back in, Gerry and I wash up the dishes. "It’s like sitting at the table with NASA engineers," Gerry says, nodding his head back toward the dining room where Loring and Charlie and Porgy are talking amps and kilowatts, and power in and power out.
It’s after 10:00 when everyone leaves the lodge and I go up to the loft. It’ll be an early start tomorrow. I’ve got to get to bed. I’m exhausted.