Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I've grown indifferent to the hoopla associated with the whole New Year's Eve thing. I stopped staying up solely to view the dropping of the lighted ball at Times Square about 20 years ago. (I did stay up to watch the clock tick over to the year 2000. Partly because of the world-wide celebrations that were televised at that time.)
I was never a party person. Large crowds give me a stomach full of butterflies. Mildly phobic? Perhaps. I just feel uncomfortable when there are lots of people around. Even a visit to the mall can be problematic unless I focus only upon my immediate surroundings. Go to the movies? HA! I can manage a sporting even where I'm focusing upon the field or the court and just a few of the fans around me but going to the concession stand will have me in a sweat.
Small picnic parties outdoors, a couple or two over for dinner, affairs where I can isolate myself with a few good friends...those are the types of parties I enjoy. (Although a couple of beers/ales will help me get through the trials of meeting new people in tight quarters.)
So I'll sit here and watch my football bowl games and turn in well before the midnight hour arrives. May you have a safe and enjoyable evening.
On Sunday the temperature here at the Aerie was over 50 degrees. We had hours of sunshine on aptly named Sunday and more on Monday (although the temperature did start to fall on that day). Tuesday we had more sunshine but winds out of the northwest soon brought clouds and the temperatures fell even more. Tuesday night the clouds thickened and this morning we got two to three inches of very light snow with temperatures topping out at 16 or 17 degrees. The snow stopped shortly after noon and the sun came out briefly. As soon as it set, however, the temperatures fell still more. It’s currently 9 degrees and it will go lower overnight.
I got my workout shoveling the driveway. It was easy to do as the snow was both light and not very deep. By being in constant motion and using the shovel like a plow, I was able to finish the job in about 90 minutes.
We’ll have some sun and some snow flurries with temperatures hovering around the norms for the next week. Things aren't clear as to how much if any accumulation we are likely to get but the best chance will come on Friday night into Saturday. The wind will be whipping the powder off the fields that line the road, however, so drifts will be a concern for anyone driving in the Northern Tier for a couple of days.
The good news is that we will be getting a little more daylight each and every day from now until June 21st. I like daylight. Lack of daylight makes me SAD.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In fact though I started the 34-game bowl season with a mere 1-7 record, I’ve reeled off 6 straight correct picks to get back to .500. Luckily, I’m not picking against a spread because several of my winners didn’t cover the spread.
I picked West Virginia to defeat North Carolina and they did—by a single point 31-30 in one very exciting game.
I had Florida State over Wisconsin and I thought it might be a blowout. It was as FSU rolled 42-13 as the FSU defense scored more points than the Badgers' offense (14 points came off fumble returns).
I figured Cal's Golden Bears would spank Miami on the west coast by more than the 24-17 they managed.
And that Louisiana Tech would triumph (24-17) over Northern Illinois down in Shreveport should not have been a surprise to anyone.
Rutgers made me sweat a bit as the NC State quarterback (Russell Wilson) did a fine job in the first half. Thank goodness Teel and Co. came out to play in the second half and NC State’s Wilson did not (injured knee). RU pulled it out coming from behind in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006. The final: 29-23.
Who would have expected Northwestern to play Missouri as tough as they did last night? The Wildcats played the Tigers to a draw in regulation but finally succumbed 30-23 in OT.
So with 14 games played I’ve got a 7-7 record in picking the winners. Not great, but after starting 1 and 7 not bad either. And it seems that I'm doing as well as some "professionals" at ESPN.
(It irks me no end that they still 1-mispronounce "Rutgers" There is a "t" in the middle gentlemen! There is no "d" and, for crying out loud, there's definitely not a "gg"! "Rut-gers" Got it? 2-call it the "University of Rutgers" when it is "Rutgers University." 3- at one point immediately after the game said they had just seen NC State win! Okay, both teams wore red and white uniforms but still.... The birth place of college football and it still gets treated like Rodney Dangerfield: No respect.)
There are twenty more games to go with the bulk (13) of those in the next three days.
BTW. If you're keeping track based upon Conference affiliation...The Big East is currently 3-0 with South Florida, West Virginia and Rutgers winners in their games. We still have Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Cincinnati coming up. (Six of eight teams were bowl eligible with only Louisville and Syracuse staying home.)
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Terry got all excited when she saw one alight in a pine tree on the edge of the yard. Just as I got it in sight, it flew down the driveway ad landed at the very tippy-top of the sumac that is along one side. It was pecking at the sumac fruit at the very top of the plant as it swayed to and fro in the wind. As I looked, a second Pileated joined the first and it became obvious that we had a male and female on the sumac.
I grabbed my camera, put on the zoom lens and got out on the deck to take some pictures. It wasn't easy! With the branches of the sumac swaying as much as 18 inches back and forth, and being mere spindles against a backdrop of a dark pine, trying to focus on the birds was tough. The female flew off as soon as I turned the corner of the house. The male stayed on and I snapped half a dozen pictures. Only one was remotely in focus.
There's plenty of dead wood in the forest above the Aerie for these big, chisel-beaked birds. We hear them frequently. We see them much less.
Not today. And probably not for a couple of weeks.
We've got company and the food has been too plentiful and too good to pass.
Suffice to say that, were I to step on the scale today it might very well protest thus, "One at a time, damn it!"
And the weather stinks. If it's not raining, it's icing over. If it's not icing over, it's thawing and muddy as hell.
Christmas Eve it was fist icy, then rainy then windy--40 mph worth of wind--first from the south then the north. Christmas morning the wind continued and the temperature plummeted from the 40s into the 20s and stayed there all day. The morning had snow flurries but the driveway was a sheet of ice (from packed and partially melted snow). The day after (Friday, the 26th) it was cloudy, misty and clammy all day. The only good thing about Friday was the lack of wind. But that was rectified over night. The winds returned this morning and the ceiling has settled at around 2000 feet. I may have mentioned that the Aerie is at 2100 feet. Those who are good at math will see that we are sitting in the midst (mist?) of the cloud cover. At least the temperatures have moved up close to 40 again so the ice in the drive is swiftly breaking up.
