The cold continues at the Harn.  I recently read another blog which asked what LIVABLE means.  His questions were about size of the space needed and whether electricity or off-grid was required.  A comfortable place to lay your head, a source of water, someplace to pee, and something to eat.  These are the basics but the one foremost on my mind of late is the requirement for WARMTH.  I awoke in early January to the third day in a row of below zero weather (with about 20-30 below zero nights) and found a pretty stiff wind coming from under the refrigerator.  I had, a few weeks earlier, stuffed towels around one side of the fridge and under the adjacent sink area to stop off the cold.  But a check the week before found no real cold on the other side of the fridge so I didn’t think much more about it.  Well, I should have!  On feeling the frigid breeze, I pulled the microwave (atop the fridge), drug out the little fridge, and began to search for the source.  Aha!  The corner joint between the east and south wall showed infiltration.  I stuffed paper into the cracks as a little black spider moved slowly from his web near the floor to a spot a bit higher.  I never disturbed him, unless he was upset by the “hello, little spider” and “how you doin’, buddy?” as I tried to encourage him I meant no harm.  The wall simply radiated cold – there was actually frost on the wall and the bottom hinge of the door.  But stuffing paper was about all I could do to help for now.  Feeling like I’d done well, I moved everything back into place and then felt the hinge on the door and, yep!  Slight breeze coming in there so I nailed up a blanket to block the lion’s share.  We’ll have to put a new seal on that door come spring.

The latest dilemma I have is whether to open the1-2-17-magpie-3covering over the south windows for solar gain or leave them closed to keep out the cold.  On sunny days, I open up it wide and on gloomy ones, I only pull up enough of the covering to watch the birds at the feeders.

So the big happening in early January is birthdays.  We got Mom roses that she just loved and a kind of funny gag gift that she maybe liked even more???  And Papaw Ed got some Gooseberry Jam and Syrup, that made his day, and a copy of the Magnificent Seven remake.  (I told Fran she can watch this one with him.  It’s safe.  Years ago Ed took her to see a Western at the theatre ~ Django Unchained ~ and I think it scarred her for life…)  And I felt so bad for not doing anything much for Christmas that I decided his Birthday had better get a bit more attention.

We’d been talking for some time about updating our collection of So It Goes, the literary journal published by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library with editors Julia & JT Whithead.  http://www.vonnegutlibrary.org/literary-journal/ We hadn’t gotten one since leaving Indiana so I got Issues 3 Creativity, 4 Social Justice & 5 Indiana Bicentennial Issue.  JT’s intro to Issue #3 was amazing.  I love JT Whitehead’s way with words and was happy to see his book of poetry The Table of the Elements got him nominated for the 2015 National Book Award!  http://www.vonnegutlibrary.org/as-is-for-arsenic-an-interview-with-national-book-award-nominee-j-t-whitehead/

Just as cool, I lucked into another part of Dan’s birthday loot.  I happened to be at Rail River Folk School (http://railriverfolkschool.org/) and, in addition to the books, they had some albums going up for sale.  I grabbed a few more than a dozen and felt like this birthday was going to be pretty good.  These are all used albums and I’m hoping they are all in good shape but, regardless, the money was going to a good cause. And the eclectic mix was enough to make it worth the money spent.  We listened first to Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and then a Robert Redford narrated album on Wolves.  But yet to hear are Trucker’s Songs (hey, it had Convoy!) and Waylon Jennings, Honeysuckle Rose and Anne Murray, Asia and Patsy Cline.  See what I mean?  A real romp through the past.  I even got a couple Disco albums – Far Out!

Dan brought me an electric blanket! (Yeah, maybe a birthday present to himself!)  Now it’s cozy sleeping, even if the Harn is cold.  But he also has on order a construction heater which has enough BTUs to assure I won’t freeze, even if we don’t have as much wood in our stash. It scheduled to show up in Alex the same day I do.

