a sad chirp
Monday, December 27 2021
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
Three guys from the solar installation company came out to the cabin this morning in two different vehicles, and I wasn't sure that those vehicles were even four-wheel-drive. In any case, I was sure I wouldn't be getting out unless I did a lot of work attacking the layer of slick ice on the driveway.
It was hard to focus on any project except unloading the car and playing the New York Times Spelling Bee while there were guys down in the basement. I expected them to need to talk to me at any moment, so I didn't want to be indisposed with a tile installation project, which has to continue while there is any wet thinset or grout, and isn't really finished until all the buckets and tools are clean of material that will otherwise turn into stone. At one point I ventured down to the basement to get a charged Ryobi battery for a small kindling-gathering project and I saw the three guys standing around the equipment looking a bit befuddled. I mentioned that I'd turned on the generator with a switch upstairs and that if they needed to turn it off they might not be able to override it. One of the guys responded that he used to work for Generac, which seemed like both a non-sequitur and a potential appeal to authority fallacy, though only if I'd somehow implied suspicion of incompetence in my demeanor. Certainly my assuredness that they knew what they were doing wasn't all that high, particularly when I kept hearing an alarm sound coming from the inverter. The sound was a sad chirp, as if the inverter (and all that it was attached to) barely had enough energy to make a sound at all.
As the daylight began winding down, I went out with a snow shovel to scratch away what loose snow I could from the driveway in the steep part leading away from the house. The parts where tracks from vehicles had hammered down ribbons of ice were impossible to shovel, but between them were areas I could scratch down to the gravel of the driveway.
While I was out there doing this, the solar installation guys were packing up to leave. The guy who had once worked for Generac told me that he and his colleagues had encountered some sort of weird error when configuring the cabin's solar setup that they couldn't get beyond, and the fine folks at Sol-Ark (the maker of the inverter) weren't answering the tech support hotline. So they were calling it a day and would be coming back tomorrow.
This meant that I could finally begin working on installing floor tile in the upstairs bathroom. The new tiles were hexagons of about six inches in diameter with a color somewhere between blue and green. Before installing that, I had to fix a few areas where the underlayment was delaminating from the subfloor. As always, installing the tile was slow, and dictated in large part by how much thinset I'd mixed. My first batch of thinset made it possible to tile the entire toilet area and nearly half way to the sink area nine feet away in a narrow semi-walled-off part of the bathroom. At that point I took a break to drink a beer and see if I could drive the Bolt up the hill at the beginning of the driveway. It wasn't even close; I couldn't even get the Bolt to the first place on the hill where the slope became a little more gentle. Meanwhile, a local radio station was talking about a fast-moving storm headed my way, and snowflakes had begun to fall. I realized I wouldn't be getting home tonight, meaning I'd have to be working from the cabin tomorrow. With that decision made for me, I mixed up another batch of thinset and tiled most of the way to the sink, stopping a little short of it because there was nowhere to maneuver without walking around on just-placed tiles. But I was able to use all the rest of my mixed-up thinset by tiling out a little into the rest of the bathroom. This project kept me up until about midnight.
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