I could do with a couple of days where it's "mostly sunny" instead of "mostly cloudy."
Thursday, December 25, 2008
It's a good thing I haven't given up my day job to become a college football prognosticator. There have been seven bowl games played so far and I've gotten a grand total of ONE (1) of them right! (Thank you South Florida!) Okay, it took overtime for Ole Miss to beat my pick Troy 30-27, and TCU beat Boise State by just one freakin' point 17-16, and Colorado State needed 285 yards gained by Gartrell Johnson (he got another 90 yards receiving for a total of 375 yards) to beat Fresno State 40-35, I still had the wrong team in six of the seven games played.
Navy got sunk by Wake Forest 29-19 and BYU got taken down by Arizona 31-21.
I'd feel really bad about the 1-6 record except 1) I'm not in any pool and 2) my buddy Mark is 2-5 and he's the only person with whom I have any wager(s).
There's still a heck of a lot of football to be played and 27 more picks. (Mark and I differ on six more games.) Here's hoping I don't end up with just a 5 and 29 record. Here's the post with all my picks in case you wish to place bets on the teams I picked against.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
[UPDATE: 10:00 AM No I won't! There's an Ice Storm Warning out for all of Tioga County, PA It says we could get between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of ice within the next three to four hours before things switch over to all rain. The same system is currently over I-80 and Route 15 north of Williamsport--the direction I would have to go to get to NJ from the Aerie. I am not crazy enough to go driving over some very hilly terrain on ice slicked roads. And I don't care that I've got 4-wheel drive on the Tundra. It's not worth a damn on ice. So it'll be just me and the cats for Christmas Eve and morning. I'm working on teaching Chester how to tackle ole St. Nick when he shows up.]
May you and yours enjoy a very Merry Christmas.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Theo Spark: Diary of a Snow Shoveler.....#links#links
Oh, and Chester and Shadow are back to normal today. Like a pair of preteen siblings, they've been fluctuating between arguing and ignoring one another.
Cold enough that Shadow permitted Chester to cuddle up to her on the couch. She even did some cleaning of his ears. He, in turn pushed his head into her belly like he wanted to nurse. Shadow would have none of that, however, and growled a warning that he needed to cut that sh*t out! He did and they stayed cuddled for quite some time.
The remarkable thing about this is they are brother and sister and behave like such all the time. That means Shadow is always screeching at Chester even if all he has done is look at her cross-eyed. Oh, sometimes he deserves a good screeching and caterwauling such as when Shadow just wants to sleep and he wants to play tag or wrestle a little, but more often than not it's just Chester being curious as to what Shadow's doing.
So yesterday's cold was not quite the cataclysmic event that would bring cats and dogs together, but it did bring this brother and sister pair to a tentative peace.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Well, it's not exactly 69 below, but it is pretty darn cold out there this morning.
As befits the first full day of Winter and one of the shortest day of the year, today is colder than a well digger's tootsies. The wind howled all night out of the northwest and the thermometer read a mere 0.9 degrees at 7:30 AM. It had been as low as minus 0.8 degrees an hour earlier. The "good" news is the sky is clear and we should get some sunshine today. Of course that clear sky is one of the reasons it's so dang cold. No blanket of clouds to keep the heat in over night.
I ventured out to replenish the tray bird feeders and scatter some seed on the ground for those who prefer that form of feeding and I could feel the icy fingers of the wind attempting to get through the zipper of my coat. When I came back in the house my glasses fogged up instantly and I had to remove them. No worry about the cats trying to sneak outside--they ran the other way as soon as I opened the door to get back in. No dummies they!
I heard the snow plow/cinder truck go up and down the hill a little bit ago so I guess I'll have to go out and dig the frozen crap from the end of the driveway before I can head down to the post office. Before I do that, however, I believe I will need another big mug of hot coffee.
PS: I blame global warming.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I stepped on the scale this morning and it didn't scream at me. The reading was 219 pounds which is down one from last week. Any decrease is a good decrease.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I feel like I'm trapped in a snow globe.
(Ya gotta laugh. It's too early in the season--winter starts tomorrow, fer cryin' out loud--for cabin fever.)
The local TV weather quack just said, "We're not looking for any snow this morning."
Well, Sherlock, it's looking for you! It's here...now...you don't have to farookin' look for it fer cryin' out loud!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Now that's not to say they will be wrong on storm 2 (Sunday) or storm 3 (next Wednesday). They may be wrong right now about those storms but I will give them some leeway as they are several days away from reaching here. But this storm...well they got it wrong from last night to this morning (started several hours after they said it would last night) and from this morning to this afternoon as to when it finished (sooner than expected and, therefore, with less accumulation).
Sometimes I think it would be nice to me a weatherman where your accuracy need only be of the ballpark variety, close counts and if you hit .275 you're a star.
At 7:45 AM you could see the snow moving toward the Aerie from across the valley and by 8 AM flakes had started to fall. I donned my boots and coat and rushed down to the post office to get send out some mail and pick up ours and got back by 8:45.
It's now 10:45 and there's 2-3 inches of fresh powder on the deck. Let's take a look at the forecast...Sh*t! They've extended the warning to 11 PM tonight and increased the expected accumulations to 8-11 inches (up one from yesterday). AccuWeather's maps are a wee bit different but in the same ball park.
And they're showing another storm coming on Sunday/Sunday night following damn near the same path although there's some chance it might, just might slip a tiny bit further north and only add 3-6 inches to what's on the ground.