We went to Becida Bar for Birthday Dinner and also a celebration of our Land Purchase Anniversary.  It’s been 10 years to the day that we bought the Harn Property.  So, big time at Becida Bar ~ best food in town!!  Only place in town.  Really.  Nothing else there.  No Church, no other buildings, just Becida Bar.  Here it is in summer:

Becida Bar.jpg

The Plumber (I call him VDBD) came by to start installation for the indoor plumbing.  We, of course, found things we needed to change since his last visit but no show stoppers.  Dan and I were able to get the plumbing work we needed to do completed so we’re ready for phase 2 of the install.  We built stands for the pump and pressure tank.  We also had to relocate the wiring since our original idea of putting the water heater in the closet had to be scratched as it is just too cold in there.  The cistern room maintains temp better so we are installing all the components in there.  The water lines will run through the closer but the heater will be in the cistern room which should help keep the area warmer.  If the temp drops too low in the closet, we may have to put a heat lamp in there, but for now, we’ve stayed above 40°F.  I did make a new foam door for the closet that seals it pretty well from the rest of the Harn and is easier to put in place than the foam we had in place before.

With January came my commitment to Alexandria Community Ed where I presented the Foreign Film – The Tale of Princess Kaguya and my U-Group met two days later so I stayed in town.  Dan & I were happy to fit in a potluck night with friends Rita, Jon, Joe & Sylvia in between.  And it was nice to be able to take Mom and Tom to the shuttle for their big trip Down Under.  This meant 2 and a half days away from the Harn.  Leaving the space heaters running kept Lucky warm enough and the bowls of food and water kept him fed.  On arriving home, however, I found him fit to be tied.  There was food left in the bowls, there was plenty of water in the dishes, and it was over 50°, but he was yowling incessantly on my arrival.  He bitched and bitched the whole time I was bringing things in from the truck.  He kept it up even while I refilled his water dish and gave him some yummy soft food.  And while I put fresh sheets on the bed and turned on the electric blanket.  I finally climbed into bed and he immediately climbed under the covers and became silent.  Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur… on my chest.  Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr. Indeed.  [Thanks, Edith Newlin.]  Dude was so happy I was back he didn’t even beg for breakfast, just curled up on the bed and then, later, on Clay (the Rocket Mass Heater).

Since I also committed to working Saturday for Cherry Street Books, the week included two trips to Alex in a week.  I was able to head back Friday afternoon and hit the resale shops, in Park Rapids and Alex, finding some needed supplies for cheap.  I got some hardware and outlet plugs, a tin for ashes, a stereo, and some more rugs to cover the cold concrete floors.  That evening, we attended Lakes Area Radio Theatre show (which starred a friend Sue Justice – super fun!). [You can hear the show here: http://www.lakesareatheatre.com/ ]  And while there, we ran into the Bergers and Jim and Linda and, of course, Ted.  I’d seen Sue Gooch earlier in the day and it was great to see so many friends while I was in town.

The effect on me, being in town after so many weeks of solitude at the Harn, was kind of weird.  Up north I pretty much stick to home and spend time alone.  And even when I go to town, I don’t know a lot of people yet so it’s just a quick trip and head home.  I found myself a bit overwhelmed by all the talking but it was enjoyable.  I am finding that it’s hard to explain how I’m “doing at the Harn”.  It is just something I can’t really put into words.  It’s nice.  I’m happy with it.  But it’s still something I’m figuring out too.  It’s still new.  Maybe someday I can explain it better.  We’ll see.

Though I still don’t have running water, the plumber1-12-17-3 was back this week while I was home to get me closer to ready.  Dan and I hope to get the wiring and such in place soon so we can turn on the water.  Now that the kitchen sink has a faucet, it’s natural to think I can turn it on for a quick hand rinse but, no.  I can’t.   Yet.

Oh, and if you want to keep up to date on Harn Happenings, I have started a YouTube Channel called Harn Theory (ya’ know, like String Theory, only not so physic-y).  It will have video updates hopefully regularly and, if you subscribe, you’ll get notices when I post new stuff.  Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZcwdxIbsSbKuDKyAQuuG6g