Wednesday, December 29, 2010

old and new

In September we stayed at the cabin at Adams Ranger Station outside of Grangeville and today I got back a roll from my Diana mini that I took (with varying results...) that weekend. I had it set on the half-frame so that's why they're split.

And apparently I wasn't advancing the film all the way at the beginning of the roll because this was the first shot, a three-in-one. AKA a happy accident.

Keith and I spent a couple of nights last weekend at a hotel in Orofino (a getaway for the very broke, which we definitely are) and soaked in their hot tub and watched all 17+ hours of season 6 of LOST in bed and had a very relaxing time without the pups.

xmas getaway

Then Amanda and K2 came down on Sunday and we opened presents, etc. and my mom, Amanda, and I all got alumni sweatshirts, so of course we had to take a photo! (I'm the odd one out.)

With my year-end bonus I rewarded myself with a camera bag I've been coveting for months now, the "Belle" from epiphanie. Not something I could justify buying before, with my measly paychecks, but the bonus was well-timed and I got my bag before Christmas.

But I didn't take it with me on our Orofino photo safari and my 50mm lens fell out of my pocket when I crouched down to take a photo, right onto the sidewalk. I think it still works. We shall see. Lesson learned. Now I have no excuse. And I'm looking more and more professional. My mom drew my name for Christmas and, in addition to the UM sweatshirt, she gave me a new camera strap I had on my wishlist.

I'm working on a Best Reads of 2010 post I'll have up soon...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Reads of 2010

I'm not very good at book reports and I don't pay attention much to "best sellers," but these 10 books (in no particular order) stood out for me as The Best over the last 12 months, so here's some ripped-off synopses of each.

Have you read any of these? Comments welcome!

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - Abdulrahman Zeitoun is the real-life hero of the book. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina he paddled from house to house in a canoe, offering help to his neighbours. For his trouble, he was arrested as a suspected terrorist.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver - This novel, about a boy's consequential bonds with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky, is a call to conscience and connection.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - Opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms.

Stoner by John Williams - Only two passions matter in Stoner’s life, love and learning, and in a sense he fails at both. This is the story of an ordinary man, seemingly thwarted at every turn, but also of the knotty integrity he preserves, the deep inner life behind the impassive facade.

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey - Inspired by the example of the legendary WPA American Guide series of the 1930s and '40s, an American road trip in book form: original writing on all 50 states by 50 of our finest novelists, journalists, and essayists.

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger - An entertaining, blow-by-blow account of the life and times of an epic Hollywood couple. But to read "Furious Love" is to grasp that, for these stars, acting was something to do when they were not fighting and drinking, two of their other major talents.

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem - Projected through the prism of race relations, black music and pop art, Lethem's stunning, disturbing and authoritatively observed narrative covers three decades of turbulent events on Dean Street, Brooklyn.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, this spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men--the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death.

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow - A cracker of a book, an addictive, intelligent thriller that plays out like the coolest ever dope-running gangster film on the cinema screen in your mind.

Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá - Using evidence gathered from human physiology, archaeology, primate biology and anthropological studies of pre-agricultural tribes from around the world, they argue that monogamy and the nuclear family are more recent inventions than most of us would expect — and far less natural than we've come to believe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm digging Keith's new role as SAHD...he's whipping out tiny house projects left and right.

Earlier this week he finished the half wall just inside the entrance to the tiny house. See this for reference.

It will eventually have glass on the top half to obscure the line of vision into the "bathroom" while still allowing maximum light and openness.

It's a great slab of barn wood with a lot of character. The end was hand-chiseled and there are marks on the top of it that show what happened in its former life.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snow day

First snow of the year and it looks like it's staying. Oh well, warm weather couldn't last forever. At least we don't have to get up in the middle of the night to keep the fire going!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Partial kitchen

This weekend we tackled a project and got the sink and counter installed!
sink installed
It's not plumbed, so it's strictly a sink in the academic sense, but it's another place to stack things and it's a step in the right direction of Fall/Winter Interior Extragavanza. I just made that up to inspire Keith who has decided to be a SAHD for a bit and work on the interior of the house.

The fourth leg (far right) will be replaced with a cabinet that's going to be 90° from the wall on that end of the counter and that leg will be repurposed as a towel rack connected between the second and third legs. But this is quite a big step!
keith standing at sink
It's tall because Keith has had to bend to reach most sinks where we've lived. The things you get to change when you build your own house!

We bought the counter for $6 this summer at Home Resource in Missoula. It didn't have a pre-cut hole which was perfect for us because we had found a $10 sink we wanted to use mainly because it was a) cheap b) old c) upcycled and d) doesn't have fixture holes in it like so many modern sinks do. The pipes for the legs (including the "feet" or flanges if you're into the whole accuracy thing) came off a trailer a friend of Keith's had, so they were basically free. Add the couple hours (total) of labor and we're getting off pretty cheap.
sink from above, installed
Keith's made a cutting board out of oak scrap (just needs sanded and trimmed) that fits inside the sink, so it can actually act as more counter space if we need it.
keith taking apart pieces to make legs
Keith disassembling the pipe pieces we used for the legs.

He finished putting up all the little pieces of insulation in the roof that were waiting to be finished and I picked out a huge slab of barn wood to go on the half wall at the entry. It's a small project (in theory), so maybe that's next.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The heat is on

...and we haven't died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Yet. (ahem)

After a rough start involving regulators (bad advice from 2 hardware stores - WTF, people), we finally got the heater hooked up and operating. As in: Keith crawled under the house with the spiders while I fished copper tubing through the hole and then he did the rest. He's good at that!