And then there's the one forecast for the 24th....
Well, I did say I liked the changing seasons and would never consider retiring to someplace like Florida. Anyway, snow beats the crap out of having to sit through hurricanes, 100 degree summer days with 110% relative humidity, and fire ants and such.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The group is Da-Yoopers.
First we have every hunter's dream trophy:
The 30-Point Buck
And then there's a song about the mysteries of deer camp, specifically what happens during
The Second Week of Deer Camp
...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 7 AM TO 11 PM EST FRIDAY...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STATE COLLEGE HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW AND SOME FREEZING RAIN...WHICH IS IN
EFFECT FROM 7 AM TO 11 PM EST FRIDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO
LONGER IN EFFECT.
SNOW WILL MOVE INTO THE REGION EARLY FRIDAY MORNING...RIGHT AROUND
SUNRISE. THE SNOW WILL GET HEAVY AS THE DAY CONTINUES ON FRIDAY.
THE SNOW WILL MIX WITH SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN ALONG AND JUST
NORTH OF INTERSTATE 80...BUT IT WILL STAY MAINLY SNOW IN THE
MOUNTAINS NORTH AND EAST OF WILLIAMSPORT.
EXPECT BETWEEN 7 AND 10 INCHES OF SNOW BY LATE EVENING FRIDAY IN
MANSFIELD AND LAPORTE. EXPECT LOWER SNOW TOTALS IN AND NEAR
WILLIAMSPORT...SUNBURY AND BLOOMSBURG...AS A LONGER PERIOD OF SLEET
AND FREEZING RAIN WILL OCCUR THERE. HOWEVER...ICE ACCRETIONS WILL
BE RIGHT AROUND A QUARTER OF AN INCH IN THOSE MORE-SOUTHERN
Those yobs in State College want snow sooo badly they moan and groan that they will only be getting an inch or two followed by some sleet. They can come up here and do some shoveling and/or walk behind the snow thrower for an hour.
Hey, at least I'll get to try out my new modified V-tail snowshoes. My Alaskan snow shoes (long, narrow with a sizable tail) are up in the Bolt Hole. Those are made of wood and rawhide. I was going to get a pair made by the same company (Faber) up in Canada but the wooden modified V-tail cost nearly twice what a similar pair from Sportsman's Guide in aluminum and plastic cost me and they didn't have metal cleats to assist going up and down steep, icy terrain--an important consideration here on my sloping property. Maybe next time I'll get the pretty ones.
I went over there this morning to see what was about and found the roads and parking lots cleared to the ground. I'm sure they won't be that way on Saturday. The Lake is still lowered although there seemed to be a bit more water than the last time I was there. Much of the water in the lake is frozen over and only Crooked Creek and the waters at its mouth seem to be open.
And sitting in a tree looking over the open water were a pair of mature Bald Eagles. Whether they were there because it afforded an excellent perch from which to fish, or scavenge any dead thing that floated by, or because from there they could hunt a Canada Goose from the huge flock gathered on the ice and exposed bars on the other side of the open water channel, I don't know. I drove past and turned around before stopping the truck and taking out my camera. The Eagles didn't move. I snapped several pictures from inside the truck (motor off to eliminate vibrations) and then stepped out of the truck to take some more. That's when the Eagles started paying attention to me. One turned its head to eye me and later shifted on the branch to look face me more directly. And I was a good two hundred yards away.
It wasn't moving about much and I thought it might be ill. I grabbed the camera and ventured forth to photograph the little mammal before a wandering feral feline or an avian predator ended what ever it was doing permanently. As I approached I could see that while it looked motionless from a distance, its front paws were digging frantically in the snow beneath the tray feeder. What it hoped to find there, I have no idea. The ground is pretty frozen and, to the best of my knowledge, the shrews eat meat not sunflower seeds. After all, why else would they have poison glands and saliva if not to subdue another animal?
I managed to snap the one photo and then reached out to touch the critter hoping to get a better view.(Mean, really, how much do you want to see a shrew's butt? I was hoping for little, black, beady eyes and maybe a hissing snarl showing lots of sharp teeth with their reddish coloring. something vicious would be the ticket!)
Well! It might have been acting sluggish as it dug in the snow but my touch lit a fire under it! It scampered off into the rocks, zig-zagging as it went over the snow's surface, dove beneath one rock which had an edge levered up to create a miniature cave, and that was that.
The first is a smocked ball in shades of purple and green on white.
Then we have a needlepoint representation of a Poinsettia that was done on a paper backing.
And finally (at least for today) we have an acorn--in plaid--in what I guess you might say is a version of quilting an/or applique. I really like the way the cloth "scales" drape over the form on this one. (Of course, I also like the red/green/black plaid!)
They were even good about all the fuss when we were setting it up and decorating the tree. Chester did get interested when we were testing the lights, however. The dragging cord and general plasticy nature of the wire coating had his attention for a short time. He inspected them closely and then forgot all about them. Perhaps if they were blinkers....
more animals (This is not Chester...but it could have been.)
During the actual hanging of ornaments and such Chester merely slept on the Christmas stockings and the other two disappeared to where ever they go when the play Tallulah Bankhead and just want to be alone. Shadow has since realized there is now a source of water to be found beneath the lowest bows. And Julie has tasted (and probably swallowed) several strands of tinsel. But other than that, they have only cast glances in the general direction of the tree. Which is good.
For a sleigh ride together
In yesterday's post "Blah! Humbug!" the Rev. Paul left a comment that read in part " Could be worse, though - heavy snows, ice storms, power outages." All I can say is thanks a lot Rev.! Someone must have over heard cause here's the forecast for tonight and tomorrow:
(This from the Weather.com site.)
Winter Storm Watch for Tioga County, PA
from 4 am EST, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008 until 6 pm EST, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008
Issued by The National Weather Service
State College, PA
5:01 am EST, Thu., Dec. 18, 2008
... WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON...
