Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Ice Boxing

"I've just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure within 72 hours." 

—HAL 9000


We're having problems with our refrigerator.

Disclaimer: it's a very expensive Liebherr appliance that we did not and would not ever buy, given we'd be just as happy (happier, maybe!) with a dumb ol' Kenmore. But here we are.

The Liebherr came with the house, and it looks cool (ha), so there was no point replacing it. Even now, as it's having a string of nervous breakdowns, all we want is to repair the thing ourselves so we can get back to stressing out about {gestures at EVERYTHING ELSE}.

Liebherr is a German company that manufactures high-end kitchen appliances (among many other, even more expensive items). So you might think they'd have a proportionate regard for customer service. 

And MAYBE they do in Ehingen, Germany, EU, but in Seattle, WA, USA, Liebherr parts and service is not a thing that exists in this messed-up timeline.

Sidebar: turns out if your Liebherr door gaskets are old and worn out, the rest of the fridge starts to behave like a kitchen version of the HAL-9000. 

Water, for example, condenses in the produce drawers—which is antithetical to their mission of keeping fruits and veggies fresh. 

Simultaneously, water collects *beneath* the drawers until critical mass is reached, at which time it flows downhill through invisible cracks and crevices to pool on our hardwood floors. Another thing water condensation does: IT FREEZES ON INTERNAL PANELS, DOING WEIRD THINGS TO FOOD WE DIDN'T WANT FROZEN.

Sorry for the yelling.

"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over." —Liebherr 9000

Administrative note: a long, ongoing google search for a SIMPLE ITEM has become increasingly frenetic. When it began, this exercise was merely frustrating—now, it's a quest. We will have new door gaskets. Oh my, yes. Yes, we will. No matter how many times Chrome must autofill the same list of search phrases, we WILL HAVE OUR GASKETS BECAUSE FUCK YOU 2020.

Again, apologies.

In the meantime, and rather embarrassingly, we're using *duct tape* to hold the current door seals together. We're doing so wild-eyed and cackling madly, to be sure...but we're doing it.

This journey of a thousand bandaids began with plain gray duct tape, because it complemented the color of the door gaskets. This solution would last from a week to a month depending on, IDK, the phases of the moon? After a few rounds of this, we've switched to Duck Brand decorative tape.*

That's right, we're accessorizing our fridge like it's a pair of black jeans—we can dress it up, we can dress it down. So far we've tried the fox & hedgehog pattern, the día de los muertos design, and the pride rainbow pattern. While we await the impressionist and cubist collection, we're considering the Van Gogh starry night option.

Is this problem, you may be thinking, really worth the time and the word count spent bemoaning it? It is not. Is it cheaper than the therapy I so clearly need? Yes, it certainly is.

Breaking update: Yesterday I received a voicemail from a refrigerator repair company in Portland, OR, USA sharing the secret number *they* call for Liebherr parts. It’s the first glimmer of hope in a virtual journey that has taken us from Seattle to Houston to Miami to New York City to my new good friend Kenneth Watt at UK Whitegoods in Kilmarnock, Scotland, UK.

UK Whitegoods, it should be noted, is "...probably the largest and best domestic appliance resource in the world." That's according to their web site, so it must be #factuallyaccurate.

It's also #factuallyaccurate that Kenneth Watt, while very responsive and cordial via email, was otherwise #nohelpwhatsoever.

But the phone number! From the guy in Portland! now in my possession. I haven't called it yet. One, I wanted to savor it for a bit. Two, I can't believe I have to call an actual phone number like I’m a Neanderthal or something. Three, I'm completely convinced it's another dead end, and I don't know how much more disappointment I can take.

Meanwhile, Liebherr 9000 seems to be aware of this latest development:

"I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you."

Oh, we're way past that, L-9K. Way past it.

{singing quietly} "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you..."



(*Not an endorsement, more a cry for help)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Chick Life

We're building a new chicken coop.

(These are not words I ever imagined I'd type, but here we are.)

We already have two coops, one a fully built thing that we simply had delivered to our door one day, about a thousand years ago. The other, a prefab kit we assembled in an afternoon. Together, the accommodations were entirely adequate for our little flock, or so I thought.

