coffee, cat balcony, and paint
Sunday, February 5 2012
Sundays are great days for drinking coffee, and so this morning I drank about 26 ounces of it for the first time in a week. Coffee has become a social ritual in our household, so Gretchen had eight ounces as well. I made hers a sort of ghetto cappuccino by shaking the vegan creamer vigorously before pouring so that it came out as a foam.
Coffee is a reliable euphoriant at this point, but after that initial high passes, I can easily get lost in some technical obsession, falling prey to the closest thing the human brain has to an endless loop. I call these "crackhead projects," though the only things I know about crackheads I've learned from the lamestream liberal media. Today's crackhead project was the melting down of every aluminum can in the house. There were maybe thirty, most of them pre-crushed. For a crucible, I used a can that had once held 28 ounces of tomato. I tucked it back among the coals in the woodstove and filled it with crushed cans. After awhile, I used a poker to compress the heated cans and then added more. And there you have the loop I executed, punctuated by periodic forays to find and crush any other remaining cans in the house. After an hour or so, I'd melted all the cans as well as an aluminum pie plate (the kind you get from a restaurant such as the Egg's Nest when you have to take pasta or chili to go).
I spent much of the rest of the day painting two different projects. The first of these was the new cat balcony, which needed to be wedding cake white (necessitating many layers of old, clotted flat white paint). The other was the part of the house just inside the front door. There's a very narrow (18 inches wide) area with a cathedral ceiling and then a wider entrance area featuring a coat closet and a table for wallets, binoculars, and field guides. Gretchen and I had selected a cantaloupe-orange for the walls here (mostly to annihilate the dinginess of old white paint and make a better backdrop for Gretchen's new favorite painting). I'd wanted to paint all the walls orange, but Gretchen wanted to leave one of the walls (the one having a beautifully-framed mirror that we bought in South Africa) white.
Gretchen used her caffeine buzz to make one of her "sick soups" for our neighbor Andrea, who claimed to ailing (but apparently not so badly that she couldn't share some wine with Gretchen when she came to deliver the soup).
Eventually, after several coats, the walls looked good, so I turned my attention to installing the cat balcony. I was supporting it from below with simple triangular metal brackets, but these looked cheap enough that I'd designed a pair of triangular plywood inserts to fit inside. These has matching designs I'd made using a hole saw (they looked like whimsical space ships or perhaps molecules). But I didn't initially install the inserts, wondering how Gretchen would react. And sure enough, she hedging expressed the view that the brackets looked cheap and didn't match the dollhouse balcony. So then I added the inserts and she was delighted.
We tried to interest the cats in the new balcony, and while Sylvia and Clarence seemed momentarily intrigued, they quickly lost interest. It's possible none of them will ever develop the habit of sleeping there, which was the intent. So for the time being the balcony's population will consist entirely of stuffed animals.
The aluminum "ingot" I made from melting down thirty or so cans in the woodstove today.
Looking at the little vent hole to the living room from the upstairs bedroom side.
Looking out into the living room from the upstairs bedroom. We're at about the level of the ceiling fan, lit by a multicolor party bulb.
The new cat balcony viewed from below in the living room. Those birds are the kind you can squeeze to trigger a recording of their call (though the internal batteries have been exhausted for years).
The balcony from a greater distance. I painted the triptych on burlap in 1994.
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