A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
A NEW STORM RACING OUT OF THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES WILL BRING MORE WINTRY PRECIPITATION TO CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA. SNOW WILL MOVE INTO THE REGION LATER TONIGHT... MIXED WITH SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN OVER SOUTHERN PARTS OF THE WATCH AREA. PRECIPITATION WILL CONTINUE TO OVERSPREAD THE REGION FRIDAY... WITH A WINTRY MIX OF SNOW... SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN OVER MUCH OF THE CENTRAL MOUNTAINS... AND MAINLY SNOW FURTHER NORTH TO THE NEW YORK BORDER.
THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW OVER THE REGION FROM ABOUT INTERSTATE 80 NORTHWARD... WITH ACCUMULATIONS IN EXCESS OF 6 INCHES POSSIBLE.
OVER THE CENTRAL MOUNTAINS SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 80... MORE OF A WINTRY MIX IS EXPECTED WITH MODERATE ACCUMULATIONS OF SNOW AND SLEET... FOLLOWED BY FREEZING RAIN.
And here's the Weather.com forecast for the next 36 hours:
Not to be outdone, the AccuWeather crew have a little more detail on the accumulations.
Please note the accumulation totals at the top of that graphic. That's 15.7 inches followed by winds gusting in to the 40 mph range. At least they took the 0.4 inches of ice out of the local forecast. That's going to happen to the south of us near I-80.
I believe AccuWeather is headquartered in State College, PA. They have, from time to time bemoaned the lack of snow fall in the area. They all should be happy as all get out based upon their long range forecast which shows nothing but snow, snow, snow through New Year's Day. The storm highlighted here is just the first of three heading our way. Should be fun!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The ninety or so that Terry did are almost evenly split between those which have some form of embroidery and those that are smocked.
If you really want to play the game, you can download various permutations of this game at this link. Unfortunately, it cannot be played on line and there is no version for Macs.
The temperatures have slowly crept into the low 30s today but the ceiling is right around 2000 feet meaning we've been ensconced in a cloud bank for much of the day. There's no precipitation to speak of.... I mean, if it were to precipitate, it would have to fall out of the clouds, right? And we are, well, IN the clouds so anything that were to fall would be...if you'd pardon the expression...beneath us.
So, it's just a foggy, raw, dreary day at the Aerie.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The first year we had just moved in and were still putting finishing touches on the interior. In fact, we didn't really have a certificate of occupancy form the building inspector, but since his assistant was our contractor's son and he was one doing the finishing touches....
The second year, Rick was in Guyana and we went to New Jersey to celebrate with the Mom-in-Law, Jessica, and my sister's family.
This year, Rick and Sandy (fiancee) will be coming east from Eugene, OR. They are taking the train to Chicago and then flying into Newark on Sunday. They will stay in NJ for a couple of days and Terry and I will join them there for Christmas Eve at my sister's and Christmas Day at Terry's Mom's. We'll then drag them to the Aerie for a couple of days. Then they'll hop a flight out of Newark on December 29th for Chicago to celebrate the New Year with Sandy's parents before heading back to Eugene. (Or, at least I think that's what's going to happen. I get treated like a mushroom, if you know what I mean.)
So, any way you look at it, we will have company for Christmas. That means we have to have a tree.
We picked up a nice tree (Balsam Fir) from a tree farm west of here (Zimmer Century Tree Farm). They drilled the base to fit the stand and also to display the trees in their small lot. We could have gone out into the larger fields to select and cut our own, but the ground was muddy from the melting snow and I preferred the easy method of pointing and saying, "We'll take that one."
The tree stands about 11 feet tall and was selected for its relatively narrow physique as well as its height. It fits in rather nicely to the left of the fireplace.(Which will, of course, not be lit for the next two to two-and-a-half weeks regardless how cold it gets.)
The tree was a challenge to decorate. We have never had one as tall as this. The ceilings in our Morristown house were low enough that I could touch them if I stood on my tiptoes...about 7 1/2 feet. Now we have a huge cathedral ceiling and the sky's the limit! Well, maybe not the sky, but pretty far up there anyway. To get the lights and decorations on the tree required the use of a step ladder. And I must say, Terry did a damn fine job, too!
How convenient for Santa! (Or the Hogfather. whichever.)
All the decorations we (okay, Terry) hung this year were hand made. They are either smocked or embroidered. Terry estimates 85-90% were done by her. The balance were done either by Jessica, members of Terry's smocking and embroidery clubs and acquired in an exchange of gifts, or purchased from other smockers/embroiderers.
Between the Franklin Mint and Hallmark, we still have enough ornaments for two or three more trees. But not this year.
(Actually, I helped with the lights and some of the higher decorations. Even with the step ladder she had trouble reaching the tip top branches cause she's got short arms.)
Chipmunks Roasting on An Open Fire
(Boldly stolen from Theo who had it first.)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wild turkeys are becoming frequent visitors again. A couple of days ago a flock of 15 or 16 marched up the hill without stopping. Yesterday a group of 10 or 12 came over to the feeders but, not finding the snow depth to their liking, they moved on. Today's group, apparently all old Toms based upon their long beards, were happy that I had shoveled some of the snow and scattered seed for the Juncos and Mourning Doves. They also spent some time scratching under the feeders for seeds that had been buried in the ice. They hung around for quite awhile--until Terry sneezed in her sewing room. Then they meandered off into the woods.
Wild Turkeys under the feeders.
The long beards (feather growths on their chests that hang down) indicate that these are some pretty old Toms.
Turkeys are not the only game birds to approach the Aerie's feeders.
