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Caspar 28 September 2019


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Autumn is upon us – began this week, and the usual pre-Winter hustle has begun amidst luscious Fall weather. Lila's Maples are making glorious colors (as is the Poison Oak on the Headlands.) 

Kyle and Nate Anderson were here most of the week, milling up the two big Pine trunks we felled last Autumn into 8x8s and lesser timbers that might one day become a water tower? 


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The portable sawmill has a thin horizontal water-cooled blade, so there's very little merchantable timber lost to the saw kerf – a sawdust pile representing the thickness of the blade. Much better than an Alaskan mill's 3/8“. It also has hydraulics that allow it to flip a log 90º so one guy – Kyle – could manage some large baulks. Even so, the trunks were so big they had to be ripped with a chainsaw before they'd fit on the mill. 

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Here's one of the baulks in the mill having its top (inside, chainsawed) face sawn flat and square with the other three sides. The timbers are full dimension and rough, but there's a surprising amount of good straight grained wood with minimal knots; much better than I expected. 


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Here's the finished stack, stickered to season for a winter; it's plenty wet still even a year down, but it needs another few months to be dry enough to work. 

Much of the lumber in our oldest house didn't get that seasoning. It was carpentered into place wet, and subsequently shrank in place, so quite often with wall and floor boards there's a quarter inche between boards. They covered those cracks with newspaper, applied like wallpaper, with a flour-based “glue.” We're not in quite that much of a hurry.

The big beams in the stack are true 8-by-8s 21 feet long. There's more than just a water tower here.

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Lunch at Trillium Cafe in Mendocino as part of our usual farmers market festivities. Lovely food, but sullen service from a disgruntled server. Special (at left, as a split for one) of local pork belly sliders, on offer two to a serving. “Would the chef be willing to make us three sliders, inasmuch as there are three of us?” 

“Oh, I doubt it, he doesn't usually do that ...but I'll ask [protect my tip.]” A few moments later she comes out with the good news; the chef is in a good mood, and no problem. And then she proceeds to ignore us (by way of punishment for being difficult customers) for ten minutes before taking the rest of our order.


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Giving us time to reflect on yesterday's visitor, a young friend, Laurel, daughter of a colleague of Rochelle's, who finished up her acting bachelors, went to New York seeking fame and fortune, and is now happily embarked on a course to become a sommelier. Her Manhattan restaurants (they're a group) are “HI” – hospitality included, and she says it removes all the unpleasantness surrounding tips: stiffed services, jealousy between servers, the back-of-house staff, expediters and bussers feeling neglected, etc., etc.

Also to reflect on how poorly trained most of our area servers are. We're a visitor serving economy, and yet there's no infrastructure – college courses, even vocational courses in high school – to train the young ones who are most likely going to end up in service industry jobs. Some have actually eaten in a restaurant where they've been (1) well served and (2) actually took notice, but most of them haven't ever eaten a sit-down cloth napkin meal ...so how are they meant to know what to do? 

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Yesterday we were summoned out to Gene and Star Parsons's place because Old Number X-44 was steamed up and giving rides. Gene's been working on the eighth scale locomotive and rig for years, and it's a perfect project for someone with his metalworking skills. As you might expect if you know Gene, all the details are scaled and completed meticulously: tiny little valves, to-scale control levers, the whole nine yards. 

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mouseover to enlarge the nameplate.

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Inside the cab, the controls are just as they should be. We've got 100 psi of steam in the boiler! Whoo-hooo!

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I can't resist one more picture; this one's by Star: Sienna, Lilybet's daughter Melody and son Brannan, and the Maestro getting ready to ride.

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