So, yes, it's definitely not as attractive as the old stove (which was a beaut), but the efficiency and reliability factors went through the roof with the new one, which runs on propane. We set it on the LOW setting and it keeps it at 70°+ all night. That's with the window cracked the width of my fist to prevent aforementioned CO poisoning.

The black part on the floor that was under the old stove will probably stay (ugly as it is) until we re-do the floor as part of the Murphy Bed Project, so that means who knows how long. Anyway, it's a concession we're living with.

Having heat indoors means we can, theoretically, work on the interior of the house over the winter and you know, cook meals and use a toilet of some fashion. Wow, won't that be an exciting day. The kitchen counter and sink are waiting patiently. Me, not so much with the patience.

Of course the dogs are very happy to have heat, too.

But having a heater doesn't mean they still don't get in bed. I was fooling myself thinking it would. Nothing short of pigeon spikes could keep these two down.

Don't let anyone tell you short-haired dogs don't shed. They do. In enormous amounts. I swept the day before I took this shot.

We're enjoying a mild, if rainy, fall and haven't seen any trace of snow in the valley. It frosted a couple of weeks ago, but otherwise plants are following the late seasons we've had all year. Here's a panorama from the (covered!) front porch of the tiny house. Click on it to see it larger.

I finished up Ashley's senior portrait session (4 in all! whew) and was pretty happy with the final results.

Ashley again

It took me a bit to find my groove and match up what I had in my mind with what I was able to produce through the camera. She was a good sport, too, and very patient with me. If it turns into some referral business, great. If not, it was still a good experience.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It can't be October already.

On the way up the old Nezperce grade last weekend to cover the Lewis County Fair (and also the combine demolition derby), we stopped at The Point to take in the view.

Once you get on top, the scenery really changes and starts to resemble the Palouse.

It was a gorgeous day. I saw a dust devil and even snapped a few photos, but it escaped capture.

In Tiny House news:
We sold our stove! Mixed feelings on this. We both LOVED that stove. Aesthetically, it was perfect. Practically, not so much.

Keith ordered a propane infrared heater (something similar to this) from a local place today as they're on sale for $170. It will great to wake up on a winter morning and not have icicles in my nose. (Also, since it's been gone - no where to pile things as we come in the door. For me, a person who lives by piles, it's somewhat of a problem.)

We're still not sure what kind of kitchen/cooking set-up we're going for now that we're going to have heat under control. We saw some rad outdoor grills at Costco. I mean how sweet would it be to have something like this.

We even considered an outdoor oven, like Camp Chef sells, but I don't know how practical that would be. Probably not the safest way to cook inside, ha. But as long as the weather stays above freezing we have a coffee station set up on the deck. French press travel mugs + camp stove = mmm.

Photography-wise, I am hoping to get on a roll with some senior portraits. I'm shooting the first girl for free (she's buying prints) just to get the images out there and hopefully that will earn a referral or two. I've heard people want options for senior portraits around here, but whether or not I am that other option, we'll see.

I made a FB page for myself and I've uploaded the first set of Ashley's senior portraits there. It was a meet-and-get-comfortable kind of shoot so I'm hoping to push the boundaries a bit downtown tomorrow on her second shoot. Maybe try to channel Parker Fitzgerald.

Mia girl has been on a tennis ball rampage. We bought 2 cans in Missoula and we have two balls left. She would go until her heart exploded, but we take it easy and I make her take drink breaks. Thinking of submitting her (and/or Lazlo's) photos to the Idaho Humane Society for their calendar contest...

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is how we camp.

Keith and I and my parents and Amanda and Keith (aka K2) stayed in the Adams Ranger Station cabin this weekend. It was only a couple hours' drive for us, but more like 5 hours for Amanda and Keith. It borders the Gospel-Hump Wilderness, which we've always wanted to see/go to (right out our back door, practically), but had never visited. We'll definitely be going back. With some hiking boots.

oh hai

Keith and I went up on Friday around noon to scout the place and take a drive to the nearby lake(s) where Keith hoped he could fish.

Keith was watching the fish rise wayyyyy down there, lower Gospel Lake

We made it all the way to the Moore's Lake trailhead (another 3 miles into the lake) and back down to within 1 mile of the cabin when the brakes on the (1988)
Ranger seized up and we ended up walking the rest of the way back, with the dogs, alongside the highway where gravel dump trucks were running. Good times. Still, not 12 miles out and not in the middle of the night, so no real room to complain. But: no fishing.

inside the cabin

Saturday after a delicious pancake brekkie, we all piled into my parents' quadcab and drove even farther up the same road, all 14 or so miles to Square Mountain Lookout. Pretty basic and, I imagine, pretty windy. But what a view!

Square Mtn. Lookout - WYSIWYG

Click on the photo for a larger size.

This is Mia's idea of camping---when you get to go inside and sleep on a bed at night. She was a pretty good girl.
She let K2 pet her for about 15 minutes one morning (she let him pet her all weekend, actually) and then nipped him on the back of the leg a little bit later. Bad dog! And we had to wrangle Lazlo whenever Amanda and K2's dog Cliff was around because Lazlo thinks he needs to ... I don't know what... dominate Cliff? He's done that already, so I don't know what his point is. Anyway, just to be safe he was on leash a lot of the time.

Cliff is a good dog, despite what Lazlo thinks.

After making it back down the very steep road from Square Mountain Keith hopped in the Ranger and the brakes had un-seized themselves and we did a happy dance.

The scenery up there is gorgeous and we're lucky to live so close to somewhere that is TRULY wilderness. I'm not kidding when I say we'll be going back with hiking boots. Gospel Lake, for sure, is a trek we'll make and I think Moore's Lake, too. It would be great to spend a couple weeks in the backcountry next summer and this is so close it'd be criminal not to.

It's definitely looking like fall up there. A lot of reds and oranges. I just had to break out my "nifty 50" to document it.