Mourning Doves are also abundant at the feeders. Most of them feed on the ground or on the deck where the tray feeder has no roof over it.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
We have enjoyed the redneck jokes for years. It's time to take a reflective look at the core beliefs of a culture that values home, family, country and God. If I had to stand before a dozen terrorists who threaten my life, I'd choose a half dozen or so rednecks to back me up. Tire irons, squirrel guns and grit -- that's what rednecks are made of. I hope I am one of those. If you feel the same, pass this on to your redneck friends. Ya'll know who ya' are!!
You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended
by the phrase, 'One nation, under God.'
You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the
10 Commandments posted in public places.
You might be a redneck if: You still say 'Christmas' instead of
You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.
You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your
heart when they play the National Anthem.
You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with
great respect, and always have.
You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag, nor
You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't
afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.
You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your
kids to do the same.
You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.
Standard snowy forest scene from the side porch looking west-northwest.
The bird feeders all had white caps and many of the seed shoots were clogged with snow and ice. I had to scrape the snow away to allow the birds to access the seeds.
The front deck was covered with snow as were the two Adirondack chairs we have out there. I really should have brought these into the basement before the winter weather struck. They are, however, stained and sealed so they should be alright.
This won't be the last snow storm of the season...heck, winter hasn't officially begun! Friday night's full moon and all the snowy goodness certainly made the world bright at 3 AM when the moon shone in the bedroom window!
Friday evening, Chester started out after his sister(?). [She may be either a full blooded sister or a step sister having a different mother. Two females--one feral and one domestic but in the same yard--both giving birth the same day presumably having been knocked up by the same wandering tom.-ed.] He approached and she growled and started walking away. He lunged and tackled her and all hell broke loose. Spitting, screeching, howling Shadow broke free after a minute or two and raced around the living area with Chester in hot pursuit.
Shadow rounded the kitchen island, leaped to the counter top, to the refrigerator, to the pantry top and up to the beam that is her refuge in a storm. Chester stopped dead in his tracks on the floor in front of the counter. At 17+ pounds, he hasn't been jumping too high lately.
He looked at the height of the counter and screwed up his butt and leaped skyward landing with all the grace associated with a bull in a china shop. The first step accomplished he now looked at the even higher refrigerator top. And jumped to that. Now he had only short leaps to the pantry and then the beam and he could have at Shadow again.
But he didn't do it. Oh, he jumped up onto the beam--but not in the nook Shadow was in. He went to the one next to her and just lay there. While she hissed and growled her contempt, he seemed to be enjoying the view. He has eyed this perch from the stepps but could not figure out how to leap from the steps to the beam. (Secondary beams--floor joists really--block the path unless you've got a vine and the dexterity of Tarzan.)
Shadow (left) is joined by Chester (right). (Click to enlarge.)
I think he really enjoyed having climbed that high and was excited about having done so. Just look at his eyes. (And look at the oh-shit-there-goes-the-neighborhood glare Shadow is giving!)
Another Saturday and I'm supposed to report that I've lost weight by studiously avoiding all snacks, fast food, calorie laden potatoes and fried foods while exercising religiously. Right!
I'm up another pound from last week. That's to 220, for those keeping track. I'm certainly considering not doing so for a bit.
I've had a sharp pain in my left hip all week. It made walking behind the snow thrower yesterday shear agony. As a result, I've stayed in the cabin almost the entire week. The most exercise I got (aside from the one day walking the thrower) was carrying logs in to the fireplace. I didn't go out to do any hunting and today marks the final day of the PA rifle season. No venison in the freezer this year...yet. There's still a late flintlock season and I may get the energy to go out for that. (Although I haven't fired my flintlock this year at all.)
Daylight hours and minutes are shrinking to their nadir. The temperatures are dropping too. Snow now covers the fields and woods making walking difficult and soggy. And like the bears, all I want to do is but on a layer of fat and hibernate. (Actually, the hibernate part might be good. Bears lose a lot of weight over their stints in the den. Now if I could only sleep until April...nah, Chester would never allow that.)
Well, I did get another set of snowshoes for around the Aerie and Tioga State Forest is near by and there are lots of rails-to-trails places in the county where I'm sure there are not going to be any bicyclists. Maybe I'll get the energy to get out after all. A couple of hours a week should prove beneficial to burning calories.
Here are a few of the pictures I took from the deck on Thursday.
Goldfinches have been present in large numbers. They tend to hog the feeders and squabble with the other birds--and one another.
White-breasted Nuthatches generally arrive alone or with one or two others at most. They will climb down the trees and telephone poles--head first, of course--swoop in to steal a seed or a nip of suet and then dart back to the woods.
Downy Woodpeckers also come in on their own or with one or two others. They will hit the suet and, on occasion, the sunflower seeds in the hanging feeders.
Another bird that's present in large numbers is the Dark-eyed Junco. We have mostly the Slate-colored variety around the Aerie but will sometimes see the dusky brown ones as well. They prefer to feed on the ground or the tray feeders. Seldom will they land on one of the perch feeders as they like to scratch for their food.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I couldn't help but notice that sometime early this morning...probably about the time that Chester was waking us up at 6:30 AM...a deer helped itself to the cracked corn I had in the bird feeder. It then went around the back of the house and moseyed on down the driveway and across the road. Of course, I never saw the deer, just its tracks in the snow. I know they were from early this morning because there was very little fresh snow in the imprints.
It's still overcast with the temperature hovering around 28 to 30 degrees and a small flurry occurs now and then but nothing serious is predicted. The radio even mentions that we might have temperatures rising to around 40 degrees in a couple of days. That won't be enough to get rid of all the snow, especially where I've now piled it and packed it, but the driveway could well be cleared down to bare ground come Monday.