Turns out, I was mistaken.

The new coop is neither kit nor's an avian palace in progress.

I've lost count of the pressure-treated 4x4s we're using, not to mention the plywood and hardie board and cedar and deck screws. We've deployed a circular saw, a jig saw, a chop saw (borrowed), a power drill, and an electric screwdriver. For her five-year work anniversary gift, my wife selected a reciprocating saw that arrived a couple days ago. So far we haven't found a reason to bust that out, but its moment will come. 

The coop's main door and window are recovered materials from Ballard Reuse, a "salvaged building materials super store." Also to be installed is a new, solar-powered automatic door opener from a company in the UK. If this seems to you an extravagant geegaw that will never work in the real world, you are not alone. But I'm saying nothing over here, and I suggest you do the same.

The project is moving along, not at a glacial pace, but not quickly, either. I actually have some construction experience, from long-ago summers as an apprentice carpenter. I remember some of those trade-tricks, but have had to relearn many more.

My wife's architectural plan, while simple and ingenious, still leaves some things to the imagination. This leads to the occasional do-over and re-imagining. Don't get me wrong, her plan is not something I could've come up with, ever. I have nothing but admiration for its audacity and originality. Do I enjoy doing things over again? I do not. Could I have done better? Nope.

The fact is, we work well together. So far, we have been patient with the process and the progress. We celebrate our little successes, and don't dwell on the little failures. And, importantly, we haven't lopped off any fingers or toes. Yet.

It's good that we started this project in the summer, and important that we finish it before the rains come. I'm not confident our patience would survive first contact with cold, wet weekend work. 

Prediction: we'll finish before then.

In the meantime, the hens are enjoying our company in their realm out back. To their credit, they've never once complained or even hinted that their current accommodations are anything but delightful.

They may be the smart ones in our collective flock.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

After The Before Times

Like most people, we had plans.

Prior to March, 2020, my wife and I schemed furiously and nefariously about moving to the Big Island and starting a farm.

Nothing too ambitious—five or ten acres planted with whatever we felt like growing in the island's near-perfect conditions. 

There would be a couple dozen chickens, surely, and some goats. A few bee hives, a handful of rescue dogs and barn cats and maybe a pig.

And the views. Always the views. Across the water to Maui, mauka to Mauna Kea. Sunsets that would make us stop whatever we were doing and And listen. And maybe remember what it was like, a long time ago, when "getting out of our own heads" was a steady state rather than a wistful, fleeting goal.

As a side-hustle, I thought about starting up a little running company. Again, nothing too elaborate. Maybe three or four gatherings a year, in a place that quietly beckons you to come outside and be warm and move through tropical air at an enjoyable pace.

Mostly, though, our life would sway to the daily rhythm of the farm. Chatting with the chickens while collecting eggs. Harvesting fruit and veggies for the farmers market. Fretting over the health of the bees. Posting silly goat videos, running up and down hills with the dogs, marveling at what intelligent creatures pigs are.

In addition to the day's chores there would be projects. A greenhouse to set up, perhaps, or a new coop to build, or the scratchy clearing of non-native plants to make way for honeybee-friendly seedlings. There would be seasonal life to celebrate, inevitable deaths to mourn, followed by new creatures to welcome into our hearts. And so it would go.

Like most people, our plans went askew. March, 2020.

We didn't expect the journey from here to Hawi to be a straight line...we just didn't expect the line to be so volatile and aberrant and fraught. Like an injured bird willing itself up on one good wing, then hitting the ground in panicked confusion.

We still have plans, of course. They vary with the day, rising, falling, changing direction, pausing to get their bearings before trying again. 

As always, there's much to do in the here and now. Hens to cajole, bees to wrangle, cats and dogs to referee, and on and on.

We're grateful for what we have, and grieve for what's been lost. We're stolid about today, and anxious about tomorrow.

We wait for a reprieve from the insane, the impetuous, the inexplicable.

And in rare, quiet moments (quite often on a run), we stop what we're doing and think about the views.