With the fresh snow comes an influx of birds. There are dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches and Black-capped Chickadees hitting the feeders along with a few Pine Siskins, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Morning Doves, Tufted Titmice, one or two Purple Finches and Downy Woodpeckers. The Ravens are having fun flying over head chattering to one another. I really am amazed at the variety of calls, clicks, chortles and warbles the Raven can make. And I thought I heard a Red-tailed Hawk and Piliated Woodpecker earlier while I was clearing snow.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
There are some pretty good matchups in the non-BCS games. The bowl selectors have tried to match teams up in such a way as to give the fan a good game. That said there are some selections that will just make you go, “Huh?”
Why are Notre Dame and Kentucky in this list at all? I know they were both 6 and 6 and that that is all that you need to be bowl eligible, but really now…. Notre Dame beat how many teams with a winning record? One. Navy was 8-4.
And Kentucky finished dead last in the SEC East with a 2-6 conference record. They won their first four (non-conference) games and lost their last three. The final one to Tennessee, a team that was 3-5 in the SEC and 5-7 overall.
Hawaii is not much better. They finished 7-6, 5-3 in the Western Athletic Conference. Good thing for the Rainbow Warriors that they get to play at home…against Notre Dame.
Enough of that. Here's how I see the bowls shaping up. [UPDATE: I inadvertantly left off two games that are to be played on Dec. 20: The Eagle Bank Bowl (Navy vs Wake Forest) and the New Mexico Bowl (Colorado State vs Fresno State) in my original post. Here's the revised format:
Non-BCS Bowl games: (The * indicates the favored team according to Vegas.com on Dec. 9th.)
|Dec. 20||EagleBank||ESPN||11:00 AM||Wake Forest* (7-5) vs. Navy (8-4)||Navy|
|Dec. 20||New Mexico||ESPN||2:30 PM||Colorado State (6-6) vs.Fresno State* (7-5)||Fresno State|
|Dec. 20||St. Petersburg||ESPN2||4:30 PM||Memphis (6-6) vs.|
South Florida* (7-5)
|Dec. 20||Las Vegas||ESPN||8:00 PM||BYU (10-2) vs.|
|Dec. 21||New Orleans||ESPN||8:00 PM||Southern Miss (6-6) vs. |
|Dec. 23||Poinsettia||ESPN||8:00 PM||Boise State (12-0) vs.|
Texas Christian* (10-2)
|Dec. 24||Hawaii||ESPN||8:00 PM||Hawaii* (7-6) vs.|
Notre Dame (6-6)
|Dec. 26||Motor City||ESPN||7:30 PM||Florida Atlantic (6-6) vs.|
Central Michigan* (8-4)
|Dec. 27||Meineke Car Care||ESPN||1:00 PM||West Virginia (8-4) vs. |
North Carolina* (8-4)
|Dec. 27||Champs Sports||ESPN||4:30 PM||Wisconsin (7-5) vs.|
Florida State* (8-4)
|Dec. 27||Emerald||ESPN||8:00 PM||Miami (Fla.) (7-5) vs. |
|Dec. 28||Independence||ESPN||8:00 PM||Northern Illinois* (6-6) vs. |
Louisiana Tech (7-5)
|Dec. 29||Papajohns.com||ESPN||3:00 PM||North Carolina St. (6-6) vs. |
|Dec. 29||Alamo||ESPN||8:00 PM||Missouri* (9-4) vs. |
|Dec. 30||Humanitarian||ESPN2||4:30 PM||Maryland (7-5) vs. |
|Dec. 30||Texas||NFL Net||8:00 PM||Rice* (9-3) vs. |
Western Michigan (9-3)
|Dec. 30||Holiday||ESPN||8:00 PM||Oklahoma State* (9-3) vs. |
|Dec. 31||Armed Forces||ESPN||12:30 PM||Houston* (7-5) vs. |
Air Force (8-4)
|Dec. 31||Sun||CBS||2:00 PM||Oregon State* (8-4) vs. |
|Dec. 31||Music City||ESPN||3:30 PM||Boston College* (9-4) vs. |
|Dec. 31||Insight||NFL Net||5:30 PM||Kansas* (7-5) vs.|
|Dec. 31||Chick-fil-A||ESPN||7:30 PM||LSU (7-5) vs.|
Georgia Tech* (9-3)
|Jan. 1||Outback||ESPN||11:00 AM||South Carolina (7-5) vs.|
|Jan. 1||Capital One||ABC||1:00 PM||Georgia* (9-3) vs.|
Michigan State (9-3)
|Jan. 1||Gator||CBS||1:00 PM||Clemson*(7-5) vs.|
|Jan. 2||Cotton||FOX||2:00 PM||Mississippi (8-4) vs.|
Texas Tech* (11-1)
|Jan. 2||Liberty||ESPN||5:00 PM||Kentucky (6-6) vs.|
East Carolina* (9-4)
|Jan. 3||International||ESPN2||Noon||Buffalo (8-5) vs. |
|Jan. 6||GMAC||ESPN||8:00 PM||Tulsa (10-3) vs. |
Ball State* (12-1)
Now for the BCS bowl Games:
Regardless of how you feel about Oklahoma being here instead of Texas, let's face it: they are the best team out there right now. The Sooners should dominate both sides of the ball and will make the Florida Gators look like the Geico Gecko.
And as for Texas? Just two words: Poor Buckeyes!
|Jan. 1||Rose||ABC||5:00 PM||Penn State (11-1) vs.|
Southern California* (11-1)
|Jan. 1||Orange||FOX||8:30 PM||Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. |
|Jan. 2||Sugar||FOX||8:00 PM||Utah (12-0) vs. |
|Jan. 5||Fiesta||FOX||8:00 PM||Ohio State (10-2) vs. |
|Jan. 8||BCS Title Game||FOX||8:00 PM|| No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. |
No. 2 Florida* (12-1)
So there you have it. My picks for the 2008-2009 Bowl Season. Tell me where I went wrong.
And sometimes it is not that difficult at all.
And once you’ve taken your shot, it might be a good idea to 1) run like hell or 2) get behind a really big tree.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I would have to say that he wins.
Our winds were only in the 20-30 mph range and the temperature never fell much below 20 degrees. And that was an improvement over the 8 degrees or so we had yesterday morning.
Global warming indeed!
UPDATE: I took a ride up the top of the ridge and through sections of the Tioga State Forest. There was virtually no wind up there compared to what we have just 150-200 feet from the top of the ridge. And since the wind is coming from the southwest--which is where the ridge is as it runs from the northwest to the southeast--I don't get it. We should be on the lee side of the ridge and protected from the wind.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I did go out hunting yesterday but only stayed out for a couple of hours. I walked the southwestern property line, stopping to sit for a half hour or more at a time at several points, but saw no deer and no new deer tracks.
There were very few sounds of gun fire off in the distance. The guys from Lancaster who have a camp down the hill are gone. The guys from New Jersey who have a camp up the hill are also gone--probably back to NJ for Saturday's opening day of firearms season.
I built a fire in the fireplace yesterday when it became obvious that the afternoon temperatures were not going to get above the freezing mark. With the double walled fire box and air circulating fan (it pulls air from the basement, circulates it around the firebox, and then blows it out into the first floor living area) raised the house temperature from around 63 degrees to 70 degrees. The fire was allowed to burn down over night, but when the temperatures today proved to be even colder than yesterday, I built another fire around 2 PM and will be adding some more logs between now (5:30 PM) and around 10 PM.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I spent three days out in the cold attempting to tag a deer. I guess all the shivering didn't have an impact on weight loss. You would think the need to burn calories to keep the core temperature up would produce some loss. Or maybe the exposure to the cold has caused the body to lay on some insulation.
Well...next week, perhaps, I'll have more positive (or should that be negative?) news to report.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Instead of going outside, I did some reading. I picked up a couple of Lindsy Davis mysteries at the library last week along with a few Bernard Cornwell novels. I've only managed to read one of the Davis books (I've nearly finished the second and have a third on the night stand). If I can stay off the internet, these historical mysteries and novels are like popcorn or potato chips: pour some into a bowl and you will find your hand going into that bowl and up to your mouth in a steady rhythm. The bowl is empty in short order. Once I crack the cover of one of the Davis mysteries or the Cornwell novels, the book will be done in about 8-10 hours. (I'm no speed reader. I do manage about 30-40 pages an hour, however.)
The Cornwell books I borrowed were three from the Saxon Chronicles Series. I had read The Last Kingdom a month ago and these would finish the four book series. I wanted to read some of the Richard Sharpe stories--I had read books one and two of that series last month, also--but the library was missing the third and fifth of the Sharpe books as well as several books from later in the series, so I thought I might pass on Sharpe for a bit.
Tomorrow, I will be heading out early in the morning. I'll stuff my feet in plastic bags (as a commenter suggested a few days ago and as Mark has told me he does). I may need to as the morning temperature is likely to be around 15 degrees. I was hoping that, being Saturday, it might be another active day on the part of other hunters. After all, those who had to go back to work or school on Tuesday would have the chance to return to the field. But the cold weather may cause some of them to reconsider. Already, the hunting camp next door is empty. The members have apparently returned to their Lancaster homes.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Tonight they are playing On The Banks. And Mike Teel is having a great evening. He has hit 17 of 22 for 343 yards and 6 TDs---in the first half. And RU scored another on the ground. Tim Brown has caught 4 passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tiquan Underwood also has 4 catches for 67 yards and 2 TDs. Then there's Shamar Graves: 3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD; Dennis Campbell: 3 catches, 33 yards, 1 TD. The Star receiver all year, Kenny Britt has only one catch for one yard, but he has also made an appearance on defense and made one tackle to end the half.
From the passing numbers, you might think RU has virtually no rushing yards. You would be wrong. Jourdan Brooks has only carried 4 times but he has 80 yards. (And if he didn't wear his hair so long, he might be running still!) Kenny Britt has two carries on ends around and has picked up 33 yards and scored one TD.
Listening to Coach Schiano's comments as they went into the locker room, there will be no let up in the second half. We'll see if The Cardinals can come up with any answers.
UPDATE: Final score was Rutgers 63-Louisville 14. Teel finished the game 21 of 26 with 447 yards and 7 touchdowns. He came out of the game near the end of the third quarter. Jourdan Brooks had 124 yards on 11 carries and Joe Martinek killed time in the third and fourth quarters with 18 carries for 57 net yards.
The entire story of the school and NCAA records set and so forth can be found here and here.
If they had played just a little better in the first six games of the season, when they were 1-5, they could be Big East Champs. This is a team that lost to Navy by 2 points, Cincinnati by 3 and West Virginia by 7. But, instead of 10-2 they are 7-5. They are going bowling for the fourth straight year, however. And if you're a Rutgers fan, you have to love that.
The weather today? Like I said it was raining this morning and managed to reach about 40 degrees at noon. Then it started dropping pretty quickly so it was about 25 degrees by 8 PM. It will be close to 20 degrees in the morning and only 35 or so as a high tomorrow--with flurries. Then it's colder on Friday night and Saturday.
XEROX IS DOING SOMETHING COOL
If you go to this web site, www.LetsSayThanks.com you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them.
This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you.
Thanks for taking to time to support our military!
I hustled on over there and sent a couple of cards with appropriate messages. Why don't you click on the link and do the same?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The back part of our property is on a steep slope--the northeast slope. It's the last area to even see the sun. And, despite the cloudless sky, today was no different. The sun didn't reach where I sat until near noon and by then my toes were blocks of ice inside my boots. They are insulated--just not enough. They (the boots and toes) are warm enough when I'm moving but when I try to sit still for any length of time.... They say when your feet are cold to put on a hat. I reckon I would need one hell of a hat--with wolf fur lining and all--to keep my feet warm.
Oh, and while the wind did die down for about an hour or so starting at 1 PM, it blew pretty steadily at around 5 to 10 mph the rest of the time.
And I didn't see a deer. I saw turkeys, red and gray squirrels, a chipmunk, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, brown creepers, ravens, blue jays, and many more small birds, but no deer.
There were some shots but nothing closer than half to three quarters of a mile away.
Thoroughly depressed at the lack of deer, I headed back to the house around 3 PM. When I got back I just had to check the thermometer because I thought for sure the weather gurus had gotten it wrong. But no, the maximum temperature was 41 degrees at 2:30 PM. Of course, that was on the side porch and the sun was shining on it at the time, but still, it did record 41 degrees.
I did go and install my makeshift ladder hanger and hoisted the extension ladders up under the deck so the day wasn't a total waste..... WHAT AM I SAYING?! A day in the woods hunting is NEVER a wasted day! (Especially if you are still employed.)
Tomorrow morning is supposed to be either snowy changing to rain or just plain snowy. I think I'll bundle up and sit on the porch.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Instead, I think I will hang them under the deck from the deck floor joists. One end of the hanging mechanism will be a fixed bracket and the other end will be a rope and pulley system. The bottom of the joists are about 9 feet in the air leaving plenty of room to suspend the ladders beneath them and still leave 8 feet of head room. I'll be able to insert the one end of the ladders into the fixed bracket and then raise the other using the rope and pulley. I'll mount a pair of cleats on one of the 6" x 6" support posts to tie the rope to once the ladder has been raised.
It shouldn't take long to complete the installation of the fixed hanger which I pieced together this evening from some 1" x 3" rough sawn lumber that served as separators of the logs in our building kit. (I've got lots of those!) The pulleys will go up with equal speed as they will get hung from screw hooks. All I need is about an hour to do the job. As the ladders are currently sitting on the ground under the deck, this arrangement should get them out of the way and provide a little more protection to them.
From the lack of rifle shots in the valley below and absolutely none for the hillsides above (south) or to the west, it didn't sound like I missed much. The deer don't take long to educate. It's a true instance of being quick to learn or being dead.
I lay on the couch all day dozing and reading but just around 4 PM I drove down to Wally World to get some hardware for a project I've got in mind. There were a few trucks parked along side the road and I could see a few hunters set up on the edges of fields but nothing like the numbers there were yesterday, I'm sure. I did see a couple of living deer too. Two big doe and what I would say was a yearling were waiting to cross the road in an area where there were no hunters visible.
I'll probably be in bed before 9 PM tonight and will definitely get out tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be a little better with sunshine and temps nearing 40 degrees (never got above freezing today). The winds will ease off too, according to the weather.com folks. I'll be prepared to spend all day if that's what it takes.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Rain poured down all night and it was still falling when I woke up at 6 AM so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. Chester was having none of that, however, so I go up, got dressed and fed the cats.
The rain stopped falling around 7 AM and there was a hint of blue skies by 8 AM. Outside I could hear other hunters taking shots and got the itch to see what might be in my backyard.
I had my act together and was out the door by 8:45. I walked up our second driveway (it's a two lot parcel of 17 acres total) being careful to step where there was no snow. Still, I was less than 30 yards from the house when I heard snow crunching off to my right--up wind of me. I froze and peeked through the young pines and beeches. A deer was paralleling my course at an angle to intercept the driveway just 15 feet ahead of me. And it had horns. Just not enough horns. In NY or NJ my hunt would have been over, but PA requires 3 points on at least one side of the antlers and this looked to be a simple spike. I had the safety off and the rifle on my shoulder looking through the scope but could not see any forks on the antlers which were at times hidden by the deer's ears. It froze when it reached the driveway as if to pause long enough to look both ways before crossing. That's when it saw me and i said, "Boo" in a quiet voice. It took two bounds in the woods paralleling the driveway and then burst out on to the drive heading away from me. I can't say it was terribly spooked because it kept its tail down. I watched as it disappeared up the drive and still couldn't make out more than spikes. Ten minutes later there was a shot from the neighboring property in the direction deer took. Perhaps that person didn't see any horns--or didn't care that this buck was not legal. I doubt there was second deer in the area. I did not investigate.
I found a spot to put my stool and sat down for the morning. At noon an second, larger buck came up the hill about 100 yards to my left heading right to left. I could clearly see at least three points on its left antler but there were an awful lot of small beeches off in that direction. I followed the buck with my rifle on my shoulder just hoping to get a clear lane in which to shoot. When I thought I had one, I squeezed the trigger. I knew right away that I had missed. The deer just didn't act like it had been hit and, since I was shooting toward a rather steep hillside and the echo reverberated off that slope, the deer was confused as to where the shot came from. I reloaded and hoped for a second chance a little further along the still walking deer's path. It came in a narrow lane between the tree trunks and I missed again. I walked over to check that there was no blood on the snow and to follow the track up the hill a short way to see where it went. I heard another shot from the same area as earlier--which was right in line with the deer's trail.
Later in the day, I saw a large deer bound across a small, semi-pen field at the bottom of the hill and into some pines on the other side. The deer was close to two hundred yards away from me and it was impossible to tell if it had horns or not. I had no chance for a shot anyway.
And so ended my opening day of the Pennsylvania deer season.
Three deer seen: two bucks fr sure; one legal; two missed shots.
Others were shooting all around me for much of the morning. Things slacked off considerably after the noon hour. Many were single shots (dead deer?), some were double (maybe a dead deer?) and a few...well, let's just say it sounded like one or two were spray-and-pray.